Message to Residents from Emeryville Council Member Jennifer West: Public Input and Community Participation

February 15, 2010

West Seeks Community Input/Participation in Transit Center Public Hearing, I-80 Pedestrian-Bike Bridge Workshop, ECCL, “Shortest Triathlon”, and Cooperative Grocery

Dear Emeryville neighbors,

This is my second letter to you since taking office in November 2009. My purpose in writing you is to inform you of upcoming city council actions, provide transparency about the city process and to ask for your input and participation. I encourage you to reply to me about something that is important to you. The best ways to contact me are by email at or by phone at (510) 420-5795. Of course, if you see me in the park, or at the grocery store, please introduce yourself!

My topics for this email include events for public input and organizations or activities for community participation: Transit Center Public Hearing, I-80 Ped/Bike Bridge Community Workshop, ECCL living room conversations, the Shortest Triathlon, and joining the COG.

Vital Public Input (the City Council needs to hear from you!):

Public Hearing on the Transit Center Tuesday, Feb 16, 2010, 7:16 p.m., City Council Chambers, City Hall (corner of Park Ave. and Hollis)

This development project (conditional use permit and design review) was not approved by the Planning Commission on January 28, 2010, and the City Council appealed that decision to itself for a public hearing this Tuesday. I was the only council member who voted against appealing the P.C. decision because the developer could appeal the decision. I know that there are people in town who have been following this project and who have opinions on the scale and transit nature of the building. Wareham Development has built many buildings in this area of town, including the Terraces, the Amtrak Station, Emery Station I, Emery Station East and North, and some of the Novartis buildings. They are about to begin on the Emery Greenway project at the corner of Powell and Hollis. The “Transit Center” is planned for the Amtrak parking lot site on Horton Blvd., and will be a 163 foot high building (9 stories) with parking below, an office/bio-tech building, and bus bays for folks to connect to from Amtrak. The Heritage Square Parking Garage (7 stories, 73 feet high) is planned for the corner of Horton and 62nd St. This combined project will create an additional 528 parking spaces on our designated bike blvd, bringing the total to over 800 spaces for cars. Please go to the city’s website to read more about the project in our staff report (warning: that file is extremely large) which is under city council agenda for March 2, 2010.

I ran for city council to change the way large development projects happen in town, making sure that residents are getting tangible benefits from the public money that is spent. For this project, our Redevelopment Agency is putting in money to help clean up the toxic site (up to $3 million), paying for the replacement of the public parking spaces (around $2-$3 million), and there is federal money being spent on the plaza improvements (close to $1 million). There are public benefits from the project, including job creation, a public plaza at the end of 59th St., new tax revenues, a new elevator to the bridge over the train tracks, a new traffic signal at 62nd and Hollis, and bike valet parking. What do you think about the balance of benefits and costs? I am asking you to send a message to the entire city council (you can access a form on the city of Emeryville’s website) if you have an opinion in support of or in opposition to this project. Even better, please attend the public hearing and make your voice heard!

I-80 Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Community workshop: Weds, Feb. 24, 6:30-8:30, City Council Chambers

Are you someone who wishes you didn’t have to go all the way to Berkeley to ride safely to the Bay trail? We are planning for a new pedestrian and bike bridge to cross I-80 at the west end of 65th St., and would like your input. Please come, learn about the 3 bridge alignments that are proposed, hear about the process and timeline, and also give direct feedback to staff on the plan that makes the most sense to you. See you there!

Emeryville Center for Community Life Living Room Conversations, March 6-10, 2010

The Center for Community Life is a significant undertaking for our small town and school district. This year is time for us to scale back the project from the original $125 million concept and gauge what level of community support exists before putting a school bond measure on the ballot. This joint use facility that would include schools, a rec center, a library and community services needs your input! It will be stronger with the inclusion of residents’ ideas. For a week in March, folks will be meeting in living rooms, community rooms, and cafes to talk in small groups about how to refine or influence this project. Please try to find a group that fits your schedule and make sure your ideas are incorporated. The conversations will be facilitated and will include an elected official and staff. Gather your neighbors and host one! Please don’t miss this opportunity to be involved.

Building Community at events and organizations: April 17, 2010 Shortest Triathlon, 8:00 a.m., begins at the Emery Secondary School Pool, ends at City Hall

Come join me! Last year I completed my very first triathlon in about 45 minutes. This year, because I am one year older, I hope to do it in 46 minutes. It was a great event, and I loved seeing people I knew there, participating and cheering everyone on. You, too, can do it! Some folks are competitive, others are just hoping to finish. Proceeds will support wellness programs in the Emery Schools. Register at Later that day: Earth Day in Emeryville on 47th St. and Temescal Creek Park at noon.

The Cooperative
Grocery, aka the COG, 1450 67th St.

Want to spend less money on your groceries? Want to know that you are buying from local companies? Want to be a part of a community that believes in sustainable production? The COG is right here in Emeryville, at Hollis and 67th St. I knew about it because I pick up my Full Belly Farm weekly vegetable box there every Friday. Now that I have joined the member supported grocery store, I find I save money on non-perishable items I used to buy elsewhere. Plus, I really enjoy meeting the people who are members. Check it out at, and feel free to ask me questions about this fantastic opportunity to shop here in Emeryville and support a non-profit organization selling quality food.

Thanks for reading my newsletter, and please, respond to me with any feedback or if you would like to be removed. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Jennifer West
Emeryville City Council Member
(510) 420-5795

6 Responses to Message to Residents from Emeryville Council Member Jennifer West: Public Input and Community Participation

  1. Anonymous on February 15, 2010 at 6:37 am

    thank you jennifer for asking for input.

    i have become very cynical in the 13 years i've lived and participated in emeryville civic affairs. the city has study sessions, neighborhood and community meetings, even offering refreshments asking for our opinion, but to me it's all lip service. look what happened with the general plan. after five or so years of "community input," in one night at one meeting they totally ignored the general plan allowing for higher density at the northern border of the city, which means other developers can use that excuse to exceed the height limit in any part of the city.

    i didn't realize the heritage square project was going to be seven floors. this will definitely create a wind tunnel and reduce sunlight in the new dutro park. after time and expense providing the bike lane on horton street, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the bike lane will be totally lost once wareham starts the "transportation" center and heritage plaza.

    whenever the city complains that budget cuts might have to be made, it is gross waste such as this bike lane that angers me so much.

    while i and many others are proud of your work thus far and your sincere effort at trying to bring about change, the vote is still four to one. but i know change takes time.

  2. Anonymous on February 16, 2010 at 5:09 am

    Thank You Jennifer,

    For your commitment to transparency and your belief in the community. It is so refreshing to know that we have a city council member who is supportive of the community and residents' desires and wishes for a livable city.

  3. Brian Donahue on February 16, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    It has become obvious to me that it is extremely unlikely that Ms West, the council winner who collected the highest number of votes last election, will ever be permitted to serve as our mayor. Her letter printed here, is further evidence.

    The council votes among themselves who will be mayor and they always did so on a rotational basis under the philosophy that citizens deserve to have the candidate they voted for become mayor eventually, regardless of any petty infighting among the council members. This democratic tradition was stopped when council member Greg Harper was elected (in a landslide) many years ago. Because Mr Harper opposed some of the council majority's views on how to best develop our town, the majority refused Mr Harper his turn.

    After Harper stepped down, there was a return to the rotation for the mayoralty only to stop again with the landslide victory of council member John Fricke, years later. Now, again, we will likely have the desires of Emeryville voters thwarted by the pro-developer crew on the council. These guys REALLY don't like democracy.

  4. Anonymous on February 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    You didn't mention Ken Bukowski missing his turn at the mayorship long before his personal problems surfaced.

  5. Brian Donahue on February 18, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Oh, good point; Ken Bukowski was also skipped the mayor position once. It was during the time when Ken started courting the left wing and engaging in non-Nora Davis approved votes. Ken railed against the way the City Manager treated City employee Leslie Pollard in her lawsuit against the City and for a time Ken even challenged the Chamber of Commerce. It was also at this time Ken voted to support the Child Development Center with John Fricke. All this was enough for the conservatives on the council to vote to skip him when it was his turn.

    Later, when Ken fell back in good with Nora Davis and the Chamber, not only did the council majority vote him mayor again, the Chamber bankrolled his re-election.

    So the greater point is if any council member is anything but completely supportive of the Chamber of Commerce and Nora Davis, they will find themselves locked out of the Mayoralty.

  6. Anonymous on March 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    A bigger question is who's going to run for re-election next time? Ruth has told everybody she's not running, Ken is damaged goods, Nora is so old, she might not be able. Dick Kassis has already said he's running next time…

    The election will be the biggest in Emeryville history since there may be three seats opening without incumbents. This would be the first since the 1970's.

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