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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nora Davis Revisionism Runs Rampant

It's Set to Be Nora Davis This and Nora Davis That in Emeryville in 2021

Never Mind She Didn't Approve of Any of This Stuff

They're Now Crediting Her With

After her passing in 2020, revisionists look to redefine the former 
Councilwoman as something she was not.

Opinion

Following former City Councilwoman Nora Davis’ passing in August 2020, there’s a movement among some in town to name a host of Emeryville public works after the long time Council veteran.  At least three such public works and one private building are being considered for recognition of the former Councilwoman: Nora Davis Station (the Emeryville Amtrak station), Nora Davis Park (Doyle Hollis Park), Nora Davis Senior Center (the Emeryville Senior Center) and Nora Davis Bridge (the South Bayfront Bridge).  This is a terrible idea for Emeryville moving forward and we urge the City Council to reject these name changings that would, in effect, re-write history as they attempt to recognize the Councilwoman’s 29 year long tenure on the Council.

Nora Davis or Fred Koramatsu Bike/Ped Bridge 
One fought against bikes on this bridge
the other fought against racism and for human dignity.
We understand conservatives in our town are lamenting the loss of paradigmatic power they had at City Hall when Councilwoman Davis ran the show but it would be a mistake to use the commons to now pay homage to this person who’s values are decidedly not representative of the Emeryville community today (if they ever were).  Further,  Ms Davis actually worked AGAINST two of the works now being considered to be named after her; Doyle Hollis Park and the South Bayfront Pedestrian/Bike Bridge. 

Consider how Emeryville values are subverted by Councilwoman Nora Davis’ 29 year record (partial list):

-  As Mayor, she lobbied to build a parking structure on the site of the Doyle Hollis Park, working actively against the park idea.

-  While accepting a South Bayfront pedestrian bridge be constructed, Council member Davis advocated against designing it for bicycle use.

-  She voted against implementation of Emeryville’s democratically vetted Pedestrian/Bicycle Plan.

 -  Councilwoman Davis worked against the Minimum Wage Ordinance and even against an earlier plan to increase hotel workers’ wages to $9 per hour claiming it would destroy Emeryville’s hospitality industry.

-  She lobbied against bike/ped paths, claiming without evidence, one proposed at the Center of Community Life would bring “gang rapes” and another mid-block path proposal in the Triangle neighborhood, opining “Triangle neighbors need more exercise”.

-  Ms Davis voted to close down the Emeryville Child Development Center and to privatize it, claiming “We can’t afford it”.

-  She voted in favor of every developer proposal put before her that called for demolishing historically/architecturally significant buildings, leaving the town bereft of these buildings our General Plan had sought to preserve.

-  Ms Davis worked on behalf of the business community, directing public monies to the furtherance of private enterprise as a routine manner, proudly claiming many times, 'Emeryville’s interests are business interests' from the dais.

-  Council member Davis' voting record was a perfect 100% in favor of developer’s initial proposals for housing projects, against negotiating for more family friendly and affordable housing units.

The City of Emeryville will have nothing to say about the renaming of the Amtrak Station after Nora Davis because that building is owned by Wareham Development Corporation.  We understand Wareham CEO Rich Robbins received lots of public largess over the years, monies directed his way by his friend on the City Council, Nora Davis.  We understand the soft spot Ms Davis occupies in Mr Robbins’ heart.  So we recognize Nora Davis Station is likely a done deal for that property owned by Mr Robbins but City owned properties are another matter entirely. It is unseemly at best for the Council to move forward on any of these re-naming proposals.

Nora Davis or Sylvia McLaughlin Park 
At least Sylvia liked parks.

We understand the proclivity for elected officials to recognize when a departed fellow public official had remained on the job for a long time.  But using that metric, why wouldn’t the City Council name these public works after those who stayed in public employ even longer than Ms Davis?  Why wouldn’t the City name these public works after for instance the LaCoste family, who’s members, Al and John served on the City Council, as Mayor and Chief of Police for more than 50 years?  Does it matter these public officials were known corrupt public personages? If this City Council feels that public corruption should serve as a barrier against the honoring by so naming public works, why shouldn’t disloyalty to professed Emeryville values also then serve as a barrier?

If this City Council feels an urge to re-name the South Bayfront Bridge or Doyle Hollis Park or the Emeryville Senior Center, we recommend they honor a previous grand civic tradition for naming public works after great civil rights leaders or environmental leaders.  How about let’s name these public properties after people who actually reflect our values?  May we suggest Fannie Lou Hamer Bridge, Judi Bari Park and the Maggie Kuhn Senior Center?  Or we can keep it more local: the Fred Korematsu Bridge, Sylvia McLaughlin Park and the Bullet Marasigan Senior Center.  Against these luminaries, those who actually worked to increase justice and promote the public commons, Nora Davis just sort of fades.  Maybe it’s because Nora Davis actively disliked some of the things her boosters now want to name after her.  Perhaps the City Council, under pressure from these boosters, will have real empathy towards the former Councilwoman and leave her out of this.  After all, posthumously would you want to be named after something you hated while you were alive?

Nora Davis or Bullet Marasigan Senior Center
One worked for the business community
the other worked for the dispossessed elderly.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Emeryville: Where a Door is Not a Door


Door  \ dȯr \   noun

1: A hinged or otherwise movable barrier that allows ingress into and egress from an enclosure.

Emeryville Door \ ˈem-rē vil  dȯr \  noun

1: A barrier resembling a door that blocks ingress into and egress from an enclosure.


News Analysis
There’s a corporate entity in Emeryville more powerful than the City of Emeryville and the Alameda County Fire Department combined.  This is a nation-wide corporation with a local Emeryville profit center address that has the power to redefine English words in order to retroactively make signed contracts work to their benefit.  They even have the power to unilaterally re-write the fire code to make it align with their desires to increase profits (for more than 72 fiscal quarters so far).  What corporation is this?  It's CVS Pharmacy, America's ubiquitous and seemingly innocuous strip mall chain fixture.  In the world of corporate malfeasance, CVS ranks with the best of them; from illegally peddling oxycontin, to bribery of elected officials, to wholesale customer medical record HIPAA violations, CVS is a classic corporate bad actor.  
Here at their Emeryville unit, the malfeasance is more pedestrian, so to speak.  Here, it’s all about their fire exit doors.  CVS doesn’t like the doors, so they’re not allowing it, regardless of their contractual agreement with the City of Emeryville’s Planning Department or the dictates of the California Fire Code and its enforcers at the Alameda County Fire Department.  Full stop.
Permanently Locked Fire Exit Doors
On one side, a sign says "Emergency Exit"
and the other side says "Bitch".
One was put up by the Alameda County Fire Department,
the other possibly by a graffiti artist.  Or maybe
both signs were placed by the Fire Department.  



Back in 2002, when the building at 4349 San Pablo Avenue was built, the previous owner, the now defunct Longs Drugs (subsumed by CVS in 2008), agreed to place doors on the sidewalk to assuage an Emeryville General Plan dictate that requires retail businesses on that street to follow an urban design guideline meant to activate the pedestrian sidewalks.  But Longs and the new masters, CVS, prefer a suburban strip mall model for their stores with a parking lot out front and doors there.  That model ran headlong into the General Plan with its urban model.  So the pharmacy simply signed the agreement and immediately proceeded to close off the doors, rendering them inoperable.  Customers use the parking lot doors, making the Emeryville unit in the style of their preferred strip mall suburban model despite initial objections from Emeryville.  

Complaints against the CVS doors over the years have gotten nowhere because the corporate giant simply ignores pleas from the City of Emeryville and orders from the Alameda County Fire Department.  Charlie Bryant, the Planning Director of the City of Emeryville has since given up asking CVS to honor their agreement and he now fully takes the position that the doors need not be operational for the corporation to be in compliance.  Mr Bryant has not seen fit to answer to the definition of the common English word “door” that is explicit in its insistence that a person be able to pass through one for it to qualify.  Resemblance to a door is good enough.
  
Over at the Alameda County Fire Department, they’re not so blatant in siding with CVS, rather they simply aren’t enforcing the ongoing fire code violation.  Citizen complaint driven rather than fire concern driven,  ACFD keeps issuing orders to keep the doors open but CVS keeps ignoring the orders.  Interestingly, a while back, the ACFD put up an “Emergency Exit” sign on the outside to keep homeless people from blocking the doors.  But inside, the exit is still blocked by CVS with merchandise and a permanently closed heavy steel roll down door.

These are just a couple of doors.  Why is our government so flummoxed by this?  Why can’t this easy problem just be taken care of?  Is our government really this hapless?  These doors, meant to enliven the San Pablo Avenue sidewalk and to keep people safe in the event of a fire, can be seen as a metaphor for the general state of societal dysfunction over the last couple of decades where governance over the public commons has increasingly played deference to private corporations that are untouchable in their monarchal power.  This corporation doesn’t want these doors so they’re not going to open them.  Eighteen years in, that’s obviously the end of the discussion.  Still, we like to imagine a bygone time when the Alameda County Fire Department worked to keep the public safe from fire and when the City of Emeryville, likewise burdened with the people’s business, were unconcerned with a private corporation’s pecuniary interests regardless how many billions in assets it might have.

The latest order from the Alameda County Fire Department.
Every so often the Emeryville CVS Pharmacy gets one of these orders. 
The corporation promptly puts them in 'File 13' and goes about its business.
Maybe the Fire Department thinks the scary red ink is helping.

Friday, December 25, 2020

New Chief of Police Named

Former BART Deputy Chief to be 

Emeryville Top Cop

Jeffery Jennings moves from BART
brass to Emeryville Chief of Police
Breaking News

BART Deputy Chief Jeffery Jennings will be sworn in as Emeryville’s new Chief of Police in an event on Monday the City announced.  Deputy Jennings follows interim Chief Robert Schreeder who was appointed in June as the City searched for a new permanent Chief.  Outgoing Deputy Chief Jennings has 26 years of law enforcement experience which began at the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department where he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant before he became part of the BART top brass.  

Mr Jennings attended San Francisco State University and completed his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at CSU Sacramento.  He earned a graduate degree with a Master’s in Public Administration from Golden Gate University.

Deputy Chief Jennings found himself embroiled in controversy in 2016 when he defended fellow BART officers in San Francisco who punched a man already in handcuffs in front of scores of witnesses, at least one of whom recorded the altercation.  After police charged the man with battery as a result of spitting at them in addition to the original charge, Public Defender Jeff Adachi called for prosecutors to drop the remaining counts, saying his client did nothing wrong.“It’s really an example of what’s wrong with our system. The system run amok,” Mr Adachi said.  Chief Jennings earned the enmity of San Francisco cop watchers when he said the punch was a “tactical distraction blow” and nothing criminal.  

In 2017, then acting as temporary BART chief of police, Mr Jennings opposed a citizen oversight watchdog committee set up in the wake of the infamous BART Oscar Grant shooting.  The committee had proposed new standards for use of force requiring officers to use only the minimum amount of force necessary to make arrests. 

Mr Jeffery Jennings will command an Emeryville police force in transition as the City Council joins with citizens demanding more accountability after the shooting of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.  

Sunday, December 20, 2020

South Bayfront Ped/Bike Bridge Spans Railroad Tracks

Some 37 years after it was first proposed, a bridge for pedestrians (and bicycles) has finally spanned the railroad tracks between Powell and 40th streets in Emeryville.  At 11:15 Saturday night, a crane lifted the red steel pre-built arch over the tracks while workers busily fastened it down on both the east and west anchorages.  The next several months will bring completion of the ancillary approaches and other finishes.  Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able cross the completed span in summer of 2021.

The elevator at the pedestrian bridge
at the Amtrak Station was out of 
service again Saturday.
The new bridge, called the South Bayfront Ped/Bike Bridge will connect the Bay Street Mall with east Emeryville and get the City just a little bit closer to realizing its long standing General Plan shibboleth of Emeryville being ‘a connected place’.

As if by design to serve as a counterpoint, the elevator at the Amtrak Station pedestrian bridge that also spans the railroad tracks was out again on Saturday, a perennial frustration that has helped spur the new bridge. 

 The South Bayfront bridge has gone through a very tortured path over the years to finally get to this point.  Its first iteration, proposed by then City Manager Joe Tanner was a modest crossing only for pedestrians with stairs and elevators at either end.  Later, in 2005, a bicycle contingent led by soon-to-be-elected City Councilman John Fricke said any bridge built there must include bicycles.  Pushback against Mr Fricke’s bike friendly bridge idea came from the next City Manager, John Flores, who said bicyclists represented a “ruffian element” and that the bridge design should preclude bikes because bicyclists could use it as an escape route from crimes.  Luckily, Mr Flores’ argument didn’t win the day and after a selection process, the new design allowing for bike riders became the final plan.   As late as 2011, it appeared the bridge would never be completed after the State attempted to seize money set aside by the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency.  

After the City passed on an ambitious plan by the Emeryville based visionary architect/designer Eugene Tssui, the final design of the pedestrian/bike bridge has been called ‘pedestrian in use and design' in the sense that it lacks excitement or innovation.  It may not be too beautiful but it's certainly a long overdue stitching together of railroad divided east and west Emeryville.


A train roared past minutes before the crane began lifting the span into place.





It was all finished up by 12:30 AM.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Mayor Christian Patz, Lacking Leadership and Drive Gets a D+

Mayor Christian Patz



Continuing our tradition of looking back on each year-long mayorship of the rotating Emeryville City Council members/cum mayors, with Christian Patz now moving aside to make way for Dianne Martinez, we take this opportunity to look back on Mayor Patz’s shambolic tenure as Emeryville's highest elected official.  This year, the Tattler adds a new feature to these mayoral wrap-ups; the assignment of letter grades for each mayor—and to that end, we report Christian Patz has received a disappointing D+ for his efforts as our mayor.

Opinion

The most noteworthy aspect of Emeryville's mayor Christian Patz was his lack of energy and lack of follow through.  

Emeryville 2020 Mayor
Christian Patz 
Each mayor tends to assign for themselves some scope of work that can fairly be described as their signature issue.  Usually, it's introduced and brought to fruition during their year long term.  For Mr Patz, the defining issue of his term as mayor was the renaming of 47th Street after Steve Dain, a former teacher-of-the-year who was subsequently fired in 1977 by Emery Unified School District for being a transgender person.  But after introducing early in his term, the idea to rename the street to honor the teacher specifically and inclusivity in general, Mr Patz seemed to lose interest in the issue and he failed to follow through.  It was a noble thing Mr Patz proposed, but after Transgender Awareness Week and then the Transgender Day of Remembrance quietly passed in the weeks before his term as mayor ended, it became clear Mayor Patz had no intention to follow through with his own good idea. 

An item Mayor Patz had a hand in that actually got done was last March’s Measure F, a quarter cent sales tax passed by Emeryville voters that will help fund the Emeryville police department's quest to hire more officers as well as pay to hire a new staff member at City Hall to operate code enforcement.  Mr Patz, who was a strong supporter of the tax increase, cast himself as the leader in the push for the measure.  To the mayor's chagrin, this election victory came right before the very public murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department in May, making for terrible public policy optics if not demonstrable furtherance of the police culture dystopia. 

Beyond these two issues, one squandered and the other feckless, Mayor Patz's record was one of mostly ignoring problems.  Below is the roster of shame:

-Mayor Patz didn’t deliver a public library or even start to explore the building an Emeryville library after he officially placed this task as one of the top ten 2020 priorities for the City Council at the beginning of his term.  

-He refused to implement traffic calming for the 45th & 53rd street bike boulevards as required by the City’s Bike Plan.  He even refused on his watch, to conduct a traffic count for all bike boulevards as the City is supposed to do, once every two years so we can know how bad it is for bicyclists.  

-He refused to call out Lennar Development before the Council to explain their misdeeds after a high level Department of Toxic Substance Control whistleblower revealed a regime of cheating the cleanup at the Sherwin Williams toxic soil clean up site on Horton Street.

-Mr Patz failed to act on Emeryville’s deplorable lack of public parks, the worst of any East Bay city.  Regardless that the General Plan calls for three acres of park for every 1000 new residents, Mayor Patz couldn’t be bothered to do anything about this emerging quality of life concern for Emeryville residents.  Incidentally, the plan, if followed, would move Emeryville from the worst to the second worse East Bay city for parks in ten years.  

 -Not big on accountability and sloppy with records, the Mayor missed his FPPC campaign filing deadlines, making it impossible for citizens to see who funded his political campaigns.

-More recently, the Mayor has sat by idly and unconcernedly as City Hall has implemented a policy shift, weakening it’s duty to enforce COVID-19 mask wearing regulations.  The staff has relaxed the enforcement protocols for developers and their construction workers who are supposed to be wearing masks.  But Mayor Patz has not joined with citizens asking why the City would lower the safety guidelines even as the virus has been exploding in the community.

-He is thin skinned and cannot countenance citizens criticizing his job performance as mayor.  He has acted in a childish and impetuous manner, lashing out at citizen critics asking for accountability.

Christian Patz has served as the source of levity on the Council, using his position to offer up rations of bad puns, funny asides and humorous anecdotes.  These make for more enjoyable meetings to be sure.  He seems good natured (except when he feels attacked) but the most salient thing about Mr Patz as our mayor overall was his simple laziness.  He didn’t really put in any effort to get anything done, the pro-cop Measure F notwithstanding.

We may be a bit harsh with regards to Mayor Patz and his inaction on parks in the bullet point list above.  While it is true he did not taken action to implement the General Plan's park dictates, in his defense, neither have any other City Council members.  But as we look back, we remember what citizen Patz gallingly said about bike boulevards in 2016 when he was asking for our votes.  He made this specific campaign promise: “What makes a Bike Boulevard is more than just Vehicle Trips per Day (VTD), it has more to do with optimizing bike traffic.  As VTD approach and surpass 3000, more separation between bikes and cars should occur.  Ideally, this would be done by reducing and diverting traffic, but can also be achieved by dedicated and protected lanes.”  Christian Patz ignored this subject utterly both as our City Council member over three years and as our Mayor over the last year.  And for that, plus the litany of failed policy highlighted, we give Mayor Patz a D+ (and we’re being generous).

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Emeryville Reverses Course on COVID Mask Policy

Public Mask Wearing Order Policy Thrown Over to Private Sector

City Hall Places Public Health Trust With Private Developers 

No More Surprise Inspection Visits From the City

News Analysis

The City of Emeryville has initiated a new COVID policy that claims to punish contractors at construction sites in the city for their workers not wearing masks—but only if they get caught—and they won’t get caught because the City will only check for compliance during regularly scheduled construction inspections.  The contractors will be fined $188 if their workers are not obeying the Alameda County mask order but, absurdly, they know exactly when the City inspectors will be coming to their job sites so workers can quickly slip on their masks during the inspection thus avoiding both the fine and public health policy capacity.  How’s that for effective public health policy during a deadly pandemic?  It’s like if the police gave warning to crack house squatters that they’ll be breaking down the doors next Thursday at noon to look for crack and make arrests.  Think there’ll be any narcotics to be found at the crack house next Thursday? 

This ridiculous situation is where Emeryville City Hall is in the fall of 2020 with COVID-19 raging through the population.  It represents a regulatory relaxing of deterrence against rule breakers.  The new COVID policy replaces former policy from last April when the City didn’t give warnings before they came to check on mask wearing compliance at construction sites in town. 

With Americans’ expectations of general dysfunction or even uselessness from their government the new norm, Emeryville’s new public health policy in the face of an exploding pandemic is notably feckless and reckless.  It is after all the preeminent role of any government to protect the health and welfare of the people.  Maxims aside, the COVID policy we’re getting in Emeryville is inverse to the threat level the deadly virus poses. 

Emeryville City Manager
Christine Daniel

 'Emeryville COVID policy
should be relaxed as the 
virus explodes exponentially.'
When the pandemic first took hold last April, Emeryville formulated an effective response to the Alameda County mask wearing order it is charged with enforcing.  Citizen complaints registered with City Hall against workers seen not wearing masks at any of the construction job sites in town would draw a surprise visit from a City of Emeryville building inspector.  Violators were given warnings at first but the City formulated a program of increasing punishments against wayward building contractors.  This policy has been replaced this fall with a new policy where, after receiving a citizen complaint, the City will not send a surprise visit from a building inspector.  Instead, building inspectors have been directed to notice if any workers are not wearing masks at the job sites during regularly scheduled calls for inspection services.  The calls for inspection it should be noted, come from the contractors themselves.

The City’s first iteration of mask wearing compliance at job sites allowed the contractor to mete out punishment against the workers with promises from at least one contractor to the City that offending workers employees would face employment termination.  A public records request revealed that the contractor at the Sherwin Williams building site on Horton Street had violated the County mask order in late August with a City building inspector recording in his report from his surprise visit he saw “12 individuals without masks on.  Four of these individuals were within 6 feet of another worker.”  No workers were reported terminated for that violation nor were any for violations called in after that initial contact by the City.


A new policy without such surprise visits from City inspectors arose sometime after an early September flurry of violations, primarily at the Sherwin Williams site and with some recorded at the “Intersection” site (AKA the Maz Project) on San Pablo Avenue at Adeline Street.  The new policy was clarified by City Manager Christine Daniel who told the Tattler Wednesday, “The City’s building inspectors continue to remind contractors about the requirements and will cease an inspection if proper [mask wearing] practices are not being followed.” 

The new policy, unsurprisingly, is less effective at catching violators at the job sites.  The employees of the contractors are now all wearing masks having been forewarned when the inspectors are arriving at the sites but subcontractors, who aren’t at the site every day have been problematic as it turns out.  The subcontractors apparently aren’t getting sufficient forewarning from the contractors and are consequently getting caught by City inspectors.

The City has stopped relying on the contractors to terminate offending employees, a relic from the first COVID mask wearing policy and now the punishment leveraged against contractors is that the inspectors will leave a site if any workers are seen not wearing masks.  City Manager Daniel reported to the Tattler on Wednesday,  “As recently as Monday of last week an inspection was terminated, a correction notice issued and the contractor was requested to notify all sub-contractors to review the importance of compliance with the County Health Officer Orders.”  The fee for rescheduling an inspection is $188, an amount so low that it can be easily absorbed as a cost of doing business for any large project in town.

So the new policy from City Hall is not effective according to the City itself.  The former policy had a mechanism to catch violators but lacked effective punishment and the new policy is ineffective with regard to both catching and punishing violators.  The result is worksites without workers wearing masks continuously happening in Emeryville since last April.  

Emeryville is not interested in doing what it takes to satisfy the Alameda County mask order and therefore not interested in helping to stop viral infections, even as cases spiral in our community.  This is not an opinion.  This is demonstrably true, using the City’s own records.  This story is not an editorial or an opinion piece. 

The City Manager failed to explain when and why the City’s new COVID policy was enacted, only that it had been implemented.


$188: Not Much of a Punishment
Letter from the contractor to sub-contractors at 'The Intersection' project.
This violation cost the contractor $188 in a project that will run 
more than $50 million.  The workers don't want to wear masks and neither the
contractor nor the City wants to force them.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

City/School District Fails on Acknowledgment of Wrongdoing Against Transgender Teacher

 What To Do About Steve Dain?

Emeryville Settles on Inaction 

Opinion/News Analysis

Hey Emeryville!  November 20th was national Transgender Day of Remembrance.  A day that honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.  What did you do to observe it?

The answer is nothing.  Nothing was done by our government in our name to observe the date or even to set its own terrible record right with regard to the mistreatment of transgender people.  Regardless that in 1976, Emeryville fired a transgender teacher for who he was and with lots of recent talk about that not representing who we are emanating from our government, nothing is being done.

Still 47th Street
The City of Emeryville said this sign would 
read 'Steve Dain Drive' by this time.

The just passed national Transgender Day of Remembrance November 20th, followed Transgender Awareness Week November 13th through the 19th; an auspicious time for a ribbon cutting ceremony if there ever was one to reassert our Emeryville values.  But that was not enough to get Mayor Christian Patz to follow through with his pledge to re-name 47th Street Steve Dain Drive.  Mr Patz, who’s mayoralty ends on December 1st, took up the charge for the City, promising the name change after Emery School District failed to acknowledge the wrongdoing of the firing of Mr Dain.

Call it just another failure to honor Steve Dain, who was humiliated by the government here in Emeryville, for being transgender.  That humiliation goes on today following his 2007 passing.  With neither government agency able to do the right thing by Mr Dain and therefore all transgender people, the humiliation is on us, the people of Emeryville.  Indeed, WE fired Mr Dain for who he was and WE refuse to apologize here and now for that act of public cowardice. 

Transgender Flag Flying
at Emeryville City Hall

As far as Emeryville is 
ready to go at this point.

Surprisingly, Mayor Patz claims that 47th Street is already named Steve Dain Drive (it is not).  He says he has done it and he was given an award for it in September.  At the 8th annual East Bay Stonewall Pride Awards ceremony on September 13th, Mr Patz, accepting the award, told the group"I worked with the School Board to honor Mr. Dain, but just as in the 70s, there are too many bigots in public office.  Thankfully, I work with an amazing City Council and together, we were able to rename the street in front of the school Steve Dain Drive."

It's all talk now in Emeryville.  Two elected officials, Christian Patz of the City Council and Susan Donaldson of the School District, rode in to set Emeryville right but both dropped the ball.  Mr Patz let his mayoralty run out and Board member Donaldson wrote a public letter, posted in the Tattler in May, stating that the Board would finally and officially apologize for the firing of Mr Dain.  But without any interest among her School Board colleagues, Ms Donaldson has also quietly dropped the issue.

The electeds in Emeryville (at least two of them) have a message for you Steve Dain: The people of the City of Emeryville didn’t care about you when you were alive and we sure don’t care about you now.  And with that, it seems it's time for Emeryville to move on.  With this unpleasant issue forgotten, it’s back to brunch in Emeryville apparently.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Lack of Guidelines on Fines, City Policy Arbitrary

City Violates Sacramento Election Law

Fails to Fine Late Filing Council Members, Report Council Late Filings

Arbitrariness, Favoritism Rears Its Head at City Hall

Sheri Hartz
Emeryville City Clerk

She failed to notify the FPPC
of Council members' delinquency
and failed to levy fines
against the two Council
members as required.
The City of Emeryville has failed to report City Council election misconduct to the Fair Political Practices Commission and miscarried its duty to fine two delinquent Council members as is required, the Tattler has learned.  In the run up to the 2020 election, Mayor Christian Patz and Councilwoman Ally Medina were negligent in their duty to file political campaign donor information with the FPPC and a Public Records Request revealed the City failed in its duty to report that to the FPPC and to levy required fines against the two procrastinating Council members.  

City Clerk Sheri Hartz told the Tattler it is “generally the City’s practice to work with filers toward compliance rather than to assess fines”.
However the FPPC is clear that barring any municipal guidelines permitting fines to be waived or reduced, the fine schedule defaults to the State suggested $10 per day for every day a candidate is late on filing the proper disclosure forms.  Because the City did not disclose the existence of any such municipal guidelines in the Tattler Public Records Request response, the City is presumed to not have any guidelines and is therefore not free to ‘work with filers’ and waive the fines, lest public policy at City Hall descend into capriciousness.  

Mayor Christian Patz
He owes $1010 in fines
for late filing his campaign
contribution forms.
Following a November 8th Tattler story on the late filings and the assessment of fines to be applied against the two Council members, City Attorney Michael Guina cited government code §84200.8 that unequivocally permits the City, at its pleasure, an exception to waive a portion of the fines the Tattler quoted specifically because the Council members ran unopposed in the election.  Without the exception taken, Mr Patz and Ms Medina would owe $3130 and $1310 respectively, as reported by the Tattler.  With the exception taken and the City invoking §84200.5 (its right to forgive the Council members), Mayor Patz who filed his late Forms 460 the day after the November 8th Tattler story, now owes $1010 for his 101 days late filing at $10 per day and Councilwoman Medina owes $30 for her three days late filing.  Owing to a lack of existing municipal guidelines delineating how late fees are to be assessed, the City is supposed to fine the City Council members these amounts and failure to do so would represent a breach of FPPC protocol for the City of Emeryville and would raise the specter of capriciousness and political favoritism extant at City Hall.

Ms Hartz did not answer in the Public Records Request as to why she failed to report the Council members' late FPPC filings as she is required to do.

The FPPC may levy additional fines against the two Emeryville City Council members at the rate of $5000 per violation, at their discretion.  The Tattler will be reporting to the FPPC, the Council members’ and the City Clerk’s failures to disclose the required filings. 

Councilwoman Medina has acknowledged her late filing of her Form 460.  Responding to the November 6th Tattler story, she said she had “whiffed”, whereas Mayor Patz's acknowledgment of his culpability in his late filing came solely in the form of his rush to file the forms the day after the Tattler story.  Mr Patz refused to comment for this story. 

 


OOPS!  Mayor's Math Error!
A screen shot of Mayor Patz's late filed Form 460.
The day after the November 8th Tattler story, Mayor Patz finally turned in his late campaign contributions form.  He shows his major contributors to be the politically connected CEO Rich Robbins of Wareham Development and political lobbyist/schmoozer, the oily John Gooding
In his flustering rush to file his form, Mayor Patz didn't add up his numbers correctly.  Ending Cash Balance should read $4542.04, not $5964.30. 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Mayor & Councilwoman Failed to File Campaign Finance Documents; Fines Possible

Election 2020:

Mayor Patz, Councilwoman Medina Fail to File Campaign Finance Accountability Forms

City/State Could Levy Fines

Mayor Christian Patz and Councilwoman Ally Medina, re-elected to their respective City Council seats on Tuesday, failed to file several periods of required campaign finance election forms with the City of Emeryville the Tattler has learned.  The required form, issued by the State of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), Form 460, delineates campaign contributions critical for electoral campaign accountability.

A quick perusal of the City’s website shows Ally Medina missing her last two filings of the last five required and Christian Patz missing his last three filings.  Council member John Bauters, who also ran for re-election on Tuesday, is shown to have filed every Form 460 required of him on time. 

The missing forms, called the Recipient Committee Campaign Statement Form 460 are filed under the California Political Reform Act and are considered public records, available for public inspection.  There are no provisions for extending deadlines according to the FPPC, the body tasked by the State with overarching enforcement.  

If a candidate’s election committee fails to file a Form 460 campaign statement, the FPPC may levy a fine of up to $5000 per violation according to the FPPC website.  Additionally, the State provides that the City of Emeryville may fine candidates $10 per day for every late filing.  As of today, Councilwoman Medina is late some 131 days and could be fined $1310 while Mayor Patz, at 313 days late, could be facing a $3,130 fine from the City of Emeryville.

The City is required by the FPPC to keep guidelines that dictate how election fines for delinquent local candidates are to be levied but none could be found on the City’s website.   Failure to provide the required guidelines could result in penalties issued against municipalities the FPPC website noted. 

The Tattler has made a Public Records Request with the City of Emeryville for information regarding these election violations and we will report as we are made aware.


What Happened To Election Accountability?
Screen Shot From the City's Website
Only Council member Bauters has fulfilled his required FPPC election obligations.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

School Board Looks at Raising Administrators' Pay After Promising Voters They Wouldn't

Board Considers Raising Admin Pay After Passage of Measure K 

Emeryville Measure K Parcel Tax Passed Last Spring Promised No Money to Admin

The Emery Unified School District is pondering raising the salaries of non-teacher administration employees after assuring Emeryville citizens considering Measure K, a school parcel tax passed by voters last March, they would not.  Despite strong ballot language guaranteeing that there would be no increase in administration salaries from the March 3rd election, the School Board has hired a consulting firm to look into increasing administration salaries, just as taxpayer money from Measure K is beginning to flow into the District's coffers.  

The Board took up the item at their meeting last Wednesday with a power point presentation from School Services of California, a Sacramento based consulting firm paid by the District.  After reporting that Emery administrators' compensation is "significantly below" teacher pay, the consulting firm suggested the District should first raise administration compensation before increasing teacher pay.

Board Member
Lauren Salazar

We cannot commit to honor
our pledge to not raise
admin salaries at this time.
Concerned Letter From the Mayor

The Board's agendized discussion/action item was enough to prompt an October 28th letter from former School Board Trustee and current Emeryville mayor, Christian Patz who challenged the Board to not raise administrator's salaries until new revenue sources could be secured to pay for it.  Mayor Patz, noting the fungible nature of money, raised the idea that the District could tap the pot of Measure K money, expressly not for administration compensation, to pay for administrator pay increases nonetheless.  The Mayor challenged the Board directly, "Commit to not adjusting administrators' salaries until you identify new revenues to pay for those increases.  This means not just shifting teacher salaries to the parcel tax income but actual new income." 

The Mayor's letter was not well received.  Board members universally expressed their displeasure, especially President  Brynnda Collins who chastised Mr Patz for his questioning of the Board's promise to not misuse Measure K money, "I find it hard to believe leadership [on the City Council] can't be on Team Emery" she said.  She called the letter "sad".  Outgoing Board member Cruz Vargas was even less circumspect, bringing up Mr Patz's lack of support for Measure K last March, "People who could have supported us [during the Measure K campaign] didn't.... and it's not worth our time to respond to them now" he said, adding anything that's done with Measure K funds would be done "for the kids"

Board member Lauren Salazar put it most succinctly stating she has faith in the process.  Responding to Mayor Patz's request for a Board commitment to not violate Measure K funding promises made to the voters, Ms Salazar spoke for the Board indicating all options would be retained, saying "Making any commitments now is inappropriate."  

Asked to clarify, Board President Collins later told the Tattler any notion that the Board is considering raising administration salaries in any incorrect way is "full of shit".

Mayor Patz however made it very clear he doesn't trust the Board will honor their pledge to the voters.  He told them, "This past spring, you put forth and passed a parcel tax with the promise 'no funds for administrator salaries.'   That is a direct quote from the ballot language you put to the voters.  At the time, I said the Board could not be trusted with the voters' money and was not being honest about how they would use the funds.  Now that the funds are available, the groundwork is being laid to prove me right."

After hearing the consultation presentation from School Services of California, the Board voted to push the issue of raising salaries, administrators' and/or teachers', off to a future meeting.

Measure K levies 12 cents per square foot of residential and commercial building area, taking in an additional $1.8 million per year for Emery Unified.  That amount represents a 37% increase in cost for an average home from $405 to $555 annually according to the San Jose Mercury News who urged Emeryville voters to reject the measure in the run up to the March 3rd election.   

A previous iteration of Measure K, also a school parcel tax passed by voters in 2014 was supplanted by the new 2020 Measure K.  The Tattler reported in February that Emery Unified had deceived voters in the 2014 election after it was found that the District had increased administrators' salaries after also promising they wouldn't. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

27 Calls to Police, One Vehicle Ticketed: Why Our Bike Lanes Are Blocked

Blocked Bike Lanes:

Emeryville Doesn't Care About Bike Safety

A Combination of Lax Enforcement and Low Fines is a Recipe For Injured/Killed Bicyclists


News Analysis

Amid a growing prevalence of bike lane blockages and in response to a Tattler public records request, the Emeryville Police Department recently released citizen complaint driven data on vehicles illegally blocking the city’s bike lanes and the Department’s enforcement management to address the problem.  The numbers revealed show a city beset with dangerous bike lane blockages and a disinterested police department.

Over the six month period from March 1st to September 30th, a total of 27 citizen calls were placed to the police department complaining of vehicles blocking bike lanes resulting in one citation issued.  The lack of enforcement combined with the low cost to drivers for the infraction, $59 as we reported last August, puts bicyclists in the precarious position of having to cross the solid white line and swerve out into traffic, a move that has been identified by bike safety groups and the insurance industry as extremely dangerous.

Will Emeryville wait for a bicyclist to be killed
or severely injured before action is taken?

Twenty seven calls and one ticket written; those are the kinds of odds that make people willing to break the law.  That’s nearly the same odds as being dealt a first hand flush in seven card poker.  And that’s calculated only for the cars that receive citizen complaints.  If nobody calls the police to complain about your illegally parked car, a likely thing, your odds of getting a ticket for blocking a bike lane drop to something much lower than one in 27. 

This information reveals an Emeryville Police Department that places bike safety very low on its list of priorities.  By definition.

Vehicles blocking bike lanes isn’t relegated only to Emeryville of course.  In fact there’s a growing social movement to stop the dangerous practice.  Many cities are responding to the calls by increasing the fines and increasing patrolling for violators, as Chicago did in 2017.  In 2018 in Virginia and Maryland tickets for blocking bike lanes averaged over $220 and $260, respectively.  In Emeryville however, no such concern for bike safety exists and the deadly combination of low fines with lax enforcement spells future calamity.  

Police Department Purposely Doesn't Cite Violators

An Emeryville Police Department employee, wishing anonymity, told the Tattler he doesn’t see the dearth of tickets issued as a sign the Department isn’t taking bike safety seriously.  Upon learning that the public records request information was going to be made public by the Tattler, the police employee used a classic appeal from ignorance fallacy, stating, “The fact that we didn’t ticket these violators shows that we value bike safety.  These violators were asked to move along, solving the problem of the [bike] lanes being blocked.”  He added, “The priority is to get the vehicle out of the bike lane”.  Taking him at his word, none of this acknowledges the fact that drivers are typically not in the vehicles that are blocking the lanes and the obvious fact that police asking drivers to move is not solving the problem that parking in the bike lane is a good solution for drivers (especially if there aren’t any police visible).  

If police asking drivers to not park in bike lanes (without writing tickets) were having a palliative effect on bike lane blockage in Emeryville, there would tend to be fewer vehicles blocking bike lanes over time.  What we’ve seen is the opposite.  Indeed, to expect that issuing a ticket would not have a deterrent effect is to overturn the most basic precept upon which the whole paradigm of crime and punishment is based.  Bike lane blocking drivers that don’t have a moral compass and can’t seem to see the havoc they cause and the recklessness of putting bikers’ lives at risk will find the havoc on their bank account after they get a ticket for doing so.  

If Emeryville starts taking bike safety more seriously, fewer drivers will block our bike lanes and bikers will be safer.  As it stands now, drivers have a better than 96% chance they won’t get a ticket for blocking a bike lane and a $59 fine if they are among the unlucky 3% that do get a ticket.  The remedy for Emeryville is easy but so far the will is lacking.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Developer Goes Over City Council - City's Authority Stripped By New State Housing Law


47th Street Homes Project Ushers In New 'Upzone' Housing Boom In East Emeryville Neighborhoods

First Developer to Invoke New California Law to Override City Council

Flood of Housing Projects Will Bring More White People 

News Analysis

The desire of the people of Emeryville to plan their town as they see fit ran hard up against the power of the State Tuesday when the City Council, yielding to a new anti-planning state law that takes away local housing control, voted to allow a developer to tear down four affordable rental homes to be replaced with expensive rental townhomes.  Emeryville thus becomes one of the first Bay Area towns to test the new law, SB 330; a developer backed decree that seeks to increase housing density across California at the expense of citizen empowerment in their own city planning.

Emeryville residents watched in shock Tuesday night as the City Council voted unanimously to grant an out-of-town developer freedom to evict his multi-generational low income minority tenants in four contiguous homes he owns in order to demolish them and build unaffordable townhouses.  The net effect on 47th Street (and elsewhere after this precedent setting law begins to take effect) will be to make the neighborhood whiter, richer, less blue collar and generally less diverse.  It was shocking because neither the City Council or the Planning Commission wanted this to happen.  Shocking because the City Council is now seen as powerless to stop what will likely become a torrent of development, developers seeking their fortunes gentrifying the Triangle Neighborhood and North Emeryville, the last bastions of affordable genuine family housing left in our town.

SB 330, authored by our own local Assembly member Nancy Skinner, was advertised to overturn what was characterized by her as a state-wide culture of ‘NIMBYism’ that had contributed to California’s legendary status of being an epicenter of unaffordable housing.  Before it became law in January, SB 330 saw a powerful consortium of developer/lobbyists who glommed onto the legislation that sought to strip cities of their general plans, forcing them to approve virtually any housing project that would increase density.  Early on, some environmental groups signed onto the law (which would theoretically lessen pressure for cities to sprawl), an ‘eco’ seal of approval that lowered what would have normally been robust citizen involvement, adding to SB 330’s remarkably rapid legislative confirmation. 

Berkeley resident Assembly Member Nancy Skinner
(with mic) obtained Governor Gavin Newsome's
help in signing SB 330, the 'Housing Crisis
Act of 2019'.

Emeryville Is Not Guilty

Within SB 330’s pro-density zealotry, is a lack of recognition for towns that have behaved responsibly with their housing planning and building.  SB 330 lumps in towns that are not driven by housing NIMBYism with towns that have engaged NIMBYism that clearly do need to be reined in for the sake of the greater good.  It was against those irresponsible municipalities that Assembly member Skinner raised the specter of echelons of privileged and connected upper middle class town folk protecting their property values by stopping (lower income) development in a State that has seen property values skyrocket.  This kind of NIMBYism is a stereotype that certainly has a basis in fact when one looks to Bay Area towns like Piedmont, Tiberon or Atherton.  But SB 330 uses a sledgehammer to do its work and unnecessarily removes the people’s rights to plan their cities in areas that don’t need mandates from Sacramento - cities like Emeryville. 

Emeryville has shown itself to be a city not in need of SB 330.  NIMBYism, when it comes to housing, has not been in effect here.  Over the last 20 years, Emeryville has surpassed its market rate housing goals by triple digits as reported by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA).  With housing numbers like Emeryville’s, no plausible argument can be made for City Hall needing to hand over its Planning Department to Sacramento.

SB 330 simply sets to increase the density of California cities.  It doesn’t speak to affordability, except by use of a trickle down nostrum, invoking a facile supply and demand panacea that incidentally has many critics.  Emeryville serves as a convenient case study.  As the town has doubled its population and then doubled it again, housing prices here continue skyrocketing upward, unabated, far outpacing general cost of living increases.

Slumlords Love the New Law

The 47th Street Homes Project is a particularly egregious example of gentrification.  The development corporation, FE Forbes has operated as a landlord for many years in the Triangle neighborhood, acting in a classic slumlord modus operandi according to the tenants.  The City Council was particularly incensed after it was revealed that Forbes hadn’t even fixed a heater in one of the 47th Street houses it owns, forcing the tenant, a grandmother with children living with her, to go without heat for ten years.  Forbes CEO, Mark Forbes, before invoking SB 330, argued the City should disregard the City’s ‘Areas of Stability’ clause in the General Plan because he hadn’t maintained the homes over the years and the resultant state of disrepair should serve as reason enough to grant permission to evict all the tenants and raze the four craftsman homes.  He failed to mention he would make a lot more money in rents with the new townhomes it should be noted.

The City Council (and the Planning Commission) voted NO to FE Forbes' demolition request in January, the first time a home teardown developer had been rejected by the City of Emeryville.  Thus, SB 330 now curtails what might have been a budding Council ethos, looking to protect its existing affordable family housing stock. 

The fate, decided by Sacramento, of Emeryville’s existing (affordable) 47th Street homes becoming the fabulous 47th Street Homes will serve as a dinner bell to developers.  The eastern residential part of Emeryville that Emeryvillians sought to protect in the General Plan is now on the menu for developers far and wide.  So long as the market prices hold out and barring a large economic turndown, the last stock of detached single family houses in Emeryville, demonstrably the most family friendly housing, will be under greater and greater pressure to fall to the wreaking ball.  Sacramento has seen to it that what little planning Emeryville may have had over the years is now going to be relegated to the dustbin of history.  SB 330 promises Emeryville and other Bay Area cities will descend into a new wild west anti-planning period of unregulated housing development, the will of the people be damned. 

Here come the techie yuppies!
Emeryville to become whiter, richer, less blue collar and fewer families.
A scene that will become increasingly common
in the East Emeryville neighborhoods with the passage of SB 330.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Breaking News: Council OKs Demolition of 47th Street Homes

 Tonight the City Council voted to grant the developer FE Forbes permission to tear down four contiguous 100 year old craftsman homes known as the 47th Street Homes Project, to built townhome replacements citing a new developer friendly California law that attempts to stop municipalities from saying NO to development that increases housing density.  The decision, a reversal of an earlier vote against the project, was cast solely as a result of the new law (SB 330) the Council said.  The vote promises to set a precedent for new ‘up zoned’ development in Emeryville’s last bastions of traditional single family detached residences in the Triangle Neighborhood and North Emeryville.  

Council member John Bauters, citing provisions in the Housing Element of Emeryville’s General Plan, argued that the City could make the approval of the project conditional regardless of SB 330, providing at least one unit of the all rental project be deed restricted as affordable.  The developer stated he would be willing to grant that as long as he would only be constrained to provide an affordable unit for 20 years and that a rental unit he owns on 48th Street be the constrained unit, not any of the new units on 47th Street. 

The vote was unanimous.   

 The Tattler will follow with an expanded story on this in days to come.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Emeryville Police Department Won't Release Racial Profiling Data Until 2023

 State to Force Emeryville to Track Race Data

Is The Emeryville Police Department Racist?

Citizens Can't Know Until 2023

Department Hasn't Been Tracking Data

News Analysis

For the amount of money the people of Emeryville pay for their police department, citizens should be able to check on the cops….to see what kind of a job they’re doing, like for instance racial profiling.…are they doing that?  To those who would want to know and that should be everyone, the police have a ready response: The people of Emeryville are not worthy of having that kind of information.  And the police are not required by law to keep the kinds of records that would inform citizens of that anyway.  They could, but they don’t.

The State of California is coming to the rescue however, bringing recalcitrant police departments like Emeryville’s to accountability and transparency.   Starting in 2022, Emeryville will be forced by law to track its police racial profiling data.  That’s cold comfort to Emeryville residents who want to know now if their police department is racist.  Full police accountability and transparency in Emeryville will have to wait.  

State law passed in 2015 (AB 953) requires every police department up and down California to track data that could prove if the police are racist.  Many departments are already complying with the law but Emeryville, waiting until the last minute, will not release its state mandated racial profiling data (collected starting in 2022) to the public until April of 2023.

The law, known as AB 953: The Racial and Identity Profiling Act of 2015, will require Emeryville to collect, archive and disseminate (redacted) data obtained when citizens are stopped by the police including the result of the stop, such as, no action, warning, citation, property seizure, or arrest.  Also police will be required to archive the perceived race or ethnicity, gender, and approximate age of the person stopped.

As it stands now, an insouciant EPD tracks none of this data and the Department as a whole, as well as the people of Emeryville, are in the dark as to any culture of racism that might exist here.  Our current interim chief of police Robert Schreeder says as much, stating EPD “needs to be much more robust in how we track data”.  He told the Tattler, “Where I come from, this kind of data is part of the annual [police] report.” 

From the 2016 RIPA Report
Racial profiling by police in California
is by far the most prevalent.



 

An advisory board set up by AB 953, the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) released a report in 2018 that found racial profiling is common among police districts.  The report showed Black drivers in California were stopped by police at 2.5 times the per capita rate of whites and searched three times as often.  Black people accounted for 15% of all stops but make up about 6% of the population.  Hispanics accounted for 40% of stops, a slightly higher per capita rate, while whites were a third of the stops, a slightly lower rate.

Moreover, “a higher percentage of Black individuals were stopped for reasonable suspicion than any other racial identity group,” the board reported.  Officers were shown to search Black people nearly three times as often as to search whites, though white suspects were more likely to yield contraband or other evidence.  Black people also were more likely to be arrested and stopped at night.

The 2018 RIPA report showed that of 451 police departments across the state, 26% received citizen complaints alleging racial or identity profiling for the 2016 calendar year (the first year after AB 953 became law).

The disturbing findings are not relegated to rural police departments in the state.  The Bay Area is shown to be a hot spot of racist police practices.  Indeed, racist police are right on our doorstep.  Concurrent with the legally required RIPA annual reporting, Stanford University researchers conducted a multi-year comprehensive analysis of 28,000 citizen stops made by the Oakland Police Department.  Overall, they found a consistent pattern of racial disparities in the community members stopped, handcuffed, searched, and arrested by the OPD.

Former Police Chief Tejada Implicated

After the much publicized May 25th murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, even white people are becoming increasingly aware of the systemic racism in police departments across the nation.  And against that backdrop, people of good will benefit from the kind of data AB 953 reveals.  Many police departments in California, sensing a problem, began tracking racial profiling data even before AB 953, including departments as small as Emeryville’s.  Unfortunately, that wisdom hasn’t been in evidence here.  

While Emeryville citizens can’t know if their police department is racist now because of a lack of this data, we can know this is not an accident.  It's because of a lack of interest by the EPD.

Money For Yoga But Not Racial Profiling Data
Yoga time and other 'mindfulness' programs
at EPD takes 18% of the police budget.


The new law passed in 2015, just before the City of Emeryville  hired former Chief of Police Jennifer Tejada.  Chief Tejada was well aware of AB 953 and the systemic culture of police racism the law seeks to expose but she chose not to direct her officers to begin collecting the data that is needed.  Instead, Ms Tejada engaged in a program of officer ‘wellness’ at the department that focused on officer yoga.  Current Chief Schreeder noted Emeryville spends 18% of its budget on Ms Tejada’s wellness program; an unusually high percentage he reported to the City Council at a July 21st meeting.  Video can be seen HERE.

Former Chief Tejada, during her tenure preferred to not track data that would reveal possible racism at EPD but she did feel comfortable enough to release racist police blotter posts to the City’s website.  Over a period of a year after the Tattler exposed it, Chief Tejada kept issuing the racial identity of alleged perpetrators of crime in the blotter without any accompanying information that might bring the perpetrators to justice.  Citizens reading the City website at that time learned about “Black” suspects to specific crimes but no other identifying information, leading racially aware citizens to question why.  After the Chief could not supply a reason for her racist blotter posts, the City Manager ended the practice (all while the Tattler reported).  That media exposure was a lesson in how public embarrassment can be a great motivator for civic entities to engage in better behavior, and presumably the same will be able to be said about AB 953. 

The Tattler began an investigation into finding out if the Emeryville Police Department is racist on June 28th with a story entitled 'Announcing: The Emeryville Tattler Police Accountability Project'.  This disclosure that EPD will not release racial profiling data until April of 2023 serves as the culmination of the Tattler investigation.

Citizens can begin reporting complaints about suspected racial profiling incidents to the Emeryville police after April 2022.  The police will enter any reports into the new data base after that date.  Before April 2022, EPD has not specifically committed to keep or archive any racial profiling complaints.  Citizens will be able to track the 2022 data beginning April 2023 when the EPD reveals it in their annual report.  Only then will Emeryville residents be able to see if they’re getting a good value for the money they pay for their police (and if their police are racist).

Correction: We earlier reported the chief of police is hired by the City Council.  In fact the Chief is hired by the City Manager.  We apologize for the error.

Are They Racist?
Many police departments are.  The former Chief was (pictured at center bottom).
We don't know about Emeryville's police in the aggregate because it has 
not been a priority to reveal it to the public.
We'll find out in April of 2023.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Council to Make Doyle Street Traffic Diverters Permanent

COVID-19 Delivers Emeryville's First Bike Boulevard

Newly Calm Street Very Popular

Could Other Bike Boulevards Also Get Traffic Calming?


News Analysis

The City Council has placed on its October 6th docket, the permanent closure of portions of the Doyle Street Bike Boulevard to vehicular traffic, a move that likely would bring the street into full compliance with Emeryville’s Bike Plan, a first for any bike boulevard in the City.  The Doyle Street Bike Boulevard, with its temporary ‘K rail’ traffic calming measures placed last April, is now safe for bicycling for the first time in years with fewer cars on it than the maximum allowed in Emeryville.   Every other bike boulevard is still unsafe for bicycling according to the Bike Plan, because of too much vehicle traffic.

The much reduced vehicle traffic load on Doyle has come about because the City of Emeryville, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocked some portions of the street from vehicle usage with the water filled plastic K rails.

The temporary K rail diversion was done administratively owing to its low cost and the COVID-19 emergency invoked by the City.

View of an Emeryville Bike Boulevard
COVID-19 made something better
in our town.
K Rails will be replaced with
permanent (more attractive)
concrete  barriers. 

The new traffic calmed street has become so popular in the north Emeryville neighborhood and among regional bike commuters, the City Council has been prompted  to vote to make the changes permanent.  Emeryville will be helped with this expenditure by Alameda County Measure BB funds the City announced.

The Council action comes as a ‘consent agenda’ item (10.7) at the October 6th meeting, a sign they will almost certainly vote in favor.  Consent items are grouped together in bulk and voted on without discussion barring some new negative revelations.    With funds fully secured to permanently add traffic diverters to Doyle Street, a 5-0 Council vote is near certain. 

The diverters have not only made bicycling on Doyle Street safe but also enjoyable, say neighbors.  The reduced traffic street has also helped Emeryville to finally be able to make a claim of bike boulevard legitimacy.  Ten years after the City Council certified its Bike Plan that calls for a network of five bike boulevards, Emeryville finally now has a legitimate bike boulevard in Doyle Street thanks to the diverters.  


COVID Upsets the Dominant Paradigm

The Bike Plan calls for traffic counts to be made every two years for each of the City’s five bike boulevards to inform the Council as to the necessity of increased traffic calming.  Each bike boulevard is only allowed a certain number of average daily vehicle trips (ADT) and any overage is supposed to set off a new round of prescribed traffic calming measures.  That’s the way its supposed to work anyway.  The highest level of calming according to the Plan is Level Five, or traffic diversion, as Doyle Street now has.  The City of Berkeley has used Level Five diverters to great effect to help bike safety over the years.  But Emeryville’s bike boulevards have never progressed beyond Level Three traffic calming despite traffic counts that have called for increasing calming.

Many years ago,  the late City Councilwoman Nora Davis famously announced Emeryville will never have traffic diversion like Berkeley and she would only allow up to Level Three traffic calming on any bike boulevard (signs and paint on the asphalt, no diverters).  She stated Levels Four or Five traffic calming would disrupt vehicle traffic and therefore not be tolerated here regardless of what the Bike Plan says.  That default policy has been followed ever since by every iteration of the Council, making the COVID traffic diversion for Doyle Street a paradigm shifter for Emeryville.

The newly safe Doyle Street could ‘go viral'.  The street is now so popular in the North Emeryville neighborhood, others might demand the Bike Plan be followed in their neighborhoods as well, forcing the City Council to add diverters on the rest of the bike boulevards.


Councilman Bauters Gets Full Funding For Emeryville 

Council member John Bauters sits on the Alameda County Transportation Commission and has been instrumental in getting the funding for the traffic calming needed for Doyle Street (and possibly the other bike boulevards in Emeryville).  Measure BB, passed by voters in 2014 allows for this kind of safe street infrastructure but Council member Bauters was able to convince his Commission colleagues to waive the normally required matching funding from the municipality.  Mr Bauters argued that Emeryville’s small size made the matching funds requirement an undue burden and that the spirit of Measure BB would be subverted if Emeryville were to be forced to pay as much as the big cities.  His colleagues agreed and Emeryville has subsequently been released from the matching funds requirement as has two other small cities in the County. 


 Emeryville's Latest Traffic Count Results (2019)

Every bike boulevard is shown to be in violation of the Bike Plan due to too much vehicle traffic. At only 4% over the maximum allowable traffic before the COVID pandemic, Doyle Street certainly has been brought into compliance with the emplacement of the diverters.  However the other four boulevards are in even greater need for traffic calming.  Will the Council follow the success at Doyle Street and make the other bike boulevards safe too?