Emeryville voters will be tasked to fill two open seats this election with incumbents Dianne Martinez and Scott Donahue opting to not seek third terms. Five candidates have filed to fill the four year term.
Whomever is elected on November 8 will join John Bauters, Ally Medina (both with two years left on their second terms) and Courtney Welch (elected in 2021’s Special Election and filling out the remainder of resigned councilmember Christian Patz’ four year term).
We have provided each candidate 20 questions relevant to Emeryville to help voters determine which candidates align with their personal priorities. The League of Women Voters candidate forum replay can be watched online.
Introduction & Priorities
1). First off, how long have you lived in Emeryville, what neighborhood do you reside in and what led you to choose Emeryville as “home”?
I have lived here for 33 years, since January 1989. I live at Watergate and my office was on Emery Street and is now on Powell Street at Emery Cove. I chose Emeryville because it was a personable and small community of creative and artistic people and I could bike and walk around easily and I could do my physical training here in competitive gymnastics and competitive boxing and the schools for my children were friendly and inviting.
2). Tell us what you do professionally. What skills and different perspectives would you bring to Emeryville’s City Council that might be currently lacking?
I am a practicing architect, a city and regional planner, a professor of architecture in the USA and China, an author of 7 international books on architecture, disaster design, ecology, environmental destruction and human behavioral change, and climate change, and I exhibit my architectural designs, research, and philosophy in exhibitions world-wide. Currently, I am preparing an exhibit presentation at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
I would bring an entirely different and original perspective to the City Council by creating an all-encompassing, interdisciplinary vision of what Emeryville could be as, what I call, The Gateway to the East Bay, and. A City as Family, where the family members are the City Council, the Police and Fire Departments, the schools, businesses, local government, the various commissions, and social groups, and the intergenerational and international populous of Emeryville. Currently the 30% of Emeryville’s Asian population has no voice. They are virtually invisible. I intend to be a voice for them and for our intergenerational population who want to take classes and want jobs and be an active voice in the community and in the government.
3). Bullet-point for us what you see as the city’s Top-5 priorities.
- Safety and Crime Prevention/Mitigation. Create a Research and Development Team to understand crime and address it in revolutionary and successful ways. I have already spoken with the Emeryville Police Chief about this and he agrees!
- Integrating the Schools, Businesses and Local Government, to work together to create programs to nurture all ages of students to develop their optimal potential and interests.
- Addressing the looming urgency of Climate Change and finding imaginative and effective solutions to sea level rise, disappearing drinking water, wildfires, plastics pollution, toxicity from the making and functioning of buildings, air, water, and soil pollution, wet-bulb human deaths, etc.
- Transforming homelessness to prosperity by working with local government to create medical, counseling, psychiatric, and mental/emotional evaluation for the homeless and others among our population. Homelessness cannot be properly addressed by just providing a place to live. It must have a medical/evaluative component that address the real issues of mental/emotional instability that leads to homelessness.
- Health and Fitness: Nearly 70% of the adults and 40% of the children of Alameda County are overweight/obese and Emeryville must create a city-wide program to actively address this problem for all its residents! More recreation areas and sports facilities must become an immediate goal and intensely activating our current facilities is needed.
Transit & Bikeability
4). Bikeability and Pedestrian access in Emeryville have improved markedly with the completion of the South Bayfront Bridge (a nearly two decade long project) and gradual expansion of the Emeryville Greenway. Where would you like to see the city focus its efforts on improved bike/ped safety and access during your term if elected?
Yes, biking maneuverability is important, and we should keep going with this healthy vision by creating running pathways, bike paths along every street in Emeryville, and design components that encourage walking, running, and biking, in-place of car driving.
As a City Council member I will propose a 50+ acre park that covers a stretch of the I-80 Freeway between Powell Street and Ashby Streets and this park will be landscaped to tie-into the beachfront along Frontage Road and create a beautiful, natural, native landscaped pastoral area that connects Emeryville with the San Francisco Bay. Walking, running, and biking will all become infused. This park will become the focal point of physical/recreational/competitive sports activities for the city and will act as a symbolic image of what Emeryville can be when it reaches for meaning, purpose, and excellence!
5). The E’ville Eye used its platform to help advocate that a free shuttle from The Emery development to West Oakland BART be included in the CBA after polling riders. When their obligation ends, would you like to see this line merged into an Emery Go-Round Route somehow? Do you see any other adjustments to the Emery Go-Round routes or schedules that the pandemic shift to remote work might necessitate?
Yes, the free shuttle should merge with the Emery-Go-Round route and why stop there? I see the day when our free shuttle can become integrated with the bus and BART systems of the entire East Bay. Emeryville is the central geographic hub of the entire East Bay so let’s make full use of this! We can use the free shuttle to connect with BART and bus stations, to bicycle and running routes, to encourage Emeryville residents that biking , running, and walking routes are accessible with the help of the Emery-Go-Round, and to all public transportation north, south, east, and west directions of the SF Bay area.
6). Despite some high-profile shootings and surges in crime in neighboring cities, violent & property crime levels in Emeryville are slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels. That said, what do you assess as the general concern with public safety from your conversations with neighbors and do you believe the Emeryville Police Department has sufficient staffing levels to keep the city safe?
In my discussions with the current Emeryville Police Chief, and after riding in a squad car for 2 hours two weeks ago and questioning and listening to the thoughts of the policeman/driver of the squad car, I am convinced that we need more participation by the Emeryville residents to fight crime. 85% of Emeryville crime is property crime and we can create paired neighborhood trained volunteers to patrol our neighborhoods and install cameras in areas of crime. When the neighborhood becomes involved in crime fighting and the word gets out to criminals, they are less likely to choose those neighborhoods that monitor themselves. We need resident participation. We need to send a social signal to criminals that if they choose our neighborhoods they are going to face trouble.
Criminals look for the easiest targets. They do not want the hassle of having to take chances in an organized area that is prepared and is expecting them. Neighborhood organization and preparation is the greatest deterrent of crime activity.
7). Bay Street has been the target of looting, violence and massive brawls mostly by unaccompanied juveniles. Are there any programs, policies or technologies you would consider exploring to deter this behavior that ultimately hurts Emeryville and the resident amenity and retail tax revenue this shopping center generates for the city’s general fund?
CLASSICAL MUSIC! It is a proven fact in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle, that playing classical music inside and outside of stores is a clear deterrent of crime! It doesn’t cost much to set-up and it has a proven record of effectiveness! Do it! Let’s find out for ourselves!
This harks back to my creation of a Research and Development Commission that acts as a special department to research and create answers to difficult challenges. Large corporations have them! Why can’t our small local government have one? It’s needed! It works! Lockheed has Skunkworks. Apple had Pixar. What can Emeryville have?
8). The San Pablo Avenue CVS abruptly closed in September leaving several neighborhoods without a walkable pharmacy. While they did not state specific reasons for closing, many have observed the location was the frequent target of theft and harassment of their employees and much of their inventory was behind locked cases (an anti-theft measure that Target has also recently implored). Do you believe we’ve gotten too permissive as a society with theft & property crime?
Yes! And we are not coming up with the right answers! I just gave you a solution in my previous answer. We need to do research and develop answers to these and many more problems! We have the answers! We must look for them! They are there if we do the research! Thus, I will create a Research and Development Commission in the local government so that we will never again be without the correct answers that will be shared with everyone in Emeryville and all of us will come together and discuss them and we will show the world what we can do!
Homelessness, Housing & Affordability
9). Despite efforts to incentivize “Family-Friendly” housing over the last decade, Emeryville has the second lowest percentage of youth population in the Bay Area according to 2020 Census Data (up slightly from 10.2 to 10.8% over this span). Is mandating two and three bedroom units in large, multifamily apartment projects the right way to approach retaining families beyond children’s preschool years?
NO! The reason we have such a low population of youth is that our schools are rated so poorly! Families with youth do not come here because the quality of education has such low ranking! We must find ways to change this; to make our schools the best in the USA! If our schools have the highest quality of education, social activities, sports, and extracurricular programs, then I guarantee you, the youth population will come here in droves!
It is not about the housing at all! It is about the school rankings and the quality of education that youth will receive!
10). As detailed in the key findings of the city’s 338-page Housing Element draft, 64% of Emeryville’s housing stock consists of studio and 1-bedroom units. The City has not built any significant ownership housing in well over a decade and ⅔ of the units in the city are rentals. What are your other takeaways from this document that will guide your housing priorities if elected?
Again, it is all about the schools! No family comes here to buy-in to Emeryville because the children of the family have a poor school system, social organization, and health/fitness facilities to contend with! The priority is not about housing or no housing. It is about the quality of education, social activities, and health/fitness accommodations. Emeryville has very little of any of these! This must change! Why would anyone buy into permanent residency when there are no amenities to develop themselves, to develop their education, their job-training, their social connections, their quality of neighborhood life?
11). The number of people experiencing homelessness in Emeryville has dipped following some lengthy legal battles. However, at a regional level, the problem remains staggering and feels by many to be intractable. What would you like to see done at the local and state levels to compel the unhoused suffering from addiction and mental illness into services and fast-track affordable housing for the working poor?
CREATE MEDICAL FACILITIES that address the emotional/psychological/mental instability of the homeless. We only talk about housing! We don’t talk about mental/physical/psychological help and plentiful Emeryville facilities that offer these services. And this is not just about the homeless! We need such facilities for our everyday citizens who experience sexual abuse, physical/emotional abuse and depression in families and as a single person! We need to address the emotional/mental/physical health of our citizens and nobody is doing this that I know of! This is a dialogue that must be very public and we need to find ways to reach those persons who are at risk and facing the daily terror of abuse and suffering!
12). Despite the perception, Emeryville’s housing pipeline appears to be closing other than three city-funded affordable projects that have yet to break ground. How can Emeryville meet the ambitious 1,815 housing units quota established by RHNA over the next decade?
We don’t need more housing units! We have already met the county and state guidelines for housing numbers.
We need to address other issues that are much more urgent, like mental/emotional health, climate change, crime/safety and our schools.
What good is all this talk about housing when, in 15 years, the sea levels will rise 101/2 feet and inundate Emeryville and the entire SF Bay with water that will dislodge our sewer systems, destabilize our buildings, and create havoc with our roads and electrical systems!
I suggest we all research the coming disasters already predicted by thousands of scientists around the world! The polar ice caps are melting. Wildfires and hazardous weather is causing havoc throughout the world. Fresh water lakes and rivers are evaporating. Life in the seas and on land is dying! Plastic particles have infiltrated every form of life and we are ingesting it! We are, right now, on alert with Tsunami warnings. Do you think Emeryville will not be touched?
Art & Culture
13). History is what binds together generations of Emeryville residents and is among the most popular subject matter with our readers. Yet this has been a low priority for our current leadership. Is History important to you and would you like to see the city do more to capture and promote it within the city (i.e., Landmarks, Exhibits, Monuments, a city committee, Art Center History room as originally envisioned, etc.).
I am about Emeryville MAKING HISTORY not so much looking back to the past. We can invent our future, which becomes our history, if we have the courage and daring to make intelligent and imaginative decisions.
We need to create a history museum for Emeryville and I am the one who can do it, design it, promote it, and find investors to pay for it. We should have a history museum unlike anything ever imagined! It should be something that is original, daring, imaginative and relevant! I can do this. I can find the funds and the motivation to see this through!
14). Pioneering Black councilmember & former Mayor Robert Savage’s name was stripped from the former Rec. Center when it was converted to the Family Matters Shelter. How can we rectify this slight to him and his family?
Apologize and protest or find another venue to honor his name. I will be the one to apologize to his family. I volunteer to do this.
15). Small Businesses in Emeryville were struggling before the pandemic and the lock-downs and reduced foot-traffic wiped many of them out completely. Is the city doing enough to support them and if not, how will you work to change this if elected?
I have a small business that was affected. You are talking to a person who was and is affected by this situation.
I have a vision to create a foot-traffic only concept by combining Emery Shopping Mall with Bay Street Shopping Mall to create a walking-only plaza that will create huge amounts of foot traffic! It will also create outdoor stages, kiosks, outdoor music performances, outdoor dances, eating and social activities. Emeryville will become a foot-traffic center and we might call it the Emeryville Outdoor Sun Plaza where people from far and wide can spend days in the sun filled with music, dance, lectures, eating, socializing and finding a new life unlike anything they’ve experienced before!
Small businesses will prosper. People will come together for the first time. We will experience the beauty of Emeryville. We will hear from Emeryville’s greatest musicians, artists, lecturers, and thinkers! It will be a good-time place unlike anything existing today!
This is not a new idea! It is a proven concept that works and we need to implement it! Improve upon it! Create something that is singular in the world!
16). Emeryville does not have a Tourism body and its Chamber of Commerce was dissolved in 2015. Is it time for the city to make an “investment” in promoting itself to spur local businesses and attractions in the city and boost city revenues in the process?
YES! Design matters! The space within matters! Originality matters! Substance over meaningless convention matters! I will be the first one to promote it everywhere to everyone! I will tell my international friends and investors to come to Emeryville and see the City of the Future! We will create a Tourist Center whose design will attract the world! People will come from far and wide because it will be unlike anything that exists in the world. If we do this I guarantee the world will come to Emeryville!
17). What would you point to as the biggest collective achievement of Emeryville’s current city council over the past 8 years they’ve been in office and conversely what was their biggest failure?
They’ve created housing—their greatest achievement– and it is enough housing. They’ve failed to resolve the widespread apathy, poor schools, no health and fitness initiatives, no climate change education to the public, and Emeryville remains one of the worst crime infested cities in the USA. 99.6% of US cities have a better crime rate! And we have no CODE OF ETHICS! The City Council, right now, can say and do anything and there will be no consequences! We have no government accountability! Currently, if any Emeryville citizen makes a complaint about a City Council person, the complaint goes to the City Council to decide! The City Council decides on its own actions?? They govern their own penalties? And why hasn’t any City Council person, in the history of Emeryville, ever attempted to create a Code of Ethics to hold everyone accountable? As a City Council member, I will do whatever I can to install a Code Of Ethics in the government. We need accountability and we need self-evaluation, individually, and as a team!
18). If elected, you’ll need to balance the loud, persistent opinions of a few activists & lobbyists who do not necessarily represent the views of the median resident/voter. Talk to us about how you will solicit resident input outside of council chambers.
I will be available to be contacted by everyone 7 days a week, 24 hours a day! My telephone number is: 510-301-2105. You can start calling me now and talk with me! As a public City Council member, I am here for everyone! I have nothing to hide! I do not have a private life to protect! A City Council person is a public figure and should be accessible at all times! I want to hear what is on people’s minds! I want to hear their concerns! My e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Start contacting me! As a City Council person I am a public entity and every public figure should be available to residents at all times! If you support this then I will be there for you! You have it in writing!
19). As recently spotlighted in this East Bay Times Opinion Piece, the candidate endorsement process that ensures your name and photo will be included in glossy mailers sent to every mailbox in town requires compliance to organized labor and “kissing the ring” of current electeds and insiders. What has your experience been with the endorsement process?
I do not support the “Endorsement” mentality! I support the making of friendships! I want to create life-long friendships with people all over the city! THAT has meaning! THAT has purpose! THAT is what is important. I have spoken at length with Jerry Brown, Tom Bates, Scott Donahue, Elihu Harris, Willy Brown, and others. We’ve spent hours talking about the state of the world, of cities, and what needs to be done! To me, having deep relationships that matter, is important; not “endorsements”.
20). How will you fund your campaign? Have you taken or been pledged money from any PACs, business interests, lobbying organizations or other special interest groups?
I fund my campaign with the money I have and I ask for donations if they are offered. I have not been pledged with money from any group. I have only received donations from individuals who believe in me, who believe in what I can do for the city and believe in a new vision of the future that is intelligent, imaginative, daring, and sensible!
I have approached my campaign as a personal passion, a personal goal to reach out and make a difference in people’s lives, and to create enthusiasm where there was apathy, spirit where there was hopelessness, and striking imagination where there was conventionality and dreariness! I know my history as a personality and I know I can create excitement and enthusiasm to make the seemingly impossible, possible. I know that with my Interdisciplinary PH.D. from UC Berkeley, in Architecture and Education, and with my 38 years of professional, investigation, and writing experience, I can help the City Council. I know that with my wide range of talents in music, teaching, research, and invention, I can help the City Council. I know that having won 8 World Championships as an amateur competitive boxer, 4 Senior Olympic Gymnastics All-Around Championships as a competitive gymnast, and 8 US Presidential Sports Awards by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and having been given the title, “Guardian Angel of the Planet” (Shared title with Jane Goodall and Jean Michael Cousteau), by a consortium of scientists and educators, and making numerous global television appearances and being the subject of three films, I am doing the morally right thing. I can help the City Council and the city. I am doing everything I can to raise humanity to an optimal level of moral excellence and mental and physical fitness. My goal is to make Emeryville the most fantastic and exciting city in California and the USA! I have to try. The first step is the most important one. Join me to begin a new adventure, a new era for the city!