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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

No Family Friendly Housing For 3900 Adeline Site

Measure J School Rebuild Left In Lurch
Council Says 'NO' To Family Housing,
NO To Measure J

After tirelessly campaigning for Measure J, the November 2nd school bond vote, the city council voted a big NO Tuesday night to providing support  for the new school by denying family housing.  The 3-2 vote was the first 'post J' test of the council's new focus on providing family friendly housing in Emeryville's drive to increase enrollment by more than 700 kids.   The proposed loft development at 3900 Adeline Street was the site of the contested council vote.

The site was approved for a new loft development by the council last year after they OK'ed the tear down of the existing red brick historic structure there.

The developer subsequently asked the city for a two year extension on the contract to start demolition for the loft project and the council entered into a discussion Tuesday of whether to leverage the extension request by asking for more family appropriate housing at the site.

What counts as family housing in Emeryville
The developer, Oakland based Madison Park corporation, responded to the council's request to accommodate families by committing to change 20 of the planned studio apartments to one bedroom units.  The project would go from 41 studio units to 21 and one bedroom units would be bumped up by 20; from 36 to 56.

Council member Jennifer West asked the developer if the intent was to increase the building's mass to account for the 20 larger units and she was informed that the proposed building would remain the same size but the one bedroom units would be small, the same size as the former studio units.  After acknowledging that Emeryville had changed and now the school district needed support in the form of family friendly housing, Mayor Nora Davis volunteered that these hard bargained units would be acceptable for single parent/one child families.  Countering, Ms West said the units could hardly be called "family friendly".

The vote for asking the developer to provide real family housing in exchange for the two year construction extension was Davis, Bukowski, Brinkman- NO; and West, Atkin- YES.

Readers may wish to read more about the demolition of the historic building by going to the November 12 Tattler story.

The school project, passed by Emeryville voters will be a nearly $400 million new facility after financing and requires an additional 700+ Emeryville students to make the whole thing viable according to the school district.  In the last twenty years, Emeryville's student population has actually decreased owing to the lack of family housing in town compelling some residents to advocate for turning the student decline around to give the new school a chance at success by building family friendly housing.  The city council has recently announced a new vision for the city that includes families but so far it's amounted to nothing other than words, adding not a single family housing unit.


  1. Let's face it, Nora Davis has never been family friendly. How did she get to be mayor again and wield her petty power? What's the deal here?

    I don't understand Brinkman's vote. Isn't he a school board man?

  2. I think Brinkman was a school board man only to serve as a springboard for his council bid. I don't think we're going to see him supporting family housing one iota. The vote I don't understand is Ruth Atkin's. The only thing I can figure is she must have pre-counted the votes and realized she could safely vote yes to family housing, knowing it still wouldn't pass.

  3. Ruth has always been a strong supporter of families. I think what is going on here is that we don't have the whole picture of the votes, because this blog never provides that. It wasn't a vote just about "family friendly housing," there were other issues involved and the council member had various reasons for their votes. It's never as simple as one issue.

  4. What's the big deal? Nora, Ken and Kurt know that families of public school children can just live in a car or under an overpass.

  5. To Anonymous-
    As the story says, the picture of the votes was about whether to get family housing concessions from the developer in trade for allowing the two year extension on the project, correcting a past mistake. The vote was: Davis, Bukowski, Brinkman- NO; and West, Atkin- YES.
    So Ruth Atkin voted to hold out for family housing, as you imply in your comment.

  6. As to the extent of another issue being on the table, the council members discussed the prudence of changing the parameters of an already approved project. Council member Bukowski was the most adamant about this, stating his belief that the council's hands were tied as to requiring any change at all. It should be noted that Mr Bukowski's opinion isn't based on the law; it would not be illegal for the council to change the nature of the agreement since the developer was asking to renegotiate the contract.

  7. Good story. The big question, as I read story after story about the City Council's failure to consider any interests except that of developers, is WHY? WHY wouldn't they ask the developer to increase the number of units that could realistically accommodate families? WHY did they ignore the designation of this beautiful, historic brick building as architecturally significant and grant permission for it to be torn down? It's infuriating, but mostly it makes me really sad, because they are abusing their power and ignoring what's best for Emeryville. Their very consistent message to the residents is, "We don't care about you." And in the next election, we won't care about them.

  8. Note to readers-
    I reported the number of studio units would change from 51 to 31. The actual number, while still 20 in number, was from 41 to 21. The number of one bedroom units would rise from 36 to 56 units. I am changing the story post to reflect the correct figures.
    Apologies for the mistake.

  9. As someone who watched Brinkman in action as a school employee while he was a school board member, his only interest was what services his business' could sell to the district.

  10. Paging Murphy Brown: the City of Emeryville is now looking for single-parent families who make salaries that allow them to work full-time, pay some of the highest rental prices in the nation and at least $1000 a month in childcare if your (only) child is under five. Seriously? We are talking about single-parent families being able to afford--or if they have a good bit of expendable income--willing to live in, one-bedroom lofts? Let's talk about what is really happening--Emeryville does not want to make room for a population that might require services, that might require something different of the Council and the businesses in this town. As it stands, we are over-saturating the single-parent-one-child-family-housing market in Emeryville. Time to stop.