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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

West, Atkin Disingenuous On Family Friendly Housing

Part A and Part B: 
Didactic Speech Then Contrary Vote

Self identified family friendly housing champion councilwoman Jennifer West said it best: after decades of a failed housing policy that brought far too many lofts and one bedroom condos, Emeryville not only needs to start building family friendly housing units, it needs to do so at a pace that far outstrips the lofts and one bedroom units in order to get to the correct ratio of family friendly units for the whole town.  The schools need support she reminded us.  At this point, we need to build pretty much nothing but family friendly units to catch up, she said to the cameras.  The way this is going to get done she added, is by a "new paradigm" from the city council.
Ms West said all this and then she proceeded to vote for a housing project made up mostly of lofts and one bedroom units.

Ms West's non sequiturs might have seemed entertaining but it was the bellicose language from Ruth Atkin that really stood out.  Formerly a reliable council voter in the developers pocket, a seemingly changed council member Atkin was adamant; "51% of households in town are single resident" she railed.  With the cameras rolling, she scolded the developer and her recalcitrant colleagues, "It's not in the best interest of Emeryville to build more studios and one bedroom units."  She said she owed her constituents a town with proper housing for families.  She was outraged....and then she voted for the same loft/condo project.

"It's not in the best interest of 
Emeryville to build more studios 
and one bedroom units."
-Ruth Atkin

As reported by the Tattler, the bone thrown by the developer in the form of some playground equipment as a way to mollify concerns raised by the two women to attract families was a pittance, and not very convincing cover for the vote change.  The Part A and Part B,  didactic speech then contrary vote were separated by two weeks and seemingly two philosophies.  The Tattler worried in another earlier story that the developer in question, Madison Park, would pressure the swing voter Ms Atkin, to accept the project by the time of the repeat vote but perhaps pressure was not needed.  Perhaps Part A was for the benefit of the cameras with the quid pro quo Part B following as planned.  It would be a win-win: the developer gets his project and the council member gets to be seen boldly standing for the residents interests.

Madison Park is a quick study, as far as developers go.  The presentation team made generous reference to kids and families, sometimes even at inappropriate moments.  In fact it was kids this and kids that, wall to wall kids.  They know the fire alarm and they played their part, if inelegantly.  It all is likely a harbinger of the way development is going to be moving forward in Emeryville, at least on the rhetoric front.

We are irritated by the way Councilwoman West left her colleague Jac Asher hanging on the vine.  Ms Asher did no reversal from two weeks ago, she held out for a real family friendly project but after Ms West approved the project, now re-imagined as family friendly if the hype is to be believed, Ms Asher has now been turned into some kind of radical; all alone with her stubborn insistence on what Ms West (and Ms Atkin) previously insisted upon.

After her reversal vote, Ms West made one particularly irksome pronouncement; she said if this project were newly coming before her, not having been previously approved, "there's no way I'd support it."  There's something very galling about that fatuous statement.  The project IS before you.  If you like it vote for it if you don't then don't.  We want to shout out just vote your vote and quit with the hyperbolic theatrics.  Don't ply us with such cheaply bought sermons after the fact.

In the final analysis though it doesn't really matter if these politicians played politics with this family friendly housing shtick.  To get to the ratio council member West made reference to, we'd have to get nothing but families from here on out and that's not a possibility even if we had a sympathetic council.  There's clearly however going to be a lot of BS talk from everybody at City Hall about the need for family friendly housing from now on, spewing from every City Hall sycophant.  We're tuning it's cheap.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot wait for the day that all our Council Members are Resident Friendly. It makes me sick when they just say it but their actions are not with us.