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Friday, October 31, 2014

Out-Of-Towners Grow Increasingly Desperate Trying to Influence Our Election

Sacramento Lobbyists Care Not a Whit About Emeryville 
As the Sacramento based California Association of Realtors and National Association of Realtors invade Emeryville with their NO on Measures U&V campaign, spending their $85,000 with their endless campaign flyers, robo calls and now illegal advertising truck driving around our town with its broken tail light clogging up traffic; we're wondering what comes next?  We don't know but we imagine it won't be good.  It's been a relentless campaign from these wealthy and faceless lobbying groups exasperating Emeryville residents but it's probably a sign of desperation on the part of these out-of-towners.
As you wait for the next shoe to drop from these outsiders that don't care a whit about the fortunes (or misfortunes) of our town, here's something to consider: The people and organizations that DO care about Emeryville are united in support of Measures U&V because they know we can't thrive as a community with half our budget taken away when Sacramento crashed our Redevelopment Agency as it recently did. We're going to continue to grow our town, increasing livability for the residents no matter what these anti-government, anti-community extremists say.

We DO care about Emeryville-
Consider the following list of YES on Measures U&V supporters: 

  • Alameda County Democratic Party -
  • League of Women Voters--Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville -
  • Emeryville Chamber of Commerce
  • Residents United for a Liveable Emeryville
  • East Bay Express -
  • Emeryville Mayor Jac Asher
  • Emeryville Vice Mayor Ruth Atkin
  • Emeryville Councilmember Jennifer West
  • Emeryville Councilmember Nora Davis
  • Emeryville Councilmember Kurt Brinkman
  • Emeryville Candidate for City Council, Dianne Martinez
  • Emeryville Candidate for City Council, Scott Donahue
  • Emeryville Candidate for City Council, John Bauters
  • Assemblymember, Nancy Skinner
  • Bob Canter, President/CEO of Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Reuter - Chair, Emeryville Finance Advisory Committee & 35-year Watergate Resident, 
  • Tom Modic - Chair, Bicycle Pedestrian Committee, Realtor, +15 year resident and local taxpayer
  • Gail Donaldson - Current Emeryville Planning Commissioner and 17-year Emeryville Resident
  • Ames Simpson, Emeryville small business owner, 12-year resident/homeowner, former Vice Chair of the Emeryville Child Development Center Advisory Committee and parent to a child in Emeryville’s school district.
  • Brian Carver, Chair, Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
  • John Gooding, Longtime Emeryville Resident
  • Ruth Major, Watergate Resident and member of the Emeryville Child Development Advisory Committee
(partial list)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Big Brother Comes to Emery Unified

Is Your Child's Biometric Data Safe?

The Tattler has learned that dozens of Anna Yates Elementary students were rounded up today by school officials and fingerprinted in order to have their biometric data stored in a government database. What crimes were these nine year olds convicted of? accused of? suspected of?  None.  Instead, this is the price our children must pay for access to Emery Unified's School Lunch Pogrom Program.

Emery knows what
its doing, right?
What could possibly
go wrong?
The new system was "announced" to some parents via a letter sent home during the last week of school last school year, in June of 2014.  Parents that are new to the District this year may not have heard anything about this program or been given any advance notice of the District's intentions (one Anna Yates parent told us he did not receive the letter at the end of last year either and only learned of the letter from other parents).

Parents have the ability to "opt out" of the biometric scanning of their children, but must request the opt out form from the District.

Parents nationwide have objected to similar programs, some bringing lawsuits to prevent the practice, and the ACLU has often gotten involved. The concerns expressed include:
  • Given the prevalence these days of data breaches, what guarantees do we have that our children's biometric data will not fall into the hands of malicious third parties?
  • What sort of message does it send to our children when we tell them that they have to submit to a government-initiated data collection procedure about their own unique biological markers?
  • Doesn't the entire procedure of fingerprinting, especially in a largely minority school District, evoke images of assumed criminality that our District has pledged to oppose and prevent?
  • How much money is the District spending on this technology parents don't want when the District is not spending money on other technologies that would actually assist in student learning?
  • Were less intrusive alternatives considered? Student ID cards? Anonymous value cards?
  • What happens when a student leaves the District? What guarantees do we have that the stored biometric data will be destroyed?
  • Why weren't parents given much more explicit notification about this?
  • Districts and companies that produce the biometric technologies often argue that "fingerprints" per se are not stored by their systems, merely unique points within the fingerprint represented digitally.  These responses seem to ignore that a unique identifier is a unique identifier.  If the system works at all, then it contains personal, private, biological data about our children.  Data that should not be collected or stored without much more explicit notification.  Data that the District should never have proposed to gather to begin with.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

East Bay Express Covers Emeryville Measures U&V

Note: This story on Measures U&V from the East Bay Express doesn't include information about the latest Bay Street sale at some $290 million (as reported by the Tattler) which would have added  millions of dollars more money to the amount the City didn't collect.  
From the East Bay Express:

The Fight for Emeryville's Future

The city council is pushing two ballot measures so Emeryville can pay for public services and affordable housing. But real estate interests are spending big to stop the plan.

 | October 29, 2014
Unlike neighboring East Bay cities, Emeryville is not a charter city, meaning its government is subject to state law and not a locally drafted charter approved by voters. For Emeryville — a city with a population of just over 10,000 — one of the biggest drawbacks of not being a charter city, like Oakland and Berkeley, is that it cannot impose a real estate transfer tax.
That means that when investors, developers, or property owners buy real estate in Emeryville, the city does not reap the same kind of tax benefits that other Bay Area cities receive. And considering the number of large commercial real estate deals in recent years in Emeryville, the city has lost out on millions of dollars in revenues — money it could have used for much-needed city services.
Emeryville's elected officials are hoping to address this problem in next week's election through two ballot measures: Measure U, which would transform the city into a charter city, and Measure V, which would establish a "real property transfer tax." (Measure V becomes invalid if Measure U fails to pass). The Emeryville City Council unanimously voted to put the measures on the ballot, with the hopes of collecting new revenue that could go toward fire and 911 services, street and park maintenance, and bike, pedestrian, and affordable housing projects.
While the backers of the measure emphasize that this is a commonsense proposal to allow the city to establish a new funding stream for municipal services, the council has come up against a well-financed opposition campaign backed by real estate groups outside of Emeryville.
The National Association of Realtors has spent at least $60,000 against the measure and is the sole funder of the so-called "Citizens to Preserve Emeryville" committee leading the opposition. That committee — which is headquartered in Sacramento, according to campaign disclosures — has saturated Emeryville voters with mailers warning of "unintended consequences" of Measures U and V that "will change life in Emeryville forever."
While $60,000 in campaign spending may not seem like a lot, it's a huge amount in Emeryville — roughly $20,000 more than all the current council candidates have raised combined, according to Mayor Jac Asher, who is leading the push to pass the measures. "We have to provide police services. We have to provide for the sewers and the sidewalks," she said. "It makes sense for us — especially when a lot of large commercial properties turn over every five years — to capture this tax."
Under the current system, Emeryville collects only $0.55 for every $1,000 of worth of real estate sold in the city. If Measures U and V pass, Emeryville would start collecting $12 for every $1,000. In recent years, seven major commercial property sales in Emeryville brought the city a total of $282,000 in tax revenues under the 55-cent rate, according to data Asher provided. If the transfer tax had been in place, those deals would have yielded a total of $6,150,150 for the city.
The proposed $12 transfer tax rate for Emeryville matches the existing rate in the City of Alameda and is lower than the $15 rate in Berkeley and Oakland.
Asher decided to push for this new revenue stream after 2011, when California eliminated redevelopment, which had funneled economic development dollars into cities across the state. As a result, Emeryville lost about $30 million — roughly half of the city's annual budget. "I'm looking forward not just two years, but in five years and in ten years," said Asher. "What are we going to do without these funds?"
Opponents have argued that the measures would constitute a "money grab by the city" and that the tax would make Emeryville less affordable for new homebuyers.
Asher said the claims about affordability in the city are absurd given that the transfer tax would provide funding that could then go toward affordable housing. "We want to build affordable housing. Without these dollars, it's going to take a long time. And the need is urgent right now."
Opposition mailers also note that the change to a charter city would allow city councilmembers to propose controversial charter amendments in the future, like salary increases for their positions. But Asher emphasized that all future amendments would have to go before voters and that the council crafted a very narrow proposal through these measures — such that the only actual change to Emeryville government, if voters approve Measures U and V, would be its ability to collect the transfer tax. "They are really trying to prey on people's fears," she said.
Nora Davis, who has been a councilmember for nearly three decades, said she was hopeful that residents would see past the misleading messages from the opposition. "It's like Big Soda," she said. "But I have a lot of faith in the voters of the city of Emeryville."
Jason Crouch, an Emeryville-based realtor (who lives in Vallejo), argued that there are no guarantees of how the new funding would be spent and that councilmembers' promises about parks and affordable housing may not materialize.
Crouch, who co-signed the official opposition to both measures, also argued that homeowners often decide to sell their properties when faced with financial hardship — after losing a job or going through a divorce, for example — and that this tax would unfairly strain them.
"When the people who administer the government of our city get more money, they just spend it," said Mark Zimmerman, an Emeryville resident and semi-retired realtor, who also signed the formal opposition arguments. "And they have a record of spending it badly."

Emeryville Lauded for Progressive Business Culture

From Infogroup, a respected business info and marketing organization, comes the announcement that Emeryville is the 10th best place for female executives in the nation.  At a little more than 40% of Emeryville businesses run by women, we only have 10% more to go (more than that wouldn't be bad either).  

OMAHA, Neb. – Oct. 27, 2014 – Despite the recent controversy over the lack of diversity at major technology companies, an Infogroup Targeting Solutions analysis of national business data has found that the Silicon Valley is the friendliest place in America for female executives.
While companies like Facebook, Google and Apple have reported this year that about three-quarters of their leadership positions are filled by men, records in Infogroup’s real-time business database, Data AxleTM, show that many of the cities with the highest percentage of firms with female executives are concentrated in the high-tech region in California.
Infogroup Targeting Solutions found that Palo Alto, Calif., trails only Dover, Del. with 43 percent of companies having at least one woman in an executive position. Two other Silicon Valley cities made the top 10: Emeryville at No. 10 and Facebook’s hometown of Menlo Park at No. 7.
The study, which looked businesses in 12,000 cities across the United States, found that only 27 percent of firms nationwide have women in top leadership positions.
“While less than a dozen tech companies have released their own data on hiring and the gender gap, we analyzed nearly half a million businesses nationwide,” said David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions. “While the gender gap certainly needs to be closed at major tech companies, the deeper data reveals another side to the story in the Silicon Valley.”
Six cities in the Silicon Valley are included in the top 50 U.S. places for female executives:
1.Dover, Del. – 44.8 percent
2.Palo Alto, Ca. – 42.3 percent
3.Chapel Hill, N.C. – 41.5 percent
4.Washington, D.C. – 41.1 percent
5.Bethesda, Md. – 41 percent
6.New Haven, Conn. – 41 percent
7.Menlo Park, Calif. – 40.9 percent
8.Frankfort, Ky. – 40.6 percent
9.Williamsburg, Va. – 40.5 percent
10.Emeryville, Ca. – 40.4 percent
45.San Francisco, Ca. – 36 percent
47.Oakland, Ca. – 35.8 percent
48.Redwood City, Ca. – 35.5 percent
University towns also tend to have a high concentration of companies with female executives, with 16 appearing on the top 50 list:
1.Dover, Del. (Delaware State) – 44.8 percent
3.Chapel Hill, N.C. (University of North Carolina) – 41.5 percent
6.New Haven, Conn. (Yale University) – 41 percent
8.Frankfort, Ky. (Kentucky State University) – 40.6 percent
9.Williamsburg, Va. (College of William and Mary) – 40.5 percent
11.Camden, N.J. (Rutgers University) – 40.2 percent
12.Flagstaff, Ariz. (Northern Arizona University) – 40.2 percent
15.Cambridge, Mass. (Harvard University and MIT) – 39.6 percent
21.Berkeley, Ca. (University of California – Berkeley) – 38.6 percent
23.Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (Vassar College) – 38.5 percent
26.East Lansing, Mich. (Michigan State) – 38 percent
27.Corvallis, Ore. (Oregon State) – 38 percent
31.Norman, Okla. (University of Oklahoma) – 37.4 percent
33.Pasadena, Calif. (California Institute of Technology) – 37.1 percent
39.Burlington, Mass. (Tufts University) – 36.5 percent
40.Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan) – 36.4 percent
To come up with the list of top cities for female executives, Infogroup Targeting Solutions used the Data AxleTM to pull business records on 466,000 U.S. firms with 10 or more employees and C-suite, president or vice president positions. The company then analyzed the executive contact information to determine how many companies have women in leadership positions. The top 50 list includes only cities with at least 100 businesses meeting the criteria.
“The fact that you can determine sociological and geographic trends from the Data Axle demonstrates the power of real-time business data,” said David McRae, president of Infogroup Targeting Solutions. “The information in the database on 21 million businesses is relevant, accurate and up to date with a level of detail unmatched by any other sales and marketing provider.”
For an infographic representation of the best areas for women in business, click here.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Christian Patz, Donn Merriam for EUSD School Board

Patz, Merriam YES  
Affeldt, Dwin NO

Opinion/News Analysis
There's going to be an election for Emery School Board this year!
We use the exclamation point because that's not just a good thing, it's also a rare thing.  The idea that Emeryville residents could have a say in who runs their schools is a rare thing indeed.  In theory, we're supposed to vote for our School Board members but new members are usually instead appointed by the School Board itself.  They're appointed to replace mid-term out going Board members and come election time, no one in the community has the cajones to run against the appointed incumbent.  And as a result, elections are cancelled.
So it's replacement Board member after replacement Board member decided by the Board members.  It all makes for an insular Emery School District not representing the will of the people of Emeryville and hostile to dissenting voices; just what you would expect in the echo chamber that is the Emery School Board.
Donn Merriam
He upset the apple cart and now
we get to have democracy
at the Emery School District
for a change.
This year, it's going to be different.  This year, we're going to be allowed to decide for ourselves who's going to represent us on the School Board.

So how did this happy occasion come about?  It's because Emeryville resident Donn Merriam decided to throw his name into the ring, thereby upsetting the apple cart and forcing an election.  That makes Donn Merriam a hero in our book.  We only wish more had done so.

There are five School Board members total and this year three seats are up for election.  And that unfortunately means with only four candidates running for the three seats, Emeryville residents won't be able to effect change at the Emery School Board this election.  The old guard will still be in power with a three vote majority no matter who gets elected on November 4th.
But we can sure put a dent in the old guard if we elect Donn Merriam and Christian Patz.

Christian Patz
He's a proven and much needed
independent voice on the
Emery School Board.
Christian Patz at first blush looks like part of the stand by formula described above; he was appointed by the Board after Board member Josh Simon vacated his seat early.  But it seems Christian slipped through the cracks.  He has not turned out to be the Board member the appointers assumed he would be.  Mr Patz is an independent voice on the Board.  For instance he voted against the hiring of Anna Yates Elementary School Principal Rassum Mesfun last summer and in so doing countered the wishes of the Superintendent John Rubio, making Mr Patz the only dissenting vote on the Board.  It was a vote that turned out to be a testament to Mr Patz's good judgement as we watched the train wreck of the Mesfun affair play itself out, a train wreck that has damaged the already soiled reputation of the Board and now the Superintendent.
An administrator at another school district, Christian has shown himself to be a rational player with a deep knowledge of sound pedagogical policy on the Board, looking out after the interests of the children, teachers and parents, the trifecta everyone up there sanctimoniously claims to represent.

Donn Merriam is an architect by trade, working on new public school construction projects.  With the Emeryville Center of 'Community' Life now beginning construction, he seems like a valuable person to have on the Board.  In fact, Mr Merriam has already inserted himself into oversight of the construction of the ECCL project, catching several code violations, some of which would be very expensive to repair.  Although Donn doesn't have the educational bona fides of a Christian Patz, he maintains there are quantifiable educational metrics gained in in how a school is built.  We're not sure how much value that has but it seems like it must have some value.  Some may claim Mr Merriam isn't qualified given his lack of direct experience in pedagogy, but that argument would remove most Board members here now.  We need to focus on changing the Board and casting out the bad players who are subverting the aforementioned trifecta of children, teachers and parents.  We think Mr Merriam's election would be a step in changing the direction.

John Affeldt looks great gazing at his impressive resume.  But he has a long record here at Emery.  He and Miguel Dwin had a shameful role in 2012's Teachers Resolution debacle when the Board moved against 93% of all Emery teachers asking for a vote of no confidence in the former Superintendent Debbra Lindo as well as when Mr Affeldt and Mr Dwin ignored the pleas of 73 parents and citizens who asked for a forum to discuss the wisdom of closing the elementary school in a now infamous letter to Emery.  These two brazen lapses in judgement are enough to disqualify these two in our opinion, never mind the host of other screw ups over the years ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous at Emery (type 'Emery School Board' in the Tattler search bar for more info).  We shouldn't reward such anti-democratic violations of the public trust and hubristic top down management with our votes.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Follow the Money: Real Emeryville Residents VS Fake Emeryville Residents

Measure U&V Spending:
Emeryville David & Sacramento Goliath
Residents Outspent 43-to-1
$70 per vote vs $1.63

Follow the Money; sixth in a series
The Tattler introduces a new feature for the 2014 election season: Follow the Money. 
This election cycle is shaping up to be very expensive and very far-flung with lots of money from out-of-town interests pouring into the city.  We plan on digging out and exposing this money from people and organizations we don’t know that are trying to change our town to their liking.  These unfamiliar individuals and interest groups may effect our November elections with all their spending in Emeryville but the Tattler is going to make sure that while they assert their influence, we’re going to expose who they are. 
Click on the 'Follow the Money' label at the bottom of this story or use the search bar to review the entire Follow the Money series.

This election season, Emeryville residents are witness to an extreme asymmetry of two forces loosed on the town both looking to influence voters.  One is represented by the centralized Sacramento power of one of the largest lobbying interest groups in the State of California and the other, entirely locally homegrown, is comprised of Emeryville residents and businesses.  The Sacramento based group plans to spend perhaps up to $70 per vote and using the same metrics, the Emeryville side will spend $1.63 per vote.  Both entities claim to be operating only with Emeryville's best interests at heart.

The Sacramento group, representing the NO side, is unabashedly calling itself "Citizens to Preserve Emeryville" and is funded by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the California Association of Realtors (CAR) to the tune of $85,000 ($60,000 in their bank account earmarked for Emeryville with an additional $25,000 set aside for the Emeryville campaign).
The Emeryville group, "United Emeryville Yes on U&V with Mayor Asher" has raised $1050 and received  $912.07 in donations envelopes, stamps, etc) for a total of $1962.07.  Both sides have not spent all their money yet.

Measure U would make Emeryville a charter city, a local control governance model.  Measure V would institute a real estate transfer fee in Emeryville, the same as our neighboring cities have, re-capturing revenue lost, half Emeryville's budget, after Sacramento dissolved the Redevelopment Agency.  Both measures must pass for them to be operational.

The NO on U&V side has a committee located in Sacramento comprised of CAR & NAR members but they've secured a few Emeryville residents that signed their names, printed in the official Alameda County voter guide to give the impression there's a local grassroots swell against the measures.  It's notable that every Emeryville resident they've convinced to sign on is personally in the real estate business here.  The YES on U&V side is comprised of Emeryville residents both on the committee and with the signatories in the voter guide (with the sole exception of the CEO of the Emeryville Chamber of Commerce).  The YES side also has an Emeryville real estate agent as a signatory it should be noted.
The iconic
Emeryville restaurant.
We could totally
go there.

A Fabulous Dinner at Bucci's
If Emeryville residents vote this election the same as last local election (about 1200 people cast ballots) the NO on U&V side will spend about $70 per vote.  Put another way; at that price, each Emeryville voter could have a fabulous night out at Emeryville's premier restaurant, Bucci's on Hollis Street.  On the menu; zuppa del giorno with an antipasti plate of steamed mussels and a wild arugula salad, the entrĂ©e is a truffle marinated flat-iron steak paired with a glass of really nice Napa Zinfandel combining a leathery blackberry nose and a buttery vanillin finish.  Because we're not cheap and we believe everyone should make a living wage, we're also going to leave a very generous tip for Bucci's professional and friendly wait staff.  After that we'll still have some mad money left over.
The YES on U&V side will spend about $1.63 per vote.  We'll get a Kit-Kat bar and a gum ball at the 7-Eleven on San Pablo & 40th Street for that price (we might be a little short and have to kick in a little extra, depending on the gum ball).

Readers Note:  We don't do restaurant reviews here at the Tattler but Bucci's truly is a great neighborhood dining experience: the food is rustic and provincial Italian mindfully prepared with integrity and artistry.  

Letter to the Tattler: Donn Merriam

The following letter was received from Donn Merrian, candidate for Emery School Board of Trustees on November 4th:

To The People of Emeryville,

I've made Emeryville my home for almost four years now.  I've enjoyed living here and want to contribute to the community in a way that could best utilize my expertise and to insure successful completion of the most important endeavor the community will embark upon, the building of the Emeryville Center of Community Life.

As an licensed Architect with more than 20 years of experience in the design and construction of public K-12 schools, I've observed how schools work on a day to day basis, how staff and students interact, and how an administration works to achieve their goals. 

One of the most recent projects I was involved with was the DeAnza High School replacement campus in the West Contra Costa Unified School District.  That project was similar in scope to our ECCL project; a complete school replacement and enhancement of the entire campus.

Prior to the start of project, enrollment was approximately 800 students with a possibility of closure.  After its completion, enrollment is 1300 (full capacity) with a diverse student body and a waiting list to attend.

This is a prime example of what a new school can do.

Emery Schools Superintendent, Dr. John Rubio was gracious to invite me to the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the ECCL.  While there, I could feel the group's excitement with turning the first shovel of earth.  However, there's a long road ahead of us that we want to make as smooth as possible.

Wanting to make sure we're on that road, I've initiated a review of the project and have discovered several items that are of concern and have presented them to the School Board.

    The elevator shaft in the Main Classroom Building is too small for the Code specified sized elevator cab (must be able to fit a medical gurney for emergency use).
    The restroom in the same building does not meet code for equal number of plumbing fixtures between men and women toilet rooms.
    In an emergency, exiting the Second Grade classrooms from the second floor of the Main Classroom Building is confusing, dangerous, and possibly non-code complying.

Those are just a few of the issues that if left unaddressed will have serious ramifications. 

There has to be someone on the Board to ask the right questions. 

If given the opportunity, as a member of the Board I would take the same approach on all other matters that would be encountered.


Donn Lee Merriam

Donn Merriam is a candidate for Emery School Board this election cycle.  He has been a homeowner resident of Emeryville since early 2011.  Donn is a licensed architect 14 years with Deems Lewis McKinley, an architectural firm based in San Francisco that specializes in K-12 school design.  He has had  experience with numerous school districts throughout the Bay Area in his capacity as a school site planner. His campaign website is HERE

Friday, October 24, 2014

Money Left on Table in Absence of Measures U & V

How Much Could We Have Netted?
How Much Can We Net in the Future?

As Emeryville voters make their decisions regarding the November 4th election, it's always nice to know the actual ramifications of a proposed piece of legislation...the actual numbers.  Or dollars as the case may be.  Regarding Measures U&V, the charter city and real estate transfer fee proposals, the California Association of Realtors funded 'NO' side has used a lot of fibbing and misleading obfuscation if not outright lies in an avalanche of mailers to convince voters to reject the measures.  What they haven't revealed in their $85,000 campaign against Emeryville are the numbers.  How would we benefit by Measures U&V?
In presentations made at City Council meetings over the last year, as the Council considered the issue of whether it should pursue becoming a Charter City and enact a real estate transfer tax, various reports showed the impact that Emeryville sitting on the sidelines has had. These reports showed that the City has passed up nearly $10 million dollars just from several recent large commercial real estate transactions.  
Emeryville netted a little over a quarter million dollars in these sales but we could have netted almost $10 million if Measures  U&V had been in effect.  
That's a lot of money that could be used to build new parks, bike/ped facilities, and repair of existing infrastructure.  The numbers below don't include small commercial sales or residential sales.
Something to consider as you head to the polls.

Recent Sales (largest commercial properties, last few years):

Sale Price
Emeryville as a General Law City ($0.55/$1,000)
If Emeryville were a Charter City ($12/$1,000)
1900-2200 Powell

East Bay Bridge

Bay Street*

6529 Hollis (Clif Bar)

1800 Powell

Woodfin Suites



* Bay Street has sold twice in the last couple of years.  These numbers combine the last two sales.  The last sale at nearly $290 million, occurred just a few weeks ago.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

League of Woman Voters Endorses Emeryville Measures U&V

The League of Woman Voters, the venerable 94 year old universal suffrage organization known for its refusal to endorse candidates has no such compunction about endorsing ballot initiatives.  In that spirit, our local branch of the LWV has recently endorsed Emeryville's Measures U&V.  They join the California Democratic Party, Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) and all five Emeryville City Council members in their endorsement of these Measures.
Here is the notice from the LWV Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville:

The League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville urges citizens to support Ballot Measures U & V; please vote YES on both when you cast your ballot.

Measure U will enable Emeryville to become a charter city for the limited purpose of being able to create and collect a property transfer tax, thus gaining more control over the income of the City.  Measure V would create the local property transfer tax itself.  The rate would be $12 for each $1,000 of sale value.

The income from the new property transfer tax would begin to replace the funding lost to the City when the State dissolved all redevelopment programs. Emeryville lost $30 million, half of its annual budget.

Since the income will depend on the number and value of property sales in future years, the income cannot be predicted.  In 2013 Emeryville collected $130,000 in property transfer tax revenue. If a local transfer tax had been in force at the $12/$1,000 rate, the City would have received $2.85 million. Eighty-five percent of this would have come from sales of commercial properties. The proposed Emeryville rate is lower than the $15/$1,000 rate charged by neighboring cities Berkeley and Oakland.

The tax would be spent in the City where your homes and buildings are located.  It would help keep City services running well, maintain parks and much more—thus maintaining and enhancing the value of the individual properties that are bought and sold.

For more information on these taxes, you can download a copy of our Pros & Cons on the Emeryville measures here( You can read the measures themselves and more about these measures at  You can download copies of all League Pros and Cons on local and state ballot measures from our website at

Please make sure you are registered before Oct. 20 and vote in the November 4, 2014 election.  You can register on line at

We urge you to vote Yes on Emeryville’s ballot measures U & V.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vacating Councilwoman Jennifer West Endorses Dianne Martinez & Scott Donahue

The Councilwoman
The popular City Councilwoman Jennifer West has announced her strong endorsement of candidates Dianne Martinez & Scott Donahue for Emeryville City Council.  A five year one termer, Ms West used her blog to make the announcement Monday.  Council member West has made herself known as a consensus builder but also one not afraid to take unpopular positions on the Council and her endorsement represents a strong vote of confidence from a much admired Council member who will be sorely missed by her colleagues and residents alike as she prepares to step down.  
From Ms West's blog:

Let me tell you why I support Scott and Dianne...

I have been honored to serve the City of Emeryville for the past 5 years as a council member. I have worked hard to ask tough questions and communicate with you, my constituents. I have sent regular email updates, asked for your opinions, chatted with you at the grocery store, come to your communities, and responded to emails.  I have valued public participation and transparency, raising the expectations for our city to respond to your needs. We have accomplished a lot, but there is more to be done. It is time for me to pass the torch to folks I trust.
I endorsed both Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue for city council because I am impressed with the skills and talents they would bring to the city council. They have different skills, and I would like to highlight how they would balance each other as leaders in town.
Dianne is an intelligent and personable candidate with common sense. I think Dianne will follow my path of bringing people together, creating and strengthening partnerships that are so essential in our ever more regional world. Spanning business and resident interests, Dianne will continue to create an environment for strong collaboration and connection. She will be a person who will work well with all council members.
Scott has been my advisor while I served on council. He has a strong history of all things Emeryville that I have relied on, and he is willing to listen and thoughtfully consider other people’s ideas, and share his own. He is passionate about quality of life issues, since he has seen the growth Emeryville has achieved, and values the possibilities for smart development with a practical side. 
Better bike connections, parks and public works projects will be priorities for both candidates.
The two candidates complement each other well, and as a team, both in their campaign and on the council, will bring a cohesive, dynamic energy that will carry on the work I have done.
Please join me in voting for Scott Donahue and Dianne Martinez on November 4!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CA Dems Respond to CAR Mailers: Endorse YES on Measures U&V

Democratic Party Says YES on Measures U&V

The California Democratic Party has made endorsements in the looming Emeryville election and they're peppering the town with door-hangers the Tattler has learned.  Of note is the endorsement of Measures U&V, the twin charter city and real estate transfer fee initiatives authored by the City Council.  U&V are meant to provide critical revenue for new and existing infrastructure maintenance lost after the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency was dissolved by Sacramento.   Since the Emeryville electorate is overwhelmingly Democratic, the door-hanger endorsements are a major bulwark against the wall-to-wall mailers from the Sacramento based California Association of Realtors (CAR) anti U&V campaign.  CAR has set aside $85,000 in Emeryville to stop U&V.

Election year 2014 marks another year that the California Republican Party has ignored Emeryville, with no endorsements forthcoming from them.  The Republicans have never dared to wade into local elections here it should be noted (at least not in modern Emeryville history).  However the California Association of Realtors donated heavily to the Republicans this year, giving in excess of $2 million to that party.

The California Democratic Party has also endorsed City Council candidates Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue.

Here's the door-hanger cropping up around town:

Dems may wish to consider taking it with them to their polling station, although for State Assembly, Tony Thurmond would be the more progressive choice.

City of Emeryville U&V Information Mailer Mysteriously Lost in Mail

City Hall Perplexed About Mailers: 
Nowhere to be Found

Elections are always emotional events with passions running high and suspicions of dirty tricks the order of the day, especially in Emeryville.  Against this backdrop, eyebrows have been going up around town after City Hall announced recently that informative mailers about Measures U&V, many thousands of them mailed weeks ago, apparently have been "lost in the mail".  
City Manager
Sabrina Landreth
Missing mailers
The No on U&V side, lavishly funded by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) it should be noted, has had no problem getting thousands of their vitriolic mailers delivered to Emeryville residents in a timely manner by the Post Office.  

The City of Emeryville produced two  nonpartisan informational mailers so voters can get an objective analysis amid the hyperbole from CAR regarding Measure U, the charter city initiative and Measure V the real estate transfer tax initiative.  
Sabrina Landreth, Emeryville's City Manager, speaking about the City's two informational mailers told the Tattler yesterday, "It is my understanding mailer number two has arrived in some mailboxes, but mailer number one has yet to be located, even though it was dropped at the Post Office on October 8th".  She added, "We are working with our consultant to try to track them down, but as of yesterday, there is no sign of them even after [our] consultant searched the docks and pallets at the Oakland [Main] Post Office.  Even with the post office’s understaffing and major delays that we have heard about in getting these packets out this season, this has been an extraordinary delay."
The US Postal Service appears to have botched
the delivery of Emeryville City Hall's

objective, informational election mailer.  

Voter completed absentee ballots are already being returned and so in the absence of any information from the City, Emeryville voters have not been getting the benefit of an objective presentation of the facts about Measures U&V; a fact not lost on Mayor Jac Asher, one of the five City Council members that originally brought Measures U&V to the voters.  Ms Landreth said Mayor Asher is considering possibly filing a formal complaint with the Postal Service in response.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Guest Commentary: Measures U&V Vital for Emeryville

From the Oakland Tribune:

Guest commentary: 
November election will dictate Emeryville's future
By Nancy Bickel and Barb Singleton
 Oakland Tribune  My Word
POSTED:   10/20/2014 11:58:46 AM PDT
Emeryville voters face an important choice Nov. 4.  Will they vote to increase their city's taxing authority and raise taxes so that the city can maintain and improve its services? The future of Emeryville as a growing and thriving small city is at stake.
In 2011, during the economic downturn, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature dissolved all the redevelopment agencies in California. Emeryville lost $30 million, half of its annual budget.  Because of Prop. 13 and related laws, Emeryville doesn't have many options to replace the lost income.
The city's proposal is to change Emeryville from a "general law" city into a "charter city" for the limited purpose of getting the authority to create a property transfer tax.  This is Measure U on the November ballot.  In addition, the city proposes Measure V, which would create the local property transfer tax itself.  The tax rate would be $12 for each $1,000 of sale value.
Right now, Emeryville is a general law city and follows the laws of the state of California. Real property transfer tax rates for general law cities are set by the county and limited by state general law to no more than $1.10 per $1,000 of the sale price.  Emeryville receives half -- or 55 cents. The other half goes to the county.
Income from the new property transfer tax would begin to replace the funding lost when the state dissolved all redevelopment programs.  Since the income will depend on the number and value of property sales in future years, the income cannot be predicted accurately.
But here's an example. In 2013, Emeryville collected $130,342 in property transfer tax revenue. If Emeryville had been a charter city with a local transfer tax rate of $12 per $1,000, the city would have received $2.843 million.  Eighty-five percent of that income would have come from sales of commercial property.  The proposed Emeryville rate is lower than the $15 per $1,000 property transfer tax rate in the neighboring charter cities, Berkeley and Oakland.
The tax would be spent in Emeryville, where residents' homes and buildings are located, and would greatly benefit residents and property owners.  It would help keep essential city services like police, fire and emergency services running well; keep parks, sewers and storm drains in good shape; develop and maintain open space; provide programs for younger children, youth and seniors, and more.
Measures U and V would maintain and enhance the value of all the individual homes and commercial properties bought and sold in the city.  An organization called Citizens to Preserve Emeryville, No on Measures U and V, supported by realtors with a Sacramento address, and which has received $60,000 from the National Association of Realtors, is campaigning against U and V.  We assume that the national organization just doesn't like taxes on real property and doesn't want them to go up -- anywhere.
Emeryville residents should use their own judgment about what's good for their own city. The League of Women Voters thinks Measures U and V are worth the cost -- to current and future property owners and to all Emeryville residents -- because they will keep Emeryville a vital and healthy city.
For more information, visit Just look for Measure U and Measure V. Read the measures at
We urge you to vote Nov. 4 and to vote yes on Emeryville's ballot Measures U and V.

Nancy Bickel is President and Barb Singleton is Voter Services Team Representative in Emeryville of League of Women Voters Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville.