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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Seven Days

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Kate Harrison - The council only approved the additional $4.5 million in affordable housing funds ($6 million would have been required of any development) for this large project because of community pressure from housing advocates and the actions of the Zoning Adjustment Board.Initially, these extra funds were not in the cards - I am one of the people fighting for affordable housing who is not against large buildings. We are looking for a reasonable balance of housing at all levels.

Posted by Kate Harrison on 12/17/2015 at 7:05 AM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Two small corrections to this piece, that is otherwise great:

1. Many other cities require TWO parking spaces per unit. One is less common.

2. UC Berkeley has done a lot more than "essentially nothing". In particular, several student housing projects have been built in the lasr few years, and a large new one was just proposed on an existing parking lot.

Posted by Chris Harrelson on 12/16/2015 at 5:40 PM

Re: “Berkeley Shows How It's Done

Robert Gammon... there's virtually no difference between the way 2211 Harold was approved and what was planned for Oakland's E 12th parcel. Berkeley property values are nearly double that of Oakland's and so Berkeley was able to squeeze nearly double the benefits from the developer. Wow, how amazing of them. I suppose if developments keep getting torpedoed by "activists" (you champion) in Oakland our property values might just catch up. Then you'll write up a story about how wrong those "activists" are and how proud you are that Oakland got an empty lot developed after sitting empty for a decade. Bleh.

Posted by Matt_Chambers on 12/16/2015 at 5:10 PM

Re: “Time Is Running Out for Oakland

A correction regarding the Berkeley density bonus proposal, which has not yet been passed by the City Council: The idea is to create a City density bonus that would allow developers to receive a density bonus in return for higher affordable housing fee payments into the Housing Trust Fund (HTF). The reason for this is that fees paid into the HTF can be matched with Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits or State funding and result in production of more affordable housing off-site than would be provided on-site to meet the requirements of the State density bonus.

I see from the other comments that opponents of affordable housing requirements for new development claim the authority of economics in support of their position. They fail to consider the economics of land values, however. When a City requires community benefits from new development, as long as the developer knows the requirements in advance the developer can reduce the price they offer for the land by the same amount. Then, as long as the cost of the community benefits is not so high that the land owner won't make money by selling the property for higher density development, the required community benefits will not reduce development or increase rents. Empirical studies of the effects of "inclusionary" housing requirements have mixed results but most find that such requirements have little overall effect on housing production.

Posted by Stephen Barton on 12/11/2015 at 10:58 PM

Re: “Time Is Running Out for Oakland

It is unfortunate that intellectuals fail to study economics. If Mr. Gammon had studied economics he would realize that the only way to bring down rents is to increase the supply of housing. Otherwise you move into a situation where the government effectively supplies the housing. And government housing has always failed, in every example in the U.S., and in every example in foreign countries. Somehow intellectuals think they are so smart that all they have to do is institute a government program, run by intellectuals who are so smart, that everything is going to be just wonderful. After all, these intellectuals mean well, they have big hearts, and they have rose colored glasses, and they love to go to Starbucks in the morning. Perhaps Mr. Gammon should spend less time at Starbucks and more time in government housing projects.

Posted by Jerry Udinksy on 12/10/2015 at 4:33 AM

Re: “Time Is Running Out for Oakland

Let's say you are investing in a builder's company and you want a 10% return on your risky investment. That firm can build 100 units of market-rate housing, but to cost of doing so is $28,000 dollars more because of some so-called "impact" fee - meaning the apartment costs more to build and nothing whatsoever is added to the unit's quality. A 10% return on that $28,000 is $233.00 a month - so to maintain it and pay you, the "market rate" rent will have to increase to get it back. If that rent increase prices the new building's rent rates out of the market, the venture will fail - increasing the risk of your investment causing you to back away. Doesn't anyone see how this will 1) increase rental rates, or 2) impede capital investment capital inhibiting the building of more units? When "market rates" go up, any "affordable" housing rates will be based on the higher overall rates in the area, so they increase, too. It will dry up construction, investment capital or drive rental rates higher so those not "in" on affordable housing will pay through the nose, while even those on the "affordable" bandwagon will pay more. Gammon crows about a $310 million bond measure in San Francisco. That might build 800 or so units - a drop in the bucket in that market, making almost no impact on the overall rental crisis there - a crisis caused by rent control meddling. This is social meddling with a market-driven economy - and this "Robin Hood" mentality of robbing the rich to benefit the poor is destined to fail just as it has everywhere.

Posted by William H. Thompson on 12/09/2015 at 9:11 PM

Re: “A Missed Opportunity

Persons of a certain race are often described as suspects in a great majority of crimes in Berkeley and Oakland. What does Jim Chanin have to say about that fact? How about you, Robert? Even Black police officers profile persons of their own race.

If you saw a tiger strolling down the block, would you give it the benefit of the doubt in that it wouldn't attack or kill you? Behavior is usually shaped and modified by experience, knowledge, and statistics. It is simply human nature but I know, it doesnt fit your narrative.

Posted by John Lefman on 12/03/2015 at 9:36 PM

Re: “A Missed Opportunity

"Richmond does have a youth curfew."
It's a daytime curfew -- essentially an anti-truancy provision, not a tough-on-crime law. Daytime curfews are a means of keeping kids in school, and are often embraced by progressives, especially when the kids are taken to a community youth center -- as they are in Richmond -- rather than being arrested. Even Richmond's then-progressive mayor, Gayle McLaughlin, wholeheartedly supported it.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 12/03/2015 at 12:41 PM

Re: “A Missed Opportunity

I'm a huge Magnus fan; he did great work, as did those working with him. And if anything it was a harder task in Richmond; look up the history of the Cowboys there.

But the analysis is a bit odd. Aside from sneer quotes about crime, there are some strange inaccuracies. First, RPD does stop and frisk. Every police agency does. And has done so since like forever. Probably happening as we speak. The key is HOW it's done, and no mention of that.

And I dunno whether Mr. Gammon has inside info on Chief Magnus' thought processes, but Richmond does have a youth curfew, and does enforce it.… Perhaps since then the Chief repudiated that curfew, but it would behoove Mr. Gammon to note that, and why it happened.

And it would have been worth noting that San Jose did employ one of the first chiefs, McNamara, who pioneered community policing hereabouts, clamped down on his own force's misconduct, instituted more diversity in hiring, etc. Yet San Jose has backside mightily. So perhaps more than a good chief is needed.

And finally, I don't see the irony of the Chief decamping to Tucson. Tucson is a solidly liberal college town, not too different from Berkeley. I agree with Mr. Gammon that it's a shame that the Chief didn't bring his skills to other departments near here, but one must also recognize that he did use some of the same tools as many other departments, and that pretending he didn't stop and frisk youth curfew violators, etc, is mythologizing the personality at the expense of the facts.

Posted by Ambierce Brose on 12/03/2015 at 12:11 PM

Re: “A Missed Opportunity

As usual, this is more rant than informative. Explaining "progressive policing" in depth, the origin and the ways it is put into practice through specific behaviors would have have been less self-indulgent and more educational. Yawn.

Posted by Mary Vigilanti on 12/03/2015 at 12:06 AM

Re: “Libby Schaaf Makes Right Move on Protests

This comment was deleted because it violates our website's Terms Of Use. People who repeatedly violate our policies will lose their ability to post comments. You can read our entire Terms Of Use here.

Posted by Editor on 11/26/2015 at 12:30 AM

Re: “Libby Schaaf Makes Right Move on Protests

See those ads for Lockheed's new fighter jet on this page? Amazed that EBX takes money from big defense.

Amazing hypocrisy!

Posted by Steve Berley on 11/25/2015 at 5:30 PM

Re: “Big Oil Brown Strikes Again

Maybe this explains why California is the only oil producing state that doesn't have an oil depletion tax. Even in the lowest point when we had to cut funds from the neediest, he would not consider such a tax.

Posted by Joyce Roy on 11/17/2015 at 6:31 PM

Re: “Big Oil Brown Strikes Again

What he did Gary Patton,was to take the funds from all seven redevelopment districts to his downtown project . Forrest City is an international developer got the land literally free and then was given a subsidy to develop it .I was the chair of the Project Action Committe for North Oakland and resigned becuase of his actions. He is and has alway been a tool...His friends that redid the Fox had a 30 millio cost over run and that was to build and attach Jerry's private school to the Fox. Make no mistake Charters are privates and this small town now has 26% of its students in charters. What makes Jerry's two so egregious that when I was an administrator at Tech we made do with half the funding per pupil that Jerry pushed into his schools. The Arts school has a curriculum that should be in every damn public school. This is literally the case with all of them. What happened to the idea of Building the Common in this town, this country? Our schools were at the heart of it. We at Tech showed you could bring a school back by mentoring new teachers with skilled vetrans and building community among your studnets and staff. It worked well and continues too.

Posted by Earl Marty Price on 11/17/2015 at 6:05 PM

Re: “Big Oil Brown Strikes Again

When are these money grubbers going to learn that we can't buy more water if it isn't falling from the sky, we can't revive an extinct species once we kill it off, and we have no other environment we can "move" to once they have traded clean air and water for all the money?

I'm not much of one to favor a recall effort, except in this case. It's past time for the Governor to go. Between this and his twin tunnels, he's ruining California.

Posted by Pamela Greaves on 11/12/2015 at 10:22 AM

Re: “Big Oil Brown Strikes Again

Why is anyone surprised? Jerry Brown has been out for himself since he was Mayor of Oakland. He sacrificed a new A's downtown ballpark so that Forest City (developer who acquired the site) would deliver southern California votes for him in his anticipated run for the Attorney General office. The two local Oakland developers (Phil Tagami and John Protoppapas) who clearly had inside advantages when Jerry occupied the Mayors office, it now turns out, are also his business partners. As Mayor, Jerry used the Redevelopment process more than anybody to push his downtown Oakland 10K agenda. However, as soon as he got to Sacramento as Governor and needed to balance his budget, he abolished Redevelopment statewide and kept all of the money that would have gone back to cities in tax increment. Jerry, like Willie Brown is a master at walking up to and sometime stretching the line of conflict of interest, if there is a possibility of personal gain. Citizens should not be naive, he is who he has shown us he is.

Posted by Gary Patton on 11/11/2015 at 1:32 PM

Re: “Big Oil Brown Strikes Again

Brown is on the payroll of the oil corporations and is not working for Californians.

Posted by EarlRichards on 11/11/2015 at 12:04 AM

Re: “Oakland Takes Baby Steps on Housing

"The average Berkeley home costs nearly twice as much as one in Oakland."

That's quite a nice statement coming directly from Mars or Pluto.

For much of Oakland, excluding Deep East, median listing prices this year are mid $500K. For much of Berkeley, excluding the hills and parts of North Berkeley, median listing prices this year are mid $500K. This can be looked up easily on the 'net.

What the cities of Berkeley or Oakland have or haven't done has only minor effects overall on the cost of housing. It's all about regional supply and demand.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 10/26/2015 at 4:35 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash


I do not think I was guilty of confirmation bias, but if you think so, fine. I am not 100% objective, nor is anyone I have ever met.

I was pointing out the incredible lack of objectivity in one source (affordable housing organization trying to show how it can be good for a builder) and the irrelevancy of the Atlanta study to the concept of segregation and how it may or may not progress.

I do not know Ms. Flynn, nor do I know her "narrative." What I know is she said that Oakland does not have an affordable housing issue. I do not agree with that at all and I believe she misspoke, was mistaken, or was misunderstood.

I think you may be agreeing with me on the process of gentrification. Right now, there is significant segregation in the the areas being discussed. As it becomes gentrified, it will be more diverse. And, in a later stage, it could go the other way again.

My stake? Not as much as you may think. I do not work in anything remotely close to real estate, construction, development, politics &power, etc. I am a homeowner. I do not have a "dog in this fight." And, I intend to stay where I am until I am no longer living - so real estate prices are not important to me. I am not selling and will not be selling (addressing "clouded by greed").

I am simply tiring of all the vilification going on and watching people get twisted up in trying to "stop gentrification." I believe that economic forces (the nature of economics, not power brokers) are powerful and cannot be wished away.

Is there a city in America that has faced a tightening, escalating real estate market with the associated phenomenon of gentrification that has "solved the problem?" I see a lot of finger pointing in this thread but no answers.

In general, I believe that the leadership of this city is pathetic. It may be a point of agreement. There may be some I would vilify because the level of corruption and lack of focus is pretty ridiculous here. I do not know our Mayor but I do not have a sense of either with her. She may or may not agree with you (or me), but my sense is she is an honest, hard working, experienced person seeking to lead in a very complicated and difficult set of circumstances. And, we need leadership like that.

Posted by Michael Good on 10/22/2015 at 5:17 PM

Re: “Oakland's Culture Clash

"Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, prefer, and recall information in a way that confirms one's beliefs or hypotheses while giving disproportionately less attention to information that contradicts it." -Wikipedia

Pot, meet kettle. "It seems to" you Michael....and what exactly pray tell might be your bias and agenda? Those articles I cite are articles on research with links to the original sources. And my intent was to share the information since it runs entirely contrary to the dominate narrative being peddled by folks like you and Ms Flynn. I'm sorry I don't trust your agenda or your judgement. I think its clouded by greed.

I guess some things are just self evident and don't require academic researchers to confirm it, like the fact that gentrification is a process, not a person. Or the observation that communities classified as being in the late stage of gentrification are significantly less socioeconomically diverse at present and still increasingly so.

As if the average Oaklander can't look outside their window and see it for themselves. Yes, self-evident, its a thing. Look it up. How stupid do you think we are? Gentrification is a process enabled and encouraged by very real public policies that have been made and continue to be made by the people you claim I'm vilifying, our political representatives. And if you think their hang wringing is merely due to the fact that there are not actual answers to the problem rather than intense lobbying from real estate interests such as the East Bay Rental Housing Association and the Urban Land Institute that are hoping to profiteer from real estate in Oakland, than I also have a magic wand to sale you. Its a great deal! With one gesture, it will make invisible all affordability issues. Just curious Michael, what is your actual stake in affordable housing? Landlord, renter, humble homeowner or employed in the real estate/ finance sector? Just curious since we are talking about confirmation bias to which you apparently believe that you are immune.

I do agree with you in that, as long as monied interests continue to get away with insisting on representation from our political representatives and city staff that ensures their profits ahead of policies that would benefit workaday Oaklanders, it really is all just a waste of time.

Posted by Chanty Nok on 10/22/2015 at 4:25 PM

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