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Friday, January 7, 2011

They Said It

Josh Simon Said It-
"The Housing Committee Is Taking Care Of Family Housing"

Politics in Emeryville have produced quite a lot of hyperbole over the years. At the Tattler, we occasionally post quotable quotes from Emeryville personalities since where we've been can sometimes inform where we're going.

Josh Simon
School Board Member
Housing Committee member
At the final meeting of the now disbanded 'Partners Committee' to usher in the Center of Community Life and the new school rebuild,  the topic of discussion was whether the new state mandated 'Measure J Oversight Committee' should include family friendly housing in its purview.  "No", School Board member Josh Simon said.  "It's inappropriate, the Housing Committee is taking care of family housing".  He added that the Housing Committee is doing a fine job of it.

The real story of the Housing Committee as it pertains to bringing family housing is something quite different.  It has been an abysmal failure:
  • In 10 years less than 10 three bedroom housing units have been built in the entire town, according to councilwoman Ruth Atkin.  
  • Households in Emeryville with at least one child dropped by 2% from 1990 - 2000 (the last year calculated in the City's housing study).
  • The population of children in Emeryville dropped by 8% from 1990 - 2000 even while the total population increased by 20% during the same time.
  • Bringing family housing is not even among the seven goals for the Housing Committee through 2014.  The committee literally does not care about family housing.
Bearing in mind that School Board member Josh Simon also sits on the Housing Committee, one has to ask what is he talking about with his quote, "The Housing Committee is taking care of family housing "?


  1. The measure J over site committee is in charge of overseeing the expense of the Measure J funds; not running city government. That's kind of like asking the Emeryville Tattler committee to edit the Oakland Tribune. It's simply not within the legal purview of the committee to do so.

    That said, I agree that Emeryville developers play the city council like a cheap set of marionettes dancing on strings. Family friendly housing means 3+ bedrooms folks.. not a loft. If your developers won't build it, get new developers.

  2. The Measure J Oversight Committee has no authority over providing housing and thus it would not even be possible for it to be in the Committee's purview. Any rational person reading that quote can tell that what Board Member Simon was saying is that housing is in the purview of the Housing Committee and not the Measure J Oversight Committee, which is absolutely true. Whether or not the Housing Committee does a good job of enforcing their purview is up for interpretation. However, it's still inappropriate to give the Oversight Committee purview over something they have no authority over and can't have authority over pursuant to state law. There is no story here. This is a lame blog entry. Tell us something we care about that is actually an accurate representation of the facts.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. The above commenter is incorrect; the Measure J Oversight Committee is legally entitled to have in its purview family housing if it so desired. In fact the Oversight Committee will be addressing a number of non-fiscal topics in its official syllabus, just not family housing.

  5. The second commenter's opinion is in direct opposition to the School District's interpretation of state law. The Oversight Committee could contain housing as an element of debate if it wanted to.

    The third commenter contained a personal attack and was deleted.

  6. While it is true the Measure J Oversight Committee can "contain housing as an element of debate if they wanted to," the committee cannot take any action that affects housing in any meaningful way. Why should they waste their time discussing it if they can't affect it. Let's leave that to a committee that can actually make decisions that effect housing. Oh, wait, we have one: the Housing Committee. How convenient.

  7. The underlying problem here is two-fold--measure J has passed for a new joint-school, but a school without e-ville children will mean one of two things: the school will be privatized or the school will be integrated into Oakland or Berkeley at a later date, with a caveat that e-ville residents get to use the facilities.
    The second problem is that residents carry the full weight of measure J bonds for a city without many children. As the redevelopment agency (city council and staff) has also indebted the residents to the benefit of developers, loan/bond holders, bankers and the like, shouldn't all those that have received and still receive subsidy benefits pay some of the costs for school measure J?
    An additional consideration: All redevelopment agencies take tax away from schools and the state (part of the reason for the state's huge debt) and put that money into private hands. Part of the MANDATE for redevelopment monies is that they build 20% low to moderate housing. E-ville has skirted this mandate--the intent of which was and is to provide family housing for those on limited incomes--and given us transitional housing for young professionals. This is helpful to the companies in town but not the long-term residents.

    It's the usual lose, lose for residents, and families with children.

  8. The Measure J Oversight Committee can place in its purview the goal of increasing family friendly housing if it so desired and it could speak with as much authority as any other committee or grouping of people in Emeryville save the City Council. It is only the City Council that may take action in a "meaningful way". Every other committee is advisory to the City Council and yet, committees exist for a host of topics and wield considerable political power, emasculated from taking "action" so they are.

    The Measure J Oversight Committee voting on family friendly housing action items would have the same power as any other committee voting on anything.

  9. The Housing Committee advises the City Council and thus can affect housing policy with its recommendations. The Measure J Oversight Committee advises the School Board, which has no authority over housing policy.

  10. The City Council is free to ignore any ruling from any of its subordinate committees or even any committees subordinate to the School Board, something they do frequently (especially the bike/ped committee). They can also take the advise of any of the committees from anywhere. No committees hold any authority over the City Council and the Council is free to use any ideas it wants to (so long as they are legal). In fact, the City Council could even take the advise of a unconnected citizen who also does not work for the Council.

    It's all really about's what people and what ideas have the juice and how perception influences things is how politics works. Your model doesn't represent the real world.