Council Uses Noise Ordinance For Re-Election
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Council Uses Noise Ordinance For Re-Election
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Giant vs. Emeryville Neighborhood
Despite its reputation as family-friendly, IKEA isn’t being very family friendly to a small community in Emeryville, a little city nestled between Berkeley and Oakland in the Bay Area. IKEA Emeryville wants to move its warehouse and customer pick-up operations for large items from its retail store to a building in area zoned for Office/Technology uses.
The building, at 5000 Hollis on the corner of 53rd and Hollis Streets, is adjacent to a residential community of 142 family homes, 2 preschools, a secondary school, and a children’s gym and across the street from a new pocket park. In addition, Emeryville’s new General Plan, completed in October 2009 at a cost of $1.5m, designates as a greenway and bicycle boulevard; the IKEA customer pick up area would face 53rd Street.
The Plan also restricts regional retail to west of the tracks, and 5000 Hollis is east of the tracks in an area with a mix of compatible uses including residential and parks and the Pixar campus.
In their application for a Conditional Use Permit, IKEA stated that they need additional warehouse space so they can stay fully stocked and their—regional—customers won’t have to make two trips to the store. This may work for IKEA, but the 53rd Street neighbors have made it clear that it won’t work for them.
A small group of residents formed the 53rd Street Neighborhood Committee to fight IKEA. They initiated a letter writing campaign to the and City Council, collected 137 signatures on a petition, filled to overflowing the Planning Commission hearing on August 26, and 20 of 21 speakers spoke passionately against the IKEA proposal. The only speaker in favor of the project was the lawyer for the owner of 5000 Hollis.
At the August meeting, the Planning Commission approved the project by a vote of 4 to 3. Disappointingly, Frank Flores,Planning Commission chair, who had earlier suggested that IKEA’s application would be denied, cast the deciding vote to approve. Commissioners Gail Donaldson, Vanessa Kuemmerle, and Steve Steinberg, responding in part to the concerns expressed by dozens of Emeryville residents, employees, and who opposed the project, voted to deny the application.
Undaunted, on September 2, 2010, the 53rd Street Neighborhood Committee filed an appeal of the Planning Commission’s decision. The Planning Department has scheduled the appeal to be heard by the City Council at their October 19, 2010 meeting.
The appeal cites provisions in the General Plan that permits warehousing and distribution facilities as ancillary uses only, and questions the finding that IKEA would be a “secondary” use, required per Zoning Regulations to grant a Conditional Use Permit in the Office/Technology zone. It cites the effects this facility would have relating to traffic, noise, safety, and air quality, and points out IKEA’s history of poor planning—they grossly miscalculated their predictions for their Emeryville store which required them to build a four story parking garage shortly after opening and have based their calculations for customer volume at the proposed offsite warehouse on a manual count by an IKEA employee of receipts for 14 days in June.
The appeal notes that the Planning Department did not consider the impact on the neighborhood when it prepared its staff report and makes a strong argument about the negative impact this facility would have on the quality of life and property values of the adjacent residential community. It points out the differences between office/technology uses, which are compatible uses (Novartis, Bayer, and Pixar have campuses in the area), and how large scale regional retail with continuous truck and customer activity from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. would be detrimental to the general well being of the surrounding neighborhood. Furthermore, it cautions that allowing IKEA to locate outside the area zoned for “retail uses that serve as a regional draw,” regardless of the General Plan or Zoning Regulations, would put all Emeryville neighborhoods and businesses at risk.
In an urban environment like the Bay Area, residential communities are fragile. Emeryville must decide if it is truly committed to supporting its residents and creating the “livable, walkable, sustainable urban community” envisioned in its General Plan. City Council members are urged to approve the appeal filed by the 53rd Street Neighborhood Committee and send a clear message to Planning Department staff and Planning Commission members that the following required finding in the approval procedure for a Master Use Permits or Conditional Use Permits should be given priority:
(d) That the proposed use or uses at its proposed location will provide a service or facility which will contribute to the general well being of the surrounding neighborhood or community.
What can you do?
Attend the City Council meeting on October 19, 2010 approximately 7:30 p.m. The number of people at the meeting will impact the outcome.
The agenda will be set on October 5 and can be found on the City of Emeryville’s Web site. Go to Departments®Planning & Building®Planning Division®Planning Commission, http://www.ci.emeryville.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=104.
Write to City Council Members:
Ken Bukowski - email@example.com
Nora Davis - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer West -
Help Get the Word Out
You can talk to your neighbors, friends, and colleagues and help collect more signatures on petitions and distribute flyers. To contact us, post a comment on our Facebook page or email the 53rd Street Neighborhood Committee at email@example.com
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Emeryville's school district and city administrators have fired up a boiler-room operation of telemarketers, in an attempt to counteract a scathing column and story in local papers highly critical of the district's $95 million bond sale to build a new school campus.
The pieces, published in the Oakland Tribune and its affiliated papers including the Contra Costa Times, urged Emeryville voters to take a long hard look if not outright reject the bond measure due to its exorbitant and unknown costs. Respected columnist Daniel Borenstein noted that Emeryville taxpayers will likely be stuck paying Wall Street investors $383 million by the time they are finished paying back all the interest. The amount could even be higher depending on where rates stand when the various series of bonds are sold.
Numerous residents have contacted the Tattler, saying that they have received the call in recent days.
Apparently, the district has descended into panic mode, hiring teams of callers to interrupt the dinners of local voters, in an effort to gauge the damage the stories have inflicted on their campaign.
Our schools need real investment, but not if three quarters of what taxpayers will be shelling out goes to Wall Street fat cats rather than our own children.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Daniel Borenstein: Voters kept in the dark on school bonds
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Measure J, Emery Unified School District
Amount borrowed: $95 million
Total cost with interest: $383 million
Financing analysis: The district plans to repay these bonds over 47 years, resulting in very high interest costs. The ratio of the repayment cost to the original amount borrowed is 4.0, which is unacceptable. Moreover, the repayment schedule makes aggressive assumptions about development in the city of Emeryville producing new tax revenue. If the growth does not materialize, that would mean higher tax rates for existing residents or delays in issuing some of the bonds and extension of the Measure J tax beyond the projected 47 years.
Under the district's scenario, it would seek bridge financing if some of the bonds were delayed, an option we find unacceptable. As for the advertised tax rate of $60 per $100,000 assessed valuation, it doesn't account for repayment through 2022 of the district's existing bonds. The combined tax rate would be about $74 in 2011.
How the money will be used: The district, which serves about 800 mostly low-income students, is proposing to rebuild its two schools at adjacent sites. The new schools would be part of a community center project, planned with financial contributions from the city, that would also include other community service programs. While the project is interesting, the school district's share of the cost requires an excessively expensive bond program.
The 2010 test results distressing: Just 37.3 percent of students in grades 2-11 tested as proficient in English. Only 29.1 percent were rated as proficient in history, 35.2 percent in Math, 33.8 percent in science and 11.3 percent on end of course science tests. After years of improved scores, the new district-wide results are broadly down from last year.
Meanwhile, the mailer conflates the passage of two recent voter approved parcel tax measures with increased academic achievement, intimating that a $95 million Measure J, a school bond/community center initiative slated for November 2, would likewise increase achievement and that it "allows us to continue this academic growth".
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
'Zero Coupon' Bonds Raised As Magic Bullet
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Measure J marches forward