D.C.-based Mall Developer Gives Bill to Emeryville Taxpayers
Emeryville residents may have noticed a marked increase in patrol cars at the Bay Street Mall in recent months. It's the result of a stepped up police presence there as police attempt to deter crime and cut response times. “Police are called to secure that mall almost every day,” said Adrienne Robinson, Crime Analyst Technician at the Emeryville Police Department.
Many residents feel as if crimes are increasing at the mall. Those feelings are borne out by the facts. “Crime is going up,” Ms. Robinson said, “especially at the Bay Street Mall." 'General calls for service' have steadily climbed since the mall opened in 2003, rising from 241 then to 357 in 2008.
Particularly troubling is a rapid increase in assaults and instances of grand theft. Only one assault was reported in 2003, compared to ten in 2008. The number of grand thefts (valued at $400 or more), rose from 19 to 28 over the same period. The number of burglaries also increased, jumping from eight in 2003 to 22 in 2008. While there were no reported incidents of battery 2003, there were four in 2008.
Chief of Police Ken James noted that much of the increase is related to the mall's growing popularity, especially young people on (warm) weekends. “It’s become the ‘go to’ place for juveniles,” Mr. James said, noting that Bay Street has become a regional draw for teens.
When the mall was being planned a decade ago, officials anticipated an increase in crime and recommended that the police hire an additional "Police Service Technician (PST)," to handle the additional cases. Mr. James now confirms that the estimate was too low. The department has added a four-person detail on the weekends, bumped up from the normal patrol compliment. “It works out to about 20 extra hours of police overtime pay, just for Bay Street” Mr. James said. “It’s costing us more money than we had anticipated," he added.
Mr. James was quick to add that residents are not experiencing fewer services or longer response times in the rest of the city, since all of the extra police hours spent on Bay Street is paid for in extra over-time. James added that the promised Police Service Technician has not been hired yet.
In stark contrast, back in 1993 when the East Bay Bridge Mall, (best known for its anchor tenants--Home Depot, and Pak 'n Save), was being planned, city officials urged the hiring of 12 additional ‘sworn’ officers and four PSTs to handle an expected increase in crime created by that mall. The difference in the projections is especially noteworthy as the crime rate is lower at the EastBayBridge mall than at Bay Street. Mr. James said he could not say for sure explain the large discrepancy between the police staffing estimates at the two malls, hinting that perhaps politics were at play.
Bay Street Mall developer Madison Marquette, a Washington D.C.-based real estate investment corporation, refused to comment for this story.