Coffee comfort for voters.

Doug deHann missed the deadline for getting his Green Party survey answers published on their web site, but he gave them to me at my request and here they are:

City of Alameda, Greens Party Questionnaire

City Council Candidate Doug deHaan

Budget Troubles
Alameda has faced a large deficit in its recent budget. Should the economic environment continue or get worse, what cuts or revenue increases would you vote to enact to balance the budget?

ANSWER: The most important issues facing the City of Alameda is fiscal stability. This year’s shortfall of $7.8 million, $1.4 million still unresolved, reflects our current budget status. We can expect the next two to four years to be a critical period with future funding shortfalls yet to come. We must go back to our 1996 (pre Naval Air Station closure) budget and use it as a baseline to determine the impact on the city’s operating budget. During this period, we have seen the city government and its operations grow disproportionately. We must conduct a top-down review that would look at staffing requirements, facilities operation, contracting and support equipment needs. Any reductions that occur must assure that we keep our basic public service in place without impacting our quality of life as we improve financial stability. With the approval of State Proposition 1A, local government funding and coupled with a total review of the city’s operations, we can improve our future budget deficit.

Another budget concern is the reuse and redevelopment of Alameda Point without allowing it to become a long-term financial drain on the city’s budget. With our present bonding commitment ($15 million) and developers upfront costs ($7.5 million) this could also be a financial disaster if not properly executed. The annual lease revenue over the last three years has dropped from $11 million to $9 million and there is a projected $1.4 million shortfall starting in fiscal year 2007.

Economic Development
Due to many factors, Alameda's sales-tax generation has diminished annually for many years. What economic development ideas will you pursue to stabilize and strengthen Alameda's economic vitality?

ANSWER: In year 2000, Alameda lost over $2 million annually of business-to-business sales tax due to the dot com crash, e.g., technology companies. While the retail sales tax generation has stayed dormant for the last ten years. With that in mind, back in 1998 the Economic Development Commission pursued the revitalization of our retail districts. Today we see many improved retail activities occurring, Bridgeside, Park Street, South Shore, and Webster Street. We have over 1.3 million square feet of retail, which most of it is under redevelopment and revitalization. We must start capturing Alameda’s sales leakage to off-island retailers, while developing our own neighborhood and community serving retail. We must look into expanding our auto dealership retail sales, which is an extremely high generator of sales tax, with a high customer to sales ratio. Likewise, we must take positive steps in developing our commercial business at the Harbor Bay Industrial Park and Alameda Point. As chairman of the Economic Development Commission, I have been proactive in pursuing these initiatives.

Role Council/City Manager
With the current City Manager retiring next Spring, Alameda will be hiring a new executive officer. How do you view the roles of the City Council and City Manager and what qualities will you look for in a new City Manager?

ANSWER: The basic role of the City Council and City Manger, by city charter has always been the same: Simply, it’s a strong City Manager form of city government where he/she directs the day-to-day city operations, while the City Council develops and implements city policy and oversees the City Manager. Here lies an area of concern; does the council have the ability or knowledge to ensure that the City Manager meets established goals and commitments.

In hiring a replacement City Manager it is mandatory that he/she posses a full range of management skills in directing multi-million dollar public service operations, establishing a team building environment, leading by example, strong knowledge of the budgeting process, developing funding sources for various existing and proposed programs, an in-depth knowledge of redevelopment (preferably adaptive reuse projects), ability to directly interface with the community, understanding of a small metropolitan city’s wants and needs, open and timely communications at all levels (employees, City Council and the public), while being accountable to staff and City Council.

City Services
What city departments/services do you feel are necessary for the city? And which are well run? Are there any that you would look to transform or reduce?

ANSWER: All city departments/services are necessary to run an efficient city. However, there are many departments, over the past eight years, that have had substantial increase in staffing. Such as, Development Services Department, City Attorney’s Office, Computer Services, etc. Our Public Safety segment has meant the challenge of the growth and demands of the Alameda Point community. The Recreation and Park Department has been the mainstay for our youth and seniors. Police and fire departments, as well as city employees’ health and retirement benefits continue to be a large portion of our operating budget costs.

Further cost savings could be derived by reducing the layers of management. Reduce the need for high-cost consultants by performing these tasks by existing staff. Consolidation of facilities, and the elimination of the need for excess equipment could generate further cost savings.

Development Planning
With the Naval Air Station transfer moving forward, how would you like to see redevelopment proceed at Alameda Point and within the rest of the city? Generally, what, if anything, do you believe should be built in the city's redevelopment areas (Alameda Point, Northern Waterfront, Bridgeside, Park Street, Webster Street, etc.).

ANSWER: Our ability to build out Alameda Point without impacting the existing community. It must be a seamless transition, thus maximizing the potential for a strong economic base that will benefit the entire city. Any and all redevelopment must first address the transportation and traffic concerns of the city. It is paramount that we fully understand and have the ability to adapt and reuse the existing structures at Alameda Point. A good example of reuse would be using the existing Bachelors Officers Quarters (BOQ) and the Enlisted Men’s Quarters as senior housing, college campus, research and development businesses, etc. as outlined in the Community Reuse Plan of 1998. IMPORTANT, we have had eight different project managers, including one developer for the redevelopment of Alameda Point over the last eleven years, an ongoing learning curve process.

As far as the retail business districts are concerned, refer to the economic development question listed above.

Affordable Housing
Recent issues with Section 8 funding and Harbor Bay Isle evictions have cast an eye on affordable housing in Alameda. What is the importance of low-cost/affordable housing in Alameda? How do you feel it could be handled differently, if at all?

ANSWER: The events at Harbor Bay Isle were totally predictable and should not have been a surprise to the City Manager nor the City Council. Over the last twenty years this complex has been a concern. During the last two years the City of Alameda initiated a task force to study the conditions of Harbor Bay Isle. The high police activity in this area was a topic of two annual budget hearings. With the recent loss of Section 8 certification, the tenants being placed on month-to-month leases, and the on-going building code violations, this should have been a major indicator that the absentee landlord was not in compliance. This situation could have been handled in a more humane manner. Many families have been displaced from their homes and children displaced from an education. The City needed to step in to extend the transition period, provide adequate funding for relocation and assist in relocating tenants into the Alameda community. The concerning factor is, what are the future plans of the absentee landlord for this complex, and if they were planning to renovate and bring the facility up to code, why the displacement of such a large number of tenants? The facility could have been renovated in phases, thus lessening the impact on tenants. The displacement of twenty-five percent of Alameda’s black population is simply not tolerable. Future redevelopment must address low and moderate-income requirements.

Transportation is one of the biggest quality of life concerns in Alameda. How do you propose to handle the current transportation situation? What proposals would you make/support to deal with an increase in traffic caused by current city development proposals (including the current Alameda Point, Catellus and Northern Waterfront plans)?

ANSWER: The resolution of traffic and transportation concerns is the controlling factor that allows us to proceed with the redevelopment of the Alameda West End. The access and egress off the island is extremely important with pending litigation from Chinatown, Oakland if we build beyond 1,100 new homes at the West End of Alameda.

Transportation experts agree that most new estuary crossings (bridges and tubes) are cost prohibitive and they rely upon private vehicle use. Future estuary crossings, using alternate transportation forms, could include a bus barge, the Alameda Point Community Partners proposed gondola (which would connect Alameda Point to West Oakland BART), BART extension thru Jack London Square to Alameda Point, a light rail system that uses the old Beltline Railway right of way down Atlantic Avenue, Clement and over the Fruitvale rail bridge to BART. All of the above suggestions would rely upon major Federal and local funding, and may take at least ten to twenty years to become a reality. Our best sources are improved bus service, not only Transbay, but point-to-point services and the expansion of our existing ferry services. We must require developers and the City to look into the feasibility to having an internal bus system (shuttle) that services the community. We must develop out the community to ensure that there is a balance of jobs to homes and supporting retail, businesses and open spaces. Exploration of traffic mitigation plans should include combined infrastructure improvements such as, links to public transit and shuttles, walk-to work and bike-to-work options and adjacent housing.

Power Generation
AP&T is currently looking into new power sources to meet both new development and increasing usage per capita. What ideas would you propose to meet this new demand?

ANSWER: With its growing demand and diminishing supply, Alameda Power & Telecom must plan, finance, and construct new electric generation resources to reliably and cost-effectively meet Alameda’s electric power needs. AP&T focuses on clean and renewable resources. The recommended plan had to be economically feasible while meeting the power usage needs of Alameda in a timely manner. It is agreed that gasification is not the preferable solution to future energy needs for the City of Alameda. The future sources that are proposed are land, gas (Richmond site), additional hydro electric, solar, and wind generating power. All new construction should be mandated to be built at the highest possible energy efficient levels and residents, as well as businesses, should be encouraged, through incentive programs, to upgrade their property to higher efficiency levels. Conservation must be encouraged throughout the city.


Coffee comfort for voters.