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.