I mentioned yesterday that former Mayor, Marie Gilmore, was the one person that — during the re-opening of public comment — reminded the School Board of their duty to make a decision that night. The possible fallout of not appointing that night would have been a forced Special Election, but — in the interim — the seat would have been filled by the Alameda County Office of Education, completely removing the local School Board from the equation.
Clearly that was not what anyone wanted.
While everyone else was desperately trying to tell the School Board why their candidate should be the choice, Marie Gilmore said what needed to be heard. While it would have been better for the School Board to have a frank discussion about the pros and cons of each of the candidates, a straightforward and frank reminder was necessary to move the topic along.
The video is up for the School Board meeting appointment and boy, it’s a doozy. I mean, I sort of knew that it was going to be weird and awkward, but I didn’t think it was going to be strange, and at times, downright ugly. Let’s just say that it will surprise no one to learn that there some folks are not happy with some of the statement made during this meeting.
I find it absolutely mind boggling that, when the process was designed, given the messiness that happened the last time around with a deadlock that there would have been a way to break a deadlock this time around. Either by random lots, vote by the superintendent, feat of strength, or a battle to the death. I’m not picky.
Here’s the recap of how the voting went down: Gary Lym threw his support for Anne McKereghan. Barbara Kahn supported Gray Harris. Solana Henneberry also supported Gray Harris. Phil Hu supported Anne McKereghan. After a deadlock vote, a brief discussion about ranked choice voting and reopening public comment; Phil Hu relented and switched his support to Gray Harris.
So, the positive of the night: (1) The two unknown candidates were actually refreshing and adorable. Maybe not ready for prime time, but it was really nice to have a different perspective.
(2) Gary Lym reading aloud from this blog post. Woot!
(3) The articulate statements from all the candidates.
Unfortunately the negatives kind of outweighed the positives.
I’ll write in detail about the School Board appointment next week when the video gets uploaded, but, to nutshell, based on the twitter timeline from AUSD and reports in the comments section, Gray Harris has been selected and sworn in to fill out the remainder of Niel Tam’s School Board seat.
There were some surprises and some not so surprises, but again, I wanted to get a chance to watch the actual video before writing too much in depth about it. Simply based on the information on the twitter play-by-play, it appeared that — much like during the vote the last time that it took someone showing true leadership and relenting to move the issue along. Last time it was Jane Grimaldi who made the gesture, this time, the man that she stepped aside for switched his vote after seeing that the other three were too entrenched in their positions to move the vote along.
On a lighter note, this weekend is the Art and Wine Fair on Park Street which can only mean one thing, that’s right, funnel cake.
On Tuesday night the City Council voted to move forward with the senior affordable housing at the Del Monte site. The big vote for that project was to transfer City owned land to the Housing Authority, which — as someone pointed out on Twitter — could have been a place where the “no development anywhere ever” crowd could have made their stand to stop this development by not voting for the transfer. The project needed four votes to move forward.
Of course voting against anything that is for seniors is pretty much a non starter in this town much like being anti-park. The unanimous vote is a surprise (but not really because of the senior aspect) for the Councilpeople who were supposed to put the brakes on development. Yet more units to add to the list of approved housing units.
The Atlantic highlighted another segment of the population affected by the high housing costs in the Bay Area: teachers.
The irony is that for communities where families move to specifically for the schools, the teachers that are the backbone of those great schools are being pushed out because they can’t afford to live in the area.
From the Atlantic:
“Housing is one of the biggest reasons we lose teachers from one year to the next,” said Dave Villafana, the president of the teachers union in Cupertino, Apple’s hometown. “They can’t afford a house, and rent is prohibitive as well.”
Villafana, who has taught in Cupertino for 28 years, said that for the last 15 years district teachers have increasingly had to live elsewhere—often a 45- to 65-minute commute away on the area’s clogged freeways—in order to afford rent. Owning a home, he said, is “not even a thought.”
Two big issues tonight: one at the City Council and the second at the School Board. The City Council — in what appears to be the last meeting before their August recess — will be considering an ordinance to strengthen (slightly) protections for renters in Alameda. The big things will be formalizing the Rent Review Advisory Committee as part of one of the many other Commissions in the Municipal Code. The other big thing will the the requirement to participate in the RRAC process which starts with a notice that must accompany the notice for rent increase.
Arguably the bigger issue will be the possible appointment of a School Board member
tonight TOMORROW NIGHT (sorry folks! totally had my dates confused) to fill Niel Tam’s vacated seat. Unfortunately because the City Council meeting is in session this meeting will be held at Island High School rather than the chambers and if you want to know what’s happening you’ll have to go there in person. Arguably one reason why it’s a shame that the meeting didn’t get bumped to a time when people could watch on the TV if they couldn’t make it in person. I guess we’ll have to watch the twitter feed instead. It is, however, being held at Island High School and am not sure why. But it’s at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Two bits of news from outside Alameda, but definitely affects Alamedans. If you are a member of the Alameda renters Coalition Facebook page there is tale after take of rent hikes and 60-day notices. The first is from a city north of Alameda, from Santa Rosa which recently attempted to stem the tide through a form of rent control. The proposals were defeated by a vote of 4 to 3. From the Santa Rose Press Democrat:
But it rejected, also on a 4-3 vote, a proposal to temporarily bar landlords from increasing rents by more than 3 percent per year while the City Council discusses the larger issues of affordable housing at future meetings.
The close votes mirrored a deep division in the community about whether the city should address the issue through more regulation or less.
Regarding the moratorium, Combs stressed that she was only proposing the ideas to protect renters from landlords seeking to impose sharp hikes before rent control could be implemented. But a majority of council members felt that talking about rent control would spook landlords, exacerbating the very problem the council was trying to solve.
As mentioned by Susan Davis yesterday the School Board subcommittee landed on a process to selected a successor to Niel Tam:
During the appointment agenda item, candidates will have 20 minutes to give a personal statement (if they choose to) as well as answer questions from the board. Boardmembers will then hear public comment on the candidates, have a discussion about the candidates, and vote for the candidate they believe is best suited for the position.
A candidate will need three votes to be appointed. The appointee will be sworn in that night
From additional information given by Mike McMahon in another post it appears that random lots will be drawn to choose which order the candidates speak.
For those that just want straight information about who the candidates are and their application packet, click here.
About a month ago the City Council received an update on the results of the one-day homeless count that was performed specifically in Alameda. Much as we suspected there wasn’t a lot of action on the City Council front after this presentation. Nonetheless, the count is an important tool to continue to gauge and monitor the level of need that exists in Alameda.
The Social Services Human Relations Board is conducting a follow-up to the count that was done last September and it’s coming up quickly. The purpose is to continue to track the non-housed homeless population in Alameda and what services they are currently accessing that are available. This should also help identify gaps in services as well.
As with all things, the SSHRB needs help, so this is a call for volunteers to help with the count. The count is conducted on one day only but super early. There is a commitment to a training prior to the actual count day. The count should take no more than two to three hours.
The Del Monte/Tim Lewis Communities contribution to the Sweeney Open Space Park is already paying dividends. A few days ago the City of Alameda issued a press release announcing the award of a dollar for dollar match. From the press release:
The California Department of Parks and Recreation announced a $2 million grant for the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF program provides funding to public agencies for acquisition and development projects that create outdoor recreational resources. This year $6,142,673 was awarded to ten park projects state-wide. The Jean Sweeney Open Space Park grant is the largest award this year. The LWCF grant requires a 50% local match and through a development agreement for the Del Monte Building, Tim Lewis Communities provided $2 Million for Jean Sweeney Open Space Park that the City used as the required match. The City would not otherwise have had the matching funds to apply. The grant funding is pending final approval from the National Park Service which is anticipated soon.