This is probably the first time I’ve been really concerned about the viability of a specific small local business. Yesterday while visiting Alameda Landing I noticed sign with a cookie ice cream sandwich on the window and language about Facebook liking. Upon further inspection it appears that CREAM (Cookies Rule Everything Around Me) is coming to Alameda. It’s (essentially) the model that Cookiebar borrowed, pick your own cookies and pick your own ice cream to make your own ice cream sandwiches.
Fortunately for CookieBar it has some really interesting flavors (Vietnamese Coffee is yum!) and is making its own ice cream. Let’s hope the West End is big enough for two cookie ice cream sandwiches.
Right now you have a full two weeks to review the proposed MOUs for all the City labor groups that take small steps toward “smoothing” out the OPEB liability for the City. If that’s not enough time for you, well, technically you can go to the meeting on the 29th and complain about that and I’m sure that someone on the City Council will agree with you and rather than talk about the actual MOUs being offered will complain about timing instead.
Anyway, just to generally nutshell what in the heck is going on, as a reminder. The City is in a bad position regarding benefits that were promised to our bargaining units way back when the economy was good. When I say “way back when” I mean like a long time ago and not just like two administrations ago. Anyway, after kicking the can down the road for years, the last administration — despite the alleged coziness between a majority of the City Council members — was the first administration that actually managed to put in initial controls to help stem the inevitable tide that threatened to bury the City of Alameda. While some people felt as though it did not go far enough, it was certainly more than had been accomplished prior to the Marie Gilmore administration. At no point did anyone at that time say that they had solved the problem, but rather had taken the first of many steps.
There’s a City Council meeting tomorrow on the Budget, different from the other budget meeting that was discussed at last week’s meeting that caused so much confusion for Mayor Trish Spencer. Maybe I’ll write about the budget meeting tomorrow, but who knows.
As I mentioned there are some awesome quotes from last week’s meeting from a few City Council members including Jim Oddie who threw some major shade at someone on the City Council who sits around in coffee shops complaining about issues but then doesn’t do much to actually get anything accomplished. I wonder who he was referring to… Anyway, hopefully I can get some video spliced in the next week or so, but no promises.
What I did want to write about was a referral placed on next week’s regular City Council meeting by Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft which may seem very cryptic if you haven’t heard the rumor mill with regard to Alameda’s representatives to regional bodies.
Just when you thought that these City Council meetings couldn’t get any longer, City Staff decides that it might be in the best interest to add more meetings to the month. Because they’re SO much fun! But before I get to the next regular meeting agenda where there is some really interesting things, here’s a little preview of last week’s meeting where the City Council first met in closed session to talk some negotiation business and later during the discussion about OPEB it was clear that one of the members of the City Council was unclear on what she was voting on, or in this case, against.
Mayor Trish Spencer goes on a bit of a tear about how she feels like the information about OPEB is being “pushed through” and wants to schedule the discussion not at the meeting where the budget is being discussed (at an already scheduled meeting, albeit a “special meeting”; it is special because it’s not a regularly scheduled meeting) but at a regularly scheduled meeting. John Russo pushes back and says that it is impossible because the Sunshine Ordinance requires 15 days notice and the next regularly scheduled meeting is in 14 days.
And then Trish Spencer says:
I didn’t realize that we were talking about doing it on a special meeting and I think the Council, I would like Council feedback on that. I appreciate that.
Despite some folks in Alameda “feeling” like housing units have been built unfettered in Alameda lately, as I mentioned in last Monday’s post, the California Legislative Analyst’s office concludes it’s simply not true. Everyone wants jobs and businesses to come to their cities, but no one wants to build the housing to go somewhere else. Unfortunately that “somewhere else” is limited and forces those on the lower end of the economic scale to brave six hour round trip commutes while some on the island find navigating from Peets to the Alameda Marketplace “challenging” as a sufficient reason to block housing development.
Excerpts from the LAO report, worth a read if you have the time, or if you are an elected official who, ostensibly, should be using facts and data to shape policy decisions as opposed to gut feelings and anecdotal evidence.
First their super helpful five major points in case you don’t want to read the whole thing and like to make snap judgments about a whole document based on a handful of words:
- California’s Home Prices and Rents Higher Than Just About Anywhere Else.
- Building Less Housing Than People Demand Drives High Housing Costs.
- High Housing Costs Problematic for Households and the State’s Economy.
- Recognize Targeted Role of Affordable Housing Programs.
- More Private Housing Construction in Coastal Urban Areas.
Finishing up my video excerpting from yesterday of the density bonus meeting.
City Council member Jim Oddie, again with the direct questions, asks what happens to Measure A if the City Council decides, on a policy level, to take a gamble and defend Measure A for the whole City and risk litigation. City Staff and City Attorney again with the explanation:
A few videos from the big City Council meeting about a month ago regarding the Density Bonus. Yes, it’s taken me this long to get to it because, well, other stuff. The Density Bonus meeting is a really interesting one if you’ve ever been puzzled by (1) how can the density bonus exist when Measure A is still around and/or (2) but we have Measure A that means nothing bigger than a duplex ever!
Staff laid it all out there that Tuesday night much to the consternation of some of the City Council members who initially wanted City Staff to put together language issuing a mortatorium on all density bonus applications until they figured out how to make it impossible to actually issue one…I mean, how to “close the gaps” in the applications process.
The schooling happens with an assist by City Council member Jim Oddie, who I’m pretty sure understands the whole “density bonus” + “State law compliance” thing and he asks if a moratorium can be based on traffic:
At one of the many March City Council meeting a public speaker, during the non agenda public comment period, decided to get up to talk about your favorite subject and mine: traffic.
In Alameda tradition because he believes that traffic is so bad he was going to do what no one else has thought to do, count cars. But he did it in a super efficient, super controlled, super scientific way, he sat there with on of those manual clicker thingies that they use on the ferry. Because no one has come up with a non manual clicker way of counting cars passing through a certain stretch of road.
He told the City Council that he showed up at 7:15 in the morning and counted cars for 2 hours.
Guess how many cars he counted?
I’ll point out the major difference between the interim City Manager contract with Elizabeth Warmerdam and between our former interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant: no automatic renewal clause. Tonight, the City Council, which had already voted in Closed Session to offer to current Assistant City Manager Elizabeth Warmerdam the top job while the City Council figures out what to do about the permanent City Manager search, will be voting in public session to approve her contract. Honestly, between you and me, given how very little business has been done in these first three, now entering into the fourth month, getting all of the City Council members to first agree on a process and then get that process into place and then agree on a singular person to offer the permanent job to, I think Elizabeth Warmerdam might be wearing the title of Interim City Manager for a long long time. She can probably confidently make herself comfortable in that seat for the long haul. Maybe get one of those massager bead type chair covers for comfort during those long meetings.
Salary is $240,000 which sounds pretty standard, she has the option of moving back into her Assistant City Manager role if she so elects to after the appointment of a permanent City Manager. That’s of course if she doesn’t go ahead and throw her hat in the ring herself for the permanent spot, which makes the case to outsource the City Manager search to head off any claims of bias or favoritism from the jump.
Anyway, congratulations to Elizabeth Warmerdam. It’s novel to have an Alameda resident in that top seat again.
A few weeks ago the State of California’s Legislative Analysts Office released a report on how bad housing costs have become in California, but went one step beyond just stating the obvious. The office attempted to explain why California is in the state that it is in with regards to housing costs.
Now before anyone tries to dismiss the LAO’s office as some super partisan group, it is — by design — non partisan. From the website description:
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has provided fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature for more than 70 years. It is known for its fiscal and programmatic expertise and nonpartisan analyses of the state budget. The office serves as the “eyes and ears” for the Legislature to ensure that the executive branch is implementing legislative policy in a cost efficient and effective manner
The office is overseen by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC), a 16-member bipartisan committee. Currently, the office has a staff of 43 analysts and approximately 13 support staff.