Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 8, 2007

Format error

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Measure A — Lauren Do @ 7:27 am

Here’s what I found really odd about the Planning Board packet on the Measure A forum.   Tonight tonight tonight, get out if you can!   Here was the perfect opportunity for the appellant side (for lack of a better name) to work collectively to come up with a really solid idea of how they envisioned the Measure A forum, using the baseline workshop formatcreated and presented by Diane Coler-Dark at the meeting.   I think this would have given the public at least the illusion that the appellants actually do want to have a forum, despite actions taken to not have the forum (appeal to the City Council of the Planning Board’s formation of the Ad Hoc Committee).

Rather than moving forward all three members of the appellant group decided to rehash the same old same old, without adding anything new to the dialogue.    With Barbara Kerr taking up the mantel of “there’s hardly anyone from Alameda on the speaker’s list” and “small groups are bad, we need more public input time.”   And Pat Bail taking up “the Planning Board is biased, we all know, they have said they hate Measure A”  message.   All soundbytes, of course, are unproven and forcing us all to rely on hearsay information straight from the mouths of the appellants that we are instinctively supposed to “trust.”

While, I’m not going to beat a dead horse by yet again talking about the results of the Measure A planning sessions, if anyone is really that interested, they can watch the full length videos.  But there are a few statements that were just too much not to discuss, from Barbara Kerr’s letter to the City Council about the Measure A forum:

…If all of the speakers are chosen by anti-Measure A people, there will be no balance to the forum. The Planning Board members pool of consideration includes almost no residents of Alameda, but does include people like Eve Bach…

Interestingly enough it seems as though Barbara K.’s ominous prediction based on a faulty assumption is incorrect.   First, her assumption is that the Planning Board members that were sitting on the Ad Hoc subcommittee were “anti-Measure A” which is untrue or rather has not been proven to be true.   Of course, if you believe, as some do, that merely wanting to begin a conversation about Measure A stems from a place of being “anti-Measure A” then well I suppose that should be an asterisk to refine what you mean by being “Anti-Measure A,” but I digress.  And then there is the contention that the pool of possible speakers include “almost no residents of Alameda”.  Well considering that the Planning Board members had such major hurdles to climb (1) being anti-Measure A and therefor unable to provide balance to a forum and (2) selecting from a pool of so many non-Residents of Alameda, I think they did an excellent job at providing that balance, considering that the appellant side did not seem to take the exercise of submitting names of speakers seriously.   Here are the two lists of speakers that the Planning Board included in their proposed format, I have put in bold those that are Alameda residents:

 Randall Arendt (Land Use Planner & Conservation Development Site Designer
Pat Bail (Founder, Keep Measure A Committee)
 Dena Beltzer (President, Strategic Economics) or Jim Musbach (Economic & Planning Systems)
 Gary Binger (former Director, Urban Land Institute’s CA Smart Growth Initiative) or Tom Jacobson (Prof. of Environmental Studies & Planning, Sonoma State Univ.)
Diane Coler-Dark (Appellant/Ad hoc committee member)
 Bonnie Fisher (Principal of ROMA Design Group)
Mi’chelle Frederick (Former WABA Director)
 Anthony Iton, M.D., J.D., MPH (Director, Alameda County Public Health Department)
 John Knowles (Developer, Main Street Properties, Alameda)
Douglas Sornberger (Alameda resident, Measure A supporter)

David Burton, AIA (Alameda resident, Climate Protection Task Force member)
 Robert Cervero (Prof. or Transportation & Community Design, UC Berkeley) or Betty Deakin(City & Regional Planning, Land Use & Transport Prof., UC Berkeley)
 Stuart Cohen (TALC-Transportation & Land Use Coalition)
David Howard (Alameda resident, Co-chair, Action Alameda)
 Bonnie Nelson (City & Regional Planning, Land Use & Transport Prof., UC Berkeley)
 Shelly Poticha (Pres., Reconnecting America, integrating transport systems with communities they serve)
Eric Scheuerman (Alameda resident & native)
 Michael Smiley (BMS Design Group, Transit & Land Use Projects for Park & Webster Streets)
Joseph Woodard (Alameda resident)

Of course, these are  only the ones that I know are Alameda residents, there could be others in the list above, but I only placed in bold the ones that I know for sure.  Of course, the whole argument is based on the notion that residency makes a difference in someone’s ability to speak from a place of expertise. 

And then Barbara K. says:

…The Council deserves to hear directly from its citizens. Certainly more than one hour should be allotted for the public to speak…

The final proposed format from City staff allotted 1.5 hours for “Public Comment” not to mention the additional small group time which is another format that allows the “public to speak.” The Planning Board proposed format allows for 1.25 hours for a “Public Comment” period also in addition to small group time.   The orginial proposed format from Diane Coler-Dark, which Barbara K. was willing to sign off on, only allowed for one hour of public comment and no small group time.

From Pat Bail’s letter:

…The idea that Planning Board members who have publicly stated their desire to change Measure A could or would plan such an objective forum is laughable. That’s why it is important that the appellants be included in planning any Measure A forum…

Again, see need for asterisk above, Pat B. only uses one example from one City Council debate from two elections ago to “prove” that one member of the Planning Board is anti-Measure and therefore by extension the other are as well.     The appellants were included in the planning process as well, it just failed miserably.

And the final zinger:

…I urge the City Council to take a leadership role in any debate dealing with Measure A, and not leave it to the Planning Board members which have clearly shown their inability to plan a forum in a balanced, objective, well mannered way…

Since the Planning Board members were never given the opportunity to attempt to plan a forum before the Appellant side stepped in to bring “balance” this is quite the interesting statement.  Now, I’m not going to rehash who said what ir who said “shut up” to another Ad Hoc committee member, but rather take this moment to point out that when the PB members of the Ad Hoc committee did have a chance to plan a forum, the result was something that could have been produced months ago without the six tedious hours and added expense of a facilitator performing a largely thankless job.

To also address a comment made by Kevis B. who reflected on the need, or the desire, to have someone speak from an academic perspective on historic and neighborhood preservation ordinances, which I think is a great call.   I think that of the speakers pared down by the Planning Board perhaps Randall Arendt, who is a noted conservation planner who writes on issues of planning to preserve open space and retaining small town character.   Or perhaps someone could be invited from the National Trust for Historic Places to speak on the topic or from Smart Growth America which has an extensive section on Preservation and Revitalization.

Blog at