First term City Councilmember Scott Donahue is running for reelection after winning a seat in 2014. Donahue’s term oversaw an era of rapid political shift where a 2014 “progressive” majority has expanded to what might now be considered “political monoculture” in our city. All five sitting councilmembers now identify as “progressives” with the 2016 election of Ally Medina, Christian Patz and John Bauters.
While both Donahue and Dianne Martinez declined to provide answers to this questionnaire that was sent to them on October 26th citing time constraints, they did commit to answering them after the election. We will update and re-share this post when these have been provided.
SCOTT DONAHUE: INCUMBENT QUESTIONS
1). You identify yourself as a “progressive” candidate but where on the political or ideological spectrum would you place your social and fiscal principles? (i.e. Democratic Socialist, Neoliberal, Centrist, etc.)
2). What accomplishment are you most proud of from your first term? Conversely, where did you fall short of your own personal expectations?
3). Since you were elected in 2014, per capita crime is up dramatically, housing affordability is down, the homelessness encampments bookending our northern & southern borders have reached humanitarian crisis levels leading one longtime resident to declare “this is the worst it’s ever been”. What metrics do you use to evaluate if Emeryville is going in the “right” or “wrong” direction and if reelected, how will you assess this at the end of your four-year term?
HOUSING & DEVELOPMENT
4). Prop 10 (Costa Hawkins repeal/Rent Control expansion) is both supported and opposed by many prominent democratic leaning organizations and leaders. If it passes, what do you foresee the pros and cons will be for a small city like Emeryville with a high percentage of multifamily units and renters and what is your personal stance?
5). You supported a residential housing moratorium, initially opposed the Marketplace development (389 units), and the Sherwin-Williams (500 units) and Nady Sites (186 units) have languished. Would you consider yourself a “NIMBY” or a “YIMBY”? If the latter, what can be done to streamline our approval process and apparently burdensome regulations?
6). California SB 827, which failed in committee, would have removed some local control from housing projects to streamline the approval process. While Emeryville is not among the “bad actors” of Bay Area cities that are not building their share of our regional housing needs, would you be supportive of relinquishing some local controls to expedite housing and help combat a regional housing crisis?
7). The twice blazed 3800 San Pablo project will be rebuilt with modular units assembled in Vallejo. This type of building can expedite and lower construction costs which are currently the second highest in the world and prohibitive for some projects. Some Labor groups have opposed this type of building as it could push high-paying union jobs to remote parts of the state and beyond. In midst an epic housing crisis, would you support or oppose a housing project that utilized labor from outside the greater Bay Area if it meant making significant strides in our massive housing deficit?
PUBLIC SAFETY & QUALITY OF LIFE
8). It’s difficult to walk a square block in Emeryville without coming across a pile of broken window glass from an auto burglary. Drug paraphernalia strewn about on sidewalks is becoming an increasing problem in some neighborhoods. If re-elected, what will you do to address these “quality of life” issues?
9). Prop 47, which reduced thresholds and penalties for “nonviolent” crimes like auto burglaries and shoplifting, has been linked to an increase in these property crimes by the nonpartisan PPIC and many law enforcement professionals. However, you utilized our delegate to oppose reforms to this law proposed by Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) to address issues like organized retail theft that we’ve experienced at the Bay Street Apple Store. If re-elected, what would you do to address the increase in property crimes?
10). Two of the biggest impacts on our city’s public safety are our large daytime population and sharing a somewhat wonky border with a underpoliced Oakland. Do you feel the EPD has the support and staff levels they need to combat crime and protect Emeryville residents and businesses? If not, how would you change this?
11). The “Big 11” (Mayors of CA’s largest cities that includes Oakland) lobbied for $500 million from the state budget to help aid homelessness. Which initiatives do you think will make the biggest impact on this crisis (e.g. expanding conservatorship, “sanctioned” camps, shelters/supportive housing projects, prevention assistance …).
12). Many school-age parents we’ve communicated with have expressed their desire to leave Emeryville. The reasons are typically housing, school performance and diminishing public safety/quality of life issues. What would you tell a parent that is considering leaving Emeryville for these reasons?
13). The space of the proposed Halleck-Beach dog park project has seen a double-shooting/homicide, an encampment fire, and the area is strewn with hypodermic needles and rodents. If you no longer are supportive of a dog park there, what are your ideas for making this space safer for families and providing better thoroughfare for neighbors that traverse our city on foot and bike?
14). You voted against a small grant for the Emeryville Historical Society as part of our city’s community grants program. Is celebrating our city’s unique history that ties generations of residents together important to you and if so, what will you do to support it?
15). Two of the talking points behind Emeryville’s Highest in the Nation Minimum Wage Ordinance is that it would reduce government assistance and enable those who work in service and retail sectors to also be able to afford to live in our city. Is there any local data to support that either of these are happening or if a $15 minimum wages is reducing poverty levels?
16). Restaurants have had the hardest time adapting to our MWO and are utilizing service charges, switching to counter service models to reduce staff, implementing large price hikes and turning to automation wherever they can. We’ve lost Farley’s, Commonwealth and Navi Kitchen among many others and none of the eating establishments that have left Bay Street since the MWO was implemented have been replaced by new tenants. How will you support and encourage businesses, especially those affected by the MWO, to open shop in Emeryville?
17). Every time you read the news, another local institution is shutting down it seems. Brennan’s, Spenger’s, Mexicali Rose, Brown Sugar Kitchen. Emeryville has lost Bucci’s & Scend’s. The Townhouse has expressed they may have to leave and Trader Vic’s has endured a long battle with neighbors. While some of these are retirement decisions and the consequence of shifting demographics, what can our city do to preserve our neighborhood establishments and protect our city’s character?
FISCAL & BUDGET
18). Despite a robust Bay Area economy, our city endured a significant budget crisis that involved difficult decisions on service cuts, layoffs and an over 20% increase in tuition to parents at our city run daycare (ECDC). Can you tell us a financial lesson you’ve gleaned by dealing with this crisis? How will you help Emeryville avoid such a crisis in the future?
19). Underfunded Pension liabilities, decreasing sales tax revenues, housing and tech bubbles … do you feel our city is prepared for the next economic downturn? What revenues do you think will replace forecasted sales tax and other revenue declines (cannabis tax, raising business taxes, other emerging industries …)?
20). Are there any local measures on the ballot that you feel will adversely impact our city that you want to express support or opposition for?