City Council Places Low Priority on Issues Important to Residents

City Council Places Low Priority on Issues Important to Residents

Margie Siegal

Recently I sent a letter to each member of the City Council, titled “An Open Letter To the City Council.”

This letter started with my concerns with multiple Council actions that I believed served the needs and interests of the construction industry rather than the needs and interests of Alameda residents.

Councilmember John Knox White responded, after which I researched his comments as stated below:

• Carnegie Library

According to Knox White, the community group decided to walk away even after they were corrected that there was no requirement not to use volunteer language. It was unfortunate.

Further research showed that the city accepted a proposal to turn the Carnegie Library into a community center for the arts.

According to a letter dated Nov. 5, 2019, the nonprofit Carnegie Library group decided not to go forward after investing considerable money and time in the project after the City delayed a vote for four months and then made new demands.

Robert Sullwold wrote in the Alameda Merry Go Round, in October 2019 that the city demanded that the community nonprofit negotiate a “Labor Peace Agreement” with construction unions before a lease could be signed.

The delay resulted in the loss of a large grant. With the prospect of new, uncertain negotiations with yet another entity, the community group decided to bow out. The Carnegie Library is now either empty or being used for storage.

• Proposition Z, and reports that Council members are trying to evade Article 26.

Knox White stated that Measure Z was placed on the ballot. The state is still requiring Alameda to build 5,400 units.

“I am unaware of any actions that have been taken (or suggested) that would lead you to believe that “council members are now trying,” he stated.

Further research showed that the estimated population increase is greatly overstated.

The March 4 issue of the Los Angeles Times stated, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, net domestic exits from the Bay Area “have increased 178% compared to pre-pandemic trends.

Times research showed a 9% increase in departures and a 21% decrease in entrances in the last three quarters of 2020 relative to the same period in 2019.”

The vice mayor of Pleasanton wrote to Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcroft on Dec. 28, 2020, asking her to join in an effort to lower the number of additional units required. It is my understanding that our mayor refused to do so.

• Base housing, proposed for the homeless repurposed as expensive rentals.

According to Knox White this is not what happened. The federal government owned the land and followed the process that included both affordable and homeless accommodations and selling some of the property to a private developer.

The city had no role or say in the matter. Congress has outlined the process for the disposition of vacated federal land, Knox White stated.

Further research showed that the City rezoned the property to allow the development of the property as $4,000 to $4,500 per month rentals.

• Resident who proposed a ban on gas powered leaf blowers was told “staff has no time to work on this issue.”

Knox White stated that the City Council and city staff have already prioritized this work.

It has been added to the City Climate and Resiliency Plan and it will be back before the Council this fall for action, he stated.

“The petition you mention was started after the Council clarified that there was not additional action needed and that staff resources were currently working on other items that were higher priorities in the work plan,” Knox White stated.

However, my point is that issues important to the citizenry are low priority.

Margie Siegal lives in Alameda.