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|Alameda County, CA||November 7, 2006 Election|
Green Party Questionnaire Response
By Lena TamCandidate for Member, City Council; City of Alameda
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City government is multi-partisan and I am committed to increasing public participation at every level of government, increasing accountability, and promoting citizen participation in decisions that affect our lives.The Beltline:
The recent court ruling enabling the City to buy back 40 acres of the Alameda Belt Line railroad for just under $1 million is a wonderful opportunity for the community. I am confident the City will prevail in the appeal process of the lawsuit. I would like to see this area redeveloped as recreational open space with a park that includes walking, biking trails and eventually a light rail connection to BART. After reviewing the City's 2006-2007 budget, it appears that the City does not have the money to maintain another park or municipally owned open space at this time without additional revenues. Ideally, the City could enter into a partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District and use some of the voter-approved park bond funds to pay for such a recreational amenity. Other funding possibilities in the future could include seeking voter support for a comprehensive City-sponsored park bond that would include a land acquisition fund, along with funds to pay for maintenance and upkeep of parks in the City. Most nearby cities enter into public-private partnerships, and I understand that the southern section of the Beltline could be developed into residential development. Another way to fund improvements is to have a future residential developer redevelop the northern section into a neighborhood park and turn it over to the City for use as trail or open space and then maintained in perpetuity.
I have been a long-standing advocate of open government in my leadership role as president of the League of Women Voters, both at the city and county level. I believe effective civic decision-making rely upon open public discourse about the issues. As a member and Chair of the Alameda County Planning Commission (2000-2005) and a member and now President of the Alameda Hospital Board (2002-present), I have promoted open and transparent government as a decision maker, encouraging public participation at all stages of planning and development. It is critical that the public be adequately noticed, and such notices use a number of outreach media: the press, the internet, and even through the cable T.V. channels. For large projects, perhaps civic organizations can be specifically contacted if they are likely to be interested "players." All noticing procedures should provide for enough time, have as much specific information as possible and be widely disseminated. The City and indeed, all governmental agencies, should be considerate as to the time of day, accessibility, and space in which hearings are held. I absolutely believe that citizens have the right to know and it is a basic requirement of governance that such a right be given freely to the greatest extent possible. Adequate notice means enough time for people to make arrangements to attend a meeting that is set at a reasonable time for working people.
Yes, I favor campaign finance reform and public funding of elections. Through the League of Women Voters, I have advocated for such reforms. While Proposition 89 is not and does not address the impacts of millions of dollars spent by "Independent Expenditures" on behalf of candidates or initiatives, it is a start. The League has endorsed and signed the ballot arguments in support of Prop. 89.
Many communities have successfully balanced "main street" locally owned businesses with the presence of some appropriate larger retail. We should look for "best practices" where this has been done and employ them. It need not be an "either-or", but a carefully planned and controlled compliment of shopping opportunities to ensure that large retailers do not "drive out" locally owned businesses. The City Council could facilitate creating an environment to help small businesses open and thrive through redevelopment funding incentives. For example, setting limits on the number of small business in new developments (Alameda Landing), providing low-interest loans, waiving of some permitting "hoops," providing good pedestrian access, better transit, parking, and programs like "smart cars" could help. We need to balance economical shopping opportunities on the Island and minimize increased traffic on the bridges and through the tube that would further exacerbate the traffic on I-880. Families should have options in Alameda, from small neighborhood stores to mid-sized stores that provide lower-priced, larger amounts of standard household goods and foods.
Position Paper 3
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