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Monday, September 23, 2013

Maz Project: Men's Dormitory Approved for San Pablo Avenue

"Family Friendly Housing" is to Emeryville Political Jargon as "Middle Class" is to Washington Political Jargon

Everywhere you turn in Washington DC you hear politicians exclaim how their focus is on the middle class, about how they're going to help the middle class.  It's middle class this and middle class that.  It comes from both parties.  And yet the help never seems to come; the people keep waiting.
As it goes in Washington so too it goes in Emeryville.  Except here, it's not the middle class that goes wanting amid all the hyperbole, here it's "family friendly housing".  Emeryville's decision makers are united: we desperately need family friendly housing they say.  Like in Washington, the over heated rhetoric is wall to wall at City Hall.  Except as an aside, at the Housing Committee where until recently they didn't even list family friendly housing as one of its seven goals (oops! get in line guys!) until the Tattler exposed them.  Now they too are towing the line and they're listing family friendly housing as one of the goals.

As with their Washington counterparts, Emeryville City Council members seem to think all they need to do is say they're for family friendly housing enough and that essential category is then taken care of.  Either that or they just like to hear themselves talk.

The City Council tells us Emeryville
would be a better place to live
if we had more of this.
Need proof?  Check out the MAZ Project on San Pablo Avenue at Adeline Street that was just approved by the City Council (Jac Asher voted NO and Jennifer West had a conflict of interest and did not vote).  After a year of very public gum flapping about the need to bring family friendly housing to Emeryville, the Council quietly said yes to this project with its 105 rental units perched in a podium above a parking garage.  Sound familiar?
The apartments are comprised of 60 studio apartments, 20 one bedroom units, 20 two bedroom units and five four bedroom units, all market rate rental.  Oh, and there's also 5 one bedroom lofts for rent.   The street level will have the ubiquitous retail that's sat empty in so many other projects.  No tenants have been lined up.  By now it should sound very familiar.

It all makes for a housing project for "younger people that are seeking an interesting place to live" according to Rick Holliday, the developer for the project.  He noted the tenants would likely be more of what Emeryville has been building for the last decade and a half, "I don't see a wide age range there" he told the Tattler.
At least Emeryville's Ikea store stands to benefit by this project.

Who's going to rent this?
The Council thinks this rental 

demographic is
under represented in Emeryville.
Men's Dormitory
No wide age range indeed.  Maz is yet another techie dorm for young single men commuting to San Francisco seeking cheaper rent than that city offers. This project is a carbon copy of every other housing project approved by this Council for the last fifteen years, the years we earned the enmity of planning professionals for our lack of family friendly housing.  Notable too in this debacle is the complete lack of interest from the School Board in this Maz project (or any other housing project).   They are spending some quarter billion dollars on our new school at the Center of Community Life but there's a disconnect when it come time to supporting housing for families needed to assure success for the new school project.

Pro-developer ideologues, this City Council will finally deliver family friendly housing when some developer thinks he can make a buck off it.  Until that day, look to City Hall to talk the family friendly talk and walk the men's dormitory walk.  Sound familiar?


  1. Finally someone says something about this awful project! I couldn't believe it when the Planning Commission waved this through without batting an eye! And then it gets to the Council, where Ruth Atkin knows she is the swing vote on these kinds of items and while she recently expressed surprise that the vast majority of households in Emeryville are single individuals, she can no longer be so surprised when that's the only type of housing we ask developers to build! This project is so terrible it makes me sick and that property has so much potential. It's just an awful awful waste.

    1. Unfortunately, we're (the City Council) not asking developers to build anything. We're not part of any development decisions. It's the developers themselves, driven by profit maximization, who make all the decisions. The Maz project is the kind of residential development developers are interested in building. The Emeryville City Council is not interested in planning. They're not interested in deciding about how our town develops; those decisions are best left to the private sector's Board rooms, working in a pastiche style.

  2. Where is this project happening? I don't see a location and this link:
    doesn't work.

    1. I removed the link, thanks for alerting me to this. The link was from the City's website and doesn't work.