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Council Approves New Police Substation

Council also considers Affordable Housing Bond and election reforms

On Tuesday, April 2, Alameda City Council approved a lease to locate a new police substation on the West End in Marina Village, heard a presentation on the Bay Area Affordable Housing Bond under consideration for the November election, appointed a subcommittee to study election reform, and approved reducing candidate fees.

Council also voted to amend community development block grant action plans to fund ADA-accessible curb ramps throughout the City and support the Alameda Food Bank’s relocation. The Mayor reprised her State of the City Address.

Alameda Post - the sign over the main APD police station. A new substation will be at a different location
Photo Adam Gillitt.

New police substation

In October 2023, the owner of 2020 Challenger Drive (The Research Park at Marina Village) offered to lease 3,179 square feet of office space to the Alameda Police Department (APD) for just $100 per month, arguing that APD’s presence would deter criminal activity in the area.



Currently, APD operates solely from 1555 Oak Street. APD plans to move parts of its Bureau of Support Services, including the Traffic Section, Community Resource Unit, Violent Crimes Unit, and Property Crimes Unit, to the new space, allowing police officers to meet with community members more easily. APD chose these units because they regularly interact with the public and have a regular Monday-to-Friday schedule.

The Traffic Section provides daily traffic enforcement and investigates severe injury and fatal collisions. The Community Resource Unit works on longer-term challenges such as organized retail theft, blight, and issues facing unhoused members of the community. The Violent Crimes and Property Crimes Units investigate and solve serious crimes.

APD has often paid for off-site event space for larger trainings and meetings. By moving the above units to The Research Park, the basement at 1555 Oak Street can be reallocated for training and one-on-one discussion meeting space. This is particularly useful now, while APD recruits and trains new officers.

Staff anticipates a monthly combined rent and telecommunication access cost of $1,000. APD will use extra furniture from its administration building and purchase additional supplies using existing grant funding. APD did not request an additional budget to fund the new location. Council unanimously voted to execute a three-year lease as a pilot. Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft praised the expansion, saying, “There are so many positives to this.”

Of related interest, Assistant City Manager Amy Wooldridge announced APD’s Community Police Academy, an immersive program offering community members firsthand knowledge of public safety practices. The program begins April 30, with applications due April 19.

Alameda Post - a render of the townhomes offered at Island View and Waterside at Alameda Marina
In fall 2023, two townhomes were available for households with very low incomes, and one townhome was available for households with low income at Island View and Waterside at Alameda Marina. Image Rise Housing Solutions.

Affordable housing bond

Alameda County Housing Director Michelle Starratt presented an Affordable Housing Bond proposed by the Bay Area Housing Finance Authority (BAFHA) under consideration for the November election. The bond will require a two-thirds supermajority approval by voters. If approved, it will raise funds to create and protect affordable housing for very low- and low-income renters and homeowners. The goal is to raise funds at a regional scale for tenant protection, affordable housing preservation, and new affordable housing production.

In November, voters will also decide whether to reduce the percentage of voters needed to pass an infrastructure bond. If that passes, the Affordable Housing Bond will need just a 55% majority to pass.

If the bond is approved, BAFHA will distribute 80% of proceeds to the nine Bay Area Counties and four cities (Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Napa), with the remaining 20% used throughout the region.

Alameda has a housing pipeline of 1,309 new affordable units to be constructed by 2030, pending funding. If the bond is approved, most funds coming to the City will support the construction of these units, helping the City’s progress towards its Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals.

The bond would provide $10 to $20 billion to Alameda County, financed through a real property tax of $10 to $20 per $100,000 of assessed value for up to 30 years. For instance, the owner of a home valued at $1 million would be assessed $100 to $200 per year.

BAHFA expects to distribute funds based on a “return to source” methodology, whereby cities and counties receive allocations in proportion to their contributions. Learn more about the rising cost of housing and the proposed bond measure at the Housing Needs in Alameda County website.

Of related interest, Assistant City Manager Wooldridge announced the City’s Fair Housing Workshop on Thursday, April 18, at City Hall. Admission is free, but you must register to attend.

Alameda Post - doors to a Polling Station

Election reform subcommittee

Mayor Ashcraft moved to create a subcommittee consisting of Councilmembers Tracy Jensen and Malia Vella to study campaign finance reform, lowering barriers to running for elected office, and converting Alameda to district elections to improve representation.

District elections would involve each councilmember representing a specific district in Alameda, with the mayor being a city-wide representative. Constituents in each district would vote for a councilmember to represent their district.

The subcommittee will study such issues as determining district lines, the number of votes per district, the timeline for implementation, and the required process. Working with the City Clerk, the subcommittee will hold public forums for input.

A 50% + 1 majority of voters would need to approve a Charter amendment to move to district-based elections. If voters approved the amendment, the City would begin public outreach, mapping, and hearings.

Other election reform topics raised included Vice Mayor Tony Daysog’s proposal to increase the Council size from five to seven representatives and the possibility of converting to Ranked Choice Voting, an electoral system allowing people to vote for multiple candidates in order of preference. Neither of these proposals had sufficient support among councilmembers to be approved for further consideration.

Alameda Post - election return envelopes

Reducing candidate fees

Council took the opportunity to revise a regulation on candidate statement fees. If a candidate wants to print a statement in the Voter Information Guide, they must submit a $100 deposit at the time of filing. Candidates pay the total cost minus the deposit after election bills are received.

In 2022, the total cost was just under $4,000, and the Registrar of Voters did not submit the final invoice until March. This high cost deters some candidates from submitting a statement, and the delay creates problems for candidates wanting to terminate campaign committees.

To provide candidates with certainty, reduce the economic barrier preventing some candidates from filing a statement, and eliminate lengthy waits for invoices, staff proposed lowering the candidate statement fee to $1,000 with the balance paid by the City. Candidates would submit $100 when filing and pay the remaining $900 shortly after the election.

Charging the balance after the election gives candidates time to raise $900, a sum Allan Mann of the Alameda League of Women Voters noted was feasible to raise from individual small donations without relying on large donations from special interest groups. Council unanimously voted to approve this resolution.

Councilmember Trish Herrera Spence also asked the Council to consider whether to make the change retroactive to relieve two past candidates of outstanding debt, Vice Mayor Daysog among them. For this part of the discussion, the Vice Mayor recused himself. The City Clerk noted that he had been making payments on his debt.

The remaining councilmembers noted that making the change retroactive would be complicated as most past candidates had fully paid their bills, and it would be problematic to offer refunds. Councilmember Vella added that while she was sympathetic to a candidate who could no longer make payments, she objected to their running for office again and walking away from the debt. Council chose not to make the change retroactive.

Upon returning to the Council chamber, Vice Mayor Daysog noted that his outstanding debt was “just $1,700” and said he would “deal with it this week.” On Thursday, in an email to the Alameda Post, Daysog wrote, “I paid the outstanding balance of $1,786.22 in full yesterday [Wednesday, April 3].”

State of the City and amended block grant plans

In other business,

  • The Mayor reprised her State of the City Address, which she presented at Penumbra Community Center in February.
  • Council voted to amend Community Development Block Grant Action Plans for Fiscal Years 2020-21 through 2022-23 to fund ADA-accessible curb ramps throughout the City and the Alameda Food Bank relocation.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.

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