Business/Economy

Emeryville’s New Budget: Some Important City Services Preserved But Debt a Staggering $250 million

July 2, 2012
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Emeryville’s New Budget: Some Important City Services Preserved But Debt a Staggering $250 million

The City Council approved a two-year budget for Emeryville at its meeting on June 19.  It’s our first financial blue print since the demise of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding, and it reflects the fact that building boom days are over.  The fight to pay for key services and essential projects without RDA support now begins.  Let me  offer some personal comments on our financial prospects. I’ll start with a selection of good news.  The city’s early childhood development center (ECDC) will be fully funded and strengthened.  Funding for our traditional community promotions grants and for ECAP has been found.  Fire service expenses have been shifted to Alameda County at considerable savings to the city, and service has been enhanced.  Funding to bring police services to full strength are in the new budget.  Essential public works projects—Marina dredging, sidewalk repairs, sewers, tree planting, maintenance—are funded.  Modest reserves are built into the new budget. Finally, provisions for the care and feeding of the city’s General Plan are provided. But here’s a look at the darker side.  I reported last year that the city’s long term debt stands at $165,474,763.  When you add interest, our combined debt is $250,102,582.  Funding that debt cost

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Thank You All for Coming …

June 29, 2012
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Thank You All for Coming …

Emeryville parents and residents have done a lot to try and convince the Emeryville School District Board of Trustees to save Anna Yates Elementary School. For several years, dissenters have publicly and privately raised their objections to the Board’s plan to combine grades K-12 on one campus and close Anna Yates. A letter signed by 12 residents, including current PTO members and the former presidents of both the PTO and the District’s Board of Trustees, was sent to Board members last May urging them to keep Anna Yates students where they are. Meanwhile, more than 60 people signed a Change.org petition in support of that letter and many made comments next to their signatures explaining their reasons for wanting to save Anna Yates. The school recently underwent a renovation costing almost $9 million. In response, this is what the Board of Education has done:  Nothing. So it came as no surprise to parents and residents attending last Monday’s Board meeting when – after detailed presentations and impassioned pleas to preserve Anna Yates – the Board again did nothing. Actually, this is what they did: Appeared friendly, open, and smiled a lot Listened politely to each speaker (until 3 minutes was

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Doyle Street Cohousing Celebrates 20 Years!

June 19, 2012
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This gallery contains 31 photos.

City Council Votes to Cut Community Preservation and Arts Staff

June 9, 2012
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City Council Votes to Cut Community Preservation and Arts Staff

The City Council made key budget decisions at its June 5 meeting last week. The basic budget package developed in the three May workshops changed little, but the variations that did emerge are worth a look. They center on staff cuts, funding for Capital Improvement Projects, and two low budget but useful programs/projects. Staffing cuts produced the sharpest divisions and a split Council vote. The job of Community Preservation Officer and an Arts Coordinator post generated the heat. SEIU representatives made eloquent pleas to keep both posts, making three key points. They argued that if reductions were needed, management and workers should share the pain. Why are just folks on the line rather than their up-line superiors at risk? A second argument focused on the danger of losing talent that could not be replaced. Down the road, as one of them put it, you’ll be sorry you lost the expertise these people represent. Finally, they argued for early consultation with workers when layoffs are first considered. SEIU didn’t win the day, but their reps’ arguments, I think, had an impact.  City Council Members Ruth Atkin and Jac Asher were sympathetic from the start. Mayor Jennifer West was inclined to “bite

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Over Its Dead Body: Oakland Says “No” to Emeryville Crematorium

June 2, 2012
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Over Its Dead Body: Oakland Says “No” to Emeryville Crematorium

Reprinted from the Oakland Tribune/Inside Bay Area Oakland turns cold shoulder to embattled crematory By Matthew Artz Oakland Tribune Posted:   05/22/2012 02:25:44 PM PDT Crematory opponent Ronnesha Cato of Oakland, Calif. poses with 21-month-old daughter Zwena OAKLAND — For just a few hours on May 10, one of the state’s busiest crematories was moving to East Oakland. That’s how little time passed between the moment the Neptune Society secured a city building permit for a new facility that would cremate up to 3,000 people per year, and the moment City Council Member Larry Reid requested an emergency ordinance to block Neptune’s project. Round one went to Reid. The council backed his measure last week, requiring Neptune to get additional approvals from Oakland’s Planning Commission, and once again pitting the company against a low-income community opposed to a facility that pumps out about three pounds of mercury every year. In 2006, community groups successfully blocked Neptune from moving its operations from Emeryville to Richmond, where residents argued they already had too many industrial polluters. Reid said he won’t stand for a major crematory in East Oakland, which has similarly high rates of asthma and air pollution. Even if the Planning

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Mayor Jennifer West To Speak Tonight on State of the City

May 31, 2012
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Mayor Jennifer West To Speak Tonight on State of the City

(Reprinted from the E-ville Eye Community Blog) As part of Mayor Jennifer West’s community outreach program, she will be visiting and sharing her “State of the City” report at the Emeryville Warehouse lofts 7 pm tonight (Thursday, May 31). Also in attendance will be city manager Patrick O’Keeffe. Come hear about what’s happening in our town and have a chance to share your thoughts. Subject matter including: • Sherwin Williams Cleanup & Development • Bay St. Pedestrian Bridge • Park Avenue Beautification • Greenway Path To read more, go to The E-ville Eye Community Blog (If viewing this story from the homepage: To make a comment, or to read the comments of others, click on the headline to go to the story page, then scroll down to the bottom.)  

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To the Editor: Emeryville Can be Creative, Smart in Using Staff, Saving Money. And Don’t Forget the Arts.

May 23, 2012
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To the Editor: Emeryville Can be Creative, Smart in Using Staff, Saving Money. And Don’t Forget the Arts.

Re: “The City’s Financial Future” (May 8, 2012) (City Council Special Meeting to Discuss the Budget 5:30 pm Today, Emeryville City Hall) When I look at the staff cuts, I only see people in the front lines getting cut. Why does the city need a Director of Redevelopment at $180,000 a year when there won’t be a redevelopment agency?  A lot of smaller, innovative cities have combined economic development and planning. On Monday night, at an Emeryville budget meeting, the City Manager said he does his own clerical work. Get him some help and free him up to do some of his old duties as head of Economic Development. And he won’t be as busy because he won’t have the redevelopment funds to cut deals with developers. I heard on Monday night that the two people who the Director of Economic Development wants to cut is Nancy Templeton, the person handling everything from graffiti abatement to community gardens and more, and another person who only makes $35,000 and whose job it is to run the public art program part-time. She has a background in the arts, and according to what I heard on Monday night, has taken the arts to

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Emeryville and Oakland Celebrate Bike-to-Work Day!

May 10, 2012
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Emeryville and Oakland Celebrate Bike-to-Work Day!

Bike-to-Work Day in Emeryville saw 30% increase in bicyclists over last year! Here’s a report from Peter Schultze-Allen, Emeryville’s Environmental Programs Analyst: The count at our three bike stations in Emeryville was up 30% from last year. And that doesn’t include the new bike station at 46th and Adeline that had a big turnout. We had record numbers at all our stations! 1. San Pablo and 40th once again was the leader with 322 cyclists riding by and/or stopping at the table (up 15% from last year.) Back in 2006 we only had 110! 2. The Greenway Station was very popular with 224 cyclists. Clif Bar wants to host a station there next year on their own like Novartis. 3. Next was 46th and Adeline with 206. A great start for a new station. Oakland is planning on striping bike lanes on Adeline soon so that will help next year. 4. The Bay Trail station at Powell and Frontage was up 50% over last year with 127 cyclists counted! 5. Novartis had 168 at their station this year. On to Next Year! (Click photos to enlarge.) (To comment on this story, click on the headline to go to the story

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The City’s Financial Future

May 8, 2012
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The City’s Financial Future

Emeryville’s Financial Advisory Committee met on April 23 and tackled a draft of the city’s proposed budget for the next two years.  The 245-page document is a rough map of how the city will earn its living and pay its bills. It starts a budget process we citizens should watch carefully, and it proceeds in an atmosphere of state, national, and global economic uncertainty. The size of the city’s staff peaked some years ago at 182 employees.  Emeryville presently employs 148, and if the proposed budget is adopted, that number will drop to 143.5.  The drop in 4.5 more positions involves four different departments and includes an assistant city attorney, a building inspector, two economic development/housing staffers, and a community service technical aide.  This is our current “contribution” to the wave of recession-driven public sector job losses occurring right across the nation. On a more positive note, the proposed two-year budget projects that the city will take in $1,901,896 more than it will spend, despite the loss of $1.7 million in Redevelopment Agency funds.  The positive balance stems from reduced spending, an anticipated $750,000 boost in business license taxes, and an increase of $1.2 million in sales and hotel tax

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Former City Councilman Ken Bukowski Urges Council to Support Program for Poor

April 19, 2012
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Former City Councilman Ken Bukowski Urges Council to Support Program for Poor

Bukowski sends letter to City Council members urging their support of $50,000 needed to save ECAP Ken Bukowski is seeking the Council’s support of a $50,000 allocation from the city’s General Fund to maintain the distribution of food and clothing by Emeryville Community Action Program (ECAP), located at 3610 San Pablo Ave. ECAP has provided food and clothing to the community for 15 years. Bukowski sent the letter to Mayor  Jennifer West, and Council members Jac Asher, and Ruth Atkin. He said he did not send it to Council members Nora Davis or Kurt Brinkman because they do not support his request. Jennifer, Jac, and Ruth: I bumped into Helen Bean and Michelle DeGuzman at ECAP (Emeryville Community Action Program) this afternoon. They have really cleaned up the place. I sure hope you will support $50,000 of funding for ECAP ASAP. Please don’t insult them any further by mixing up potential funding for them with any other city expense. I can hardly believe the April 3 staff report would even suggest that any cessation of services to feed hungry people is OK …  For $50,000 each year, can you think of any other way to provide food and clothing for the needy?

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