Green Island News- July 2002

Editor: Kevin Reilly

Green Island News

Alameda Transportation Coalition:
Joining forces for better transportation

by John Knox White

In January, the members of Alameda Transit Advocates, Pedestrian Friendly Alameda and BikeAlameda voted to form the Alameda Transportation Coalition (ATC). ATC was formed in order to give advocates a stronger voice in community-wide transportation planning issues and on projects that affect several modes of transportation.

Our mission statement reads: "The mission of the Alameda Transportation Coalition is to bring about comprehensive, sustainable and effective transportation solutions in and around the City of Alameda. We are working to create a cleaner, healthier and safer community by expanding the availability and convenience of non-automotive transportation options. These include walking, bicycling, mass transit and other alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips."

ATC is working with developers, city staff and city council to proactively create pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly neighborhoods that give residents real transportation choices. Our member groups are also working on their mode-specific transportation issues to increase access, awareness, convenience and safety.

Transportation is a key issue affecting Alameda and not just because of traffic congestion. Our single-minded reliance on automobiles carries business away from our local business districts like Park and Webster Streets decreases open space and makes efficient, effective transportation difficult. Single-occupancy autos create unnecessary air, water and noise pollution. Too much asphalt is poured to increase the convenience of drivers, who have forgotten that streets are public spaces available to many different users. (Does anyone remember playing in the streets as a child?)


As the city of Alameda faces declining sales tax and income, transportation advocates are coming together in ATC to make sure that program and facilities funding for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders is maintained. In the rush to increase development in Alameda, ATC is working to make sure that transportation impacts are properly considered in development proposals. These include congestion, pollution, limited access on and off the island, increased traffic through our neighborhoods, safe and convenient access to transit, and easy and encouraged access to pedestrians and cyclists.

Alameda Transit Advocates recently scored a major victory in getting the city to upgrade all of its bus stops to AC Transit District and ADA standards by 2005. Pedestrian Friendly Alameda is forming a pedestrian and cycling safety task force with the city to increase communication between city agencies and to educate drivers and pedestrians about their rights and responsibilities. BikeAlameda is working to implement the Master Bike Plan that was put in place 3 years ago and to get the city to maintain and improve Alameda's deteriorating bike paths and routes.

A combined effort by our member groups (and others) led to the recent creation of Alameda's new Transportation Commission (TC). The TIC's 9 members will create transportation proposals for the City Council to vote on and will help to create a more balanced transportation agenda in Alameda. We are proud to have 3 of our members nominated to the Commission.

Development in Alameda should encourage and create better transportation equity, not make the current situation worse. If you are interested in getting involved or have questions, you can contact ATC at or visit our website: You can find website and contact information for our member groups there as well.

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City Faces Housing Crisis

by Eve Bach                    

"Having evaluated the effects of Measure A more fully we do identify this constraint."

Alameda city officials may have recognized the elephant sitting in the living room. The first draft of the city's Housing Element argued passionately that the City's ban on apartments, townhouses and condos, known as Measure A or City Charter Article XXVI, does not hamper the development of housing for teachers, clerks, nurses, firefighters, and others who are being locked out of the housing market by escalating housing costs. They have decided to reconsider.

After running up against the law in the form of state Housing and Community Development Department officials who approve housing elements, they sought professional help. Respected real estate consultants, Keyser-Marston Associates have diagnosed the problem: "…costs for development and corresponding need for subsidy is greater for lower density projects …apartment units require less assistance due to lower construction costs which include the reduced land and site preparation costs per unit."

The Measure A Surcharge
The City now concedes, in an informal letter to HCD that Measure A drives up the cost of new housing, especially for lower income people. Keyser-Marston calculated that the developer would need a subsidy of $147,000 to build a duplex rental unit that a family earning $35,000 (considered very low income, by Federal standards) could afford. To build an apartment for the same family would require $81,000 - a difference of $66,000.

Keyser-Marston calculates that the same $66,000 surcharge would be needed to build a duplex for a family with an income of $53,000 (low income). No subsidy at all would be needed to build an apartment for a moderate-income family (income of $85,000), whereas a duplex would require a $47,000 subsidy.

The citywide implications of the Keyser-Marston numbers begin to provide a picture of the problem that Measure A has created. Developing Alameda's share of the region's need for very low income, low income and moderate income housing units will require an extra $35 million because of the Measure A surcharge.

Compounding Effects
However, higher land and construction costs are just the beginning of the problem. Measure A also prevents Alameda from competing for federal and state housing subsidies, since developments that are not cost-effective are not competitive. So, in addition to increasing the total amount of subsidy that Alameda needs, Measure A increases the proportion of the costs that Alamedans would have to pay.

In addition, Measure A makes it almost impossible to replace Alameda's aging multi-family housing stock, almost all of which was constructed prior to 1973. More than 1/3 of the City's housing is over 60 years old; more than half is more than 50 years old. Although the City allows units destroyed by catastrophic events to be rebuilt (this was necessary to mollify the insurance industry when Measure A was passed and insurance companies were unwilling to underwrite multi-family structures that could not be replaced), it does not allow replacement of buildings at the end of their useful life because of poor maintenance, obsolescence or other reasons. As the stock of older multifamily housing deteriorates, the supply of apartments available to lower income people will shrink even though lower paying jobs are growing.

Alameda needs more parks as well as housing. To address both needs, it is necessary to use scarce land efficiently.

Moving Towards a Cure
Under Measure A, Alameda has been unsuccessful in contributing its share to the region's affordable housing stock. In the 1990s, the number of very low, low, and moderate-income dwellings built in Alameda (including 300 very low income apartments built by the Navy) accounted for only 44% of the units needed. For Alameda to meet its goals during the first half of this decade, there are only two real options: either relax the ban on apartments or pony up the additional funds that are needed to pay the Measure A "surcharge."

Revisiting Measure A does not have to be a bitter pill. There are many options, beginning with lifting the ban at Alameda Point. The concerns that gave rise to Measure A - destruction of historic buildings, for example - can be addressed with a scalpel rather than a meat axe.

It's hard to say whether it will take four steps, seven steps, or ten steps for Alamedans to replace dysfunctional Measure with new policies that address the housing crisis faced by more than half the families in Alameda. The City has taken the first step toward a cure by recognizing it has a problem.

For more about the current housing crisis in the greater Bay Area check out:

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Green Party Meeting Schedule

Green Party Meetings Summer Schedule

City of Alameda Green Party

The City of Alameda Green Party usually meets the second Thursday of each month. At the June meeting members agreed to suspend meetings for the summer in order to focus on community outreach activities. The next meeting is on Thursday, September 12th at 7pm in the Garden Room at the Home of Truth, 1300 Grand Street.
All are welcome to attend!

Meeting location map

Green Party of Alameda County
Council Meeting: Sunday, July 14th

The County Council meets the second Sunday of each month. The July meeting is at 6pm at the Rockridge Branch of the Oakland Public Library (2nd Floor elevator access), 5366 College Avenue, Oakland, about four block south of the Rockridge BART station. For more information call: (510) 644-2293
All are welcome to attend!

Meeting location map

Transit Corner

Pedestrian & Transit Corner

  • Pedestrian Friendly Alameda meets the third Thursday of every month at Tucker's Ice Cream, 1349 Park Street in Alameda.

    For more information visit Pedestrian Friendly Alameda

  • Alameda Transit Advocates meets the fourth Monday of each month at the First Congregational Church, 1912 Central Avenue, Alameda, CA

    For more information visit the ATA Website

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Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Rally At Carnegie Park

Saturday, August 3rd, 11am
Livermore, CA

Join fellow Greens at the Livermore Hiroshima Day protest organized by the Tri-Valley CARES coalition at Carnegie Park in Livermore followed by a 3-mile walk to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

For more information contact Sherry Larsen-Beville: 510-663-8065


Vigil Commemorating
Hiroshima and Nagasaki Days

Tuesday, August 6th
Livermore, CA

Contact the sponsors listed below for more information about location and time.

Livermore Conversion Project: 510-663-806560
Western States Legal Foundation: 510-839-5877
Tri-Valley CARES: 925-443-7148

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