Housing limit under review

Part of the vacant military housing near Alameda Landing, formerly known as North Housing, fetched a winning auction bid of $38 million.

In order to complete the sale, the current “government” zoning designation must be removed.  At the same time, the city recommends removing the government zoning from two adjacent parcels that will soon be transferred to the Alameda Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity.  The residential, multifamily zoning will remain intact.

What makes this rezoning more than routine is that city staff says when this zoning amendment takes place, the current cap of 435 housing units will automatically be lifted.

On Monday, November 13, in addition to updating the zoning, the planning board will consider whether or not to reinstate a cap on the number of housing units allowed.  However, Assistant Community Development Director Andrew Thomas cautions in the staff report, “Re-establishing a housing cap as part of the rezoning of the property is a form of downzoning, inconsistent with the new state law which is intended to facilitate housing construction in California.”  Thomas does not explain why keeping the exact number of units currently approved becomes a form of downzoning during a ministerial cleanup of zoning language.

In 2009, the Navy and the city agreed to a base reuse plan for this area that established the allowable number of housing units for all three parcels at 435. Habitat for Humanity was allotted 30 units, the Alameda Housing Authority 90, and the market rate 315.  The staff report does not explain how a new 2017 state housing statute can invalidate the 2009 federally approved military base reuse plan.

The winning bidder for the market-rate parcel, San Francisco-based Carmel Partners, has stated that it intends to rehab the existing 146 apartments and offer them for rent.  None will have to be set aside as “affordable.”  The three- and four-bedroom apartments were constructed in 1969.  The interiors were remodeled shortly before the site was vacated about 10 years ago, leaving the units in close to move-in condition.

The developer would be satisfied with retaining its 315-unit cap that figured into their valuation of the property, leaving open the option of adding additional units in the future, according to the staff report.

By not reinstating the cap on the Housing Authority parcel, the report asserts that the city will be able to add hundreds of additional units when the Housing Element must be updated in 2023.

Whatever the planning board decides, the city council will eventually have the final say.

The meeting is at City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Council Chambers, 3rd Floor, and begins at 7 PM.  It is also viewable live on the city’s website and on Comcast and ATT government cable channels.

The Navy will transfer the Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity parcels once the Carmel Partners sale is closed.  The vacant high school on Singleton Avenue is in the process of being transferred to Alameda Unified School District.  Previously the Navy transferred the adjacent Estuary Park to the city, and lighted sports fields are nearing completion.

Originally published in the Alameda Sun.

Related story: “Navy to sell vacant housing.”

Author: richard94501

My blog is Alameda Point Environmental Report covering environmental issues from wildlife to cleanup at the former Navy base in Alameda now called Alameda Point. Articles on my blog are frequently printed in the Alameda Sun newspaper. I also host a Twitter site and a Flickr photo site. I hope you find my stories and photos of interest. Richard Bangert Alameda, California

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