The 2018 Emeryville City Council
Happy New Year! This past year I had the distinct privilege of serving as our city's mayor. I hosted more than 50 community meetings and town halls, met more than 200 residents for breakfast or lunch, and attended close to 50 community events. I am grateful to everyone for leaning in this past year to bring our community closer together. Thank you to everyone for supporting and participating in our civic life!
As we kick off 2019, I am going to return to what I did at this time last year. I took some time to look back at the five priorities I identified when I was a candidate for this office. I have provided them for you below, along with the progress I believe we've made toward those goals this past year. You can look back at the 2017 progress made toward my campaign goals by visiting last year's blog post here.
The five sections titled "2016 Campaign Priorities Statement" are the answers I gave as a candidate when asked what my top five priorities would be if elected. Below each of them is a section called "2018 Progress on Priority" that summarizes actions taken during 2018 on those same issues I campaigned on. As always, I welcome your feedback, reflections, and thoughts on how I and the city have done this past year as we plan for and move into 2019.
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.
2018 Progress on Priority #1
Like last year, this is my biggest priority as your council member. I am committed to advancing solutions to housing affordability, stability and homelessness. This past year we moved the needle farther than ever before on the promise of future affordable housing for our community, we expanded homeless services, we made all multi-family housing smoke-free, we implemented new regulations that make housing renovation safer for our kids, and I opened up a partnership with Mayor Schaaf of Oakland on coordinated responses around homelessness. In a year-end review of housing in the East Bay, the East Bay Express wrote "Little Emeryville... may have done more than any other East Bay city for affordable housing in 2018." I am proud that as a community we are leading the Bay Area forward. Specifically, we did the following:
- The most important accomplishment this past year on our housing priority was Measure C. As I stated at the end of last year, this bond was part of the most important campaign promise I made when I committed to bringing more affordable home ownership to our community. Likewise, this was the single-biggest priority for me as a council member in 2018. Our $50 million affordable housing bond won support from more than 72% of the voters (thank you!). The city will develop a strategic investment plan for the bonds in accordance with the voter mandate this coming year before we issue bonds. Other cities have followed our lead, with Berkeley passing Measures O and P in November, and the region poised to take additional steps to meet our housing needs. You can learn more about Measure C here.
- In May, we implemented our Lead Safety Ordinance, which requires developers and people renovating pre-1978 housing within our city to comply with federal EPA guidelines related to safe renovation to preserve healthy housing and prevent lead poisoning in children. San Francisco local public radio KALW did a four-part story on the dangers of lead poisoning this past year, in which I was interviewed about how Emeryville is a leader in the Bay Area in protecting children from environmental hazards such a lead.
- As chair of the Alameda County Healthy Homes Board of Directors, the regional agency that works to eliminate lead, asbestos and airborne toxics from homes in Alameda County, we prioritized community education, and local grants to help families make their homes safe. A number of Emeryville families received grants to make their housing lead-free, improving housing safety for kids across our city. Learn if your property is eligible here.
- We are nearing the completion of Estrella Vista, an all-affordable project that will deliver 87 multi-bedroom family housing units at 3706 San Pablo. We hope to welcome all the new families to Emeryville in late 2019.
- In October, the city council formally declared a shelter crisis, joining our neighbors and opening the city up to receive state funding to provide for emergency homeless assistance. We increased our contract with our homeless services provider for outreach and housing services, and we moved people off our streets into shelter and housing this past year. As my last act as mayor I signed a unanimous council resolution to double the amount our city contributes toward Alameda county winter shelter beds. I am proud of the work we have done on this issue and recognize there is still much more to be done. We are doing it with your support.
- In recognizing that more needs to be done to adequately address homelessness, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and I held a monthly convening of mayors from across Alameda County to discuss regional approaches to ending homelessness over this past year. After spending time together at encampments near us and along our border with Oakland, Mayor Schaaf and I agreed to a bilateral partnership between Oakland and Emeryville that will be our initial steps toward a regional solution to homelessness. There will be more details on this in a future post, but you can learn about our efforts by viewing the interview Mayor Schaaf and I did on KTVU about our plan last month.
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.
2018 Progress on Priority #2
The choices the city council made related to budget spending in 2017 benefitted us greatly in 2018. We negotiated a new contract with the Emeryville Peace Officers Association, which represents our men and women in uniform. Additionally, voters approved Measure S in November 2018, which will increase general revenues for the city to fund core services, including public safety and public works. As a former disaster relief director for the American Red Cross, disaster preparedness is a major priority for me as one of your community leaders. I am pleased with the many steps the city took this past year to prioritize disaster preparedness and I look forward to doing more in the coming year.
- As wildfires raged across most of the state, we were all reminded that natural disasters are a real threat to health and home here in Northern California. Council appropriated an additional $1 million into our disaster preparedness fund this year, helping us prepare the city for any future disaster we may encounter and moving us closer to our funding goal.
- In September the city held a Disaster Preparedness Expo, which welcomed community members from all over the city to learn about our police and fire services, and to get preparedness kits and other resources from community partners. Community education and preparedness are the keys to our safety.
Reading books about fire and disaster safety to kids at Fire Station 34.
- Similar to the Community Expo, I had the privilege of partnering with our fire and police personnel to bring disaster preparedness education to our local businesses on a number of occasions.
Speaking with Santen employees about their Disaster Plan
- After months of working with the property owners, we successfully entered into an agreement for the demolition of the property at 6701 Shellmound Street (the "Nady" Property) located just before the off-ramp near the Aquatic Park. This property was a public nuisance that created challenges for our public safety and public works staff. Council worked diligently with staff to bring about a successful remediation that included the removal of toxics from the site in late 2018 and the final tear-down of the building earlier this week.
The Nady Property is wrapped in tarp for removal of toxic substances.
The last remnants of the abandoned office building are removed.
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.
2018 Progress on Priority #3
The city made great progress on green spaces this year. A lot of work has been done to improve our local environment and protect the future of our community for our children. We also took steps to fulfill the promise of a long-awaited Art Center - a public civic space to celebrate the culture and diversity of our community.
- In May the city dedicated Peladeau Park and opened the next segment of the Emeryville Greenway, which now goes from the Berkeley border to the corner of Horton and Stanford Streets. We dedicated Emeryville's first and largest mural, "Ascend" at the event, and local businesses were on hand for food and drink. The final segment of the Greenway from Horton/Stanford goes behind the Novartis parking garage and along the tracks down to Sherwin and Halleck Streets. This final segment will be completed with the Sherwin-Williams project, set to break ground in the next month or so.
The City Council joined the community in celebrating the opening of Peladeau Park.
- In November the city council entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with Orton Development to build the long-awaited Art Center at 4060 Hollis Street, behind Town Hall. With the unanimous support of the City Council, I asked to place the Art Center on the agenda in January 2018 to set up a process for identifying a private-sector partner to help the city realize its long-held vision of a community art center. A Blue Ribbon panel was commissioned to review the proposals and make recommendations to include with the staff analysis. The city is now moving forward with the hope of having the Art Center online by 2021.
The Art Center's Blue Ribbon Panel
- Also in November the city dedicated a completely redesigned Christie Park behind the Public Market. Complete with dog park, children's playground and large, grassy space for relaxation, this park is already very-well loved by the nearby neighbors. Special thanks to the planning commissioners who helped with the park design approval and to the Public Market for the quality construction.
Emeryville children come out to enjoy the brand new playground at Christie Park.
- We held a record number of shoreline cleanup events in the city, and through those efforts found that we are making a dent in the amount of trash and debris along our shoreline. Working with the Golden Gate Audubon Society I began a second set of cleanup events in the Emeryville Estuary portion of McLaughlin State Park. Working in sensitive bird habitat with bird experts has been extremely rewarding as we are working to protect baby birds and endangered species from harmful pollutants that are endangering our local natural ecosystem.
Teaching children about ecological awareness at a Bay clean-up.
Clean-up volunteers at work!
- In April I was appointed to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. In that capacity I represent Alameda County on air quality issues and work to better regulate polluters by enacting regional rules that reduce the harmful air pollutants that jeopardize public health. I was proud to sign Emeryville onto a compact that will work to eliminate diesel fuel trucks from our region by 2033.
Emeryville joins the Diesel Free by '33 Compact
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.
2018 Progress on Priority #4
This past year we began a lot of positive work on making our streets safer for Emeryville's bikers and walkers. This included implementation of some pilot programs, approving final designs for Greenway safety enhancements that will be coming in early 2019, approval for a re-envisioned 40th Street corridor, and greater collaboration with our regional partners and agencies. Above all else, I am grateful to the community support for our application to bring long-awaited rail safety improvements to our city.
- At the beginning of the year, I asked council to support Emeryville applying for a state grant to bring quiet zones to our railroad crossings. I also reached out to you to ask for your support in my January 21, 2018 blog post.. With the help of our great city staff we submit a great application. The funding we won from the state was matched by the county, meaning the cost to Emeryville taxpayers to deliver this $6 million safety enhancement project will be $0. Your advocacy made a difference, as the Executive Director from the Alameda County Transportation Commission told me at our regional board meeting that the state was thoroughly impressed that close to 1,000 Emeryville residents had signed on in support of our application. We are in the design phase and hope to begin work on the improvements in about a year. Please read the May 1st blog post for more details on the project.
- We installed flexible bollards between the bike and vehicle lanes down a portion of Horton Street that stretches from 53rd to 59th Streets as part of a pilot study on the efficacy of bollards in preventing vehicles from parking in the bike lane.
- Earlier this year we began work on improvements for the 40th St/San Pablo Avenue intersection. I requested that we consider a redesign of transit down all of 40th Street as part of that review, to make movement on Emery-Go-Round and AC Transit faster and more reliable. Council agreed and in October we tasked staff with creating a design concept for the entire corridor. In December we made small changes to this proposed design plan before approving it. This will create a two-way protected cycle-track along the north side of 40th Street with one dedicated transit lane in each direction on 40th.
- Council member Medina and I have held regular meetings with AC Transit board members and staff to discuss transit improvements for our city as the city's liaisons to AC Transit. Current projects we are working on include a bus-only on-ramp to I-80 westbound, opportunities to bring TransBay bus service to Emeryville, smart traffic signals that prioritize busses, and coordination on the San Pablo Avenue corridor redesign with ACTC.
- This past year I have had the privilege of serving as our city's representative to the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). ACTC is a regional body that designs, funds and approves regional transit projects. I was humbled to be named the chair of the Policy, Planning and Legislation Committee at ACTC this past year. I am proud my committee supported expansion of the Student Transit Pass Program from a pilot to a fully funded program beginning this year. Under the program we just approved, Emery Unified students will be eligible for free transit passes at the start of next school year. I will have more details on this program and how to register your EUSD students in the coming months.
- We replaced roughly 1/3 of all of Emeryville’s streets this year- a major but successful undertaking that will improve bicycle and commuter safety and position us to spend regional transit money on new, innovative projects in coming years.
- Over this past year, we have worked hard to get the South Bayfront Bridge ready for construction. This bridge will connect pedestrians and bicyclists between Bay Street and 53rd Street over the railroad tracks. I am grateful to the city staff who worked so closely with me behind the scenes this past year to move the negotiations with UPRR forward. After years of delays and challenges, we successfully entered into our final agreements with the railroad just last week and will begin the construction bidding process immediately. Construction should begin later this year. Thank you again to city staff - especially City Attorney Michael Guina and Public Works Director Andrew Clough - for all your work.
- I worked hard to help defeat Prop 6, which stood to defund much-needed Emeryville transportation projects.
Prop 6 Defeated
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.
2018 Progress on Priority #5
The city took several important steps in 2018 as it relates to small businesses. I remain committed to expanding the opportunities and services we provide small businesses and look to build on this year's initial successes. Things we accomplished this year include:
- The city launched its quarterly BizNexus events to provide networking, information sharing, and professional services opportunities to local businesses. I am proud to help bring these events to fruition with our small business partners and staff. This year our host venues included East Bay Therapeutics, the Emeryville Marina, the Senior Center, and the Public Market. They have received overwhelming positive feedback and I hope they will serve as a step forward in developing a more robust small business program. I encourage local business to join us at future events!
- Just this past month, and working with partners from the business and arts communities, the city put out a paid advertisement in the San Francisco Business Times that highlighted the many things that make Emeryville such a desirable destination to do business.
Finally, although not specifically outlined as one of my campaign priorities, a priority for me during my term as mayor this past year was celebrating our community and lifting up those among us who make our town a great place to live, work and play. Events included celebrations of Black History Month, Women, LGBT Pride, Youth, and even Rescue Dogs, among many others. I want to thank the many people I had a chance to get to know intimately over this past year for everything they do to make this city wonderful. Here are a few pictures that highlight the year's celebrations:
Council Member Patz (Ursula), Vice Mayor Medina (Ariel), Council Member Martinez (Sebastian), and Mayor Bauters (Eric) welcome kids to the Emeryville "Dive-In Movie" showing of the Little Mermaid at the Emeryville Community Pool (July)
Recognizing local small businesses that put Emeryville on the map (May)
Honorees at our Women's History Month Celebration (March)
Community Photo at the conclusion of our LGBT Pride Celebration at City Hall (June)
Honoring former Councilmember and ECAP founder, Nellie Mae Hannon, at our Black History Month celebration (February)
Community Celebration at the LGBT Pride Event and Flag Raising (June)
Recognizing Sgt. Kevin Goodman for 25 years of service to Emeryville (October)
Celebrating the Emeryville Beer & Wine Festival at Bay Street with City Staff (September)
Sorting donations for students at the Back-to-School Drive with Firefighters Local 55 (September)
Committee Volunteers are honored at the 1st annual "Giving Thanks" Event (November)
The City of Emeryville dedicated a Peace Pole and had guest speakers talk about overcoming hate through healing as one of the region's many "Bay Area Stands United Against Hate Week" events
Adopt a Shelter Dog Day in Emeryville - families went home with new furry friends! (October)
Youth Confidence Day to recognize Emeryville's youth and their achievement (October)
Dedication of "Ascend" by Joey Rose, the first mural selected by our Public Art Committee (May)
Honoring the winner of the 2018 Pixar Animation Studios Halloween Contest (October)
One of the more than 50 Town Halls I held this past year to hear from residents (this one at Pacific Park Plaza)
Volunteered for the dunk tank at the Spring Carnival (March)
We have been very busy this past year. While this list is not exhaustive, it also does not reflect all the things we need to do - there is much more work to be done. I am grateful to all of you who have given your time, compassion and skills to our community. As we begin 2019, I look forward to the council laying out priorities for the coming year and as always, look forward to your input and participation. Together, we are making our community a better place to live.
Our new council organization for 2019:
The 2019 Emeryville City Council
Wishing you all a wonderful 2019,