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:
- 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.)*
- 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.