In 1973, citizens of Alameda approved Measure A, which amended the city's charter, and appears today as Article XXVI. This Charter Amendment states, “There shall be no multiple dwelling units built in the City of Alameda”. In 1991 there was an amendment stating "The maximum density for any residential development within the City of Alameda shall be one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land." The term "Measure A" to refers to this legislation.


The history of Measure A is rooted to just after WWII when the need for housing grew.  Between WWII and 1973, approximately 1,500 buildings were torn down, primarily Victorians.  The peak years of these teardowns were in the late 1960’s. Over a six-year period, houses were being torn down at a rate of one every five days. The construction of large apartment blocks in the place of these demolished Victorians added over 10,000 residents to a community already completely developed.  As a result of the increased population, increased traffic problems, a grass roots campaign was formed to enact Measure A.

1988 Article:
Woody Minor, Alameda Historian, in a July 7, 1988 article that appeared in the Alameda Journal, commented on the city’s development.  In this article, he stated, “The intolerable traffic in Alameda in the 1980’s is just one of the dubious benefits we are reaping from the myopia of those years.”  In this quote, Minor refers to not only the wholesale destruction of Victorians in Alameda, but also the bay fill projects undertaken by Utah Mining & Construction Company.  The result of these projects was South Shore and what’s now known as Harbor Bay.  In this same article, Minor states, “Our government seems to have lost its sense of purpose and direction…some would say that the major battle of the 1980’s is traffic.  For it is in the 1980’s that the environmental impacts of excessive developments of the 1950’s & 1960’s have come home to roost”.
The situation of the 50’s & 60’s can be translated to 2003.  Once again, there is an opportunity for the developers to invade Alameda and have their way in wholesale, massive, multiple dwelling build out.  The need to guarantee that Measure A remains is a viable and important planning guide for the future of Alameda. 
The lessons learned in the 60’s must be taken into consideration when viewing the potential for the future.  The impact, not only on the environment, but on the fiscal well being of Alameda is clearly apparent. 
For further information review some articles that were written in the 1980’s by Woody Minor giving the history of Measure A and the climate that created the need for the population to protect themselves from wrong-headed city leaders who allowed rampant destruction & development in our community.

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Fiction and Fact Continued

Fiction: Measure A is a means to prevent newcomers from living on the island.

Fact: This is simply not true. Neither Measure A nor it's advocates
prevent newcomers from moving to the island and occupying any of the existing resale or rental housing stock, nor new construction created in compliance with Measure A. As of the year 2000 U.S. census, the population mix of Alameda was 6.2% African American, 26.1% Asian, 9.3% Hispanic or Latino and 26.1% foreign born persons, representing a dramatic shift from the majority white population of pre-Measure A days.

Fiction: Measure A supporters are anti-development and 'stuck' in the 1950's.

Fact: Not true. Like the original framers of Measure A in 1973,
current Measure A supporters favor moderated development that doesn't permit land developers to run roughshod over residents' quality of life. Young and old people, newcomers and long-time residents alike support Measure A. For the newcomers, the quality of life in Alameda that drew them here is in fact the fruit of Measure A. If anything, it is the Measure A critics that are stuck in the past - they echo 1960's urban renewal slogans that espouse "progress" in the form of high-density and high-rises. Measure A supporters aren't anti-development, they just want development that fits on the island.

Fiction: There is no affordable housing in Alameda.

Fact: Market forces drive home values and rental rates, and due to the geography and climate, housing is expensive all over the San Francisco Bay area relative to many other parts of the country. The City of Alameda provides Housing Assistance for Alameda residents through administration of the Section 8 housing program in Alameda, and also with First-Time Home Buyer Programs, including Free Home Buyer Workshops and a Down Payment Assistance Program. By law, new developments must set aside 25% of new homes as affordable housing, whereas 'affordable' is defined relative to the median income of the city.

Fiction: Alameda is a city of elitist home-owners.

Fact: As of the time of this writing, in the summer of 2006, the
housing stock consisted of 50% multi-dwelling/rental units and 40% single-family homes.

Fiction: The problems of 1973 have no bearing on what we face today.

Fact: Again, as of the time of this writing, there are at least ten
major land development projects on the slate for Alameda,
encompassing thousands of acres of land and millions of square feet of commercial, residential, and retail construction. If land
development in Alameda doesn't look like it's a problem today, it is because of the success of Measure A. Turning back Measure A today would permit developers to go back to the drawing board and exponentially expand the density on those millions of square feet of planned development.