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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Post Moratorium Debate, a Flawed 'Market Place' Development Moves Towards Approval

Mayor's Secret Plan For Better Housing Gets First Test

News Analysis
A huge residential apartment development proposal is just now rounding the corner in Emeryville, heading into the home stretch, headed for approval at City Hall.  It's the massive multi-phase 'Market Place' project on Shellmound Street with its 456 100% rental residential units, 70,000 square feet of retail and 1345 structured parking spaces.  Being all rental, this housing project is similar to most every other residential development project approved in Emeryville over the last many years.  It's also counter to what Emeryville residents say they want from new housing projects.

What's noteworthy about this project is that it's the first development proposal coming up for approval after a controversial residential building moratorium idea was proposed by the City Council but then rejected by Mayor Ruth Atkin and Councilwoman Nora Davis last February.  The three vote Council majority sought the moratorium to carve out time to strengthen the City's planning documents after so many years of flawed developments approved under the existing documents.  Lacking a four vote super-majority, the moratorium idea failed leaving only Ms Atkin's plan to fix Emeryville's weak planning documents.  However, Mayor Atkin has yet to reveal her plan to fix the problem, tantalizingly offering only "a moratorium is the wrong way to go about doing this".

Artist's Conception: Market Place Development
Featuring lots of deluxe White People.
For their part, developers aren't interested in waiting to hear about the Mayor's plan to stop flawed residential development; they're rapidly moving ahead in Emeryville.
One of the last three major residential developments left in Emeryville (the other two being  at the Sherwin Williams site and the 'Nady' site), the Market Place received approval for the first of its five parcels from the Planning Commission on May 28th.  The remaining four parcels are being presented rapid fire at subsequent meetings for the Planning Commission's approval.

A high density development, the Market Place project has the following characteristics identified by the public as being undesirable for future Emeryville residential development proposals:

  • 100% rental, no for sale units
  • No affordable units
  • Automobile dependent
  •  Not family friendly
  • No guarantee for locally serving non-formula chain retail
  • Exacerbates Emeryville's existing bad ratio of residents per acre of park/open space

The bullet points above are taken from goals highlighted by Emeryville's planning documents.  The Market Place project runs afoul of the following City Hall documents:

  • The General Plan
  • The Housing Element
  • The Family Friendly Design Guidelines

After a 25 year building spree has left only three sites to get housing right in Emeryville, residents know the kind of housing development found in the Market Place proposal is flawed.  A contrite Mayor Atkin assured everyone she agrees the residential development that's been built over the last many years has been flawed.  Regardless of the fact that as a five term Council member, she herself has voted for all that flawed development, Ms Atkin has assured Emeryville residents now she gets it and this time she will deliver a Market Place development in line with what the residents have said they want.  However time is running short for Ms Atkin's plan to take shape and it appears with the vote to approve the first Market Place parcel already having been cast, the Planning Commission is simply doing what it has always done with regard to project approvals.  At this point, Ms Atkin's plan will require the Planning Commission's first vote on the Market Place be overturned.

The Planning Commission will continue to approve the project on a parcel by parcel basis and the City Council will vote on the final development agreement for the Market Place project sometime probably in August.  Watch this space.

President Richard Nixon
In 1968 before the election, Mr Nixon indicated he 
had a secret plan to end the war in Vietnam.  
Strangely, he refused to give details on the plan.  
The war continued on.

Mayor Ruth Atkin
She intimated she also has a secret plan:
 to bring better housing to Emeryville.
Like Nixon, she too has not given any

details for how it will be achieved.  
We hope for the resident's sake, it 
works out better than Nixon's plan.


  1. "Deluxe White People"? What's that supposed to mean?

    1. It refers to the higher levels of income and higher albedo levels among Emeryville's newest residents populating our new housing we've been building.

  2. The war finally did end so Nixon's secret plan did work. It just took longer than he said. Maybe the Atkin plan will work too. After those three sites are approved and built, we'll have a good plan just in case a developer wants to tear down a new apartment building and rebuild it.

    1. Great point! We may not get justice in this world but in the next world the last will be first!