The Tattler queried the four Emeryville City Council candidates running in the November 4th election on topics of the day and all four responded. We asked five questions of each candidate and readers wishing background information on each question may preview the primer HERE. We presented each survey respondent every other day in alphabetical order. Emeryville voters will select two from the four. Fourth up in the cue is candidate Dianne Martinez.
Candidate's website: HERE
1) Will you vote for, support and/or endorse Measures U&V? Yes or no please. If yes why and if no why not?
I support Measures U and V and will vote “yes” for each on November 4.
Measure U will authorize Emeryville to become a charter city, just like many of our neighboring cities, including Oakland and Berkeley. However, the only change that is immediately stipulated by that charter is the city’s ability to levy and manage it’s own Real Property Transfer Tax (proposed on ballot Measure V). At a rate of $12 per $1,000 of a property’s sale price, our proposed transfer tax beats Berkeley and Oakland tax at $15 per $1,000, so we would remain competitive while taking advantage of a new source of revenue for our community services.
The beauty of our proposed charter is it’s brevity and clarity: Emeryville will retain it’s current structure of governance, and will be constrained by state law in every way but for the Property Transfer Tax proposed in Measure V.
Special interests with a financial stake in keeping our transfer tax down will have you believe that the floodgates to corruption will open if Emeryville becomes a charter city. The truth is that the proposed charter cannot be amended without a ballot measure approved by voters.
2) Do you support Emeryville’s Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan as it pertains to the Horton Street Bike Boulevard? Would you weaken the Plan or would you defend it as it is?
I support Emeryville’s Bike / Ped Plan and believe that Horton Street should remain a Bicycle Boulevard as defined by that plan, and that we should continue to strive for under 3,000 vehicle trips per day on this street. In light of the recent community meetings at city hall, I’m personally in favor of “Level 4” traffic calming measures, without going straight to the experimental traffic diverters (part of a “Level 5” strategy) recommended by the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC).
As a city, we have collectively agreed that Horton Boulevard should be a designated Bike Boulevard, and our definition of this type of thoroughfare requires it to aim for under 3,000 vehicle trips per day. I appreciate the time and service of our community members who give their time and influence to our BPAC. I think they have given serious thought to their recommendation of Level 5 calming, and that given their task of effectively seeking solutions to the overage of vehicle trips on Horton, I understand the logic behind the recommendation. However, I think it behooves us to discuss Level 4 options that will allow cars and bikes on Horton at this time, with the knowledge that the BPAC may recommend Level 5 in the future, should Level 4 calming measures not get us to our goals.
3) In the future, how should the City guarantee independently owned and locally serving (non-formula) retail associated with residential and commercial development projects, if at all?
There are consultants whose business it is to find and package incentives of all kinds for development, with varied needs in mind. I would be in favor of directing city staff to engage a firm to package incentives to help locally-serving businesses thrive in new developments. In the past, the city has itself financially supported new business in the San Pablo corridor, seeing ultimate success with Arizmendi Bakery, and failure with a locally-owned coffee house. I think it behooves us as a city to encourage local-owned, locally-serving businesses, but I don’t think that the required subsidies have to come out of the city’s budget.
4) How do you define family friendly housing for Emeryville? How do we get it? How much is needed?
I don’t know that Emeryville has adopted a formal definition for family-sized, family-friendly housing. Where I would start is with two or more bedrooms, ideally in single or multi-family homes (although I know there’s not a lot of realistic space for new developments of this sort). Another criteria I would add is access to outdoor play and recreation space. Finally, I would add reasonable access to public transit. With Emeryville recently named the most walkable city in the East Bay (http://www.eastbayeda.org/ebeda-assets/reports/2014/EDA-QualityofLife-2014.pdf), I would venture that just about any neighborhood in Emeryville (with space to develop) might have a place for more family-friendly housing.
I live with my family in a single-family home in the Triangle neighborhood, between Adeline and San Pablo. Emeryville just doesn’t have the room to create more homes like the one I live in. There is, however, the opportunity to create new apartment and condo complexes. Some projects are in the planning phase, some construction is underway. For those that are still in a phase where the city may weigh in, I would like to see city council’s influence and direction aimed at creating more family-sized, family-friendly housing. If I am elected, I will make this a priority.
I have a deep interest in attracting and retaining families with children in Emeryville. Why? Because when my husband and I decided to stay in Emeryville to raise our small children, we became more invested in our community. Our children give us a different perspective when it comes to the many benefits of living in this city by the bay, and they make us want to make Emeryville even better.
5) Should the City actively encourage residents to enter into Community Benefits Agreements (CBA) with large development projects? How?
I think there’s always room for improvement when it comes to encouraging dialogue. The city seems to be headed in the right direction, with union and worker voices in advisory committees. But when it comes to Community Benefits Agreements, I think there can be more done to educate the public on exactly what CBAs are, and how they might influence development. Right now, there’s nothing barring interested citizens from requesting CBAs from developers, but at the same time, if you ask 99% of the people on the street in Emeryville what a CBA is, they won’t know what you’re talking about.
This is an area where public outreach and a media plan could be helpful. We live in a digital age, and I can imagine a future where the city engages with citizens using surveys, polls and other web-based data collection to understand more about what the public considers to be “community benefits.” Once that is gleaned, the city can take a more active role in incorporating those ideas into new developments.