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City of Alameda, Green Party Questionnaire

City Council Candidate Marie Gilmore

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: Alameda has faced a large deficit in its recent budget largely due to State appropriation of City revenues to balance its budget.  As a councilmember, I spent the last two months analyzing department budgets to determine how and where we could close the funding gap.  The City budget was adopted prior to adoption of a State budget.  Now that the State has adopted its budget, the City Council will reexamine the City’s budget.  My emphasis in the process will continue to be cuts in departmental budgets that least affect service to citizens.  This might include personnel reductions.  The City must continue to provide a high level of services to its citizens while delivering those services in the most efficient manner possible.

Budget cuts, however, are not going to be sufficient to close the funding gap. Alameda enjoys a high level of public safety services.  In the near future, citizens will be asked to support these services by perhaps imposing a fee on telephone lines to support emergency services.

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: Studies have provided data on the amount and type of sales leakage to surrounding communities.  We have to provide opportunities for residents to spend their money in Alameda on items they would have bought elsewhere.  However, any plan to develop new retail in Alameda has to keep in mind the City’s efforts to revitalize existing retail centers on Park and Webster Streets and Southshore Shopping Center.  As a community, we have spent a lot of time, effort and energy to analyze the City’s existing retail opportunities, identify gaps and poll the residents regarding the type of retail they would like to see in Alameda.  Given this effort, new retail must harmonize with existing retail, not succeed at existing merchants’ expense.   As a general comment, studies have shown that thousands of square feet of unused retail space currently exists in Alameda.  Common sense says that we should put that space to work before we add new retail space.  Any development at Catellus should not hurt the existing business districts, especially Webster Street.   Alameda Point retail development falls in a slightly different category   due to the many constraints, such as toxics and the need to reuse some of the buildings.  Since some of the buildings are quite large and also belong to the historic district, there may be no viable economic use other than retail for these buildings.

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 City Manager is the Chief Administrative Officer of the City and his /her power and duties are clearly spelled out in the City Charter, Article VII, Sec. 7-2.  The Council’s role in dealing with the City Manager is also clearly defined by the Charter.  “Neither the Council nor any of the members thereof shall interfere with the execution by the City Manager of his powers and duties.  Except for the purpose of inquiry, the Council and its members shall deal with that portion of the administrative service for which the City Manager is responsible solely through him.”  Sec. 7-3.  These roles may only be changed through a charter amendment.

In these tight monetary times, it’s essential that the City Manager have strong financial management and budgeting skills.  He or she must be approachable and a good listener.  The City Manager should achieve a balance between being in control and delegating authority.  He or she must be able to motivate people and, above all, the City Manager must be highly ethical.

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: The City exists to provide services for its residents.  As a city, we have placed a high value on public safety—fire and police.  In fact, this category accounts for approximately two thirds of our General Fund expenditures.  This puts enormous pressure on other departments to recover their operating costs.  To the extent that this is not feasible, cut should be made where it least impacts service to resident.

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: No answer provided.

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: Diversity in a community is important.  Diversity means not only ethnic diversity, but also economic diversity.  Alameda needs to provide a wide range of housing opportunities—Section 8, low income, middle income and market rate in order to maintain the qualities that make Alameda special. We will have to be open to non-traditional means of funding affordable housing.  This might include asking those new entities and businesses desiring to enter Alameda, “How can you help Alameda achieve its affordable housing plan?” It might be possible to create partnerships with developers and with those new businesses entering Alameda.   As a City Councilmember, I am working very hard to see that the residents of Harbor Isle Apartments are treated fairly and that long time residents are not sacrificed in the name of progress.   Any attempt to change the City charter to alter current density requirements should be prompted by the citizens through a ballot initiative.   Moreover, any such discussion should go hand in hand with discussions regarding traffic.  Whether we build ten homes or a thousand homes at Alameda Point, we need a feasible method for dealing with the additional traffic generated.

Transportation
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: Any future development in Alameda has to account for the traffic impacts.  The Webster Tube and certain intersections operate at unacceptable levels now and barring anew bridge or tunnel to Oakland, transit is crucial to solving the traffic problem.  The solution may be fewer or different types of housing, a gondola or more frequent busses and ferries, but development on the scale that is being considered is not feasible unless a solution to the traffic is found and implemented.

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: Alameda is wise to begin the search for new sources of power now, before the need becomes critical.  Alameda Power and Telecom and the Public Utilities Board should explore and analyze the various options, and with community input, present a short list of options to the City Council.  After discussion and more community input, the Council should direct AP&T and the PUB to further explore/implement the preferred option.  One rule should be kept in mind:  if the proposed source of energy is not one we would feel comfortable having g in our backyard (nuclear, high temperature thermal processes etc.), we should not ask another community to bear the burden.  Solar energy should be explored because as the technology improves, solar energy may become more cost effective to deploy on a citywide basis.  Along with new sources of power, the city should make a stronger push in the area of conservation.  This could include educational efforts, incentives for conserving energy and encouraging green building techniques.

 

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