Alameda Special Election: Measure in support of homeless services wins

Alameda voters declared their support for homeless seniors and medical respite services Tuesday night with a decisive win in the city’s special election.

Measure A, the city-backed initiative affirming a City Council decision to zone a nearly four-acre federal property on McKay Avenue near Crab Cove for homeless services, garnered support from 52.67 percent of Alameda voters, according to election returns posted by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters on Friday afternoon.

“The election is over. This vote shows Alameda is a community that faces issues with compassion and not by building walls,” said Doug Biggs.

Measure B, the initiative backed the local group Friends of Crab Cove, and the impetus for the special election, was backed by just 44.09 percent of voters.

Supporters of the Yes on Measure A, No on Measure B campaign declared victory shortly after a large portion of the results were released by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tuesday night.

“The election is over. This vote shows Alameda is a community that faces issues with compassion and not by building walls,” said Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative, the group that will operate the Alameda Wellness Center on McKay Avenue. Biggs says he intends to continue outreach with neighbors in order to gather their concerns over the project.

Alameda Vice Mayor John Knox White, who served on the campaign’s committee, added, “This vote affirms that Alameda is the city it always says it is–one that cares for our most vulnerable and looks out for each together, and we always will. I look forward to working with everyone–regardless of how they voted–to ensure the project meets the highest standards of service that Alameda deserves and that the negative suggestions never come to pass.”

The question of how Alameda does its part in alleviating the regional housing and homeless crisis in many ways created a rift in the community. Opponents of the homeless center said it was a quality of life issue, while opponents describe their effort as NIMBYism at its worst.

Supporters of Measure B said the center would become a magnet for homeless all over the East Bay to come to Alameda. They also asserted the area around Crab Cove park would become a homeless encampment.

Alameda voters proved energized by the special election. Nearly 45 percent of registered Alameda voters cast a ballot in the special election, a high number for a special election, particularly one like Alameda’s, occurring during a non-election year.

UPDATED: New results on Friday, April 11.