Happy New Year! This post is my third annual edition of reporting on the progress the city made on the issues I identified as priorities when I was a candidate. If you’d like to check out the posts from the past two years, you can view them here:
As we kick off 2020, here’s a look back at what the city did in 2019. The five priorities I identified when I was a candidate for this office are provided below. The five sections titled “2016 Campaign Priorities Statement” are the top five priorities I provided when asked to provide them as a candidate back in 2016. Below each of them is a section called “2019 Progress on Priority” that summarizes actions taken during 2019 on those same issues I campaigned on.
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #1
Housing Affordability & Stability – We must commit to building affordable ownership housing and to providing legal protections for tenants. I will use my expertise on housing programs and policies to help stabilize housing for our resident community. This is my highest priority for the city and it is the most common issue on the minds of residents I’ve spoken with.
2019 Progress on Priority #1
Emeryville built on the great progress it made in 2018 on the issues of housing affordability and homelessness. We are recognized as a leader in the East Bay in advancing affordable housing and our partnership with Oakland has been heralded as a model for how cities should act if we are going to successfully address the homelessness problem facing California and the Bay Area.
- In September, the council approved release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a 100% affordable intergenerational housing project at the city-owned property at 4300 San Pablo (the former temporary Rec Center site). Intergenerational Housing combines below market rate units for seniors alongside units that include youth. The council chose to prioritize developer proposals that will promote housing for homeless and foster youth. Proposals will go through a staff vetting process and council may select a developer in spring. A nonprofit housing project at the site is still a couple years away.
- In 2018, I held a series of meetings with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to address the growing encampment behind the Home Depot. Working together, we identified a plan for combining our resources and nonprofit service providers to bring much-needed services and transitional housing opportunities to the unhoused living behind the Home Depot. Earlier this year, the City of Oakland opened its largest cabin community to provide shelter and services to this encampment.
- In exchange, the Emeryville City Council agreed to provide shelter for 20-25 homeless Oakland families with children at our former Rec Center site at 4300 San Pablo while Oakland constructs a new permanent shelter for families. The council approved the temporary use of the site as a shelter in October and families are expected in the near future.
- In late summer, ownership changed at the Courtyards at 65th. The transition was anything but smooth. Residents were left without regular trash service, among other things. Sanitation and safety issues developed and the tenants organized themselves. I had ongoing meetings with tenants and management over the following several months to protect the health and safety of Courtyards residents.
- The city passed Measure C in 2018. The city will develop and finalize an expenditure plan over the next year or so before any bonds are issued. You can learn more about Measure C here.
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #2
Public Safety Planning – As we move into a new period of rapid growth, we have to understand how increased residential density impacts our public safety infrastructure. I will put forth a long-term fiscal plan to help Emeryville sustain the same high-quality services we all enjoy without facing sudden costs in future budgets.
2019 Progress on Priority #2
The city council took a number of important steps related to the long-term fiscal planning of public safety services. Most important of these, and in keeping with my campaign priority, I’m happy to have helped develop a long-term fiscal plan to sustain Emeryville’s high-quality public safety services. Voters will have an opportunity to vote on Measure F this spring.
- The city council updated our Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is a comprehensive document that identifies hazards in Emeryville, analyzes the risk from each potential hazard, identifies mitigation strategies for responding those potential hazards, and captures local resources and capabilities for our city.
- The council continues to invest in disaster preparedness. Last spring we approved the current two-year budget for 2019-2021. The current disaster reserve fund is now funded at $3.42 million of the $5 million goal the city has for emergency funds on-hand in the event of a disaster.
- In September, I requested and the council supported directing staff to bring back in early 2020 a discussion item outlining the options for limiting the use of facial recognition technology in Emeryville. With the rise in use of biometric data, the current limitations the technology has, and the risks it comes with – specifically, the risk for racial profiling – I believe that the city should evaluate the appropriate scope of such technology to protect the privacy rights of our residents.
- The city’s Budget & Governance Committee began a discussion in spring about identifying new revenue sources to ensure that we maintain the high quality public safety services we currently enjoy. The council voted to put a ballot measure before the voters at the March 3, 2020 election to provide funding to sustain and enhance our police and fire public safety services, create a code enforcement position to address building safety, while also providing funding for the city’s child care program, ECDC. Learn more about Measure F here.
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #3
Parks and Open Space – We have a serious shortage of green space. Civic engagement comes from making communities livable and enjoyable. I am committed to taking action to significantly increase the amount of useable park space in our community.
2019 Progress on Priority #3
After opening two new community parks in 2018, the city council used 2019 to move forward in the concept/design and construction of two new parks. As the evidence of our climate crisis comes into greater focus, the community rallied around several events I cosponsored to keep our community clean and green.
- The council approved the design elements for a new playground at Davenport Mini-Park, which is situated just west of the Trader Vic’s on the peninsula. Currently, there are no playground areas on the peninsula to serve Watergate families or visitors of our marina. The project should move into the bidding phase in 2020.
- The council approved the necessary agreements for the Horton Landing Park. The park has been in conceptual development for over a decade as a complimentary part of the South Bayfront Bridge. Now that the bridge is approved and in construction, the park will move forward in conjunction with that project.
- Over a six month period, I worked with some amazing Emeryville business partners: Amyris, Grifols, Pixar, Decathlon Sports, CLIF Bar, IKEA Emeryville, Wareham Development, Stasher Bag, as well as Save the Bay and the Golden Gate Audubon Society to pull together a two day event called “Clean Up to Green Up” for the community. Emeryville companies and their employees participated in a shoreline cleanup, with hundreds of volunteers working on our shoreline on a Friday, followed by a plogging event on Saturday, where residents and visitors jogged and picked up trash around the city. If you missed it:
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #4
Transit Infrastructure – As we grow, we must plan for the future of transportation. We must do this with the environment and public safety in mind. I will initiate a community conversation aimed at planning for the future of growth and development in Emeryville with an emphasis on green and mass transit.
2019 Progress on Priority #4
The work to keep Emeryville’s streets safe continued this past year. This included preventing a major glut of cars diverted from a proposal to renovate the Maze, a Shared Mobility Ordinance, recommendations for safety improvements to some of our bicycle boulevards, and other long-term infrastructure projects. Much more is expected to happen in 2020!
- Earlier this year, Emeryville residents received a notice from Caltrans about a public hearing related to reconstruction of the MacArthur Maze. I responded immediately, working with partners in other cities, the county and regional entities to address the situation. Our efforts resulted in stopping the completely unnecessary project from moving forward.
- The city council approved a Dockless Shared Mobility Ordinance this past year. The ordinance applies to bikeshare and scooter companies. Some residents have asked when the permit applications for scooter companies will be made available. Due to litigation in another jurisdiction, and on the advice of the city attorney, the city has not yet made permits available to scooter companies.
- In August, I witnessed a pedestrian get struck by a truck at 45th and Hollis Streets. Following the event, I requested an agenda item at the Public Works and Transportation Committee to discuss safety at several intersections, including 45th and Hollis. I am committed to making our streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. The Committee took up my agenda item in November and has proposed some changes to 45th and 53rd Streets that will be reviewed by the city’s Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee in spring before coming to council.
- The council approved design changes for 40th Street, something I had requested the city work on back in 2018. The project remains unfunded but will bring major transit time and bike/ped safety improvements to 40th Street when built.
- The Emery-Go-Round’s Board secured a long-term lease from Caltrans to build a bus yard beneath I-580 on the east side of Mandela Parkway. The council also helped the Emery-Go-Round collect unpaid payments due to the Emery-Go-Round from several large properties that were not current on their obligation.
- The county is currently working with the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and AC Transit to design and implement a new vision for the San Pablo Avenue Corridor. While the project is years from construction, residents were given an opportunity to weigh in on the various design proposals this year, including community hearings in Emeryville. You can learn more about the project here.
- The Ashby Interchange Project is getting closer to being completely redone. The city was recently asked to select a preferred design concept for the interchange. Although Caltrans has the final say, we have requested a design that incorporates a bike-ped crossing and the creation of a new park on the west side of the interchange, along with a vista point for viewing the Bay and San Francisco from the Emeryville side of Ashby, creating a new city park where the footprint of the current interchange sits.
- After years of planning, a contractor was selected to build the South Bayfront Bridge. This bridge will connect pedestrians and bicyclists between Bay Street and 53rd Street over the railroad tracks. Construction will begin soon.
- In 2018, the city secured funding to improve our three train crossings. We are closing in on approval of the design with UPRR. Learn more about the safety enhancements that will come with these improvements.
- As the city’s representative to the Alameda County Transportation Commission, I’m pleased to report that the Student Transit Pass Program is now available to all Emery Unified students.
- As one of Alameda County’s two city representatives to the nine-county Bay Area Air Quality Management District, I have pushed for the regional agency that helps regulate air pollutants to become more vocal and involved in solutions to our climate crisis. Other Air District Boards and their members have been preventing us from making progress for too long. To demonstrate that a safe, complete active transit network could change transportation for the region while improving the environment, I biked 41 miles to a December board meeting. The action was supported by active transit advocates. I will continue to raise awareness for transportation solutions going forward.
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #5
Small Business – An important element of livability comes from supporting small, local-serving businesses that give our community character. I would like us to leverage the fees gathered from the development process to help us support and grow small business.
2019 Progress on Priority #5
The city continued with programs we began in 2019 to support small business. In 2020, I hope that the city will expand our rebate programs to support small businesses. The city unified the minimum wage for businesses of all sizes on July 1st.
- The city’s BizNexus networking events continue with support from staff.
- The city gave façade improvement grants to a number of small business owners to help them make improvements to buildings that will help their businesses be more successful. First created in 2017, the council intends to revisit the guidelines in 2020 to make some adjustments based on feedback from small businesses. You can read the current guidelines here.
- Under the leadership of Mayor Medina, the city hosted the first-ever Rotten City Block Party. The event showcased many Emeryville businesses and was well-attended. Feedback was that the inaugural event was a huge success! If you missed the fun, check out some of the videos from this year’s event!
- In the fall I requested a future agenda item to create a rebate program for small businesses that apply and are approved for a cabaret license. Cabaret licenses allow for live music performances, karaoke, and other entertainment on the premises. They are approved on a calendar-year basis at the discretion of the city council. Allowing small businesses to receive relief from the cost of the license through a rebate program will help sustain small, local businesses and bring more entertainment options to our city. This item will be on the agenda in 2020.
One of my other goals as your councilmember has been to build community and defend the dignity of traditionally marginalized voices in our community. In May, after the City of Dublin voted against raising the pride flag to recognize Pride Month, in response to homophobic vitriol at their public comment, I pushed for our city to raise a second pride flag in solidarity with anyone anywhere whose community was not supportive. The event at City Hall was wonderfully attended by elected officials and residents from all across the Bay Area. In the end, the City of Dublin reversed itself and voted to raise the Pride Flag. I visited Dublin as an honorary guest and presented our second pride flag to them, which now sits in the Mayor’s Office at Dublin City Hall as a symbol of friendship between our cities.
Thank you all for continuing to contact me with your ideas, questions, issues and concerns. So many of the things that are accomplished every year are those small items many of you bring to my attention that I can help get done with help and support from my council colleagues and our excellent city staff. I enjoy meeting many of you at my rotating town halls or bumping into you at local eateries and volunteer events. I hope to see you soon in the New Year!
Here is the council organization for 2020:
Wishing you and yours a wonderful New Year!