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|Alameda County, CA||November 7, 2006 Election|
Sierra Club and League of Conversation Voters Questionnaire
By Lena TamCandidate for Member, City Council; City of Alameda
This information is provided by the candidate
To protect Alameda's future, we need to incorporate smart growth principles in our residential and economic development plans. We have an opportunity to simultaneously plan land use and transportation at Alameda Point.1. Why are you running?
I am running for City Council to help ensure that a full range of community perspectives is included in planning for our future. We seem to have agreement on what we do not want + traffic jams and sprawling development that is inconsistent with our small-town community spirit. What we need is agreement on what we do want + compact communities within close proximity to public transit, schools, health care facilities, jobs, recreation and retail opportunities.
2. What are the biggest challenges facing the City of Alameda in the areas of: a) Land Use? (Why?) b) Transportation? (Why?) c) Housing? (Why?) d) Economic Development? (Why?)
The City of Alameda faces a unique opportunity to incorporate the best management practices of sustainable development in the plans for Alameda Point and other infill development in other parts of the island. I believe this land use planning can be respectful of the regional "carrying capacity" by preserving open space, increasing public transit ridership, providing housing close to jobs, and creating jobs close to home. I support plans that encourage live/work opportunities as a way to reduce the traffic impacts of housing, commerce and jobs. This means providing affordable housing opportunities close to work. To encourage public transit and reduce single occupancy vehicle traffic, we need to have compactness in development of neighborhoods, retail and commercial projects. When I served as a Planning Commissioner for Alameda County, the Commission was instrumental in working with the community to develop and enforce county land use policies and programs that respect these sustainable development land use principles. Under my leadership, the County certified its Housing Element, providing adequate workforce housing, and preserving open space and historic landmarks. It is important to incorporate my past experience in making land use decisions in the City of Alameda. While our City needs more workforce housing, we must work equally hard to promote job creation and commerce so that our community can spend its tax dollars in Alameda and reduce vehicular traffic on already-congested freeways like I-880. Understanding that traffic is an issue with any new development, we must work collectively to promote the use of mass transit and create walkable and bike-friendly communities.
3. Did you support the League of Women Voter's request to put a measure on the November ballot allowing housing for middle-income families to be built at Alameda Point? Currently only housing for low and upper income families can be built at the Point. Please explain your position.
Yes. I have been part of the leadership of the Alameda League of Women Voters and attended the 2006 Annual Meeting, I voted to support asking that the City Council help facilitate a discussion with the voters about allowing a diversity of housing types at Alameda Point. Currently, the City Charter restricts the type of housing units to only single- or two-family homes, which may result in little or no open space and a lack of affordable units and other amenities for working families and the elderly. I would like to see these alternatives discussed in public, and for the public to decide what they want the Point to be like. To reduce the traffic load on our overly congested tubes, bridges and freeways, we need to promote development that enables families to live closer to work.
4. The City has added many bus shelters, especially in the business districts, throughout the last few years. Do you support the addition and maintenance of more shelters? Do you support more frequent bus service in Alameda that serves more neighborhoods? What would you do to implement better transit service in Alameda?
Yes. I support both the addition and maintenance of more shelters, and I support more bus routes in Alameda, if needed. We can do this by providing Measure B and RM2 funding and increase the frequency of transit service, including water transit.
5. What will you do to support bicycle transportation in Alameda? How about bicycle commuting?
We need to work with local transit agencies to increase Class I, II, III bike paths, lanes and routes. Improving our ferry service could also help increase bicycle commuting.
6. The Navy intends to transfer contaminated land to the City at Alameda Point that will have restricted uses, such as industrial or commercial only, no residential or recreational. Should the City accept such land?
No. The federal government would be shifting a significant cost burden (and liability) to the City if it transfers contaminated land to the City, irrespective of the restrictions on its use. This will be particularly burdensome as the City plans for an environmentally sustainable development that includes residential and recreational uses close to industrial and commercial activity in order to advance some of the smart growth principles of creating housing close to jobs. This will also be particularly troublesome if we build a healthcare facility to serve the eventual growing community at Alameda Point.
7. A Preliminary Design Concept (PDC) has been developed for Alameda Point. One alternative calls for Measure A-compliant development, and one alternative is "non-Measure A-compliant." Which alternative do you support, and why?
I support Measure A and believe it has been effective in protecting the rich architectural history of Alameda. Alameda Point redevelopment presents an important challenge to our city. How do we make it a positive new part of Alameda? As we converge on a community vision for Alameda Point, we will have an opportunity to evaluate alternatives on a mix of housing and commercial models. One thing is clear: we need to encourage neighborhoods that reduce traffic with local shops, parks, public transit and plenty of off-road walking and biking paths. We should also encourage local employment opportunities that minimize the need to drive out of Alameda to work. It is possible that, in order to meet community goals such as minimizing traffic and maintaining the character of Alameda Point consistent with the rest of the island, modifications would have to be made to Measure A as it would apply to Alameda Point, which currently restricts all new housing to one type. This will require a vote of the electorate, since Measure A, instead of being a zoning ordinance, is part of the City's charter.
8. What can the City Council do to:
a) Reduce global warming?
As the water resources planning manager for East Bay MUD, one of my many responsibilities is tracking policies and reviewing legislation that helps protect our climate because of the impacts on future water supply reliability from global warming. I recommended that EBMUD support the Governor's executive order to set specific targets in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. I understand that transportation sources are by far the largest contributor of GHG, and that air pollution also has an impact on the health of communities as we see more instances of childhood asthma. On the City Council, I would unequivocally support decisions that help reduce GHG through some of the following options:
In my mind, zero waste to landfills means changing business practices at the outset, in the purchase and use of products and packaging, beyond recycling. It's about managing resources to minimize waste. When I served on the Alameda County Planning Commission, the County developed land use permitting conditions to implement Measure D, which required a 75% reduction in solid waste so that only 25% of what we no longer use goes to landfills. At this time, Alameda County is at 58% diversion, with 42% of solid waste going to a landfill. In Alameda, we can do our part to help Alameda County reach the Measure D goal of 75% solid waste reduction by 2010. This is expected to be achieved through a composting facility and other food recycling and greenwaste recycling strategies.
The City of Alameda is in the process of convening an environmental sustainability task force that will help identify opportunities for the City to incorporate best management practices towards zero waste to landfills. If elected to the Council, I look forward to working with the task force to evaluate some of the following opportunities:
It is important to "think regionally and act locally." The City Council can serve as a catalyst in encouraging energy efficiency. As a city with its own electric utility, Alameda has and can continue to set the example for its residents by relying more on renewable energy sources and less on sources that produce greenhouse gas emissions. First, we must work together to educate everyone on the importance of using energy more efficiently and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. We also need to work with other government jurisdictions to develop more energy efficiency programs and incentives, employing the best in new technology for insulation, power consumption reduction, and use of recycled building materials. If elected to the City Council, I pledge to work to help residents and businesses in these areas wherever and whenever I can.
9. Any other reasons you would like us to consider for why the Sierra Club should support your candidacy?
I have a track record of proven leadership within the community. I have been a part of the leadership of environmental, citizen and community boards + the Hospital Board, Save the Bay, the League of Women Voters, and the East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium, and have a history of building coalitions and networks to advance community initiatives. I would like to bring this style of collaborative governance by moving to the next level of community service and serving on the Alameda City Council. I have fulfilled a fiduciary promise to the residents of Alameda by ensuring access to emergency health care close to home. I have demonstrated that I can successfully govern and manage the budget of a complex public agency. I have promoted open and transparent government as a decision maker, encouraging public participation at all stages of planning and development.
Position Paper 2
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