To the Emeryville City Council:
Let's Welcome the Market Place Project But
Only If It Doesn't Make Our Town Worse
The Tattler has much reported and opined on problems with the incipient Market Place residential development in anticipation (and dread) of the 456 unit all rental apartment project on Shellmound Street getting its approval. That approval is scheduled for Tuesday night in the City Council chambers and there's much there in the developers' interests, but not a lot for the residents. We hope the City Council will vote in the resident's interests and we only request they keep any pro-development bias out of the process. We ask that they recognize this development will add a lot of traffic to our town and a lot of other negative impacts associated with high density projects like this one and we ask the developers not be allowed to degrade and erode what livability we have here now in Emeryville.
Public Interest: The Coin of the Realm
Development Agreements are arcane final planning documents that are supposed to forward projects that comport with the existing General Plan and are in the public interest exclusively. The interests of developers are not supposed to be taken into account. Historically, the staff at City Hall has played fast and loose with that basic idea. The current Market Place Development Agreement the staff is presenting to the Council Tuesday makes no attempt to qualify or even mention much that the public would say is in their interest.
We say this Development Agreement is not in the public interest as it is currently written and we ask the following be quantified before we allow this project to move forward:
- We have a ratio of park land acreage per resident in Emeryville now and we ask these developers not make that ratio worse in the aggregate for Emeryville with their proposed project.
- We have a ratio of numbers of families per number of housing units in Emeryville now and we ask the developers not make that worse.
- We have a ratio of number of affordable units per resident in Emeryville now and we ask the developers not make that worse.
- We have a ratio of square footage of locally serving non formula retail per resident in Emeryville now and we ask these developers not make that worse.
A NO Vote is a YES for Renegotiation
The people of Emeryville voted in November for a change in how this town gets developed even if the staff didn't seem to get that memo. A NO vote Tuesday, while historic, wouldn't really be a radical thing. A NO vote on Tuesday is not a NO to the Market Place development. It's a NO to this specific Development Agreement (a document more reflective of Emeryville's past values). The four points above are eminently reasonable things. It's entirely reasonable to demand developers not make our town demonstrably worse. They don't even necessarily have to improve our town with this project (although that would be nice), we just don't want the developers for this and all future projects to be allowed to leave our town worse off after they collect their profits and bug out.
A NO vote Tuesday also sends a powerful message to all the other developers lining up, wanting to make a killing here: You're welcome here but you're not going to leave our town worse off after you're finished.
To the Council: Let's hold out for a better agreement, shall we?