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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Measure J False Demographics Revealed

School Rebuild
Nearly $400 Million, 7 Year Project Based On A
 Puff Of Air

The people that support Measure J, including the School Board and the City Council have lied to Emeryville residents about the most basic tenet of the controversial school rebuild program:  They say the school district is going to attract 1200 Emeryville students, the number needed to have a successful school;  we say there's no way to bring that number of students to the district.

The whole endeavour is predicated on how the city will bring more than 700 new Emeryville students up from the less than 500 that now attend our schools.  The people driving the school rebuild have turned to paid demographers to show how it'll be done.  These demographers have revealed that they used the Emeryville general plan to justify their claims of increased enrollment at the school, and in fact the general plan does show a large influx of families moving to town over the next 12 years.

Two Big Problems
The problems here are glaring and twofold: The first is that general plan is not a mandate, rather an idea, a suggestion for development direction and the second, more problematic issue is that there is no place to put that many families here even if there were the political will to build enough housing for them, never mind the dire economy.

In Emeryville, the general plan historically has never served as an impediment to developers with development plans contrary to it.  Quite the reverse, our general plan is consistently revised to suit whatever developer is challenging the plan at any given time.  The decision makers have never shown the will to enforce the general plan, instead they have served as custodians for the wishes of large developers in town.  It has been a problem of ideology; the council members have not shown capacity for saying "no" to any well connected large development corporation.  Building family friendly housing is unfortunately not something developers want to do as their first choice.

More prosaically though, even if the decision makers in town could suddenly have a conversion of conscience and start enforcing the general plan, we'd have to see a massive building program of family friendly housing begin in this economy.  If that could happen, then the question would become: where do you put the new families?
It's a question of simple geography.  After a boom of 15 years of condo and loft building in town, all decidedly anti-family friendly incidentally, there's no space left to speak of to locate families in Emeryville.  The available land is mostly gone.  If the Measure J backers are positing that we would increase density and achieve the necessary housing by tearing down 10 - 15 year-old loft buildings after seizing them by eminent domain, they are clearly delusional.

Not Rational
Measure J backers have thrown in another way by which we might attract more Emeryville families even without a decent place for them to live; by making the schools so good, families will be clamouring to move to Emeryville to get their kids into them.  The argument is that these families will be willing to live in hovels if needs be, they'll be willing to stack up entire families in one bedroom condos just to get their children enrolled in our district.
While we feel this is a wonderful goal and a beautiful sentiment, it clearly isn't a dependable or even a rational basis for justifying such an expensive project.  We feel there should be decent places for families to live to properly support such a large investment as Measure J demands.

This whole Measure J project doesn't pencil out.  There is no way to achieve the numbers of students needed to make the thing cost effective and successful.  It is jarring to say the least that such a large endeavour is based on the flimsiest of metrics, cooked up by seeming dilettantes.  Indeed, something went terribly wrong with Measure J.  We think the decision makers should come back to Emeryville voters with a way to support the schools that is based on rationality and reason.

1 comment:

  1. This is the best Tattler article I've ever read. Good job! This really opened my eyes. The whole thing seems to be about nothing more than wishful thinking. Outrageous! Thanks for this and please follow up with this story.