2022 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Welcome to the 2022 Wrap-Up in Emeryville.

Every year I provide this annual update on the five top priorities I identified as a candidate when I campaigned to be a council member. This annual post contains links to articles, reports, and other data that shows the city’s progress on these top priorities. Below is the the 2022 wrap-up report. As a reminder, you can review the wrap-up reports for each prior year here:

2021 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

2020 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

2019 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

2018 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

2017 Wrap-Up: Progress on Priorities

When I campaigned to serve the Emeryville community on the city council I committed to prioritizing these five issues that residents told me were of the greatest importance to them:

  • Housing Affordability & Stability
  • Parks, Open Space & Environmental Issues
  • Transportation & Public Works Infrastructure
  • Community Safety & Wellness
  • Small Business, Economic Development & Finance

Housing Affordability & Stability

Emeryville continues to be a regional leader on affordable housing and tenant protections. Housing production at all levels of income, coupled with housing preservation and adequate renter protections are critical to creating a just, equitable, stable, and safe community. With the support of Emeryville voters and their approval of 2018’s Measure C, coupled with our Affordable Housing Expenditure Plan, the city is producing hundreds of new low-income housing opportunities for families and other vulnerable populations, and Emeryville is one of the only cities in the region that has reduced homelessness at a time while overall numbers have grown. The following are updates on some of the projects currently under development.

  • The Christie Sites: The city’s newest 100% affordable housing project is a three-building, 367-unit project at 5890, 5950 and 6100 Christie Avenue, south of Christie Park and to the west of the Public Market food hall. The project will include an expansion of Christie Park, the inclusion of new athletic/sports courts, additional pedestrian paseos and paths to the Public Market Hall, and after school support programs for students. The City Council unanimously selected EAH Housing to be the developer in November and the project will now go through the design and financing process. This project will also receive partial financing in the amount of $20 million from the ownership of the Public Market. Construction is not anticipated until 2025. Rendition below.

  • 4300 San Pablo: EAH was selected to build this 68-unit intergenerational, affordable housing project. 80% of the units will be for low-income seniors, with the other 20% reserved for transition-aged youth (formerly homeless or foster youth). The project is currently securing the necessary construction financing so it can begin construction.
  • 3600 San Pablo: RCD Housing was selected to build this 90-unit affordable housing project for extremely low-income households, including about one-third of the units reserved as permanent, supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness on the current block that serves as the site for ECAP. The project was extremely competitive and successful in competitive funding to match the city’s contribution to this project, which has resulted in it being fully financed at this point. The city is working with RCD and ECAP to temporarily relocate the nonprofit during construction, which could begin as early as this spring. ECAP will return, indoors, to the property upon construction being complete.
  • “The Emery”: The former Sherwin-Williams site is slated to be finished in 2023. The first two of the four residential buildings opened to tenants in 2022, with the final two anticipated to welcome new residents this spring. The developer will complete the project this summer by building the remaining southern segment of the Emeryville Greenway, a new city park, playground, dog park, and community organic garden.
  • Bayview Apartments: The 186-unit apartment building under construction at 6701 Shellmound Street is nearing completion and is also slated to open to residents in 2023.
  • Housing Element: Every eight years, all California cities are required to submit a plan to the state for approval, outlining how the city will achieve regionally-mandated housing goals, further Fair Housing initiatives, and promote affordable housing production in their community. The City Council approved the city’s 2023-2031 Housing Element for submission to the State of California at the Council Meeting on December 12th after over a year of process through community engagement, resident advisory committees, and council study sessions. You can find the final draft element and other information on the Housing Element here.

Parks, Open Space & Environmental Issues

  • Davenport Park: The city’s first playground on the peninsula is currently under construction just west of the Trader Vic’s parking lot. This project, the product of advocacy efforts by parents in our community, will bring geographic equity and play access to residents and visitors of our marina community. The city anticipates opening and dedicating the new playground in February.
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District: Since 2018, I have represented the Alameda County Mayor’s Conference at BAAQMD, the nine-county regional agency responsible for air quality regulation. In that role, I was selected to be a member of the US sub-delegation to the United Nations Climate Conference, COP 27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt this past November. I was unanimously selected to serve as Chair of the Air District’s Board of Directors in 2023. Below: Waiting for Secretary of State John Kerry to speak about a clean energy initiative with Mexico at COP 27, with Belmont Councilmember and BAAQMD Vice Chair, Davina Hurt.

  • Urban Forestry: This past year, council supported my request to initiate an Urban Tree Study to examine opportunities for us to improve local sustainability, resilience, support our climate action goals, and improve community and neighborhood livability by finding places to add trees within our city. The consultant is currently examining existing opportunities for tree replacement, addition and innovation that will improve the city’s tree canopy, with the results expected early this year. I will be asking the council to agree to fund a local program to begin tree planting based on the outcomes of the study.
  • 2022 David McCoard Visionary Award: This fall, I was deeply honored to be named the inaugural recipient of the David McCoard Visionary Award by the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Sierra Club. The award, in honor of long-time volunteer David McCoard, is presented to a leader who is committed to environmental and social justice. It has been my humble honor to advance social and environmental justice reforms in Emeryville, Alameda County and across the Bay Area in the various roles I have on behalf of our community. I remain committed to making our city healthy and safe for everyone who wishes to call Emeryville home. Below: Receiving the Visionary Award from Igor Tregub and Melissa Yu of the SF Bay Sierra Club.

Transportation & Public Works Infrastructure

Having completed the long-awaited South Bayfront Bridge in 2021, the city got some new projects underway this past year.

  • Quiet Zone/Rail Safety Project: In June we broke ground on a project that residents near the city’s three at-grade crossings have been hoping to get for close to 40 years. I am extremely excited about this project. Safety improvements that have been shown to reduce the likelihood of safety accidents at rail crossings by 90% will be installed over the next 6 months. Alameda County is ranked 4th in the nation for most dangerous railroad crossings. This project will be a model for other cities across the East Bay that are currently seeking funding to replicate our efforts. Residents will notice new traffic signals and temporary road closures at the rail crossings in January and February 2023 while new lights, gates and fences are installed. Once complete, the city will apply to the federal government for a federally-approved “Quiet Zone” designation, which would authorize conductors to not blow the horn on trains coming through the city, improving livability alongside safety. Read all about the project and track updates here. Below: Mayor Bauters with Alameda CTC Executive Director Tess Lengyel and ACTC Staff at the groundbreaking event for the Quiet Zone Project. The California Transportation Commission and the Alameda CTC awarded Emeryville grants for the project.

  • Safe Routes to School Safety Projects: The city completes an annual repaving program to keep the quality of our city streets in the best condition possible. This year, we incorporated several school safety projects into the repaving plan. These included a bike path on 41st Street, one on Steve Dain Drive and the section of Doyle between 45th and Steve Dain Drive, as well as a hardened diverter on 47th Street. Traffic calming improvements will also be coming to several of the cross streets to the Doyle Street portion of the Greenway to help reduce speeds, protect the intersections, and keep our children safe going to and from school. Below: new bike safety infrastructure on 41st in front of the East Bay German Language School.

  • Alameda County Transportation Commission: In January, I was elected Chair of the Alameda CTC, the regional agency that plans, funds, and delivers transportation and safety projects across the county. We also serve as the implementing agency for the voter-approved Measure BB (2014). In that role, I’ve worked to update scoring criteria to prioritize funding for projects that reduce injuries and deaths along the county’s High-Injury Network. I also undertook an initiative earlier this year to have the agency adopt its first Race & Equity Action Plan (REAP), which will center our future investments and priorities around racial equity.
  • Other Projects: The Ashby Interchange Project, 40th Street Multimodal Project, the Bay Bridge Forward Project and San Pablo Avenue Corridor Project are all proceeding on schedule.

Community Safety & Wellness

As the country came out of most COVID restrictions in 2022, the city has kept the public informed about health and safety orders, impacts to services, and opportunities for services with an updated city web page. Most of the programs and work done the past couple years have been under the direction of the county health department. The Governor has announced that he will end the COVID State of Emergency on February 28, 2023 at which time the remaining executive orders will also end.

  • Alameda County Fire: There were no significant fires or reports to share in 2022.
  • Emeryville Police: Crime trends remain the same, with the primary crime being auto burglaries. Here is my prior post about how to protect yourself and your car.
  • Municipal Code Updates: After George Floyd was murdered in 2020, the City Council held a special meeting to discuss ways in which we could improve community safety. In December, after more than two years of work, the council voted to amend the Municipal Code to reduce many unnecessary misdemeanor offenses to infractions or citations, which eliminates the opportunity for minor police interactions to end in an arrest. We also used this opportunity to clean up the municipal code by repealing chapters of our code that are outdated. Thank you to the City Attorney’s office and EPD for helping us through this process.

Thank you to the men and women of Alameda County Fire and the Emeryville Police Department for your service to our city!

Small Business, Economic Development & Finance

One of the most important functions of city government is budgeting. Cities with poor budgeting practices, weak economies and political chaos often undermine the fiscal health of the city. Throughout the COVID pandemic, the city faced significant financial challenges as major revenue sources like hotel and card room taxes evaporated due to state and county-mandated restrictions or regulations. The council worked closely with city management and the staff who are the backbone of the high-quality services we enjoy in Emeryville to make changes that helped us survive the pandemic without layoffs or touching the economic uncertainty reserve - a challenge many other cities could not overcome. I have served as chair of the city’s Budget & Governance Committee for over 6 years and am grateful to the partnership, thoughtfulness, pragmatism and cooperation of both city hall staff and the community in helping see us through the past few years of challenges. We did it, together.

  • Measure O: Throughout 2021 and 2022, the council surveyed residents, conducted polling, and met with each of our resident advisory committees to discuss the priorities of the community, unmet needs, opportunities for improvement and various options for ways to fund the expansion of those services. A clear set of priorities centered around community safety, housing, environmental protection/quality issues and safe streets came from those listening sessions. Residents were polled about ways to fund the enhancement of these services and every poll showed support for making our Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT) more equitable by tiering the tax so that smaller properties that sell for less than a $1 million (largely residential properties) remain at the current rate and that the rate be increased for the largest properties. This one-time tax that occurs only when a property is sold will ensure that the quality of services we all enjoy keep up with the city’s planned growth in coming years. Voters overwhelmingly approved Measure O at the November General Election, and the new tax rate on larger, corporate properties took effect on January 1st. This adjustment is expected to help raise $2-4 million annually in new revenues that will allow us to make investments in the core service priorities residents told us they wanted to see expanded. To everyone who voted for Measure O, thank you for your vote and your confidence in the city.

Below: The 2023 Emeryville City Council

This past year, Councilmembers Scott Donahue and Dianne Martinez completed their second terms on council and opted to not seek re-election in November. I want to thank them for their many years of service to our community. Under their leadership, Emeryville expanded housing opportunities and strengthened protections for tenants and workers. We are a better city for having had them on our council. I am pleased to welcome Councilmembers Kalimah Priforce and David Mourra to our council and congratulate them on their election. We look forward to your contributions and partnership on issues of importance to our community. You can learn about all Councilmembers here.

This past year I had the privilege of serving as your Mayor. I am grateful to the many of you I see and meet at events to support our local nonprofits, businesses and community. I am likewise grateful for the many letters, emails, and other notes of appreciation you’ve shared, as well as your ideas, questions and concerns for our shared future. At our December meeting, the council nominated and selected me to serve as Mayor in 2023. Courtney Welch was selected to serve as the city’s Vice Mayor. I will continue to do my best to create an inclusive, supportive and positive environment within city government for everyone.

There are a number of exciting things in the works for 2023. Looking forward, we will complete and open new affordable housing across the city; a new city park and two new playgrounds will open; a new dog park and community organic garden will open in the fall; we are poised to host an international e-scooter championship event in the city in the fall; we will make significant financial investments in the aftermath of COVID to protect the long-term fiscal health of the city and it’s employees; and more. Sign up here to get city announcements and event information.

If your apartment association, HOA, or neighborhood group would like to schedule a town hall or community meeting, reach out to me at jbauters@emeryville.org. Virtual meetings are also welcome.

This blog post comes out quarterly during the year. You can follow daily updates from me on Twitter at @JohnBauters.

Wishing you peace and health in 2023.