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Friday, November 2, 2018

City Council Candidates Questionnaire 2018: Scott Donahue

Presenting the Tattler's 2018 City Council Candidates Questionnaire.  Three candidates are running, Ken Bukowski, Scott Donahue (incumbent) and Dianne Martinez (incumbent) and their names were randomly selected for the order of presentation.

Scott Donahue
Council member/ Artist

Do you favor implementing or amending Emeryville’s General Plan rather than ignoring it as a general rule?
The general plan is a direction, not a prescription.

Name the three biggest problems facing Emeryville right now and how would you deal with them?
1. Homelessness- Build supportive housing. Pressure Caltrans on the space behind Home Depot for health and safety cleanup. Continue to contribute to regional homeless social services.
2. Affordable housing- Build more affordable housing.
3. Improve our schools- Elect Sarah Nguyen, Brynnda Collins and Susan Donaldson for school board.

Our General Plan has much in it that isn’t being realized, especially in the areas generally known as ‘livability’; measurable things such as parks, bicycling accommodation, or even intangibles like the need to create a “memorable” place.  During election season, politicians sometimes demagogue the things that are wanted but aren’t getting implemented.  Acknowledging these livability issues specifically, how can voters recognize when a politician is playing the role of a demagogue?
Voters should assume all politicians are demagogues and then elect the most qualified ones to serve as actual council members.

City planners universally measure park and open space in terms of ‘level of service’ calculated by number of residents or users per acre of park land.  Using these metrics, Emeryville is shown to be below average among cities our size or indeed for any city in the Bay Area*.  How can we get closer to average Bay Area levels of service for park land?
Get your facts straight, Tattler. Currently Berkeley has more 
residents per acre of parks than Emeryville. With current population, 
Berkeley has 516 residents per acre of Park, whereas Emeryville has 453 residents per acre of Park. Oakland is the exception with 67 residents per acre of Park, owing to the extensive parkland in the hills like Redwood Park. The issue has to do with developed parks for people who live in cities and would like to access parks by walking or biking.

The General Plan calls for 26 acres of new park land to be furnished by 2029, the date the Plan expires.  However, since the Plan’s certification in 2009, Emeryville has added only approximately two and a half acres*.  Acknowledging it should reflect the desired and possible, do you think our General Plan should be amended to show less park acreage than it now proposes, owing to the reality of the large amount park land?
This question requires a lot more study to have a cogent answer. 

According to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and its corollary planning document, the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA), our town now has more than 200% of our recommended market rate housing.  Do you feel it’s more important to keep adding to this number than to build more park space?  Will your tenure on the City Council reflect your views on this? 
I disagree with the premise of this question.

Over the last 25 years Emeryville has morphed from a city of homeowners into a city of renters* as developers seek to maximize profits by building lots of rental only apartment buildings.  Is this something you’re satisfied with?  If not, how will you address this issue? 
No, I am not satisfied with the city becoming so renter-oriented.  I've also pledged to act within the parameters of the Constitution of California and the Constitution of the United States. Property rights are a part of both of those constitutions. However, the voters of California may choose to support proposition 10 which could have the effect in our city of causing rental units to become ownership condo units. Could the city help Emeryville renters purchase these potential 
future condos? There might be a way.

For more than 10 years, vehicle traffic on the 53rd and 45th street bicycle boulevards have exceeded the number allowed by the Bike Plan, despite its deadlines that have come and gone.  The newest deadline facing the City to calm traffic as the Plan provides is September 14th, 2019.  Will you commit to either following the Bike Plan or amending it for these two streets? 

What are your views on Emeryville’s parking plan?
We start implementing what we've approved in the North Hollis area. 
Then we study the effects of the new parking plan are and go from there 
to consider other areas of our city.

In 2010 Emeryville voters authorized and property owners paid for a public library at ECCL.  The voter’s will has been ignored and the library has not been provided.  Will you make getting this library a priority during your tenure?

The General Plan provides for housing to be built in our town in certain areas.  The Plan gives guidance as to particulars for all housing; things like density, massing, etc. North Emeryville and the Triangle neighborhood have a plethora of traditional detached single family homes that the Plan addresses.  What do you think the General Plan has in mind for these neighborhoods, specifically set aside and identified as ‘Areas of Stability’ as opposed to other housing neighborhoods in Emeryville?  Why is the word ‘stability’ used and how does that differ from the other housing without that protection?
Not only does this area have a number of single-family homes it has a plethora of secondary units on those properties. We will continue to allow secondary units in this area.

Since its certification in 2009, the Urban Forestry Ordinance has failed to protect our street trees (only two were saved)*.  Also, developers who cut down our trees are supposed to pay fees as the UFO delineates but they have almost universally not been levied*.  Would you favor amending the UFO to reflect reality at City Hall; the desire to make it easier to let developers cut down our street trees and not pay us for it?
I would enforce our Urban Forestry Ordinance.

How can Emeryville get more locally serving non-formula retail (a stated goal of the General Plan)? 
Create a vacancy tax and better specifications for retail.

How can we know if Emeryville’s family friendly housing policy is successful?  
If we get more families.

If an inexpensive and easy way is found to provide both, 1) security needed for the police station as well as, 2) a California Fire Code approved fire escape for the second floor public lobby there, would you commit to a public inquiry into that with a mind to fixing what the City Manager calls a "less than ideal" situation?
Yes if inexpensive includes police time in the calculation.

Are you concerned with the militarization of Emeryville’s police forces, specifically the issuance of AR-15 Assault Rifles.  How about .50 caliber rifles or weapons with even greater lethality in the future?  Some cities have not gone down this path.  Should the public specifically be part of the debate about this in Emeryville?
The AR 15 rifle has been presented at the safety committee as one of our use of force tools. I am satisfied with our police department’s training for how and when this weapon can be used to protect the public.  .50 caliber rifles are true military weapons and none of the criminals so far have advanced to organize military status where this weapon would be needed. If it is needed, it's not policing but rather war. We do not need weapons of greater lethality than the AR 15. We need a professional well-trained police force that can avoid the use of lethal weapons.

Questions for Incumbents Only:

The Sherwin Williams project approval will not help Emeryville housing affordability (comes in at about 11%* which is equal to our existing percentage) and the park acreage to be built will actually take Emeryville backward (527 Residents Per Acre versus Emeryville’s existing 472 RPA* ).  Also, as part of the approval, you signed a ‘Statement of Overriding Concerns’ that explained how this project is more important than building the Horton Street Bike Boulevard as per our Bike Plan's specifications.  Given the park and bike problems associated with this project and considering our 200% of ABAG recommended market rate housing already built in Emeryville, why did you feel it was so important to OK this project?
I think your Park-acreage per resident facts are incorrect. The project itself has 17% affordable housing new park space and a shuttle to West Oakland Bart available to all Emeryville residents. Yes, our neighborhood will be more urban but we are getting amenities for the entire neighborhood.

In 2014 when you ran the first time, you both pledged to deliver ‘level four’ traffic calming for the Horton Street Bike Boulevard because the street was at ‘level three’ and the Bike Plan called for the next level to be implemented.   A traffic count conducted before the election showed excess vehicle traffic on the street, necessitating the installation of level four traffic calming measures (as laid out in the Bike Plan).  After the election, instead of bringing level four traffic calming, you both instead installed a new level three measure, thereby contradicting your promise.  The Tattler several times asked for explanation from the two of you but you both chose not to explain your change of heart on this matter.  Will you now tell Emeryville citizens why you did what you did?
We chose traffic calming on Horton Street that we believed would be safest for bicyclists and pedestrians. When the traffic counts were last taken we came in under the amount specified for the street. After the Sherwin-Williams project is developed we will need to revisit our bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure on Horton Street.

*Source: the City of Emeryville

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