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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Affordable housing singled out to continue

Uploaded: Apr 9, 2020
The updated shelter-in-place mandate from the Bay Area’s six health departments shuttered almost all of another industry—construction.

Construction was allowed—with appropriate distancing—in the initial three-week order that ended Monday. The latest order shuts down the entire industry with one exception: developers building affordable housing.

I don’t debate the need for affordable housing, but question the logic of picking “favorites” by health officials. Either construction is safe under these conditions or it’s not.

Neeta Balram, the health department’s public information officer, emailed me the following,”
We are balancing actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and need for stricter public health orders with the need for more affordable housing which is a priority for our cities and county. We know the need for affordable housing will remain long after we’ve ended this pandemic.’

When it comes to housing, the issue throughout the Bay Area is a huge shortfall in new construction—across income levels. Officials need to revisit the rule ASAP and either extend it to all construction or revise the order.

In an article on Politco, Robbie Hunter, head of the Building and Trades Council of California (membership of 460,000 workers plus 60,000 apprentices, was said the union had established new standards since the coronavirus outbreak started.

“We’ve trained our people to work in the Borax mines, in tunnels underneath the Bay ... and we build 80-story skyscrapers without losing a worker — or even a serious injury,’’ Hunter said. “We are used to serious training for different scenarios — and we have applied everything we've got on this.’’
Good points.

Now for some positive news: the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Council has issued a call to action for our community. The group has targeted three areas: education, supplies for health workers and cash donations for those most in need.

“#TRIVALLEYtogether targets 3 sectors that need our support right away,” said Steve Lanza, Vice President of Lam Research and Chair of Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group. “With so many in need, we are hopeful everyone can find a way to contribute. We are calling on our innovative community of thinkers and doers in the Tri-Valley to step up right now to make a huge impact together. Given the diversity of need, we are encouraging those who can to find a path to help.”

The education initiative encourages donation of technology that is necessary for Las Positas College students in these days of online learning. Unlike the local school districts, which have supplies of laptops for students, college students are expected to provide their own computers.

People also are encouraged to donate supplies to the local hospitals such as Masks (N95, surgical, and procedure); Disinfecting wipes; Hand sanitizer; face shields; goggles and eye shields; isolation or surgical gowns; Controlled Air Purifying Respirator (CAPR) / Powered Air Purifying Respirator (PAPR) machines and disposables; flocked swabs.

The third initiative is donating cash to CityServe to support services to families and individuals suffering from economic hardship caused by the shelter-in-place order. Currently, 93 percent of CityServe’s clients are extremely low-income and are homeless or a woman head of household (87 percent). To give, please go to
For more information on Innovation Tri-Valley and this effort, please see

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Westsideobserver, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Apr 10, 2020 at 11:37 am

You are correct. Health officials weighing in on housing? This is virtue signaling at its best.

The Tri Valley used to be affordable housing for Concord and Walnut Creek and today Tracy, Mountain House, and Manteca are affordable for Livermore and Pleasanton. With that said, affordable housing is made possible by the housing buyers themselves. Government, city or otherwise, doesn't pay. Builders don't pay, they pass the subsidized part on to the rest of their buyers or renters. The rest of the renters/buyers? Well, let's just say they pay (and they do) out of charity or ignorance. If they knew the amount of their charity they might not be so apt to rent or buy.

When it comes to housing availability and affordability we need a debate that is honest and devoid of virtue signaling. It also must be local�"no state, county, BART, ABAG interference.

Posted by John B, a resident of Happy Valley,
on Apr 11, 2020 at 1:52 pm

When cities charge ~200k fees for building a new house of ~2000sqft and adding the cost of land, engineering, construction and finance cost, it's almost impossible to build any new house less than $1M. One way is to allow existing houses to construct a fourplex by right and rent out, so that more units come online and takes pressure on the rent. Today 50 to 70% after tax income is spent on rent. This is not viable. It's not just low income folks, and more of middle income is feeling the squeeze. Cities to wake up and do some thing. Soon or later state will pass some law and you would have no choice.

Posted by cathylister1, a resident of Canyon Meadows,
on Apr 29, 2020 at 10:00 pm

What happens to those in the areas with poor housing.

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