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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Tattler City Council Candidates Questionnaire

Candidates Questionnaire Preview 

As the November 4th City Council election heats up, we've noticed several timely and consequential topics are not being taken up by those who would challenge the candidates on behalf of the residents of Emeryville.  The Tattler seeks to rectify that with five questions addressing these topics in the resident's interest and likely to be actionable by the City Council in the near future for each of the four candidates.  We're happy to report all four candidates agreed to take part in this Tattler questionnaire.  The candidates have been given one week to respond.  Check back later for their responses.

 Here's what we asked of each candidate:

1)  Will you vote for, support and/or endorse Emeryville Measures U&V? Yes or no please.  If yes why and if no why not?  
These Measures will be on the same ballot for voters consideration.  Measure U asks if Emeryville should change its governing status from our current status; a so-called  'general law city' to a 'charter city'.  That would mean the residents have control of major governing decisions by plebiscite vs Sacramento controlling the governance here as is the case now under general law.  All our municipal neighbors; Berkeley, Oakland, Alameda and Piedmont among them are charter cities and Measure U is endorsed by the entire Emeryville City Council.  Measure V would allow for a real estate transfer fee to be levied when commercial or residential real estate is sold in town. The rate proposed by Measure V is less than our neighbors charge and passage would allow "funding to maintain essential city services such as: police, fire and emergency services protection; street, sewer and storm drain maintenance; park and open space development and maintenance; bike and pedestrian safety; child care and programs for youth and seniors" according to the City of Emeryville.  The entire City Council endorses Measure V.  Measure V requires Measure U's passage by the voters to be operational. 

2)    Do you support Emeryville’s Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan as it pertains to the Horton Street Bike Boulevard?  Would you weaken the Plan or would you defend it as it is?  
The Emeryville Bike Plan was formulated over a two year period by members of the community, the Bike Committee and city planning experts at Berkeley's Alta Planning.  The Plan cost Emeryville $200,000 and was commissioned and certified by a unanimous vote of the City Council.  It represents a balanced approach to transportation needs for all stakeholders; drivers, bikers and pedestrians.  Hollis Street is given over to cars according to the Plan but Horton Street has been earmarked as a bike transportation corridor, connecting to bike boulevards in Berkeley to the north and Oakland to the south making for seamless regional north/south bike commuting.  Almost 30% of Horton Street traffic is now bike traffic and the number is growing.  The Plan calls for no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day on the Boulevard (Berkeley's bike boulevards are only allowed no more than 1500 trips).  The Plan calls for traffic calming for bike boulevards in town that exceed the 3000 safety threshold metric.  The highest level of traffic calming according to the Plan is 'level 5' that involves traffic diverters to guarantee vehicle traffic remains less than 3000 per day.   Horton Street now has more than 3000 vehicle trips and this means traffic calming must be implemented with either diverters or other less draconian means as called for in the Plan.  Some in town have called for dismantling the Horton Street Bike Boulevard altogether.

3)  In the future, how should the City guarantee independently owned and locally serving (non-formula) retail associated with residential and commercial development projects, if at all?
 Emeryville has been requiring a street level retail component at most residential development projects but many developers aren't interested in managing retail tenants and as a consequence, many storefront shop spaces remain perpetually boarded up.  Other developers simply let the market decide who rents their spaces and these have generally been 'formula' retail chain stores and fast food franchises owing to the high rent charged to pay for the new construction.  Many residents have called for locally serving, locally owned retail in Emeryville and some have even called for worker owned businesses; a change in the dynamics that have heretofore been at play in Emeryville.

4)  How do you define family friendly housing for Emeryville?  How do we get it?  How much is needed?
Virtually everyone in town has said Emeryville has rushed towards flawed residential development policy, a model that has precluded housing for families with children.  Many have noted our commitment to spend more than $100 million on the Center of 'Community' Life, a new K-12 school campus, as the primary reason for the now critical need for family friendly housing.  Some people in town, including some current City Council members have defined 'family friendly housing' simply as units with three or more bedrooms.  Others have said families need more than that.

5)  Should the City encourage residents to enter into Community Benefits Agreements (CBA's) with large development projects? How?  
Community Benefits Agreements are legally binding agreements between citizens and private developers meant to deliver amenities to residents above and beyond any agreements made between the city and the developer.  These agreements are a form of direct democratic action engaging an active citizenry.   Municipalities sometimes act as interested third parties encouraging and facilitating such democratic negotiation without dictating terms or driving the negotiations.  CBA's are common in Oakland, Berkeley and other Bay Area cities but there is yet no history of them in Emeryville.

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