We asked this year’s candidates for Mayor of Alameda and the Alameda City Council five questions related to climate action and resilience. Here are the responses from the candidates listed in the order in which they were received.
1. Residential Rezoning: In the 2023-2031 housing element just approved by HCD (State Housing and Community Development Department) commits the City to rezone all residential neighborhoods, including single family, to multi-family by Jan. 31, 2023. Do you support this rezoning? Would you support modifying and resubmitting a revised housing element to HCD maintaining single family zoning in some areas of Alameda and increasing the number of homes permitted by zoning in other areas?
Barack D. Obama Shaw: I am open to rezoning if it fits a particular criteria.
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: I do support this rezoning which is an element of the City’s commitment to take meaningful actions to affirmatively further fair housing across the island. California has a housing crisis and every city must do its part to address this crisis. For this reason I would not support the revised, modified housing element described in the question.
Trish Herrera Spencer: For clarification, HCD approved a draft Housing Element for the City of Alameda, which City Council has not voted on. It will be coming to City Council for approval, and then submitted to HCD. You’re referencing the draft. When it comes to Council, I will review all Staff’s, the public’s and other Councilmembers’ comments before voting. That being said, I opposed Measure Z. As a long-time renter of an older home in Alameda, owned by local “mom & pop” landlords, I’m very concerned with proposals to upzone established residential neighborhoods to allow significant higher density housing. While campaigning against Measure Z, I met several renters who shared their stories of moving to Alameda and now renting an older rental, similar to one they’d rented in nearby cities but that their rentals in other cities had been demolished and replaced with higher density apartments with significantly higher rents for which they did not qualify (they did not have the 3 times rent income to qualify), so they had to look elsewhere and found Alameda. I strongly believe that if the upzoning occurs, we can sadly say goodbye to the majority of those tenants, as they, too, will not qualify for the new apartments built after their older rental was demolished, which rents are often double what they currently pay.
City Council Candidates
Tracy Jensen: I support the elimination of restrictive and inequitable single-family home zoning that was codified by Article 26 of the Alameda City Charter. I do not support revising the approved Housing Element to direct SB9 implementation in only certain neighborhoods.
The city-wide changes to permit an ADU on most residential lots is a good move forward, and I support allowing owners of single-family homes throughout Alameda to subdivide into two units. As a City councilmember I will never vote for any policy that would allow for destruction of single-family homes and construction of multiunit replacement buildings throughout Alameda, as happened prior to enactment of Measure A. City planning staff has developed policies that comply with SB9 by allowing for lot splits and 2-unit developments in R1 zoned areas. Many Alameda lots are large enough for subdivide, and Alameda will benefit from additional housing.
Jim Oddie: Housing is a basic human right, so, yes, I support this rezoning. I do not support
modifying/revising the housing element. The State requires cities to identify where historical impacts have occurred and to specifically address them in those locations. That’s undeniable, even though some candidates may claim otherwise. And, proposals to put all the housing in neighborhoods that have already been forced to bear with these impacts only maintain existing racial inequities. So, when you hear “build it all on the west end”, it simply means continuing the pattern of “indiscriminate zoning” – what folks are really saying then, is “Keep things unequal!” Thus, we can follow state law, or we can try to talk ourselves in knots pretending that we don’t have to and lose control of all of our planning.
N.B. – The Housing Element does not change the number of units allowed in R1/R2 districts (about 60% of Alameda’s residential zones). As I understand it, it simply allows all allowable units on a property to be in a single building – with no change in density, just building type. State law (as of 1/2022) has made “single family zoning” illegal, so this is not something the housing element is changing, nor could a future council reinstate. The zoning changes only mean that future development won’t be SFH – they won’t change the nature or character of our existing neighborhoods, where little development (beyond backyard/basement, etc. ADU’s, which are already allowed) will happen.
Paul Beusterien: As of Jan. 1, 2022 there is no single-family zoning anywhere in California. Senate Bill No. 9 (SB-9) and the new R-1 city zoning ordinance provide that two dwellings can be constructed on a formerly one-family lot or the lot can be subdivided to provide for four units on the same lot. Therefore, in response to the second part of the first question, single-family zoning is not legally possible in Alameda and increasing the density in other areas to compensate for restoration of single-family zoning is not necessary.
I support the recent planning board proposal to allow up to four units within an existing residential structure plus accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and allowance of more units with discretionary approval. However, I’d like to make sure that any renters displaced by such a reconfiguration are guaranteed a comparable replacement unit during construction and after completion.
At this time, I do not support the housing element’s unlimited upzoning of the transit corridor. I believe that city council should do its best to represent its citizens while following the law:
- Alameda citizens made their views clear about density in the 2020 Measure Z vote
- SB-9 and ADUs already significantly increase density across Alameda
- The Housing Element proposes adding 6424 dwelling units (5353 required by the state plus a surplus buffer of 1071 units) spread across the city
- The widespread distribution of the proposed 6424 units implement Affirmatively Further Fair Housing principles
Adding 6424 units will already be very disruptive for Alameda, impacting traffic, infrastructure, parks, and schools. There is no compelling reason to add in an undemocratic and unnecessary upzoning program.
I do support increasing affordable housing across Alameda as specified in the Housing Element, like building the approved all-affordable 586 housing units at the North Housing Site.
Hannah Groce: I support the housing element as presented to HCD. While I understand the desire to keep with the spirit of Article 26 as affirmed by voters who voted No on Measure Z and to limit multifamily housing in Alameda, in order to affirmatively further fair housing we cannot limit rezoning and increased development to certain neighborhoods. You cannot undo the harms of redlining, by further entrenching inequity.
Tony Daysog: I don’t support rezoning all neighborhoods to accommodate HCD’s non-scientific, ideological desire to up-zone all residential zones including R-1 and R-2 zoned residential neighborhoods. HCD is crazy. With respect to up-zoning, we as a Council have done enough by voting earlier this year to allow a maximum of 4 ADUs in R-1 neighborhoods.
2. Ranked choice voting (RCV): RCV is a voting method used by surrounding cities to achieve more representative government. As an elected official, would you be willing to vote in support of putting an RCV measure on the ballot so that voters can decide about this election reform?
Barack D. Obama Shaw: We are already in an era of distrust with the voting system. Instead of throwing fuel on that flame, let’s verify that this new process is infallible. If that is proven, then I am for it.
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: I would like to first explore barriers that prevent residents from running for elective office in the first place. This includes the cost of running a campaign. For example, this year it will cost candidates running for local office in the City of Alameda approximately $4,500 just to have their Candidate’s Statement included in the voter information pamphlet. I would like to see a non-partisan organization like the League of Women Voters explore ways that running for local public office can be more accessible to all residents in order to achieve a more representative government.
Trish Herrera Spencer: I have attended numerous events by the City of Alameda League of Women of Voters and others on this issue and carefully reviewed their website and other information on this issue. Here’s the League’s link: Ranked Choice Voting in Alameda – LWV OF ALAMEDA (lwvalameda.org) I have had numerous conversations with members of the League regarding this issue and offered to bring a referral (request) to City Council to ask City Council to consider having a discussion on this issue at the Council level. I believe that issues are elevated in community dialogue when they come to City Council. However, the League members I spoke with did not think it was the right time to bring a referral to Council, thus, I deferred to the League members and did not bring a Council referral. As many know, community members may also collect signatures to put issues on the ballot; that’s an alternative to asking Council to put it on the ballot. I look forward to hearing from the community in regards to whether they think it’s appropriate for Council to put the issue on the ballot or if they think those who are interested in this should gather signatures to put it on the ballot. Gathering signatures, which I’ve personally done on multiple issues (e.g., protecting our City parks), even though it’s time consuming, is a great way to educate community members about the issue because you have to collect a certain number of signatures to qualify. Thus, there’s voter education occurring in the signature gathering process.
City Council Candidates
Tracy Jensen: I am strongly in favor of Ranked Choice Voting, and I believe that RCV increases voter participation and saves money by eliminating runoff election costs. As a City Councilmember I would volunteer to participate on a community-driven committee to put the RCV measure on the ballot. I would not be comfortable having the Council bring RCV to the voters because the current elected leadership has not established a credible level of voter trust. If I am elected to the City Council I would only vote to put the RCV on the ballot after an effective City Manager is in place, and the City Manager and City Clerk have developed a comprehensive voter outreach plan with input from the League of Women Voters and other interested community groups.
Jim Oddie: Noting that RCV rarely changes the outcome of an election (if that’s what proponents are hoping for), I would support RCV in Alameda if combined with other reforms to how the City Council is elected, namely the expansion of the council to six members plus the Mayor (or seven with a rotating mayor) and district-based elections, similar to Berkeley (where candidates run only in their districts) as opposed to San Leandro (where candidates must live in their district but run city-wide). This combination would increase the diversity of candidates and lower the cost of elections, in my opinion.
Paul Beusterien: I am strongly in favor of bringing RCV to Alameda. It is the issue that initially triggered my thoughts about a city council campaign. I’ve been active with League of Women Voters’s RCV initiative, designed their RCV flier, written editorials, and marched in the July 4th parade in support. It is a simple electoral reform that should not be delayed or killed by adding a large package of other reforms. I will support adding an RCV measure to the 2024 ballot.
RCV tends to motivate politicians to build consensus instead of appealing to the extremes. The result is a more functional government.
RCV improves representation – fears of “splitting the vote” can lead to candidates dropping out early for the good of some coalition. The result is potential candidates lose their opportunity to run for office and voters have few choices.
RCV is especially important for multi-seat races like our city council vote. Plurality voting enables a special interest group to advocate a minority of the populace voting for two favored candidates while the rest of the voters are diluted. The end result is that a few voters get double represented and most of the voters get zero say. With RCV, the voters who choose the first candidate aren’t part of choosing the second candidate, resulting in a much more representative council.
Hannah Groce: Yes, I would be willing to vote in support of putting a RCV measure on the ballot so that voters are able to decide if they think this is an election reform we should have in Alameda. I think that RCV does offer a way for people to vote for their favorite candidate without feeling the need to cast a strategic vote for a candidate they are less enthusiastic about. I know that RCV has the potential to lead to more diverse candidates running and being elected, and I absolutely believe that our elected officials should be representative of the constituents they serve.
Tony Daysog: I am intrigued by RCV, though not sure of its constitutionality. However, it appears to have worked recently in Alaska, with respect to allowing moderate primary candidates, such as Senator Lisa Murkowski, in the face of extreme partisanship on all sides, to move ahead to the November General. As I’ve said in other venues such as the LWV of Alameda, I don’t want to consider RCV in a vacuum: it must considered in conjunction with expanding the number of Councilmembers to 7 persons (1-elected Mayor, 2-elected city wide Councilmembers, and 4 Councilmembers representing 4 Districts), and other reforms.
3. Electrification: Electrification plays an important role in mitigating the effects of the climate crisis. What more can Alameda do to promote electric vehicle adoption equitably across all demographics? How can Alameda promote more charging options for multifamily residents and others that may lack access to home charging and unlock funding provided by the California Energy Commission and others? What more can be done to encourage residents to electrify their homes?
Barack D. Obama Shaw: I would have to see the costs.
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: Alameda needs to identify more locations across the island for EV charging stations, and maintain existing charging stations so they’re always operable to meet demand. AMP and the PUB should pursue whatever funding opportunities the California Energy Commission offers to increase electrification. And, as a matter of equity, grants should be made available to assist lower income households with the significant cost of home electrification.
Trish Herrera Spencer: I have serious concerns about the roll-out of this. As we all know, we now have regular rolling black-outs. In response, community members have purchased home generators. Mass outages and extreme weather mean a boom in generator sales : NPR Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2022 Yosemite Policymakers Conference – CivicWell. Private industry generator leader, Bloom Energy, presented. They shared that there’s been a rapid increase of diesel-fuel backup generators across California. New Study Shows A Rapid Increase Of Diesel-fueled Backup Generators Across California – Bloom Energy This is a serious pollution and health problem. It is important that we support efforts to create more green energy, however, we must look at the whole picture. Banning of diesel-fuel generators is not really the solution as we should have reliable energy. People who can least afford to replace their food in their refrigerators, are dependent upon electricity for medical needs, are afraid for their safety sitting in the dark, have legitimate concerns.
City Council Candidates
Tracy Jensen: Vehicles are responsible for more than 70% of Alameda’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it is imperative that the City continue to establish options for accessing and charging electric vehicles. I strongly favor alternatives to automobiles, but until there is a bike for every home and a bus on every street it is unlikely that most Alameda residents will give up their cars. Studies show that residents of single-family homes are much more likely to have access to an EV charging station than are residents of multi-unit buildings, and Alameda must address this inequity. In my position with the City of Oakland I have been awarded competitive CPUC grants and I understand the opportunities for accessing funds to encourage EV purchase, and to establish additional EV charging stations. Alameda can reduce dependence on fossil fuels by accessing funds from the California Energy Commission and from private sources, streamlining the permitting process to expand residential charging capacity for all residents, and requiring all new multi-unit housing to provide EV charging stations.
While I favor building codes to encourage electric appliances in all new and remodeled dwellings, I recognize that it is not financially feasible for many Alameda residents to replace gas appliances, especially in older homes where new circuits are necessary. It is imperative that the City adopt the same standards as the State and require 200-amp or greater electric capacity for new residences, and for subdivided single-family homes. The AMP financial incentives of up to $2500 should be expanded, and there must be exemptions for low income residents.
Jim Oddie: As a councilmember I was a leader in establishing a policy of prohibiting natural gas use for all new residential construction. In fact, we went back to the developer of Alameda Marina to require additional EV charging spaces and that all residential development there be electric, although not part of the original agreement. I think grant-funding here would be helpful to offset the cost of electrifying existing homes. For multi-family units, grant funding would be a critical part of the solution to avoid having landlords pass on the cost of electrification to tenants who already feel the crunch of rent increases.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress last year provides significant funding for EV charging stations. Gov. Newsom wants to adopt a ban on gas-powered cars by 2035. So, the future of the automobile will be electric. But the question raised some interesting points. First, electric vehicles are cost prohibitive for many income levels – that issue needs to be solved before there is mass adoption. Second, electric vehicles are not the complete answer to eliminating GHG – we need to get more people out of their cars (see next question). Third, is the availability of charging stations. My neighbors recently purchased a full EV, but without a driveway or garage, they cannot charge at home (no one can “reserve” a street parking space in Alameda), so they have to rely on the public charging network or their employer having charging stations. I do believe charging stations need to be more ubiquitous – for example, South Shore has many stations for Tesla, but only a couple stations for non-Tesla EV drivers. As a city council, we can require developers, like we did at Alameda Marina, to provide more EV chargers. It is also difficult for EV drivers who live in multi-family dwellings to have chargers. The city should be able to set up a grant program to incentivize owners of multi-family dwellings to provide EV chargers. AMP’s rebate program is good, but only D-1 residential customers are eligible for the rebates, so expansion of this program could benefit many other residents.
Paul Beusterien: I agree that electrification is an important climate mitigation initiative. Since Alameda has its own electric utility that has been 100% renewable since 2020, Alameda is in a great position to be a leader in the initiative.
Given that there are already several trends increasing electrical demand, I think it’s especially important that city initiatives focus on supply initiatives, especially as we continue to have rolling blackouts when demand surges.
Some of the trends that will continue to increase demand:
- Rapidly increasing affordability of electric vehicles
- Alameda’s Housing Element specifying 5353 new housing units in the next eight years combined with the requirement they be all electric
- State and federal initiatives, like the Inflation Reduction Act
Therefore, at this point in time, I think it’s more important that we incentivize supply creation. It’s great that the city recently simplified the solar permit process, but we have a long way to go to take advantage of the abundant sunlight we have in Alameda. We should incentivize home solar as well as moving forward with the Doolittle Solar Facility. Also, we should incentivize battery adoption to store more of that power for the challenging 4-9PM peak electricity usage times.
I would support finding ways to increase home-charging access including incentivizing electric panel upgrades and car-charging infrastructure for homes and multi-family apartments.
Incentives for full-home electrifying should not yet be a priority:
- It can cost tens of thousands of dollars
- It can displace renters, especially the most vulnerable
- Housing greenhouse gas emission is 27% versus 70% for transportation in Alameda
- We should address electricity availability and some of the other lower hanging fruit first
Hannah Groce: Those who live in multifamily units are often limited in their options to charge their vehicles at home, which likely delays their adoption of electric vehicles. Our older multifamily units often have dedicated parking spaces and if we incentivized property owners of those units to install charging stations for their residents as an amenity, we could move toward meeting our emissions goals. The current EV rebates available are not as well publicized as they could be, and if Alameda did more to promote the existence of programs and help residents navigate the processes to obtain them, we might also see increased adoption. City-wide we can increase the installation of charging stations in public locations–especially fast charging stations–so that those who don’t have charging capabilities at home can charge while out running errands or enjoying Alameda’s amenities. One of–if not the biggest–impediment to people transitioning from natural gas to electric in their homes and cars is the cost to switch, so the more rebates and upfront grants we can offer people at various income levels, the more adoption we will likely see. We must do this in a way that targets those with lower incomes and less access to capital, by accessing grant dollars available through federal and state programs that are targeting low income people and communities actively working to meet their emissions goals.
Tony Daysog: The City of Alameda has community assets across all neighborhoods of Alameda, including neighborhoods with multi-family housing: these are called neighborhood parks. Next to each of these parks are streets, some street parking spots of which are seldom used and thus could easily be converted into electric vehicle charging stations in an effort involving either AM&P and\or a private sector provider selected via a city-issued RFP process.
4. Transportation: With transportation being the largest contributor to pollution in Alameda, what are 2 things you plan to do to get people out of their cars? How can the City help drivers safely negotiate the new road configurations that result from bike lanes and narrowed streets?
Barack D. Obama Shaw: The asks how can we get people out of their cars? We can’t make people get out of their cars. We can make requests and find out why they are not riding bikes. Some people don’t ride bikes. We can recommend car pooling and perhaps create incentives.
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: In 2021, we opened our third ferry terminal at Seaplane Lagoon Terminal and I will continue advocating for increased public transit options for Alameda, including an eventual BART stop. I will also continue to encourage residents to use public transit, walk or bike whenever possible.
Additionally, I am actively advocating for a bicycle-pedestrian bridge between Alameda and Oakland which will significantly reduce automobile traffic on the West End of Alameda.
Our streets are safer when drivers are attentive and obey the speed limit. Police officers can’t be everywhere at all times, so I favor road enhancements like speed cushions that force drivers to slow down. Driver attentiveness is everyone’s personal responsibility.
Trish Herrera Spencer: After suffering a terrible bicycle accident almost four years ago, I personally take the bus and BART regularly to Oakland and San Francisco. Sadly, I have personally witnessed and been the victim of incidents on both. As I’ve shared before, neither is safe. Many employers, in fact, do not allow their employees to take the bus or BART because of safety concerns. So, it is critical that we focus on making public transportation not only more reliable, and available (price-wise, routes, and hours), but it must also be safe. People should not have to risk their personal safety to ride public transportation. So, one focus of mine is making public transportation safe, reliable, affordable and improved routes.
I also supported the continuation of Alameda’s free Loop Shuttle that provided service from Alameda’s senior assisted living communities to local shopping centers and Mastick Senior Center. Many seniors and their family members expressed concerns with the elimination of the Loop Shuttle and opposed the switch to AC Transit bus passes, requiring them to walk farther distances to catch the bus, switch buses (transfer) rather than stay on the Loop Shuttle, wait at bus stops alone and ride AC Transit which is not as safe as the Shuttle, thus limiting their ability to remain independent as long as possible. The Loop Shuttle provided: “All routes stop at these common destinations: Alameda Hospital, Alameda Main Library, Alameda Theater, Kaiser Permanente, Mastick Senior Center, South Shore Center at Trader Joe’s / Safeway. The service is open to all, and provides preferential seating for seniors and people with disabilities. Riders are encouraged to board the shuttles at the designated shuttle stops and to explore Alameda. Shuttle drivers can assist riders with boarding and exiting the shuttle, securing wheelchairs and carrying up to five bags of groceries or a folding shopping cart.” That critical service was carefully planned to encourage seniors and people with disabilities to remain independent as long as possible and began while I was Mayor of Alameda, in 2017. New Shuttles Doing Loops | Alameda Sun I support revisiting this important issue.
I joined other councilmembers in supporting the region’s interest in funding a comprehensive analysis of a bike/ped bridge across the Oakland Estuary. (July 12, 2022 City Council Agenda, Item 5-B
Here’s the video link: City Council on 2022-07-12 7:00 PM – ZOOM (granicus.com).
In response to my questions, staff shared that:
- The Senior Transportation Coordinator responded the model is based on assumptions in the travel demand model developed by the region pre-pandemic.
- Councilmember Herrera Spencer inquired whether there has been no correction and review since the pandemic, to which the Senior Transportation Coordinator responded the consultant will go back and update the numbers during this phase; stated the scenario of the Oakland A’s stadium being approved will also be reviewed.
- Councilmember Herrera Spencer inquired whether the bridge will accommodate motorized bicycles and scooters used by disabled persons, to which the Planning, Building and Transportation Director responded in the affirmative.
- In response to Councilmember Herrera Spencer’s inquiries regarding vehicles and emergencies, the Planning, Building and Transportation Director stated the bridge is expected to accommodate emergency vehicles and will be used in emergency response in the event of a major earthquake; in an emergency, the bridge could be used for supplies and emergency vehicles, but not cars.
- Councilmember Herrera Spencer stated City money is not being used, only regional money; inquired whether the effort will take a year and a half.
- The Planning, Building and Transportation Director responded it is an 18 month effort; stated four to five different locations for the bridge will be reviewed; noted regional organizations helped pick the consultants, which are the best consultants available.
- Councilmember Herrera Spencer stated that she plans to support this step; it is important to figure out options; driving through the Tube is very hard; she is fine with looking at the Oakland stadium, but the bigger issue is the impact of people working remotely.
- Councilmember Herrera Spencer inquired whether golf carts would be allowed, to which the Senior Transportation Coordinator responded it depends on the structure and how much weight can be supported; supporting more weight makes the project more expensive and less feasible.
See, July 12, 2022 City Council Minutes, pages 3-5.
However, I also think it’s critical that the City of Alameda aggressively lobby the State of California for an additional way for people to enter and exit the City of Alameda via cars and emergency vehicles on the west end where there’s significant housing development and only the Tubes for ingress and egress. It’s my understanding that the Tubes may not survive a significant earthquake, which could happen anytime. The State is demanding significantly more housing in Alameda (RHNA numbers of 5,353 new housing units), which primarily will be built in central and west end parts of Alameda, and which can jeopardize residents’ safety in an emergency and, thus, the State should step-up on this important issue. The current mayor supported the State and opposed the majority of City Council’s challenge to the assigned RHNA numbers (I supported the challenge; the vote was 3:2 with the current mayor opposing). Obviously a challenge that begins the mayor does not support this is not going to be taken seriously.
In regards to the second part of this question, I appreciate you acknowledging that help is needed for drivers to safely negotiate the new road configurations. However, I would expand that to all users. Many times, the new roads are confusing and, thus, not safe. Sadly, I have seen multiple occasions of near accident misses and we have all heard of serious and fatal accidents occurring. One suggestion is speed lumps or pillows (as on Bayview Drive) that can reasonably slow traffic but are not so severe that they severely impede traffic flow or emergency vehicles.
City Council Candidates
Tracy Jensen: In my work with seniors I have found that telemedicine, and expanded nutrition delivery programs, have reduced vehicle usage while making it easier for residents to remain independent in the community. As a city councilmember I will work to support hybrid and remote meetings and appointments. I will also support and encourage expansion of Alameda Meals on Wheels.
The Alameda free shuttle is a great option for seniors and other residents without vehicles, and I will support additional routes and expanded capacity to make it easier for all Alamedans to leave their cars. As a city council member, I will always support street configurations that encourage walking and biking and public transportation without inhibiting traffic flow. Finally, City leaders can support public transportation and discourage vehicle usage by advocating for the Link 21 regional transportation plan and ensure that a new Transbay crossing includes a BART station in Alameda.
Jim Oddie: As I noted in my Bike Walk Alameda questionnaire, this is another area where I have led while a councilmember. To prepare and mitigate the threat of climate change, while on council, we adopted our CARP, which included an integrated approach we called the “Climate Safe Plan,” which emphasizes reducing GHGs to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible. The two things we could do are: 1) continue to advocate and plan for the bicycle/pedestrian bridge across the estuary, and 2) continue to create a safe, comfortable walking and bicycling city. The estuary bike/ped bridge is a no-brainer and I was proud to be a leader on that project while on council and am excited that it continues to move forward. On road-sharing, we need to continue to implement projects like Central Avenue, Clement Street, Shoreline, and Grand Street bicycle lane projects. And when we do, we need to choose the option (like the one I advocated for on Central that Bike Walk Alameda proposed) that most protect cyclists (like protected bicycle lanes), not make it easier for automobiles or cut a few minutes off travel time. Ultimately, as we expand bicycle lanes to more streets, including more narrow ones, we will need to evaluate just how many parking spaces we need on those streets.
Paul Beusterien: We need to get people into electric cars to reduce pollution, which I address under the previous question about electrification.
The city should continue to improve bus, ferry, bike, and pedestrian transportation alternatives. Examples include moving forward on the Pedestrian/Bike Bridge to Oakland and better paths like a connector from South Shore to the Bay Farm Bridge.
For the most part, signs and time are sufficient for drivers to adapt to new road configurations. When they’re not, like the bump at Sherman and Atlantic, we should reevaluate and change.
Hannah Groce: I plan to get people out of their cars by continuing the work Alameda has started to improve street safety for all modes of transportation, which includes higher visibility crosswalks, connected bike lanes throughout town, improved signage, more bike parking, and additional traffic calming measures. The city can help drivers more safely navigate the new road configurations by creating clear signage that indicates where cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers are allowed to be and also sending communication to residents about the new configurations so they know to be on the lookout. I also plan to encourage people to get out of their cars by pushing to improve transit-oriented housing options that are in neighborhoods that have existing businesses to serve the community, while also working to attract new businesses that can serve residents within a short distance from their homes and public transportation.
Tony Daysog: We got to make the process by which we encourage people to get out of their cars fun! So, if re-elected, I will have the City of Alameda work with local Park Street and Webster Street businesses in creating a BINGO card — in which people cross-out a letter (until they hit all five letters of B-I-N-G-O) each time they either ride their bikes, take the bus, or ferry to SF, instead of driving their cars to work. They will have to take a selfie as proof. Once they reach B-I-N-G-O, they can submit their cards to participate in a RAFFLE for a grand prize — or they can submit their cards for small prizes, such as (possibly) half-off for a triple-capuccino from a Webster Street cafe! (“Remember: the more cards you submit, the GREATER your chances of winning!!!!”).
I also think we need to create a “culture” of alt-transit — so, to this end, we should work with AC Transit to figure out ways to fund a “free weekend bus” program: so, if you catch the bus anywhere in Alameda in the weekend between 7 am Saturday and 11:59 pm Sunday, the ride is free!
Honestly, that’s a strange question (“How can the City help drivers safely negotiate the new road configurations that result from bike lanes and narrowed streets?”): if a new road configuration is so confusing that the City “has to help drivers”, is that a configuration you really want? Let’s give residents some credit: I’m pretty sure they can figure out streets on their own, even ones that at first blush might seem baffling — but if they can’t, such that “city help” is required, then maybe that’s a street design that should have never left the drawing board.
5. Funding: Alameda faces the threats of sea level rise and emergent groundwater due to climate change. Do you support revenue measures, such as an infrastructure bond and utility users tax for natural gas, to help Alameda mitigate and prepare for these impacts?
Barack D. Obama Shaw: I would 1st see what all the city is responsible for and then I would look at the cost and what existing structures that we already have in place. I don’t work off speculations and presuppositions. I work off proof.
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft: Yes, as well as pursuing grant funding opportunities.
Trish Herrera Spencer: I have concerns of increasing taxes that are regressive and/or contribute to gentrification. The City of Alameda already has the highest sales tax in California at 10.75%. California Sales Tax Rates By City & County 2022 (salestaxhandbook.com) In fact, the latest increase required a rider on State legislation to be legal. Possibly regional, State or Federal monies are a more equitable response than continuing to ask local residents to pay more taxes.
City Council Candidates
Tracy Jensen: I support new revenue though bond and tax initiatives but only when the City develops and adheres to a strategic plan that includes measurable objectives and related costs. The 2019 Climate Action & Resiliency Plan was a good start, but the lack of City Manager leadership, and the closures resulting from the pandemic, have stalled much of the discretionary actions. According to the Dashboard, the City is unlikely to meet the goal of reducing emissions by 50% by 2030.
A comprehensive, measurable plan would include alternatives to the short-term proposal to address up to 3 feet of sea level rise by installing shoreline berms. I favor long term, efficient planning to address climate change goals. Alameda should consider a City-Business Climate Alliance like projects in Boston and Helsinki. I would go further and work to establish Alameda as an environmental resource hub, by providing incentives for businesses working to mitigate climate change to locate/relocate at Alameda Point.
Jim Oddie: Yes, I would support an infrastructure bond solely dedicated to climate change/sea-level rise resiliency and adaptability projects, such as flooding and adaptation measures, pump station renovations, storm drain repairs, and lagoon upgrades – in 2018, these costs were estimated to be over $110 million. I believe Alameda voters, who recognize that climate change is an existential threat to Alameda, would support such a ballot measure.
Natural gas customers are included in our existing UUT of 7.5%, so perhaps this question is asking about an additional surcharge on natural gas, like Berkeley attempted to do in 2020 with their Measure HH (which unfortunately did not pass). I would support such a measure, but recognize that if it didn’t pass in Berkeley (where it would have raised ~$2.4 million/year), it will be an uphill battle, especially if it’s dedicated to pay for climate-related staffing, which would require a 2/3 vote, I believe.
Paul Beusterien: Alameda’s Climate and Hazard Mitigation Plan provides a comprehensive summary of climate risks and solution paths. Flood risk is the hazard that will increase the most with climate change.
Sea level rise and storm surge put much of Alameda at flood risk. In addition, increasing numbers of Alameda property owners are required to pay expensive flood insurance for being in the FEMA hundred year floodplain. The limited capacity of Alameda’s stormwater system adds the risk of flooding to the rest of Alameda as well. According to the Plan, “most of the neighborhoods prone to flooding in the near term are among the 14 (out of 57) most socially vulnerable block groups identified.”
As a result, we need to fund a citywide storm water system upgrade, as well as other flooding risk mitigation measures, such as converting all publicly-owned surface parking lots to permeable surfaces, and perimeter areas into bioswales, to reduce runoff.
Let’s invest to upgrade our storm water system now, as prescribed in the city’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan. Foster City recently approved a bond measure to pay for a levee system to protect their city from flooding and exorbitant flood insurance premiums. Let’s follow their lead and invest in a robust storm water system to reduce both the elevated flood risk and the high ongoing insurance costs.
I support the Transport Occupancy Tax that is on this November’s ballot and if after exhausting city and federal funding options, there is still the need, I would support additional revenue measures, including an infrastructure bond and utilities user tax to address the threats of sea level rise and emergent groundwater.
Hannah Groce: We absolutely need to be doing as much as we can to mitigate the effects of groundwater and sea level rise, while also continuing to create new developments that have green infrastructure.
I support the use of revenue measures like an infrastructure bond or a utility users tax for natural gas. However, if we were to implement a utility users tax for natural gas I would want to explore possible exemptions for low income residents and seniors. If we want people to move toward electrification and away from natural gas usage, we also need to support measures and rebates to encourage people to make the switch and to give lower income residents an opportunity to make these changes.
Tony Daysog: The Sierra Club asked a similar question, so I am just going to copy-paste the response I gave them: “I will consider a climate adaptation bond measure after we, the City Council of Alameda, first identify adaptation measures needed at new inland and shoreline development projects, and require developers of and future buyers into these projects to cover the cost of adaptation strategies via ‘sequential CFDs’ that can be adjusted and paid for in the event all signs point to groundwater disturbances and SLR coming in higher than the initial mid-, 2075-, or end-of-century projections, with the proviso that these developers and buyers would still be subject to any city-wide climate adaptation bond measures; second, a city-wide climate adaptation bond measure must be stand-alone item dealing strictly and directly with either rising groundwater levels and/or sea level rise along our shores and inland storm-water infrastructure, and not be tied to either gimmicks such as the pension obligation bond measure I opposed earlier this year because it was so full of “rosy scenarios and assumptions”, or be a part of a larger catch-all infrastructure bond; and, three, before it asks voters for more money, Council must demonstrate fiscal discipline to the residents by creating a 30-year spending plan that limits the number of incremental employees needed each year over the next 30-years to the growth in number of persons in Alameda, and limits annual salary and non-salary wage increase to a total of 3.5%.”