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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Alameda
Measure Z Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Failed

16,749 votes yes (40.06%)

25,063 votes no (59.94%)

100% of precincts reporting (12/12).

Shall the measure amending the City Charter to repeal the prohibition against the building of multi-family housing in Alameda and amending the City Charter and the General Plan to repeal the citywide density limitation of one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by League of Women Voters Alameda

The Question

“Shall the measure amending the City Charter to repeal the prohibition against the building of multi-family housing in Alameda and amending the City Charter and the General Plan to repeal the citywide density limitation of one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land be adopted?”

The Situation

Alameda City’s Article 26 was enacted by two City Charter amendments. In 1973, Alameda voters passed Measure A and added Article 26 to the City Charter (Multiple Dwelling Units) to prohibit the construction of multi-family housing. In 1991, voters amended Article 26 and the General Plan, to limit the maximum density of any residential development to one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land. The City Council adopted Article 26’s requirements into the City’s zoning ordinances.

The Proposal

If approved by voters a new provision would be added to the City of Alameda General Plan to repeal the maximum requirement for residential developments to one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land. It would also repeal the restriction on the construction of multi-family housing units.

Fiscal effect

  • Increase in City revenues from fees paid by developers for permitting an unknown, but greater number of new homes.

  • Possible increases in sales tax revenue from commercial and shopping districts.

  • Improves access to State funds to address critical City needs such as safe streets, quality schools, and the existential threat of sea level rise caused by the climate crisis.

  • Removes administrative costs for workarounds to comply with state regulations.

Supporters say

  • City compliance with evolving state law will be adaptable to changing conditions, rather than rigidly constrained by a charter amendment.

  • Measure A is illegal and not in compliance with state law.

  • Protections for homeowners and their neighborhoods, such as the Historical Preservation Ordinance, will remain.

  • Commercial property owners will have the ability to add apartments and condos to make it feasible to redevelop outdated property.

  • The state will make more funds available for affordable housing.

  • The repeal will remove the historic implications of zoning laws that enshrine redlining, exclusion, and discrimination.

Opponents say

  • It increases the financial incentive to demolish existing housing stock and replace it with high-density housing structures and traffic congestion.

  • The repeal will not significantly address the affordable housing shortage.

  • State law gives us the flexibility needed with Article 26 to meet our housing requirements with multi-family homes.

  • Protecting neighborhoods from overcrowding would be subject to the ever-changing city councils.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

 

  1. A YES vote means that Article 26 will be repealed and removed from the City Charter.

 

NO vote means

  1. A NO vote means that the City Charter will not change, and Article 26 will remain in effect.

Summary

The City of Alameda

ARTICLE XXVI
Repealed.
<s>Multiple Dwelling Units</s>

<s>Sec. 26-1. There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda.</s>

<s>Sec. 26-2. Exception being the Alameda Housing Authority replacement of existing low cost housing units and the proposed Senior Citizens low cost housing complex pursuant to Article XXV of the Charter of the City of Alameda.</s>

<s>Sec. 26-3. The maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land. This limitation shall not apply to the repair or replacement of existing residential units, whether singlefamily or multiple-unit, which are damaged or destroyed by fire or other disaster; provided that the total number of residential units on any lot may not be increased. This limitation also shall not apply to replacement units under Section 26-2.</s>

That a new provision shall be added to the City of Alameda General Plan to read as follows:

City of Alameda Measure A, adopted by the voters in 1991, required the City’s General Plan to perpetually establish a maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda to be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land, with certain limited exceptions. This requirement is hereby repealed in its entirety.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

The City of Alameda City Charter is the City’s highest level policy and governance document.  The City’s General Plan is the City’s long-range planning document that guides physical development, and it includes the City’s overarching goals, policies, and implementation actions regarding future development.  The City’s Zoning Ordinance implements the Charter and the General Plan by setting forth more specific land use requirements for each area or zoning district of the City. 

In 1973, Alameda voters amended the City Charter to add Article 26 (Multiple Dwelling Units) to prohibit the construction of multi-family housing, and in 1991, Alameda voters amended Article 26 of the City Charter and the General Plan to limit the maximum density of any residential development within the City of Alameda to one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land (together, “Measure A”).  Measure A’s limitations have been subsequently adopted into the City’s Zoning Ordinance by actions of the City Council.   

The Alameda City Council placed this measure on the November 3 ballot to allow voters to decide whether to repeal Measure A by amending the City Charter and General Plan. 

If approved by the voters, this measure would repeal the entirety of Article 26 of the Charter, which prohibits the construction of multi-family housing in Alameda and imposes a citywide density limitation of one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land.  It would also repeal the requirement that the General Plan continue to maintain the same density limitation.   

The ballot measure does not make substantive changes to existing residential land use provisions and requirements of the City’s General Plan and Zoning Ordinance.  If this measure is approved by the voters, the City Council will have the discretion to retain the existing Measure A limitations or amend the City’s General Plan and Zoning Ordinance to differently regulate residential densities and housing types within the various zoning districts of the City. 

This measure would take effect if it is approved by a majority of the voters. 

If the voters do not approve the measure, existing law will not change, and the existing Charter prohibition against the construction of multi-family housing and the Charter and General Plan density limitation of one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land would remain in effect. 

s/ YIBIN SHEN 

City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

In Alameda, we say everyone belongs here, yet for decades, the short-sighted and exclusionary zoning codes of the City Charter’s Article 26 have trampled our capacity to make housing more affordable, accessible, and inclusive. This has hurt Alameda’s ability to attract families, young professionals, and essential workers, who have no housing options other than cost-prohibitive single-family homes. Article 26 has forced our retirees and the young adults who graduate from our high schools to leave and never return because it is illegal to build housing that fits their needs. 

Measure __ will repeal Article 26, and is a necessary step to comply with state law, create environmentally sustainable housing, and counter systematic inequality. 

Measure __ allows the City of Alameda to create housing that continues to reflect the character and diversity of our great community. Measure __ will: 

● Preserve protections for  homeowners and their property;

● Enhance our commercial corridors;

● Rejuvenate our livable and walkable neighborhoods;

● Allow for the construction of climate-friendly, traffic-reducing homes that fit the needs of both young and aging residents;

● Improve access to state funds to address critical City needs like safe streets, quality schools, and the existential threat of sea level rise caused by the climate crisis.

Measure __ will NOT change the zoning of your existing home, and it will NOT affect Alameda’s historic architecture. Measure __  will NOT increase property, sales, or any other taxes. 

Article 26 is a relic of racist land-use policies and discriminatory housing policies that have denied the dream of homeownership to families who deserved better from our City. These policies do not belong in our community in 2020. It is time to remove one of the last red lines in Alameda. Join affordable housing advocates, business and faith leaders, and a supermajority of the City Council in voting Yes on _. 

s/ MARILYN EZZY ASHCRAFT Mayor, City of Alameda 

s/ ROB BONTA California State Assemblymember 

s/ MICHAEL YOSHII Former Senior Pastor, Buena Vista United Methodist Church 

s/ ADAM ELSESSER CEO, Penumbra, Inc. 

s/ REBECCA KOHLSTRAND Transportation Planner/Transportation Commissioner 

 

Arguments AGAINST

Why do you live in Alameda? The quiet neighborhoods? Its caring community? Parks? Historic homes? Then give credit to Article 26, known as Measure A, which has protected the character of this City.  Measure A was voted in because of overwhelming development, like 10,000 houses proposed for Bay Farm Island, and the loss of nearly 1000 established and historical homes replaced by high density buildings. In 2010 Article 26 blocked a SunCal 4346 unit project at Alameda Point. 

Don’t be fooled! The opponents assert that Article 26 has fostered single family homes that exclude people of color and lower incomes. This is not true and is refuted by Alameda’s 2014 State approved Housing Element Background Report which states: 

• “Alameda has a very diverse population...” and “...is becoming a minority-majority population” (In 2020 it is!)

• Over 35% of Alameda families are low income

• “Alameda has relatively large percentage of multifamily units (46.8%).” “…only Berkeley (53%), Emeryville (87%) and Oakland (52%) had a higher percentage…” (Since 2014, approximately 3000 multi-family dwellings are built or pending construction at Alameda Point, Del Monte, Alameda Marina, and others. Only 15% are affordable because that is all the City requires of developers.)

Don’t be fooled!  If Article 26 is repealed, City Council, by a simple majority of three votes can amend residential zoning to allow citywide home demolitions, increased density, greater heights, and less parking, resulting in massive overdevelopment, and terrible traffic.  

Alameda does need more affordable housing. Let’s demand more from our City! Join community leaders and your fellow Alamedans:  Vote no on Measure Z.  

welovealameda.com (510) 473-0676 

s/ WALTER JACOBS Broker Associate 

s/ MARIE E. KANE Small Business Owner 

s/ SYLVIA GIBSON Teacher 

s/ KAREN LITHGOW Realtor 

s/ JENNIFER ROLOFF Resident of Alameda 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The statement in opposition to Measure Z is shocking in its inaccuracy. Not one of the bullets is correct. 

Article 26 does NOT protect Victorians, does NOT set height limits, and Alameda has NOT met its affordable housing obligations.  

Vote YES on Z to make Alameda housing more affordable, accessible, and inclusive. 

FACT: Article 26 does not prevent developers from tearing down Victorians. The Historical Preservation Ordinance passed in 1980 is the reason why historic older homes have been saved. Article 26 does not even include the words “historic”, “architecture”, “demolition”, or 

“preservation”.   

FACT: Article 26 flat out prohibits the construction of any multi-family housing in Alameda. This limits new homes to one narrow type: expensive homes that discourage public transit use, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, and produce higher levels of traffic.  

FACT: The State of California has determined that the City of Alameda is not meeting its fair share obligations to provide for affordable housing to address the housing crisis. Why? Because Article 26 prohibits construction of lower cost multi-family housing. 

FACT: Article 26 enshrines into law redlining, exclusion, and discrimination. It’s a stain on our City’s character and reputation. It also puts the city at risk of expensive lawsuits. 

Join the Sierra Club, the Alameda Justice Alliance, Senator Nancy Skinner, and Renewed Hope Housing Advocates to vote Yes on Z.  There’s a reason the City’s Planning Board and City Council recommended putting this issue on the ballot: Repealing Article 26 is legally necessary, community empowering, and morally just. (www.YesOnMeasureZ.com) 

s/ GLORIA BRUCE Executive Director, East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) 

s/ MICHAEL BRUNE Sierra Club Executive Director, Alameda Resident 

s/ WILMA CHAN Member, Alameda County Board of Supervisors, Alameda Resident 

s/ JOHN PIZIALI Former President, Historical Advisory Board 

s/ JOHN KNOX WHITE Vice Mayor, Alameda City Council 

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

ARTICLE XXVI 
Repealed. 
Multiple Dwelling Units

Sec. 26-1. There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda.

Sec. 26-2. Exception being the Alameda Housing Authority replacement of existing low cost housing units and the proposed Senior Citizens low cost housing complex pursuant to Article XXV of the Charter of the City of Alameda.

Sec. 26-3. The maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land. This limitation shall not apply to the repair or replacement of existing residential units, whether singlefamily or multiple-unit, which are damaged or destroyed by fire or other disaster; provided that the total number of residential units on any lot may not be increased. This limitation also shall not apply to replacement units under Section 26-2.

That a new provision shall be added to the City of Alameda General Plan to read as follows:

City of Alameda Measure A, adopted by the voters in 1991, required the City’s General Plan to perpetually establish a maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda to be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land, with certain limited exceptions. This requirement is hereby repealed in its entirety.

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Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure Z

Organizations (1)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure Z
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

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