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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Center of 'Community' Life: Citizens See Neighborhood Impacts, City Sees Nothing

Why Won't the City Look After Our Interests?

General Plan Deep Sixed

Where Was Charlie Bryant?

What are our expectations of our City Hall?
If nothing else, we expect them to fight for our interests.  Specifically, when we put $21 million of our money down for a project, we expect that City Hall will make sure our money goes to support our interests, not the School District's interests.
So why when the School District took our $21 million and proposed how our part, the City's part of the Center of "Community" Life (ECCL) would be built, City Hall had nothing to say?  They were given a forum to speak up at the Mitigated Negative Declaration Special School Board meeting on Monday.  They were expected to make sure the citizen's interests would be forwarded, but the City said nothing.

It's not as if there were no improvements to be made for the residents with the contentious project.  In fact an ad hoc group of unpaid independent citizens did just that.  They saw what the School District was proposing to do with our money and they made 18 pages of recommendations to better improve the project for residents while the City sat on its hands.

Charlie Bryant, 'I See Nothing'
City of Emeryville's Planning Director
Charlie Bryant

MIA: I see nothing... nothing!
The City of Emeryville actually did raise one concern.  In a letter to the School District,  Charlie Bryant, the head of the Planning Department, representing the citizens, asked the District to clarify that while the School District was telling neighbors that they would have approximately one athletic event per week at the Center of 'Community' Life and would turn off the outdoor lights by 9pm, the City, in its letter wanted to make clear that it might have City-sponsored events there and plans to keep the lights on until 10pm.  Since our $21 million is paying for the field and the lights after all.

That’s it as far as any resident's concerns are concerned from Charlie Bryant and the City as they as they hand over our $21 million to the School District.

Residents, by themselves, raised all 18 pages of concerns. In particular they explained the numerous inconsistencies that the Center of 'Community' Life  proposal has with the City’s General Plan. The residents were right to speak out for nearly every side of this project as it turns out, is inconsistent with Emeryville's General Plan or specific plans such as the Bike/Ped plan. 

General Plan Ignored By City
The General Plan calls for an east-west greenway on 53rd street with various pedestrian and bicycle-friendly features, the General Plan would require a "connected city" that breaks up super blocks and that would have a bicycle-pedestrian path on the western edge of the property, and the General Plan calls for 47th Street to be a key 'Green Street'.

The ECCL plans are inconsistent with all of these and don’t even show the bike/ped path in 'Phase 2' of the project. 

In addition to Charlie Bryant, we have an entire Building and Planning staff here at City Hall that ought to be experts on our City’s General Plan and that ought to be speaking up for residents in an effort to see that the General Plan is followed.  Instead, this job was left to residents alone, while the City of Emeryville acted as the School District’s accomplice in furthering the fiction that the ECCL project could not possibly be improved by more thoughtful comments.

Who's minding the store here?  Mr Bryant and company are paid after all to look out after our interests.

So where residents themselves see 18 pages of improvements they expect to get for their $21 million, Charlie Bryant and City Hall, who represent us, sees nothing.



  1. As a conservative, I would vote for any progressive candidate, who if elected, will fire Charlie Bryant. The employee's of this city need to be reminded that they work for us, not Nora Davis.

  2. Charlie Bryant, like the rest of city staff work for, and serve at the pleasure of the city manager. Like all other dept. heads, their job is to do what they are told. Under the city's current form of government the mayor and council are not allowed to tell any employee what to do. There is no way for Emeryville citizens, or the council to evaluate the performance of any dept. head. A majority of the city council have determined this project is going to happen under any circumstances and at any cost. The joint agreements to pay for this project do not provide for any oversight by property owners who are providing all of the money, in many cases under duress. The $21 Million of anticipated funding is a small part of what has been spent on this prpject. 20% of the city managers time has been devoted to the project not to mention other redevwelopment money provided, including a $1.5 million loan, which the former city manager says was intended to be a gift. I wonder if the ECCL is being built to acconmodate the poterntial of civil unrest, which may happen at any time in the future. Who is this facility goingh to attract. Simple marketing would show the majority of people most likley to benefit are the Oakland residents. Starved for services in Oakland, the ECCL will fill a real need in the immediate area. What will Emeryville do if 75% of the people who use the facility are from Oakland? Reacreational services are a luxury, and when the budget gets real tight, will the council provide money for public safety or recreation? The vasat majority of people who use the Doyle-Hollis Park are Oakland residents, which is ok, because we are just providing open space, but in this instance we are providing facilities. The whole concept behind this project was to combine all the schools into one building to save money. The Emeryville Senior Center at last count was 60% Oakland residents. A simple look at geography tells you who will be served at Emeryville property owner expense.