house HOMES: Housing Opportunities Make Economic Sense

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Disappointing! (not fatal)

Jan 31, 2012

Phooey! The Lawrence Livermore Lab scorned five great proposals and chose Richmond where they already owned land. I wonder why they bothered us? High praise for Alameda — we all saw a great opportunity and with fine staff work, went after it flat out!

Well done, everyone! And we can take great pride in what has been accomplished that will accelerate our readiness as the market turns and fi nancing becomes more available. The continuation of the Going Forward Plan, acceleration of the Housing Element preparation and, last but certainly not least, the fantastic accomplishment of the no-cost conveyance.

All these accomplishments make Alameda Point a more marketable location than it has ever been. So. Disappointing? Yes. Fatal? No. We are almost ready for the next great opportunity — so don't be disheartened.

We will achieve a tax-paying use, fine job-producing uses, with community amenities, and a desirable place for persons of all incomes to live. Stick together, Alameda, and let's get on with the job!

— Helen Sause


We believe that the inclusion of a variety of housing types at Alameda Point will make it more likely that important members of our community – young families, seniors, nurses, teachers, fire fighters, police officers – can live and work here. Measure A must be modified at Alameda Point in order to build housing these middle income families and individuals can afford.

Contact HOMES

816 Grand Street
Alameda, CA 94501

email: Contact HOMES

HOMES People

Helen Sause, President
Diane Lichtenstein, Vice President

Board Members:
Doug Biggs, Nancy Heastings, Daniel Hoy, Joan Konrad and Sally Faulhaber.

Website: Chad Chadwick

Support HOMES

HOMES needs your support for efforts to educate the community about the issues and opportunities surrounding redevelopment at Alameda Point. HOMES is solely funded by community contributions. Please send your donation to:

HOMES, 816 Grand St., Alameda, CA 94501

Donations are tax-deductible.

Alameda Point: What’s At Stake?

Surrounded by the Bay with spectacular views of San Francisco, Alameda Point is one of the largest urban infill projects in the Bay Area and offers the opportunity to build the ideal 21st century neighborhood.

The potential of Alameda Point is enormous. We have the opportunity to develop a sustainable community that addresses today's issues of global warming, rising home prices and growing traffic congestion in a neighborhood that reflects the values and traditions of "old" Alameda.

Alameda Point

But to do this, we need to include compact development with homes, shops and jobs in walkable neighborhoods near transit nodes. We need to include cottages, town homes, condos and apartments in the housing mix along with larger single family homes.

Such a variety of housing types, prominent on the Main Island, are now illegal in Alameda because of the 1973 Charter Amendment, Measure A, which prohibits the building of anything other than single family or duplex homes, with each unit on a minimum lot size of 2000 square feet.

We invite you to explore the HOMES web site to learn more about the issues surrounding Alameda Point, as well as how you can help to ensure that this new neighborhood meets the needs of the 21st century.

History of Alameda Point and
the Alameda Naval Air Station

Alameda Point is still owned by the Navy. It is located on the 1700 acre redevelopment site of the former Alameda Naval Air Station (NAS) in Alameda, California. The site represents one-third of the total land mass of Alameda Island.

The NAS was constructed in the late 1930s and early 1940s on filled tidal lands and marshes on the western end of the City of Alameda. The former base occupies 1,734 acres of dry land plus 1,108 acres of submerged lands lying largely within the City of Alameda.

Alameda Point

The NAS was commissioned in 1940. Two years of active dredging, filling and construction operations were required to convert a former Army airfield, civilian airport and municipal marina into the most important naval air station on the West Coast during the Second World War. The Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and other American bases and possessions on December 7, 1941 unleashed a major expansion at NAS Alameda. Serving as a logistics supply base, aircraft repair facility, seaplane base and homeport for dozens of aircraft carriers and other naval vessels during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the base continued in operation until 1993 when it was included on a list of bases to be decommissioned by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC). Following BRAC's decision to close NAS Alameda, the Navy began preparations to decommission the base and turn it over to the City of Alameda. The Navy officially withdrew in 1997, however the NAS has not yet been transferred to the City.

Today, the former base consists of an airfield with two runways, a seaplane lagoon, nine massive hangars and millions of square feet of industrial, warehousing, administrative, residential and recreational space. Much of it does not meet code standards and is presently vacant and deteriorating according to the NAS Report.

A number of the remaining structures are significant vintage buildings designed in the moderne style of architecture. Many of these structures, such as the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, would have to be torn down because there is no "adaptive reuse" appropriate for these buildings other than multi-unit residential, which is prohibited by Measure A. Many of these buildings would be able to remain and be used as apartments, senior citizen units, or work/live units if Alameda Point is exempted from Measure A.

A year prior to its closure, in January of 1996, the City of Alameda adopted the NAS Alameda Point Community Reuse Plan, a carefully crafted plan for the conversion of NAS to civilian use. The Reuse Plan was prepared for the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA), consisting of the City Council, an agency created and governed by the City Council, with extensive citizen input solicited by the Base Reuse and Advisory Group (BRAG), now known as the Alameda Point Advisory Committee (APAC). The Reuse Plan established the following vision for the reuse of the former NAS: "Between now and the year 2020, the City of Alameda will integrate the Naval Air Station property with the City and will realize a substantial part of the Base's potential. Revenues will have increased and a healthy local economy will have resulted from the implementation of a coordinated, environmentally sound plan of conversion and mixed-use development. While building upon the qualities which make Alameda a desirable place to live, efforts for improving recreational, cultural, educational, housing, and employment opportunities for the entire region will have been successful."

In 2002, to facilitate implementation of the Reuse Plan the City of Alameda adopted a comprehensive set of General Plan policies to guide redevelopment of the former Naval Air Station consistent with the vision articulated by the Reuse Plan.

In August 2001, Alameda Community Partners Corporation (ACPC) was selected as the Master Developer for the project. ACPC withdrew in August of 2006, citing a weakening real-estate market as one of the key reasons. A contributing factor was also that the Navy's position had moved from "no cost" conveyance of the NAS to a price of 108 million dollars.

A new selection process began in September 2006. In June 2007, SunCal Companies was selected by the ARRA as the new Master Developer. SunCal is presently in a due diligence period and will have 60 days to negotiate an agreement with the ARRA to spend the next 24 months concluding the entitlement and conveyance process (

To learn more about SunCal, visit their website at

History of Measure A

Charter Amendment XXVI, commonly known as Measure A, was passed in 1973. Measure A states: "There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda."

An amendment to the charter was put to the voters by Council resolution. This amendment, which passed in 1991, states that "The maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land."

Alameda Victorian

A drive around Alameda will easily illustrate why Measure A came into being. In the 1950's and 1960's, many beautiful Victorians were razed to make room for poorly-designed multiple unit dwellings. Historic buildings were lost, aestheticism was compromised, and parked cars took over many of our streets.

In addition to loss of historic homes, citizens were concerned about overcrowding. New development at South Shore and planned development on Bay Farm Island generated a fear of overcrowding and a loss of the small town feel of Alameda.

Unfortunately, Measure A has had unintended consequences. The prohibition against multi-unit dwellings, such as apartments, condos and town homes, means that only single family homes or duplexes can be built. Ironically, this type of construction creates more traffic than would more compact development. Studies show that people who live and work less than a half-mile from transit are 10 times less likely to drive to work than peolpe who live and work farther from transit. (Greenbelt Action, Spring 2007), which is not achievable with only single family or duplex home development.

Another unintended consequence concerns historic preservation at Alameda Point. The former Base has a number of significant buildings ranging from the air tower to the Officer's Club to the Bachelors Officer's Quarters. These structures were designed in the Moderne style popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Many of these buildings would have to be torn down to comply with Measure A. With a modification to Measure A, many of these buildings may be saved and adaptively reused.

In 1973 the U.S. Navy had four aircraft carriers stationed at Alameda Point, BART had just started running, Elvis was very much alive and a postage stamp cost 8 cents. A lot has changed since then.

But What About the Plan?

Alameda Point: The Plan

Sustainable Development balances the needs of the present with protection of the natural environment so that the needs of future generations may also be met.

Through many community meetings over several years, Alameda residents established a framework for sustainable development at Alameda Point that was integrated into the City of Alameda General Plan.

This vision of development, that recapitulates the best aspects of Alameda heritage within the context of a new Point community, is built on certain key principles:

  • Seamless integration with the rest of the City
  • A vibrant new neighborhood
  • Maximization of waterfront accessibility
  • Ensuring economic development
  • Creating a mixed-use environment
  • Establishing neighborhood centers
  • De-emphasizing the automobile and making new development compatible with transportation capacity

Seamless Integration with the Rest of the City.
A tour of historic Alameda, commonly known as the "Main Island" reveals grand homes interspersed with cottages, apartments, condos and town homes. Within walking distance of most homes are markets, coffee shops, bike shops and other retail.

A development of exclusively single family or duplex homes separated from retail, such as in Heritage Bay or Bayport, does not reflect the layout and design found on the Main Island.

A Vibrant New Neighborhood.
Being able to walk around your neighborhood to shop, eat or socialize is a wonderful convenience that produces a feeling of vibrance or liveliness. Just look at Park and Webster streets - shops and restaurants abound with apartment living above, providing the vibrancy the community has asked for.

Maximization of Waterfront Accessibility.
Alameda Point presents both breathtaking views of the Bay and limitless potential for waterfront accessibility. It is essential that the public be invited to enjoy this accessibility through the inclusion of restaurants, shops and parks along the waterfront, along with easy access to water-oriented transportation, such as ferries.

De-emphasizing the Automobile and Making New Development Compatible with Transportation Capacity.
Multi-family developments create less traffic per unit than similar single family development. In fact, people who live and work less than a half-mile from transit are 10 times less likely to drive to work than people who live and work farther from transit, making the need for compact housing near transit nodes and mixed-use development obvious. Conversely, single family homes with three-car garages mean that very few homes will be close enough to transit nodes, retail or jobs to discourage the use of the automobile.

In addition, young families and seniors typically rely more on public transportation. By developing housing that young families and seniors can afford, less traffic will be generated than would otherwise occur. Design of such housing further reduces traffic by encouraging pedestrian and bike use and results in safer streets because of the presence of greater human activity. (Sources: Greenbelt Alliance, Urban Land Insitute, ABAG)

Ensuring Economic Development.
Mixed-use development that includes condominiums, apartments and town houses within commercial districts promotes convenience to residents and provides additional business for merchants. This mixture of uses attracts more merchants with more products and services desired by residents. The increased activity creates economic viability and a vibrant street life. Increased business also provides more job opportunities for the community's residents.

Of course, people who take advantage of these job opportunities need to be able to afford to live here, as well. It is essential to provide a range of housing types including condominiums, apartments and town houses in Alameda. Measure A prevents building housing that working families and individuals can afford. It precludes young families from settling in Alameda and seniors from remaining here. It prevents much of our talented population - teachers, nurses, young professionals, police, fire fighters, and similar workers - from living and working here.

In developing Alameda Point, the City is required to have 25 percent of the proposed housing be below market rate. The cost to the City and to tax payers would be greatly reduced if Measure A were to allow higher density construction because the cost of building this required below market rate housing would be greatly reduced.

Creating a Mixed-Use Environment.
A mixture of housing types integrated with retail encourages economic vitality and neighborhood vibrancy. Being able to walk to work or shop creates safe streets. Efficient use of land enables meaningful open space. Thoughtful planning can create innovative design that combines housing, retail and usable open space, safe, lively neighborhoods that reflect the true values of Alameda.

In combination with City regulations and zoning, and the opportunity for good design, Alameda must have design controls that provide developments with attractive streetscapes, common space to build community, and open space to provide areas for recreation and quiet enjoyment.

Establishing Neighborhood Centers.
Besides shopping and working, diversity of housing, along with good planning, allows opportunities to create specialized open space in the forms of plazas, parks, greens, bike paths and walkways. These public spaces can be more effectively integrated into the neighborhoods when the restraints of Measure A are removed.

So What Are the Issues?

Alameda Point: Issues and Opportunities

HOMES is an Alameda citizens group representing a cross-section of the community. Our objectives are to provide choice in housing and to stimulate economic development at Alameda Point and throughout the City of Alameda. We believe that it is essential to Alameda’s future to create vibrant mixed use, pedestrian and transit oriented neighborhoods, enjoyable public spaces and a housing/jobs balance in the City.

We believe that in order to accomplish this, City Charter Article XXVI (Measure A) must be modified at Alameda Point. Alameda needs to build a variety of housing economically available to all residents.

store (29K)

Measure A
A drive around Alameda will easily illustrate why Measure A came into being. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, many beautiful Victorians were razed to make room for poorly-designed multiple unit dwellings. Historic buildings were lost, aestheticism was compromised, and parked cars took over many of our streets.

In 1973, Measure A was passed in reaction to this. It only prohibited the building of multi-unit dwellings. In 1991, Measure A was amended to state there will not be more than one dwelling per 2000 square feet of lot area.

Victorians and other historic buildings are now protected by historic preservation regulations and zoning. Victorians are protected, but not by Measure A.

Meanwhile, although Measure A had understandable and noble beginnings, it has had unplanned negative consequences for Alameda. Median home prices are over $600,000 for single family dwellings, prohibiting home purchases by many, particularly middle-income families and individuals.

Housing Opportunities
We believe that the inclusion of condominiums, townhouses and apartments at Alameda Point, along with single family dwellings, is in the best interest of Alameda. A variety of housing types will make it more likely that important members of our community – young families, seniors, nurses, teachers, fire fighters, police officers – can live and work here. Measure A must be modified at Alameda Point in order to build housing these middle income families and individuals can afford.

Economic Vitality
Condominiums, town houses and apartments within shopping districts promotes convenience to residents and provides additional business for merchants. It enables the charm of the corner market to continue. Being able to walk to local shops creates a vibrant street life and makes neighborhoods safer. Increased business also provides more job opportunities for residents.

Multi-family homes, along with mixed use neighborhoods, facilitate public transportation opportunities, resulting in fewer cars on the road. Young families and seniors, those who would most benefit from a variety of housing types, typically rely more on public transportation.

A variety of housing types makes neighborhoods visually pleasing and enables meaningful open space. Parks, bike trails and sporting fields are important to our Alameda lifestyle. To comply with Measure A, however, much of the allocated open space is taken up by small, unusable areas separating large single family houses.

Property Values
Good design is good for property values. California studies show that a mixture of housing types either increases property values or, at the least, has no impact.

Historic Preservation
The former Navy Base has a number of significant vintage buildings ranging from the air tower to the Officer’s Club to the Bachelors Officer’s Quarters. These structures were designed in the Moderne style popular during the 1930s and 1940s. Many of these buildings would have to be torn down to comply with Measure A. With an exemption from Measure A, many of these buildings may be saved and adaptively reused.

Parks, Trails and Open Space
Parks where children can play, fields for sporting events, trails for walking and biking, and plazas for getting together make a community more enjoyable and help its residents be more active and healthier. Without the restraints of Measure A, it is much easier to integrate these open spaces into neighborhoods.

Community Input
The community is invited to give input on a master development plan for Alameda Point. HOMES believes that the people of Alameda should have an opportunity to vote on an optimum development plan for Alameda Point not restricted by Measure A. To find our how you can get involved, please visit our News and Calendar sections. We’d appreciate your support! For information about making a donation, please see our Contact page.

In Conclusion
The members and supporters of HOMES believe that by offering a variety of housing types in lively, mixed-use neighborhoods, Alameda Point will preserve the historic feel, cultural richness and economic vitality that make Alameda such a wonderful place to live. We hope you will join us in helping make Alameda Point an asset to our City that we can show off with pride.

How Can I Help?

How You Can Help

Speak Up! Attend relevant city and community meetings and voice your opinion. Is green, environmentally friendly development important to you? Is traffic a concern? Are more jobs important? Is good design that complements the Main Island a goal? Should the citizens of Alameda be allowed to vote on whether we can make a modification to Measure A?

Attend Meetings and Workshops! These include: City Council, ARRA, Planning Board and community meetings, such as three upcoming workshops on the WRT study of Alameda Point transit potential being funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Write Letters! Letters to the Mayor and City Council members as well as the Planning Board will let them know you care and that you expect them to uphold the vision the community has developed as reflected by the Base Reuse Plan and the General Plan Community Goals. Letters to the editor of local newspapers enable a larger audience to become involved in the discussion.

Participate! The educational effort needs lots of different talents and skills. In addition to writing letters, for example, envelopes need stuffing, phone calls need to be made, funds need to be raised, coffees hosted, and legal and campaign advice received. Tell your friends, speak at forums and groups and pass the word!

Support HOMES!

  • Invite HOMES representatives to speak at your organizations, to friends, at church, to neighbors and at coffees.
  • Donate to the effort to seek public opinion on the development of Alameda Point. Tax-deductible checks may be sent to HOMES, 816 Grand Street, Alameda, CA 94501.

Check our HOMES' Calendar Section for upcoming meetings and topics.

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