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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Revenue Numbers From Contested Real Estate Tax Reveal $3.4 Million Boon For City Hall

Real Estate Transfer Tax Rains Money 
on Emeryville

Emeryville's general fund received $3.4 million in calendar year 2015 under a new real estate transfer tax voted in by the electorate in November of 2014 according City Hall, an amount far exceeding what the City has hauled in during any other year for these transactions.  The tax, called the Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT), was dramatically increased when Emeryville voters passed 2014's Measures U&V that transformed the town into a 'charter city' that enabled the revenue increase on real estate transfers and was panned in the run up to the election by the business community and outside lobbying groups including the powerful Sacramento based California Association of Realtors.

Jac Asher

Urged passage of the
real estate transfer tax
in spite of dire warnings
from Sacramento lobbyists. 
The formerly cash strapped Emeryville took in a $3,397595 windfall for 2015, the first full year of transfer taxes at the new rate which became effective on January 1st, 2015 the City announced last week.  This compares to calendar year 2014 under the old tax rate when the City took in just $475,001 despite a vigorous real estate churn.  Before Emeryville voters approved the switch, real estate taxes were charged at the rate of 55 cents per $1000 of value, the maximum a 'General Law' city can charge versus unlimited but set at $12 by the City Council now that Emeryville is a 'Charter City'.  By comparison, one real estate transfer last year, the sale of Emery Tech on Hollis Street, netted City Hall's coffers more than a million dollars alone.

Supporters of the Charter City Initiative, including its chief backer and progenitor Councilwoman Jac Asher, told voters before the November 2014 election much revenue could be gained by raising the tax rate and the numbers released last week tend to vindicate Ms Asher.
Emeryville had stood alone as a general law city among its charter city neighbors Ms Asher reminded voters and the City Hall had left some $21 million on the table with its former anemic 55 cent rate over the last few years.
Jason Crouch
Real estate salesman
and former Chair of the
Emeryville Chamber of Commerce:
If Emeryville voters approve
this real estate transfer fee,
"It's the beginning of the end
for Emeryville". 
The NO on Measures U&V side said passage of the Charter City Initiative and the increasing of the real estate transfer tax would bring a domino effect of general business failure and real estate collapse to Emeryville, even possible bankruptcy for City Hall.  Former Chamber of Commerce Chair Jason Crouch posited himself as point man for the NO on Measures U&V and he hosted public forums warning of the dire consequences to befall Emeryville if the voters said yes to the higher tax rate even though at $12 per $1000, the new rate is still lower than what Berkeley or Oakland charges.  "It will be the beginning of the end for the Emeryville we know and love" the Vallejo resident said.

Voters soundly rejected incessant pleadings in the 2014 election from the NO side in the form of volumes of mailers from portions of the Emeryville business community and especially the California Real Estate Association who dumped more than $85,000 to defeat the two measures.

The money from the new tax, more than $300 for every woman, man and child in Emeryville, pays for among other things, sidewalk repair, park maintenance, street maintenance, landscaping and other needed infrastructure work.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Emeryville Police: What's Next? AR-15 Assault Rifles on Bikes?

Shouldn't Cops on Bikes Be Able to Shoot Through Concrete Block Walls Like their Car Driving Counterparts?

Emeryville's new Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada commented at the 'Goal Setting Workshop' meeting on Saturday at City Hall, she would like to see electric bicycles for the police to patrol with.  She seemed to be very passionate about it.  We think it's a great idea...get the police out of their cars and mix with the community more.  You know, 'community policing' and all.

We have a modest proposal to add to that; how about if Chief Tejada adds some AR-15 assault rifles to the bikes?  The Chief says the bad guys are arming themselves with these high powered assault rifles and there's a 'war on police' so we figure just because our police officers are on bikes, why should they be exposed?  Shouldn't they be armed to the teeth with 3200 ft/sec armor piercing projectile velocity, 1300 foot pounds of muzzle kinetic energy weapons just like Emeryville's car riding cops are?  Rounds from these rifles can go right through a concrete block wall or three bad guys standing in a line so why shouldn't our guys riding the bikes be able to do likewise?  We think this is a wonderful marriage between Chief Tejada's insistence that Emeryville police be driving around armed with AR-15 assault rifles and her new found love of cops on bikes.

Next year watch for rocket propelled grenade launchers mounted on Emeryville police bicycles as the 'war on police' continues.  Coming soon to your neighborhood; cops on bikes with RPG launchers (can SAM Surface to Air Missile launchers be far off?).
An AR-15 slung over the shoulder is nice but...

Look how much better this rear mount scabbard is.
All that's missing is the Emeryville Police Department logo
on the bike.

The front handlebar mount style is great
for rapid aim and fire. Wonderful for
rapidly "raining death" on punks.

Then of course there's the ever popular
front scabbard mount to deliver a wall of
lead to the bad guys.

Let's not forget Emeryville motorcycle cops need
massive firepower too.  AR-15's for everybody!

This nice piece of flaming deadly firepower
could be drawn in seconds.

But we like the 'shoot 'n skoot' headstock mount the best.
No need to even stop riding.
Emeryville cops could REALLY put the hurt on the
bad guys with these!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project: 'Cars Are Good, Bikes Are Incompatable'

Sherwin Williams Primer:
'Bike Boulevards Not Acceptable'

EIR Says Glut of Cars Should Push Bikes Out
If All Goes to Plan 

There's only one way the 540 unit Sherwin Williams project gets built; and that's by accommodating its glut of cars seeking its 1000 parking spaces by getting rid of Emeryville's General Plan mandated Bike Boulevards on Horton Street (as well as 45th and 53rd streets) according to City Hall and the environmental document it directed for the project.
But it wasn't supposed to be this way. The document prepared to study the effects of the Sherwin Williams residential building development proposal that has been written that precludes the three planned bicycle boulevards was specifically supposed to accommodate the bike transit corridors in its traffic analysis.  Emeryville's Directors of Planning and Public Works made an executive decision as it turns out, to only study one traffic scenario for the project; one that disregards the three bike boulevards.  The document was supposed to assist the City Council in their decision about the Sherwin Williams proposal as if bike boulevards could coexist with the cars.

"It didn't occur to us" 
to accommodate bike boulevards
-Charlie Bryant 
Emeryville Planning Director

The State mandated document, called the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DIER), was prepared by Maurice Kaufman, City Hall's Public Works Department Director as well as Planning Department Director Charlie Bryant by deleting from the City's General Plan the bike boulevards and moving the project forward with a field leveling, full steam ahead Statement of Overriding Consideration for the City Council to sign.  Alternatively, the bike boulevard standards quantified by the Emeryville's Bike Plan (part of the General Plan), could be "loosened" by amending the Bike Plan to permit the piling of more cars onto the bike corridors Mr Kaufman told the Tattler Wednesday.  However Emeryville's allowance of 3000 vehicles on its bike boulevards is already very high by national standards, "That's probably too high" Steve Clark, the 'bike friendly community director' at the League of American Bicyclists told the Tattler last summer.  Regardless, four years ago, Emeryville's Bike Plan was recognized by the League as good enough to award the city with the designation 'bicycle friendly city'.

Emeryville's General Plan provides for no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day on the three bike boulevards and provides a remedy of traffic diverters to maintain that metric.  Mr Kaufman and Mr Bryant directed the DEIR to assume two 'half diverters' for Horton Street, one at 40th Street and one at 53rd Street that would permit southbound traffic only and northbound traffic only respectively, in order to try to bring down the number of vehicles on the street but the study reveals the remaining traffic would still exceed the 3000 vehicles per day limit as the Bike Plan spells out.  The scenario studied in the DEIR calls for no diverters for either 45th Street Bike Boulevard or the 53rd Street Bike Boulevard.
Directors Bryant (L) and Kaufman (R)
Bike boulevards are only possible
"If you loosen your standards" (Kaufman)

 because "It didn't occur to us" (Bryant)
 to accommodate bikes (as mandated 
by the General Plan).
The DEIR could have studied the traffic effects of the Sherwin Williams project with enough diverters on the bike boulevards to accommodate Emeryville's Bike Plan but Planning Director Bryant told the Tattler that idea wasn't entertained, "That didn't occur to us" he said.  For its part, LSA Associates, the firm that actually wrote the DEIR thinks the two half diverters as proposed by City Hall, while not adequate to save the bike boulevards, are the "maximum that is feasible", a representative told the Tattler.

The public is allowed to comment on the DEIR and any comments received will be reflected in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as well as any responses deemed reasonable from LSA Associates.  Commenters should contact the City of Emeryville.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Protest March in Emeryville May Have Been Largest in History

Monday's Martin Luther King Day protest march in Emeryville was joined by "hundreds" according to the Emeryville Police Department.  The civil disobedience was peaceful; no vandalism or criminal activity save the blocking of streets was reported by the police.
Protestors are concerned about the Emeryville police shooting of Yuvette Henderson last year with a high powered AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon the citizens have recently learned the EPD now carries as a matter of routine in their patrol cars.  The arming by Emeryville police of these assault rifles has sparked a debate among residents and the City Council promises to look into the issue with police use of deadly force protocols being reviewed according to Councilman Scott Donahue, Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

The crowd started out in Oakland's
Oscar Grant Plaza at city hall thousands strong...
all ages, races & demographics.

East Bay Bridge Mall
Emeryville's suburban style shopping malls were
transected along the march route.

Over the 40th Street Bridge and past another
Emeryville shopping icon: Ikea...

Many 'inconvenienced'' drivers were supportive.

The Bay Street Mall
Into the holy of holies for Emeryville: the BSM,
what passes for our city center downtown.
A substantive protest has never ventured into
this mall before Monday.

Down Shellmound Street...

The intersection of 40th and Ohlone street was blocked
for an hour and a half.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bay Street Mall to be Site of Major Protest Action

A protest action to call attention to an uptick in unwarranted police killings of people is planned for Emeryville's Bay Street Mall on Monday that may end up being the largest protest march in Emeryville history.  A consortium of Bay Area social justice activist groups including Black Lives Matter, Reclaim Martin Luther King, MLK Shut it Down and the Anti-Police Terror Project sponsored by the activist collective 96 Hours of Action will conduct a march from Oscar Grant Plaza at Oakland City Hall at 14th & Broadway to the Bay Street Mall in Emeryville to protest the killings by police in general and specifically in Oakland (some eight black men killed since last June alone) and the Emeryville Police killing of Yuvette Henderson last year are cited by organizers as among the reasons for the protest march.
Oakland ranks third in police killings per million people in 60 of the nation's largest cities.
More than one thousand people have indicated a willingness to participate in Monday's march organizers have noted.

The largest protest march in Emeryville history up until now was a hundreds strong November 2008 march from the Bay Street Mall to City Hall to protest the Woodfin Suites Hotel and their refusal to pay their workers the increased minimum wage mandated by 2005's Measure C, the Living Wage for Hotel Workers.

Monday, protesters will march from downtown Oakland to Bay Street in Emeryville from 11 AM to 4 PM organizers say.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

RULE Meeting

Residents United For A Livable Emeryville
Come and meet your progressive neighbors and make Emeryville what you want it to be!
Our next meeting will be: Sunday, Jan. 17, from 4:00-6:00 pm (Note:date change from Jan.10 due to Steering Committee scheduling issues)
Artists' Co Op, 1420 45th St. at Horton
(Someone will let you in...meeting room is just inside the door.)

Facilitator:  Lillian Schroth
Note taker:  Judy Timmel
-Police Use of Force issues...................Sarah Harper
-(Possibly) Fair Work Week practices...............EBASE
-Next City Council election: identifying candidates........Steering Committee
-Committee reports
(Adjustments to agenda may be made)

Bring Snacks; tea provided
Hope to see you there!

For more info call 

Judy Timmel, RULE Steering Committee

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Emeryville's New Motto?

"City of Techie Dorms and Suburban Malls"
Most of Emeryville's neighboring cities have a flag or a logo and a motto.  The idea of the motto is to celebrate identifying features of the city, what makes that city unique.  Emeryville already has a spiffy 1970's supergraphic logo...we need to add a motto that celebrates who we are.  A modest proposal:
"City of Pride and Purpose"
"The Bright Side of the Bay"

"The Island City"
"City of Homes and Beaches"
San Francisco
"Baghdad by the Bay"

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Emeryville's Minimum Wage Ordinance Featured in 'The Nation'

Emeryville's new Minimum Wage Ordinance is featured in The Nation:

This Is What $15 an Hour Looks Like

In July, Emeryville, California, passed the highest city-wide minimum wage in the country. Here’s how workers’ lives changed—and didn’t.

On a crisp November morning in Oakland, 50 people dressed in red T-shirts burst into a McDonald’s, bringing breakfast orders to a halt. From behind the counter, several cashiers gaped at the scene, where an orderly line of customers had been replaced by a rowdy crew that bounced and shouted, calling for the restaurant to raise its wages to $15 an hour. A supervisor whipped out her cell phone and began filming. The chant, directed at the workers, grew louder: “Come on out—we’ve got your back!” After giving it some thought, three female employees walked past their supervisor, clocked out, and joined the protesters. The crowd erupted in cheers.
The group, which included striking fast-food workers from across the East Bay, gathered afterward in the parking lot to celebrate. They would hit half a dozen restaurants before the day was over, part of a nationwide movement that has grown to attract low-wage workers across multiple industries. Among the strikers was Shardeja Woolridge, who works part-time at a McDonald’s in the nearby city of Hayward, where she lives with her mother in a two-bedroom apartment. Woolridge earns $9 an hour, California’s minimum wage; her mom receives disability benefits. It’s not nearly enough. They’ve received eviction notices and had their electricity shut off. The 19-year-old recently enrolled at Berkeley City College but struggled to pay for textbooks. “I can hardly buy my own soap or deodorant,” she says. Behind her, workers hoist a red-and-black banner that reads #fightfor15.
I ask Woolridge what might be different if she made $15 an hour. “Whoa,” she says. “Fifteen.” Her eyes turn to the cloudless sky. “Whoa,” she repeats, her voice trailing off. She could help pay the rent. She could stock the fridge with food. She could afford Wi-Fi. Above all, she could finally stop fighting so much with her mom. “We are constantly butting heads,” Woolridge says. “She doesn’t understand that I don’t have money. I’m like, ‘This is really all I make,’ but she can’t get it.”
The movement for a $15 minimum wage began three years earlier, on a chilly fall morning in 2012, when 200 fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City. Their demand was audacious: $15 an hour was more than twice what many of them earned. But more strikes and protests followed, with the movement spreading quickly, driven by workers like Woolridge. What had started as a targeted campaign under the slogan “Fast Food Forward” grew to include low-wage workers across numerous industries.
Movements are built on big, bold, aspirational demands,” says David Rolf, president of SEIU 775, who led the fight in 2013 for the $15 minimum-wage ordinance in SeaTac, Washington, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Rolf credits the Fight for $15 with shaping a “monumental shift in political discourse.” It’s not just that Bernie Sanders is championing the cause; during a recent Republican presidential debate, the first question to candidates was whether they supported the increase. The Fight for $15 has become the rare labor fight that is too big to ignore.
Still, for workers like Woolridge, a $15 minimum wage remains a bold thought experiment. Certain cities have adopted the $15 standard, but their rollouts have tended to be gradual: Seattle’s minimum wage for large employers will reach $15 in 2017, Los Angeles’s in 2020. Yet if we walked one block west of this McDonald’s in Oakland, we would enter the city of Emeryville, where, last July, the minimum wage for many workers jumped to $14.44 overnight. And now that Emeryville boasts the highest citywide minimum wage in the country—one that approaches and will eventually surpass $15 an hour—it has become a testing ground of sorts. When workers at the bottom of the economy suddenly receive a significant bump in pay, what changes? What doesn’t?

For the rest of the story click HERE.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015: A Watershed Year For Emeryville Residents

Year End Wrap Up:
In 2015 Emeryville Policy Turned Towards Residents, Away From Business 

Two Unprecedented & Consequential Decisions

More than a five changing to a six.
Real, fundamental and lasting change came
to Emeryville in 2015.
As 2015 fades from the rear view mirror in Emeryville, two incontrovertible and unprecedented City Council decisions made over the year stand as harbingers of a new pro-resident culture for our town: the landmark Minimum Wage Ordinance and the bellwether Market Place decision.  Emeryville's long standing regional reputation as a pro-business town died at the hands of these two game changing public policy decisions, making 2015 a year to remember; a year when residents replaced the business community as the power to be contended with here.  It was change shepherded along by the first year of the new progressive City Council majority of Jac Asher, Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue. 

1- The Minimum Wage Ordinance
 Emeryville's City Council took on the intractable problem of increasing income inequality in 2015 (after years of exacerbating it by overseeing an Emeryville service sector building boom) with our new Minimum Wage Ordinance, putting every worker in town on a path to $15 per hour plus guaranteed paid sick leave.
Emeryville being a small town smack in the middle of the hottest economic region in the United States seemed like a likely place to take on growing inequality in our nation, a rare issue something all five City Council members could agree upon.  The amount per hour the Council settled on ($14.44 adjusted for inflation) is the amount it would take a worker, putting in 40 hours per week, to be ineligible for government assistance in the form of food stamps and other such programs.  As such, any hourly wage less than that amount effectively represents a taxpayer subsidy to the business sector.

The united City Council faced a united business community against the ordinance, predictably.  As they always do when asked to pay their fair share, those anti-minimum wage, pro-business voices predicted a wholesale failure and exodus of businesses in Emeryville, something that clearly has not happened half a year after the implementation of the ordinance.  The new ordinance puts Emeryville on the map as no longer serving to exacerbate regional problems but instead serving as a leader in solving problems.

2- The Market Place Development Decision
In 2015, Emeryville's City Council said NO to a developer.  That had never happened before and the effect has been very consequential and promises to be evermore so moving forward.
The developer in question, City Center Realty, wanted to build the Market Place development, a series of rental apartment towers clustered around the Public Market on Shellmound Street, some 456 units total.  The new progressive City Council said they wanted more affordable rental units than what City Center Realty proposed.  The Council wanted at least 50 units of affordable housing but the developer said they could only make the whole project profitable by building no more than 33 units...any more than that and the project "won't pencil out" City Center said.  The Council held firm as well on the new Family Friendly Housing Ordinance, something City Center said they also couldn't afford.
The City Council didn't buy that from the developer and they held their ground: 50 units or no project they said.  The developer threatened to build the project without ANY affordable units as a result of the Council's audacity.  That's when the right wing in Emeryville started screaming that the Council must do as the developer said; all pretty standard fare for Emeryville so far but the Council majority still said exceptional thing.
And then the developer caved on the affordability and the family friendly units.
Emeryville will now get 50 units of affordable housing; the same percentage rate (50:456) as exists now in the aggregate in the whole town; the Market Place development will not make Emeryville less affordable as a result of the City Council holding firm.

The Market Place decision is a game changer because it removes the former argument always posited by the right wing in Emeryville that if we don't do everything every developer says, they'll pack up and leave town: a horrible prospect for our town they say every time.  Now we know for sure: developers will lie to get their projects built and maximize their profits.  When they say a revision to their proposal won't pencil out, we know they're lying.  This new empowerment of City Hall over developers promises to have profound effects on all future development in Emeryville; now we get to have planning in our town, just like other towns.