alameda point Posts


Jonah Henderson is One Dynamite Guy

by phildini on March 16, 2016


I think last night's Alameda City Council meeting might be my fault. Before the meeting, as I was sitting in the Council Chambers, I looked at the agenda, and tweeted:

With a total of 3 regular agenda items on tonight's #alamtg agenda, I'm hoping for an efficient meeting.

— Philip John James (@philipjohnjames) March 16, 2016

This obvsiously jinxed the whole enterprise, and I apologize to all those involved.

The meeting started out with incredible promise. Some items were pulled out of the consent calendar, like changing the city's investment strategy, and the Alameda Landing Transportation Demand Management Program. These items had some discussion, most notably Councilmember Daysog being strongly for the Alameda Landing TDM (which endears him to me), and continuing to be against the project at 2100 Clement.

The first regular item, the confirmation of members to the various city commissions and boards, also passed unanimously, without comment. Given that members were being confirmed to the Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and the Rent Review Advisory Committee, I was somewhat shocked there was no discussion from the various renters groups in Alameda. There has been months of work and comment about rent control, but no apparent interest in the people who sit on the committees overlooking housing and rent.

Then we come to the big enchilada, the two hour discussion that was both comedy and tragedy in equal measure: the Building 8 project at Alameda Point. There are some important things to know:

  1. Jonah Henderson, one of the chief developers on the project, is a stand-up guy. This was proved by comments from bankers, lawyers, tenants, Berkeley City Council Members, the Mayor of Berkeley, various artists, various historical committees, friends of Jonah's, and the teachers of Jonah's children. (He's apparently an amazing parent too.)*
  2. Mayor Trish Spencer is worried about housing. And parking. And whether we're getting enough money from the developer. And whether city staff did their due diligence. There were also multiple occasions where she indicated that the Planning Board was not public enough for the discussion at hand. (Having attended a Planning Board meeting last night, they seemed fairly public and well-managed to me.)

The discussion between councilmembers at times broke into actual barbs and interruptions, with threats from the Mayor of invoking the gavel. I have not been at enough meetings to know how serious the threat of the gavel is.

The meeting ended at 1059pm, with the last agenda item pushed to the beginning of next meeting.

Once again, my apologies for placing a jinx upon last night's city council meeting. Also, city staff: you're doing a great job. Keep it up. 


*The title of this post is tongue-in-cheek. Jonah Henderson seems like a really nice guy, the litany of his awesomeness was maybe a tad much.


Follow the Yellowbrick Pavement

by phildini on March 15, 2016


Over the past couple months, it has been at times painful to watch civic discourse in Alameda. I believe the City Council has arrived at a good starting point in most of its decisions, but the path taken has often been confusing to follow.

Last night's Planning Board meeting was gust of fresh air in comparison. Two major issues were discussed by the Board: street names for the 2100 Clement Street project, and Design Review Approval for block 11, block 8, and phase 1 of the waterfront park at Alameda Point Site A.

  • The Planning Board wants to put more consideration behind the street names for the 2100 Clement project. There's a worry about the current suggestions being pronounceable to the average Alamedan, as well as a worry about the appropriateness of the some of the alternates.
  • The review for the design of block 11, block 8, and the waterfront park at Alameda Point Site A revolved around:
    • Making sure windows are up to city code
    • Close inspection of the proposed exterior construction materials
    • The color of the street in the shared plaza. Earlier sketches showed a yellowish color, last night's designs had the road returning to a more street-ish gray. Based on the comments of President Knox White and others, there's going to be more thought put into this area, as many on the Board feel the street color helps dictate how the space would be used, and the apparent preference is for it to be pedestrian-focused.
    • Discussion on the name of the street currently called West Atlantic, which would potentially be an extension of Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway. There's a concern that Alamedans already shorten that streetname to RAMP and so the board should consider naming the street Appezzato Parkway or Appezzato Boulevard.

(To that last point: Ralph Appezzato was the first Alameda Mayor I knew personally, and during these months of turmoil in Alameda civic discourse I find myself missing his presence strongly. I am immensely glad the Planning Board is doing what it can to keep his name in the memory of Alamedans.)

The Planning Board voted to approve the proposed design for the pieces of Alameda Point Site A mentioned above, and I believe the vote was unanimous. In both discussions, President Knox White and the other board members asked informed questions, voiced solid points, and arrived at conclusions that balanced a push for future improvements to Alameda with a sense of keeping Alameda's history and character. 

It may seem like I am being extraordinarily complementary to the Planning Board, or that I'm being far too friendly with them. To that I would say: The Planning Board accomplished the business they came there to do, including time for public comments, and did so in less than 90 minutes.

It will be interesting to see how tonight's City Council meeting compares.