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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Planning Commission OKs Center for 'Community' Life, Bike/Pedestrian Path Removed

Commission Says 'NO' to ECCL Path

Tonight the Emeryville Planning Commission reversed an earlier vote and OK'ed the contentious Center of 'Community' Life without an adjoining required bicycle/pedestrian path that they had called a 'deal breaker' only last month.  The split vote 3-2 (Vanessa Kuemmerle and Steven Steinberg dissenting) came after the School District made a presentation meant to address the Commission's earlier concerns about the path, the future 53rd Street Greenway and the 'community commons' at the site.  Commissioner John Scheuerman praised the new plan tonight, without the ECCL path in it, calling the slight modifications to the Greenway and the community commons made by the School District "much improved",  even though in July he joined the majority and castigated the District and voted down the plan because it did not provide the path.

Most of the controversy among the Commissioners tonight settled around the District's continuing refusal to build the ECCL path.  Commissioner Scheuerman seemed to hold out hope that someday the path could be built somehow but Chair Kuemmerle disagreed, "If it's not done now it will not get built" she said.  Commissioner Steinberg agreed with Ms Kuemmerle stating flatly, "We should do [the bike/ped path] now.  It's an amenity everyone wants."

District architect Mark Seiberlich told the Commissioners that an existing concrete wall in the way of the ECCL path will have to be seismically strenghtened for safety and money spent on that now would be wasted if the path is ever built at some future date.  No one from the District told the Commissioners how much money would need to be spent strengthening the existing wall.
Commissioner John Scheuerman
The ECCL Bike/Ped path
can happen somehow,
 someday, just not now.
"Maybe we can get a grant"
he said.

At the onset of the meeting, Charlie Bryant, Emeryville's Planning Director announced that the City had received an award from the State of California for the City's new forward thinking Pedestrian Bicycle Plan, the second award received for the plan so far.  Several attendees and at least one Commissioner noted the irony that as the City of Emeryville starts to reap awards for the new Pedestrian Bike Plan, the City is busy removing bike/ped paths.  If the ECCL path is indeed not built, it will be the second such path removed by the City in recent months.

Commissioner Sean Moss seemed to disagree with his colleague John Scheuerman who stated a wish to someday see a path there.  Mr Moss suggested there is simply not enough space for a bike/ped path on the site now or in the future because it would constrain an existing pool deck he said as he cast the deciding vote, killing the ECCL path.

At an earlier City Council meeting, Council member Jac Asher said the ECCL path should be built now.  Otherwise, she said the ECCL path will not be built for decades because the School District and the City have borrowed the maximum amount of money legally possible and that the school construction bonds Series A through C must be paid back before more can be borrowed to build the path. She noted if not now, it likely will never be built.

The issue of the Center of 'Community' Life now goes before the City Council one last time September 3rd.  The votes tonight could be overturned by the City Council at that time.


  1. This is appalling. "Hey, everybody! Let's hop in our cars and head on down to the ECCL..." So disappointing.

  2. This whole thing is certainly not what I voted for in Measure J. Not what I THOUGHT I was voting for anyway. Property owning residents have been skinned that much is clear. I've lost a lot of pride for this community. So disappointing.