Jac Asher: Triangle resident, parent of two, Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at Cal and Vice-Mayor of our city has somehow found the time to write a personal blog. In Jac’s initial post, she pens a 22 page open-letter/presentation to the recently fortified Planning Commission with her views on the direction of the planned Center for Community Life that would consolidate all of Emeryville’s schools and many of its recreation facilities onto one site. The ECCL is a critical component of the city’s attempt to appeal to families to vest in Emeryville … instead of jettisoning to other communities once their children reach school age or enrolling them in private school.
“I write today with concerns about the proposal for the Emeryville Center for Community Life (ECCL).” she writes “When this plan was originally conceived, we imagined that it would be completed on a much larger parcel. That’s no longer the reality.” Asher goes on to say “I have come to a point where it is increasingly difficult for me to support this project. At the very least, I believe that we need to ask for a better project than the one in front of you”.
Asher’s objections with the proposed development seem to be summarized as (amongst others):
- Too many services being crammed into a tight space.
- The potential overlap of elementary and high-school aged kids due to “shared” space.
- Lack of growth and expansion opportunities of city recreation programs
- Defiance and contradiction of the approved General Plan thus negating its intent.
- The overall lack of bike & pedestrian friendliness and potential traffic problems created by the project
Asher concludes the post by pleading with the planning commission to consider adding some very specific conditions of approval to the project including:
- Crossing guards at 47th and 53rd street
- A traffic monitor at the pick/up drop off curb on the Elementary School side.
- The District should create and publish a parking and drop-off/pick-up guideline (complete with maps and illustrations). This should be distributed to families at least two times a year and should be readily available on the District’s website.
- Drop-off and pick-up should not be allowed on San Pablo.
Additionally, she asks them to consider the following:
- Do not award points for the Community Commons until it better serves the physical needs of children through the inclusion of a permanent play structure.
- Do not allow for the mind-reading of “intent” and the distant fiction of Phase II. Make sure the proposal makes our General Plan come to life. This includes the features of the Greenway, our Green Streets, and the Bike/Ped path.
- Make sure that “shared” is not a synonym for “oversubscribed,” or “scarce.”
- Ensure that the District has a better plan for the traffic and its proximity to our children.
- I hope that you can help to make the project a better one, and to support the General Plan by making certain that the proposal reflects the goals and aspirations of our citizens. If there are places where this proposal falls short, demand that the applicant follow the process we have for just such an occasion: they need to seek amendments.
Asher has a personal stake in the ECCL as her two children are currently enrolled at Anna Yates and are in line to transition to the ECCL when complete. Jac is calling on residents to turn out for Thursday’s July 25th 6:30pm Planning Commission public hearing for the proposed project and voice their opinions.
The City’s Planning commission recently filled three vacancies (Full disclosure: the author of this post was amongst those that applied). 13 candidates applied for the three volunteer positions which were panel-interviewed by the city council over the past few weeks. After deliberating, The Council reappointed Chairman Vanessa Kuemmerle and new Commissioners Brad Gunkel and Steven Keller to the three-year termed positions. Gunkel and Keller’s terms will begin on September 1st, and their first meeting will be September 26th.
The role of the Planning Commission according to the Emeryville City website is “To initiate and conduct studies with respect to those matters affecting the orderly growth and development of the City and to make recommendations to the City Council with respect to such matters; to make the necessary findings and to grant or deny variances, use permits, and other planning entitlements as set forth in Chapter 4 of Title 9 of the Municipal Code; and to perform other duties as set forth in Section 2-3.314 of the Municipal Code”.
The Emeryville Tattler has been strident in its criticism over the ECCL’s attempt to eliminate an adjacent Bike Path that had been documented in the city’s General Plan and the overall Fortress-like approach of the development that seems to contradict the city’s ambition to be more bike-ped friendly. City officials defend the approach as a necessary security component in a post-Newtown world and an overall more fiscally responsible consolidation of resources. Tattler editor Brian Donahue also has a stake in the ECCL as he has elementary school-aged daughter who is in-line to attend the ECCL when complete. The Tattler is a wealth of documentation and opinions of the saga of the ECCL that those with questions should consider exploring. It seems that the battle for the ECCL has just begun.
Read Jac’s entire letter on Scribd.com →
The Emeryville Center for Community Life – Final Design Presentation:
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