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Friday, October 3, 2014

John Bauters: Tattler City Council Candidate's Questionnaire

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 will present each survey respondent every day or so in alphabetical order.  Emeryville voters will select two from the four.  First up in the cue is candidate John Bauters:

John Bauters: Candidate for City Council
Candidate's website: HERE

1)  Will you vote for, support and/or endorse Emeryville Measures U&V? Yes or no please.  If yes why and if no why not?
I will be voting "yes" on Measures U & V.  Becoming a charter city under Measure U, which some residents may know as "local rule" or "local control" empowers local residents with the right to self-governance.  Under our current general law status, everything from the composition and structure of our local government to the way we administer many of our local affairs is dictated by a set of default state laws in the California Government Code.  Opponents to Measure U will claim that a future City Council could propose higher salaries for itself or that residents could propose to exclude certain types of businesses from operating within the city.  That much is true: the Council or resident groups can propose a variety of things. What isn't made clear to voters is that in order for any of those things to happen, it requires the approval of you, the Emeryville voter.  The importance of self-governance cannot be understated.  I hope residents will support Measure U.

Measure V is a separate ballot measure that levies a property transfer tax.  This tax only occurs at the time property is sold,  It is not an annual tax like property or parcel taxes.  Budgeting for the city's needs takes long-term planning.  As we grow our resident base, the demand for services will grow.  Historically, we have had top-notch public safety personnel and community infrastructure.  Without redevelopment funds available, the city needs to diversify the way it continues to meet the need for resident services like these.  Most other cities already do this and the rate proposed in Measure V ($12 per $1,000 in value) is lower than all of our surrounding neighbors. This will help us keep Emeryville's services at the high standard we have all come to enjoy.

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 generally support the current bicycle-pedestrian plan as it pertains to Horton Street.  I am a resident of the Park Avenue District and walk Horton Street as much as four times a day between walks with my dog, King, and my commute to and from the Amtrak station.  I have attended several community stakeholder meetings focused on reducing automobile traffic and speeds on Horton Street.  Horton Street is currently at "level 3" of the options available under the plan for remediating the number of car trips per day and speeds that exceed the standards set for a Bicycle Boulevard.

I understand that the Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee has recommended that the city implement "level 5" traffic calming measures which involve, in part, total diversion of automobile traffic from Horton Street at several locations, including a diverter at the corner of Sherwin and Horton.  This will result in all northbound traffic being rerouted west from Horton onto Sherwin Street and then out onto Hubbard and Halleck Streets.  I believe that skipping the viable options available to us at level 4 in favor of these dramatic measures would be a mistake.  Displacing automobile traffic into a residential neighborhood without a holistic, comprehensive plan to address the issue systemically solves little for us.  Calming measures that are less-intrusive than full diverters can positively reduce the number of drivers who choose Horton Street as well as reduce speeds without displacing the problem upon other residents within our community.  I would like to see the Park Avenue District, Transportation, Public Works and Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee work together to develop a comprehensive proposal for solutions that integrate feedback from all stakeholders.

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 a number of ways to promote independently owned and local small business growth within the city.  In order to mitigate the costs associated with renting retail space in our mixed-use developments, we should be reducing or waiving licensing fees for small businesses in their first year, or providing pro-rated or step-up fees for local businesses that need start-up growth opportunities.  Doing this will free up capital that can be used toward rent and business development.  Reducing impact fees for developers who rent retail spaces to local business at a reduced rate is another idea we could explore.  As a resident in one of the city's few work-live buildings, I know we have many talented residents with services to offer the local community.  I would like to see us engage our entrepreneurial residents and small business owners to identify what would make owning and operating a small business within the city profitable for them.

4)  How do you define family friendly housing for Emeryville?  How do we get it?  How much is needed?
The term "family-friendly housing" is a component of a bigger concept: "family-friendly community."  The latter connotes a more complete environment that appeals to families and includes housing, schools, parks, recreational centers and other services commonly sought by families.  Emeryville is in the process of evolving into a more family-friendly community.  Projects like the ECCL are an example of efforts toward that end.  Unlike many of the other attributes of family-friendly communities, housing is not as flexible as other parts of the community.  Once housing is built, its composition and structure often appeal to a specific demographic.  In Emeryville, the balance of housing options weighs against families right now.  This will be a massive challenge for the city in the coming years as it tries to become a more family-friendly community: few sites suitable for this type of development remain available for our future use; current development proposals favor rental housing over home ownership options; and developers aren't proposing multi-bedroom housing because it is less profitable to them.  The question: "How will we get it?" is an extremely difficult one to answer in light of the foregoing challenges I outlined.  The best chance we have to build family-friendly housing is through the development of strong relationships with developers who focus on family-sized housing options and finding ways to incentivize projects here.  I work closely with nonprofit affordable housing developers who build family-friendly housing as part of my daily job.  Consulting the expertise of people who build this type of housing is the best way for us to identify potential solutions that will incentivize family-friendly development in light of the challenges we face.

5)  Should the City encourage residents to enter into Community Benefits Agreements (CBA's) with large development projects? How?  
I think that the city can promote Community Benefits Agreements ("CBA") by encouraging interested citizen groups and prospective developers to engage one another during the pre-application process for new development.  Notifying residents and developers alike of the opportunity to engage with one another during the pre-applicaiton process is a healthy way for the city to promote dialogue between the parties.  The city's interest in securing agreement between residents and developers prior to application review must be balanced against the city's important function as an impartial decision-maker to any application before it.  To that end, I do not believe that the city should play any role in negotiating the terms of a CBA, nor should it take sides or offer incentives as part of that process.  Because negotiating a CBA is only worthwhile if it ultimately contains terms that are enforceable, it is imperative that residents who pursue them do so with expert legal consultation.  Involving the city directly could undermine the legality of the agreement itself and jeopardize the right residents might otherwise have to enforce it against a developer alleged to be in breach of the terms.

1 comment:

  1. We really like Mr. Bauters. Clear honest realistic answers and a dynamic personality. If this young man is the future of Emeryville we are going to be just fine. Now if we could just bottle that enthusiasm and keep it from getting jaded.....