Emeryville Updates on Community Safety, Housing, Transportation and the Environment

Friday, September 1, 2023

Good Day Everyone,

Summer may be drawing to a close, but it’s a great time to check in on a number of items of importance to Emeryville community stakeholders with an update. In this edition, we’ll discuss community safety, affordable housing, transportation, and environmental policies and projects updates.

Community Safety

This past weekend, the city was the site of a fight between a small group of individuals amongst a much larger group of young people who had come to the Bay Street shopping center to enjoy discount theater ticket prices on National Cinema Day, promoted by the AMC Theater.

The fight resulted in the accidental discharge of a firearm that fortunately did not hurt anyone, but one young woman did sustain a stab wound. I am happy to report she was treated, released, and will physically recover. While no other injuries were reported that required medical assistance and no property damage was reported, acts of violence ​​have no place in our community. Police have identified this person as a suspect in the stabbing and are asking for the community’s help in locating them. If you have any information, please contact the Emeryville Police Department at (510) 596-3700 or email investigations@emeryville.org.

I would like to thank the men and women of the Emeryville Police Department, as well as the responding officers from our neighboring partner agencies, who professionally dispersed the crowd without further incident. 

When something like this happens in our community, there are a lot of questions about why this happened and how we can prevent it from happening again. I have spent most of this past week working on those issues. I am extremely grateful to Vice Mayor Courtney Welch, who has worked alongside me all week in our response and next steps after this event. Together, we have had critical discussions with city leadership, members of our Police Department, the management team at Bay Street, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, Emeryville residents, businesses, and other local, regional and state community stakeholders and leaders.

The incident that occurred at Bay Street was replicated at theaters across the country on Sunday. To reactively blame these events on social media, youth, parents, schools/educators, community programs, or crime in general would undermine our ability to truly understand why these kinds of events have occurred, and how to properly intervene so as to prevent future ones. I am grateful to the administrators at Oakland Unified Schools who sent this letter to caregivers earlier this week, as OUSD students were present in the incident.

After listening to our community’s stakeholders this past week, Vice Mayor Welch and I have a shared understanding about what needs to happen. Our shared philosophy:

1) Center Victims in the Discussion - We believe that crime survivors belong at the center of the public safety discussion. People with lived experience offer us invaluable perspective about the ways in which our community safety system succeeds or is lacking. We will continue to ask our regional and state leaders to prioritize the voices of victims in how we prioritize the deployment of public safety services.

2) Recognize Historical Disparities - We understand that historical disparities in community investment have created an inequitable system where some crime survivors have not been served adequately by law enforcement or the justice system. We recognize that these disparities mean that many people don’t believe existing services are available to them, which influences the way they relate with their community. In short, hurt people hurt people. We must all lean in to support more inclusive communities if we are going to truly achieve community safety for everyone.

3) Accountability Matters - There must always be accountability for actions that impact community safety. Accountability is a necessary part of supporting youth. While the appropriate level of accountability does not always require incarceration and a criminal record, it also cannot be the absence of accountability altogether. Decisions related to accountability are entrusted to many of our partners: parents, employers, educators, and law enforcement professionals. As city leaders, we must strengthen our relationships with these community partners to help build a supportive environment for accountability that prioritizes the personal growth and health of our youth.

I briefly summarized these views on NBC Bay Area earlier this week. You can click here to watch my live interview with Raj Mathai on the evening news.

Thank you to the many of you who reached out this past week to offer your support. Our community is stronger when we work together to address these issues. Bay Street, EPD, city staff, our state leaders, Vice Mayor Welch, and I will continue the work of identifying legal, appropriate interventions and solutions to help prevent events like those that transpired this past weekend.

Affordable Housing Updates

Nellie Hannon Gateway/3600 San Pablo Avenue - We hit an important milestone this summer with the groundbreaking of a new, 100% affordable housing site at 3600 San Pablo Avenue, which will be named the Nellie Hannon Gateway Apartments after former Emeryville councilmember and current matriarch of ECAP, Nellie Hannon. The project will include permanent supportive housing for the homeless and will have a ground floor kitchen and dining room service for ECAP, which has operated outdoors in a parking lot for decades. The state gave this project $44M in State Accelerator Funding in recognition of the community value added by the site and the city’s leadership on housing issues.

The Bayview/6701 Shellmound Street - Several years of construction have concluded in the city’s northwest corner, with AMCAL Properties opening the Bayview Apartments for leasing this past month. The project contains 186 new homes. I recently toured the property and met with the ownership team. The resident amenities are excellent and the views of the Bay, Golden Gate, and Berkeley Aquatic Park are unparalleled.

Transportation Updates

Rail Safety/Quiet Zones - We are nearing the completion of the construction work for the rail safety improvements at 65th, 66th and 67th Street. The city has done it’s portion of construction work, with the remaining work to be completed by the Union Pacific RR on their right-of-way. We hope that work will be completed in the October timeframe, after which the city will apply to the federal government to silence the rail horns.

GoPort - I have had the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Alameda County Transportation Commission the past two years. Our agency is responsible for planning, funding and delivering the will of Alameda County’s voters through Measure BB to invest in major infrastructure projects. We currently have over $750 million of projects in construction, a major accomplishment. This summer we broke ground on the GoPort Project/7th Street Grade Separation East, which will improve regional rail safety, goods movement, and will also reduce the queueing of diesel-emitting trucks that plague the West Oakland and Emeryville communities by replacing a decaying bridge from 1932 on 7th Street with a modern facility.

SF Bay Ferry Upgrades - Additionally, it was my pleasure to dedicate the newest fleet of regional WETA passenger ferries which are now part of SF Bay Ferry’s Gemini series. They utilize very low-emission engines, removing air pollution along the East Bay’s coastline, improving regional air quality, transportation choices, and livability.

40th Street Corridor - The council voted to advance plans for a multi-modal 40th Street corridor to the next part of the design phase process in July. This new project will include upgraded pedestrian facilities, a new two-way protected bicycle track through the area, connecting to the Bay Bridge Trail and Emeryville Greenway, and bus-dedicated lanes with transit stop improvements. If final design is approved, construction could begin at the end of 2024 or early 2025. Having initiated this item at council in 2018, I am grateful to see this project advancing to the final design stages and welcome the opportunity to make our city safer, more accessible, and economically vibrant through this project.

Environmental Projects & Policies Update

Davenport Park & Playground - The city council opened its newest playground facility earlier this year out near the Emeryville Marina, the first playground equipment on our city’s peninsula. Special thank you to Patty Weber who spearheaded the call for this infrastructure several years ago and worked with myself and city staff to advance this project to completion. Special congratulations to all the children who are enjoying play time along our coastline!

????? Park - Yeah, I don’t know what to call it yet cause we need to hear from you first! The new park at the former Sherwin-Williams site is verrrrrrrrry close to opening. After 3.5 years of construction, we are literally days away from work being finished. The park will not open for another month to allow grass and other plants some time to become established before they are ready for all the wear-n-tear we know you’ll give it! In the meantime, we are planning a community party for this new community asset and we want to know what you’d like to call it. You can submit your suggestions here but they must be received by the end of the day on September 5th.

US Fish & Wildlife in Emeryville - I was excited for us to host the US Fish & Wildlife Service here in Emeryville as they explore the potential for reintroducing the Southern Sea Otter to the SF Bay, which was once a zone of habitat for the species.

Trees, Wildflowers & Pesticides - In January 2022, I requested and received unanimous support from council to undertake a comprehensive, citywide tree study to examine all the existing and potential opportunities for significantly improving the city’s aesthetic, value, and natural resources by expanding our urban tree canopy. As part of the city’s budget this year, the council earmarked $1M of funding for an urban tree planting program. In June, as part of National Pollinator Week, I received council support to consider policies that would result in banning pesticides that use neonicotinoids on all city properties and in city contracts. Neonics are a group of five chemicals found in certain pesticides that are known to kill bees and butterflies while also adversely harming birds that eat insects, resulting in harm to the food web. There has been a dramatic decline in bird, bee, and butterfly populations over recent years, with some studies showing these pesticides are a key contributor. This item will come to the city council for discussion, alongside the final tree study report. I will be asking to create a voluntary wildflowering program in the city to encourage property owners to abandon harmful pesticides while also agreeing to forego a lawn and allow the city to spread wildflower seeds as a means of helping the city encourage pollinator communities here in Emeryville. With additional tree canopy, we can be a community rich in natural resources and small, sensitive wildlife that historically lived along the mudflats here in Emeryville. If you’d like to learn more or would like to come out in support to the meeting, please email me at jbauters@emeryville.org.

Go Outside!

This is my periodic reminder about the value of spending time outdoors in nature. Human health and mental wellness is greatly improved with as little as 20 minutes of time each day in nature. As I think about how accessing and appreciating nature has guided my ability to respond to everything from community safety challenges to proposing environmental policies that protect our ecosystem, I wish to invite you to discover this for yourself. The below picture was taken on North Tea Lake during a weeklong canoe trip I made through Algonquin Provincial Park, Northern Ontario, Canada, earlier this summer. The Bay Area is rich in opportunities to explore and engage nature. It is yours to discover.

Thank you for your commitment to our community. Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.