2016 Emeryville City Council Candidate Questionnaire: Christian Patz
This 2016 Emeryville City Council election will see six candidates vying for three available seats in what could see a shift in city priorities. The E’ville Eye distributed twenty questions covering a gamut of relevant topics in our city to each candidate. Our hope is to help our readers better understand the priorities of each candidate and see where they align with your own. Candidate Questionnaires will be published daily over the next week in the order they will appear on the ballot which is determined randomly by our Secretary of State (John Van Geffen, Louise Engel, Christian Patz, Brynnda Collins, Ally Medina & John Bauters). Candidates have been instructed to provide answers no longer than 250 words.
Next in line in our candidate questionnaire is current Emery School Board Trustee and Education Administrator Christian Patz. Patz resides in Emeryville’s Triangle neighborhood with his wife and school age son. Patz notes housing as the city’s top priority and that “the complexity of the issue could easily be broken down into five different priorities.” It’s worth noting that Patz’ wife Barbara Inch is running for one of the vacating Emery School Board seats.
Christian Patz: Education Administrator
1). Please state your party affiliation (i.e. Democratic, Green Party, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, etc.) and please list any campaign donations you’ve received or have been pledged by PACs.
I am a Democrat and have yet to receive any PAC donations.
2). How long have you lived in Emeryville, what has your involvement been with the city thus far and what compelled you to run for council?
My family has lived in Emeryville since 2003. I currently serve as an Emery School Board Trustee. I have a track record of voting for a livable Emeryville and speaking out for living wages and affordable housing. I am committed to sustainable growth for our community; be it through encouraging green commuting, working for housing for all income levels and family sizes, and ensuring public green spaces. I have demanded accountability from the entire team at Emery Unified School District. I expect results and not excuses from contractors, developers, and district administration. I am running to do the same at city hall.
3). What is your professional background and explain how this is applicable to local government.
I work as an Administrator for Special Education and just started at the Oakland School for the Arts. I received my doctorate in Leadership and Policy Studies from CSU Sacramento. My career and education has taught me how large bureaucracies work. I am comfortable with large budgets, staffing, listening to the community, open meeting procedures, and the other complexities that come with being in city government.
4). List your top-5 priorities in order, explain why and list one specific thing you intend to accomplish in your four year term should you be elected.
Housing it the big issue in the entire Bay Area and Emeryville especially. The complexity of the issue could easily be broken down into five different priorities. Step one is to increase the amount of affordable housing in town. Next, we need to increase ownership opportunities. Along with development comes a need for more city services. As we increase our population, we need to increase things like the number of firefighters on duty at each station in Emeryville. We need to ensure there are activities for everyone as well. This includes the great senior center and recreation department, as well as opening new parks.
5). You hear people’s desires for a “vibrant community” thrown out a lot in political discussions. What does a vibrant community mean to you?
It means very little to me because it has become such a buzzword. I prefer to talk what I want it town, which is a rich art scene, community activities, fun locally serving retail, great food, effective transit, bikeability, and civic engagement. Emeryville has the beginnings of all of those things, now we need to build on them.
6). Will you gather community input outside of the dais and if so, how (social media, your own blog, guest posts on The E’ville Eye)? Would you be supportive of a neighborhood council to better understand the perspectives of the different neighborhoods and demographics of our city that don’t always have time to attend council meetings?
Civic engagement is important and best done face to face. During my tenure on the school board, I have met with parents, teachers, neighborhood groups, concerned citizens, and even bloggers to talk about and listen to their concerns. I plan to continue that practice. I believe in listening to the community, their input has driven my actions on the school board. I would be supportive of and willing to listen to neighborhood groups.
I have a Facebook page, so I am open to social media, but I prefer to break bread at Arizmendi, sip coffee at Scarlet City, or watch the game at the Broken Rack.
7). What do you think the most important outcome of the Sherwin Williams project is for our city (i.e., the inclusion of ownership housing, maximizing the percentage of “affordable” units, Parking & Traffic Mitigation, etc.)?
We should ask for and get it all. This is one of the last large pieces of developable land in Emeryville. As such, we should work hard to balance all of the competing goals, affordable, ownership, traffic, and bike lanes to make sure we get the maximum from this property. The Park area residents have a list of items they want which should be our starting point.
8). The ECCL finally opened its doors after being in the works for more than a decade. Would you (theoretically) have any reservations sending your children to a K-12 school? Will you fight to retain Anna Yates Elementary as part of the EUSD?
This is a very personal issue for me, as my son was crestfallen when we told him he would not be going to Anna Yates with his friends from Rec. The Emery Unified School District has system leadership challenges that the new building will not change. The plan came from a bad school leader ten plus years ago and was implemented by string of failed superintendents. As a school board member, I seen first hand as my fellow board members have voted against the interests of the kids, teachers, and citizens of Emeryville to get this project across the finish line. The district’s test scores are the lowest in the county, Emeryville parents that enroll their kids in the district usually leave by middle school.
As a board member I fought to keep Anna Yates open. There should have been a plan for the site, but because of the board’s myopia, it sits empty. Test scores and enrollment data shows that the district needs to focus on kids in middle school. It is not too late to move the elementary or middle school back to the Anna Yates campus to separate the grades so that the sixth to eighth grade can get the attention they deserve. This will allow more space for kids to play and allow the after school program to have dedicated space on both sites.
9). Can you reference any conversations you’ve had with the owners of any non-publicly subsidized businesses in our city and do you get the sense that they’re thriving or struggling and what their sentiment toward operating in our city is?
I have spoken with many local business owners and their feelings vary as does the success of their business. Emeryville is a thriving city with amazing opportunities for smart business people. We have the three most important things going for us, Location, Location, Location. The lines at Doyle Street Cafe and Farley’s demonstrates the customer base in Emeryville.
10). Is retaining and in fact growing our base of small businesses important to you and what will you commit to doing to help small businesses thrive in our city if elected?
Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and are tied to how the overall economy is going. The opportunities in Emeryville have driven up the cost of commercial real estate making it harder to run a business in town. I believe in the American Entrepreneur and know they find new and unique ways to make their businesses grow. As a city, it is important that we maintain and grow our relationships with employers big and small; Ruby’s needs Pixar; Novartis needs Ike’s. By bringing UCSF Benioff to Emeryville, new businesses will be developed to serve the staff and visitors.
11). Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a $15 minimum wage into state law that includes gradual increases and “off-ramps” in the event of economic consequences. If the impacts of our local MWO are proven to have the negative impacts that were predicted by business, would you be willing to “pause” ours and defer to the state model? Do you see the advantage of a regional approach to passing economic policies?
Economists and Labor experts agree that increasing the minimum wage works to help the economy overall. Studies have shown that by increasing wages, employee retention and productivity go up. As businesses adjust to Emeryville, it would not be helpful to change the rules midstream. Smart business owners plan ahead for changes in the economy. I am amazed at the ingenuity and skill small business owners have, my goal, once elected is ensure we, as a city provide clear and simple guidelines that allow business do what they do best.
12). Our current council is looking to implement a scheduling & employment ordinance being referred to as “Fair Work Week”. Do you support this ordinance? Do you foresee any unintended consequences that could come from this?
The ordinance has yet to be written, so it is difficult to evaluate it. I was at the study session and heard many thoughtful suggestions and ideas. The final wording will determine its impact on local businesses.
13). Do you feel being the “model city” for new legislation by labor groups puts our businesses at a competitive disadvantage? Do you have any concerns that businesses will choose neighboring cities instead of settling in Emeryville or of our city developing the stigma of being labeled “Anti-Business”?
If media outlets were to describe Emeryville as antibusiness they are wrong and doing a disservice to our city. Emeryville is seen as a model and has been praised for being one. As I walk our neighborhoods, I enjoy the vibrant local scene Emeryville has developed.
14). I think a lot of us would like some form of “Rent Control” but achieving this in actuality is complicated and limited. How can we maintain affordability in our city and protect existing residents from getting priced out?
I know renters need rent control in the current housing market. We need to explore all of our options. This includes considering increasing affordable housing impact fees paid by developers; making predevelopment loans to affordable housing developers; and most importantly calling on the state legislature to overturn the anti housing Costa Hawkins law.
15). Which intersections do you think deserve the most attention in regards to Traffic Mitigation and Bike/Ped safety?
When you ask any Emeryvillian, they will say the one nearest their home. We have multiple areas that need to be addressed. These include Horton Street, the two bridges over the railroad tracks, the getting from Shellmound to the Bay Trail, Powell St. and 40th. As we evolve as a city, we will need to continue to update our transportation infrastructure.
16). Emeryville is consistently listed as one of the statistically most violent cities in the Bay Area and crime in our city is on the rise (Much of this crime is petty theft attributed to our shopping centers and auto burglaries because of this and our base of hotels). In terms of public safety, what resources or legislation will you be supportive of to allow the EPD to do their best job keeping our residents safe?
In my opinion, we have one of if not the best police forces in the Bay Area. Recent scandals have have involved most of the agencies around Emeryville but not EPD. As is pointed out in the question, the media reporting the statistics do not understand the math involved. Emeryville has a population of 10,000 residents but balloons to over 30,000 people throughout the day. The crime statistics used are based on the lower population number and multiplied by 10 to compare at the per 100,000 standard. That metric means a single crime increases the reported rate by a greater margin than in other cities. If we use a slightly more accurate population number like 15,000, Emeryville looks more like Berkeley than Oakland. Add to this that EPD responds to and reports every incident scrupulously, Emeryville will not be accurately represented by the statistics.
As we grow as a city, we will need to keep our ratio of officers (fire and public safety) at their current level.
17). Homelessness is a regional and very complex issue. Encampments continue to pit neighbors against the unhoused and create quality of life issues for residents. We know “kicking them out” doesn’t solve anything … but neither does the status quo. What solutions are you most supportive of and can you commit to working regionally with neighboring cities to help alleviate this humanitarian crisis?
I like that this question frames the discussion on the quality of life issues the unhoused face. The city needs to bring services into the encampments, like restrooms and water fountains. From there, we need to increase funding and services for ECAP and other parts of the support network. I would like to see the city be a model in the region and be the hub for our neighbors and the county.
18). We’ve often advocated for a “resident first” approach to policymaking meaning resident considerations should come before outside special interest groups (such as Oakland-based labor organizations) or at least negative impacts on residents should be divulged and communicated. Do you agree or disagree with this and why?
Government entities are in place to serve everyone. People can be divided into groups in many different ways, and “special interest group” is a way of saying not me or my group. I reject that labor’s interests are special and not the same as residents. According to the US Department of Labor, about sixteen (15.9) percent of Californians are union members, that means there is likely over a 1,000 union members living in Emeryville (8,000 residents 18 to 65 times 15.9% equals 1,280 people). This includes police officers, teachers, firefighters, and construction workers. Their interests are just as important as other resident’s interests.
19). Civic participation and community spirit in Emeryville is sadly lacking. Do you have any ideas to further community building in our town? Do you think resident retention and ownership opportunities are important components to this equation?
In the June Presidential Primary, over 51% of Emeryville’s 6,303 registered voters cast a ballot (according to ACROV). That is civic engagement considering less than 50% of the rest of the county and state turned out to vote. We can be proud that so many community members sit on our City committees. Our General Plan was vetted by a full 25% of the town’s population, a number so high we received an award for it. Of course we can always do better as far as civic engagement goes and I will always be open to any ideas to increase it.
20). A huge focus of our site is civic transparency and oversight. We’re in a unique position to facilitate communication with our residents as Emeryville’s largest media outlet with an estimated quarter of the population visiting our site regularly (and growing every year). Can we get your guarantee that you’ll be responsive to our inquiries even in the event we disagree on something?
I have been an open school board trustee that regularly met with parents, teachers, and businesses in the community. I am open to listening to every member of our community, be they a resident, a business owner, or a blogger.