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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ken Bukowski: School Board Candidates Statement

Emeryville resident Ken Bukowski is running for a seat on the School Board of Trustees for Emery Unified School District.  Mr Bukowski noted the $900 fee required by Alameda County to print a candidates statement was beyond his means.  Given the Tattler's pledge that no longer will appointed School Board members undemocratically slide into that body without public consent and the fact that the $900 barrier to entry for candidates is not reasonable and in recognition that unexpurgated democracy is vitally important for a functioning civic polity, the Tattler presents the candidate statement of Mr Bukowski (at no charge):


KEN BUKOWSKI
            Candidate for Emery Unified School District Governing Board


* I served on the Emeryville City Council for 24 years.

* I was the council member responsible for merging our city fire department with Alameda County Fire Department. As a result, the city saves over a million dollars each year, and the consolidation provides more equipment, and more personnel to do the job.

* We should examine the feasibility of merging the Emery School District with another district. To maintain a separate district for such a small number of kids must be impacting the amount of available funds the district has for programs and services.

* Many parents are paying to send their kids outside the district when they would potentially send them to our school. As a result, the district is importing students from outside the district. This means those parents have no voice in electing members to serve on the school board.

* I believe the school board needs to open more dialogue with parents and teachers. I propose the creation of a live broadcast event to discuss issues in the schools, including an opportunity for parents to call in during the broadcast.

Background:

* Co-founder of City-School Committee (regular joint meetings of the City Council and School District Board).

* Co-founder of Emeryville Child Development Center

* Founder of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce.

* Volunteer provider of links to video record public meetings and events. This includes providing video links to all the school board meetings, many city meetings and meetings of regional agencies.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Ally Medina


Parks/Open Space &
Sherwin Williams Project:
Ally Medina


The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

Today, candidate for City Council Ally Medina answers questions on parks/open space and the Sherwin Williams development proposal (please check the previously posted section 1 answers for this candidate's bio):


Section 2 Parks/Open Space
Our General Plan says Emeryville is dramatically under-served in parks. The 26 acres we have now (includes “linear” parks, essentially glorified sidewalks) must be increased by 21-26 acres within twelve years if our General Plan is to be honored. However something must change in Emeryville if this is to be achieved because with each passing year, we drift farther away from our goal. Our park fees obtained from developers have not kept pace with our needs.

Tattler:  City planners use the metric of residents per acre of park land to measure how well a city’s residents are being served. Oakland is well served with park/open space at approximately 67 residents per acre. Emeryville currently has about 500 residents per acre. After peaking in the late 1970’s, Emeryville’s ratio of residents per acre of park/open space has gone down every year since then, despite a few small parks having been built. This disturbing downward trend has actually accelerated over the last 10 years. Increasing developers park fees is unlikely to help much moving forward owing to the limited amount of developable land left. Acknowledging all this, what can be done to build the amount of park land we say we want?
Ally Medina:  As a city, we can look to policies that mandate street level parks (much more usable by residents) be built in all new developments if the park fee fund exceeds the current amount of park space left to develop. We can also refuse to allow any new projects that lower our proportion of residents to parks/open space, which would automatically increase the proportion (albeit by very small measure).


Tattler:  Our General Plan is very clear on parks/open space; we need more than we have, twice as much. But the disconnect between what the people say they want and what they’re getting is extreme in Emeryville. There seems to be no political will to follow the General Plan once politicians get in office. Politicians routinely say they’re going to turn this around but they have not yet done so. And yet the voters keep voting for these politicians. Several council members have been re-elected over and over again. Does this tell you the people don’t really want parks, regardless of what they say? Are you willing to consider amending our General Plan to delete parks if you can’t or won’t deliver on your promise to build more so at least our guiding document will accurately reflect reality and not be a pie-in-the-sky fantasy meant to elect dishonest politicians? Considering all this, at what point should the General Plan be considered a failure?
Ally Medina:  I believe that our leaders are concerned about the amount of parks and open space, but there are significant challenges to reaching the goals outlined in the General Plan due to our size and density, and there are other pressing issues (economic, housing, etc) competing for prioritization. I am personally committed to taking the lead in working with my colleagues on the council, city staff and community leaders on tackling these challenges, which I realize is not going to be easy, but is possible with someone focused on driving solutions. Community feedback and support on this issue is key in moving forward - the council must be responsive to our constituents’ concerns and the more support we have from the community, the more power we have in working with developers and large businesses to ensure parks and open spaces are included in new developments and other urban planning projects.



Section 3 Sherwin Williams Project
The Sherwin Williams development project is a mostly residential proposal earmarked for the last large piece of fallow land left in Emeryville. This single project could easily increase Emeryville’s population by more than 10%. At 540 all rental residential units planned as well as some office space and a small amount of retail, this project promises to be very consequential for our town for better or worse.
Tattler:  The Sherwin Williams developers propose to add 2.08 acres of public park on the site. Using the standard formula of 2 people per unit (more if the project attracts families as the developers say it will), the project will come in at about 520 residents per acre and help bring down Emeryville’s already deplorable residents/park acre average. Should negative skewing of our park/residents ratio like this be a disqualifying condition for this project?

Ally Medina:  This project has already gone through extensive public input and review by the planning commission and city council, and will likely be approved before the election. I would support a policy of not allowing new development that brings down our parks/residents ratio in the future. 


Tattler:  The Sherwin Williams site is relatively cheap since it is fallow. Because our General Plan requires us to build many more acres of parks within 12 years and because it’s cheaper for the City to buy fallow land than land with buildings already on it for this purpose, and because the City of Emeryville has the capacity to pass a park bond to raise revenue for this, is making the Sherwin Williams site a large park a rational choice?
Ally Medina:  Again, the project has already undergone extensive community review. We need to look toward future developments with a critical eye with regard to the ratio of parks to residents.


Tattler:  With more than 500 parking spaces, this project can be fairly called another Emeryville ‘drive-in drive-out’ residential development. Do you see adding this many cars to our streets as being offset by any benefits to existing residents by the project’s amenities?
Ally Medina:  I understand that there will be extensive community benefits in terms of a bike/pedestrian pathway as well as bike parking and increased affordable housing. I do not necessarily support designing developments with cars as the primary mode of transportation, studies have shown that putting public transit by affordable housing is a best practice in city design and I hope that we can increase alternative transportation options to this site to decrease the number of residents who rely on cars for their primary mode of transit.  


Tattler:  Is Emeryville right now not up to snuff, a less-than-desirable place to live that can only be improved by the Sherwin Williams project going in as proposed? Do we ‘need’ the Sherwin Williams development?

Ally Medina:  As stated above, I think there are significant community benefits that will come out of this project. Instead of debating the drawbacks of a project that has already gone through the public process, we need to look at how we can make future developments prioritize affordable housing, public transit, pedestrian safety and parks.


Tattler:  The project is hemmed in on the west by the rail road tracks and on the north by land slated for future development by Novartis, to the east is the Horton Street Bike Boulevard that our General Plan forbids adding more traffic to. How will the retail there be viable with these constraints let alone the office space and the residential units? 

Ally Medina:  By adding a dense population of new residents and bike/pedestrian infrastructure, we should see an influx of pedestrian traffic that is more likely to shop at small local businesses.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Christian Patz


Housing Affordability: 
Christian Patz

The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

Today, candidate for City Council Christian Patz, who answers questions on affordable housing:


Christian Patz
Bio:

I set my roots in Emeryville in 2003, when my wife I and purchased our home in the Triangle neighborhood. Our family grew in 2010 with the birth of our son. I am a special education teacher that now works as the Director of Special Education for the Oakland School for the Arts. I have served on the Emery School Board for the last two years.
Campaign website: http://www.crpatz.com



Section 1 Housing Affordability
With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here.  Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently.  And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.
Tattler: Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics.  We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear.  How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era? 
Christian Patz:  Housing is the biggest issue in the entire Bay Area and Emeryville especially. The complexity of the issue will require the council to look beyond a single solution. I will work with our economic development team to look at future projects to determine the best way to proceed. San Francisco and Alameda have models that are showing promise.

Tattler:  Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers.  Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
Christian Patz:  Our goal should be to include 15 to 20 percent affordable units in every new large scale project.

    Tattler:  Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing.  However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them.  Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).  How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more?  Is ABAG wrong?
    Christian Patz:  Given the way development was done in Emeryville over the last 20 plus years, moving any of the percentages is going to be a challenge. We need to treat any increase in affordable housing as a victory. As each new project comes to the commission and then council, we need need to focus on increasing our affordable housing stock. Over time, we can move the needle from 11% to 12%, then 13%, and on until we get in line with and then ahead of the rest of the Bay Area.

    Tattler:  'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows.  Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here.  Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go.  Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of ABAG recommendations.  Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?
    Christian Patz: Emeryville is a unique city in the area and we can not compare ourselves to other cities. I feel we are using the wrong metrics. As a town of 10,000 people, you could find we have 200% of multiple elements. We have 300% more Ikeas per residents than East Palo Alto. We have a limited supply of affordable housing in the Bay Area and a huge demand. Changing that is going to take thoughtful planning going forward and there will need to be a regional plan.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2016

    Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Louise Engel

    Housing Affordability: 
    Louise Engel

    The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
    The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
    There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

    Today, candidate for City Council Louise Engel, who answers questions on affordable housing:


    Louise Engel
    Bio:
    Experience: I have been an owner of a small business, as a Consultant and Project Manager, with an Emeryville City license for 20 years. In other jobs, I achieved cooperative resolution on Bay Area developments with land use and environmental planning issues: mixed-use with housing, industrial, airport, and seaport developments. I am a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (A.I.C.P.) and the Association of Environmental Professionals (A.E.P.). My skill sets give me hands-on knowledge for balancing stakeholder interests in civic affairs.


    Section 1 Housing Affordability
    With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here.  Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently.  And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.
    Tattler: Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics.  We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear.  How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era? 
    Louise Engel:  The ability to afford housing in this region burdened with a high cost of living effects all of us who live in Emeryville. High living costs effect, for example: rental rates; the ability of “first time” home buyers to buy; and escalating association fees in residential complexes for those who already own. Pooling resources through county wide measures is one way for Emeryville to work together with other East Bay cities. For example, during the upcoming November 8, 2016 General Elections, voters in Alameda County will vote on whether or not to approve an affordable housing bond ballot measure. If the measure passes, funds for the homeowner programs and rental innovation program funds will be allocated countywide. Emeryville would have a share in that pool of funds.
    On May 4 this year, Mayor Dianne Martinez attended the 20th Annual Affordable Housing Leadership Awards ceremony of the Non-Profit Housing (NPH) Association of Northern California. Mayor Martinez received a Leadership Award on behalf of the City of Emeryville. NPH granted the award to Emeryville because of the City Council’s policy of setting aside 20% of our “boomerang” funds (the portion of the former Redevelopment Agency tax increment that flows to the City) for affordable housing.


    Tattler:  Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers.  Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
    Louise Engel:  The City owns a site at the corner of 43rd and San Pablo Avenue. A city recreation center occupied the temporary structure before the activity moved to the newly opened Emeryville Center of Community Life (ECCL). Emeryville is currently reviewing the site for an affordable senior housing project.


    Tattler:  Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing.  However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them.  Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).  How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more?  Is ABAG wrong?

    Louise Engel:  Single, detached housing is often out of the reach of first time home buyers who then look to alternative ownership. For example, residents discuss how they might make the financial change from a rental to condominium ownership. Emeryville’s “down payment assistance program” is available for the purchase of market rate units by people with a moderate income (or below) who are first time home buyers. That’s how my niece became a condominium owner through a similar program in Portland, Oregon.

    Tattler:  'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows.  Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here.  Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go.  Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of ABAG recommendations.  Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?
    Louise Engel:  The Sherwin Williams development project is a mixed use proposal that galvanized citizens within the surrounding neighborhoods: the citizen initiated committee, PARC. This collaborative group is working within the City’s proposal review process. The project proposes residential, office and retail/restaurant uses. The developer seeks a change in the number of residential units. City rules allow 260+ units. The project proposes 520+ units.
    The City review process allows the neighborhood people to join together with a united voice. Citizens can achieve leverage to influence the developer. The developer did respond to many to the neighborhood concerns. If approved and developed, the hours and hours of hard work together would shape this evolving neighborhood.

    Monday, September 26, 2016

    Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: John Van Geffen

    Housing Affordability: 
    John Van Geffen

    The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
    The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
    There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

    Today, candidate for City Council John Van Geffen, who answers questions on affordable housing:


    John Van Geffen
    Bio:


    John T. Van Geffen, Esq. is relatively new to local politics having recently moved to Emeryville in 2014 with his family. John's campaign platform is about three things, making Emeryville a better place to raise families, cultivating the city's unique character by supporting local business, and ensuring the City Council direct its energies towards projects that help Emeryville residents, not
     special interest groups. For more information, his website is http://johnvangeffen.striki ngly.com/



    Section 1 Housing Affordability
    With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here.  Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently.  And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.
    Tattler: Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics.  We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear.  How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era? 
    John Van Geffen:  Regardless of any action taken by Emeryville's City Council, local housing costs will not stop rising so long as the economies of San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland continue to grow. Currently the only realistic option for small cities like Emeryville to do their part in increasing "affordable housing" is to mandate that developers set aside BMR units. But unless the city is offering some form of incentive for setting aside BMR units, developers will simply consider moving their projects to otherwise viable locations with less restrictions. More over, we need to come to a consensus on how much density we want in Emeryville and take steps to cultivate home ownership.


    Tattler:  Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers.  Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
    John Van Geffen:  If Emeryville were to green light every development in the pipeline, we would increase our housing (all housing, not just affordable housing) by nearly 20%. But, I do not believe that the majority of people living in Emeryville want the resulting congestion, strain on our city's infrastructure and the multitude of other problems that will inevitably result from such rapid density growth. We (Emeryville and surrounding cities) need a regional approach for increasing affordable housing and we need to make sure that high density development is targeted for neighborhoods with the available resources, public transportation and infrastructure to handle it.
      
    Tattler:  Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing.  However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them.  Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).  How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more?  Is ABAG wrong?
    John Van Geffen:  According to www.bayareacensus.ca.gov/ the Bay Area population is over seven million people. While it is important for Emeryville to do its part to ensure Bay Area residents can afford to live in the cities where they work, we need to acknowledge that Emeryville's population and size is less than a percent of one percent of the Bay Area. Increasing affordable housing needs to be a regional issue so construction can be targeted towards neighborhoods that can best implement large scale projects, provide sufficient incentives to lure developers, and have the infrastructure to absorb the increased population. 
    While I believe Emeryville should maintain BMR requirements to ensure a vibrant community, I also believe that Emeryville should not try to tackle this problem by itself. We should instead be pushing for development around existing BART stations to ease the strain and congestion these developments create.


    Tattler:  'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows.  Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here.  Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go.  Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of ABAG recommendations.  Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?
    John Van Geffen: No. The regional demands of the Bay Area for more housing does not trump our fellow Emeryville citizens' desire to control our cities growth, density and design. As I mentioned above, increasing housing costs are not unique to Emeryville and continued development should be focused in those cities and neighborhoods that can afford to incentivize BMR unit construction and have existing infrastructures (like BART Stations) capable of incorporating a higher population density.  

    Sunday, September 25, 2016

    Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: John Bauters

    Housing Affordability: 
    John Bauters

    The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
    The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
    There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

    Today, candidate for City Council John Bauters, who answers questions on affordable housing:


    John Bauters
    Bio:

    John Bauters is a member of the Emeryville Planning Commission, Housing Committee and chair of the Measure K Parcel Tax Oversight Committee at Emery Unified. He is also a member of the Park Avenue Resident's Committee that recently negotiated a community benefits agreement with Lennar Corp, the Sherwin Williams developer. John works as policy director at a nonprofit that advocates for increased state funding to community-based programs that provide mental health care, addiction treatment and trauma recovery services. He lives in the Park Avenue District with his partner Aaron and their dog, King.

    Bauters for Emeryville City Council
    4260 Halleck Street
    Emeryville, CA 94608
    (510) 693-7474
    FPPC #1380397
    For A Stronger Community


    Section 1  Housing Affordability
    With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here.  Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently.  And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.

    Tattler: Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics.  We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear.  How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era?
    John Bauters: Several strategies exist for raising the percentage of affordable homes in Emeryville. Our development bonus point system was amended to require that any construction over 10 units include not less than 12% affordability in most cases - a good start. The percentage of units that must be affordable increases as the number of bonus points needed by the developer to get project approval increases. Personally, I believe the starting point should be higher than the current level. The city should also make additional properties that it owns into affordable housing opportunities, much like it has done with the property at 3706 San Pablo. Finally, the city needs to protect the existing below market rate (BMR) ownership homes it acquired with redevelopment funds. BMR units in foreclosure are at risk of losing their affordability covenants and the city must step in under its right of first refusal privilege to acquire and resell these homes, keeping them affordable for the future. This ensures we don't actually lose any ground on our affordability. The most recent capital improvement plan the city approved included a recommendation I made with the support of my fellow members of the city's Housing Committee, creating a self-financing revolving fund the city can use to intervene and prevent loss of these units during the foreclosure process.


    Tattler:  Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers.  Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
    John Bauters:  The opportunity to build affordable housing in the city is limited to the extent that formerly available sites/land have already been redeveloped. I support several goals going forward: (1) Prioritizing city-owned properties in residential and mixed-use zones for future affordable housing development; (2) Providing additional procedural protections to safeguard our existing affordable ownership housing stock from losing its affordability; and (3) Regularly evaluating the impact fees and bonus point percentages required of market rate developers to ensure we maximize affordability as a community benefit in future development.


    Tattler:  Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing.  However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them.  Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).  How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more?  Is ABAG wrong?
    John Bauters:  The only economically plausible way to increase affordability without increasing market rate housing is to build 100% affordable housing. The other way the city could increase affordability would be to purchase existing market-rate housing and sell it back out through one of our below market rate ownership programs. When we had RDA affordable housing funds and the housing market was cheaper this was a viable option. Given the current fair market value of housing and the loss of RDA dollars, this is no longer a financially feasible option and so the only economically viable solution to your question would require 100% affordable development.


    Tattler:  'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows.  Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here.  Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go.  Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of ABAG recommendations.  Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?
    John Bauters:  While it might appear to be a simple principle, the "supply and demand" approach to development ignores the gravity of our current affordability crisis. The independent California Budget and Policy Center estimates that California has a supply deficit of over 1 million units of affordable housing. The reality is that affordability will not "trickle down" to the lowest-income households until supply fully catches up with demand under the economic principles of supply and demand - something that would not happen for decades, even with massive investment. In the interim, what we experience is displacement, where increased rents push lower and fixed-income residents, often seniors and working families, out of their homes. Market rate developers will commonly argue in favor of the "supply and demand" approach to development for another reason - because all housing built after 1995 is exempt from rent control under state law. Allowing for a boon of market rate housing development means less housing that is subject to either affordability or rent stabilization protections, creating a situation that allows for maximum rents without protections for renters. In order to preserve households of all incomes who live and work here we must build housing for all income levels as we go. This means a more strategic approach to development that balances market principles with the affordability needs of people from all levels of the economic spectrum.

    Saturday, September 24, 2016

    Corporate Philanthropy In Emeryville: A Great Hill of Beans

    Emeryville's Businesses Care About Money,
    Not Our Schools

    What Kind of Businesses Does Emeryville Attract?
    Greedy Ones

    News Analysis
    Emeryville is well known throughout the Bay Area as being foremost a business friendly town, a reputation that's been well earned over the years.  But civic boosters here, concerned about the optics of that lopsided message, have often attempted to draw a distinction between how well we've been able to leverage our businesses for community benefits received versus whatever virtues that may be garnered simply providing a good location for a host of corporate headquarters.  In this way, much has been made of the philanthropic generosity of Emeryville's business community, especially where monetary donations to our local public schools are concerned.
    Sad:
    Last year once again, Pixar gave nothing to

    the schools in Emeryville, their hometown.
    $1.2 billion 2015 box office receipts = zero
    for Emeryville's schools.  

    Here at the Tattler, we have shown how this meme is not represented by reality and is more fiction postulated by the businesses themselves than fact.  Readers may remember our 2014 story about Pixar's miserly lack of corporate donations to our schools after a very public campaign of claims to the contrary in the lead up to and running concomitant with their major corporate campus expansion, begun in 2004.
    In fact, that's been a repeating theme here in Emeryville; business will conspicuously donate to the schools when there is public exposure, especially when they are engaging in large and consequential building projects and need public support but when the need for that support ebbs, the philanthropy likewise ebbs albeit quietly.

    A quick look at Emeryville top ten largest businesses is revealing.  Based on gross receipts, the metric the City uses for taxing purposes, the combined top 10 businesses monetary donations to Emeryville's schools last year amounted to zero.  The only Emeryville corporation that gave any money at all to our schools was Wareham Development, a business not in the top ten.  Wareham it should be noted, is exposed and in the public eye while they prepare to build the contentious 'Transit Center' on Horton Street.  Tellingly, Wareham last year gave the Emery School District $25,000 while they sought permission to build their project; a gift very much needed and appreciated by our schools.

    The List of  Corporate Shame- What's in their eye is not about what they provide to the community, it's about what they extract from the community.  The following Emeryville corporations, our ten largest and most preeminent businesses, gave no money at all to Emeryville schools last year:
    1. Disney/Pixar, 1200 Park Avenue:   Zip to Emeryville Schools
    2. Berkeley Research, 2200 Powell Street:   Nil to Emeryville Schools
    3. Ikea, 4400 Shellmound Street:    Nada to Emeryville Schools
    4. Tubemogul, 1250 53rd Street:    Zilch to Emeryville Schools
    5. Home Depot, 3838 Hollis Street:   Scratch to Emeryville Schools
    6.  Plum Inc, 1485 Park Avenue:    Naught to Emeryville Schools
    7.  Griffols Diagnostics, 4510 Horton Street:  Nix to Emeryville Schools
    8. Gracenote Inc,  2000 Powell Street,   Shutout to Emeryville Schools
    9. Fantasy Junction, 1145 Park Avenue,  Nothing to Emeryville Schools
    10. Novartis Institute,  5300 Chiron Way,  Ought to Emeryville Schools
    Don't Listen to the Hype
    Look at the Hill

    Here's how much Emeryville's business community 

    cares about the children in our community.

    Friday, September 23, 2016

    Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Ally Medina

    Housing Affordability: 
    Ally Medina

    The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
    The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
    There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.  

    Today candidate for City Council Ally Medina who answers questions on affordable housing:


    Ally Medina
    Bio:
    I have been working on progressive organizing and advocacy campaigns for nearly 10 years. I believe my community engagement skills would be an asset on the city council. I'd like to use my background in voter outreach to engage our city on issues concerning residents- specifically focusing on affordability, availability of parks and open space, and safe transit options



    Section 1 Housing Affordability
    With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here. Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently. And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.
    Tattler:  Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics. We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear. How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era?
    Ally Medina:  Emeryville is almost completely built out, it’s a very small city that has undergone a period of rapid growth. If elected, I would negotiate for higher percentages of affordable housing recognizing that it is extremely desirable to developers to make sure we get the most out of new housing. However, I don’t think we will build enough housing stock to appreciable raise that average in a short period of time. As a city, we need to focus on maximizing the community benefit of the space we do have.


    Tattler:  Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers. Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
    Ally Medina:  As I noted in my previous answer, there is very little land left. I certainly don’t believe we need more stock retail and vast parking lots. Any new development should be heavily geared towards parks and local business.


    Tattler:  Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing. However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them. Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more? Is ABAG wrong?
    Ally Medina:  Increasing density can increase traffic issues, but it also allows the possibility for innovation in public transit. With denser neighborhoods we can have better, faster public transit and a denser tax base for bike/pedestrian infrastructure projects. Emeryville has been a leader in building market rate housing, but should negotiate for higher levels of affordable housing in any new developments as well as continuing to address income inequality that makes it difficult for many Emeryville workers to live near their employment. Affordability is a factor of both wages and the cost of living, and policy should address both sides of that.


    Tattler:  'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows. Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here. Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go. Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of  ABAG recommendations. Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?

    Ally Medina:  Outpaced demand and rapid growth is a regional issue, Emeryville should not be razed and turned into high rises. I believe to mitigate the displacement that has been rampant in the region, Emeryville must enact stronger tenant protections immediately, as well as incentivize home ownership to encourage more permanent residents.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2016

    Council Says YES to EIR That Says NO to Horton Street Bike Boulevard

    City Council Uninterested in Traffic Effects From Sherwin Williams Project Presuming Bike Boulevard in Place

    Certified EIR Says Apartments More Important Than Bike Boulevard

    News Analysis
    Now there’s no other way to spin it; regardless of their pro-bike rhetoric, the Emeryville City Council doesn’t want to have a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  Bikes dangerously navigating a traffic clogged street with more than 3000 cars and trucks per day is OK they told us but a bike boulevard, a street safe for biking with less than 3000 cars, is not something they’re interested in, not if it means scaling back the Sherwin Williams project.  

    At the September 6th council meeting the Emeryville City Council put the final nail in the coffin for the Horton Street Bike Boulevard when they approved the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 540 apartment Sherwin Williams project, a project who’s scale is incompatible with having a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  Says who?  The EIR itself says it: the loss of the bike boulevard is going to be a “significant and unmitigated negative environmental impact” when the whole Sherwin Williams project is approved in October. In deference to the EIR, the City Council expressed their desire ultimately to sign a ‘Declaration of Overriding Considerations’, a CEQA document that tells the State of California the Council is aware of the loss of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard but that they think the Sherwin Williams apartment project is so good and so necessary that losing a bike boulevard is well worth that cost.  Adding more housing is more important than the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, Emeryville's most important north/south bike corridor says the Council.

    Other than the years of delay they have proffered, how do we know the City Council isn’t interested in delivering a bike boulevard for Horton Street?  They told us as much.  When they certified the EIR the Council said YES to its traffic study that doesn’t reveal what the effects the project would have on neighborhood traffic if there was a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  The traffic study approved by the City Council only shows what the effect on traffic there would be if there is NOT a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  The Council had a chance to re-do the traffic study so they could know how the project would have effected neighborhood traffic with the Horton Street Bike Boulevard intact but they said they weren’t interested in that on the 6th.  And so they certified the EIR as it was.  
    That means the City Council is either willing to commit a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) violation by negligently passing a bad EIR or they have no interest in creating a bike boulevard for Horton Street as Emeryville’s General Plan mandates. A violation of CEQA mandates would expose the City to a lawsuit, something incidentally the Council expressed worry over at the September 6th meeting.  The choice revealed at the meeting is that instead they’re going to (continue to) violate our General Plan with its requirement to keep traffic below 3000 vehicle trips per day.
    The 540 unit Sherwin Williams project 
    is incompatible with having a 
    bike boulevard on Horton Street 
    says the EIR. 

    The decision to certify the Sherwin Williams EIR finally puts to an end the years of speculation and delay on implementing Emeryville's Bike Plan dictates for Horton Street.  Developers have said they are loath to allow a bike boulevard there and the Council has always placated the developer’s desires, even now the new "progressive" majority.  Developers have wanted to load Horton Street up with traffic to maximize their profits for their projects the Council keeps approving.
      
    Bicyclists first alerted the City Council to the safety problems with excess traffic on Horton Street in the late 1990’s when the Bicycle Advisory Committee for the City of Emeryville put the need for traffic calming on the street front and center in the first Bike Plan that the Council certified in 1998.  The Council never delivered on the traffic calming the first Bike Plan mandated.  Later when businesses complained about the bike lanes called for in the plan, lanes that took away parking spaces for cars in the Park Avenue area, the business community lobbied the Council and the new Bike Plan, certified in 2012, took away the bike lanes but made Horton Street a bike boulevard instead.  Bike boulevards are supposed to be ‘bike preferred but cars allowed’ corridors.  
    Businesses liked the fact that the new Plan retained the parking spaces for cars but developers soon started calling foul because of the limit on the number of cars the Plan requires for bike boulevards.  The Council responded to the developer’s complaints by ignoring the traffic calming mandates for Horton Street.  


    The City of Emeryville never even tried the Horton Street Bike Boulevard idea.  The business and developer community was mollified instead.  The street has always been a car centric thoroughfare with more than 3000 vehicle trips per day.  The first Bike Plan failed to deliver traffic calming and the second Bike Plan failed to deliver less than 3000 vehicle trips per day.  What Horton Street has been and continues to be is just a regular street with funny purple signs and stencils on the asphalt.  It has never in 18 years complied with our General Plan.  

    Monday, September 19, 2016

    League of Women Voters Candidates Forum


    The League of Woman Voters Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville presents:

    Emeryville Candidates Forum
    for the

    EMERYVILLE MUNICIPLE ELECTIONS

    LWVBAE Forum for Emeryville City Council and Board of Education
    Wednesday September 21, 7-9pm

    at Emeryville City Council Chambers, 1333 Park Ave, Emeryville

    • City Council (3 positions) – John J. Bauters, Brynnda Collins, Louise Engel, Ally Medina, Christian Patz, John Van Geffen
    • Board of Education (2 positions) – Cruz J. Vargas, Barbara Inch, Ken Bukowski