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Sunday, December 9, 2018

City Staff Fails at Sherwin Williams Project to Provide Required Retail Agreement

City Fails to Get Sherwin Williams Retail Agreement in Writing

City Council Comes Up as Empty as 
All the Storefronts in Town

Senior planning staff at City Hall revealed last week the retail component of the Sherwin Williams project mixed use residential development in Emeryville's Park Avenue neighborhood has no written protections that would keep storefronts from sitting perpetually empty despite the City Council expressly garnering a guarantee against that made in 2016.  The Council also directed the staff to protect against the developer renting to chain stores, another condition of approval from November 1st, 2016 that was ignored by the staff and now impossible to enforce.  Time has run out for Emeryville to ensure its retail plan at Sherwin Williams is brought forward; the developer cannot at this point be held to providing for non-formula retail at the site or providing against letting the stores sit empty as was established by unanimous Council vote.  "There are no such protections for either condition" a staff member told the Tattler, "nothing is in writing".
Councilman Scott Donahue
He told voters in October 2014:
"We should require developers to structure
rental agreements that provide for subsidies
and other support to help smaller,
locally serving businesses to succeed."
 

And so goes the Sherwin Williams project down the same path as virtually every other development with retail over the last 25 years; vague promises made by the developers to providing wonderful neighborhood serving non-formula stores in a timely manner, a paradigm that has spectacularly failed.  City Councilman Scott Donahue  summed it up best at the November 1st 2016 meeting, "It has been difficult for our city he said, The chains have more money, but we have a desire for retail expressed by our community, he added.

The loss of a written retail agreement so adamantly expressed by the Council is especially egregious for the Sherwin Williams project, watched so closely as it has been by community activists including by the Park Avenue Resident Committee (PARC).  Indeed, PARC's entire raison d'ĂȘtre is to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen, specifically at Sherwin Williams.  Emeryville residents would be excused thinking if we can't get a retail agreement that addresses these issues here, we likely can't get one anywhere.

It's been a problem for years here.  Many residential developers in town build associated retail as required by the City but they aren't interested in the commercial rental business and so because the City has never required them to fulfill their retail assurances in writing, the developers simply let the storefronts go empty.  The retail component is chalked up as a cost of doing business by these developers.  Other developers, seeking more traditional profit maximization, will rent their retail spaces out but at the highest rate the rental market will bear.  That generally prices out the kind of retail the residents want, leaving only chain stores.
Amid the exigency of this closed loop paradigm, Councilman Donahue hit upon a new idea to force the developer of Sherwin Williams to underwrite the retail by written agreement with the City, an expanded cost of doing business that actually would deliver, but he and his colleagues failed to follow through, trusting the staff to do as the Council directed.
Councilwoman Dianne Martinez
"Another thing we're hearing from the community 
is the fear of the retail space going empty. 
The landlord might prefer a write-off 
than lowering the rent"
She directed the staff to get it in writing.

The idea that the developers themselves need to underwrite the cost of providing locally serving, non-formula retail has been kicking around in Emeryville for many years but the previous Council saw adding such constraints as anathema to the pro-developer coda engrained at City Hall.  Responding to citizen complaints in 2003, a previous Council attempted to lure better retail instead with a taxpayer subsidy to businesses at the 'Promenade' development, albeit with mixed results.  A coffee shop that received taxpayer subsidies at the San Pablo Avenue Promenade strip mall development promptly went out of business as did a small restaurant but Arizmendi Bakery, also the recipient of start-up help from City Hall has been a success.
The current City Council has so far tried a different approach, attempting to lure the kind of retail the citizens want with a Byzantine system of 'bonus points', an approach that up until now hasn't met with success.  With the failure of the Council to follow up on the staff's directive at Sherwin Williams, the new idea of forcing the developer to underwrite the locally serving retail is an idea that has still not been put into practice in Emeryville.

A viewing of the short video (below) from the November 2016 meeting shows how stark is the recalcitrance of Emeryville's city staff.  The two Council members whom had promised voters to deliver non-formula locally serving retail when they first sought election, Scott Donahue and Dianne Martinez, were adamant.  Councilman Donahue told the staff the developer represented by Kevin Ma of Lenar Development they could lower the rent for the retail if he (Mr Ma) can't find "non-chain neighborhood serving" retail at the market rate and that the rent should go down until it is rented out to the desired tenant.  "We can come up with something simple that they (Lenar) can agree to tonight that would solve this problem and make this a better community." Mr Donahue told the staff.  "I'm all ears to cutting a deal tonight about this" he added.

Emeryville Planning Director Charlie Bryant
Handpicked by former City Councilwoman
Nora Davis, Charlie did not require Lenar to legally
agree to the Council's requirements.  Lenar is free
to leave the Sherwin Williams retail empty
or to rent to Burger King.
Councilwoman Martinez agreed and expressed concern that the retail storefronts not sit empty as so many others have done over the years in Emeryville, "Another thing we're hearing from the community is the fear of the retail space going empty. The landlord might prefer a write-off than lowering the rent"  Ms Martinez said.
The developer however expressed concern that the development process not be held up for anything, "The biggest problem tonight is from a timing standpoint." Mr Ma told the five Council members  'If we would make any amendments to requiring the regulating of the retail tonight, that really throws us off our timeline...  We've gotten to a razor thin timeline with the current approval schedule".  He assured the Council "We will work with the Planning Commission to bring these commitments..." to which Councilman Donahue responded, "I'm satisfied we can say 'no' to your project if you don't come back to us with something definitive in writing that will deliver just what we're talking about."

And then the Emeryville City Council dropped the ball; they never checked on the staff about putting their directives in writing, leaving the citizens with nothing but the same assurances they've always gotten from developers over the last two decades about all the wonderful retail to be coming.  The staff for their part, refused to comment on why they served the developer rather than the City Council they are paid to, "It is what it is" one staffer tersely told the Tattler last week after affirming that the Sherwin Williams developer could rent to any chain store they want to at their project or to not rent out the future retail spaces at all if that serves their pleasure.  It's all up to the developer's whims now.


The November 2016 smoking gun video that 
reveals the Emeryville staff to be recalcitrant.  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Correction/Retraction

On December 6th, the Tattler erroneously reported that existing Emery School Board member Barbara Inch was endorsed by the resident advocacy group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville when she ran for that office in 2016.  In fact Ms Inch was not endorsed by RULE at that time or since.  Officially that group did not weigh in on the 2016 Emery School Board election.  After Board candidate Cruz Vargas refused to interview with RULE for their purposes of choosing candidates for endorsement, the group didn't request to meet Ms Inch and subsequently no candidate was picked for that office that year.
After receiving tips that the December 6th Tattler story was inaccurate, we reached out to several RULE members who had memory that Ms Inch was endorsed but a checking of internal RULE documents showed Ms Inch was never actually endorsed.  Ms Inch it should be stated, remains popular with many RULE members regardless.
The Tattler got the false information for the story from two RULE members who's memories were inaccurate.  We apologize for the mistake and have corrected the December 6th story.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Alameda County Certifies November Election: RULE Sweep

Election Certified:
RULE Wins Emery Unified School District Board Majority

Councilwoman Martinez Takes Historic 49% of vote



Alameda County Registrar of Voters certified the results of the November 6th elections today, officially confirming the majority takeover of the Emery School Board by the Emeryville resident advocacy group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville.  The election of RULE School Board candidates Brynnda Collins, Sarah Nguyen and Susan Donaldson on November 6th makes RULE endorsed Board members now a majority.  On the City Council front, RULE candidate and incumbent Dianne Martinez sailed to victory with 49% of the total vote; the largest in modern Emeryville history with 3182 votes, representing the largest number of votes ever garnered by a candidate for elective office in Emeryville history.

The historic election cements RULE's power in Emeryville with a popular total RULE backed City Council and now a new super majority RULE backed power base at the School District.  In 2016, RULE crushed the election with the sweep of it's candidates John Bauters, Ally Medina and Christian Patz, shutting down the anti-RULE business backed contenders and turned the previous simple majority into a five for five 'RULE bloc' totality on the Council.  This November's election RULE sweep notably makes the seat of existing School Board member Cruz Vargas the last lonely holdout for the anti-RULE minority in all of Emeryville.

Equally unparalleled in Emeryville history is the fact that RULE has never missed even one call.  Every single candidate or ballot initiative measure (like last June's Measure C the affordable housing bond) RULE has endorsed has passed; a remarkable perfect record dating back to RULE's inception and the election of Councilwoman Jennifer West in 2009 who handily beat her contenders (anybody remember Frank Flores for City Council?). Anyone considering running in two years for the seat now occupied by School Board member Cruz Vargas might want to take to heart the last ten years in Emeryville election history.

NOTE TO READERS:  This story originally contained an inaccuracy and the Tattler issued a retraction on December 8th.  The retraction can be viewed HERE

Asterisks represent RULE candidates
as well as election winners

Friday, November 23, 2018

Protected Bike Lanes Make Their Debut in Emeryville

Bike Boulevards Out, Protected Bike Lanes In

Bike/Ped Plan to be Amended, Writing out Boulevards
Cars & Trucks to Flood Previous Boulevards

News Analysis
Prompted by a rash of vehicles parking in bike lanes and unwanted interactions between cars and bikes, City Hall has embarked on a program to investigate replacing the City's bike boulevard network with 'protected' bike lanes, the first such segment having been recently completed for a part of Horton Street.  The temporary order of business seeks to test physically separating bikes and cars with rubber bollards or concrete 'K rail' in select areas in town as part of a pilot program with an eye towards making the improvements permanent if the City Council and the public finds them acceptable.
New protected bike lanes are being tried on Horton Street
north of 53rd Street.
Difficult to park a vehicle blocking the lane...
The use of protected bike lanes represents a major shift in bike transportation policy for Emeryville that since 1998 has embraced an integrationist policy, the idea that bikers are safest when they intermingle with slow moving cars on bike boulevards versus a segregationist policy, also claiming biker safety, that would separate them (in this case with barriers).  Vice Mayor Ally Medina, the City Council's Bike/Pedestrian Committee liaison and champion of the new segregationist policy says protected bike lanes are likely the best option and the Bike/Ped Plan is in need of an update to reflect the new way of thinking.
Bike boulevards may become a thing of the past, written out of the Bike Plan, if a segregational philosophy becomes the mode of the day in Emeryville.
...except at intersections where desperate drivers
will make bikers swerve out of the protected
lanes into traffic...
difficult with bollards, impossible with K rail. 
The scene of a delivery truck on
Horton Street yesterday.
Arguably more dangerous than
bike boulvards. 
 

City Hall has not been willing or able to implement bike boulevard provisions in the 20 year old Bike Plan despite its liberal use of purple signs and stencils applied to asphalt declaring specified streets to be bike boulevards.  Any change in the Bike Plan to remove them would be historic.  The required lowering of vehicle traffic volume that's part and parcel of these boulevards have been a sticking point for City Hall.  Regardless that the guiding philosophy of bike boulevards being cars allowed but bikes preferred, Emeryville has encouraged more car traffic on these bike corridors by default, arguing that the extra traffic loading on non-bike boulevard streets in such a case would be unacceptable.  Developers worried that lack of easy car access to their projects would lower their value, have added their voices to this chorus.  Protected bike lanes inversely, allow as many cars as streets can carry, ensuring maximum developer profits while giving politicians cover; enabling them to claim they are working to increase biker safety by removing bike boulevards.

Rush to Protected Bike Lanes
Protected bike lanes are the hottest trend in bike advocacy circles and progressive cities are rushing to install them nationwide, sometimes tripping over themselves to jump on the bandwagon.  It's a trend not seen since the rush for bike boulevards by municipalities 20 years ago when they were the hottest trend.
The Tattler interviewed this biker avoiding the
new protected bike lane: "There's too much debris
in the bike lane.  It's dangerous and you're sort of
trapped in there." he said.
The City will need to invest in a bike lane
cleaning vehicle.
Protagonists point to studies that show how protected bike lanes are safer for urban bikers than either unprotected bike lanes or even bike boulevards.  Studies are generally in agreement on the issue of bike safety, at least for travel between intersections.  Intersections however remain problematic from a safety perspective and some of the studies reveal that intersections are actually more dangerous for a protected bike lane corridor, owing to higher vehicle speeds and higher vehicle volumes generally associated with protected bike lanes over bike boulevards.  The infamous 'right hook' move, that being vehicles turning right at an intersection crossing over the biker's line of travel, is particularly dangerous in a protected bike lane regime over that of a bike boulevard.  The problem stems from the tendency of drivers, not needing to be aware of bikes mid block, suddenly entering into conflict with them at the intersections.  Studies show drivers are much more aware of bikers around them on bike boulevards and they tend to drive accordingly, particularly if the bike boulevard vehicle speed and volume are properly attenuated.
But that has been the problem in Emeryville; there's been a lack of political will to implement the traffic calming measures for our bike boulevards that would make biking safer.  Regardless of the fact that bike boulevards are the law of the land in Emeryville for the last 20 years, City Hall has yet to actually try one.  Even still, the City Council is poised to remove them en masse in favor of the new paradigm.  Vice Mayor Medina put it bluntly; she told the Tattler she is ready to amend the Bike/Ped Plan to get rid of the boulevards in favor of the protected bike lanes if the pilot program shows public support.  That would represent a dramatic break from her colleagues who have steered clear of the controversial move of so amending the Plan, choosing instead over the years, to simply ignore it.
The infamous bike lane 'right hook'.
Not an issue on bike boulevards.

Developers will likely give support to the protected bike lane idea, especially the Sherwin Williams project that will dump thousands of car trips per day on our streets.  New renters will likely balk on high rents if it's too difficult for the car drivers to get to and from their homes that would be the case if the bike boulevards concept were to be implemented.  Protected bike lanes are agnostic on the issue of vehicle speed and volume and traffic could therefore be more atomized throughout our town rather than it bunching up on the arterial streets as it would in a bike boulevard scenario.

Left out of the new equation conspicuously however are pedestrians and people who value 'low and slow' quiet streets.  Removing bike boulevards in favor of protected bike lanes fails to accommodate their interests.  The higher vehicle speeds and heavier traffic on former bike boulevards morphed into protected bike lane streets are more dangerous to pedestrians at intersections and less aesthetic to lovers of quiet places.   Emeryville being Emeryville, even in the age of our new progressive City Council, it is possible these non-developer interests may ultimately not make the cut.



The Rise of Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S. from PlacesForBikes on Vimeo.
Protected Bike Lanes: The hippest thing since sliced bread.  Bike boulevards apparently are yesterday's news.
The video shows how popular protected bike lanes have become but makes a fatuous claim that vehicle speeds go down on streets with protected bike lanes.  Compared with streets with regular bike lanes, vehicle speeds are shown to be higher and compared with bike boulevards, even more so.  Bike boulevards are shown to bring down vehicle speeds the most of all bike corridor infrastructure solutions. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Sarah Nguyen, Brynnda Collins, Susan Donaldson Win School Board Race

School Board Election Breaks for 
RULE Candidates

RULE Backed Incumbent Council Members
Dianne Martinez & Scott Donahue Also Win

With all five precincts reporting tonight but the election results not final, the hotly contested Emery School Board race appears to have swung for two change agent candidates Sarah Nguyen and Susan Donaldson with 1149 and 781 votes respectively or 29% and 19% of the total vote.  Incumbent Brynnda Collins who also can claim victory,  garnered 1123 votes or 28%.  Losers Katy Brown and Ken Bukowski are taking up the rear at 654 and 225 votes representing 16% and 5% respectively.  The three winners are all endorsed by the resident activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) as well as the Democratic Party of Alameda County.

The City Council race is breaking as expected tonight with RULE backed incumbents Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue winning with 1471 and 1191 votes reflecting 49% and 39%.  Ken Bukowski came in at 319 votes or 10 %.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Letter to the Tattler: Ken Bukowski

Teachers Union Snubs Ken Bukowski and Their Own Democratic Process
As Emeryville's election period begins, the Emery Teachers Association president, Ericka Castillo has drawn fire from community members.  When she recently announced her union had used a democratic process in the selection for their School Board candidate endorsements, it was learned one candidate had been snubbed; Ken Bukowski.  Mr Bukowski is now rightly asking how can the teachers union know not to vote for him if they didn't even hear his ideas for the District.  The snubbing of Mr Bukowski and the democratic process represents an unfortunate soiling of the ETA's reputation as well as a disservice to Emeryville voters.  
Mr Bukowski reached out to the Tattler to help the community hear his ideas for our schools the Emery Teachers Association isn't interested in hearing.
Here is School Board candidate Ken Bukowski's letter-  


Regarding the recent School Board endorsements, I would like to say the president of the Emery Teachers Association (the teachers union) is misguided about the election process.  Of course, the ETA has the right to endorse whomever they wish and I was not endorsed this time.  However, I take issue with a recent misleading statement about the School Board endorsements made by the president of the ETA,  Ericka Castillo.  She told the E’ville Eye blog her union’s candidate vetting process was fair; "the process was extensive and democratic” she said.
Her comment is an insult.  This misleading response makes you believe all the candidates were "extensively" considered, and apparently those not chosen were rejected.  What she’s not admitting though is the ETA did not reach out to all the candidates for School Board.
We were not asked to complete a questionnaire and not every candidate was interviewed.  This in mind, I have to ask, what information was provided to the teachers to make the their ranked choice decisions?
This highlights the ongoing problems the District has had with a lack of transparency.

I'm running for the School Board because I'm concerned about the kids.  I've seen this District go bankrupt twice.  And now, we are on the same road again.
The first time the state ordered the District to sell the Middle School, but (we) the City refused to re-zone the property to accommodate the buyer.  Instead the school was leased and that money helped turn the District around.
The second time it went bankrupt is when the District decided to operate three schools again.  The City ultimately ended up bailing out the District.  The City recognized the District could not afford to operate three schools so we combined all the children in one building so the City could help share the costs.
The resultant ECCL was thus planned to help make the District solvent. However, at the last minute, the full $95 million bond issued to pay for the ECCL could not be sold in the bad market of the Great Recession.  The project was consequently scaled back to reflect the new fiscal realities.  But the necessary elements for the District to be solvent, formerly elucidated by a chaste School Board were simply eliminated.
As you can see, we have a big problem.

The Emery School District is top heavy with administration.  The cost of operating a separate district takes away funds which could be used for the kids education.  But there is a real opportunity for the District to develop teacher housing on the surplus sites (the former elementary and middle schools) thanks to a bill by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond created for this purpose.  I talked with Tony about it for Emery and he said he would love to see his bill help leverage State money to supply teacher housing here.
Having teachers in the community full time would be a great advantage.

It's important for me to put these ideas on the table and I think it sets a bad example when you don't have a fair process from the ETA.
I’m running for the Board to help the district avoid bankruptcy for a third time.  Misleading information put out from those who are supposed to help is not appropriate.  I  sincerely hope the ETA can have a fair endorsement process in the future and show appreciation for every candidate.

-Ken Bukowski
Candidate for Emery School Board

Sunday, November 4, 2018

City Council Candidates Questionnaire 2018: Dianne Martinez

Presenting the Tattler's 2018 City Council Candidates Questionnaire.  Three candidates are running, Ken Bukowski, Scott Donahue (incumbent) and Dianne Martinez (incumbent) and their names were randomly selected for the order of presentation.

Dianne Martinez
Council member/Parent

Do you favor implementing or amending Emeryville’s General Plan rather than ignoring it as a general rule?
Emeryville’s General Plan sets forth principals and goals.  Are there times when we need to amend our General Plan to account for unforeseen circumstances? Yes. That doesn’t mean that the spirit of the document has been violated. 

Name the three biggest problems facing Emeryville right now and how would you deal with them?
1) Housing Affordability – The Emeryville community recently passed a $50M affordable housing bond.  Council will be working diligently to prioritize projects that will leverage additional funding, and have the greatest impact.

2) Homelessness – The City has increased its investment into homeless services and expanded its homeless strategy to include support for a regional coordinated entry system, shelter beds and more. I will continue to support our efforts to get people off of the streets and to keep vulnerable residents from losing their homes. 

3) Income Inequality – I’ve worked to institute a minimum wage that is a living wage, and a Fair Workweek policy that gives scheduling notice to our retail and fast food workers so that they can plan their lives. I am in favor of keeping labor policy enforcement strong in the City.

Our General Plan has much in it that isn’t being realized, especially in the areas generally known as ‘livability’; measurable things such as parks, bicycling accommodation, or even intangibles like the need to create a “memorable” place.  During election season, politicians sometimes demagogue the things that are wanted but aren’t getting implemented.  Acknowledging these livability issues specifically, how can voters recognize when a politician is playing the role of a demagogue? 
In 2014, [Council member] Scott [Donahue] and I did campaign with “livability” as one of the tenets of our joint platform.  In our time on Council, we have expanded the Emeryville greenway, and after many years of negotiation,  we’re close to breaking ground on the South Bayfront Pedestrian / Bicycle Bridge.  We also worked for a secure source of funding for the Emery Go-Round until 2023.

City planners universally measure park and open space in terms of ‘level of service’ calculated by number of residents or users per acre of park land.  Using these metrics, Emeryville is shown to be well below average among cities our size or indeed for any city in the Bay Area*.  How can we get closer to average Bay Area levels of service for park land?
Our General Plan calls for more green space, and I’m confident that the City will have real opportunities to realize this goal in the next ten years.  I think that the residents per acre of parkland calculation can be useful in order to compare cities to one another, however, I believe that this measure does not stand alone when looking at the overall health of a City. 


The General Plan calls for 26 acres of new park land to be furnished by 2029, the date the Plan expires.  However, since the Plan’s certification in 2009, Emeryville has added approximately two and a half acres*.  Acknowledging it should reflect the desired and possible, do you think our General Plan should be amended to show less park acreage than it now proposes, owing to the reality of the large amount park land?
I don’t think the General Plan needs to be amended.  I think we need to keep lofty goals.  As a County, we have a goal of less than 10% compostable or recyclable matter in our landfills by 2020.  Are we close to that goal? No. Has that been our North Star for setting policy that is getting us closer to that goal? Yes. 

According to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and its corollary planning document, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), our town now has more than 200% of our recommended market rate housing.  Do you feel it’s more important to keep adding to this number than to build more park space?  Will your tenure on the City Council reflect your views on this?     
I think the biggest problem in the Bay Area (and in California) is our lack of affordable housing, and the lack of housing in general.  My tenure on Council will reflect this prioritization. 

Over the last 25 years Emeryville has morphed from a city of homeowners into a city of renters as developers seek to maximize profits by building lots of rental only apartment buildings*.  Is this something you’re satisfied with?  If not, how will you address this issue? 
Home ownership is definitely better than rentals when you’re trying to create a deeply rooted and invested community. As a Council we can encourage, but not mandate, that residences be developed for purchase and not rental.  We can focus some of the proceeds of our recent affordable housing bond measure to create more ownership opportunities. 

For more than 10 years, vehicle traffic on the 53rd and 45th street bicycle boulevards have exceeded the number allowed by the Bike Plan, despite its deadlines that have come and gone.  The newest deadline facing the City to calm traffic as the Plan provides is September 14th, 2019.  Will you commit to either following the Bike Plan or amending it for these two streets? 
I'm willing to look at the data and make an informed decision. 

What are your views on Emeryville’s parking plan?
The parking plan is coming back before Council on October 30th.  As you know, we have a new City Manager, and her analysis has not yet been presented to us. I do believe we need parking management. 

In 2010 Emeryville voters authorized and property owners paid for a public library at ECCL.  The voter’s will has been ignored and the library has not been provided.  Will you make getting this library a priority during your tenure?
Yes.

The General Plan provides for housing to be built in our town in certain areas.  The Plan gives guidance as to particulars for all housing; things like density, massing, etc. North Emeryville and the Triangle neighborhood have a plethora of traditional detached single family homes that the Plan addresses.  What do you think the General Plan has in mind for these neighborhoods, specifically set aside and identified as ‘Areas of Stability’ as opposed to other housing neighborhoods in Emeryville?  Why is the word ‘stability’ used and how does that differ from the other housing without that protection?
“Areas of Stability” is a phrase that appears in our General Plan. This does not mean there will be no change.

Since its certification in 2009, the Urban Forestry Ordinance has failed to protect our street trees (only two were saved)*.  Also, developers who cut down our trees are supposed to pay fees as the UFO delineates but they have almost universally not been levied*.  Would you favor amending the UFO to reflect reality at City Hall; the desire to make it easier to let developers cut down our street trees and not pay us for it?
From my point of view, Council (especially our mayor) and staff have worked diligently to carefully consider the removal of trees.  I know of many trees that private entities have lobbied to remove, but have been saved. 

How can Emeryville get more locally serving non-formula retail (a stated goal of the General Plan)? 
Brick and mortar retail is suffering as an industry, across the nation. The General Plan was written before this trend.  One exception is cannabis related retail, which I have worked to bring to our City, beginning with my work in 2016 to lift our outright ban on cannabis and cannabis delivery.  Now we have one operational dispensary and another on the way.  Council has proposed a competitive tax scheme that should attract more businesses in the manufacturing, testing, and distribution sectors.  I believe that creating a strong cannabis business center will indirectly and directly benefit other businesses in Emeryville.

How can we know if Emeryville’s family friendly housing policy is successful?  
I presume you are asking about our Family Friendly Design Guidelines.  One measure would be whether or not families are staying in Emeryville and keeping their children in our schools. 

If an inexpensive and easy way is found to provide both, 1) security needed for the police station as well as, 2) a California Fire Code approved fire escape for the second floor public lobby there, would you commit to a public inquiry into that with a mind to fixing what the City Manager calls a "less than ideal" situation?
We have already addressed this issue at Council.  

Are you concerned with the militarization of Emeryville’s police forces, specifically the issuance of AR-15 Assault Rifles.  How about .50 caliber rifles or weapons with even greater lethality in the future?  Some cities have not gone down this path.  Should the public specifically be part of the debate about this in Emeryville?
I have a problem with members of the public having access to AR-15s.  As pertains to Emeryville Police Department, I’m more concerned with “use of force” policy and de-escalation tactics than the actual tools they use to do their jobs. 

Questions for Incumbents Only:

The Sherwin Williams project approval will not help Emeryville housing affordability (comes in at about 11% which is equal to our existing percentage) and the park acreage to be built will actually take Emeryville backward (527 Residents Per Acre versus Emeryville’s existing 472 RPA ).  Also, as part of the approval, you signed a ‘Statement of Overriding Concerns’ that explained how this project is more important than building the Horton Street Bike Boulevard as per our Bike Plan's specifications.  Given the park and bike problems associated with this project and considering our 200% of ABAG recommended market rate housing already built in Emeryville, why did you feel it was so important to OK this project?
I take issue with the assumptions made in your question, but I’ll be brief in my answer.  We are in a housing and affordability crisis – the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime.  We are 2 million units short in the state. I think the ABAG recommendations are too low, and I don’t think that we stop building housing when we get to a recommended number when there are people on our streets and people at risk of losing their homes. 

In 2014 when you ran the first time, you both pledged to deliver ‘level four’ traffic calming for the Horton Street Bike Boulevard because the street was at ‘level three’ and the Bike Plan called for the next level to be implemented.   A traffic count conducted before the election showed excess vehicle traffic on the street, necessitating the installation of level four traffic calming measures (as laid out in the Bike Plan).  After the election, instead of bringing level four traffic calming, you both instead installed a new level three measure, thereby contradicting your promise.  The Tattler several times asked for explanation from the two of you but you both chose not to explain your change of heart on this matter.  Will you now tell Emeryville citizens why you did what you did?
I accepted the staff recommendation.  To my memory, this was approved by the BPAC as well. Also to my memory, not one member of the BPAC came to the Council to speak against the staff recommendation. 

*Source: the City of Emeryville

New Mangled Screed From 'Emery Teachers' Released

Mystery Surrounding Mistake Riddled Teacher Attributed 'Door Hanger' Elevated by New Mistake Riddled "Press Release"

Teachers Association President Announces
Childless Citizens Have "No Business" With School Doings

The president of the Emery Teachers Association issued a School Board candidate endorsement statement she called a "press release" Saturday containing grammatical errors that at least two teachers claimed to have no specific knowledge of today.  The president, Ericka Castillo told the Tattler she wrote the mistake riddled "press release" for Tuesday's election but she insisted neither she nor the ETA had anything to do with an earlier printed election endorsement flyer placed on hundreds of Emeryville doors last week that also contained many errors.
Ms Castillo's claim increases the mystery as reported in the Tattler as to the author of the earlier door hanger piece which in addition to the numerous grammatical errors, also claimed support of the endorsed candidates by what has turned out to be a phony election committee, 'Emery Families'.
Emery's current School Board president Brynnda Collins, one of the two ETA endorsed candidates, told the Tattler that the ETA had authored the earlier 'door hanger' flyer, a claim denied today by the president of the ETA, Ms Castillo.  In addition to that denial, Ms Castillo expressed the opinion that childless citizens have "no business" with Emery school doings in response to the Tattler's questioning.

Saturday's error filled "press release" was not actually released to the press but rather simply forwarded to Rob Arias, the editor of Emeryville's conservative pro-business blog the E'Ville Eye who posted it, errors and all.  Teachers were made aware that their vote for their choices for School Board endorsement were going to be made public but apparently some if not all of them were not shown the actual document before it was presented to Mr Arias.  Presumably teachers would have caught the errors if they had been given the chance to see how they're being characterized by their president, ahead of time.

While denying authorship of last week's door hanger, Ms Castillo also took it upon herself to announce to the Tattler that citizens who don't have children enrolled at Emery schools have "no business" with the official proceedings at the public schools, a false statement.  Public schools are public; paid for by the public and administered by the public.  Emery schools especially have gone out of their way to encourage the public to take part in the running of the schools: the whole concept of the Center of Community Life is supposed to be dedicated to this democratic notion.

California's Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), a five member independent non partisan state sanctioned commission has no record of any registered election committee named 'Emeryville Families' as the earlier door hanger piece announces and that false claim could constitute a violation of the California Political Reform Act of 1974 according to the FPPC.


'Our District Need People... With Increase Enrollment'
ETA's "Press Release"
Teachers weren't given a chance to read their own
would be press release before it was released.

Friday, November 2, 2018

City Council Candidates Questionnaire 2018: Scott Donahue

Presenting the Tattler's 2018 City Council Candidates Questionnaire.  Three candidates are running, Ken Bukowski, Scott Donahue (incumbent) and Dianne Martinez (incumbent) and their names were randomly selected for the order of presentation.



Scott Donahue
Council member/ Artist

Do you favor implementing or amending Emeryville’s General Plan rather than ignoring it as a general rule?
The general plan is a direction, not a prescription.

Name the three biggest problems facing Emeryville right now and how would you deal with them?
1. Homelessness- Build supportive housing. Pressure Caltrans on the space behind Home Depot for health and safety cleanup. Continue to contribute to regional homeless social services.
2. Affordable housing- Build more affordable housing.
3. Improve our schools- Elect Sarah Nguyen, Brynnda Collins and Susan Donaldson for school board.

Our General Plan has much in it that isn’t being realized, especially in the areas generally known as ‘livability’; measurable things such as parks, bicycling accommodation, or even intangibles like the need to create a “memorable” place.  During election season, politicians sometimes demagogue the things that are wanted but aren’t getting implemented.  Acknowledging these livability issues specifically, how can voters recognize when a politician is playing the role of a demagogue?
Voters should assume all politicians are demagogues and then elect the most qualified ones to serve as actual council members.

City planners universally measure park and open space in terms of ‘level of service’ calculated by number of residents or users per acre of park land.  Using these metrics, Emeryville is shown to be below average among cities our size or indeed for any city in the Bay Area*.  How can we get closer to average Bay Area levels of service for park land?
Get your facts straight, Tattler. Currently Berkeley has more 
residents per acre of parks than Emeryville. With current population, 
Berkeley has 516 residents per acre of Park, whereas Emeryville has 453 residents per acre of Park. Oakland is the exception with 67 residents per acre of Park, owing to the extensive parkland in the hills like Redwood Park. The issue has to do with developed parks for people who live in cities and would like to access parks by walking or biking.

The General Plan calls for 26 acres of new park land to be furnished by 2029, the date the Plan expires.  However, since the Plan’s certification in 2009, Emeryville has added only approximately two and a half acres*.  Acknowledging it should reflect the desired and possible, do you think our General Plan should be amended to show less park acreage than it now proposes, owing to the reality of the large amount park land?
This question requires a lot more study to have a cogent answer. 

According to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and its corollary planning document, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), our town now has more than 200% of our recommended market rate housing.  Do you feel it’s more important to keep adding to this number than to build more park space?  Will your tenure on the City Council reflect your views on this? 
I disagree with the premise of this question.

Over the last 25 years Emeryville has morphed from a city of homeowners into a city of renters* as developers seek to maximize profits by building lots of rental only apartment buildings.  Is this something you’re satisfied with?  If not, how will you address this issue? 
No, I am not satisfied with the city becoming so renter-oriented.  I've also pledged to act within the parameters of the Constitution of California and the Constitution of the United States. Property rights are a part of both of those constitutions. However, the voters of California may choose to support proposition 10 which could have the effect in our city of causing rental units to become ownership condo units. Could the city help Emeryville renters purchase these potential 
future condos? There might be a way.

For more than 10 years, vehicle traffic on the 53rd and 45th street bicycle boulevards have exceeded the number allowed by the Bike Plan, despite its deadlines that have come and gone.  The newest deadline facing the City to calm traffic as the Plan provides is September 14th, 2019.  Will you commit to either following the Bike Plan or amending it for these two streets? 
No.

What are your views on Emeryville’s parking plan?
We start implementing what we've approved in the North Hollis area. 
Then we study the effects of the new parking plan are and go from there 
to consider other areas of our city.

In 2010 Emeryville voters authorized and property owners paid for a public library at ECCL.  The voter’s will has been ignored and the library has not been provided.  Will you make getting this library a priority during your tenure?
Yes.

The General Plan provides for housing to be built in our town in certain areas.  The Plan gives guidance as to particulars for all housing; things like density, massing, etc. North Emeryville and the Triangle neighborhood have a plethora of traditional detached single family homes that the Plan addresses.  What do you think the General Plan has in mind for these neighborhoods, specifically set aside and identified as ‘Areas of Stability’ as opposed to other housing neighborhoods in Emeryville?  Why is the word ‘stability’ used and how does that differ from the other housing without that protection?
Not only does this area have a number of single-family homes it has a plethora of secondary units on those properties. We will continue to allow secondary units in this area.

Since its certification in 2009, the Urban Forestry Ordinance has failed to protect our street trees (only two were saved)*.  Also, developers who cut down our trees are supposed to pay fees as the UFO delineates but they have almost universally not been levied*.  Would you favor amending the UFO to reflect reality at City Hall; the desire to make it easier to let developers cut down our street trees and not pay us for it?
I would enforce our Urban Forestry Ordinance.

How can Emeryville get more locally serving non-formula retail (a stated goal of the General Plan)? 
Create a vacancy tax and better specifications for retail.

How can we know if Emeryville’s family friendly housing policy is successful?  
If we get more families.

If an inexpensive and easy way is found to provide both, 1) security needed for the police station as well as, 2) a California Fire Code approved fire escape for the second floor public lobby there, would you commit to a public inquiry into that with a mind to fixing what the City Manager calls a "less than ideal" situation?
Yes if inexpensive includes police time in the calculation.

Are you concerned with the militarization of Emeryville’s police forces, specifically the issuance of AR-15 Assault Rifles.  How about .50 caliber rifles or weapons with even greater lethality in the future?  Some cities have not gone down this path.  Should the public specifically be part of the debate about this in Emeryville?
The AR 15 rifle has been presented at the safety committee as one of our use of force tools. I am satisfied with our police department’s training for how and when this weapon can be used to protect the public.  .50 caliber rifles are true military weapons and none of the criminals so far have advanced to organize military status where this weapon would be needed. If it is needed, it's not policing but rather war. We do not need weapons of greater lethality than the AR 15. We need a professional well-trained police force that can avoid the use of lethal weapons.

Questions for Incumbents Only:

The Sherwin Williams project approval will not help Emeryville housing affordability (comes in at about 11%* which is equal to our existing percentage) and the park acreage to be built will actually take Emeryville backward (527 Residents Per Acre versus Emeryville’s existing 472 RPA* ).  Also, as part of the approval, you signed a ‘Statement of Overriding Concerns’ that explained how this project is more important than building the Horton Street Bike Boulevard as per our Bike Plan's specifications.  Given the park and bike problems associated with this project and considering our 200% of ABAG recommended market rate housing already built in Emeryville, why did you feel it was so important to OK this project?
I think your Park-acreage per resident facts are incorrect. The project itself has 17% affordable housing new park space and a shuttle to West Oakland Bart available to all Emeryville residents. Yes, our neighborhood will be more urban but we are getting amenities for the entire neighborhood.

In 2014 when you ran the first time, you both pledged to deliver ‘level four’ traffic calming for the Horton Street Bike Boulevard because the street was at ‘level three’ and the Bike Plan called for the next level to be implemented.   A traffic count conducted before the election showed excess vehicle traffic on the street, necessitating the installation of level four traffic calming measures (as laid out in the Bike Plan).  After the election, instead of bringing level four traffic calming, you both instead installed a new level three measure, thereby contradicting your promise.  The Tattler several times asked for explanation from the two of you but you both chose not to explain your change of heart on this matter.  Will you now tell Emeryville citizens why you did what you did?
We chose traffic calming on Horton Street that we believed would be safest for bicyclists and pedestrians. When the traffic counts were last taken we came in under the amount specified for the street. After the Sherwin-Williams project is developed we will need to revisit our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on Horton Street.


*Source: the City of Emeryville

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Emery Teachers' Slipshod Election Offering

Late October Election Chicanery?

Mistake Riddled Door Hanger Appears, Attributed to Emery Teachers

A mysterious 'door hanger' flyer has been appearing on Emeryville doors all over town lately that announces a slate of two candidates endorsed by the Emery Teachers Association union for Emery School Board, but surprisingly the text of the hanger, reported to be written by Emery teachers, contains numerous typos and punctuation mistakes including a misspell of the union's own name.  The mistake riddled flyer, which was not printed in a union shop, a surprising thing for a union to put its name on, was authored by the Emery Teachers Association (ETA) according to the president of the School Board Brynnda Collins.  The president of the ETA however refused to confirm or deny the group wrote the text of the flyer leaving the true authorship open to speculation.

The flyer, urging voters to cast their ballots for the slate Ms Collins and Katy Brown, makes reference to funding from Emeryville Families, a group reported to be registered through the Fair Political Practices Commission. However a check with the FPPC showed there is no record of any such group. 
Adding to the furtive nature of the door hanger is its failure to identify other endorsers, listing only "current and former board members",  incidentally the exact verbiage used by current Board member Cruz Vargas in his election campaign two years ago.  Mr Vargas, who was censured and stripped of the title President of the Board by a unanimous vote of his colleagues earlier in the year (including by Ms Collins), is endorsing the two candidates.

Emeryville, being overwhelmingly Democratic, normally draws Democrats to elected office (even though the positions are non-partisan) making Ms Brown, not affiliated with any political party, unusual.   Further, the Democratic Party of Alameda County has endorsed Ms Collins, a Democrat (as well as her opponents Democrats Susan Donaldson  and Sarah Nguyen) making the slate of Collins and Brown unexpected; a Democrat slating with a candidate rejected by the Democratic Party.
Another door hanger currently making the rounds in Emeryville, produced by the Democratic Party of Alameda County, features the Party's endorsement of Ms Collins, Ms Donaldson and Ms Nguyen.

The mysterious door hanger, if it is authored by the Emery Teachers Association is quite remarkable; at least ten errors were noted in its text and such mistakes are not something normally attributed with school teachers.  It appears to be a late October piece of election chicanery, something voters have come to expect in our current polity.
Is it the Teacher's association or the Teachers Association?
Apparently, the teachers themselves can't decide.
But still, you'd think they'd get their own name right.

City Council Candidates Questionnaire 2018: Ken Bukowski

Presenting the Tattler's 2018 City Council Candidates Questionnaire.  Three candidates are running, Ken Bukowski, Scott Donahue (incumbent) and Dianne Martinez (incumbent) and their names were randomly selected for the order of presentation.

Ken Bukowski
Retired Businessman/Videographer

Do you favor implementing or amending Emeryville’s General Plan rather than ignoring it as a general rule?
Yes

Name the three biggest problems facing Emeryville right now and how would you deal with them?
(1) The anti-business climate of the current City Council- 
A majority of the Council voted to impose the highest minimum wage in the United States followed by a “Fair Work Week” policy over the objections of the business community. The voices of outside labor unions were more important.
It is now more expensive to operate a business in Emeryville than surrounding cities.  By taking away the competitive edge it will discourage business development.  In a small city everybody matters. Adopting increased wages and benefits for employees in private businesses circumvents the negotiation process.  It shows no respect for the concerns of the businesses who pay the taxes.  Some members of the Council consider this to be a real victory but when enough businesses decide to go elsewhere and the City is forced to cut vital services to the community and public safety employees, they will become hostile.  And once the downward spiral begins it will be a real problem.

(2) The Parking Management Plan-  
I am opposed to parking meters throughout the city.  This parking plan is unnecessary.  It will interfere with lives of everyone who lives and works here.  The plan will make it more costly to be here, an environment which has an already overpriced rental market.  The plan is one more slap to business owners. It will be more expensive for employees to work here.  For those who don't qualify for parking permits it will be more difficult to find a parking space.
It is not possible for everyone to use public transit.  It is more costly than driving, it's not a safe, and it takes much longer.  If you have to carry tools and other equipment its not feasible.  How big is the problem we’re trying to solve?  We have a complaint based enforcement because we didn't want to waste the time of the police.  Enforcement of parking should begin with the large developments where the parking approved for each project is not being used.  Most of the developers are using their parking for for their tenants.  However, the largest developer in the City is not.  That is why the North Hollis area has the biggest parking problem.  Wareham Development is in the parking business.  They ignore the requirement to use their parking for their project.  Instead it is a source of money for them.  There are no parking spaces provided for the occupants of Wareham properties.  Every parking space is $100 per month.  All of the tenants park in the street.  They don't care if their garage only has a few cars.  They will earn more money from the building if every space is paid for.  So in essence we are forcing the community to suffer because they have a greedy attitude.
The Council has no real idea how this will impact everyone.  I think this will create more problems than it will solve.   I'm considering the creation of a ballot measure to repeal this plan if it is adopted.

(3) The lack of rent control in Emeryville-  
We have too many large apartment projects with ever escalating rents.  A large percentage of the city's population are only in the city for a very short time.  At one point the council only wanted to approve for-sale housing, but a former City Manager changed that policy.  Owners with less than 4 units should be exempt.  

Our General Plan has much in it that isn’t being realized, especially in the areas generally known as ‘livability’; measurable things such as parks, bicycling accommodation, or even intangibles like the need to create a “memorable” place.  During election season, politicians sometimes demagogue the things that are wanted but aren’t getting implemented.  Acknowledging these livability issues specifically, how can voters recognize when a politician is playing the role of a demagogue?
First, you must remember it takes THREE votes on the Council to do anything.  If a Council member supports something they should show evidence of trying to get it accomplished.  There are some things in the General Plan the City can't afford. 


City planners universally measure park and open space in terms of ‘level of service’ calculated by number of residents or users per acre of park land.  Using these metrics, Emeryville is shown to be below average among cities our size or indeed for any city in the Bay Area*.  How can we get closer to average Bay Area levels of service for park land?
Establishing more parks requires money to buy the land.  The City could put a measure on the ballot seeking to establish more parks.

The General Plan calls for 26 acres of new park land to be furnished by 2029, the date the Plan expires.  However, since the Plan’s certification in 2009, Emeryville has added only approximately two and a half acres*.  Acknowledging it should reflect the desired and possible, do you think our General Plan should be amended to show less park acreage than it now proposes, owing to the reality of the large amount park land?
If the answer above can't be accomplished, the General Plan should be amended to reflect that reality.

According to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and its corollary planning document, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), our town now has more than 200% of our recommended market rate housing.  Do you feel it’s more important to keep adding to this number than to build more park space?  Will your tenure on the City Council reflect your views on this?     
The City has a state mandate to build more housing. There is no law to require more parks.  However, the number of units assigned for Emeryville is out of balance.  There is no question there is a need for more affordable housing.  You really can't make a comparison between park land and housing.  There is a problem with adding more housing since no money is provided to pay the increased cost of providing public safety services.  I have an overall concern about adding any more development because at some point we will reach capacity.  I think we have enough.  There should be more effort on preservation. 

Over the last 25 years Emeryville has morphed from a city of homeowners into a city of renters* as developers seek to maximize profits by building lots of rental only apartment buildings.  Is this something you’re satisfied with?  If not, how will you address this issue? 
I am not satisfied with this.  As I stated above I didn't support rental housing.  It was a former City Manager and Council majority.  I would not approve any more rental housing projects and support rent control for the large rental projects we already have.

For more than 10 years, vehicle traffic on the 53rd and 45th street bicycle boulevards have exceeded the number allowed by the Bike Plan, despite its deadlines that have come and gone.  The newest deadline facing the City to calm traffic as the Plan provides is September 14th, 2019.  Will you commit to either following the Bike Plan or amending it for these two streets? 
I would agree to amend the Bike Plan.  Emeryville is not going to be able to control the volume of traffic and therefore I would amend the Plan.

What are your views on Emeryville’s parking plan?
I strongly oppose the parking plan to the point where I am considering a referendum on the plan when it is adopted.  I don't agree with making it even more expensive to live and work here.  The plan will bring a new level of daily stress to all who are impacted.  Getting a permit is no assurance of getting a parking space.  Hiring people to write citations and tow vehicles means you will have to look over your shoulder to avoid  being ticketed.  The parking problems we have can be addressed individually.  The EPD doesn't need the burden of this plan.  And yes, we do want to discourage driving, but not by penalizing propel who must drive.

In 2010 Emeryville voters authorized and property owners paid for a public library at ECCL.  The voter’s will has been ignored and the library has not been provided.  Will you make getting this library a priority during your tenure?
Many aspects of the ECCL are not being adhered to.  All of the members of both boards who supported the ECCL are gone.  After the project was approved, we discovered the $95 million bond was not feasible.  The project was modified.  The capacity of the facility was reduced and many amenities promised disappeared.  One of my arguments about the project is that property owners were never even invited to participate in any aspect of the project.  Only the city’s residents were invited.  The project needs to be re-evaluated.  We need to see if it can remain solvent with a reduced number of students.  The name of the project should be changed to reflect that it is an educational institution.  The feasibility of establishing the library should be revisited.

The General Plan provides for housing to be built in our town in certain areas.  The Plan gives guidance as to particulars for all housing; things like density, massing, etc. North Emeryville and the Triangle neighborhood have a plethora of traditional detached single family homes that the Plan addresses.  What do you think the General Plan has in mind for these neighborhoods, specifically set aside and identified as ‘Areas of Stability’ as opposed to other housing neighborhoods in Emeryville?  Why is the word ‘stability’ used and how does that differ from the other housing without that protection?
I’m not sure I understand why the word stability is used.  The General Plan as I read it says we should retain existing housing stock.

Since its certification in 2009, the Urban Forestry Ordinance has failed to protect our street trees (only two were saved)*.  Also, developers who cut down our trees are supposed to pay fees as the UFO delineates but they have almost universally not been levied*.  Would you favor amending the UFO to reflect reality at City Hall; the desire to make it easier to let developers cut down our street trees and not pay us for it?
Developers should not be cutting down street trees unless it is approved by the City and if they do, they should pay for it.

How can Emeryville get more locally serving non-formula retail (a stated goal of the General Plan)? 
Create Affordable Retail Condominiums -The City would buy commercial property or work with a non-profit entity to create  affordable retail condominiums where small merchants could enjoy low overhead.  The City investment allows the community to pick the retail stores.  What a departure this would create from the standard stores in every other community.  The small merchants would welcome the opportunity presented by the City subsidy; it would allow the merchants to pay higher wages and charge less for goods and services.  We would put out a deed restriction on the unit that could not be used as collateral for debt.   If any merchants fail, the unencumbered unit could be offered to another prospective merchant. 
Up until now, something like this has been stopped because the City Managers we’ve had haven’t wanted any interference with the deals they were making with developers.

How can we know if Emeryville’s family friendly housing policy is successful?  
The policy is a failure.  It's a foolish attempt to attract school aged kids. You have to improve the school first.  If the units are not affordable, it's a foolish policy.

If an inexpensive and easy way is found to provide both, 1) security needed for the police station as well as, 2) a California Fire Code approved fire escape for the second floor public lobby there, would you commit to a public inquiry into that with a mind to fixing what the City Manager calls a "less than ideal" situation?
I don't understand the question.  The fire escape must comply with the code or if it doesn’t, it must be fixed.  If not, and something happens, it would be gross negligence (where the City has advanced notice of an existing hazard).

Are you concerned with the militarization of Emeryville’s police forces, specifically the issuance of AR-15 Assault Rifles.  How about .50 caliber rifles or weapons with even greater lethality in the future?  Some cities have not gone down this path.  Should the public specifically be part of the debate about this in Emeryville?
The police department must be armed with at least the same amount of force necessary to combat any particular situation.


*Source: the City of Emeryville

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Election 2018: Emery School Board Candidate Susan Donaldson


School Board Election 2018
Candidate Questionnaire

The Tattler presents the 2018 Candidates Questionnaire; School Board edition.  Five candidates are running for three seats, making this a very consequential election that will constitute a majority on the five member Board.  The order of presentation for this series was chosen randomly.  Only one candidate's answers will be posted on a given day but regular Tattler stories might be interspersed in the sequence of candidates and there might be more than a day between candidate postings.
Readers may use the search bar to see the candidate's answers as they are posted by typing in 'School Board 2018 Candidates Questionnaire' or the candidate's name; Katy Brown, Ken Bukowski, Brynnda Collins, Susan Donaldson or Sarah Nguyen.
We thank all the candidates offering their services to the benefit of our school district, the parents and children.

The election is on November 6th.

web: facebook.com/susan4emeryschoolboard
email: susan4emeryschoolboard@gmail.com

Susan Donaldson
Mother/Business Owner

Name the top three problems with EUSD right now and what are your suggestions for how to deal with them?
Lack of stability - Unstable conditions that have lead to a cascade of problems: Low teacher morale, poor student achievement, poor community engagement, declining site maintenance to name a few.   The new leadership feels like it has made huge strides in stabilizing the district and hopefully a new board will be another step in the right direction. 
Lack of resources - We need to grow, sustain and align our resources to support the needs of our students.  Our schools need more money and Emeryville is a community rich with resources.  The board should absolutely advocate for, support and execute on fundraising for the our district.  There is nothing but opportunity for strengthening the relationships with donors and particularly businesses in our community and I think the board should take the lead on this.
Transparency, Engagement, Focus - What are we doing, where are we trying to go, how are we going to get there?  There has been so much confusion over the last few years and everyone involved in the district feels it.  Families leave the school, teachers leave, neighbors are confused about how the “Center for Community Life” serves them.  We all want clarity and to feel like we can finally move forward together toward a common goal.

How do we know if a school superintendent is doing a good job?  Is there any way to measure it?  Are there objective components?
I believe we will know if the superintendent is doing a good job by subjective and objective measures.  Teacher retention, test scores, growing enrollment - these objective measures are indicative of a superintendent that has created an atmosphere for success. Subjectively I think we will see a positive reflection in the community as well - from parent engagement to student and staff morale.  

Would you be willing to consider examining the idea of melding EUSD with Berkeley Unified if they would be amenable to that?  Why or why not.
I am always willing to consider an idea however it is my understanding is that this particular idea has been considered and rejected by Berkeley Unified and the community at large.  

EUSD has had the worst teacher retention record of any district in the Bay Area for at least four straight years.  Former superintendent Rubio said that was a feature of his tenure, not a bug….a sign he was doing his job.  Do you agree that was needed and if so, was Superintendent Rubio the right person for the job?
I do not think Rubio was the right Superintendent for us.  My impression is that strong teachers left and also that there has been an atmosphere of distrust and contention.  

Are you aware of EUSD’s academic ranking among Bay Area districts?  Has it been trending up or down? 
According to the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, we have more lower performing students than the rest of the county.  We are consistently ranked lower than other students in the County and State and our performance has trended slightly down from 2016.    

Between parents, teachers or the administration (Superintendent, managers); who should play the leading role in general at EUSD and specifically in the formation of policy?  
The administration plays the leading role in the formation of policy: As leaders, they must be advocates for their stakeholders, and hear the ideas and concerns of the parents and teachers. The administration and staff work together to implement the policy day to day.  

When was the last time you voted?  How would you describe your political views? 
In the 2016 elections (my ballot wasn't counted in the primary this year due to a mail-in error).  I describe my political views as progressive.  

How do you feel about School Resource Officers at ECCL? 
I am not in support of SROs at ECCL.  I agree with Mayor John Bauters that in the United States, we have a problem putting children of color in a pipeline from school to prison and that SROs contribute to this problem.  

Have you ever attended a school board meeting in Emeryville? PTO meeting?  Met with district administration?  What involvement have you had with the school?  How familiar are you with its management?
I have been a very involved parent since my daughter began school in Kindergarten at Anna Yates in 2013.  I have been an active member of the PTO since then and became the Vice President and Secretary, serving for the past 3 years.  I have attended many board meetings as a representative of the PTO and also as a concerned parent.  I frequently meet with administration and teachers and would say that I am very familiar with the management of the school.   

How much money do you plan to spend on your campaign?  Do you plan to fundraise?
I plan on raising and spending under $2000 for my campaign.

What is your first goal (or goals) when you take office?  
Work with the school’s new leadership to refine the long-term vision of the district and set a clear path for helping our students achieve their highest potential.
Foster a functional, cooperative, board that ensures a positive climate and encourages the best from staff.

Fundraise in order to grow and sustain resources to meet the needs of the students, teachers and community.