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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Planning Commissioners Reject Colleague's Plea to Save Pedestrian Path

EBI Path Dead, 
ECCL Path Gets a Second Chance
Commissioner "disheartened"

In a unanimous voice, the Emeryville Planning Commission spurned their colleague, Sean Moss as they collectively voted to move ahead with a proposal to amend Emeryville's General Plan to remove the EBI Pedestrian Path tonight.  The path would connect 45th and 47th Street in Emeryville's Triangle neighborhood.
No good.
We have enough of this already, thank you.
The absent Commissioner Moss made an impassioned plea in a letter to the rest of the Planning Commission to not change the General Plan and to retain the path ahead of the vote tonight but the letter fell on deaf ears.  All four attending Commissioners voted to get rid of the EBI path but at least three wanted citizens to know they did so with a heavy heart.  Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Kuemmerle said she was "disheartened to take apart the General Plan" with her vote.  Commissioner Steven Steinberg recused himself because of his home's proximity to the proposed ped path.
Surprisingly, one of the two original neighbor complainants to the path spoke in favor of keeping the path but he said he wanted adjustments made to it to address safety concerns.  The neighbor indicated that the other original complainant also was not in favor of removing the path, creating the bizarre spectacle of the Planning Commissioners one by one voting to eliminate a General Plan mandated pedestrian path against the wishes of the original complainants.

ECCL Path Saved
In another action, the Commission later voted to keep the General Plan as it is and not amend it to remove the so called ECCL Path.  That proposed path connecting 47th and 53rd Street behind the future Emeryville Center of Community Life, is also required by the General Plan but School District officials and some residents at adjoining Emery Bay Village have said they want it eliminated.  The Commission voted 4-1 to keep the ECCL Path and retain the General Plan (Buzz Cardoza dissenting).
The city staff advised the Commission to elimintate the ECCL (and the EBI) Path and amend the General Plan to reflect that.

Both votes; against the EBI Path and in favor of the ECCL Path, will now go to the City Council for final say.


  1. Disheartened my ass! If she is so upset about taking apart the General Plan, then why is she doing it? Even the people who complained about the path don't think it should be eliminated! WTF?

    1. All Commissioners (except Buzz Cardoza) expressed that they voted to change the General Plan and eliminate the EBI Path with a heavy heart, as if eliminating the path were somehow a regrettable but necessary thing. No Commissioner explained why they voted against their own heart except they all said there were aspects about the path they didn't personally like; like safety and they felt the path was not necessary. None volunteered why their personal views should trump virtually the entire town's desires.

  2. It is interesting to see how all this fits together. The neighbors who complained about the pathway only wanted safety improvements to be incorporated into the design which included only the seismic stability of the existing 1948 concrete walls along the path and to have the pathway locked at night so that it does not become a campground at night. Now instead of further examining these reasonable requests, the city has decided to allow private EBI school to not have to build and maintain this pathway that was called for in the General Plan. The residential neighbors and the community at whole is now left with the noise and the additional heavy traffic that this commuting school is producing, basically not have anything to offer our city. The school did say that possibly they could do some improvements on their frontage on San Pablo Avenue instead, but this is already required through the General Plan and San Pablo Urban Design Plan. This will not happen though, because the city has decided to not require the school to undergo any design review in it’s “phased in” construction plans. Look at the affiliations with some of the owners of EBI and their relationships with the city and you will understand why the pathway has been eliminated. 1.) Part owner and Manager of EBI’s LLC, Steven Oliver of Oliver Construction Company (involved in many city projects including the formation of the Emeryville Arts and Cultural Center). 2.) Ratcliff Architects (EBI’s architect, is architect for the Senior Center’s remodel, hires one of the planning commissioners). 3.) Rachel Horsch,attorney for EBI, part owner of EBI, (Partner in large SF law firm “Pillsbury” specializing in real-estate law and manipulating city zoning).