Alameda shopping: On- or off- Island?

This week’s Life on the Island, the column I write for the Alameda Journal, is about last week’s Alameda City Council decision to let the plans for an Orchard Supply Hardware at Towne Centre continue. I know there’s not universal support for the store because many who opposed it went before City Council to make their case, but many Alamedans I’ve talked to over the years are eager for more local shopping options, even if they’re not locally owned. What’s most interesting to me in the instance of the OSH, is that we’re not talking about new development. We’re talking about a filling an existing building in an existing shopping center.


  • http://actionalameda.org/actionalamedanewsblog/2008/09/04/business-to-business-sales-tax-revenue-jumps-51-in-1st-quarter/ David Howard

    Yes, there is some taxable sales leakage, but nobody should over-estimate or exaggerate our City’s ability to solve our budget problems with retail sales tax. The best estimates of taxable sales leakage translate into a mere $410,000 of revenue to the general fund per year. That’s one-tenth of this year’s deficit.

    The roughly $5 million of sales tax revenue to the city reflects $500 million of spending in the city. Alameda’s share of the sales tax is 1%

    To generate another $5 million in sales tax – to close the current budget gap, for example, would require another $500 million in spending. The studies for Alameda Landing suggested that $41 million in taxable sales was being ‘leaked’ from Alameda. So even if we captured all of that, there’s another $459 million in taxable sales to generate. That would require roughly twice the number of homes (another 30,000 homes) and twice the number of people than are in Alameda today. I don’t think many people want an Alameda that looks like that.

    Also note that the theatre itself generates little sales tax revenue – movie ticket sales aren’t taxable. It would take millions of dinners at BurgerMeister to generate even $100 million of taxable sales, never mind $500 million. We can capture some more retail sales, but nearly enough to make a big difference. Hmm…sales tax on a $3.14 pair of girls tights would be about 27 cents.

    The City would do better to focus on raising business-to-business sales tax revenue, by bringing in more Peet’s Coffee and other like companies that pay B2B sales tax. That would also bring more jobs to Alameda, and give more people a chance to live and work on the island. (Perhaps walking, bicycling or taking public transit, rather than using their cars.)

    As for OSH, it is essentially a new development. The “existing building” is the old Safeway building, that was vacated when Harsch expanded ATC and Safeway moved to a bigger location. Harsch has expanded ATC by, depending how you count, 200,000 sq ft or so.

  • http://actionalameda.org/actionalamedanewsblog/2008/09/04/business-to-business-sales-tax-revenue-jumps-51-in-1st-quarter/ David Howard

    Correction – should read “We can capture some more retail sales, but NOT nearly enough to make a big difference. “

  • Edmundo Delmundo

    I’d rather go to OSH at South Snore than Home Depot/K-Mart in Oakland.

    I’ll still shop at Encinal Hardware for most of what I need.

    How are Borders, Bed/Bath, Old Navy and Crapplebees NOT “Big Boxes” but OSH is? Are they medium boxes?

    Ask any legitimate retailer and they’ll tell you – ALAMEDA IS A CRAPPY MARKET.

    Oh – and Good Chevrolet shut the doors today.

  • http://actionalameda.org/actionalamedanewsblog/2008/09/04/business-to-business-sales-tax-revenue-jumps-51-in-1st-quarter/http://actionalameda.org/actionalamedanewsblog/2008/09/04/business-to-business- David Howard

    Alameda lacks key features that retailers look for when locating big stores, shopping malls etc. one of them being freeway access. There’s a reason why Emeryville has so much retail, and retail sales tax, right in the shadow of the McArthur maze, yet a tiny population of just 10,000 people or so.

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  • patricia wyly

    Alameda Towne Centre,complete with speed bumps, seem to have the same selection of stores that Bay Fair has. One big exception, a Macys. Good place to shop when in need of work clothes.

  • philip

    “Towne Centre – Demolition of Former Safeway Building

    A demolition permit was issued Wednesday for the old Safeway building. Randy Kyte of Harsch Development indicated that they have found structural deficiencies in the building and foundation, which may ultimately lead to demolition of the entire building rather than just portions, and reconstruction per the approved plans. So that there are no surprises, Randy will be talking to the neighbors who have expressed interest in the project and he will advise them about how the demolition will proceed a portion at a time, including the possibility of total demolition.”
    Isn’t this interesting. The design review now becomes a new building from the ground up. So now the Planning Board and the City Council can reevaluate their OSH decision. What do you think they will do now?

  • http://watchfamilyguy.exstudios.org/ Randall Laflame

    Glad i found this blog.I added “Alameda shopping: On- or off- Island? | Alameda Journal Blog” to my bookmark!