East Bay Express article details Emeryville’s shift away from developers

1 min read

East Bay Express staff writer Darwin BondGraham has been doing a fair amount of coverage of our little city that gets so little exposure. BondGraham wrote several pieces during the minimum wage battle, and also provided some coverage of the recent officer involved shooting of Yuvette Henderson (albeit more from a social justice perspective than objective news). BondGraham identifies himself as an investigative journalist and sociologist.

In this piece, BondGraham identifies Emeryville’s shift to a progressive majority and their priority of creating affordable, family friendly housing. The article recollects the boom era of Emeryville development over the past few decades fueled by redevelopment after the exodus of manufacturing – to the more recent implemented property transfer tax, attempted development moratoriumrecently rejected Public Market Parcel and in-progress reset of the City development bonus system. “I am very appreciative of the work Dianne and Scott and Jac do — they have good intentions,” notes 28 year councilperson Nora Davis in an interview. “But I’m wondering if they really looked at this whole process. To throw a monkey wrench in here hurts the city and ultimately it hurts our ability to get more affordable units.”


Emeryville Is Finally Rethinking Development

By Darwin BondGraham
Photo: Bert Johnson

During the heyday of redevelopment, Emeryville was practically rolling in cash. An A-list of real estate developers lined up to build thousands of housing units and massive shopping malls. The compact East Bay burg, much of it a blighted and toxic landscape of hollowed-out factories, quickly morphed into a sparkling model of new urbanism. From 2000 to 2010, Emeryville’s population expanded by 46 percent, but the city, a veritable growth machine, added housing faster than people, growing its stock by 56 percent. Emeryville’s leaders took advantage of nearby Berkeley’s aversion to big-box stores, adding retailers who generate millions in sales taxes.

But growth under this regime created problems — problems that have mushroomed in recent years, threatening the social fabric of the city. Emeryville’s redevelopment-era regime raised money based on the expected future tax revenues that new retail and housing would generate, and channeled these funds into building even more housing, retail, and office buildings through the city’s redevelopment agency. But under the rules of redevelopment, new property tax revenues raised in the city’s redevelopment zones — which covered a full 95 percent of Emeryville — couldn’t be used by the school district, transit agencies, and other public agencies responsible for essential services.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. News. The root in that word is new as in ‘what’s new’. This East Bay Express story tells us what’s new and what’s news. So what quote does the Eville Eye pull from the story? What’s old. This blog has a political agenda. It’s certainly not objective.

    • Agree with your assessment of this blog. Notice the headline as well “Shift Away From Development”. Who besides this blog said these council members don’t want development? Why not “Shift Towards Livable Development” or “Sustainable Development”? Or even “Shift Away From Previous Development Model”?

    • Political Agenda? Yes, to advocate for RESIDENTS, as in those that actually live here and are “paying the bills” (not those that we theoretically want to attract to our city or under the guise of social justice advocacy). Our “agenda” is that resident priorities are not dismissed in favor of the special interests/lunatic fringe/vocal minority. We will always have a bias toward residents unlike fake blogs and faker politicians that purport to be for residents but are really just political ideologues. If you haven’t noticed, the other blog in town is now in bed with Council (literally related to one council member and good friends with the others). His only mission is to is defend their will and has resorted to harassment as a tactic. The E’ville Eye is the alternative voice in our city.

      • The council majority are fakers and are working against the residents. That’s quite a comment. They’re out of touch ideologues and your views align with Emeryville residents. Interesting. I like this idea of yours. It’s defensible because you say it and we all know you wouldn’t lie but still, it makes me wonder how they got elected by the people of Emeryville and you didn’t.

      • In a midterm election getting elected in Emeryville requires two things: A Democratic party endorsement … and a pulse (second lowest voter turnout in the county if you’ll remember). According to the polls I’ve thrown out there, 84% supported the marketplace project, 60% opposed the highest in the nation minimum wage ordinance (and this was sliding rapidly once people understood its impacts). I’m aware these aren’t scientific, but are they something to consider?

      • I don’t think they’re “fakers”. They are true, honest to goodness political ideologues who believe that they have all the answers. Nothing fake about it.

        And the damage they are doing to the city isn’t fake either…unfortunately.

    • The EvilleEye is not 100% objective but I think everyone will agree that it’s way better than the other option in town and not bad for a guy who does this as a part-time job.

      Rob publishes articles like this one from the Express that aren’t really news. He encourages discussion from both sides. He admits when he’s wrong. And, based on his subscribership, it appears he appeals to the majority of Emeryville.

      Yeah, Rob has his own beliefs and they come through a little, but the guy does a tremendous service to our town through this blog. He didn’t have to link to this article which is really just a push piece by Asher, Martinez, and Donahue through their favorite and complicit author.

      The reality is that the new ‘progressive’ city council is not progressive at all. They listen to no one, they ignore the residents, they ignore the local businesses, they ignore their staff, and they’re fighting to implement an agenda of a fairly extreme and small part of Emeryville’s population.

      That’s not progressive. It’s just self-centered and a bit arrogant.

      • Thanks. I generally laugh it off when someone points out that I’m not 100% objective as this is never something I’ve asserted and I’ve never claimed to be anything other than a hyperlocal news-blogger/citizen-journalist (and yes, I do this in my spare time and the few dollars I make from it is NOT enough to justify the time I put into it). R.U.L.E. can take their best crack at me. Troll me, harass me, try to character-assassinate me, take personal shots at me … it’s all part of their sad game. True advocates don’t need to resort to these petty tactics. For every one of them, there’s 100 people that support me by making donations, sending me kind emails and supporting hyperlocal news by reading and sharing.

  2. Nora Davis may be old but she’s also pretty damn awesome. You might want to thank her for making Emeryville livable while taking a crack at her age.

    BondGraham is the “go to” guy for the city council when they need an article to support an anti-business objective:

    His politics are frightening. He makes Stalin look conservative.

    If Martinez, Asher, and Donahue have a relationship with this guy, then we have a bigger problem than imagined.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the council majority starts proposing the replacement of local businesses with worker owned cooperatives any time now.

  3. Really appreciate all you do, Rob. Thanks for keeping us residents of this tiny, yet mighty community informed. Here’s to hoping this city continues on a positive path forward!

    • Thanks Alexandria. This really means a lot to me. I don’t write this for the political die-hards in this city, I do this for regular residents who want to stay moderately connected and tuned it to what’s going on behind the scenes.

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