Tonight, the planning board is set to discuss an ordinance that could offer housing developers the chance to skirt Measure A, the city ballot initiative which for more than three decades has effectively limited development on the Island.
The density bonus ordinance is being proposed to help Alameda comply with changes in state law that lay out incentives for developers who agree to build a certain amount of affordable or senior housing in their developments. The city has to pass an ordinance to gain state approval of the housing element of its general plan. The ordinance was due in 2004.
Under state law, developers who donate land for affordable housing, convert apartments to condominiums that include affordable units or build child care into their developments also qualify for the bonuses. But the city inclusionary housing ordinance passed in 2003 already requires developers in redevelopment areas to make at least 25 percent of the units they build affordable – something that could make every redevelopment project currently being proposed eligible for the bonuses. (City staff has suggested the requirement be lowered to 15 percent, which is what developers in non-redevelopment areas have to offer. This could, for example, lower the number of affordable units at Alameda Point by 450 under the current development proposal.)
State law allows these developers to request exceptions to city development standards like setbacks and minimum lot sizes in order to accommodate the additional housing on their lots. But under the proposed Alameda ordinance, the city could also allow the construction of more than two attached units contrary to Measure A’s requirements if it seems like the best option.
“The existence of a density bonus ordinance will not require the City to waive Measure A unless the developer of a project eligible for a density bonus requests the waiver and shows it to be necessary to make the project physically feasible,” the city’s planning services manager, Jon Biggs wrote in a staff report to the planning board.
Developer Francis Collins has requested the bonus and several incentives for his newly submitted “Boatworks” development plan.
In addition to considering the ordinance, the planning board will also consider a draft of the city’s housing plan and they’re slate to initiate the rezoning of a number of properties identified in the general plan as sites that are suitable for housing, including some storage facilities, a former gas station, the city’s animal shelter and corporation yard and the old Island High site.