Everybody Says They Want
Now Let's Start Making It Possible
After a frenzied 25 year loft and one bedroom condo building boom in Emeryville, it would seem the now frozen housing market would have shut the door on any chance for the town to re-make itself as a family friendly destination. The bad economy, seemingly antithetical to any building activity at all however may be giving Emeryville a chance to redeem itself. Developers with previously approved but as of yet un-built loft projects as it turns out, are coming in from the cold; they all seem to want time extensions on their agreed to start-up dates for their projects, creating an opening to make change possible. These developer time extention requests are offering a second chance to re-negotiate these bad loft projects into family friendly housing.
After residents voted to rebuild Emeryville's schools in 2010, suddenly the lack of family housing has made the former loft building mania seem reckless and last November's city council campaign season brought the issue of family housing to the forefront. Now it seems everyone agrees; suddenly it's families that Emeryville needs. The city council seems to have been caught flat footed on this issue; last June, the council was embarrassed by a scathing report from an independent study on the critical lack of family housing here. The report blamed the council for the lack of families in Emeryville.
The loft developers that recently got these swinging deals, courtesy of our city council, should feel the heat as they (the developers) come back to the council, hat in hand, asking for their time extensions without condition.
We're not deluded though: we don't expect leopards to change their spots and we don't really expect council members Nora Davis and Kurt Brinkman to hold any developers to account, their campaign promises notwithstanding. Ms Davis and Mr Brinkman have show that they think their job is to get out of the way and let the developers re-make our town as their profit needs dictate. Council members Jennifer West and the newly elected Jac Asher are another matter all together. We expect these two to build a coalition with swing voter, council member Ruth Atkin. Ms Atkin proclaimed loudly at election time that she'll deliver family friendly housing and we expect Ms West and Ms Asher to call her out at the first instance of a developer's pre-approved loft housing project time extension request.
If we don't call back these projects and re-negotiate on our terms, we must ask; when and where are we finally going to get sufficient quantities of housing suitable for families in this town? Those paying attention to all the loft and one bedroom condo approvals by the council may have noticed that Emeryville has almost run out of locations for building new projects of any kind. The lack of family friendly housing could torpedo the new school's chances at success and it represents a critical unmet need here. Each new project now becomes more important than ever to include lots of housing for families to start bringing the ratio to anywhere near where it needs to be.
We hope the three council members can abide by their campaign promises and coalesce around fixing this dire housing predicament and re-negotiate on our behalf with these late starting developers. We need to open up the possibility that family friendly housing could be built in this town.