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Friday, February 13, 2015

Residential Building Moratorium Loses at City Council

Moratorium Vote Fails 
Even though 3 Vote YES 
& 2 Vote NO

Tonight the Emeryville City Council voted NO in a special meeting to a proposed 45 day residential building moratorium in a three to two vote even though three Council members said YES.  A moratorium vote in Emeryville specifically requires a super majority of four votes.  Developers turned out in force from around the Bay Area urging a NO vote after many promised to amend their former bad ways and start building better projects.
Council member Jac Asher brought the moratorium at the last Council meeting citing a disconnect between what Emeryville residents want and what City planning documents demand versus what is actually being built by developers.    Of chief concern is family friendly housing and more affordable housing.  Council members Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue agreed with Ms Asher while the old Emeryville guard, Nora Davis and Ruth Atkin said NO to the moratorium.
 Ms Asher said the City needs time to reconsider how to bring policy to best deliver what the residents are asking for.

Developers pulled out all the stops trying to turn the tide against an increasingly agitated City Council.  Many of them said they WILL start delivering family friendly housing from now on if the Council would just not pass the moratorium.  One developer stood by his guns claiming there's no way the Council can force family friendly housing.  City Attorney Mike Biddle quoted from federal housing policy stating a family can be comprised of only one person making the whole notion of family housing moot.

The majority of speakers said if the City pauses for 45 days to consider how livability should figure into policy, housing prices will go up and we have to instead pick up the pace of building to keep rental prices low.  Emeryville residents need to stop clamoring for livability and join the region in the push to maximize density everywhere for the good of everybody was the message.  The idea being promulgated is we can build our way to cheap rent if we are willing to let developers call the shots.  Emeryville, they said has been remiss, the City has not been building nearly enough housing.  The word "crisis" was bandied about by several anti-moritorium speakers.   It appeared to be a case of "get the government out of the way of progress".

Invective and superlatives were thrown around by the throng of developers;  the moratorium is a "shockwave", 'unfair", "punishing", and it "puts us in jeopardy"... if a moratorium were approved it would "hurt the City's [pro developer] reputation" they said.
But it was Councilwoman Nora Davis who was the most animated.  The moratorium ordinance is, "one of the worst things I have ever looked at" she told the overfilled Council Chambers.  She didn't stop there, "It's a fraudulent document" she said adding Sacramento will cut off funds to the City were it to pass.  She reserved the most virulent ire to the timing of the issue, noting the City Council shouldn't try to conduct policy at times when developers will be inconvenienced and any Jews among them would be burdened, "It's an insult coming Friday night before a three day weekend.  And it's the Sabbath" she said.  Developers were forced to hold off on starting the long weekend for three hours while the Council voted NO to the moratorium.  Presumably, the Jewish developers made peace with God before exiting the Council Chambers, victorious.

12 comments:

  1. I can imagine the glee with which you go to spit out the term, "Jewish Developers."

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    1. Yes, Councilwoman Davis' ethnocentric religiously based admonishment made for a bizarre City Council moment, if not a delicious one for those who report on City Hall doings.

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  2. Nora Davis got it dead right. Bravo for her. Jac Asher, by contrast, has no equity in bringing about growth to the tax rolls, so she shoots her idealistic mouth off. I'm glad she didn't get the votes she needed, and Emeryville is the beneficiary. Last night was Democracy, at it's best.

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    1. Think developers are celebrating their good fortunes? Think they've got it made in Emeryville from now on? How do you think today, they're seeing last night's victory? Are they reveling in their 2-3 victory? Are you?

      Yes, democracy is a beautiful thing.

      OBTW- Emeryville loses money from residential development. You're going to have to drop the tax rolls part of your argument.

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  3. I don't recall ever seeing Rich Robbins wearing a kippah.

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  4. It was to be expected, Ms. Davis did her usual fake outrage which happens when there is a room full of developers and landlords--seen it all before. Ms. Atkin can never make a decision that has something with teeth in it. She sits on the fence year in and year out. Unless you are lucky enough to have owned for some time, you will not be able to afford to continue living here, and you will loose out to those earning the big bucks who can only think as far as the next quarter. Laughable was the comment that not enough notice was given, the room was full. And, Ms. Davis went along with the date quite happily last week. It appears that the shorter the notice the more people attend. As to the vile comment above regarding Ms. Asher, I say to you; you are clearly not a part of the residential community struggling to stay in Emeryville. Otherwise, you would have some understanding of the urgent need to pause and rethink development in the city. Too many of our long-term residents have been forced out by rents that have eaten up savings and prospects of living in this community.

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    1. Not sure you got it right about Ruth Atkin. She's proposed a very aggressive minimum wage proposal that'll be aired next week. I look to Ruth to hold her ground on protecting the least fortunate among us. Ruth is morphing into a progressive before our eyes. After ten years of carrying water for developers, she's expected to do some backsliding on her road to her Damascus. The new progressive City Council majority has given Ruth the space she needs to flower. We're not Ruth haters here even though it may have seemed as much in the pages of the Tattler up until now. She made a bad vote Friday.

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    2. Ruth's vote was GOOD ! She got it right.

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  5. We built our single family home in Emeryville and have experience navigating the planning an permitting process. That said I don't see how the City could possibly institute a moratorium on construction. What happens when a person like me needs permitting to construct an addition or improvement or put solar on their house or business? What about people like me who bought and own property and want to build a home for their family? It's new construction and that needs permitting. The Ashers are also familiar with this building process so I would have expected Jac to know better. A moratorium is not practical and the city council voted correctly. I agree with the underlying reason of building more "family friendly" housing, but I don't agree that shutting down progress is the solution. First off I think that "family friendly" is pretty loosely defined and the city council and planning commission should spend some agenda time deciding exactly what the elements are that define "family friendly". Second why doesn't the Emeryville citizenry focus their efforts and time on the planning commission instead of the city council who are really impotent to do anything about this anyway? Go to the planning commission meetings and give them some teeth if you want to affect how new development proceeds. This whole city council drama was nothing but Kabuki theater, and not even good theater at that.

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    1. Actually, it's the City Council that has the final say on development projects, not the Planning Commission. And regarding detached single family housing and solar panels, those projects wouldn't have been effected by the moratorium, it would have been directed at Planned Unit Developments (PUDs). Now that the moratorium has failed, we have no policy to deliver what the City's planning documents require and each individual project is going to come before the Council and will have to win approval with three votes.

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  6. Just another Jewish guyFebruary 16, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    "Presumably, the Jewish developers made peace with God before exiting the Council Chambers, victorious."

    WTF, Mr. Donahue? Do you hate all Jews, or just Jewish developers? Do you have any idea how anti-Semitic your piece sounds? You do understand that holding a referendum on a Friday night would, in fact, preclude observant Jews from participating, right? It's kind of analogous to the planning commission meeting when you are at Sunday Mass.

    The way this piece is written, one would conclude that the problem in Emeryville is "Jewish developers." I think you ought to clarify your remarks, and apologize.

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    1. Well, I have many Jewish friends and relatives. So do I hate all Jews? No, only one. I apologize if god is offended. I understand he's pretty sensitive. I really didn't mean to piss him off. Hope he gets over it.

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