City Council Questionnaire
We thank all the candidates who participated in the questionnaire, giving voters an in-depth look at candidate positions before
heading to the ballot box in November. Some candidates included introductory statements with their answers, but as all did not do so
we felt, in the interest of fairness, that these statements be ommitted. Please feel free to send your comments on the questions & answers.
We'll publish them as soon as we receive enough for a new page. Note that email addresses will not be published or otherwise used.
1. The city recently won the Beltline lawsuit establishing a bargain price for the former railroad property. The Court of Appeal and/or Supreme Court will make the final determination. Based upon the possible outcomes ($1 million vs. $18 million),
a) what would you propose using this land for, and
b) how would you propose securing the funding for the purchase?
The beltline land should be used as open space and parks. Redevelopment monies could be used as well as State and County park bond monies.
If the city is able to acquire the Beltline property, I think the land should be a combination of recreational and parkland. That would be fields for various sports, hopefully a 50-meter swimming facility, a sports fishing pier, a broad band of natural trails, possibly a center for the arts, and no housing or retail. Funding for something like this is not my strong point. It might have to be referred to the voters to see if they wanted to pay the interest on bonds. I would hate to see us sell it to developers. There is talk of setting up a foundation for its upkeep.
I am extremely pleased that our persistence in pursuing the Beltline case resulted in the judge's decision on to direct the railroad to sell the land to the city for $966,027. My position is that the city use the approximately $1 million in the fund which this council earmarked for open space to acquire the land, while vigorously pursuing the necessary funding for building and managing what will be Alameda's premier parkland.
I would propose preserving the land primarily as open public parkland, but with a modest amount of the parcel set aside for mixed use in order to generate ongoing revenue for maintenance. The mixed use element should not, in my view, include residential development. Instead, I could see structures included as part of the public park that could be leased out to restaurant operators and other concessions. Whatever decision is made on the use of the parcel it should occur with maximum input and buy-in from the citizens of Alameda.
As for funding the purchase of the land, I would support a municipal bond measure being placed on the ballot for a vote of the citizens.
The recent court ruling enabling the City to buy back 40 acres of the Alameda Belt Line railroad for just under $1 million is a wonderful opportunity for the community. I am confident the City will prevail in the appeal process of the lawsuit. I would like to see this area redeveloped as recreational open space with a park that includes walking, biking trails and eventually a light rail connection to BART. After reviewing the City's 2006-2007 budget, it appears that the City does not have the money to maintain another park or municipally owned open space at this time without additional revenues. Ideally, the City could enter into a partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and use some of the voter-approved park bond funds to pay for such a recreational amenity. Other funding possibilities in the future could include seeking voter support for a comprehensive City-sponsored park bond that would include a land acquisition fund, along with funds to pay for maintenance and upkeep of parks in the City. Most nearby cities enter into public-private partnerships, and I understand that the southern section of the Beltline could be developed into residential development. Another way to fund improvements is to have a future residential developer redevelop the northern section into a neighborhood park and turn it over to the City for use as trail or open space and then maintained in perpetuity.
1) I would propose that the Beltline property be used either for open space or for parkland. The City needs to secure full financing in advance, however, including funding for soil cleanup, as rail yards are notorious for being polluted with creosote and other contaminants. If the City cannot secure sufficient financing to pay for the open space/park project costs in full, then it should consider other land use proposals that complement a park or have a similar share use. For example, one alternative would be to include a senior care facility that provides independent to long-term care in the park plans. The income derived by the City from the developer that builds the senior care facility could assist in paying for the park and cleaning up its soil.
2) I would propose securing funding for the land purchase by applying for grants designed for parks, senior care facilities and bicycle-friendly enhancements. Redevelopment money should be considered. The railroads are likely to appeal the lawsuit and try to delay cleaning up the property, so I would caution against spending too much time and money until the appeals options have been exhausted.
2. In November 2004, the current theater/garage project was first presented to the public as a bona fide project to be approved, funded, and permitted at a Planning Board "Public Scoping Meeting." That meeting was advertised only once, in the classified section in the newspaper, and the record shows that there were no public speakers on this matter at that meeting. After news coverage began appearing in 2005, plenty of people became concerned about the project. In August 2005, several hundred Alamedans crowded a City Council meeting, with the great majority of them in opposition to the project as proposed.
Do you think that any procedural changes are in order to ensure a more vigorous noticing system at the beginning of a redevelopment project? If so, what changes would you recommend to ensure that the public is more fully involved in the decision-making process for major projects such as this?
Do away with all closed sessions except in rare circumstances. Those circumstances would be with personnel questions and negotiations for property purchase. Any proposed development, when discussed in open session, would garner press coverage and therefore alert residents as to the proposed development. Holding meaningful workshops where in fact residents are listened to and receive some sort of feed back not only from the developer but from staff as well as elected officials. The City Council needs to take more control of the decision making process and ask meaningful questions to both staff and developer. I believe that the City Council should present what the city wants, and not accept just what the developer wants. If in fact the project is so "profound" such as the theater project it should be put on the ballot with the parameters clearly outlined i.e. budget, scoop of work, time line, who the developer is and what financial investment is taxpayer money.
There are far too many closed sessions of the City Council and too much use of redevelopment money to suit me. The only closed sessions of the City Council should be personnel matters. Otherwise, open meetings for anything that requires public expenditures of money.
Alameda is fortunate to have open government, with a well maintained website and processes that involve hearings and workshops with Boards and Commissions as well as a very accessible city council. There are and should be, efforts in continuous improvement for public notice. The streaming webcast of council meetings is among the latest. I would support any new and varied ways to reach the public, among them being:
1) A more formalized approach to press releases, where the city would notify the press of upcoming workshops and significant agenda items via a press release.
2) More frequent use of street signs, similar to those used for variances notifications or significant city street projects, that could be posted in the vicinity of the site in site specific locations.
3) Include additional information in the inserts that accompany AP&T bills.
I believe that any process can be manipulated to minimize public involvement if that is the intent of a majority of the elected officials involved. In the case of the garage/theater project, I think the record clearly shows that a majority of the current City Council were in favor of the project regardless of the legitimate concerns raised by many Alamedans. Having said that, the City should have done an Environmental Impact Report (instead of a mitigated negative declaration) on the project, which would have created a forum to address at least some of the concerns raised. Going forward, I think that all major development projects should include an Environmental Impact Report as a standard part of the project. I also think that no decision should be made by the Council on major development projects until the details of the project are made known to the public; that did not occur with the garage/theater project.
I have been a long-standing advocate of open government in my leadership role as president of the League of Women Voters, both at the city and county level. I believe effective civic decision-making rely upon open public discourse about the issues. As a member and Chair of the Alameda County Planning Commission (2000-2005) and a member and now President of the Alameda Hospital Board (2002-present), I have promoted open and transparent government as a decision maker, encouraging public participation at all stages of planning and development. It is critical that the public be adequately noticed, and such notices use a number of outreach media: the press, the internet, and even through the cable T.V. channels. For large projects, perhaps civic organizations can be specifically contacted if they are likely to be interested "players." All noticing procedures should provide for enough time, have as much specific information as possible and be widely disseminated. The City and indeed, all governmental agencies, should be considerate as to the time of day, accessibility, and space in which hearings are held. I absolutely believe that citizens have the right to know and it is a basic requirement of governance that such a right be given freely to the greatest extent possible. Adequate notice means enough time for people to make arrangements to attend a meeting that is set at a reasonable time for working people.
Yes, we need procedural changes in Alameda for more open government. The City of Alameda needs to move far beyond simple legal ads for noticing of projects and contracting opportunities. The City should maintain comprehensive lists of parties interested in bidding city projects. Notices of initial meetings for significant projects should be repeated several times in multiple venues over a period of at least one month. Newspaper and email notices should include a site location map and an initial graphic depiction of the proposed project.
I propose conducting a series of open public meetings-first, to discuss project goals and, second, to present design alternatives and costs. After public input on these issues has been received, the City should finalize the no-build, off-site and on-site alternatives, and assess the benefits and costs to Alameda residents and businesses.
Next, after the scoping of alternatives has been completed, the City should begin the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process by assessing project alternative impacts and mitigations. Basically, I support the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process, with a broad, in-depth effort in the scoping of alternative phase as the initial step.
My professional engineering and business opinion is that the site is too small for the proposed project size. As a result, building costs have become excessive. I would have interrupted the project when Long's Drug withdrew; at that point, I would have reconsidered alternative locations for a theater and spent more time negotiating to keep Long's in the project. Regrettably, it appears that the City's discussions regarding Long's Drug were conducted behind closed doors. Had these discussions been open, Longs would have realized that it enjoyed strong community support and that staying in the project was a win-win situation for both Long's and the public.
Finally, contract negotiations with the developer should occur after completion of the EIR, when both parties clearly understand the opportunities and constraints. At the time of scoping of the alternatives, only initial talks with the developer should occur. Moreover, the developer's proposal should be made public, and any project alternative proposed by the developer should be included in the scoping evaluations and the EIR. On the Cineplex, it appeared that the City's negotiation of a developer agreement advanced way too far, prior to any public input.
In May 2005, Dr. A. Nishino and I were having lunch prior to his leaving Alameda Unified School District (AUSD). In that conversation, Dr. Nishino mentioned that the City did not discuss the Cineplex with AUSD, even though historic Alameda High School is located across the street from the project. This is the sort of exclusionary atmosphere that needs to be changed when considering city projects.
3. The redevelopment of Alameda Point has been a point of controversy for years.
a) How would you address the issue that, as an island, Alameda has a certain carrying capacity with respect to population density, transportation infrastructure, and associated pollution and congestion? What planning and limits do you foresee will ensure that Alameda Point becomes an exemplar of responsible growth? Please be specific with respect to these limits.
b) How would you strike a balance between allowing a diverse mix of affordable housing on Alameda Point, and creating a community that is consistent with Alameda's classic residential architecture?
c) What proposals would you offer to the new Alameda/Oakland traffic task force to mitigate the traffic problems that are going to be generated on Interstate 880's on/off ramps by the development at Alameda Point and Oakland's Oak to 9th Project across the estuary?
The deep water port, the best on the West Coast, should be fully investigated as to usage. Commercial enterprise which would provide jobs should be a first priority. We already have low cost housing on the base, any other housing that might be built would have to comply with Charter Amendment Measure A, and would include 25 % as low cost as an already established percentage. However, I believe that since the base is the last open land that we will have available to us as a community, it should be developed as a combination of recreational facilities and open space. We have the right and responsibility to demand that any homes built in Alameda be subject to ridged design review. If we want to retain the character of our classical residential architecture, we should look at developers that are willing to meet our demands. However, I don't believe that additional housing is desirable or necessary given our geographic limitations. We should have sued Oakland to stop the Oak to 9th Street development. If that development goes forward it will limit our options as to development in all of Alameda. Alameda Landing at the FISC property with their current plans for over 225,000 sq feet of big box store is an additional traffic problem that if approved, will certainly put Alameda in even more of a traffic crunch.
Alameda Point is a potential nightmare. I have to spend some time trying to figure a way for the City to retain control of how the land is developed without selling it to a conglomerate that will ruin the entire island. The questions regarding toxic cleanup and who pays remain. The same for new sewer, water, and electrical. I don't trust the EIR regarding the land. It seems to be slanted toward downgrading the true potential for saving a lot of what is there already. We need to slowly develop the land with a balance of housing, small retail, and use of the marina. Traffic is a huge problem already and will get even worse if we don't look at things regionally. Hopefully, the Oak to 9th Project will either die or get scaled down. There are many people who understand transportation we need to tap for their expertise before we can hope to solve our problems.
(Responsible growth) Responsible redevelopment of to former NAS Alameda is not a question of growth, but a question of a change from military use to civilian use. Capping the number of housing units and ensuring future commercial use (especially non-retail) is key to a sustainable development which will become part of the city.
(Balanced housing) This Council called for 25% affordable housing at Alameda Point, as agreed upon with the current master developer, mandating affordable housing. I want to see the affordable units fully integrated into the new residential neighborhoods and major elements of classic architecture implemented in the design of these homes.
- · Reduce the number of units
- · Accelerate plans for the preferred alternative for reconfiguring the I-880 Broadway/Jackson interchange
- · Plan reconfiguration of I-880 High Street interchange
- · Project pays for upgrade bicycle-pedestrian way in both tubes
- · Project pays for Alameda's electric bus shuttle from West End to 12th Street BART
- · Incorporate work live units as a percentage of the total number of units
- · Incorporate senior housing units as a percentage of the total number of units
- · Project pays increasing funds (added to Port of Oakland contribution) to the Alameda/Oakland Ferry
- · Project assesses new residents to pay for AC Eco-passes
(Responsible growth) I certainly think that Measure A is an important limit on growth, as far as it goes. The problem is that Measure A attempts to limit growth by restricting the type of residential development allowed, but does nothing to limit residential development per se. As we?ve seen with the Bayport and Alameda Landing developments, new residential neighborhoods are coming to Alameda in spite of Measure A, and it is not at all clear that enough thought and adjustment has gone in to those new developments to mitigate the congestion impacts. So, while I support keeping Measure A, I would really like to see everyone take a fresh look at the issue of residential growth to see if we can?t come up with something better than the current version of Measure A. I have a couple of creative ideas on that front which I will share in response to the next parts of the question, below.
(Balanced housing) The first idea is what I call "Multiple Unit Dwelling Credits." Let's say that someone who owned a Victorian house in Alameda that was divided into six apartment units decided to convert the Victorian back into a single family home. My idea is that the City would then give the homeowner a piece of paper conveying six "multiple-unit dwelling credits" to the homeowner. The homeowner could then sell the credits to a developer, who would then be allowed to build six multiple unit dwellings in a zoned area that is close to the tunnel or the bridges; in other words closer to egress. The same idea would apply to existing apartment buildings, except where there are existing demolition restrictions based on the age of the building. This idea of multiple-unit dwelling credits, if implemented, would have the effect of creating an incentive to restore historic homes, and would also have the effect of migrating existing density out toward the tunnel and the bridges, where it makes more sense to have density due to the proximity to egress. The multiple-unit dwelling credits would have no fixed value; they would be sold to developers at market value. By migrating density out toward the points of egress it would relieve traffic congestion in the historic neighborhoods. At the same time, new developments near the tunnel and the bridges (some of which are already planned), could include multiple-unit dwellings, which would address the concerns of the smart-growth advocates while also allowing the new neighborhoods to reflect the mixture of housing present in the old neighborhoods. There are variations to this idea that could address concerns that the various interest groups in town may have about the basic idea, but I am leaving those out at this point because I want the interest groups to get together and talk about the idea and come up with the details as part of a consensus-building process.
(Traffic mitigation) The second idea is to institute "residential congestion dues" that would apply to all new residential development in Alameda. This is different than the EcoPass that is currently included as part of the planned Alameda Landing development. The basic idea is that people who bought a residence in a new development in Alameda would be told in advance that, as a condition of residence, they would be subject to ?residential congestion dues? that would be applied every time they drove their car through through access points into or out of the development. I want to stress that this would not apply to residents who are already living in Alameda in existing developments; applying it to them would not be fair because they did not have forewarning before they bought their home in Alameda. The idea is similar in to homeowners dues that people choose to pay who buy into certain developments. The difference is that the homeowners dues (AKA ?residential congestion dues?) could be avoided by the homeowner if they limited the amount they drove their car.
The technology to implement this idea already exists. People who use the Fast-Track system have a transponder in their car that identifies them as having paid fees in advance to cross the bridges. The difference with the "residential congestion dues" is that the fee would only be applied when the car was driven through the access points into or out of their development. This is a critical difference because it would create an incentive to use public transportation; people could avoid the dues by using transit instead of driving. Also, the amount of fees they paid would be directly tied to the number of times the drove through the tunnel or over the bridges. Again, this would only apply to people who self-identified as wanting to live in new residential developments in Alameda. They would be told in advance. The potential benefits of this idea are many. It could:
- Mitigate congestion resulting from new residential development by creating a true and ongoing incentive to use public transit.
- Provide an ongoing revenue stream that could be used to fund transit improvements in Alameda, including bike lanes, pedestrian amenities, and low-emission alternatives to AC Transit buses, such as smaller electric or hybrid shuttles.
- Mitigate the traffic impacts of any density housing that was included in new developments.
- Improve air quality in Alameda by reducing the number of vehicle trips.
Finally, the idea of having "residential congestion dues" in Alameda has the real potential to impact global climate change in a positive way. Alameda would be the first City in the nation to implement the idea of residential congestion dues, but a similar idea has already been tried with great success in London, England. If successful in Alameda, it could serve as a model for other new development, perhaps starting with the planned Oak to Ninth development across the Estuary in Oakland. In fact, residential congestion dues should be proposed for the Oak to Ninth development regardless. Over time, if enough cities succesfully adopted residential congestion dues, it could significantly reduce greenhouse gases from automobile trips, and, as has been the case throughout Alameda's history, we would have shown bold and innovative leadership on an issue that affects our quality of life. There are ways to tweak this idea: maybe the dues would only be assessed during periods of peak congestion. Maybe they could be tiered like electricity and water rates commonly are, so that those who drive the most pay progressively higher dues. I hope that by putting these ideas out there people talk them and come up with their own creative suggestions as a way of building consensus.
(Responsible growth) Alameda is an island and a part of a region which shares with neighboring cities the problems of density, traffic, pollution, and need for improved public transit. Our planning efforts must take into account and be coordinated with what is happening around us, be that protection and access to our Bay waters, wildlife protection, increased green space, or pollution control. The number of dwelling units and type of business and industry at the Point will be, in many respects driven by the economics of its development, and as a Councilmember, it will be imperative to facilitate a community-driven vision for the Point. I believe that the current proposals to build twelve single family homes to an acre will not allow sufficient open space and will reduce opportunities for public transit. We must look at this problem as a region and make our plans to grow in cooperation and coordination with what is being done around us. There should be density limits that allow for a mix of types of housing so that open space may be gained, height limits imposed so that what is built has the "look and feel" of the rest of the Island. We should employ the best in new technology for insulation, power consumption reduction, and use of recycled building materials. I believe that new construction can be done economically and environmentally sustainable, like the new main library.
(Balanced housing) The main Island has a mix of housing types that build on Alameda's unique small town community spirit. The rich architecture of the "Victorian" neighborhoods also has differing vintages -- there are small neighborhood businesses, many with housing units above, and even some apartments. This variety gives Alameda its charm. Traffic can be reduced if there are neighborhood shops, public parks, and plenty of off-road walking and biking paths. Public transit around neighborhood "hubs" or "nodes" could also mitigate traffic that would be generated by new residential units. The quiet, pleasant nature of our residential streets is not dependent on uniformity of architecture, but of the way in which neighborhoods are encouraged and defined.
(Traffic mitigation) There are two critical places where substantial changes must be made to mitigate the traffic problems: (i) at the point of exit from the tube into Oakland, and (ii) the route of traffic flow either into Chinatown/Oakland or onto the freeway. As a commuter from Alameda to Oakland Chinatown (I work at EBMUD in Chinatown), I have been tracking the proposals to alleviate traffic flow and increase pedestrian safety in Oakland Chinatown. There are differing views on whether the proposals will be beneficial to Alameda and to Oakland, much less the environment. Having a better way to access BART seems a critical place to start. I would favor a shuttle service or a light rail system that bring Alamedans onto BART to alleviate putting more cars onto Interstate 880, which has already exceeded its carrying capacity during commute hours. Public transit can be made more accessible. I would also like to see Alameda and Oakland work to increase the accessibility and availability of water transit options like the ferries, similar to Puget Sound in Washington or Vancouver, B.C. Added development will add traffic. As a City Councilmember, I can serve as a catalyst to encourage the use of public transit, bike paths, and shopping "on the Island," in order to reduce vehicle trips off the Island.
- If elected, I would immediately propose implementing an "Island Traffic Capacity Ordinance." This new ordinance would set public policy regarding (a) the traffic volume that Alamedans are willing to accept on both thoroughfares and neighborhood streets, and (b) the minute-delay that is acceptable to residents when leaving and approaching the island. The thresholds inherent in this new ordinance would be determined with citizen input through open public meetings. The ordinance would direct the City to slow the pace of development when these citizen-directed thresholds are approached, and it would include strict guidelines to ensure that they are never grossly exceeded.
- The fact is, no transportation project will mitigate the proposed development projects in Alameda and Oakland significantly. The physical constraints of the I-880 freeway, ramps, railroads and local roads restrict capacity, primarily, to existing traffic volumes. Therefore:
- We need to focus on the land-use side of the equation, and consider senior housing, light industrial or other projects that require low- or non-peak period traffic uses for Alameda Point and elsewhere on the island.
- We need to develop a realistic traffic plan for all modes of transportation within and leading to the island's external region.
- Then, development limits can be evaluated and set for all land use and transportation projects encompassing the entire island and its external region.
- The City must consider other key transportation facts:
- We must preserve and improve our fragile estuary crossings. Roadway capacities crossing the estuaries are dependent, largely, on what happens in Oakland.
- Light rail is financially unfeasible for Alameda.
- Planning assumptions that there will be a high number of internal home-to-work trips are not sustainable in the long term. People usually select their home locations based on current employment; however, when they change job locations, they do not move their home-they commute.
- Transit service use is limited, and realistic goals should be set in determining impacts. Transit becomes viable only when significant congestion is present. I do not think our existing residents want to suffer that congestion as a consequence of allowing unrestricted development.
- Demand for improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities, particularly to BART stations, is growing and providing a good return on investment. When determining traffic impacts, realistic usage of these facilities needs to be considered.
- Research has shown that the social fabric of a neighborhood starts to break down when the daily traffic volume on its streets reaches 5,000 or more vehicles per day. Neighbors are less likely to cross the street to chat and less likely to allow their children to interact freely with other children. If we are to retain the safety and family-friendly character of our city, traffic volumes on neighborhood streets must be considered seriously.
- Lastly, a public committee should be established to oversee the development of a Traffic Plan, Costs and Funding Program. This committee should gather public input and deliberate for as long as twelve months. It should include members who have qualifications in the areas of design, construction and operation of transportation infrastructure. I recommended this committee as the "Transportation Committee" in my 2000 proposal to the Economic Strategic Task Force.
Alameda is a unique island community. We are at a crossroads in terms of the nature and volume of the growth we allow within the island's constrained transportation infrastructure. How we handle this growth should be decided by the people who live here and pay taxes-not by developers. The citizens can retain control of the island's growth only through an open-government process.
(Balanced housing) We could extend the current concept that allows for a neighborhood mix of bungalows and larger houses. Also, I understand that the planned mix for Alameda Point will be 25% affordable housing. The problem is that developers are building large homes, rather than smaller, more affordable ones. I suggest that we set square footage limits on homes and build more independent senior housing.
The underlying question with Alameda Point is, "How does the financial plan pencil out, and how does the financially feasible Alameda Point Development Proposal affect the rest of Alameda?"
(Traffic mitigation) As I mentioned above, no traffic solutions exist to mitigate the traffic impacts of both Alameda Point and the Oak to 9th Street project significantly. Our island's proposal to Oakland should be:
- Do not reduce Alameda's current estuary crossing capacity.
- Alamedans should determine the levels of service for neighborhood streets and the reasonable delay in both access to and leaving the island. (The Council should set these thresholds immediately via ordinance.)
- Several mitigations are available to improve overall traffic operations in Alameda. For instance, I developed a concept for High Street at I-880 that would provide more direct access to and from the Fruitvale Bridge. In addition, I have developed concepts for the other connections to I-880. The City of Oakland and Caltrans both accepted my High Street proposal, which included cost savings in excess of $10 million, as compared with Oakland's earlier proposal. I developed these concepts in response to a very poor design for High Street/I 880 that would have reduced Alamedans' access.
- At the time, it occurred to me that Alameda should have a strategic transportation plan for the entire island, enabling the City Staff to respond quickly to any poorly conceived proposal. The "Island Traffic Capacity Ordinance" should be included as part of this comprehensive strategic transportation plan.
4. Would you be in favor of a public financing provision for local elections whereby candidates can opt to run as a "clean elections" candidate using public financing and minimal private contributions? If not, please be specific about the type of campaign finance reform you would favor, if any.
Clean elections: I don't believe the tax payer should be burdened with election campaign costs. However I would support a $100 limit on any contribution, and an overall limit on monies spent of perhaps $10,000. Certainly no "soft" money.
I favor public financing for elections at all levels. I will not accept any donation over $99.00. Pay off or pay back seems built into our system. The reason for this, I think, is because the voters have been bypassed by slick advertising and no longer know how to think for themselves. I am going to educate everyone I contact to help take back the legislative process from the manipulators. This may seem childish or naïve on my part, but I will die an optimist.
I would support a cap on the funds that can be spent on a local election (something like NMT $1/registered voter). A system of matching funds up to the cap amount might be considered. Residents could check off for nominal portion of their utility bill to go to the election fund could be considered.
As a first time candidate for political office with little fundraising experience, I would definitely be in favor of public financing for local elections, but I would also be concerned about passing along the costs of publicly financed campaigns to taxpayers, so I have a variation on the idea, to wit: Instead of having the City finance individual campaigns, the City could instead set up a series of events that all candidates could participate in. The City would ?fund? the campaigns by providing campaign infrastructure in the form of local cable access programming time, televised candidate debates, meet & greet events, etc. In addition to this City-sponsored schedule of events, each candidate would also be allowed to raise a modest amount (say somewhere between $2,500 and $5,000) through private donations for traditional election materials such as lawn signs, hand-outs, etc. This approach would level the playing field and provide equal access for all the candidates at a relatively low cost to the City. It might also have the side benefit of improving civic discourse around elections.
Yes, I favor campaign finance reform and public funding of elections. Through the League of Women Voters, I have advocated for such reforms. While Proposition 89 is not and does not address the impacts of millions of dollars spent by "Independent Expenditures" on behalf of candidates or initiatives, it is a start. The League has endorsed and signed the ballot arguments in support of Prop. 89.
I believe that public financing of campaigns, with minimal private contributions, would make our elections somewhat cleaner and help level the playing field in local elections. Unfortunately, any successful local campaign necessitates some big-dollar campaign costs, such as consultant fees for campaign strategy, editing, printing and public relations costs. The scope and amount of labor encompassed by these costs are easy to hide. So, I believe the positive impacts restricting private funding could be minimal.
5.What would you suggest be done to ensure that Alameda's distinctive feel not be further eroded by the increasing presence of large-corporate retail on the island and its culture of sameness, especially with respect to the historic Webster and Park Street districts? What would you do to encourage the opening of unique, small businesses? Please be specific about programs, incentives, etc.
We cannot support big box stores with our population, we would have to depend on out of town shoppers, which would add to our already growing traffic problems. Tax incentives for retail property owner, perhaps a 10% rebate over a few years time, is one way to encourage them to restore/refurbish their property which would attract small retail shops, and would have goods that people in Alameda desire. We also have ordinances which impose certain requirements as to buildings being brought up to code, we could work with property owners to mitigate some of these requirements that would lift the cost burden to some degree and give them incentives to bring their property up to code. Pride of community is another way to encourage improvement on private property, an award program each year, to include an additional monetary reward as well as public acknowledgment.
Adding more shopping centers as proposed, will only impact Webster and Park Streets adversely. Adding big box stores at Towne Centre is short sighted and counter productive to all the tax money spend on up grading Park Street. We need a proactive City Council that will direct staff to take steps to recruit merchants that fit our community, without allowing the cookie cutter development we see in other communities. We need to emulate old San Mateo or 4th Street in Berkeley, which have been very successful in attracting and keeping a variety of merchants.
Alameda does not need a Target, Wal-Mart, or others like them. We are at a crossroads between killing the small retailers with "big boxes" or insisting upon the retention of a small-town, with quality, small, individually-run retail stores similar to places like Berkeley's 4th Street or Union Street in San Francisco.
If we prove to small retailers that we don't want big boxes, we can turn to becoming a shopping center for our own citizens. I don't know a lot about incentives to businesses. It seems to me that an atmosphere that is positive, upbeat, and "Old" Alameda will help.
Webster Street needs help. As a Councilmember, I would want to spend a lot of time in the West End to help build a more positive attitude about this part of our community.
For what it's worth, I have been a Green for quite awhile now and see no reason to leave.
I think that a mix of large corporate retail is health. Park Street is unique and has not lost any of its character due to the presence of Starbucks and Peets. In fact, there are more people meeting and greeting their neighbors on Park and Webster that there have been in the last four years. Both of these corporations treat their employees well and have been good corporate neighbors to new independents like Doumitt Shoes and the Market Place as well as the established businesses. The key to keeping the feel of these districts is in maintaining a well designed streetscape, facade grants to preserve historic buildings, and maintaining a safe environment, all of which I supported strongly on this council.
I continue to support city investment in our two historic districts, including the use of re-development funds and grants to finish the street scapes and for catalyst projects (especially on Webster Street - It is their turn).
First of all, I strongly support grass-roots efforts to block big-box retail developments in Alameda, such as the proposed Target at Alameda Towne Centre. While I do not support an outright ban on certain types of retail development, I do think when there is grass roots opposition to big-box retail, as is the case with the proposed Target, the City should be on the side of those concerned citizens.
Second, I think that unique, small businesses on Webster and Park Street can be fostered through continued improvements to infrastructure. Providing an inviting background for retail on Webster and Park will entice businesses to open shop there. Also, the City should use opportunities to focus the retail mix on Webster and Park streets whenever possible. This means that if a business closes that is inconsistent with the desired retail mix, it should not be permitted to re-open as the same thing it was before. This does not mean that I think the City should discriminate against current business owners; that would be unfair and totally inappropriate because all the current business owners opened with City approval. On the other hand, if the Jack-in-the-Box on Park Street closed, for example, the City should not allow another fast food outlet to open in its place.
Another way to greatly improve Park Street, in particular, is to have a long term plan to relocate auto row to a more suitable location. That end of Park Street is the gateway to Alameda, and if we want Park Street to be a unique shopping enclave then we need to beautify our gateway over the long term.
Many communities have successfully balanced "main street" locally owned businesses with the presence of some appropriate larger retail. We should look for "best practices" where this has been done and employ them. It need not be an "either-or", but a carefully planned and controlled compliment of shopping opportunities to ensure that large retailers do not "drive out" locally owned businesses. The City Council could facilitate creating an environment to help small businesses open and thrive through redevelopment funding incentives. For example, setting limits on the number of small business in new developments (Alameda Landing), providing low-interest loans, waiving of some permitting "hoops," providing good pedestrian access, better transit, parking, and programs like "smart cars" could help. We need to balance economical shopping opportunities on the Island and minimize increased traffic on the bridges and through the tube that would further exacerbate the traffic on I-880. Families should have options in Alameda, from small neighborhood stores to mid-sized stores that provide lower-priced, larger amounts of standard household goods and foods.
The success of big-box retail stores would be dependent, largely, on an influx of out-of-town shoppers. Thus, allowing big-box stores in locations such as South Shore (Town Center) would result in untenable traffic conditions on nearby residential streets and would affect small businesses on Park Street and Webster Street adversely.
Small businesses in Alameda's downtown areas are faced with impossible parking restrictions, high building permit fees and lengthy approval processes. Some of these costs could be relieved by "in lieu" parking fees and a garage. The City should consider streamlining building permit processes. In addition, we should find out, from both the businesses and City Staff, what opportunities exist to reduce city and businesses costs for renovations and upgrades.
Another way to attract small business is to conduct a community survey to determine what kinds of products and services Alamedans want and then work through the Chamber of Commerce to actively recruit those kinds of businesses.
Lastly, the City of Alameda does not have a local and small business preference for its government contracting process, nor does the City advertise in local newspapers or keep a local business database of interested contractors. If elected to the City Council, I will immediately introduce guidelines for local small business contract s and overall city contracts. These guidelines will be designed to improve overall project delivery and cost-effectiveness, and to promote the use of local businesses for Alameda city contracts.