Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review of 1388 Bancroft Project Before San Leandro Planning Commission


Here is an update on the proposed 73-unit apartment complex development for 1388 Bancroft Avenue. The photo of site above was taken on Joaquin Avenue looking at the parking lot of 1388 Bancroft, the neighboring homes, and Bancroft Middle school. The proposed 47 to 53-foot apartment complex will be both taller than the telephone poll in the foreground (by a good 15 feet) and the middle school in the background (by 20 feet). Thirteen foot car stackers will extend along the property line with the neighboring homes, exceeding the height of the current fence by six feet.
The project violates the Zoning Code. The only way it can be built, as proposed, is for a majority of the City Council to change the Zoning Code.
Specifically, the developer wants to change the property's designation under the Zoning Code from a Professional Office District to Downtown Area 3 (which allows for much greater density and requires less parking spaces). Downtown Area 3 is a designation for the center core of Downtown San Leandro near East 14th Street and the San Leandro BART station. It does not exist in or adjacent to our single-family and small scale apartment residential neighborhoods.
Just last year, after considerable public input, the zoning designation of Professional Office District properties was altered to allow for housing on these sites, where none had been permitted before.
On November 16, 2017, the San Leandro Planning Commission reviewed the project.
The Commission split 2 to 2 on upholding the recommendations by City staff to deny the developer's request for a change in the Zoning Code. The Commission then voted 4 to 0 to continue the public hearing until December 14, 2017, when the Commission will meet again to review the matter.

City staff had developed extensive findings of fact, based on overwhelming evidence, supporting denial of the request to change the Zoning Code. These findings included:
1.    The proposed re-zoning of the site as DA-3 property is inappropriate and inconsistent with the General Plan because the rezoning “would enable a higher and greater intensity development than designated.  The DA-3 zoning designation is specified for the inner core of the Downtown rather than on the outlying and perimeter areas.”
2.    The proposed rezoning detracts from character of surrounding neighborhoods by permitting “infill development that is bulkier and more massive than the existing adjacent and immediate homes which would not be compatible nor would it maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood.”
3.    The proposed rezoning “would not respect an appropriate density transition. It would enable an abrupt change from the existing low density housing . . .”
4.    The proposed rezoning “would reduce the required setback requirements. . . from 15 feet to 10 feet . . . [increasing] the appearance of bulkiness and massiveness of the apartment building.”
5.    The proposed rezoning “would enable multi-family proposal with a parking requirement less than current requirement at a higher parking ratio, resulting in a shortage of adequate parking” which would negatively affect the immediate neighborhood with overflow parking on the adjacent streets.
6.    The 13-foot tall fence along eastern side of property “would be out of scale and detract from the character of the single-family homes, where the maximum height of residential fencing is a maximum of seven-feet tall . . .”
7.     “The placement of outdoor parking stackers adjacent to single family homes presents an audible and visual public nuisance.” 
8.    “The placement of the proposed building, wall, and parking stackers result in altering access to sunlight and views of the sky, detrimental to properties in the vicinity.”
9.    The proposed project is “outside the limit of a qualifying radius” for the Downtown San Leandro Transit Oriented Development Strategy. 
10.  “The project would exceed the allowable density and would be deficient in open space, parking, and in minimum setback requirements from the current P Profession Office District.” 
11.  “[T]he project density of 58 units per acre would exceed the maximum allowable requirement of 24 units per acre.  The 47 to 53 feet height would exceed the P District requirement that permits a maximum height of 30 feet.
12.  “With its exceedances of maximum requirements, its shortfall of minimum requirements and with its physical impacts due to its bulky and large size, the project plan is too intensive and overdevelops the property . . .”
Back to the Planning Commission - it consists of 7 members. They are appointed by the Mayor and City Council and tasked, among other responsibilities, with making recommendations to the City Council on changes to the Zoning Code.
For the Planning Commission to take action, four members have to agree. In other words, a majority of the commission itself must support an action, not a majority of the commission members present at a particular meeting. Last night, two members of the commission were absent: Esther Collier (appointed by Council member Pete Bellaw) and Ken Pon (appointed by Mayor Pauline Cutter). Collier is the longest serving member of the commission, and thus possesses the greatest institutional knowledge of the City General Plan and procedures for changing the Zoning Code of any member on the Commission. Pon served for multiple terms on the San Leandro School Board and lives on the north side of town in Bay O Vista. Accordingly, when the Commission met only five members were present. At the beginning of the meeting, Tony Breslin, who lives closest to the project in the Estudillo Estates area and is an appointee of Council member Deborah Cox, announced that the Fair Political Practices Commission had determined that he had a potential financial conflict of interest in the project.
Breslin then recused himself. I believe the conflict is based solely on the proximity of his house to the project. Thus, the Planning Commission was immediately deprived of the one member with the greatest personal knowledge of the neighborhood where the project is located. All four Commissioners remaining expressed concern over the Bay Area housing crisis, as did most speakers. Those opposed to the project, including myself, emphasized that would they support a smaller development, one that fit within the Zoning Code's limit of 31 apartment units and with a lower height.
Of the 40 plus San Leandrans that spoke at the meeting, I believe all but two present were opposed.
The Commission also received 124 email messages concerning the project from San Leandrans. An incredible 123 of these messages were in opposition to the project. Commissioners Denise Abero, appointed by Council member Lee Thomas, and Jim Hussey, appointed by Council member Corina Lopez, supported staff's recommendation to uphold the Zoning Code (and deny the proposed project). Both joined the Planning Commission in 2015. Thus, they served on the Commission when the City updated its General Plan and were aware of the community concerns about the project (which at the time was a proposed 51 unit complex) when the Zoning Code was modified in conjunction with the General Plan update. The two newest members of the Planning Commission, appointed in 2017, voted to overturn the recommendation by staff and approval the project.
These were Commissioners Richard Brennan (a resident of Heron Bay and appointee of Council member Benny Lee) and Thomas Baker (an appointee of Council member Ed Hernandez). Neither served on the Commission when the General Plan update occurred. Both lacked knowledge of what occurred in 2016, e.g. the community supported a rezoning of 1388 Bancroft Avenue to allow housing on the site (previously no housing was permitted) but with its density capped at 31 units. In December, hopefully Pon and Collier will attend the hearing and vote with Abero and Hussey to uphold staff's recommendation.
Of course, any Commissioner is free to change his/her vote from last night. My hope is that on further consideration all Commissioners will vote to maintain our Zoning Code as it stands presently. If that occurs, the matter is not over. The developer will likely take an appeal to the City Council. If the Commission were to approve the project, the matter would automatically (no appeal is necessary) go the the City Council for a hearing early next year. As I noted, only the City Council has the power to change the Zoning Code.
Thus, the issue will likely be ultimately decided by the City Council in early 2018.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

City staff analysis of 1388 Bancroft Project


For those interested in the proposed rezoning of the parcel along Bancroft Avenue between Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues (1388 Bancroft) and plan to construct a 73-unit apartment complex, I highly recommend reading the proposed findings of fact drafted by City planners for the Planning Commission's review on Thursday night. The findings start at page five of this document: https://sanleandro.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=5549362&GUID=BA63E52D-3CC2-4135-885C-00394863B129 The findings are devastating to the project. Here is just a sample of the findings: 1. The proposed re-zoning of the site as DA-3 property is inappropriate and inconsistent with the General Plan because the rezoning “would enable a higher and greater intensity development than designated. The DA-3 zoning designation is specified for the inner core of the Downtown rather than on the outlying and perimeter areas.” (page 5). 2. The proposed rezoning detracts from character of surrounding neighborhoods by permitting “infill development that is bulkier and more massive than the existing adjacent and immediate homes which would not be compatible nor would it maintain the aesthetics of the neighborhood.” (page 6) 3. The proposed rezoning “would not respect an appropriate density transition. It would enable an abrupt change from the existing low density housing . . .” (page 6) 4. The proposed rezoning “would reduce the required setback requirements . . . from 15 feet to 10 feet . . . [increasing] the appearance of bulkiness and massiveness of the apartment building.” (page 6) 5. The proposed rezoning “would enable multi-family proposal with a parking requirement less than current requirement at a higher parking ratio, resulting in a shortage of adequate parking” which would negatively affect the immediate neighborhood with overflow parking on the adjacent streets. 6. The 13 foot tall fence along eastern side of property “would be out of scale and detract from the character of the single-family homes, where the maximum height of residential fencing is a maximum of seven feet tall . . .” (page 7) 7. The proposed rezoning “would enable a reduced open space requirement in an area not intended for the City’s highest density urban development.” (page 8) 8. The proposed rezoning “would result in development of bulky, large and tall building that would detract and interrupt the architectural character of the existing single-family development.” (page 9) 9. “The placement of outdoor parking stackers adjacent to single family homes presents an audible and visual public nuisance.” (page 10) 10. “The placement of the proposed building, wall, and parking stackers result in altering access to sunlight and views of the sky, detrimental to properties in the vicinity.” (page 10) 11. The proposed project is “outside the limit of a qualifying radius” for the Downtown San Leandro Transit Oriented Development Strategy. (page 10) 12. “The project would exceed the allowable density and would be deficient in open space, parking, and in minimum setback requirements from the current P Profession Office District.” (page 11) 13. “[T]he project density of 58 units per acre would exceed the maximum allowable requirement of 24 units per acre. The 47 to 53 feet height would exceed the P District requirement that permits a maximum height of 30 feet.” (page 11) 14. “With its exceedances of maximum requirements, its shortfall of minimum requirements and with its physical impacts due to its bulky and large size, the project plan is too intensive and overdevelops the property . . .” (page 11) The Planning Commission does not need to agree with every factual finding proposed by City staff. As long as the Planning Commission concludes that substantial evidence exists for one, independent factual finding that supports maintaining the current zoning designation for the property then the Commission should vote to deny the rezoning of 1388 Bancroft Avenue. I can only guess at the amount of time and energy City staff have put into the analysis and review, and consequently the expenditure of our tax dollars, of this project. But it is safe to say it has been extensive. This has gone on for two years. I truly hope that the developer will cease trying to shove a square peg into a circular hole so to speak. Please come back with a project that fits our zoning code or sell the property to another developer who is willing to work within the rules.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

City Staff Recommend Denial of Proposed Bancroft Apartment Complex



As many of you know, a developer is seeking to change the zoning of office buildings on Bancroft between Estudillo and Joaquin to Downtown Area 3 ("DA 3") property in order for him to construct a nearly 50-foot apartment complex consisting of 72 two-bedroom units and one three bedroom unit. The project is expected to generate 500 daily car trips. The parking lot for complex will have 146 parking spaces, including 13-foot car stackers positioned right next to neighboring homes. Also of note, there will be no access to the parking lot on Bancroft Avenue. The parking will be gated and accessible only from Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues. Because of higher traffic volumes along Estudillo Avenue, however, the Estudillo driveway is proposed to be limited to egress only. That means car traffic on Joaquin Avenue will increase significantly as residents and visitors driving to the apartment complex parking lot must enter from Joaquin Avenue. City staff has issued a report recommending that the Planning Commission deny the application "on the grounds that the proposed mass, scale and density of the project is incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood and that the rezoning to DA 3 is incompatible with the General Plan, Downtown Transit Oriented Development Strategy, and Zoning Code." Here is a link to the report: https://sanleandro.legistar.com/ViewReport.ashx?M=R&N=Master&GID=191&ID=3209410&GUID=B672E34A-6EC4-42CA-9BA4-AA591079FC62&Extra=WithText&Title=Legislation+Details+(With+Text) The developer's request will be heard by the San Leandro Planning Commission on Thursday, November 16th, 7 p.m., at San Leandro City Hall. The public is welcome to attend the hearing and offer its input on the proposal. If you can not attend the Thursday, November 16th Planning Commission meeting, you can voice your views on the project by emailing City staff Elmer Penaranda on or before Wednesday, November 15th at EPenaranda@sanleandro.org Mr. Penaranda will forward your message to the Planning Commissioners. You may also wish to copy the Mayor and City Council on your message by including the email address citycouncil@sanleandro.org on your message.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

What should be done when a development violates new pro-housing provisions of a zoning code?



In a recent OpEd in the NY Times on the Bay Area housing crisis, Enrico Moretti, a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote,"Some restrictions make sense: Nobody wants skyscrapers poking up among Victorian houses, and nobody wants to tear down historical buildings. But many others don’t: There are scores of empty parking lots in San Francisco and Oakland that can’t be built on because of political opposition." Moretti concluded: Bay Area "urban progressives must moderate their reflexive opposition to all new market-based housing." I agree. However, knee jerk opposition to new housing has not been a characteristic of San Leandrans. We have welcomed new housing. Just look at the large affordable housing complex (called the Marea Alta) across from the downtown San Leandro BART station. Local and state tax revenues paid for the building. Hundreds of new market rate housing units in the planning or construction stage in San Leandro, all fitting within the City's Zoning Code which was updated last year, The 2016 update to the Zoning Code substantially increased allowed density and number of parcels in the San Leandro where housing can be built. But what happens when a developer proposes building a complex that egregiously violates even the new pro-housing provisions of the zoning code? Is it fair then for the neighbors to organize and insist that local officials require that the developer abide by the rules? My answer is yes. For how to get involved visit https://sites.google.com/view/1388bancroft

Friday, November 3, 2017

Update On Proposed 5-Story Apartment Complex at 1388 Bancroft in San Leandro




  • Nov 7th, 7pm: Community meeting at the San Leandro Main Library, lecture auditorium. 
  • Nov 16th 7pm: Planning Commission meeting at City Hall with 1388 Bancroft on the agenda.
A developer has proposed constructing a 73-unit, nearly 5 stories tall apartment complex, with parking for 146 vehicles, including 64 car stackers. The proposal is in violation of the San Leandro Zoning Code which was comprehensively updated just last year. The site extends a full block on Bancroft Avenue between Estudillo and Joaquin Avenues. The project is immediately across from, and will tower over, Bancroft Middle School and neighboring homes. This message is from Dave Ruedi and Lindsay White on Joaquin Avenue and Debbie and Evan Adams on Estudillo Avenue. We are the homeowners next to the property located at 1388 Bancroft Avenue, which is across Estudillo from Bancroft Middle School. We'd like to update you on the latest news. First, despite twice receiving extensive objections to his proposal from City staff, the developer is determined to proceed with his plan. To do so, he must convince the City to rezone the property as Downtown San Leandro property. The developer is requesting approval of his proposal at a hearing before the City Planning Commission on Thursday, November 16th, 7 p.m., at San Leandro City Hall. Please come to the November 16th hearing in person and express your views on the project. This is the most important action you can take. Second, to educate the community, share concerns and answer questions, we are hosting a neighborhood meeting on Tuesday, November 7th, 7 p.m., at the San Leandro Main Library, lecture auditorium. We have invited the City Council to attend the meeting. Third, please contact the Mayor and City Council by email at citycouncil@sanleandro.org or call 510-577-3355 and share your concerns about the 1388 Bancroft project. Finally, please join us by emailing 1388Bancroft@googlegroups.com and provide your: name address phone number. We will keep your contact information private and use it for the sole purpose of providing you further updates on the project and public hearings. Background In 2016, a developer proposed building a 50-foot (think 5 stories) apartment complex with 51 units on this site. The proposal was opposed by many in the community. This year, the same developer has submitted a new proposal for an even bigger, denser complex, featuring 73 units and car stackers for parking. The City’s zoning code only permits a maximum of 31 units at the site. The proposed complex towers over Bancroft Middle School and would be, by far, the tallest building in San Leandro between Bancroft Avenue and 580, creating the precedent for the construction of additional 5-story and taller buildings immediately adjacent to, or within, our neighborhoods. The proposed complex includes parking for 146 vehicles and, because of the building’s massive size, the plans call for the installation of 64 car stackers. These are approximately 13-feet high, mechanical devices that allow one car to be hoisted above another. A significant number would be placed next to our properties. The morning traffic generated by 146 vehicles, combined with the existing middle-school traffic, will make an already bad traffic situation intolerable. We support additional housing in San Leandro, including at 1388 Bancroft, but built in conformity with the City's current zoning code. As a result, we have a formed a community outreach group and created a website, https://sites.google.com/view/1388bancroft, for the purpose of advocating to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager that development of 1388 Bancroft Avenue follow the City’s current zoning code. By Dave Ruedi and Lindsay White and Debbie and Evan Adams

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Preview The Davis Street Wellness Center On Thursday, Sept. 28th



The Davis Street Wellness Center, likely the first medical cannabis dispensary to open in San Leandro should it receive final approval from the City, is hosting a preview of the facility on Thursday, September 28th. Dr. John Oram, Chief Executive Officer of the Wellness Center, will give a presentation on the center’s unique social justice model, answer questions and showcase the facility design and layout for the center. Attendees can questions and offer feedback. The free, public meeting will occur on Thursday, September 28, 2017, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the Davis Street Family Resource Center (“Davis Street”), located at 3081 Teagarden Street in San Leandro. When it begins operations, the Wellness Center will charge patients on a sliding fee schedule based on income level. Discounts will also be provided to veterans. The Wellness Center will operate in partnership with and financially support the non-federally funded basic needs programs and services of the Davis Street.

City Council Meeting On Honoring Former Council member Surlene Grant on Monday, Sept. 25th

I support the effort first proposed by community leader Bernard Ashcraft and advocated by former City Council member Ursula Reed to name a public plaza or other location in honor of former City Council member Surlene Grant, the first African American elected to the San Leandro City Council.

On Monday, September 25th, at 6 p.m. at San Leandro City Hall in the Sister Cities Room (right next to City Council Chambers) the Mayor and two Council members will review the proposal. Please come and share your views with the City Council. For the reasons why I support honoring Surlene, please read my blog post at https://sanleandrofocus.blogspot.com/2017/08/san-leandro-should-honor-former-city.html

Friday, September 8, 2017

Let States And Cities Establish Their Own Cannabis Laws

Throwback to Summer 2013: I was one of 18 U.S. mayors that co-sponsored a resolution calling on the federal government to respect state and local cannabis laws. The resolution was presented at the annual meeting of the US Mayors and adopted with bipartisan support. 
I was quoted in press reports stating: “The prohibition on marijuana has been ineffective and counterproductive. Voters in states and cities that wish to break the stranglehold of organized crime over the distribution and sale of marijuana in their communities by legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana should have the option of doing so.”
The need for local control is even more imperative today. The restraint established by Congress in 2014 on the Department of Justice from destroying patient access to medical marijuana by criminally prosecuting cannabis cultivators and dispensaries nationwide expires at the end of September 2017.  This article explains what's happening: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-blocks-medical-marijuana-budget-amendment-that-would-protect-patients-2017-09-07

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How California Women Won The Right To Vote: Lecture by Elaine Elinson

In 1911, California passed Amendment 8, granting women the right to vote in state elections almost a decade before the 19th Amendment provided women's suffrage throughout the U.S. On August 26, 2017, in San Leandro, noted author Elaine Elinson spoke on How California Women Won The Right To Vote as part of the Women's Equality Day Celebration at the San Leandro Museum and Casa Peralta.

Elinson is the co-author of "Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California." The book tells the story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. You can learn more about the book and Elinson's other writings at http://members.authorsguild.net/eelinson The event was co-sponsored by the San Leandro Public Library, Community Impact Lab and OSIsoft. I recorded the video.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Come To San Leandro For The Best Craft Beer in America


Love craft beer? There is a small but mighty city in the East Bay I want to introduce you to. It's called San Leandro. 

You have to come visit us this weekend (Sat. Aug. 26th). Both Drake's & 21st Amendment are hosting celebrations.  

For details visit http://sanleandronext.com/two-exciting-brewery-events-this-weekend/

And while you are in town, also stop by Cleophus Quealy.


Friday, August 18, 2017

San Leandro Should Honor Former City Council Member Surlene Grant

San Leandro City Council July 1, 1998, with its first African American member Surlene Grant.

The national news can be so disheartening. Hatred and prejudice against African Americans, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and transgender persons (to name but a few groups), while always present, are like types of cancers that have metastasized across America this year.

Let’s act, right here in San Leandro, to change this storyline. Specifically, I support the effort to name a public plaza or other location in honor of former City Council member Surlene Grant. This proposal was first raised by community leader Bernard Ashcraft and advocated by former City Council member Ursula Reed at several City Council meetings in 2016.

The first African American elected to the San Leandro City Council, Grant’s election set an important precedent, opening the doors of City Hall to persons historically disenfranchised. Today, the majority of City Council members are persons of color. Grant spearheaded the city’s first ordinance requiring affordable housing in the construction of new, for-sale residential housing. More recently, Grant co-founded and serves as a leader of Unity in the Community, a coalition of San Leandrans that celebrates our differences while focused on erasing racism and bigotry in San Leandro.

As current events show, how a city memorializes its past can send a profoundly negative message to certain segments of its population. Alternatively, building and place names, statues and other public art can send powerful, positive symbolic messages.

This is why I was proud to join with other San Leandrans in successfully lobbying the school board in 2009 to name the new campus near San Leandro High School after Fred T. Korematsu. He was an ordinary American wronged by our government who showed extraordinary courage and became a national civil rights hero. Furthermore, despite deeds prohibiting the sale of houses to non-whites which prevented Korematsu and his wife from purchasing a home in the City of San Leandro after World War II, Korematsu loved our community and showed his dedication to San Leandro by being a member of San Leandro Lions Club for 30 years.

The Mayor and City Council should take similar action and recognize another notable San Leandran who has helped make our city a more tolerant community. By dedicating a public location in Surlene Grant’s name, we show that San Leandro acknowledges the racism of its past, embraces its diversity of today, and is a welcoming community for all in the future. Through our words and actions, let’s be a shining beacon of positive energy, mutual respect and tolerance for our state and nation.

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Please feel free to share this page with others. If you agree with this effort, please share your views the Mayor and City Council by contacting them by email message to citycouncil@sanleandro.org

Only by many San Leandrans stepping forward and contacting the Mayor and City Council will this proposal become a reality. The power to make change in our city rests in our hands. We simply need to act in unison. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Contradictions in San Leandro's Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Process

The San Leandro City Council imposed a requirement on the Davis Street Wellness Center, one of the successful applicants to open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Leandro, to have its plans to open a dispensary approved the Board of Zoning Adjustments within a year of receiving its license. This made no sense, particularly because the same requirement was not imposed on the two other entities that received dispensary licenses.
Davis Street has been diligently looking at potential sites for the dispensary and submitted its plans to the City months ago. Finding an appropriate site given limitations under the City zoning code is not a straightforward process. Plus the review process takes time particularly if the Mayor and City Council members seek to influence the process.
If there should be any time limit, it should apply once a dispensary's plans to operate are approved. At that point, the opening of the facility is within the control of the operator. And it is in the City's interest that the facility open in a timely manner so that residents can obtain their medical marijuana and the city can collect tax revenue. 
This is not what has occurred with Harborside, the first entity to receive a medical marijuana dispensary license in San Leandro. Harborside's plans were approved a year ago. It undertaken no work at the commercial site it has leased to renovate and convert the building into a dispensary. Why would it spend the time, money and effort to secure a license and then not work diligently to open the facility? 
Here is a recent article on the situation.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Recreational Cannabis Should Be Legal Under Federal Law


U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is proposing a far-reaching bill that would both legalize marijuana at the federal level and encourage states to legalize it locally through incentives.
Adult recreational marijuana use will be legal in California next January, and a majority of states permit use of medical marijuana. Over 30 million Americans regularly use cannabis. 

Why are we still criminalizing its use at the federal level? 

I support this new legislation.


Transgender Rights: No One Gets Left Behind On The Path To Equal Rights



Flags are deeply powerful symbols. I flew the LGBT Pride Flag at San Leandro City Hall during the US Supreme Court arguments over marriage equality to show San Leandro's support for the full recognition of the rights of LGBT persons. Our action led Oakland, Berkeley and other cities to follow San Leandro's lead. 

Today, transgender persons are under attack by President Trump. To show solidarity with the transgender community the Dolan Law Firm, the law firm that I work at, is displaying the Transgender Pride Flags. Far too many transgender persons have suffered pain and emotional turmoil from being marginalized and treated unfairly because of their gender identity.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Why I'm supporting San Leandro Schools Measure B


Here is a message I sent to friends and neighbors on why I'm supporting Measure B and request that they do so too: 
I have always believed that strong schools make for a strong city. But from serving as Mayor of San Leandro, I came to appreciate fully that the safety, prosperity and quality of life in San Leandro are firmly linked to the quality of our public schools.
San Leandrans have benefitted tremendously by financially supporting our local schools. Overcrowding at the high school was eliminated, a beautiful theater used by students and the community was opened, and necessary seismic upgrades were completed. 
School bond measures, however, can only be used for the construction, renovation and modernization of school facilities. To generate local funds to attract and retain quality teachers, support core academic programs and reduce class sizes, school districts in California have only one option: a parcel tax. That is what San Leandro has done. 
Our local parcel tax, however, is soon expiring. Thus, the school district has placed before the voters Measure B which renews and extends the parcel tax to support our schools.
Please join with my family in voting YES on Measure B. 
We all benefit when our public schools succeed.
Thank you for your support.
All the best,
Stephen Cassidy

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Developer Again Attempting To Circumvent San Leandro Zoning Code


This message was posted on NextDoor.com by Lindsay White on August, 1, 2017:

The proposed 73-unit apartment complex is 5 stories tall, has parking for 146 vehicles and includes 64 car stackers. It seriously violates the existing zoning code. This message is from Lindsay White and Dave Ruedi on Joaquin Avenue and Debbie and Evan Adams on Estudillo Avenue. We are the homeowners next to the property located at 1388 Bancroft Avenue, which is across Estudillo from Bancroft Middle School.

In 2016, a developer proposed building a 50-foot (think 5 stories) apartment complex with 51 units on this site. The proposal was opposed by many in the community. This year, the same developer has submitted a new proposal for an even bigger, denser complex, featuring 73 units and car stackers for parking. The City’s zoning code only permits a maximum of 31 units at the site.

The proposed complex towers over Bancroft Middle School and would be, by far, the tallest building in San Leandro between Bancroft Avenue and 580, creating the precedent for the construction of additional 5-story and taller buildings immediately adjacent to, or within, our neighborhoods.

The proposed complex includes parking for 146 vehicles and, because of the building’s massive size, the plans call for the installation of 64 car stackers. These are at least 13-feet high, mechanical devices that allow one car to be hoisted above another. A significant number would be placed next to our properties.

The morning traffic generated by 146 vehicles, combined with the existing middle-school traffic, will make an already bad traffic situation intolerable.

We support additional housing in San Leandro, including at 1388 Bancroft, but built in conformity with the City's current zoning code. As a result, we have a formed a community outreach group and created a website, https://sites.google.com/view/1388bancroft , for the purpose of advocating to the Mayor, City Council and City Manager that development of 1388 Bancroft Avenue follow the City’s current zoning code.

What can you do? If you believe, as we do, that 1388 Bancroft should be developed in compliance with the zoning code (a maximum of 31 units), please join us by emailing 1388Bancroft@googlegroups.com and provide your:

name
address
phone number

We will keep your contact information private and use it for the sole purpose of providing you news and updates on the project, including any public meetings or hearings.

Lindsay White and Dave Ruedi
Debbie and Evan AdamsBanc

-------

Comment by me: I and many others welcome the development of the site into new housing but in conformity with the zoning code. Just last year the zoning code was revised after considerable public input as part of the City's general plan update (which happens every 15 years). The site at issue was rezoned to permit housing.
If the City leadership insists upon compliance with the zoning code the developer can still build apartments. The complex however would be at a density that fits the neighborhood. If the developer is allowed to proceed with his plans as is, it would rip the zoning code apart for the neighboring homeowners and create a horrible precedent citywide. One further issue for me is that the City has no policy requiring developers of multi unit rental housing to set aside a certain number of units for working families and seniors on fixed incomes. To address the Bay Area housing crisis we need both new market rate and affordable housing.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Comment on the Misguided Negative Campaign Against Davis Wellness Center

Dear Friends:

When I served as Mayor from 2011 through 2014, by far the most consistent and outspoken opponent against San Leandro allowing providers of medical marijuana to open a dispensary was Council member Diana Souza. She voted against every any proposal involving medical marijuana claiming crime, reduced property values and youth drug addiction would all come with any dispensaries.

Fast forward to the present, one the greatest proponents of medical marijuana in San Leandro today is Ms. Souza.  However, her support is focused on one company that obtained a license for a dispensary in San Leandro and for which she serves as a consultant.  Ms. Souza has been vehement in opposing the effort by another provider, Davis Wellness Center, to establish its dispensary, and has repeatedly disparaged persons associated with the Davis Wellness Center and Davis Street Family Resource Center, a separate legal entity which for decades had aided the unprivileged in San Leandro and our surrounding communities with food, medical care, counseling, and other services. 

While the City Council has authorized licenses for three providers to operate medical marijuana dispensaries, including one issued almost two years ago, no dispensary has opened in San Leandro. This Monday night the City Council will be reviewing solely the license for Davis Wellness Center.   

I am concerned that Ms. Souza's negative campaign against the Davis Wellness Center based on an obvious conflict of interest has gained traction and support within some members of the City Council. For this reason, I am posting two recent letters to the San Leandro Times that were written in response to a recent critical letter by Ms. Souza.
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Editor:

I’m at a loss to understand Diana Souza’s (Letters, June 29) continual vitriol directed at Davis Street and at the Wellness Center (medicinal cannabis dispensary).

Ms. Souza asserts my relationship with the Wellness Center is for my personal financial gain. This is untrue. My role is to ensure the WC funds benefit local community needs.

And yes, Davis Street is the major beneficiary of their community benefits fund and the reason I’ve been involved with the WC. To secure a reliable stream of income for our non-
federally funded programs would mean those most basic needs (food and clothing) will never be subject to cuts.

Ms. Souza is connected to Blum. I can only believe that her anger directed at me, our programs and the new Wellness Center has something to do with her position with a direct competitor.

I support medicinal cannabis because of the experience of my daughter when she was diagnosed with lymphoma. I want anyone in my daughter’s position to have access to treatment
alternatives and I wholeheartedly welcome the Wellness Center, Harbors Side and Blum to San Leandro because my priority is and will always be to meet the needs of those with the most need
and least access.

- Rose Johnson, CEO

Davis St. Family Resource Center

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Editor:

In regard to Diana Souza’s letter questioning the integrity of our decision to apply for a Conditional Use Permit for the Davis Street Wellness Center, there is apparently a need for education about who we are and what we are setting out to achieve.

For more than a quarter century, The Davis Street Family Resource Center has been providing a myriad of social services for our neighbors in need. Our mission is to build on our clients’ own natural strengths to help them improve their futures and those of their families.

The formation of the Davis Street Wellness Center represents the same mission, applied to a larger, organization-wide scale. Just as we “help others help themselves” – we have opened our clinic, merged with other nonprofits, and are opening the Davis Street Wellness Center so we can stop depending on government funding to support Davis Street Family Resource Center and it’s programs.

Ironically, Davis Street is the region’s safety net yet, Davis Street is in need of a financial safety net of it’s own. It is up to us to find creative ways to pay for the programs and services to meet the ever-growing demand in our region. The Davis Street Wellness Center will both provide safe access to medical cannabis to the sick and provide a reliable, long term income stream to the Davis Street Family Resource Center through it’s community benefit program.

We are committed to providing vibrant and successful programming for our clients -- and that requires funding. If we are accused of doing everything in our power to see that Davis Street has a sustainable source of funding to continue – and even grow – the services that we provide for the region’s poor, we are blamable.

The reality is that someone in Ms. Souza’s immediate family works for a large dispensary, Blum, and her motivation for calling us out is a simple case of wanting to squelch a possible competitor. What she fails to realize it that the needs of our clients are great and that we are myopic in our focus to sustain Davis Street Family Resource Center.

We will not be deterred from our goal to fund our much-needed programs and services today and long into the future. We invite Ms. Souza and you to take a long, comprehensive look at who we are, go ahead and dig deep, our record speaks for itself.

- Gordan Galvan, President Board of Directors

Davis St. Family Resource Center