The City of Emeryville held two council meeting during the month of January. Among the highlights that emerged from these meetings were the updated goals and priorities for fiscal year 2019-2020 as well as ongoing project discussions.
Council discussed a Senior or possibly “Intergenerational” housing project on the land currently occupied by the Robert Savage Recreation Center on San Pablo Avenue. In addition, the city announced that it had finally completed negotiations with Union Pacific Railroad necessary to begin the long-anticipated South Bayfront bridge project and was putting the project out to bid.
City Council Goals and Priorities Reviewed and Discussed
On January 29th, council evaluated, reassessed and amended their goals and priorities for the 2018-19 fiscal year so staff could concentrate their resources.
Prior to council discussion, Senior Planner and SEIU representative Miroo Desai spoke on behalf of her union employees noting the staff to resident ration has decreased significantly in the prior twenty years. Desai made a plea to council to make an investment in the city’s ‘human’ capital. “We are a lean and mean staff here. I think it’s time for the council to look to their own house and see whether there will be adequate investments, to treat us with fairness and justice in this round of fiscal years.”
During the discussion, Councilmember Martinez suggested preparing a Parcel Tax ballot measures for the 2020 general election that would create revenue for Public Safety including fire and police. Mayor Medina recommended a broader “revenue generating ballot measures” item that would create a broader tent for additional taxes or other ‘revenue generating’ measures. “That would open it up to consider other things like a Vacancy Tax.”
Beginning the conversation over a community library, which was promised at part of the Emeryville Center of Community Life project, was deemed a high priority and added to the list.
After council discussion, they netted out on the following 10 priorities.
- South Bayfront Bridge (cont.)
- Housing Bond Expenditure Plan (cont.)
- Active Transportation Safety/Multimodal Connectivity (cont.)
- Arts Center (cont.)
- Disaster Preparedness (cont.)
- Parking Management (cont.)
- Rail Safety and Quiet Zones (cont.)
- Revenue Generating Ballot Measures for 2020 (cont.)
- Code Enforcement Program (New)
- Library Services (New)
Trimmed from the list of priorities were “Minor Improvements” which included Davenport Park (in progress) as well as the addition of a Communications Director position to staff advocated for by Councilmember Bauters. Bauters made a final appeal to his fellow councilmembers to retain it. “…we rely on people who do very little to no research to post things on blogs about what the community is doing and it’s really not the truth and so people don’t know what’s going on this town.”
The idea was previously rebuked by SEIU reps who cautioned adding a staff position in the wake of significant cuts and layoffs in 2017 was ill-advised. The item failed to get the support necessary from the other councilmembers to make it a top priority, although they were receptive to the idea of improving public communication.
Please note that the summaries provided below are taken directly from the text of these reports.
January 2019 Highlights of The Month
The City Council approved modifications to the Planning Regulations provisions for wireless telecommunications facilities and associated fees necessitated by a recent FCC ruling.
The Council reviewed the proposal for an affordable senior housing project on the former recreation center site at 4300 San Pablo Avenue, and directed that the matter be referred to the Housing Committee and Commission on Aging for advice as to whether to include intergenerational housing as a component of the project.
The Planning Commission unanimously approved a proposal for Public Market Parcel B that includes 150,000 square feet of office/lab space, 14,000 square feet of retail space, and 565 parking spaces.
Following presentations and discussions at three meetings, the Public Art Committee voted to recommend approval of the Public Market Public Art Master Plan.
Planning Division staff solicited a scope of work for an Environmental Impact Report for the Onni Christie Mixed Use Project, which includes a 54-story residential tower and 16-story office tower. Staff expects to bring an EIR contract for Council approval in February.
Early on the morning of January 30, staff participated in the biannual Homeless Point in Time Survey, accompanied by homeless or recently homeless individuals as guides, and completed the count for all Emeryville census blocks.
Further progress was made in January towards abatement of the blighted “Nady Site” at 6701 Shellmound Street. Removal of lead-based paint and asbestos was completed, a demolition permit was issued on January 18, and demolition got underway.
Following eight years of very productive work with the City of Emeryville, Community and Economic Development Coordinator Catherine Firpo has announced her retirement, effective in the beginning of April. She plans to work part-time until then. Her tireless efforts have significantly increased our affordable housing stock. Catherine will be greatly missed.
View the entire progress report on Emeryville.org →
January 15th City Council Meeting
Doyle Street Mews (Public Hearing)
The City Council unanimously approved a one year extension of the Doyle Street Mews project at 5876 and 5880 Doyle Street that involves the demolition of four existing legal residential units and two existing illegal residential units and their replacement with six new residential units. The entitlements for the project are now good until November 7, 2019.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [57:02].
Wireless Telecommunications Facilities Regulations Amendments (Public Hearing)
The Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to amend Article 17 of Chapter 5 of the Planning Regulations and other associated provisions of the Planning Regulations to make approvals of Wireless Communication Facilities ministerial pursuant to the Zoning Compliance Review process. This was necessitated by a recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling that shortens the “shot-clock” for such approvals to as little as 60 days. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for consideration at the February 19 Council meeting. The Council also passed an urgency ordinance that will take effect immediately and will terminate when the regular ordinance takes effect, and an amendment to the Master Fee Schedule to reduce the fee for placement of antennas on City poles from $2,500 to $270 per pole per year, as required by the FCC ruling.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [34:55].
South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge and Horton Landing Park (Action Item)
The Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad for an easement for the South Bayfront Pedestrian-Bicycle Bridge, approved the scope of work for Horton Landing Park and the bridge, and authorized the Public Works Director to bid the project.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [1:04:46].
4300 San Pablo Affordable Housing Project (Action Item)
The Council reviewed the proposal for an affordable senior housing project at 4300 San Pablo Avenue, and directed that the matter be referred to the Housing Committee and Commission on Aging for advice as to whether to include intergenerational housing as a component of the project. This site was formerly the temporary recreation center and is occupied by several portable buildings. In 2017, the Council approved a Request for Qualifications and Proposals (RFQ/P) for a senior housing project at the site. After circulating the RFQ/P, several affordable housing developers indicated that the General Plan’s maximum residential density for the site was uneconomic, and a project would require significant subsidy from the City and/or other sources. As previously reported, on October 30 the Council approved a General Plan Amendment and an associated amendment to the Planning Regulations to increase the maximum density, floor area ratio, and height limits, but before recirculating the RFQ/P, the Council requested this discussion on the proposed product type to be developed.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [1:16:02].
Cannabis Regulations (Action Item)
The Council directed that an ordinance be prepared amending the Cannabis Regulations in Chapter 28 of Title 5 of the Emeryville Municipal Code, to allow products to be viewable from the public right-of-way. Since this is not an amendment to the Planning Regulations, it will not be referred to the Planning Commission for a recommendation.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [1:32:21].
Placeworks Contract (Consent Item)
The City Council approved a contract with Placeworks, Inc. to provide services related to the City’s first time homebuyer and below-market rate ownership programs. This contract allows for continuation of services, since the prior contractor experienced staff reductions that impacted the City’s ability to deliver services. The City plans to solicit for a multi-year contract for these services and anticipates issuing a Request for Proposals from potential contractors in spring 2019.
January 29th City Council Meeting
Day in the Life – Emeryville (Special Program)
The City produced a ten minute video presentation of the daily activities of City staff, called “A Day in the Life – Emeryville” showcasing a variety of city departments including Public Works, Community Development, The Emeryville Police Department, The Child Development Center (ECDC) and Emeryville Senior Center. The video contained interviews with familiar members of city staff as they discussed their daily tasks and level of pride working for the City.
City Council Goals and Priorities (Action Item)
The Council then reviewed the progress made to date on its fiscal year 2018-2019 goals and priorities, and set updated goals and priorities for fiscal year 2019-2020 in preparation for development of the City’s operating budget and capital improvement program.
The presentation for this item can be viewed above at [24:25].