Community-Wide Briefing and Dialogue re Housing in Albany

The Diverse Housing Working Group invites all Albany residents to participate in a conversation about future policies for housing in our City.  This community-wide briefing will take place on Tuesday, January 28 at St. Albans Church, 1501 Washington Avenue in Albany. The evening will begin with refreshments at 7:15, followed by educational sessions on the Housing Element and the State’s feedback to the City’s submission of the 2007 – 2014 Housing Element.  This is an opportunity to learn, to voice your opinion on this topic that is so critical to the future of Albany, and to explore future opportunities for shaping the City’s policy.

The agenda will be:

7:15 meet, greet, munch, study charts and graphs relating to the HE on walls

7:30 agenda review, meeting agreements review

7:45 overview, chapter (3 or 4 or 5) breakout, plenary Chap 6

8:15 public comment

8:45 summary, survey, future

9 close

Over the past several months you may have heard the City of Albany is updating its General Plan, including the Housing Element.  You may have wondered what does this mean?  And perhaps more importantly, why should I care?

The Housing Element and General Plan will affect YOU.  They set policy that future Councils will implement, and future School Boards will accommodate.  It isn’t cheap or easy to change these plans after this update stage.  With the mandatory Environmental Impact Report, the General Plan will cost the City about $500,000. This is the time to learn, discuss, and contribute in an informed way to the future of your community. 

Every city in California must have a General Plan. This is the local government’s long-term blueprint for development and must be approved by the State.  The mandatory elements to be included are land use, transportation, housing, open space, conservation, safety, and noise. The plan has a time horizon of about 20 years, giving the city an opportunity to think long-term about what it wishes to preserve and what it wishes to change. Once a General Plan is adopted, it is used by the City Council, local commissions, and City Staff as they make day to day decisions about the community’s future. http://albany2035.org

The Housing Element stands on its own as a separate report, submitted to the State Department of Housing and Community Development. It is updated more frequently, ensuring it is compliant with State housing laws.  Albany is currently working to receive a compliance determination on the Draft Housing Element that covers the period 2007- 2014.  The City has been sued over its lack of an approved Housing Element. That Element will be updated in 2014 to cover the period 2014 -2022.

Unlike other sections of the General Plan, the Housing Element must meet very prescriptive requirements which demonstrate the City is capable of accommodating its fair share of the region’s housing needs. The Regional Housing Allocation for Albany 2007 – 2014 is a total of 276 newly constructed units, with allocations for very low income to above moderate income groups. 

The Diverse Housing Working Group (DHWG) is a community-based advocacy group created to ensure comprehensive implementation of the Housing Element. DHWG includes a City of Albany Community Development Department staff member, representatives from several faith based groups, the business community, and a broad spectrum of community groups, and interested individuals. DHWG is committed to the increase of diverse housing resources in Albany through dialogue and education on all aspects of housing policies in the City.

Recognizing that a strong community includes people from all walks of life and income levels, members of DHWG endeavor to engage and educate the community about housing issues, shape Albany’s housing policy, and facilitate development of housing for all income levels. To help reach this objective, we are hosting this community briefing on January 28.

The members of DHWG hope to see you on January 28 to further the discussion on Albany’s Housing Element.

Alan Riffer, Albany Chamber of Commerce

Alexa Hauser, Transition Albany

Allen Cain, Solano Ave Association

Amber Whitson, Citizens of the Albany Waterfront

Andrew Franklin, Solano Community Church

Brian Johns, Albany Housing Advocates

Caryl O’Keefe, Community Member

Jeff Bond, City of Albany Community Development Director

Catherine Sutton, Transition Albany

Julie Wakelee – Lynch, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church

Kevin Omi, Sycamore Congregational Church, UCC

Peggy McQuaid, Community Member

Rania Ramadan, UC Village

Robert Lieber, Temple Beth El

Todd McComb, Church on the Corner










This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Parker January 25, 2014 at 12:04 AM
Rochelle is to nice to say this but I will. The "Diverse Housing Working Group" is being organized by Catherine Sutton who just happens to be the very same person who kept Rochelle from speaking at the "Transition Albany" meeting she describes above. She had been invited to provide the other side of the story on the Bulb issue. So because Rochelle was stricken from the agenda some pretty crazy stuff was represented as truth. Attendees were told that no one could be removed from the Bulb until the city builds 350 units of low income housing. And then all of the squatters will need to be given a free unit in said housing without the need to ever pay rent. No of course that's not the way it really is but that's what Catherine presented to her followers as reality at the meeting. And blocked anyone from contradicting this stuff. I was at the meeting and saw Catherine run the meeting in this high handed way. Not the way to have a neutral place where citizens can dialogue about important issues.
DiverseHousingWorkingGroup January 25, 2014 at 12:52 AM
DHWG chose to set up a PATCH account for the group to avoid ambiguity about representation, and to allow focus on DHWG, not individuals. DHWG is genuinely interested in public comment and will offer a public forum, after review of Housing Element chapters, on Jan 28. Time is always a challenge and we will use a timekeeper to try to allow more time for discussion. Also DHWG welcomes feedback about the forums, and will make adjustments to future events based on feedback. It’s important to emphasize that there are many outreach efforts the City is undertaking for the Housing Element. Most are accessible from the City’s website. Last night the Planning and Zoning Committee held a public meeting to review updates to the Element. The City sends email blasts about meetings to all who have requested them. There’s a new City website http://albany2035.org/ with information about the General Plan, which includes the Housing Element. On Feb 12 P&Z will again discuss the Housing Element and send a recommendation to Council. Council will hold another public meeting March 3. Anyone at any time may email P&Z or Council with thoughts about the Housing Element. City meetings are shown live on cable channel 33, and streaming on www.albanyca.org .
Robin Onaka January 25, 2014 at 01:20 AM
It's my hope that everyone who attends this meeting will do so with an open mind and everyone who wishes to speak will be allowed to do so without being cut off because their beliefs don't match the hosting group's. I also would like confirmation as to who is the leader of this group and whether the decisions are made by consensus or by a majority vote.
DiverseHousingWorkingGroup January 27, 2014 at 02:56 AM
Thank you Robin, DHWG has the same hopes for this meeting and will set meeting agreements so all can speak. Those in the hosting group hold many viewpoints so we are used to, and expect, a range of views. DHWG has no leader; its planning committee uses consensus and checks back periodically with the entire DHWG. Planners include Alexa Hauser, Catherine Sutton, Peggy McQuaid, Caryl O'Keefe, Jeff Bond, Rania Ramadan, Julie Wakelee-Lynch, Amber Whitson. Please note that the blog above has been updated with a rough agenda for Tuesday night.


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