Welcome to the second installment of my new blog aimed at providing the Emeryville community with information about the work of your local government. In creating this second edition, I decided to provide information on a broader array of topics. I have also introduced my "Coming Soon!" section to let you know which items I am hoping to bring to future blog posts. As always, your suggestions, comments and questions are welcome as we work together to make Emeryville a more livable and enjoyable place for everyone.
UPDATE: HALLECK-BEACH DOG PARK COMMUNITY MEETING
At the City Council meeting on March 7th, I offered to provide answers to a list of FAQ's on the challenges staff identified with the dog park proposal and to host a community meeting to hear from people who wished to provide feedback.
On March 13th I posted answers to Frequently Asked Questions, consolidating the information that guided Council's review of this proposed project into one place.
At the City Council meeting on March 21st, I announced that the community meeting to receive stakeholder feedback on the proposal will take place:
Thursday, April 13, 2017, 6:00-7:00pm, City Council Chambers
All are welcome to attend.
UPDATE: SMALL BUSINESS JOINT STUDY SESSION & COMMUNITY MEETING
Following through on prior requests I made as a Planning Commissioner, the City Council and Planning Commission will hold a special joint study session to hear from those interested in cultivating opportunities for small business in Emeryville. I am pleased to announce that public meeting has been set. It will be held:
Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 1:00-3:00pm, City Council Chambers
All are welcome to attend.
RESPONSE TO MARINA RESIDENT CONCERNS
In the past couple weeks, several residents of the Emeryville Marina contacted Council to express concerns related to fee increases, waste disposal/sanitation, public safety and other issues. I met with individual marina residents to hear their concerns. After gathering information from them, I asked the City Attorney's Office to review the legal matters involved and prepare a response to their inquiries from the City. The City Attorney's Office did a very thorough job reviewing the law and explaining the role of the State Lands Commission and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission ("BCDC") in the management of our marina. With Council's approval, the City Attorney sent this letter to marina residents who had contacted Council or staff. City staff continues to meet regularly with Safe Harbor, our marina operator, to ensure compliance with these laws.
COUNCIL ACTION: CANNABIS
In November 2016, voters approved Proposition 64, the "Adult Use of Marijuana Act." At the March 21st City Council meeting, the City Council approved the first reading of two ordinances related to the regulation of recreational cannabis on a vote of 5-0. Final adoption of these ordinances will take place at our April 4th meeting.
The City will still need to develop implementing regulations over the next six months before Proposition 64 becomes effective on January 1, 2018. As we go through that process, I will focus closely on three items: (1) drafting an equity component to this program that promotes business ownership opportunities for individuals most impacted by the War on Drugs; (2) developing an educational campaign about the risks certain pesticides and fungicides such as myclobutanil pose to human health, especially with regard to personally-cultivated cannabis; and (3) updating our Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance for the benefit of non-smokers who might be impacted by cannabis consumption. I will also compose a comprehensive resident's guide to our cannabis ordinances and regulations for a future blog post once all elements of this policy are completed later this fall. If you have thoughts on any of these items, please share them with Council.
I would like to take a moment to recognize Council member Dianne Martinez for her leadership on this issue. She has attended many meetings and worked closely with stakeholders for over a year as the City studied and prepared the local framework that Council approved this past week. Much credit is owed to her for ensuring this policy is as comprehensive as it is.
TENANT PROTECTION AND JUST CAUSE EVICTION ORDINANCE TAKES EFFECT APRIL 1
Last year, the City Council adopted Chapter 40 of Title 5 of the Emeryville Municipal Code, titled "Residential Landlord and Tenant Relations." This ordinance delineates additional rights and responsibilities to both landlords and tenants not covered by existing state or federal law. Examples of things covered under this ordinance include anti-harassment protections, relocation assistance for "no fault" evictions and civil remedies for tenants who claim their rights have been violated. Given that the ordinance takes effect on April 1, 2017, I thought now would be a good time to consolidate information about the new law into one place for both landlords and tenants who might have questions.
You can read the full Landlord-Tenant Ordinance that was adopted by Council HERE.
The City adopted regulations to implement the ordinance, which can be found HERE.
Additionally, the City has compiled answers to some FAQs, which can be found HERE.
Please note that the City cannot give individual residents legal advice pertaining to their personal situation. If you have additional questions, you will need to contact an attorney. Seniors, as well as low-income tenants who would qualify for federally-subsidized public assistance programs, may be eligible for free legal services. To learn more about receiving legal advice or services for housing matters, please contact the East Bay Community Law Center or Bay Area Legal Aid. Their websites contain income and eligibility information, phone numbers for their legal helplines, office hours and locations.
Although the City cannot intervene in individual landlord-tenant disputes, Emeryville has a contractual agreement with ECHO Fair Housing that allows anyone in the City to contact them for rental counseling and conciliation, which is a dispute resolution service. They work to help tenants and landlords navigate rent changes and other circumstances where the parties have different needs or interests and could benefit from an objective mediator to facilitate resolution of a conflict. As a City, we maintain an annual contract with ECHO to make this service available to YOU so please do not hesitate to utilize it!
Finally, many of you have asked me about rent control. Currently, state law prevents the vast majority of Emeryville's housing stock from being eligible to be covered by rent control protections. This issue is very complicated but also very important at a time when ever-increasing housing costs are pricing many long-term residents out of their communities. Housing stability, affordability and safety are major priorities for all members of Council. I will be dedicating a future post exclusively to an examination of the laws and issues related to implementing rent control in Emeryville.
Thank you to everyone who sent me a message about my first blog post. Your input has been invaluable and your overwhelming support is greatly appreciated. Many of you suggested that I try to provide this kind of information regularly and encouraged me to provide updates on other items related to the city.
To honor that request, I am actively soliciting topics from the community that you wish to learn more about. Please note that the Brown Act strongly discourages, and in some cases prohibits, Council members from making public statements on items that have yet to appear before Council for a vote. I will always work to provide you with the most accurate information and when possible, an explanation of an action that has been taken.
Below are a list of some of the items that residents have contacted me about for future blog posts, as well as some other things that I hope to write about as they come before Council in coming months.
- The Current State of the Law on Rent Control
- Emeryville Lead Safety Ordinance (the EPA's "RRP Rule")
- Opportunities to Advance Economic Development in Emeryville
- The Future of Bicycle-Pedestrian Improvements in Emeryville
- Emeryville's City Budget
- Completing the Vision for The Emeryville Center for the Arts
- Emeryville Police Department's Use of Force Policies
- Citywide Resident Parking
Please feel free to send me additional items you wish to learn about. Although it might not be possible to make a blog post for every suggestion that comes forward, I would be happy to discuss your matter with you.
John J. Bauters