Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 5, 2017

Y’all don’t know what it’s like

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

The Alameda Magazine piece about the City Council majority not being on board with Trish Spencer’s recent Planning Board picks is online right now. However given the recent nomination it appears that the losing streak may change.

First, highlights from the piece:

Spencer’s inability to appoint slow-growth candidates to the planning board represents a departure from the norm in Alameda. Traditionally, the council has given the mayor wide latitude to make appointments to city boards and commissions, rubber-stamping the selections. Spencer’s critics, though, say the mayor shattered convention in 2015 when she declined to reappoint popular planning board member Dania Alvarez. Until Alvarez, if a board or commission member asked for another term and was considered qualified, the reappointment was almost always automatic.

“It started with Dania Alvarez not getting reappointed, and it has since escalated,” said David Mitchell, current chair of the planning board. “She’s relying on an old tradition of putting a name out there and hoping everyone else will sign off on it. If she’s not going to follow the tradition and reappoint someone who is qualified, then the tradition isn’t going to be followed.”

“The mayor is a nice lady, but she doesn’t play honest politics,” Mitchell continued. “You lose faith in someone when you don’t know where they stand. I think people would respect her more if she said, ‘I’m against housing; I’m against this. This is my vision of the city.’ But she’s done none of that. Her politics are undeclared. Ultimately, it is important who is on the board and who she appoints, and it’s obvious she is appointing people that are anti-housing.”

So for those following along, the most recent nomination is an individual with not a whole lot to recommend him based on his own application and even the “supplemental information” that was uploaded wasn’t a ton more illuminating that the 25 some odd words that encompassed his application.  But he is a supporter of Rob Bonta and therefore probably won’t get the same abstention treatment that Trish Spencer’s last nominee received from the majority of the City Council.  Add to that a heightened coziness between Trish Spencer and Jim Oddie that seemed to occur post Fire Chief/Daniel Borenstein editorial and you have all the making of a “the enemy of my enemy is a my friend” relationship.

And then there’s the fact that the new nominee once hired Barbara Price for his signature conservation project not in Alameda which means that this guy is highly tapped in to the Alameda legacy world.

Oh, did I mention that he is one of those Cavanaughs that used to own the auto dealerships on Park Street?

So just to recap.  White, male, legacy nominee was selected over highly qualified women and candidates of color.

Nominee will probably get enough votes because he was tapped in enough to make sure he supported the right candidate.

Nominee will probably get enough votes because he hired the right PR firm for his business.

While I won’t be disappointed with City Council members like Frank Matarrese who is eyeing the Mayoral seat and looking to have City Councilmembers fall in line behind his nominations if he’s voted into that office.  I will be disappointed with other, purportedly progressive, City Councilmembers who spoke for a need for diversity of opinions and a level of expertise that will be missing once the incumbent is off the Council.

Rather than just find someone “good enough” for the Planning Board maybe we deserve to have someone that truly understands the Board that they’re serving on and the topics that come before them.  Like one of these passed up candidates and the incumbent who will be stepping down.


  1. still picking myself up off the floor after the suggestion that State Assembly district politics would be a factor in how people vote on the City Council.

    Comment by MP — December 5, 2017 @ 9:38 am

    • What if I told you a City Council member worked for a State Assembly member? Crazy right?

      Comment by Lauren Do — December 5, 2017 @ 11:49 am

      • My goodness. I see the connection now.

        Comment by MP — December 5, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

  2. Not sure that prominent local property owners are the best way to represent the the needs of working families at the planning board.

    Comment by Angela — December 5, 2017 @ 9:49 am

    • Your assumptions that ‘prominent property owners’ can’t relate to ‘working families’ tells all that you believe property owners do not work. So wrong on many levels.

      Comment by Tawney Masson — December 5, 2017 @ 5:16 pm

      • Be careful b/c you’re making assumptions about my assumptions 😉

        Comment by Angela — December 5, 2017 @ 6:45 pm

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