The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire. Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work.
There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.
Today candidate for City Council Ally Medina who answers questions on affordable housing:
I have been working on progressive organizing and advocacy campaigns for nearly 10 years. I believe my community engagement skills would be an asset on the city council. I'd like to use my background in voter outreach to engage our city on issues concerning residents- specifically focusing on affordability, availability of parks and open space, and safe transit options
Section 1 Housing Affordability
With each passing year, Emeryville becomes less affordable, regardless of the epic residential building spree over the last 20 years here. Emeryville has never built housing at a pace even close to what we have done recently. And yet, affordable housing remains Emeryville’s most intractable problem most people agree.
Tattler: Emeryville’s affordability rate right now is approximately 11% city-wide according to City Hall using their metrics. We had more than 30 years of the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (RDA) who’s primary function was providing affordable housing and 11% is the sum total we could muster with all the largess that agency could bring to bear. How do you see us raising the 11% average appreciably in the post Redevelopment Agency era?
Ally Medina: Emeryville is almost completely built out, it’s a very small city that has undergone a period of rapid growth. If elected, I would negotiate for higher percentages of affordable housing recognizing that it is extremely desirable to developers to make sure we get the most out of new housing. However, I don’t think we will build enough housing stock to appreciable raise that average in a short period of time. As a city, we need to focus on maximizing the community benefit of the space we do have.
Tattler: Emeryville, formerly an industrial wasteland with lots of abandoned warehouses and factories in the 1980’s has been almost completely rebuilt now with lots of housing and shopping centers. Seeing so little fallow land left and the housing stock that we have is mostly less than 25 years old, where will we build the affordable housing that we need?
Ally Medina: As I noted in my previous answer, there is very little land left. I certainly don’t believe we need more stock retail and vast parking lots. Any new development should be heavily geared towards parks and local business.
Tattler: Urban density is generally recognized as a net positive thing. However, increasing density also comes with its own problems, overcrowding of parks and traffic being among them. Emeryville right now has more than 200% of recommended market rate housing according to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). How do you suggest we increase affordability without increasing our existing 200% of market rate housing more? Is ABAG wrong?
Ally Medina: Increasing density can increase traffic issues, but it also allows the possibility for innovation in public transit. With denser neighborhoods we can have better, faster public transit and a denser tax base for bike/pedestrian infrastructure projects. Emeryville has been a leader in building market rate housing, but should negotiate for higher levels of affordable housing in any new developments as well as continuing to address income inequality that makes it difficult for many Emeryville workers to live near their employment. Affordability is a factor of both wages and the cost of living, and policy should address both sides of that.
Tattler: 'Supply and demand' is central to classical economics as everyone knows. Here in Emeryville, developers and some others are using this argument to forward a position that the problem in Emeryville is that we haven't been building enough housing and that's why its so expensive here. Yet at 200% ABAG recommendations for market rate housing (and going higher), the more we build, the higher the housing costs go. Neighboring cities have built less than 100% of ABAG recommendations. Does Emeryville have to be a sacrifice zone for the greater region to satiate the supply and demand axiom posited by some?
Ally Medina: Outpaced demand and rapid growth is a regional issue, Emeryville should not be razed and turned into high rises. I believe to mitigate the displacement that has been rampant in the region, Emeryville must enact stronger tenant protections immediately, as well as incentivize home ownership to encourage more permanent residents.