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Basic Research Reveals Some Trees Easily Preserved; City Council Needs to Step Up

October 16, 2012
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Attention all interested residents! Preservation of the trees at Parkside will be discussed at tonight’s (Tuesday) City Council meeting. Anyone wanting to make a public comment on the matter should attend the meeting. Public comment on the tree issue will begin at approximately 8 pm. ___________________________ In recommending the removal of all the trees in the Parkside park, Archstone, the developer, and the city staff tried to pull one over on the City Council and the residents of Emeryville. The City Planning Division has finally revealed the real motivation for the tree removal: Archstone needed the space as a temporary staging area for construction equipment, and for a temporary parking lot for PRC, the medical facility across the road. This information can be found in the attached staff report (see section entitled “Southwest Quadrant”). The big question is, has this temporary parking lot been approved by anybody other than Planning Director Charles Bryant? Was it ever put before the planning commission or the City Council? I’ve seen no evidence of that. It just suddenly appeared in this staff report. And this is no minor project after all: it involves the removal of a dozen trees, the leveling of grades, the

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Cut Spending, Save the Trees at Temescal Creek Park

October 16, 2012
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Cut Spending, Save the Trees at Temescal Creek Park

Below is an open letter to the City Council from Emeryville resident Eric Gascoyne. The Council is expected to vote on the tree cutting and other Temescal Creek redesign plans at its regular meeting Tuesday (tonight). The meeting starts at 7:15 pm. Dear Honorable Mayor and City Council Members, I am writing to you in regards of your important upcoming decision you will be making for the removal of 3 very large Eucalyptus trees at Temescal Creek Park .  The following are a few points that I would like you to consider when you make you decide to remove or let these trees remain at our park: These Eucalyptus Trees a.)  Are the longtime homes to mating Red Tailed Hawks.  These birds are beautiful and awe inspiring.  There are no guarantees if they are removed that they will make Emeryville their home in the future. b.)  The trees themselves are magnificent.  They are some of the tallest trees in Emeryville.  In my opinion, the City has done a great job in maintaining these trees and the pruning of them looks good.  I don’t think the number you have been given of $25,000.00 of a one time pruning is accurate.  At

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City Willing to Trade 20-Year-Old Trees for Temporary Parking

October 15, 2012
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City Willing to Trade 20-Year-Old Trees for Temporary Parking

Council Member Jac Asher has put on the agenda for the next City Council meeting (Oct. 16th) a discussion of whether the city should change the design of the Parkside park to include some or all of the existing trees. Council Member Asher’s willingness to do this shows her commitment to transparent government. It shows that she wants the freedom to cast her votes on the basis of complete information, not partial information cherry-picked by city staff. It shows that she values the right of Emeryville’s residents to receive proper notification (i.e. signs posted on the trees) when the city is contemplating the removal of its trees. Her actions have already yielded results. In response, Charles Bryant, Planning Director for the City of Emeryville, has issued a staff report which finally reveals the real motivation behind the removal of these trees. It has nothing to do with landscape design. It has nothing to do with drip lines and root damage and berms and “maintaining open spaces in the park.” Here is what the report says: “Most of these trees will need to be removed to accommodate the temporary PRC parking lot during construction of their permanent lot at the eastern

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Who’s in Charge Here?

October 14, 2012
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City Staff Manipulated City Council and Citizens, Resident Adrian McGilly Says

Below is the short video of a statement by Adrian McGilly, husband of Emeryville Mayor Jennifer West, to the City Council at its last regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 2. He is addressing the controversy over the planned cutting of 33 mature street trees to make way for a park. McGilly  has written to the City Council asking that at least some of the trees be preserved. His letter revealed that city staff deleted two key sections of the arborist report before sending it to the City Council to decide whether or not to cut the trees.

(To comment or to view the comments of others, click on the headline to go to the story page and then scroll to the bottom).

Emeryville City Staff Deliberately Misled City Council on Arborist Report

October 1, 2012
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When the city failed to post notices on the trees to be cut down, resident Adrian McGilly took it upon himself to do so. While such notice is required under the city's Urban Forestry Ordinance, the city is exempt. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Saving the City’s Trees: Planning Commission Study Session Tonight

September 27, 2012
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Saving the City’s Trees: Planning Commission Study Session Tonight

Calling all interested residents! There will be a study session during tonight’s Emeryville Planning Commission meeting to discuss the regulations and policies governing the city’s street trees.  The session, and public comment, is expected to begin about 8:30 PM. Emeryville Mayor Jennifer West, her husband, Adrian McGilly, and other residents plan to make statements. West and McGilly, who live with their two daughters at Doyle Street co-housing, opposed removal of mature street trees by the developer of an apartment/retail complex at Doyle and Powell streets.  With the city’s blessing, more than 40 trees, and an historic brick building, will be destroyed to make way for the “Parkside” development. West and McGilly argued that at least some of the trees could have been saved. The planning commission will also consider a request by the owner of the property at 1258 Ocean Avenue to remove one street tree. The owner eventually wants to tear down the single-family house on the property and build “Ocean Lofts,” comprised of two detached 1,700 square-foot residential units. That item is second on the commission’s agenda. The meeting begins at 6:30 PM in City Council chambers, City Hall.

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Say Good-bye to Another Historic Building, and Lots and Lots of Trees

September 19, 2012
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This historic brick building at Powell and Doyle streets will be torn down (with the exception of the south and east outside walls, which will be preserved) to make room for "Parkside", an apartment/retail development. The developer, with the city's blessing, also plans to cut down more than 40 mature trees.

This gallery contains 8 photos.

No Deal for Madison Marquette

September 12, 2012
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No Deal for Madison Marquette

Not in City’s Best Interest to Rush Sale; MM’s Exclusive Right to Develop Land Near Bay St Mall Expires Sept. 30 In a closed session last week, the Emeryville City Council decided not to sell the four acres north of Bay Street Mall to developer Madison Marquette (MM), concluding it was “not in the city’s best interest” to make the sale. After years of delay, MM was rushing to finalize a deal before its exclusive right to develop the land expired on Sept. 30. Mayor Jennifer West said in an email that a “long range property management plan” will be developed as part of the process of dissolving redevelopment in the city. She said the City Council (as successor agency to the redevelopment agency) will decide probably sometime next year what it wants to do with the property. West said the Council’s decision does not preclude MM from purchasing the land at a later date. The Council did not decide whether to allow other developers to bid for the land, known as Bay Street Site B. The Council’s decision officially ends MM’s exclusive hold on the land. Under a deal made between the city and MM back in 2005, MM had

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City Budget: Revenue Up, Spending Down, But Cost of Losing Redevelopment Funds Still Unclear

September 4, 2012
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City Budget: Revenue Up, Spending Down, But Cost of Losing Redevelopment Funds Still Unclear

Finance Committee Recommends Community Input on Priority Projects for Capital Improvement Pool The Finance Committee took a close look at the economic state of the city at its meeting last month.  What did the quarterly figures show?  Eight of the top 10 budgeted revenue sources showed increases over last year.  Sales tax revenues were up 14 percent, hotel occupancy tax revenue up 18 percent, and business license tax revenue up 29 percent.  These are the three biggest income producers for the city, and increases here suggest at least a modest local recovery from the recession.  Only the two smallest revenue producers, fines and vehicle license fees, showed decline, the first down 4 percent, the second 7 percent. It’s too early to start cheering, but the tide of up-ticks in key areas is encouraging. How about expenditures?  Taking the 12 categories of our spending in aggregate and comparing what was spent last year to the same time this year, we find a decrease in spending of about $1.5 million.  Revenue is up, expenditure down, and that helps explain why the city’s credit rating is excellent despite a considerable debt and the cost of financing it. So, what’s to worry about?  Here

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“Parkside” Developer Will Cut Trees in Violation of City Ordinance, Resident Says

August 30, 2012
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“Parkside” Developer Will Cut Trees in Violation of City Ordinance, Resident Says

Below is a follow-up article by Adrian McGilly to a letter he sent yesterday to City Planning Director Charles Bryant. The letter, which was printed in The Secret News, asks the City to save some of the mature trees on the future site of an apartment/retail development – that also includes a park – on Stanford between Doyle and Hollis streets. The plan is to cut down 33 mature trees. McGilly is joined in his plea by his wife, Emeryville Mayor Jennifer West, who could not vote on any aspect of the new development because she lives a block away. ______________ I got a response from Mr. Bryant. He assured me that the park design went through all the proper public noticing and hearing processes, that everyone had ample opportunity to weigh in on the fate of these trees, that not very many people did, and that now it’s too late because wheels have been set in motion. It was a very thorough, detailed and respectful response and I am grateful to Mr. Bryant for his time and attention. But that’s not the end of the story. There is an Urban Forestry Ordinance (UFO) in this city that includes provisions

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