Measure Z and the Lost Chance of Compromise

Measure Z and the Lost Chance of Compromise

On Jan. 29, Vice Mayor John Knox White convened a “Measure A Discussion” meeting that included me, Christopher Buckley, Planning Director Andrew Thomas, Planning Board members Alan Teague and David Burton, and a representative of an urban mixed-use development company. Buckley is active in the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society and I am active in the Alameda Citizens Task Force.
Knox White stated his goal of placing a measure on the Nov. 2020 ballot that would achieve community consensus on significant modifications of Article 26 and avoid a contentious political battle. Buckley and I indicated that we were attending as interested citizens and did not have any negotiating authority from our organizations.
Knox White and Thomas stated their desire to allow multi-family development in the Park and Webster business districts and our primary bus corridors. They also spoke of allowing existing pre-Measure A multi-family dwellings to do interior modifications to allow smaller units and thus increase the number of units in a building.
I responded that I favored repealing Article 26 Sec. 1 allowing residential multi-family development in business districts with the exception of historical buildings, and that I was willing to take that back to my ACT membership after more clarification of what would be included. I was not as confident that ACT would agree to the expansion of multi-family development in the bus corridors or within pre-existing multi-family buildings, but I remained open to the idea.
Buckley’s position was in general agreement with mine, except that he believed that any modifications to Article 26 Sec. 3 should be developed in the process of the pending revisions to the general plan and then placed on the ballot in 2022.
Knox White adjourned the meeting on a positive note and stated that he would schedule another meeting within a month to provide more detail. Sadly, that meeting never was scheduled. He now claims on NextDoor that he did not schedule a second meeting because he saw no compromise in our position, something that he never communicated to us!
Buckley and I were called upon in May by Councilmember Jim Oddie. He was acting as one half of a new Ashcraft/Oddie sub-committee appointed to seek a ballot measure proposal that could garner three votes for modification of Article 26.
My proposal to Oddie was a 2020 ballot measure repealing Article 26-1 and waiting until after the general plan revision process to modify Article 26-3 and then placing a measure on the 2022 ballot. However, Oddie was adamant that the 2020 ballot measure must include some significant modification of Article 26-3.

We worked with him and Andrew Thomas and eventually developed language that only provided Article 26-3 protection for our existing built-up neighborhoods and historical buildings but we’re not in a position to give assurance that our organizations would agree.

Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft then met with us along with Andrew Thomas. The mayor surprised us with her determination that everything was moving too fast and proposed to limit the 2020 ballot measure to repealing just Article 26-1 and delaying any action on Article 26-3 until 2022 after consideration from the general plan review process. On June 2 that proposal was approved by a 4-1 vote from the Council, with only Councilmember Tony Daysog dissenting. City Attorney Yibin Shen was directed to draft a ballot measure for final approval.

On July 7, at the very Council meeting where the ballot measure was to be finally approved, and with the legal deadline for placement of a measure on the ballot fast approaching, Planning Director Andrew Thomas made a plea to Council to seek full repeal of all of Article 26 based on concerns he had not previously raised with us. His plea was granted by the same 4-1 majority that had declined any 2020 modification to Article 26-3!

I suggest to the reader that if Knox White had not abandoned his quest for compromise in January and if Andrew Thomas had not waited until the absolute last minute before a ballot measure submission deadline and instead allowed time for us to work out his new concerns, we might have accomplished a modification of Article 26-3 that would have avoided the contentious split in the community that we are now experiencing. If Measure Z is defeated we can still achieve a consensus that most of the community can support.