Emeryville in the Post Redevelopment Agency Era

March 8, 2012

The city’s Finance Advisory Committee met on Monday, Feb. 27.  Some of its business was routine, some not.

First, some good news:  Revenue for the second quarter was up $1,512,843 over the same period last year, a gain of about 15%, and expenditures for the quarter were down $356,958.  That’s encouraging, and we hope these figures represent continuing positive trends, not just circumstantial or temporary budgetary adjustments.

That’s about it for the good news.  On the grimmer side, consider the pending fate of the City’s Community Promotion Grant Program, which spent $94,500 last year to support artists, art organizations, art exhibits, access to local art, library programs, nutritional programs, low income legal assistance, and other worthy activities.  Between $91,000 and $92,000 of this funding came from our Redevelopment Agency.  And now that money is gone.  Should the General Fund be tapped to keep things going?  Should the list be pared?  Should a cap be put on the Grant Program and have entities compete for a slice of what’s still there?

The Committee, wisely I think, deferred judgment on what to do.  We need to think carefully about our options, hear more from the community, and consider other possible sources for funding.  To give fellow citizens a sense of what’s at stake, here’s a partial list of the entities that get such promotional grants:


45th Street Artist Cooperative

East Bay Community Law Center

Emeryville Taiko

Kala Art Institute

Mercy Retirement and Care Center

New Arts Foundation

Add to the list support for the annual Emeryville Celebration of the Arts Exhibition, for the Emeryville Historical Society, and for our newly created Poet Laureate Program.

Basic city services are a must, of course.  We can’t neglect public safety or fail to keep our physical infrastructure intact.  There are, by the way, plenty of advocates for these essentials, and their voices will be heard.  But can we meet these fundamental needs and still keep our city a vibrant and livable place?  I hope so, and I hope my fellow citizens will weigh in with ideas about how we might do it.

One final report, again on the grim side:  I asked City Manager Patrick O’Keefe if the disappearance of redevelopment agency funding would require letting some city staffers go.  His answer was a simple “Yes”.  What this might mean for city services down the road is an open question.  These are indeed hard times.


Bill Reuter is a resident member of Emeryville’s Finance Advisory Committee.

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2 Responses to Emeryville in the Post Redevelopment Agency Era

  1. Joe on June 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Feeling Skittish about the Future of Emeryville: Just woke up this morning wondering why it is only a handful of people are being allowed to map out what happens next. I know that I am a new voice on the scene– but is anyone else out there loosing confidence in the management and status quo running this show? I did a little research and most other cities facing the end of redevelopment are looking at creative ways to fund needed City services and programs like education and the arts, and the managers are fighting to save their staff. Is Emeryville suffering a scaled-down version of Bell, California where these high paid managers take care of their own salaries on the backs of the front line staff? Where will this all lead? IN A YEAR OR TWO, WHAT WILL THE CITY LOOK LIKE? I hope they change their minds on Tuesday night, June 19th and keep the code compliance and arts person, and get rid of some of the top heavy management. Good luck with it all. I for one and am thinking I won’t renew my lease. Emeryville is going to slide downhill pretty quickly with the unrealistic economic development plan. The director has a lot of stuff planned, and it wise of the council person Davis to ask her if she was really going to be able to do it all and to warn her that they will hold her feet to the fire if she doesn’t. But come on, we already know she will be back with excuse: there is no money in the budget, we have to cut more staff and I have been busy with that. EMERYVILLE — you know you want safe and clean streets, you know you support the arts, you know you want family friendly affordable housing — why keep a blow hard director who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes. There is no way she is going to get those things done and what a good city needs is people out there in the community teaching the kids, keeping it clean, making it interesting AND FRANKLY, COMING UP WITH SOME INTERESTING IDEAS. She might as well go over and sit with the chamber of commerce guy. His presentation didn’t differ much from hers except he only gets $20,000 a year. She costs over $250,000 a year. I rather spend that money on a tot lot improvement. I am disgusted by the inability of this city council to take action. Well, they have one more chance and I think that they might just come through — there is some good energy there and it would just take West or Brinkman to reflect and look closely at what they were really being presented. How about keep the staff and take some of the money for a new economic development consulting team to bring in fresh ideas? That is my rant of the day. Now, looking at craigslist for a place in San Francisco. Time to get out of dodge.

  2. Joe on June 24, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Moving tomorrow. I am leaving a virtual shopping mall to a real place. I am not the first person to call Emeryville a corporate city. City Council appeals to the corporations, they have sold this town to big firms. What a joke. I guess you need some place to buy plastic storage containers, and cheap furniture. This place is like a three-dimensional catalog.

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