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Sunday, November 22, 2020

City/School District Fails on Acknowledgment of Wrongdoing Against Transgender Teacher

 What To Do About Steve Dain?

Emeryville Settles on Inaction 

Opinion/News Analysis

Hey Emeryville!  November 20th was national Transgender Day of Remembrance.  A day that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  What did you do to observe it?

The answer is nothing.  Nothing was done by our government in our name to observe the date or even to set its own terrible record right with regard to the mistreatment of transgender people.  Regardless that in 1976, Emeryville fired a transgender teacher for who he was and with lots of recent talk about that not representing who we are emanating from our government, nothing is being done.

Still 47th Street
The City of Emeryville said this sign would 
read 'Steve Dain Drive' by this time.

The just passed national Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th, followed Transgender Awareness Week November 13th through the 19th; an auspicious time for a ribbon cutting ceremony if there ever was one to reassert our Emeryville values.  But that was not enough to get Mayor Christian Patz to follow through with his pledge to re-name 47th Street Steve Dain Drive.  Mr Patz, who’s mayoralty ends on December 1st, took up the charge for the City, promising the name change after Emery School District failed to acknowledge the wrongdoing of the firing of Mr Dain.

Call it just another failure to honor Steve Dain, who was humiliated by the government here in Emeryville, for being transgender.  That humiliation goes on today following his 2007 passing.  With neither government agency able to do the right thing by Mr Dain and therefore all transgender people, the humiliation is on us, the people of Emeryville.  Indeed, WE fired Mr Dain for who he was and WE refuse to apologize here and now for that act of public cowardice. 

Transgender Flag Flying
at Emeryville City Hall

As far as Emeryville is 
ready to go at this point.

Surprisingly, Mayor Patz claims that 47th Street is already named Steve Dain Drive (it is not).  He says he has done it and he was given an award for it in September.  At the 8th annual East Bay Stonewall Pride Awards ceremony on September 13th, Mr Patz, accepting the award, told the group"I worked with the School Board to honor Mr. Dain, but just as in the 70s, there are too many bigots in public office.  Thankfully, I work with an amazing City Council and together, we were able to rename the street in front of the school Steve Dain Drive."

It's all talk now in Emeryville.  Two elected officials, Christian Patz of the City Council and Susan Donaldson of the School District, rode in to set Emeryville right but both dropped the ball.  Mr Patz let his mayoralty run out and Board member Donaldson wrote a public letter, posted in the Tattler in May, stating that the Board would finally and officially apologize for the firing of Mr Dain.  But without any interest among her School Board colleagues, Ms Donaldson has also quietly dropped the issue.

The electeds in Emeryville (at least two of them) have a message for you Steve Dain: The people of the City of Emeryville didn’t care about you when you were alive and we sure don’t care about you now.  And with that, it seems it's time for Emeryville to move on.  With this unpleasant issue forgotten, it’s back to brunch in Emeryville apparently.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lack of Guidelines on Fines, City Policy Arbitrary

City Violates Sacramento Election Law

Fails to Fine Late Filing Council Members, Report Council Late Filings

Arbitrariness, Favoritism Rears Its Head at City Hall

Sheri Hartz
Emeryville City Clerk

She failed to notify the FPPC
of Council members' delinquency
and failed to levy fines
against the two Council
members as required.
The City of Emeryville has failed to report City Council election misconduct to the Fair Political Practices Commission and miscarried its duty to fine two delinquent Council members as is required, the Tattler has learned.  In the run up to the 2020 election, Mayor Christian Patz and Councilwoman Ally Medina were negligent in their duty to file political campaign donor information with the FPPC and a Public Records Request revealed the City failed in its duty to report that to the FPPC and to levy required fines against the two procrastinating Council members.  

City Clerk Sheri Hartz told the Tattler it is “generally the City’s practice to work with filers toward compliance rather than to assess fines”.
However the FPPC is clear that barring any municipal guidelines permitting fines to be waived or reduced, the fine schedule defaults to the State suggested $10 per day for every day a candidate is late on filing the proper disclosure forms.  Because the City did not disclose the existence of any such municipal guidelines in the Tattler Public Records Request response, the City is presumed to not have any guidelines and is therefore not free to ‘work with filers’ and waive the fines, lest public policy at City Hall descend into capriciousness.  

Mayor Christian Patz
He owes $1010 in fines
for late filing his campaign
contribution forms.
Following a November 8th Tattler story on the late filings and the assessment of fines to be applied against the two Council members, City Attorney Michael Guina cited government code §84200.8 that unequivocally permits the City, at its pleasure, an exception to waive a portion of the fines the Tattler quoted specifically because the Council members ran unopposed in the election.  Without the exception taken, Mr Patz and Ms Medina would owe $3130 and $1310 respectively, as reported by the Tattler.  With the exception taken and the City invoking §84200.5 (its right to forgive the Council members), Mayor Patz who filed his late Forms 460 the day after the November 8th Tattler story, now owes $1010 for his 101 days late filing at $10 per day and Councilwoman Medina owes $30 for her three days late filing.  Owing to a lack of existing municipal guidelines delineating how late fees are to be assessed, the City is supposed to fine the City Council members these amounts and failure to do so would represent a breach of FPPC protocol for the City of Emeryville and would raise the specter of capriciousness and political favoritism extant at City Hall.

Ms Hartz did not answer in the Public Records Request as to why she failed to report the Council members' late FPPC filings as she is required to do.

The FPPC may levy additional fines against the two Emeryville City Council members at the rate of $5000 per violation, at their discretion.  The Tattler will be reporting to the FPPC, the Council members’ and the City Clerk’s failures to disclose the required filings. 

Councilwoman Medina has acknowledged her late filing of her Form 460.  Responding to the November 6th Tattler story, she said she had “whiffed”, whereas Mayor Patz's acknowledgment of his culpability in his late filing came solely in the form of his rush to file the forms the day after the Tattler story.  Mr Patz refused to comment for this story. 


OOPS!  Mayor's Math Error!
A screen shot of Mayor Patz's late filed Form 460.
The day after the November 8th Tattler story, Mayor Patz finally turned in his late campaign contributions form.  He shows his major contributors to be the politically connected CEO Rich Robbins of Wareham Development and political lobbyist/schmoozer, the oily John Gooding
In his flustering rush to file his form, Mayor Patz didn't add up his numbers correctly.  Ending Cash Balance should read $4542.04, not $5964.30. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Mayor & Councilwoman Failed to File Campaign Finance Documents; Fines Possible

Election 2020:

Mayor Patz, Councilwoman Medina Fail to File Campaign Finance Accountability Forms

City/State Could Levy Fines

Mayor Christian Patz and Councilwoman Ally Medina, re-elected to their respective City Council seats on Tuesday, failed to file several periods of required campaign finance election forms with the City of Emeryville the Tattler has learned.  The required form, issued by the State of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Form 460, delineates campaign contributions critical for electoral campaign accountability.

A quick perusal of the City’s website shows Ally Medina missing her last two filings of the last five required and Christian Patz missing his last three filings.  Council member John Bauters, who also ran for re-election on Tuesday, is shown to have filed every Form 460 required of him on time. 

The missing forms, called the Recipient Committee Campaign Statement Form 460 are filed under the California Political Reform Act and are considered public records, available for public inspection.  There are no provisions for extending deadlines according to the FPPC, the body tasked by the State with overarching enforcement.  

If a candidate’s election committee fails to file a Form 460 campaign statement, the FPPC may levy a fine of up to $5000 per violation according to the FPPC website.  Additionally, the State provides that the City of Emeryville may fine candidates $10 per day for every late filing.  As of today, Councilwoman Medina is late some 131 days and could be fined $1310 while Mayor Patz, at 313 days late, could be facing a $3,130 fine from the City of Emeryville.

The City is required by the FPPC to keep guidelines that dictate how election fines for delinquent local candidates are to be levied but none could be found on the City’s website.   Failure to provide the required guidelines could result in penalties issued against municipalities the FPPC website noted. 

The Tattler has made a Public Records Request with the City of Emeryville for information regarding these election violations and we will report as we are made aware.

What Happened To Election Accountability?
Screen Shot From the City's Website
Only Council member Bauters has fulfilled his required FPPC election obligations.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

School Board Looks at Raising Administrators' Pay After Promising Voters They Wouldn't

Board Considers Raising Admin Pay After Passage of Measure K 

Emeryville Measure K Parcel Tax Passed Last Spring Promised No Money to Admin

The Emery Unified School District is pondering raising the salaries of non-teacher administration employees after assuring Emeryville citizens considering Measure K, a school parcel tax passed by voters last March, they would not.  Despite strong ballot language guaranteeing that there would be no increase in administration salaries from the March 3rd election, the School Board has hired a consulting firm to look into increasing administration salaries, just as taxpayer money from Measure K is beginning to flow into the District's coffers.  

The Board took up the item at their meeting last Wednesday with a power point presentation from School Services of California, a Sacramento based consulting firm paid by the District.  After reporting that Emery administrators' compensation is "significantly below" teacher pay, the consulting firm suggested the District should first raise administration compensation before increasing teacher pay.

Board Member
Lauren Salazar

We cannot commit to honor
our pledge to not raise
admin salaries at this time.
Concerned Letter From the Mayor

The Board's agendized discussion/action item was enough to prompt an October 28th letter from former School Board Trustee and current Emeryville mayor, Christian Patz who challenged the Board to not raise administrator's salaries until new revenue sources could be secured to pay for it.  Mayor Patz, noting the fungible nature of money, raised the idea that the District could tap the pot of Measure K money, expressly not for administration compensation, to pay for administrator pay increases nonetheless.  The Mayor challenged the Board directly, "Commit to not adjusting administrators' salaries until you identify new revenues to pay for those increases.  This means not just shifting teacher salaries to the parcel tax income but actual new income." 

The Mayor's letter was not well received.  Board members universally expressed their displeasure, especially President  Brynnda Collins who chastised Mr Patz for his questioning of the Board's promise to not misuse Measure K money, "I find it hard to believe leadership [on the City Council] can't be on Team Emery" she said.  She called the letter "sad".  Outgoing Board member Cruz Vargas was even less circumspect, bringing up Mr Patz's lack of support for Measure K last March, "People who could have supported us [during the Measure K campaign] didn't.... and it's not worth our time to respond to them now" he said, adding anything that's done with Measure K funds would be done "for the kids"

Board member Lauren Salazar put it most succinctly stating she has faith in the process.  Responding to Mayor Patz's request for a Board commitment to not violate Measure K funding promises made to the voters, Ms Salazar spoke for the Board indicating all options would be retained, saying "Making any commitments now is inappropriate."  

Asked to clarify, Board President Collins later told the Tattler any notion that the Board is considering raising administration salaries in any incorrect way is "full of shit".

Mayor Patz however made it very clear he doesn't trust the Board will honor their pledge to the voters.  He told them, "This past spring, you put forth and passed a parcel tax with the promise 'no funds for administrator salaries.'   That is a direct quote from the ballot language you put to the voters.  At the time, I said the Board could not be trusted with the voters' money and was not being honest about how they would use the funds.  Now that the funds are available, the groundwork is being laid to prove me right."

After hearing the consultation presentation from School Services of California, the Board voted to push the issue of raising salaries, administrators' and/or teachers', off to a future meeting.

Measure K levies 12 cents per square foot of residential and commercial building area, taking in an additional $1.8 million per year for Emery Unified.  That amount represents a 37% increase in cost for an average home from $405 to $555 annually according to the San Jose Mercury News who urged Emeryville voters to reject the measure in the run up to the March 3rd election.   

A previous iteration of Measure K, also a school parcel tax passed by voters in 2014 was supplanted by the new 2020 Measure K.  The Tattler reported in February that Emery Unified had deceived voters in the 2014 election after it was found that the District had increased administrators' salaries after also promising they wouldn't. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

27 Calls to Police, One Vehicle Ticketed: Why Our Bike Lanes Are Blocked

Blocked Bike Lanes:

Emeryville Doesn't Care About Bike Safety

A Combination of Lax Enforcement and Low Fines is a Recipe For Injured/Killed Bicyclists

News Analysis

Amid a growing prevalence of bike lane blockages and in response to a Tattler public records request, the Emeryville Police Department recently released citizen complaint driven data on vehicles illegally blocking the city’s bike lanes and the Department’s enforcement management to address the problem.  The numbers revealed show a city beset with dangerous bike lane blockages and a disinterested police department.

Over the six month period from March 1st to September 30th, a total of 27 citizen calls were placed to the police department complaining of vehicles blocking bike lanes resulting in one citation issued.  The lack of enforcement combined with the low cost to drivers for the infraction, $59 as we reported last August, puts bicyclists in the precarious position of having to cross the solid white line and swerve out into traffic, a move that has been identified by bike safety groups and the insurance industry as extremely dangerous.

Will Emeryville wait for a bicyclist to be killed
or severely injured before action is taken?

Twenty seven calls and one ticket written; those are the kinds of odds that make people willing to break the law.  That’s nearly the same odds as being dealt a first hand flush in seven card poker.  And that’s calculated only for the cars that receive citizen complaints.  If nobody calls the police to complain about your illegally parked car, a likely thing, your odds of getting a ticket for blocking a bike lane drop to something much lower than one in 27. 

This information reveals an Emeryville Police Department that places bike safety very low on its list of priorities.  By definition.

Vehicles blocking bike lanes isn’t relegated only to Emeryville of course.  In fact there’s a growing social movement to stop the dangerous practice.  Many cities are responding to the calls by increasing the fines and increasing patrolling for violators, as Chicago did in 2017.  In 2018 in Virginia and Maryland tickets for blocking bike lanes averaged over $220 and $260, respectively.  In Emeryville however, no such concern for bike safety exists and the deadly combination of low fines with lax enforcement spells future calamity.  

Police Department Purposely Doesn't Cite Violators

An Emeryville Police Department employee, wishing anonymity, told the Tattler he doesn’t see the dearth of tickets issued as a sign the Department isn’t taking bike safety seriously.  Upon learning that the public records request information was going to be made public by the Tattler, the police employee used a classic appeal from ignorance fallacy, stating, “The fact that we didn’t ticket these violators shows that we value bike safety.  These violators were asked to move along, solving the problem of the [bike] lanes being blocked.”  He added, “The priority is to get the vehicle out of the bike lane”.  Taking him at his word, none of this acknowledges the fact that drivers are typically not in the vehicles that are blocking the lanes and the obvious fact that police asking drivers to move is not solving the problem that parking in the bike lane is a good solution for drivers (especially if there aren’t any police visible).  

If police asking drivers to not park in bike lanes (without writing tickets) were having a palliative effect on bike lane blockage in Emeryville, there would tend to be fewer vehicles blocking bike lanes over time.  What we’ve seen is the opposite.  Indeed, to expect that issuing a ticket would not have a deterrent effect is to overturn the most basic precept upon which the whole paradigm of crime and punishment is based.  Bike lane blocking drivers that don’t have a moral compass and can’t seem to see the havoc they cause and the recklessness of putting bikers’ lives at risk will find the havoc on their bank account after they get a ticket for doing so.  

If Emeryville starts taking bike safety more seriously, fewer drivers will block our bike lanes and bikers will be safer.  As it stands now, drivers have a better than 96% chance they won’t get a ticket for blocking a bike lane and a $59 fine if they are among the unlucky 3% that do get a ticket.  The remedy for Emeryville is easy but so far the will is lacking.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Developer Goes Over City Council - City's Authority Stripped By New State Housing Law

47th Street Homes Project Ushers In New 'Upzone' Housing Boom In East Emeryville Neighborhoods

First Developer to Invoke New California Law to Override City Council

Flood of Housing Projects Will Bring More White People 

News Analysis

The desire of the people of Emeryville to plan their town as they see fit ran hard up against the power of the State Tuesday when the City Council, yielding to a new anti-planning state law that takes away local housing control, voted to allow a developer to tear down four affordable rental homes to be replaced with expensive rental townhomes.  Emeryville thus becomes one of the first Bay Area towns to test the new law, SB 330; a developer backed decree that seeks to increase housing density across California at the expense of citizen empowerment in their own city planning.

Emeryville residents watched in shock Tuesday night as the City Council voted unanimously to grant an out-of-town developer freedom to evict his multi-generational low income minority tenants in four contiguous homes he owns in order to demolish them and build unaffordable townhouses.  The net effect on 47th Street (and elsewhere after this precedent setting law begins to take effect) will be to make the neighborhood whiter, richer, less blue collar and generally less diverse.  It was shocking because neither the City Council or the Planning Commission wanted this to happen.  Shocking because the City Council is now seen as powerless to stop what will likely become a torrent of development, developers seeking their fortunes gentrifying the Triangle Neighborhood and North Emeryville, the last bastions of affordable genuine family housing left in our town.

SB 330, authored by our own local Assembly member Nancy Skinner, was advertised to overturn what was characterized by her as a state-wide culture of ‘NIMBYism’ that had contributed to California’s legendary status of being an epicenter of unaffordable housing.  Before it became law in January, SB 330 saw a powerful consortium of developer/lobbyists who glommed onto the legislation that sought to strip cities of their general plans, forcing them to approve virtually any housing project that would increase density.  Early on, some environmental groups signed onto the law (which would theoretically lessen pressure for cities to sprawl), an ‘eco’ seal of approval that lowered what would have normally been robust citizen involvement, adding to SB 330’s remarkably rapid legislative confirmation. 

Berkeley resident Assembly Member Nancy Skinner
(with mic) obtained Governor Gavin Newsome's
help in signing SB 330, the 'Housing Crisis
Act of 2019'.

Emeryville Is Not Guilty

Within SB 330’s pro-density zealotry, is a lack of recognition for towns that have behaved responsibly with their housing planning and building.  SB 330 lumps in towns that are not driven by housing NIMBYism with towns that have engaged NIMBYism that clearly do need to be reined in for the sake of the greater good.  It was against those irresponsible municipalities that Assembly member Skinner raised the specter of echelons of privileged and connected upper middle class town folk protecting their property values by stopping (lower income) development in a State that has seen property values skyrocket.  This kind of NIMBYism is a stereotype that certainly has a basis in fact when one looks to Bay Area towns like Piedmont, Tiberon or Atherton.  But SB 330 uses a sledgehammer to do its work and unnecessarily removes the people’s rights to plan their cities in areas that don’t need mandates from Sacramento - cities like Emeryville. 

Emeryville has shown itself to be a city not in need of SB 330.  NIMBYism, when it comes to housing, has not been in effect here.  Over the last 20 years, Emeryville has surpassed its market rate housing goals by triple digits as reported by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).  With housing numbers like Emeryville’s, no plausible argument can be made for City Hall needing to hand over its Planning Department to Sacramento.

SB 330 simply sets to increase the density of California cities.  It doesn’t speak to affordability, except by use of a trickle down nostrum, invoking a facile supply and demand panacea that incidentally has many critics.  Emeryville serves as a convenient case study.  As the town has doubled its population and then doubled it again, housing prices here continue skyrocketing upward, unabated, far outpacing general cost of living increases.

Slumlords Love the New Law

The 47th Street Homes Project is a particularly egregious example of gentrification.  The development corporation, FE Forbes has operated as a landlord for many years in the Triangle neighborhood, acting in a classic slumlord modus operandi according to the tenants.  The City Council was particularly incensed after it was revealed that Forbes hadn’t even fixed a heater in one of the 47th Street houses it owns, forcing the tenant, a grandmother with children living with her, to go without heat for ten years.  Forbes CEO, Mark Forbes, before invoking SB 330, argued the City should disregard the City’s ‘Areas of Stability’ clause in the General Plan because he hadn’t maintained the homes over the years and the resultant state of disrepair should serve as reason enough to grant permission to evict all the tenants and raze the four craftsman homes.  He failed to mention he would make a lot more money in rents with the new townhomes it should be noted.

The City Council (and the Planning Commission) voted NO to FE Forbes' demolition request in January, the first time a home teardown developer had been rejected by the City of Emeryville.  Thus, SB 330 now curtails what might have been a budding Council ethos, looking to protect its existing affordable family housing stock. 

The fate, decided by Sacramento, of Emeryville’s existing (affordable) 47th Street homes becoming the fabulous 47th Street Homes will serve as a dinner bell to developers.  The eastern residential part of Emeryville that Emeryvillians sought to protect in the General Plan is now on the menu for developers far and wide.  So long as the market prices hold out and barring a large economic turndown, the last stock of detached single family houses in Emeryville, demonstrably the most family friendly housing, will be under greater and greater pressure to fall to the wreaking ball.  Sacramento has seen to it that what little planning Emeryville may have had over the years is now going to be relegated to the dustbin of history.  SB 330 promises Emeryville and other Bay Area cities will descend into a new wild west anti-planning period of unregulated housing development, the will of the people be damned. 

Here come the techie yuppies!
Emeryville to become whiter, richer, less blue collar and fewer families.
A scene that will become increasingly common
in the East Emeryville neighborhoods with the passage of SB 330.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Breaking News: Council OKs Demolition of 47th Street Homes

 Tonight the City Council voted to grant the developer FE Forbes permission to tear down four contiguous 100 year old craftsman homes known as the 47th Street Homes Project, to built townhome replacements citing a new developer friendly California law that attempts to stop municipalities from saying NO to development that increases housing density.  The decision, a reversal of an earlier vote against the project, was cast solely as a result of the new law (SB 330) the Council said.  The vote promises to set a precedent for new ‘up zoned’ development in Emeryville’s last bastions of traditional single family detached residences in the Triangle Neighborhood and North Emeryville.  

Council member John Bauters, citing provisions in the Housing Element of Emeryville’s General Plan, argued that the City could make the approval of the project conditional regardless of SB 330, providing at least one unit of the all rental project be deed restricted as affordable.  The developer stated he would be willing to grant that as long as he would only be constrained to provide an affordable unit for 20 years and that a rental unit he owns on 48th Street be the constrained unit, not any of the new units on 47th Street. 

The vote was unanimous.   

 The Tattler will follow with an expanded story on this in days to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Emeryville Police Department Won't Release Racial Profiling Data Until 2023

 State to Force Emeryville to Track Race Data

Is The Emeryville Police Department Racist?

Citizens Can't Know Until 2023

Department Hasn't Been Tracking Data

News Analysis

For the amount of money the people of Emeryville pay for their police department, citizens should be able to check on the cops….to see what kind of a job they’re doing, like for instance racial profiling.…are they doing that?  To those who would want to know and that should be everyone, the police have a ready response: The people of Emeryville are not worthy of having that kind of information.  And the police are not required by law to keep the kinds of records that would inform citizens of that anyway.  They could, but they don’t.

The State of California is coming to the rescue however, bringing recalcitrant police departments like Emeryville’s to accountability and transparency.   Starting in 2022, Emeryville will be forced by law to track its police racial profiling data.  That’s cold comfort to Emeryville residents who want to know now if their police department is racist.  Full police accountability and transparency in Emeryville will have to wait.  

State law passed in 2015 (AB 953) requires every police department up and down California to track data that could prove if the police are racist.  Many departments are already complying with the law but Emeryville, waiting until the last minute, will not release its state mandated racial profiling data (collected starting in 2022) to the public until April of 2023.

The law, known as AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, will require Emeryville to collect, archive and disseminate (redacted) data obtained when citizens are stopped by the police including the result of the stop, such as, no action, warning, citation, property seizure, or arrest.  Also police will be required to archive the perceived race or ethnicity, gender, and approximate age of the person stopped.

As it stands now, an insouciant EPD tracks none of this data and the Department as a whole, as well as the people of Emeryville, are in the dark as to any culture of racism that might exist here.  Our current interim chief of police Robert Schreeder says as much, stating EPD “needs to be much more robust in how we track data”.  He told the Tattler, “Where I come from, this kind of data is part of the annual [police] report.” 

From the 2016 RIPA Report
Racial profiling by police in California
is by far the most prevalent.


An advisory board set up by AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) released a report in 2018 that found racial profiling is common among police districts.  The report showed Black drivers in California were stopped by police at 2.5 times the per capita rate of whites and searched three times as often.  Black people accounted for 15% of all stops but make up about 6% of the population.  Hispanics accounted for 40% of stops, a slightly higher per capita rate, while whites were a third of the stops, a slightly lower rate.

Moreover, “a higher percentage of Black individuals were stopped for reasonable suspicion than any other racial identity group,” the board reported.  Officers were shown to search Black people nearly three times as often as to search whites, though white suspects were more likely to yield contraband or other evidence.  Black people also were more likely to be arrested and stopped at night.

The 2018 RIPA report showed that of 451 police departments across the state, 26% received citizen complaints alleging racial or identity profiling for the 2016 calendar year (the first year after AB 953 became law).

The disturbing findings are not relegated to rural police departments in the state.  The Bay Area is shown to be a hot spot of racist police practices.  Indeed, racist police are right on our doorstep.  Concurrent with the legally required RIPA annual reporting, Stanford University researchers conducted a multi-year comprehensive analysis of 28,000 citizen stops made by the Oakland Police Department.  Overall, they found a consistent pattern of racial disparities in the community members stopped, handcuffed, searched, and arrested by the OPD.

Former Police Chief Tejada Implicated

After the much publicized May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, even white people are becoming increasingly aware of the systemic racism in police departments across the nation.  And against that backdrop, people of good will benefit from the kind of data AB 953 reveals.  Many police departments in California, sensing a problem, began tracking racial profiling data even before AB 953, including departments as small as Emeryville’s.  Unfortunately, that wisdom hasn’t been in evidence here.  

While Emeryville citizens can’t know if their police department is racist now because of a lack of this data, we can know this is not an accident.  It's because of a lack of interest by the EPD.

Money For Yoga But Not Racial Profiling Data
Yoga time and other 'mindfulness' programs
at EPD takes 18% of the police budget.

The new law passed in 2015, just before the City of Emeryville  hired former Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada.  Chief Tejada was well aware of AB 953 and the systemic culture of police racism the law seeks to expose but she chose not to direct her officers to begin collecting the data that is needed.  Instead, Ms Tejada engaged in a program of officer ‘wellness’ at the department that focused on officer yoga.  Current Chief Schreeder noted Emeryville spends 18% of its budget on Ms Tejada’s wellness program; an unusually high percentage he reported to the City Council at a July 21st meeting.  Video can be seen HERE.

Former Chief Tejada, during her tenure preferred to not track data that would reveal possible racism at EPD but she did feel comfortable enough to release racist police blotter posts to the City’s website.  Over a period of a year after the Tattler exposed it, Chief Tejada kept issuing the racial identity of alleged perpetrators of crime in the blotter without any accompanying information that might bring the perpetrators to justice.  Citizens reading the City website at that time learned about “Black” suspects to specific crimes but no other identifying information, leading racially aware citizens to question why.  After the Chief could not supply a reason for her racist blotter posts, the City Manager ended the practice (all while the Tattler reported).  That media exposure was a lesson in how public embarrassment can be a great motivator for civic entities to engage in better behavior, and presumably the same will be able to be said about AB 953. 

The Tattler began an investigation into finding out if the Emeryville Police Department is racist on June 28th with a story entitled 'Announcing: The Emeryville Tattler Police Accountability Project'.  This disclosure that EPD will not release racial profiling data until April of 2023 serves as the culmination of the Tattler investigation.

Citizens can begin reporting complaints about suspected racial profiling incidents to the Emeryville police after April 2022.  The police will enter any reports into the new data base after that date.  Before April 2022, EPD has not specifically committed to keep or archive any racial profiling complaints.  Citizens will be able to track the 2022 data beginning April 2023 when the EPD reveals it in their annual report.  Only then will Emeryville residents be able to see if they’re getting a good value for the money they pay for their police (and if their police are racist).

Correction: We earlier reported the chief of police is hired by the City Council.  In fact the Chief is hired by the City Manager.  We apologize for the error.

Are They Racist?
Many police departments are.  The former Chief was (pictured at center bottom).
We don't know about Emeryville's police in the aggregate because it has 
not been a priority to reveal it to the public.
We'll find out in April of 2023.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Council to Make Doyle Street Traffic Diverters Permanent

COVID-19 Delivers Emeryville's First Bike Boulevard

Newly Calm Street Very Popular

Could Other Bike Boulevards Also Get Traffic Calming?

News Analysis

The City Council has placed on its October 6th docket, the permanent closure of portions of the Doyle Street Bike Boulevard to vehicular traffic, a move that likely would bring the street into full compliance with Emeryville’s Bike Plan, a first for any bike boulevard in the City.  The Doyle Street Bike Boulevard, with its temporary ‘K rail’ traffic calming measures placed last April, is now safe for bicycling for the first time in years with fewer cars on it than the maximum allowed in Emeryville.   Every other bike boulevard is still unsafe for bicycling according to the Bike Plan, because of too much vehicle traffic.

The much reduced vehicle traffic load on Doyle has come about because the City of Emeryville, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocked some portions of the street from vehicle usage with the water filled plastic K rails.

The temporary K rail diversion was done administratively owing to its low cost and the COVID-19 emergency invoked by the City.

View of an Emeryville Bike Boulevard
COVID-19 made something better
in our town.
K Rails will be replaced with
permanent (more attractive)
concrete  barriers. 

The new traffic calmed street has become so popular in the north Emeryville neighborhood and among regional bike commuters, the City Council has been prompted  to vote to make the changes permanent.  Emeryville will be helped with this expenditure by Alameda County Measure BB funds the City announced.

The Council action comes as a ‘consent agenda’ item (10.7) at the October 6th meeting, a sign they will almost certainly vote in favor.  Consent items are grouped together in bulk and voted on without discussion barring some new negative revelations.    With funds fully secured to permanently add traffic diverters to Doyle Street, a 5-0 Council vote is near certain. 

The diverters have not only made bicycling on Doyle Street safe but also enjoyable, say neighbors.  The reduced traffic street has also helped Emeryville to finally be able to make a claim of bike boulevard legitimacy.  Ten years after the City Council certified its Bike Plan that calls for a network of five bike boulevards, Emeryville finally now has a legitimate bike boulevard in Doyle Street thanks to the diverters.  

COVID Upsets the Dominant Paradigm

The Bike Plan calls for traffic counts to be made every two years for each of the City’s five bike boulevards to inform the Council as to the necessity of increased traffic calming.  Each bike boulevard is only allowed a certain number of average daily vehicle trips (ADT) and any overage is supposed to set off a new round of prescribed traffic calming measures.  That’s the way its supposed to work anyway.  The highest level of calming according to the Plan is Level Five, or traffic diversion, as Doyle Street now has.  The City of Berkeley has used Level Five diverters to great effect to help bike safety over the years.  But Emeryville’s bike boulevards have never progressed beyond Level Three traffic calming despite traffic counts that have called for increasing calming.

Many years ago,  the late City Councilwoman Nora Davis famously announced Emeryville will never have traffic diversion like Berkeley and she would only allow up to Level Three traffic calming on any bike boulevard (signs and paint on the asphalt, no diverters).  She stated Levels Four or Five traffic calming would disrupt vehicle traffic and therefore not be tolerated here regardless of what the Bike Plan says.  That default policy has been followed ever since by every iteration of the Council, making the COVID traffic diversion for Doyle Street a paradigm shifter for Emeryville.

The newly safe Doyle Street could ‘go viral'.  The street is now so popular in the North Emeryville neighborhood, others might demand the Bike Plan be followed in their neighborhoods as well, forcing the City Council to add diverters on the rest of the bike boulevards.

Councilman Bauters Gets Full Funding For Emeryville 

Council member John Bauters sits on the Alameda County Transportation Commission and has been instrumental in getting the funding for the traffic calming needed for Doyle Street (and possibly the other bike boulevards in Emeryville).  Measure BB, passed by voters in 2014 allows for this kind of safe street infrastructure but Council member Bauters was able to convince his Commission colleagues to waive the normally required matching funding from the municipality.  Mr Bauters argued that Emeryville’s small size made the matching funds requirement an undue burden and that the spirit of Measure BB would be subverted if Emeryville were to be forced to pay as much as the big cities.  His colleagues agreed and Emeryville has subsequently been released from the matching funds requirement as has two other small cities in the County. 

 Emeryville's Latest Traffic Count Results (2019)

Every bike boulevard is shown to be in violation of the Bike Plan due to too much vehicle traffic. At only 4% over the maximum allowable traffic before the COVID pandemic, Doyle Street certainly has been brought into compliance with the emplacement of the diverters.  However the other four boulevards are in even greater need for traffic calming.  Will the Council follow the success at Doyle Street and make the other bike boulevards safe too?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Council Punts on 47th Street Homes Project: Unstoppable in Wake of New Sacramento Law?

Tonight the City Council threw out a decision on the controversial 47th Street Homes project based on a lack of knowledge when the application was completed.   The date is important because the State of California has passed several laws protecting ‘upzoning’ or increasing density, as the 47th Street project would do.  At issue are SB 330 provisions that would make it more difficult for the Council to vote NO to the project.  Council member John Bauters asked staff to report on when the application was “deemed complete” because if that could be determined to be before the passage of Sacramento’s SB 330, then presumably more lax and defensible findings against the project could be made.  The staff was directed to find the application date and return the project to a future meeting.

100 year old Craftsman Homes would be
replaced with this.

The project was recently declined by the Planning Commission based on their finding that the existing homes are affordable and the replacements would be unaffordable, a fact the applicant, Forbes Development, admits.  But that finding might not be an acceptable one to turn down the project now that SB 330 is the law of the land.  The Council also had previously said NO to 47th Street Homes, in January due to the project's transitioning of the neighborhood from affordable to unaffordable.  

The action tonight indicates the Council believes they will have a difficult time voting NO to the 47th Street Homes project with the new rules in effect, barring a clear calendar impediment.  This could serve as a signal to developers to start tearing down existing homes all over the Triangle neighborhood and North Emeryville, the last stands of affordable single family detached homes in Emeryville, a clear goal of California Senate Bill 330.