Welcome to the 2020 Wrap-Up. 2020 was an unusual year and one that I’m sure many of us would rather soon forget. Although we continue to struggle through a global pandemic wrought with ongoing public health and economic challenges, it’s more important than ever for public officials and agencies to remain transparent, accessible, and accountable to their communities. Since being first elected in 2016, I have published this annual wrap-up as my way of remaining transparent and accountable to the Emeryville community about the work that we’ve done on the five policy priority areas I identified as a candidate. Although my near-weekly town halls went on hiatus this year due to COVID, I am still in touch with many of you regularly about issues in our city.
As a reminder, if you’d like to check out the wrap-ups from any of the past three years, you can view each of them here:
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 “2020 Progress on Priority” that summarizes actions taken during 2020 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.
2020 Progress on Priority #1
Emeryville continues to be a regional leader on affordable housing and tenant protections.
- 4300 San Pablo Avenue: In 2019, the Emeryville City Council agreed to provide shelter for 20-25 homeless Oakland families with children at the former Rec Center site, owned by the city. Earlier this year, unhoused families with children moved into the site, helping us address family homelessness in our region. This builds on the work done in 2018 and 2019 where Emeryville and Oakland leaders combined resources and cleaned up the encampment site behind the Home Depot while moving those community members into shelter with services.
4300 San Pablo Avenue (future): Earlier this year, the city council approved exclusive negotiating rights with EAH Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer, to construct a 68-unit intergenerational affordable housing project aimed at seniors and formerly homeless or foster care system-involved youth. The project will go through the development and design process, with construction hopefully beginning in 2022. Below photo: Rendering of future affordable housing at 4300 San Pablo Ave.
- 3600 San Pablo Avenue (“The Evoy”): In 2017, the city council unanimously directed city staff to pursue acquisition of 3600/3610/3620 San Pablo Avenue for the purposes of building permanent supportive housing on the site. In 2019, with the help of a loan from the city, affordable housing developer RCD Housing acquired the site during a bankruptcy proceeding and entered into an agreement with the city for the development of affordable housing. The project will contain 90 units made available to very low income renters, including a number of units that will provide permanent supportive housing to people experiencing homelessness in our community. The ground floor will include a permanent, indoor facility and dining room for ECAP, which serves over 200,000 meals annually to low-income seniors and people experiencing homelessness and hunger in Alameda County. Below photo: Rendering of future affordable housing at 3600 San Pablo Ave.
- Measure C (2018): The city council reviewed the draft expenditure plan for Emeryville’s $50M affordable housing bond in December and anticipates approving it early in 2021. You can review the draft Measure C Expenditure Plan here.
- COVID Relief: 2020 posed unique challenges to community members when the state and county health officers closed various elements of the state and local economy in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. The city responded quickly, enacting one of the state’s strongest eviction moratoria and turning $400,000 in disaster relief funds into emergency rental assistance for lower-income renters, preventing eviction for over 100 Emeryville families. I am grateful to the individual donors and private benefactors who also contributed to this fund and our collective success. You can learn more about the various protections and provisions in place here.
- Sherwin-Williams (“The Emery”): Construction finally broke ground on the 500-unit residential project, which will include a new 2+ acre city park, a community organic garden, and the final, southernmost segment of the Emeryville Greenway. The project is anticipated to take 40 total months to build, and we are finishing year 1 of construction. 87 of the units will be reserved for low- and very low-income households. Below: Rendering of “The Emery,” currently under construction.
- 6701 Shellmound (“Nady Site”): The long-abandoned Nady property at the Shellmound Street off-ramp was cleared in December 2018/January 2019 to make way for a new, 186-unit project. The project involves some complex jurisdictional issues related to an encampment abutting the city property on Caltrans right-of-way. The city continues to work with the site developer, Caltrans, the City of Berkeley, our homeless services providers, and advocates to help ensure the construction can begin in early 2021 while offering services to those currently living on the Caltrans offramp.
- Public Market: Tenants moved into Marketplace Parcel D (the Avalon on the old theater site) this year and the units wrapping around the parking structure on Parcel C2 are being finalized for occupancy.
- You can check monthly updates on all pending projects in the city at this link.
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.
2020 Progress on Priority #2
In March, voters overwhelmingly approved Measure F, the city’s quarter-cent sales tax to support public safety, code enforcement, public works and early child education services. The council identified this suite of investments to bolster our public safety, infrastructure safety, and prevention programs.
- Emeryville Measure F: You can learn more about Emeryville Measure F here. The city began collecting this new revenue in July 2020 and will review the new receipts in the first half of 2021 before allocating funds. COVID is anticipated to have dramatically impacted the initial revenue estimates. Before Measure F, all of the sales tax monies collected at local stores go directly to Alameda County and the state, very little of which comes back to Emeryville as a percentage of gross receipts. Measure F is the city’s first locally-controlled sales tax that cannot be taken or controlled by other government agencies.
- Policing Policies: In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, the city council agendized a special meeting to discuss a suite of policies to review police practices. Although the city meets the policy standards put forth by advocacy campaigns like 8 Can’t Wait, we identified several others we wished to reform. In December, the council discussed reducing a number of local criminal misdemeanor and infraction penalties in the Emeryville Municipal Code to administrative citations. The other policies have been referred to the city’s Public Safety Committee for discussion and recommendation to council.
- League of California Cities: At the end of last year, I was appointed by the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities to represent the East Bay on the state’s Public Safety Committee for calendar year 2020. We review and take positions of support and opposition on state legislative proposals related to public safety. I was reappointed to serve on this committee through 2021.
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.
2020 Progress on Priority #3
After opening two new community parks in 2018, the city continued design and development on new parks this year, with a couple anticipated openings in 2021.
- New Parks Coming: The city anticipates opening two new parks in 2021. The first is the Horton Landing Park, which is connected to the new South Bayfront Bridge (discussed below in Transit). The second is Davenport Park, just west of Trader Vic’s on the north side of Powell Street. When complete, it will offer a play structure for families out on the peninsula. Below: Image of layout for Davenport Park (please note that the bottom of the photo is north).
- Point Emery: The city is actively looking at work to prevent further erosion of Point Emery, near the Ashby Interchange. The city is currently working to get approval from the appropriate agencies to install new “rip-rap” that protects the shoreline from soil erosion so we can preserve this popular spot.
- Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD): In 2020 I was re-elected to serve as one of Alameda County’s two city representatives to the nine-county Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which oversees air quality regulation, enforcement, and monitoring. In January I was appointed chair of the District’s Stationary Source Committee, where our work is focused on rule development for the regulation of large industrial sources, including refineries, the Port, cement plants and waste disposal facilities. In November, I was selected to serve as one of the Board’s three Executive Officers, and will serve as Board Secretary for 2021. I am proud that Emeryville has been recognized for its leadership on environmental stewardship and look forward to continuing to represent our city and county at this important agency in the coming year.
2016 Campaign Priorities Statement #4
Transportation 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 active and mass transit.
2020 Progress on Priority #4
A lot of wonderful things happened again in the transportation infrastructure space, despite 2020’s best efforts to ruin everything.
South Bayfront Bridge: In the early morning hours of December 20th, the long-awaited bicycle-pedestrian South Bayfront Bridge, that will connect the final, southern segment of the Emeryville Greenway across the Union Pacific Railroad was installed. The construction of the approaches and the Horton Landing Park will continue, with the anticipated opening date in fall of 2021. Below: Photo of South Bayfront Bridge installation.
COVID Slow Streets/Your New Doyle Street Greenway: When the pandemic began, cities looked for ways to create safe outdoor spaces for people to exercise while practicing adequate social distancing. In Emeryville, the Transportation Committee recommended that we convert parts of Doyle Street into protected active transportation space. The result was extremely popular with residents and the council received overwhelmingly positive feedback. In October, the Alameda County Transportation Commission put out $75,000 “quick-build” grants for cities that wanted to make permanent bike/ped changes. We leaped on the opportunity to make permanent improvements to Doyle Street. The result is a fully separated bike/ped space, coupled with street closures at both ends. We hope you ❤️ it as much as we do! Below: Photo of Doyle Street, looking north from 61st Street. New permanent bollards and planters will close off portions of this street permanently to cars in the coming days.
- San Pablo Avenue Corridor Plan: The county continues to work with the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and AC Transit to design and implement a new vision for the San Pablo Avenue Corridor. Based on public surveys and other studies conducted over the past two years, the county anticipates rolling out a first phase of changes to the Oakland and Emeryville segments of San Pablo in the next couple years, with BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) lanes and protected bike lanes. You can learn more about the project here.
- Horton & 59th Street Bike Lane Extensions: As part of our annual repaving program, we installed new bollards on our existing protected bike lanes, and extended them up to 62nd Street, while also putting parking-protected bike lanes along 59th Street between Hollis and Horton. Our goal is to continue making these kinds of improvements on the city’s bike network going forward as part of already-scheduled paving plans the city has.
- Quiet Zones/Safe Railroad Crossings: For years I have heard from residents about the challenges posed by the train horns in Emeryville. In 2018, the city competed for and won a State CTC Grant of SB 1 funding to help bring much needed safety improvements that would also allow us to create a federally-designated quiet zone. So many of you were instrumental in that effort - thank you! The UPRR has recently signed off on the final design elements and the state is expected to release our grant money to us in January 2021 with construction anticipated to begin in summer 2021. Learn more about the project here.
- Ashby Interchange: The Ashby Interchange Project project will begin its final design phase this coming year. The original rotary-style off-ramps have been removed in favor of a tight diamond design. The project will include a new bicycle-pedestrian crossing from Emeryville to the Bay Trail, with a vista park on the marina side of the freeway. Construction is estimated to begin in early 2023 after right-of-way entitlements and other legal approvals are completed in 2022, following final design approval.
- Alameda CTC: As Emeryville’s representative to the Alameda County Transportation Commission, I was humbled to be elected the Vice Chair of the Commission in January 2020. This leadership position is traditionally two, one-year terms. I work closely with Commission Chair and Mayor of San Leandro, Pauline Cutter, as well as the 20 other representatives to the Commission in guiding the transportation policies, projects, programs and investments for Alameda County. I am very proud of the incredible work we do here in Emeryville on Transportation and Public Works, and have special gratitude for our Public Works staff, city manager, and Councilmember Medina who work closely with me in helping make Emeryville a safe, livable, and accessible community for people of all ages, incomes and abilities.
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.
2020 Progress on Priority #5
The COVID pandemic has been particularly harsh on our small business economy this past year. I’ve spent countless hours working with our local small businesses to make our small, nimble city adaptive and responsive to the needs of businesses trying to weather the pandemic and its economic impact. The city council acted unanimously and decisively on a number of initiatives this year, which have helped bridge many of our local businesses into 2021. We have more work to do, but to date our actions have included the following:
- Small Business Eviction Moratorium & Rental Repayment: In May, the city council passed a series of urgency ordinances to protect small businesses. Among these, the city council put an eviction moratorium in place for restaurants, while also adopting a repayment ordinance that requires commercial property owners to offer extended periods of at least 12 months for businesses to catch up on late rent payments. Subsequent to the city’s eviction moratorium, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-80-20 on September 23rd, which put a statewide moratorium on commercial evictions through March 31, 2021.
- Small Biz Emergency Grants: In June, the city council reprogrammed approximately $200,000 of Small Business funding that typically goes toward facade grants into grants for businesses impacted by the looting that took place in late May. The city provided money to over 30 impacted local businesses. We also approved a parklet program to allow restaurants interested in doing outdoor dining a chance to expedite their process and waive normal processing fees. A number of businesses took advantage of that program. In October, we extended it to include other businesses and offered temporary use permits. Thank you to our Community Development Department staff for being so nimble and responsive during these often chaotic times. Below: The new outdoor dining parklet at one of my favorite breakfast spots: Doyle Street Cafe.
- Delivery Fee Ordinance: In October, the city council adopted an urgency ordinance that capped the cost of food-service delivery fees. Emeryville was joined by a number of other east bay cities in regulating delivery companies that were gouging delivery prices. The ordinance is set to continue for 180 days after the state of emergency ends, giving the council time to consider a permanent ordinance.
- Small Biz Financial Aid Program: In November, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors announced a small business assistance program to provide grants to businesses impacted by COVID. To incentivize local participation in the program, a portion of the funds were dedicated on a first-come, first-serve basis to city’s who matched the grant amounts. The city council acted quickly, putting up $115,000 as match funding, moving Emeryville’s businesses to the front of the line for the county’s contribution. A list of awardees is expected soon.
- You can find a comprehensive resource on federal, state, and local resources for businesses on our city’s website by visiting us here.
2021 Emeryville City Council
Normally, this is where I post the annual photo of the Emeryville City Council taken at our December meeting after we have reorganized to select our new Mayor and Vice Mayor for the following year. Because we have met remotely all year, that group picture was not taken, so I have shared our city website’s council reorg photo instead. Congratulations to my colleagues Dianne Martinez for being selected to serve as our city’s Mayor and Scott Donahue for being selected as Vice Mayor for 2021. Congratulations to Councilmember Patz for completing a challenging year as Emeryville’s Mayor. You can learn more about the members of the Emeryville City Council here. The city will be updating this page in early 2021 to contain additional information about council committee assignments, roles, and other functions to help better connect you with your elected representatives on the issues important to you.
As always you can reach me at [email protected]
I am on Twitter at @JohnBauters
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I wish all of you peace, health and safety during these challenging times. Together, we can get through this pandemic with patience, mutual support, and a commitment to rebuild stronger. Hoping that I will see many of you in person at some point during 2021.