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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Winners And Losers In Emeryville

The poor; they're "not a good fit"
Slurpees and Cheetos

City Planning:
City Council Selects Winners And Losers

The idea that it's inherently wrong that government should engage in selecting private sector winners and losers by dint of its economic policy, has been forwarded wall-to-wall by conservatives over the years.

Mattress stores; the city council has 

a  jones for 'em!

This argument suggests that its not government's bailiwick to intervene or steer the private sector, deferring instead to Adam Smith's invisible hand of market forces, selecting winners and losers in a purely economic Darwinist manner.  That's the propaganda at least.

In Emeryville conversely, the city council clearly sees how the power of government can be harnessed to effect city planning and dramatically remake the town the way they see fit; they unabashedly select winners and losers if you will.   The council gets right in there and greases the skids for development they like and they put the kibosh on any land use they don't approve, like for instance the recent intervention against ECAP / Ohana on San Pablo Avenue.

This interventionist city planning policy has netted an interesting list of winners and losers over the years:



  • ECAP / Ohana (food and clothing aid for the disadvantaged)
  • locally serving retail
  • family housing builders
  • the schools

Super size me!
The city council thinks the best way to
solve traffic problems is to widen the streets.
Asphalt companies agree.
Of course if the city council were truly interested in livability for residents, the above list would be inverted; winners and losers changing positions.  Since the Emeryville city council, more than neighboring city's councils, is quite interventionist and successful when it comes to fast tracking development, take a look around as you traverse the town...what you see is what they wanted, and what they wanted is what we got.

Burger King: Got a hankerin' for
some fat and salt with a little

pink slime?
The Emeryville city council
 feels ya brah!


  1. I don't think City Hall planned for a Burger King. I'd personally rather see an In 'n' Out or Five Guys there - they still fall in the quick serve (fast food) category but seem to use much better ingredients. But I'm happy the "blue collar" Burger King is at least counterbalanced in that same center by the "yuppie central" Trader Joe's - or vice versa. We need to serve all the diverse elements of our community, and not be elitist.

    I have been, and remain, appalled that the City can't find $50k in its budget to serve the poor. ECAP has long been an eyesore on San Pablo just before the underpass, but they aren't the cause of the problem, they are part of the solution, and America has faced unusually tough times since 2008 with barely any ending in sight. I would much rather the City find a way to set things right with ECAP, than take advantage of an opportunity to drive them out of business.

    For the record, as a resident at Andante, I tend to agree that reusing the former auto detailing shop on the north side of San Pablo on Adeline to hand out food is probably going to degrade a mini-neighborhood that is just emerging - the mini-neighborhood consisting of Andante, the retirement residence at the corner of Adeline and San Pablo, Lanesplitter Pizza diagonally across San Pablo, the new condos across the street ... but I do think there is room for ECAP somewhere in our neighborhood, if not in the former detailing spot.

    BTW we have some local serving business along Adeline between 40th and San Pablo. The excellent, lively Cafe Biere, the hair salon, and we used to have the Cross Fit studio around the corner from the hair salon until they lost their lease in expectation that corner would be razed and more condos (?) built.

    So I guess I take a slightly contrarian view that more social engineering ("planning"), not less, might be good for Emeryville. The factor that has been missing is any form of dialog with the community residents themselves about what is best for the larger community and for their neighborhood in particular. Developers seem to have a lot of access to City Hall, but the only access residents seem to have is crowding the Chambers on Council meeting night.

    Emeryville has a slightly Wizard of Oz quality to it and I am afraid that one day we will discover that behind the curtain is standing not a highly skilled technocrat, but a short balding carnival busker. Residents need to stay involved. And the City continues to need you Brian to root out the truth, even though I am taking a slightly different viewpoint from yours today.

    1. So here we have a former council candidate arguing that the City should support services for the poor, just not in his neighborhood. Isn't that the definition of NIMBY? That's not the kind of leadership we need.

  2. Why is the city relocating the grade school to San Pablo Avenue anyways? Isn't a health risk to young kids to be so near a major deisel fume emmiter such as the AC Transit bus yard and the heavily traveled San Pablo Avenue? What will happen to the kids when there is a major motor accident on San Pablo that involves chemicals near the school? Does the City or the School board ever look into these things before making decisions? Look at this info:

  3. A much more fitting place for ECAP/Ohana would be more closer to city hall. Sort of a reflection of how government is doing. I am sure they fit into the Center for the Arts building (without a 15 mill$ remodel).

  4. @ Anonymous 5/6/2012 5:21pm:
    Yes, the current location of Anna Yates, 100 feet off San Pablo, is so MUCH safer, and it's fine that the high school is next to AC Transit and San Pablo, the older kids can handle the fumes and non-existent chemicals from the non-existent spills.

    No matter where you put it in Emeryville, it's either near San Pablo, or near the freeway.
    I think a better tack is to argue about the cost and wasteful spending.
    I think the bums and crack dealers are a bigger threat to the students than the environment.