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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Measure C Beckons Residents to Finally Do Something About Housing

Measure C: A Chance to Finally Do Something Consequential Against the High Cost 
of Housing

The Costs of Doing Nothing Are Too High

The Emeryville housing bond initiative known as Measure C is on Tuesday's ballot, giving voters a chance to finally do something about the crazy high cost of housing in our town and deal with its associated problems like chronic homelessness and the displacement of existing but vulnerable renters by helping them buy a home in our community.  Rising housing costs present a problem that has been well described but not adequately dealt with and Measure C puts a solution in our hands rather than simply continuing to trust in market vagaries who's result so far has been the $3600 Emeryville studio apartment owned by foreign investors.  Oops, make that $3700....the rent just went up again.

It's not that we haven't been building housing in Emeryville; our population has doubled in the last ten years.  Over that time we've gone from a city of homeowners to a city of renters as developers keep throwing up apartment buildings as fast as they can, trying to cash in on the high rent bonanza.  But all the harried building hasn't brought down the cost of housing.  In fact, the more housing we build here, the higher the cost of housing becomes, a reverse corollary that turns on its head the old supply and demand saw.  After 20 years building housing at a frenetic pace and with the limited amount of space now available, the sky-high cost of housing in Emeryville is clearly a beast that we, through the private sector, cannot build our way out of moving forward.

It's bad for Emeryville but let's not fool ourselves, the lack of affordable housing is a regional problem and no one thing we do in our little town to address this growing threat, not even the passing of Measure C, the first attempt to deal with it (by plebiscite), will completely solve the problem here.
But make no mistake either, Measure C will go a long way towards solving this existential problem, at least in our little corner of the Bay Area.  And by "a long way" we mean a long way.
This common sense and fair housing solution for Emeryville promises to be a game changer; likely up to at least $300 million spent on our little town to help thwart the seemingly inexorable rise in the cost of housing....that's enough to truly make a difference.  And that's what Measure C is designed to do.

The problems associated with high Bay Area housing costs are hugely complex and the solution can't be facile market dependency; we need a cogent big solution to this big problem.  The critical game changing components of Measure C with its relatively modest $50 million in local bond funding are its attendant State and Federal matching funds, a monster $300-$400 million brick that will bolster the relatively small amount Emeryville property owners are going to kick in.  It's $50 million on steroids, jacked up to as much as $400 million for a 1.2 square mile city.  That's an opportunity we should seize; a chance to face a major problem squarely with a rational solution and a large hammer.

Measure C is a progressive tax.  At $49.12 per $100,000 of assessed property value, a cost born 70% to 80% by businesses in our town, in a town of renters, the average Emeryville resident stands to pay nothing or almost nothing.  Homeowners will pay dependent on when they bought their homes.  Those who have lived here a long time, primarily the elderly, will pay less because the tax is assessed on the value of the property at the time of purchase, not on the current market value.  That means the average homeowner will pay just $10.50 per month.
The business sector picks up 3/4 of the tab for Measure C, taking the pressure off residents.  For instance Pixar/Disney, a miserly multi-billion dollar corporation in our town will pay $10,000 per month, a cost they will not be able to weasel out of as they and other corporations have infamously done with a loophole in Emeryville's business tax.

Another nice benefit of Measure C is that Emeryville will be able to finally clear up its portfolio of blighted and vacant land the City already owns, land set aside by the former Redevelopment Agency for this use.  Taking land acquisition off the table will help deliver more affordable units at a lower building cost.

Measure C is a well written and well conceived solution to this vexing problem and that's why its been endorsed by the Democratic Party of Alameda County, the Sierra Club, the entire Emeryville City Council, the Green Party, Residents for a Livable Emeryville, SEIU Local 1021, the League of Woman Voters and the East Bay Express.  And now to that list add the Emeryville Tattler.

Correction-  Please note, a reader found a misspelled word in the chart below and two mistakes.  See the comments below.

Pixar (and other businesses) will finally pay!
The business community picks up 3/4 of the Measure C tab.  The home-owning elderly in Emeryville like former City Councilwoman Nora Davis, won't have to pay much at all.   
Naysayers representing business interests like local blogger Rob Arias have been railing against it.  But how much does Rob Arias care about Emeryville?  The numbers tell the story: less than $10 per month.


  1. Lending a hand to our struggling brethren and sistren, at the cost of just a few bucks, is a noble project. Hopefully, this
    movement will spread throughout the nation like an amoeba. Yes on C.
    on C.

  2. Thank you for doing this. There has been a lot of misinformation posted regarding this Measure: And to my surprise, rearing its ugly head, thinking akin to Social Darwinism.
    This Measure is a sensible and far-sighted approach to dealing with a community/city housing problem. Emeryville now has 26% investor property.

  3. Rob Arias is reporting completely different numbers about measure c. He says it will be much more expensive then what you say. His site is much more detailed and I tend to believe Rob. Where are you getting your numbers?

    1. My numbers come from the Alameda County Assesors Office.

    2. It looks like the same numbers to me or at least the same formula. The chart on the article on Eville Eye just has it by 100k brackets and includes the total cost over the life of the bond:


    3. Please note Rob Arias says Measure C "will cost a typical homeowner in the neighborhood of $200 per year." The actual number is $126. To those who feel 126 is in the neighborhood of 200, you can take what he says as an accurate description of the cost to the typical homeowner. To those who feel 126 is considerably less than 200 can come to their own conclusion about whether or not Mr Arias was inflating the number to make it seem like it would be more burdensome to the average homeowner. Those people might come to the conclusion Mr Arias is attempting to deceive people to get them to vote NO on Measure C while those who believe 126 and 200 are essentially the same number can feel assured Mr Arias is unbiased and looking out after the truth in his blog.

  4. Thanks for the post. Where will this planned affordable housing be built? And will it be homes for purchase or rentals? Will it be development with SOME affordable housing units or all below market rate units? Will these be public-private partnerships -- the city giving money to developers or is the city going into the construction business?

    1. The housing will be built all over the city. Both purchase and rentals will be part of the program and since the City of Emeryville won’t be building the housing with City employees and will be using private contractors/developers, some of the public money might be glommed onto approved private projects (with no mixing of funds…that would be illegal). So while there could be market rate units existing side by side with affordable units, public money would only be used for affordable homes.

  5. Rob and the E’Ville Eye asked some probing questions and provided a lot of detailed information that ultimately helped me make my decision. Isn’t that the point of journalism? Question though, why did you undervalue Mayor Bauters’ assessed home value? It’s $875,300. 4260 Halleck Street. Look it up again.

    Also, you spelled “Marriott” wrong, Broken Rack leases their building and will not be assessed.

    Pretty sloppy blogging IMHO but that's what we've come to expect from you I guess.

    1. Thank you for carefully checking the Tattler…there’s a sizable number of readers that fact check us on every story and you found three mistakes everybody else missed.
      First, we got Mr Bauters address wrong, hence the lower assessed value for his home. Thanks for correcting us. It’s informative to note that a higher AV for the Mayor’s home is immaterial to the point of our endorsement of Measure C…in fact the higher number only shows the Mayor’s buy in is higher for the Measure, lowering his exposure to claims of hypocrisy. Still, a mistake on our part is a mistake and we thank you for the correction. Regarding the Broken Rack, we meant to say “Broken Rack building”. Thanks for the correction. Lastly, thank you for the spell check our copy editor missed. He does that from time to time…perhaps we should dock his pay.

      But it’s your charge of Rob Arias’s “probing questions” we find very curious. We’re guessing his questions caused you to vote against Measure C. Are we right? Because Mr Arias told his readers that the average Emeryville homeowner would pay “in the neighborhood of $200 per year” if Measure C were to pass. The Tattler reported the actual number: $126. So we’re assuming you think 126 is in the neighborhood of 200. Or is it that you believed the fake number Mr Arias reported? His “probe” missed the most salient thing (on purpose?) for residents about Measure C; the cost to residents.
      And then there’s Rob’s primary raison d’ĂȘtre over the last few years; his campaign against Emeryville’s landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance. Rob kept telling his readers the City Council was remiss in their ‘refusal’ to conduct a study on the effects the ordinance would have on Emeryville’s business community. Until the City did pay Mills College to conduct the study. The Tattler reported it, see our November 26th 2016 story ‘Minimum Wage Study Shows Little Effect on Emeryville’s Business Climate’. Because the findings of the study showed results Rob didn’t like, he simply ignored the whole study. How’s that for “journalism”? He kept you and his other readers utterly in the dark.
      And then there’s the time the City Council called the developer of the Market Place’s bluff. The Council asked for at least 11% affordability in the housing at the proposed project but the developer said he couldn’t afford it and it would be a deal breaker. He said he would only provide 6% affordability. Rob used his blog to admonish the Council for their impudence, calling them amateurs that would drive out the Market Place development over their unrealistic insistence. The developer caved, provided the 11% and the project is now being built. The Tattler reported it on November 11th 2015 ‘Negotiations Complete, City Council Calls Developer’s Bluff. Major Concessions For Residents’. Rob ignored the story he had been so agitated over. After reporting about how bad the Council was for trying for better affordability, once they achieved it he decided to keep his readers in the dark about the results. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of these and many other stories Rob keeps you in the dark over.

    2. Thanks for your (rather rambling) response although you're incorrect again. As The E'Ville Eye pointed out, Median Condo owners would pay $158:
      $158? $200? Seems like we're splitting hairs but what's done is done. I hope John gets another plaque with his name on it for our $50 Million.

    3. $126 for a home, $158 for a condo...they're both about $200 says Rob.
      It's almost as if he's trying to inflate the number to get people to vote against it. Isn't that special?

      Rambling….sorry… but yes, that tends to happen when one starts to enumerate the chicanery coming from Mr Arias and his right wing blog.
      True, as you say what’s done is done…Rob convinced you and plenty of his other readers the average Emeryville homeowner would have to pay “in the neighborhood of $200 per year” for Measure C. I’m sorry you were taken in by that lie but what’s done is done. Unfortunately for Rob and the business community he represents, what’s done is the Emeryville electorate’s passage of Measure C by huge majority. It’s sounds like you believed Rob and did as he told you to do when you voted against Measure C. The good news for you now is that you won’t have to pay as much as Rob said you would. That’s good, right?
      Speaking of Rob losing on an electoral issue, his loss of Measure C makes how many issues over the years? Do you know? I’ve lost track. Because Rob Arias looses on every single issue he campaigns for or endorses…every issue and every candidate. Rob’s nemesis, RULE, wins on every one of them (the Tattler lost on only one issue over the years BTW). Why is that? Care to conjecture? He says he speaks for the average Emeryville resident, doesn’t he? The “community” he invokes. See any evidence for that? See any evidence against it?