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Monday, March 22, 2010

ECCL Busting City Budget

Austerity Measures Enacted City Wide Except At Center

by Mr. X

Taxpayers have spent $2.633 million so far on a pile of blueprints for a building that may never open its doors.
The Emeryville Center of Community Life, an elementary---junior high---high school---recreation center---senior center---library and police station; a project so bold and audacious that some residents have dismissed it as a legacy project for the City Council's old guard, is busting the city's budget. All while the first shovel of dirt is yet unturned. Known around city hall as the ECCL, it's projected cost is $125 million. In January the council added another $1.35 million to architect/design contracts and for "soft costs" associated with the project. The school district has put $330,000 into the kitty for the project or $462 for each student enrolled in the district. This figure doesn't include the payroll of city employees while working on the project.

Neither the city nor the School District has made an attempt to calculate the costly staff time expended on ECCL, but officials admit privately that the number is substantial. The money is not recoverable in any way as some budgetary allocations are and this money is gone forever.

At the same time officials are shoveling money at this project----which has yet to be proven a workable model in any respect----the world fiscal crisis is tightening its grip on city finances today. Rather than rein in spending on an unproven project, the city council is looking at raising taxes and cutting services; both unpopular choices with residents. The imposition of a 'Lighting and Landscaping' tax on property and the privatization of both the Child Development Center and recreation center are just around the corner.

$122.4 Million Still To Go
If the ECCL's price tag remains $125 million, the number insisted on by authorities, taxpayers are still on the hook for another $122.4 million. Unknown, are the likely higher costs for operating, staffing and maintaining the Center compared to current facilities. The jarring fiscal asymmetry between the large amount for the Center of Community Life and the austerity on items in the rest of the project's budget have inspired some residents to deem it a 'legacy project' for aging "1970s reformers" on the council who finally seem ready to retire. City officials have acknowledged this and sought, over the past two years, to convince the public with a series of propagandistic mailers touting the Center's benefits. The residents, for their part, will have a chance to weigh in on the Center of Community Life in a citywide bond funding initiative on November 2nd.


  1. It's really amazing about they won't listen to residents about this project. They keep moving this thing forward. I think they're going to be in for a shock in November.

  2. Do we know what the cost of building a n elementary school, junior high school,high school, recreation center, senior center, library and police station separately? My guess is the cost would be A LOT more.

  3. I think they would cost whatever political will there was to spend on them. The question is: Do we really need a new high school, junior high school, elementary school, recreation center, senior center and library (the police station is being built off site at Watergate)? My guess is NO, we don't need new everything right now.

  4. Yes, we need them. Our recreation center is embarrassing. The senior center needs an upgrade. We don't even have a library. I don't think anyone would argue that the secondary school needs a drastic upgrade (if for no other reason that to improve the urban street environment--it looks like a prison and create a huge gap in activity on San Pablo.) As I recall, whenever the Redevelopment Agency Board uses redevelopment funds to fund private projects, people cry foul and say the money could be used for parks and public facilities. Well, we have now built a park (Hollis and 62nd) with it and here is our chance to build some really nice facilities that the whole community will use. Redevelopment funds can only be spent on redevelopment, so what better way to spend them and improve our community is there? I generally hear a ton of support for this project when I chat with people out in the community.

  5. It's funny, if we need this ECCL project so much and there's so much support in the community for spending $125 million for this project, why then do the authorities feel a need to spend so much of our money on propaganda to tell us how much we need this project? Why are they hiring an expensive election campaign firm to orchestrate the fall election and maximize the chances of passage? Shouldn't we save all the money and effort we've been spending on propaganda and just let the residents overwhelmingly vote yes to tax themselves to build this thing? It should be a landslide election, right?

  6. The police station is no longer part of ECCL. It's being rebuilt out at watergate. It was at one time proposed for ECCL but watergate residents managed to keep it out there.

  7. even city council doesn't say what they are going to do with anna yates elementary school after they plowed over $3 million into renovating it a year ago. this figure could be more.

  8. Note: The actual amount of the Anna Yates Elementary School remodel last year was $9 million.

  9. It's about time someone started noticing the graft and waste surrounding the ECCL, I've been working in Emeryville, for the city, for 7 years, and we are no closer now, than we are then to getting this project off the ground.
    Not to mention, since when does a school district hire an architect, and an assistant for that architect? Shouldn't he be a contractor for the city?
    Roy Miller has some good connections, and knows the right people to get a cushy deal.