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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Emeryville's Progressive But Incapable City Council

City Council Incapable of Delivering 
Things We Want,
or Securing Protections for 
Things We Have

As Emeryvillians head to the polls this November, 
Questions Loom

News Analysis
Our elected leaders at Emeryville City Hall have shown themselves to be quite capable of delivering progressive labor protections over the last few years, something the people here clearly want.  These are manifest in Emeryville's landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance and the worker friendly Fair Work Week Ordinance.  Additionally, the City Council has gone a long way towards moving the needle on housing affordability with their noteworthy initiating and forwarding of Emeryville's progressive Measure C, resolutely passed by voters last June.
However, Emeryville's City Council, despite being collectively among the most progressive elected municipal bodies in the progressive Bay Area, is nonetheless incapable of delivering on the most basic checklist of minimum livability standards for the people that live here.  Among them parks, bikes, locally serving retail, peace and quiet on weekends, traffic and family friendly housing.
Perhaps more surprisingly, they can't seem to even protect and retain the things the people like that they already have: trees, home ownership and traditional single family homes.  And to that now add something of public benefit from an earlier era (when conservatives ran the show here); a public fire escape at the police station.  It's a trifling issue compared with the rest but symbolic: this City Council can't even protect and retain a public fire escape at their own police station.

On these livability scores, this progressive Council can't seem to distinguish itself from previous Council iterations who's central guiding principal was always to mollify developers and the business community at the expense of the residents.

Each livability issue can be examined and measured.  We know for instance that every year and getting worse each year, Emeryville residents face a degraded park and open space experience because the City Council hasn't added enough park acreage to keep pace with the burgeoning population rise.  The result is a lowered level of service for residents.  The downward projection is easy to measure: we know the population of the town and we know the park acreage and hence we can see a ratio and note how it has continually gone down, even picking up steam as it does so.  We can see by the numbers how our neighboring cities are passing us by on this, leaving Emeryville residents dramatically underserved on parks/open space.
So even as the Council toots its own horn when a new park is added, it's a ruse; they're not telling us the whole story (because it's uncomfortable for them).

We can measure for the other quality of life issues as well; family friendly housing, units proclaimed as such versus numbers of families they actually draw.  Bike Boulevards; General Plan identified metrics to achieve boulevard status versus actual achieved metrics.  Locally serving retail; number of square feet over time against non locally serving retail.  Noise Ordinance waivers issued against denials. Traffic increases over time in numbers of vehicles and intersection levels of service.

Additionally we can track what we're losing: Number of mature publicly owned street trees cut down over time against those saved.  Home ownership versus renters over time.  The number of detached single family homes in the General Plan identified 'Areas of Stability' that get demolished versus those saved.
When these objective metrics are studied, the current progressive City Council is shown to be no improvement over the previous conservative Council and further it is revealed that they are actually worse in some areas.

The Tattler has long chronicled these livability issues and how our elected officials have been recalcitrant in taking them on between elections.  Without getting into reasons of why this broken polity is a broken record, the Tattler will be going into pure data driven territory for this election season.  Just the numbers.  And we're going to take them to the City Council wannabes, especially the incumbents.  The incumbents are going to explain why campaign promises from four years ago were ignored.  We're going to let them tell the voters why and why not, all splashed out on our pages.

We're not going to take anything away from this remarkable Council.  Credit where it's due; Emeryville has gotten markedly better for those working poor among us who toil at Emeryville businesses with this City Council in charge.  Also, the Council has courageously tried to put a dent in the regional and intractable issue of housing affordability with Measure C's $50 million bond they championed. 
Protections for low wage workers, housing affordability...that's a lot from a little city like Emeryville.  Perhaps it's enough.  But for those who think more can and should be done, the coming election vulnerability can be leveraged to try for accountability.  Look to the Tattler for help in getting that accountability this election season.  Next up: the 2018 Tattler City Council election questionnaire...expect hard questions and lots of hard numbers...tell tale numbers.  Stay tuned.


  1. I believe you meant to say that things have gotten "markedly worse" for the working poor".

    Given the loss of so many small businesses that employed unskilled workers in our city, the reduction in jobs at so major retailers and restaurants large and small,and the continuing inability of retailers and restaurants to stay in business here, it's safe to say that the "progressive" Emeryville City Council has done more damage to unskilled laborers in the city than the last 30 years of Emeryville City Councils combined.

    You need to get past the empty rhetoric and look at actual results, look at all the empty store fronts (that's that locally serving retail you mention is absent), and talk with the restaurants and retailers who are struggling under this city council. You need to really try to understand what they've done and who it's hurt, mainly people of color, immigrants, women, the young, and those with limited skills.

    Emeryville businesses are cutting jobs, many have left outright, and most have reduced positions and raised the qualifications on the few remaining low skill positions they have. You don't hire the unskilled when your city has made it impossibly expensive to train them.

    The end result is that this city council destroyed the jobs that vulnerable communities needed most. And they did it at the behest of a single outside labor union who had nothing to do with Emeryville.

    Perhaps if you'd like to see your trees protected, you should find a special interest group that has more pull than the voters of Emeryville. They have very little influence in this city and with this council.

    1. "Get past empty rhetoric and look at actual results"....well sir, I could not agree more. We should look at actual results. But is there any way to know the actual results? You've certainly provided us with how you see've given us some anecdotal evidence from a putative right wing obviously pro business point of view. And I do thank you for your opinions on this matter.
      But back to the question: Is there any way to know the actual results?
      The answer is YES there is....if you read the Tattler at least. Reading the other blog in town, you'd have to say NO there's no way to know....lots of speculation there...but no way to know.
      Tattler readers know because they read our November 26th, 2016 story called "Minimum Wage Study Shows Little Effect on Emeryville's Business Climate".
      We report the analysis of a scientific study conducted by graduate students at Mills College on the actual effects of Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance you reference. No conjecture, no zealotry, no speculation with a right wing agenda....just actual facts and analysis from an independent study that the City of Emeryville commissioned.
      What the study finds if you read the story (link to the study will be found there) is the opposite of your 'findings'.

      You need to know law is not supposed to be capricious but rather it has to be measurable. So actual law makers are not free to engage in the sort of flight of ideological fancy your'e doing. They need proof. And that's why they paid for the academic study...because it provides what the law needs.
      So we can listen to you, Mr Tattler reader ideological Anonymous or we can listen to a scientifically generated independent study.
      But you do get points for trying....thanks for the comment.

    2. Snap...crack...bam! Damn Tattler- you laid your right wing tormentor low!

  2. Actually, the blogging you did in that article demonstrates why no one can trust anything you write here.

    For those readers who haven't fully grasped what Brian does here, please follow the link he posted and read the comments beneath that article. Those comments do a pretty fantastic job explaining how he misrepresented the conclusions of the report.

    1. You caught me Mr Anonymous! Me AND the City of Emeryville. The Minimum Wage Study conducted by Mills College is a hoax! It’s easy to spot once you put on the special glasses required when reading the study. The glasses (available for a nominal fee through the E’Ville Eye blog), enable readers to decode the document. So for instance those reading the study without the special glasses will interpret a section ostensibly titled “Workforce is Stable despite Rising Payroll Cost” whereas those with the glasses will see the REAL title: Workforce is Plunging Amid Rising Payroll Cost”. The glasses reveal that all the real numbers in the data heavy document are actually very different from what’s presented. All the real numbers are very damning for the Minimum Wage Ordinance and they show how there’s been wholesale business failure and layoffs in our town. Only those who have the special glasses know it though. As an added benefit, these special Emeryville Minimum Wage glasses also help wearers to understand the REAL story of the global warming hoax and the Deep State power grab.