Town Business: Developers Unveil E. 12th Proposals; Piedmont Police Say License Plate Readers Are Catching Criminals


  • UrbanCore/EBALDC
This week, at a special meeting of the Oakland City Council's Community and Economic Development committee, three developer teams, vying to purchase the E. 12th Street Remainder Parcel, will make their final presentations, and the public will have a chance to weigh in on what the city should do with the publicly owned acre of land by Lake Merritt that became a lightening rod last year in the affordable housing debate.

In Alameda, tenant activists say they will be submitting a charter amendment for the fall ballot to strengthen tenant protections. And according to the Piedmont Police Department's recently published annual crime report for 2015, the automated license plate reader surveillance system that Piedmont installed in 2013 at intersections along the city's borders with Oakland, has caught numerous criminals and contributed to a reduction in crime.

E. 12th Parcel: Tonight the public will get to see three different visions for the future of the E. 12th Street Parcel, the city-owned land by Lake Merritt that was created in 2013 when the city realigned E. 12th Street. City staffers are recommending that the council select the developer team of UrbanCore and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). UrbanCore previously had been selected through a no-bid process to purchase the land for $4.6 million and build an all market-rate apartment tower on it, but that plan was scuttled after a leaked city attorney memo showed that the deal would have violated the state Surplus Land Act.

This time around, UrbanCore has joined up with EBALDC, an affordable housing developer, and is proposing to purchase the land for $4.7 million, and to build a 26-story, 190-unit market-rate apartment tower next to an 8-story, 90-unit affordable housing mid-rise. The two towers would share a single lobby, according to the developers.

Bridge Housing and AVI Avant are proposing to buy the land for $4.4 million and build a 27-story tower of 364 apartments, of which 104 would be priced affordable.

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA) and the E. 12th Wishlist Design Team are proposing buy the land for $1 million and to build a 7-story building with 133 units of affordable housing. Although the SAHA/E. 12th Wishlist Design Team proposal includes the most affordable housing at the deepest levels of affordability, city staff who reviewed all the developer proposals have ranked it third because it is not as “dense” as the other two proposals, and because it doesn't maximize revenue for the city on the land sale.

Alameda renters: The Alameda Renters Coalition plans to deliver a ballot initiative to the Alameda City Clerk's office today that, if approved by voters in the fall, would enact rent control, establish an elected rent board, and create a just-cause-for-eviction ordinance. Unlike Oakland and Berkeley, Alameda currently has no rent control or just-cause-for-eviction laws. But like other East Bay cities, rents in Alameda have been drastically increasing in recent years. While the Alameda City Council has debated how to address the affordable housing crisis for its tenant population, evictions have continued to drive low-income and middle-class renters off the island. Last year, several renter activists were brutally arrested outside the city council's chambers after tensions flared over access to the meeting.

"What we’ve been asking for consistently is rent stabilization, and, other than evictions allowed by state law, to restrict no-fault evictions," said Catherine Pauling of the Alameda Renters Coalition.

Pauling said her group has spent six months studying rent stabilization and just cause laws in California, and that their initiative will be modeled on the best practices from cities like Santa Monica, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

Stationary ALPR camera array at the intersection of Linda Avenue and Kingston Avenue installed by the City of Piedmont in 2014. - DARWIN BONDGRAHAM
  • Darwin BondGraham
  • Stationary ALPR camera array at the intersection of Linda Avenue and Kingston Avenue installed by the City of Piedmont in 2014.
Piedmont auto surveillance: The Piedmont Police Department is calling its recently installed automated license plate reader surveillance system a “force multiplier” and is crediting the system with catching numerous auto theft suspects. According to the police department's 2015 end of year crime report, the city's ALPR system led to 49 arrests either as a direct result of locating suspects, or through investigative follow-up, and police were able to recover 4l stolen vehicles valued at over $225,000. Piedmont's ALPR system works by digitally photographing every car that drives past cameras located at major intersections on the city's borders. A computer program then automatically “reads” the license plate of the vehicle and runs it through police databases to determine whether it is stolen or associated with a person wanted on a warrant or suspected of a crime. This information can then be fed in real-time to police officers who can intercept a vehicle and make an arrest.