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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire: Brynnda Collins Police, Bikes, Families & Density

Brynnda Collins:
On Police, Bikes, Families & Density

The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire.  Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.  
The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire.  Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work. 
There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered this our second questionnaire save candidate for City Council Ally Medina.  

Brynnda Collins
I have established residency in Emeryville over 12 years ago. During this time, I have worked for our school district and our city. I am the proud parent of 23 year old School Board Trustee Brittany Collins-Rogers. While raising my daughter as a single parent, I completed course work with Harvard University earning a certificate of completion in Teaching for Understanding. My character and leadership – both, courageous and strong insure my positive impact on behalf of the citizens of Emeryville.
As a Youth Development Coordinator, I am passionate about serving our children and elders and building the capacity of others to create positive change. Using a proven track record for building networks and effective personal relationships, I am poised to facilitate courageous conversations and take action addressing issues like affordable housing and rent control, equitable access to City services and spaces, student achievement, and civic engagement. Bridging the gap between city, schools and community across divides like class, generation and race, I  am focused on moving forward with affordability, sustainability, public safety, housing the un-housed, safe biking and creating a greener Emeryville all with great transparency. I am prepared to lead Emeryville forward with action!

Section 5 Police
After last year’s shooting of Yuvette Henderson by Emeryville police using a Colt AR-15 assault rifle, community members became alarmed to learn our police had quietly been issued these weapons and that they’re now routinely driving around with them as a matter of course. The City has used resources to tamp down citizens attempting to have a public debate about the wisdom of this militarism of our police department, specifically the routine carrying of these high powered rifles by contending these weapons are not assault rifles, directly contradicting the State of California’s finding that they are assault rifles. Police Departments up and down the State disagree with EPD. San Francisco PD, Oakland PD and San Jose PD among others say AR-15’s are assault rifles. The NRA agrees with the Chief that AR-15s are not assault rifles.

Tattler:  Do the people have a right to know how it is that the City of Emeryville has determined the State of California is wrong about the nature of AR-15s since they (the people) are paying for them in Emeryville?
Brynnda Collins:  Yes, the people have a right to gain deeper understanding in regards to AR-15’s and the need for them in our city. The Emeryville Police Department also has the right to justify why it is they routinely drive around with them and what safety measures are in place as a rule. As a matter of developing deeper transparency we need to engage in conversation relating to gun control and what weapons will better serve and protect the citizens of Emeryville.

Section 6 Bicycling Transportation

Tattler:  Do you support Emeryville’s Bike Boulevard metric of no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day (vtd) for all bike boulevards west of Hollis Street?
Brynnda Collins:  The metric used to monitor the boulevards are according to the city’s promise to monitor the goals measuring speed, motor vehicle volume and intersection traffic. The data provided does not seem to be updated. I have been looking to gain greater understanding in the City’s Pedestrian Bicycle Plan.
Section 7 Families
Emeryville is the least family friendly city in the whole East Bay and, distressingly as we continue to grow, becomes less family friendly over time; this even as we conspicuously build an ambitious new school campus. Developers, insisting over the years family friendly housing “won’t pencil out” economically (but their books are closed), have pushed back against the odd City Council member that has called on them to fix this problem. Notably over one crucial ten year period ending a few years ago, Emeryville actually lost families (in real numbers, not just as a ratio), even as the town doubled in population during the same period.

Tattler: To catch up with neighboring cities (and to erase a source of municipal embarrassment), Emeryville will need to provide virtually 100% family friendly housing from here on out, especially when one considers that our town is almost completely ‘built out’ at this point. Do you feel the ‘family friendly housing ordinance’, recently passed by the City Council, is up to the task of reversing this trend and delivering a city on par with our municipal neighbors?

Brynnda Collins:  Emeryville may not be the greatest family friendly place to live, however, I would not like to call it the least family friendly either. It’s not only what needs to be built to call us family friendly. Making affordable what is already built will allow Emeryville to retain residence. Until we have an ordinance passed that address the controlling of rent and exercise fairness to the renters and home buyers we will never achieve our goal of providing 100% family friendly housing. The ordinance recently passed is up to the task of addressing this trend however it may not reverse it. Making Emeryville  affordable will keep our families in their homes.         
Section 8 Density
With the advent of ‘smart growth’, city planners have recognized the advantages and even the desirability of increasing housing density in urban areas. This is well documented and developers have taken advantage of this new paradigm. However, as with all fads, in the rush to embrace it, sometimes critical former knowledge becomes lost. Problems associated with too much density are being disregarded and a new ‘supply and demand’ axiom has taken the place of our formerly near universal acknowledgment that there can be too much density.

Tattler:  How much density is too much density? What are the warning signs that too much density has been foisted upon us?
Brynnda Collins:  As in all things density is a matter of balance. When you have city services that can no longer serve the community, is a major red light that too much density has been foisted upon us.    
Section 9 General/Miscellaneous

Tattler:  Emeryville’s business pay taxes to City Hall based on gross receipts. The largest businesses pay taxes at a much lower rate than smaller businesses because a former City Council majority placed a cap on taxes for all receipts higher than a certain amount, meaning those receipts are tax free; a classic regressive tax. Would you continue this regressive business tax structure, make it flat or make it progressive (larger businesses pay at a high rate than small business)?
Brynnda Collins:  I would not continue this regressive business tax structure. We need to support our small businesses by not making them carry the burden of paying higher taxes. The large businesses need to pay what their receipts are worth just as the small businesses are required. This is classic example of the rich get richer and the poor stay poor. It’s all about moving Emeryville forward in a progressive manner.
Tattler:  What Council members do you hold in high esteem, now and in the past? What Council members have done a poor job?
Brynnda Collins:  Our Council members are selected by the voters and we should therefore hold them all in high esteem. I have respect for all Council members past, current and will continue to respect those in the future. We may not always agree with them but we need to respect them as the body that has been elected to govern our city. As far as the job they have done, I am personally not comfortable with this choice of questioning and feel as if it is created to cause divides throughout our community.

Tattler:  Conservative City Council members have long conflated business interests with resident’s interests as they have gone about forwarding their pro-business agenda. This governing philosophy has led us to where we are now leaving so many residents are clamoring for change. Do you feel a need to conflate business interests with residents interests? How do you see the two groups interests as disparate insofar as you do?

Brynnda Collins:  The business community should balance with the strength of our community involvement. The two go hand in hand in helping to develop a strong, vibrant, progressive Emeryville. With the vote of the community, I will lead us to the needed change as we move forward to building community making Emeryville livable.


  1. In an otherwise good exchange, it was misguided for the Tattler to ask which council members, past and present, Bryndda Collins held in high esteem. Collins gave the right response.

    1. That's one way to look at it. Another one would be for candidates to use the question as a chance to inform voters about their general governing philosophy. This way of looking at it acknowledges the paradigm shift that occurred in 2014 when a resident friendly (relatively at least) City Council took command versus the longstanding developer friendly Council that proceeded it. The candidates now could identify how they view that shift by selecting representatives form either side to either praise or scorn as they see fit. Or they could not answer, and that tells us about them as well. Either way, the voters are informed and all is good.