Emeryville will host the first of two planned community workshops tonight at City Hall at 5:30 pm to hopefully preserve the beloved, but crowded free transit system. In December 2013, a group of Emeryville property owners led by Ken Bukowski’s EPOA group challenged the structure of the City’s Proposed Citywide Property Based Improvement District (PBID) which funds the Emery Go-Round and is slated to expire next year. Some Property owners are attesting that they unduly pay an exorbitant amount of the nearly $3 million it takes to run the free shuttle that accounts for more than 1.6 million annual riders.
This set off a bit of a panic amongst those reliant on the private transportation system including the heavily Senior populated Watergate development (Watergate itself comprises more than 20% of Emeryville’s population). The City responded by creating a task force representative of community stakeholders to find a compromise and determine solutions to save the popular transit system.
Since then, little has been mentioned of the outcome of these meetings. One of the reported recommendations by the task force was the consideration of assessing residential developments to offset the agency shortcomings. While the assessment structure has not yet been determined, it is likely this will be a flat amount per unit and not necessarily square footage based (i.e., A low-income unit would pay the same amount as a larger Penthouse unit). A fare-based ridership was reportedly dismissed by the task force as not practical as it would subject the Emery Go-Round to more regulations, equipment and financial auditing.
A contribution by residents would probably be unpopular (if the results of the above community poll we took at the time are any indication) but may be necessary. Finding the “sweet spot” of something palatable to fixed-income residents that will nominally impact their HOA dues will be imperative. The contracted Assessment Engineer Tim Seufert of NBS has yet to make his official report recommendation.
One of the more concerning things to some residents I’ve spoken with is what seems to be a pattern of fast-tracking important agenda items and poor notice from this slate of Councilmembers and staff. This particular meeting was provided less than a week notice while the recently proposed housing Moratorium was officially noticed barely 24 hours prior (just under the legal requirement for an “Emergency Meeting” despite having settled on the timeframe 10 days prior). The recent minimum wage ordinance has also been cited as the council moved in favor of eliminating community meetings and data-gathering community polls.
Further Reading & Resources:
Per the City’s Bi-Weekly newsletter (Sent March 3rd):
The City will hold community workshops regarding the Emery Go-Round Shuttle and proposed extension of the Citywide Property Based Improvement District (PBID) on Monday, March 9 at 5:30 pm and Saturday, March 21 at 10 am, at the Emeryville Civic Center, 1333 Park Avenue.
The PBID was first established in 2001 and then renewed in 2006 for another 10 years through FY 2015-2016 (service year is calendar year 2016) as a means of funding the Emery Go-Round Shuttle (EGR). The PBID management plan and assessment funding formula were ratified pursuant to an assessment ballot proceeding conducted in accordance with state law (Proposition 218), and based upon this ratification, approved by the City Council. The current annual assessment levy (FY 2014-15 for EGR service through December 31, 2015) is $0.262 for parcels with office/retail uses; $0.131 per structural square foot for parcels with industrial/warehouse use; and $130.89 per unit for commercial (rental) housing complexes of more than 4 units.
In order to meet increased demand and in recognition of the critical service that the EGR provides for the entire Emeryville community – both commercial and residential – the City is considering asking property owners to support an extension of the current PBID for another 10 years – this time including all parcels – commercial and residential within the assessment district. The City is planning to place the proposed new PBID management plan and petition (including governance and assessment formula) for property owner consideration (Proposition 218 ballot process) in June 2015, with subsequent City Council action in July.
For more information, email City Manager Assistant Karen Hemphill or call her at 510-596-4372.
Emery Go-Round Shuttle PBID Community Workshops Schedule:
Monday, March 9th
5:30 pm – 7 pm
Saturday, March 21st
10 am – noon