John spent the last four years serving the people of Emeryville on their city council advocating for policies that keep the city resilient in the face of a rapidly changing Bay Area while also continuing to champion the needs of working tenants and families. Read about his priorities and track record on the top issues in Emeryville.
The cost of housing in Emeryville, like most of the state, is unaffordable for the average working household. Home ownership in California is at an all-time low and many families are spending over 50% of their monthly income on rent alone. The current COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequities built into a housing system that does nothing to help the most vulnerable and has led to an unsustainable and unconscionable wave of evictions, displacement, and overall housing insecurity. All of these issues have a number of root causes, decades in the making, and while it’d be difficult to tackle without state intervention, there are actions we can take locally, and actions I have taken, to make sure the most vulnerable among us have the help and leadership they need to stay in their homes and in our community.
With the end of Redevelopment Agencies in 2011, cities like Emeryville lost an important financial tool that helped cultivate small business growth and build affordable homes for families with lower or moderate incomes. In the absence of those funds, cities have had to innovate to ensure that future development preserves a balance that makes our community accessible to everyone. As Mayor, I introduced Measure C, a $50 million affordable housing bond, that was overwhelmingly approved by the Emeryville electorate in 2018. The city can use these funds to leverage other monies from county, state and federal sources, helping us maximize affordable housing opportunities for low-income households, working families, seniors on fixed incomes, artists, and people experiencing homelessness.
Affordable homes make it easier for people who have hourly or minimum wage jobs or public-sector work, the backbone of our essential workforce, to live closer to where they work. This can reduce the number of people in-commuting to our city each day, reducing the traffic, noise and pollution that undermine public health - not to mention the mental and physiological effects that longer commutes have on parents and families. The solution, whether in the midst of a pandemic or not, isn’t to hope for jobs to go away or move elsewhere, but to accommodate the people who want to work in and contribute to our city’s vibrant culture and economy. To that end, Emeryville recently welcomed 87 low-income families to their new homes at the newly-opened Estrella Vista. The city is working with EAH Housing to develop an intergenerational project for seniors and transitional aged youth (formerly homeless or in the foster care system) at 4300 San Pablo Avenue, and with RCD Housing for the development of roughly 90 units of permanent supportive housing for the homeless at 3600 San Pablo Avenue.
From just cause tenant protections, legalizing the creation of accessory dwelling units, working with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf to convert our former Rec Center site into a temporary shelter for homeless families with children, to most recently voting for a $400,000 rental relief program and an eviction moratorium for tenants most impacted by the difficult economic effects of COVID-19, I have held to and will continue to uphold my 2016 campaign promise of working to ensure our city can shelter those who call Emeryville home.
To read more about John Bauters on housing and homelessness in the local press:
Many years of good fiscal decisions and progressive budgeting practices have prepared Emeryville for changes to the economy. As the chair of Emeryville’s Budget & Governance Committee, I have worked closely with city staff and my colleagues to introduce budgeting practices that have paid down debt and unfunded liabilities while building reserves for an economic downturn.
As Mayor in 2018, I campaigned in support of Measure S, our Cannabis Tax, which strikes a strong balance between welcoming responsible cannabis industry partners into our city and collecting new tax revenues to fund critical city services. Like most communities, Emeryville is facing significant economic impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our years of preparation have afforded us additional time to analyze the evolving landscape to ensure we can preserve the services that Emeryville residents have come to enjoy. I have worked closely with our local business and labor partners to be responsive to their needs so that our local economy remains vibrant and diverse.
I will continue to look for ways to protect the city’s core services, to expand and diversify our local economy, and to support the businesses and workers that make up our local economy.
As recent national events have reminded us, the quest for racial and social justice is far from over. In order for communities to realize lasting change, we must continue to have uncomfortable conversations about race and racism, and commit to taking action steps that address the unequal treatment many people experience.
Since joining the city council, I have fought to protect the safety of our most vulnerable community members. My first act as a council member was to coauthor the city’s Sanctuary City resolution. I identified and pushed the city to end contracts with companies sharing personal and biometric data with ICE and have called for limits on the use of certain technologies like facial recognition that can be misused to target and discriminate against minorities. True community safety comes from making meaningful investments in community-based health, education, and youth programs.
Preparedness is also a key part of our safety plan. For the past three years, I have pushed for the council to make additional discretionary contributions toward our disaster reserves. That planning is ultimately what allowed the city council to take $400,000 from our disaster reserves to fund the Emeryville Emergency Rental Assistance Fund in response to COVID. These funds were used to help many low-income and vulnerable community members who had COVID-related job loss cover rent for several months as a stopgap against eviction and financial debt. By protecting hundreds of long-term community members from displacement, the city took action to safeguard the broader public safety by protecting community members who are integral to the social fabric of our community.
I have called on the council to eliminate criminal penalties in our municipal code for things that could be better handled as administrative citations. Doing so makes better use of the law enforcement resources we have by reserving police response for situations that necessitate their response while eliminating police response for minor matters that can become pretense to target, profile or criminalize black, indigenous, and other people of color. This is one of many reforms the council has scheduled for discussion in the coming months to help ensure the public safety services we provide the Emeryville community are competent and responsive to the needs of all community members.
I remain committed to creating a more just and equitable community. Black Lives Matter. Justice dies in silence. I promise to continue using my platform and voice to advance justice for everyone in our community.
To read about John’s actions regarding justice as covered by the local media, read more below:
Like many residents, I am committed to supporting local establishments grappling with the harsh impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Doing what we all can to keep our businesses afloat is a necessary part of supporting not just our local economy, but our community’s identity and diversity.. The owners and employees of these places contribute significantly to the vibrancy of our community. The ability to “shop local” is part of creating a sustainable, family-friendly Emeryville for residents and visitors alike.
These new economic challenges, and the uncertainty that lies ahead, calls for innovation and leadership. Over the last few years, I have supported and voted to approve over $200,000 for our Facade Grant program to assist businesses with infrastructure improvements - one of the most cost-prohibitive expenses to small businesses. I’ve introduced rebate programs for cabaret licenses that allow on-site music and entertainment and pushed for the city council to provide small businesses with tenant protections against eviction by commercial landlords while guaranteeing repayment opportunities. I partnered with our artist community to win a Cultural Arts District designation from the California Arts Council and as Mayor in 2018, I picked up and dusted off the old plans for the Emeryville Arts Center and commenced a public process that helped the city find a private partnership to help move our community arts center to construction.
Going forward, I will continue to identify opportunities and programs the city council can implement to help small businesses get back online quickly and safely, while working to preserve those cultural components that make Emeryville unique.
Emeryville’s geographic location makes it a natural transit hub in the Bay Area. Developing a multi-modal system that gives commuters meaningful choices can make our community safer.
As vice chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, I work to ensure transit remains accessible to people of all ages, incomes and abilities. I have prioritized infrastructure investments that target Alameda County’s high-injury network – intersections where higher incidents of bicycle and pedestrian injuries occur. I helped secure state funding to upgrade our city’s at-grade railroad crossings to improve pedestrian safety while also enhancing community livability with a rail quiet zone. I proposed a plan council has approved to redesign 40th Street with dedicated transit lanes, a protected cycle-track, and pedestrian enhancements. I am committed to turning our slow streets project along Doyle Street into a permanent installation so that families and children can safely enjoy the Emeryville Greenway and its adjacent park space. I am working closely with Caltrans, AC Transit and MTC to develop a bus-only on-ramp at Powell Street that will expedite trans-bay commutes across the Bay Bridge.
I will continue to be a leader on transit equity, to leverage regional and state funding for local projects, and prioritize projects for investment that yield safe streets for our residents, businesses, and visitors.
To read more about John Bauters’ involvement on the issue of transportation in the local press: