City Council Considers Changes to Powell St Bridge

On September 4, 2012 the Council decided to create an ad-hoc committee to look at improvements to the Powell Street bridge. The Council decided to include only THREE adjacent property owners to serve on the committee. ie, Marketplace, Hyatt Hotel, and Bay Street. We have identified at lest SIX major property owners including , and a Homeowner Association which are adjacent to the Project.

We believe ALL the adjacent property owners should have been contacted. They should automatically be included to serve, even if they don’t attend. Aren’t we trying to encourage more community involvement, and certainly those who are most affected by the outcome of the decisions.

The Powell Street Bridge is a major landmark in the middle of the Emeryville. The community at large may have a lot of interest in the project. The proposed one resident member just doesn’t seem to be adequate. The individual would be outnumbered by commercial interests

It is interesting how Madison Marquette “Madison” (owners of Bay Street) were included to serve on the committee. Earlier in the same meeting, in closed session, the Council decided not to sell Site B to Madison. Once the ERN expires on September 30, 2012 it becomes possible to sell Site B to another party. There is also the question of Site A. Does that land go back to the Agency if the planned hotel was not built.

Are we going to consider other options for Site A and B..? These questions are relevant since the scope of the changes proposed for the Powell Street Bridge would be determined by the type of development which will be approved, and the amount of funds generated by each respective project.

At a prior council meeting, changes were made to the design guidelines for the property along Shellmound Street, adjacent to the Powell St bridge. A consultant presented a report to the Council and changes were adopted. We are curious about the criteria used to develop the guidelines. Did the consultant get the input from the Staff to develop those guidelines. What are the plans for Site B without redevelopment money? Are we still asking for a hotel development on Site A? Perhaps the most disturbing fact is the community is just left out of the planning process.

Years ago, the City Council would require developers to make community presentations before they could submit a project. It made a real difference in many ways. The community was engaged, and had the feeling they had something to say about thee types of businesses which would be allowed to locate in Emeryville.

Former City Manager John Flores, essentially eliminated community presentations. The community is disconnected from the process. In this case, with the recently approved design guidelines, will that be the criteria for the committee to look at.? The question is how can you move ahead to redesign the bridge without knowing what is going to surround it, and that is especially true if there is no public money to advance for the project.?

Is the purpose of the committee to sustain the recently adopted guidelines and just to provide more specific details for implementation.? The adopted guidelines appear to be very costly to implement. Can a property owner ignore them, since they are only advisory?
Improvements to the Powell St Overpass would be a great benefit to the whole community. WE thank the Staff for this effort. We will have artist presence on the design of the bridge, that is exciting. WE also feel the Staff is making important decisions with developers, and the community is being left out of the major planning decisions.

It appears the Council is going to determine the composition and scope of the committee at their next meeting. Interested parties should attend the next City Council Meeting on Oct 2nd, at 7:15pm to provide feedback on this proposal.

Below please find the documents included in the City Council Agenda Packet.

Powell Bridge Staff Report 090412
Powell Bridge City Council Resolution 090412
Powell Street Bridge – Attachment 1 – 090412
Powell Street Bridge – Attachment 2 – 090412

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