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Sunday, November 4, 2018

City Council Candidates Questionnaire 2018: Dianne Martinez

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.

Dianne Martinez
Council member/Parent

Do you favor implementing or amending Emeryville’s General Plan rather than ignoring it as a general rule?
Emeryville’s General Plan sets forth principals and goals.  Are there times when we need to amend our General Plan to account for unforeseen circumstances? Yes. That doesn’t mean that the spirit of the document has been violated. 

Name the three biggest problems facing Emeryville right now and how would you deal with them?
1) Housing Affordability – The Emeryville community recently passed a $50M affordable housing bond.  Council will be working diligently to prioritize projects that will leverage additional funding, and have the greatest impact.

2) Homelessness – The City has increased its investment into homeless services and expanded its homeless strategy to include support for a regional coordinated entry system, shelter beds and more. I will continue to support our efforts to get people off of the streets and to keep vulnerable residents from losing their homes. 

3) Income Inequality – I’ve worked to institute a minimum wage that is a living wage, and a Fair Workweek policy that gives scheduling notice to our retail and fast food workers so that they can plan their lives. I am in favor of keeping labor policy enforcement strong in the City.

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? 
In 2014, [Council member] Scott [Donahue] and I did campaign with “livability” as one of the tenets of our joint platform.  In our time on Council, we have expanded the Emeryville greenway, and after many years of negotiation,  we’re close to breaking ground on the South Bayfront Pedestrian / Bicycle Bridge.  We also worked for a secure source of funding for the Emery Go-Round until 2023.

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 well 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?
Our General Plan calls for more green space, and I’m confident that the City will have real opportunities to realize this goal in the next ten years.  I think that the residents per acre of parkland calculation can be useful in order to compare cities to one another, however, I believe that this measure does not stand alone when looking at the overall health of a City. 

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 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?
I don’t think the General Plan needs to be amended.  I think we need to keep lofty goals.  As a County, we have a goal of less than 10% compostable or recyclable matter in our landfills by 2020.  Are we close to that goal? No. Has that been our North Star for setting policy that is getting us closer to that goal? Yes. 

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 think the biggest problem in the Bay Area (and in California) is our lack of affordable housing, and the lack of housing in general.  My tenure on Council will reflect this prioritization. 

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? 
Home ownership is definitely better than rentals when you’re trying to create a deeply rooted and invested community. As a Council we can encourage, but not mandate, that residences be developed for purchase and not rental.  We can focus some of the proceeds of our recent affordable housing bond measure to create more ownership opportunities. 

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? 
I'm willing to look at the data and make an informed decision. 

What are your views on Emeryville’s parking plan?
The parking plan is coming back before Council on October 30th.  As you know, we have a new City Manager, and her analysis has not yet been presented to us. I do believe we need parking management. 

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?
“Areas of Stability” is a phrase that appears in our General Plan. This does not mean there will be no change.

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?
From my point of view, Council (especially our mayor) and staff have worked diligently to carefully consider the removal of trees.  I know of many trees that private entities have lobbied to remove, but have been saved. 

How can Emeryville get more locally serving non-formula retail (a stated goal of the General Plan)? 
Brick and mortar retail is suffering as an industry, across the nation. The General Plan was written before this trend.  One exception is cannabis related retail, which I have worked to bring to our City, beginning with my work in 2016 to lift our outright ban on cannabis and cannabis delivery.  Now we have one operational dispensary and another on the way.  Council has proposed a competitive tax scheme that should attract more businesses in the manufacturing, testing, and distribution sectors.  I believe that creating a strong cannabis business center will indirectly and directly benefit other businesses in Emeryville.

How can we know if Emeryville’s family friendly housing policy is successful?  
I presume you are asking about our Family Friendly Design Guidelines.  One measure would be whether or not families are staying in Emeryville and keeping their children in our schools. 

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?
We have already addressed this issue at Council.  

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?
I have a problem with members of the public having access to AR-15s.  As pertains to Emeryville Police Department, I’m more concerned with “use of force” policy and de-escalation tactics than the actual tools they use to do their jobs. 

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 take issue with the assumptions made in your question, but I’ll be brief in my answer.  We are in a housing and affordability crisis – the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime.  We are 2 million units short in the state. I think the ABAG recommendations are too low, and I don’t think that we stop building housing when we get to a recommended number when there are people on our streets and people at risk of losing their homes. 

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?
I accepted the staff recommendation.  To my memory, this was approved by the BPAC as well. Also to my memory, not one member of the BPAC came to the Council to speak against the staff recommendation. 

*Source: the City of Emeryville

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