I am running for re-election. Being on the council isn’t exactly fun, but it is important work, and I think I have something to contribute, so here goes:
The League of Women Voter’s website is an amazing resource for general information about the Nov. elections, including information about me and many other candidates. The direct link to me is here, and the main link to the website is here. The league’s candidate forum for both Albany’s city council and school board is here.
Here are my voting recommendations for the city’s six ballot measures:
MEASURE N1 Modifying parking requirements. Vote YES.
MEASURE O1 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage General Tax. Vote NO.
MEASURE P1 Sidewalk Repair Special Parcel Tax. Vote YES.
MEASURE Q1 Various modernizing charter amendments. Vote YES.
MEASURE R1 Dissolve the city’s Civil Service Board. Vote YES
MEASURE S1 Remove term limits for the AUSD School Board. Vote NO.
I explain my objections to Measure S1 in my previous post here. I also am opposed to the soda tax (Measure O1), which I think is not a good fit for Albany. I have written about soda tax previously here. It’s right after the minimum wage and rent control discussion, so you have to scroll down.
The Solano Avenue Association circulated (without endorsing) a pro-soda tax poster (here) that I thought was so filled with errors that I asked, and was allowed to write, a rebuttal (without endorsement) here. I haven’t seen any No on O1 literature, but I’m sure it has its share of errors, too.
Now on the positive side of things, I strongly urge voters to support measures N1 and P1. These are both well-crafted measures designed specifically to deal with problems in Albany.
YES ON MEASURE N1
Measure N1 repeals Albany’s unrealistic parking standards that were put in place way back in 1978 by that year’s Measure D. Measure D was basically a poison-pill strategy that required developers of multi-family housing to build two off-street parking places for every housing unit built. Developers were reluctant (and still are) to swallow the poison pill of creating buildings with too many parking spaces and too few living units.
In an era of climate change and housing shortages, it is critical to build more places for people to live, not places for cars to park, especially along existing public transit corridors. Hence the effort to pass Measure N1, which will allow the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council to develop more reasonable parking standards. The Yes on Measure N1 Committee’s website is here.
I cannot give you a better argument in favor of N1 than that of long-time Albany resident and architect Howard McNenny, who was a strong supporter of Measure D back in 1978. Over the years, he has changed his mind. When I asked him why in an email, here is what Howard had to say:
Regarding Measure D, I do recall being a proponent (that was a long time ago, by the way). As best I can recall, the argument had a lot to do with what was going on at the time: Developers would buy property zoned as single-family, then somehow manage to get them re-zoned for multi-unit (spot zoning, it was called). Then, they would develop the parcel such that the entire frontage would be open parking stalls — one space per unit. Units would be arranged behind, and on a second level. The result was not very attractive, to say the least. Adding insult to injury, any additional spaces due to extra cars per unit, or guest parking, would be in front of neighboring property, depriving them of their own on-street parking. Something needed to be done, and Measure D was the result.
At this point, I do not support the strict application of the Measure D rules for parking, which effectively increases the price of housing. We now have very effective zoning, and the kind of thing that was going on in the 70’s and 80’s is not happening now. Development along transit corridors should not be held to the same standards. Same for senior housing. I know we already have exceptions for development where “adequate” on-street parking exists, though these cases are probably rare in Albany. Other neighboring cities have more relaxed standards, where the number of parking spaces is tied to the number of bedrooms. We could consider something similar.
Many thanks to Howard for his extensive quote. And please remember to vote YES on Measure N1.
YES ON MEASURE P1
At first I was very skeptical of a parcel tax to repair sideways. Very few cities anywhere in the United States have taken this approach and we lacked the city policies to clarify some of the underlying legal issues.
However, due to coming together of the city staff, the council and members of the Albany Strollers and Rollers advocacy group, we collected the necessary information about costs (thanks to city staff), made sure we had reasonable policies on the books (thanks to council member Rochelle Nason for taking the lead) and worked out a fee structure that is reasonable and fair (thanks to Strollers and Rollers).
The result is Measure P1, a 10-year parcel tax that will help speed up sidewalk repairs in Albany. The city could probably repair the sidewalks without this measure, but it would take much longer.
The annual cost will run $15 for condo owners and $39 for typical single-family house, depending on lot size. The tax sunsets after a decade and includes a low-income exemption. Details of this measure and the other ballot measures can be found here.
If you would like to know what happens when a city neglects its sidewalks for too long, consider the case of Los Angeles, which may be facing a bill for as much as $1.5 billion to repair its sidewalks (here and here).
We need a two-thirds super-majority to pass this measure, and I know some Albany voters are already feeling taxed enough after seeing their new property tax bills, but there is no point in building new schools or developing walkable commercial districts if we can’t get there on foot due to dangerous sidewalks.
Unlike Measure O1, the soda tax, which came to us from Berkeley and which I believe is a poor fit for Albany, our sidewalk tax is a well-crafted policy designed by Albany voters to fit the specific needs of our town. I encourage you to vote YES on Measure P1.
MY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COUNCIL AND SCHOOL BOARD
Finally, I am endorsing Albany’s current mayor, Pete Maass, and two candidates for school board, Jon Destin and Clementina Duron. Since Pete needs no introduction, please let me discuss my picks for school board.
Jon has one child at Marin Elementary, while Clementina has two grand children there. Both candidates are competent, thoughtful and independent. I think that’s exactly what our school board needs now. You can read about them and the other school board candidates on the LVW Voter’s Edge website here. More on Jon’s take on the issues here and here, and Clementina’s here.