Emery Go Round



The Emery Go Round is a wonderful amenity for Emeryville. It provides a valuable last mile connection from the MacArthur Bart Station to most parts of Emeryville, and it’s FREE. The service continues to expand. It has evolved from a small private shuttle into a regional public shuttle service. It provides a public benefit to BART. The service carries about 5,500 passengers each day. It provides BART with a daily cash flow of over $40,000 in fares..

The primary funding source expires at the end of 2016. Funding for the Emery Go Round is provided by a PBID assessment district. The method of funding is antiquated. It was created to fund the bus service when it was considered to be a Private Shuttle. Smaller commercial property are paying a disproportionate share of the costs.

The service is operated by a private non-profit corporation, known as the Transportation Management Association (TMA). The structure of the TMA provides the seven largest corporations in the city with control of the Board. The collective contribution of all seven largest corporations is less than 40% of the money collected by the assessments. The smaller property owners have no effective voice on the Board.

The City Staff has initiated a process to extend the expiring PBID assessment District for another FIFTEEN years. The new assessments will include the owners of residential condominiums. They will be in the same position as the smaller commercial property owners with little or no say on the governing board.  Th City Staff mailed out ballots to property owners, without prior notice, seeking property owner approval of the Staff plan. This would be a huge mistake. What is the consequence of not being able to accept public money to operate the Emery Go Round? We need the answers to some questions before blindly moving ahead. The Emeryville Property Owners Association “EPOA” urges a NO VOTE on the new assessment district.

A summary of the reasons to vote NO….

1. The process to reestablish the assessment district is flawed. The City Staff has initiated the process to reestablish the PBID a new assessment district  without a State required mandate of having signed petitions from property owners in the proposed otherwise necessary to establish a district. The new Charter City status has allowed the city to pass an ordinance to waive this important protection for property owners.  The result is the Staff did not consult with any affected property owners before mailing a surprise ballot to reestablish the PBID assessments.  The city should not have the right to initiate a process to create any assessment district without providing a notice of intent, and property owner petitions required by state law. Assessment districts are supposed to be created at the request of property owners.  VIOLATION OF DUE PROCESS

2. Approval of the assessment district maintains the PRIVATE status of the service.  It means available public money for tranportation, specifically Emeryville’s fair share of our annual $7 million annual contribution to the Alameda County Transportation Commission to share the cost of operations is not available. However, the Emery Go Round is NOT private. The benefit it provides is  not limited to boundaries of the assessment district nor to the private property owners who pay the assessment. It does not meet the test of Proposition 218 which says only special benefits can be assessed. . .


3. The PRIVATE Status of the Emery Go Round allows the City Staff to escape any responsibility to respond to TMA member complaints or public concerns about the service. There is no service policy. There are no rights for riders. We saw a good example in November 2013, when service to Watergate residents was abruptly interrupted without notice or explanation. The EPOA notified the President of the TMA Board the assessments were unlawful with no specific reference to Watergate.  For these owners the Specific Benefit is not commensurate with the assessment. Based on history, once you approve this PBID, can you be sure adjustments will be made.

The President of the TMA Board promptly interrupted service for Watergate residents. Nora Davis was overheard telling Preidsent Bob Blain, the EPOA would sue the city if service was restored to Watergate residents. An outright lie. At the City Council Meeting of December 3, 2015, The President of the TMA tried to publicly blame the EPOA for the service interruption. The city claimed it was the sidewalk. Mot important, No one said they were sorry about it?We believe the installation of the sidewalk at exactly the right time was an effort to extend the service interruption. The City quickly said, we have nothing to do with the service. Are we to believe with 20-minute service to Watergate no one from the city saw the conflict with the bus service?  Can you really believe the city has no involvement based on this current effort to get this assessment renewed so quickly?  The below video clip may refresh that memory.

Emery Go Round- Geoff Sears- City Council Dec 3 2013   https://youtu.be/3ZK5cmWMq2I   3 33

4. Many property owners are forced to join the Transportation Management Association as a condition of approval of development.   The structure of the corporation provides disproportionate control and privileges to SEVEN corporate members, with SEVEN assigned seats on a TEN member board.  The collective contribution of all seven corporate members of the TMA does not equal 40% of the revenue collected.. The bylaws established ONE seat for a public member, which is unheard of, of a private non-profit corporation board. . The designated public member (chamber of commerce) receives free office space and up to $25,000 for services annually from the City. Many believe that seat is controlled by City Staff. The bylaws don’t allow any substantive changes without a UNANIMOUS vote of the TMA members.

An example of how conditions of approval are forced upon property owners with project approvals can be shown in the below video clip of the Watergate 4th Tower project. the video clip is limited to only the discussion of the requirement for participation in the TMA. The clip also shows how the comments by Geoff Sears in the first video are not true. Wareham cannot operate their own shuttle. There is no option to run your own service.

Watergate 4th Tower – Emery Go Round Obligations Jun 10 1999   https://youtu.be/fZPkujfJUpE   22 50

5. Ballots were mailed to Emeryville property owners by City Staff determined to renew the PBID assessments. It doesn’t matter how unfair it is, nor does it matter how much extra Emeryville Property owners will have to pay if no public money can be accepted.

The Staff did not allow any other funding options to be considered  Property owners have only 90 days to legally challenge this assessment district, or be stuck wit it for 15 years. In spite of a long history of obvious on-going inequity of assessments, every complaint is ignored. No adjustments are made. Half the city has 7 day service, and the other half has 5 day service, for over decade.d  but everyone pays the same rate. Many properties not paying the assessment continue to enjoy service. The assessments don’t comply with the law. Why would anyone believe a new PBID will be handled differently?  How do you hold  a corporate board responsible for this vital service?  An asignred corporate seat means those board members have only one interestr to consider.. It’s not the community interest. They cannot be replaced. There are no terms of office. The city won’t admit t the Emery Go Round is a public service or accept responsibility.

Our funding options should primarily focus on our fair share of our sales tax money. We are entitled to at least $2 million each year, and we need to stand up and get it. The EPOA made an aggressive successful effort to make it possible for Emeryville to obtain the sales tax money. If you watch this video clip, it clearly shows how we made it possible. This was a political victory for Emeryville.

ACTC- Expenditure Plan Committee – Emery Go Round Jan 23 2014   http://youtu.be/KW_D7gbwHEQ   35 35


There is a whole year before a new plan for funding must be approved. Let’ do this the right way. PLEASE VOTE NO….

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a PBID?    A PBID is a Property/Business Improvement District.   A tool used to create an assessment district to pay for capital improvements and services, in a specific area of a city. It allows the property/business to enhance economic development opportunity for all the businesses in the district. It provides a special benefit for all the businesses in the district.  An assessment district is typically established at the request of property owners who typically submit a petition to the city requestingto establish the improvent council to start the process to fsmorm the district.

An “assessment engineer” determines the total cost to provide and maintain the those improvements for the life of assessment district. A fair distribution of the total cost is assigned to each parcel owner. The assessment must be commensurate with the benefit each property owner receives.  A majority of property owners in the district must approve the formation of the district. A weighted vote is used to determine the results. The dollar amount of the proposed assessment establishes the voting power of each individual property owner. One vote for every dollar of assessment. Ballots are mailed to every property owner who must return the ballot within 45 days. The City Council holds a public hearing, at which time the ballots are opened and counted. If a majority of the votes received are not in favor the matter is closed. If the vote is in support the council may vote to establish the assessment district.

Assessments for Residential Property. PBID Assessments were meant for business improvements. State law did not allow residential property to be assessed. However a court later decided residential property in a PBID assessment district does receive a special benefit, and may no longer be excluded from future PBID assessments.

Can a PBID be used to fund a bus system. ?   the below document outlines the legal requirements necessary to establish a PBID assessment district.  The EPOA believes a PBID assessment is inappropriate for this purpose, If this assessment is approved this question may have to be resolved by a court


Why not just continue the Emery Go-Round as is?  The Emery Go Round  service should continue with the current service provider. However, the private non-profit corporation which manages and controls the service, (Transportation Management Association)  needs  to be restructured, or eliminated entirely. ?

It appears the TMA was created by City Staff. It confers disproportionate power and control of the service  to the Seven largest corporations in the City. The bylaws are unique for an assessment district. They establish FOUR Classes of Members, and a TEN member Board

CORPORATE Members- Those SEVEN Corporate Property Owners who pay the highest assessment each have ONE  “assigned seat” on the Board, for a total of SEVEN assigned seats. They are not elected and have no terms of office. They cannot be replaced by the members of the TMA.

BUSINESS Members – All the other commercial properties paying the assessment (approx 320) have only ONE elected seat.

RESIDENTIAL Members- There have been two types of residential members, those who pay the PBID, and those who pay per condition of approval. There is ONE elected seat which is vacant. The rules for that seat were recently changed. The eligibility requirements may be unreasonable,

PUBLIC Member- ONE seat reserved for the Chamber of Commerce who pays No assessment. It is highly unusual to have a public voting member on the board of a private non-profit corporation. Some believe that seat is controlled by the city manager. The City provides the Chamber with free office space, and up to $25,000 each year for services. The Chamber is essentially unresponsive when its members have issues with the city government

It is important to note, the collective contribution of all Seven Corporate Members is less than 40% of the total revenue collected. Yet, they control all the decisions. The Business Members pay the most money. They have
witnessed expansion by most of the Corporate Members, and increased public use of the service at their expense..

Past City Managers provided extraordinary benefits to major developers with redevelopment. Control of the Emery Go Round may be one of them. It appears the TMA was created by Staff, and the bylaws may have been imposed without a required vote of the TMA members.. The Staff simply required property owners to
participate in the TMA with conditions of approval. An example of forced participation can be shown with the below video link.


In response to complaints of unfair governance, the City Staff has indicated the city can change the unfair governance if the new PBID is approved.?   However, the bylaws of the TMA say, any substantive changes, or attempt to dissolve the corporation requires a UNANIMOUS approval of the TMA members. (impossible to achieve) This language appears to intentionally limit the aforementioned changes?

If the PBID is approved without specific language to mandate change we may soon discover the city has no real power to change to the governance structure of a private non-profit corporation, and the default status will just continue…? The question must be asked.. Why do we need the TMA..?

If the Emery Go Round continues to be operated by a private corporation the Emery Go Round will not be eligible to receive public money to cover the cost of regional public benefit it provides. It means  Emeryville property owners will unnecessarily be on the hook for the next 15 years paying for a regional public benefit which goes far beyond the specific benefit assigned to each property by the assessment engineer. ..

Over the last 15 years Emeryville contributed about $3.5 million of sales tax money to annually to Alameda County, and only received about $500,000 annual benefit in return. The expenditure plan for the first tax measure provided substantial money for BART, road expansion in south county, and money for other local city transit agencies. THe first tax measure did not allow shuttles to be funded. but the city council endorsed it anyway. The first Measure BB tax measure was endorsed by the City Council despite the sorry return for Emeryville. Fortunately, it failed.

When the County was prepared to submit a revised measure BB to the voters for a 2nd time, it also did not allow funding for the Emery Go Round. The Emeryville Property Owners Association “EPOA” decided that was unacceptable. Our huge contribution should mandate money for our biggest transportation need, similar to what is provided to Union City and Livermore Transit.

The EPOA informed the Chair of the Alameda County Sales Tax Commission of our intent to create a competing local sales tax measure for the Emery Go Round, to appear on the ballot at the same time as Measure BB.. We complained the city has not been getting our fair share. At first, he was angry. He said, no one ever asked for money for the Emery Go Round. The approved measure is flawed because it lacks any return to source requirement. The Chair, and others were very concerned about any potential opposition to the 2nd Measure BB. Our attorney approached the County Board at the last minute to request money for the Emery Go Round. The Board made a fair decision to adjust the expenditure plan to allow the Emery GO Round and other shuttles in  the county to receive funding. The below video link shows how it happened.

The Chair noted, “people in Emeryville will be celebrating”  This was an outstanding achievement

A new assessment district could be created. The city can collect the money and contract for the Emery Go Round services directly with the existing provider. . All the associated problems of governance associated with a private non-profit corporation could be eliminated if the city is responsible for the service.

Large corporations provide most of the taxes to run the City, but we don’t allow them to control the city government, and likewise they should not control the essential public service provided by the Emery Go Round.

The City Staff has indicated they have no intention of being responsible for the Emery Go Round. They are determined to maintain the status-quo. That is reflected in the way the Staff mailed out surprise ballots to renew the PBID without input from affected property owners. The City Council just allows it to happen.They don’t care how much Emeryville Property Owners have to pay as long as the City doesn’t accept any responsibility for providing the service. The TMA allows the staff to brush off any complaints about the service. When the TMA abruptly stopped service to Watergate residents in November, 2013 without notice, City Staff said, they have no control of the TMA, and there’s nothing they can do. Is that an acceptable answer. ?  (they didn’t seem to be sorry, and no one apologized to the residents for the problem)

Many believe the Staff and the President of the Emery Go Round Board made the decision to force residents to pay for the service. For two long weeks Watergate residents had no service. Look at the problem we have with AC transit where we pay for service and have no meaningful input. Let’s not make that mistake with the Emery Go Round for the next 15 years.

Was a ballot sent to everyone in Emeryville? How many total?  The assessment district is supposed to include all the property in the city. Yet, all the property in the city won’t be assessed?  This election provides every property owner with one vote for each dollar of assessment. If a ballot s is mailed to property owners who are not
being assessed, it’s not clear how they could vote on it?

Emeryville is only 1.1 square miles. Are there any parcels outside of the .25 mile assessment boundary? See above

Are there any residents that are exempt from paying the assessment PBID?  A PBID assessment is only paid by property owners. According to state law there are no exemptions are allowed. The City could create a program to reimburse resident property owners who have a hardship, but that has not been considered or developed. Such exception should be identified before voting for the assessment

How much is this going to cost me personally? I don’t own property, and therefore I will not have to pay any assessment?

How will individuals pay their assessment?   Only property owner must pay the assessment. It is included as part of the annual tax bill sent by Alameda County Tax Assessor..

So if I’m paying, does this enable residents to have more control including better routes like to West Oakland BART?   NO.. If the TMA continues residents will only have ONE elected seat on a TEN Member Board. What is the incentive for a corporate board, and the Chamber representative, already upset with local taxes, new development fees,,and a new minimum wage law to provide any benefit to residents they would have to pay for?

What percentage of the $3.5 MM budget will residents pay and what percentage will
business pay? If the PBID is approved, It appears the residential property owners will pay about 20%  All the Commercial Property Owners would pay about 68% and the City about 12%. If any grant funds can be accomplished the existing plan says that money will be used to reduce the city’s contribution.

What is the role of the Transit Management Association (TMA) and how are board members picked? The TMA controls all aspects of the service, and they make a recommendation to the city council each year to levy the annual assessment to cover their budget. The City Council is supposed to follow the recommendation of the TMA Board. The TMA operates the bus with no service policy. They are not required to make any announcements or hold hearings before service changes are made and implemented.

Who opposes the PBID?
1. Property owners who feel the Emery Go Round is not a private service.
2. Property owners who think the city deserves its fair share of our $7 million annual
contribution to Alameda County Transportation Sales tax.
3. A number of smaller  property owners who disagree with the governance structure
of the TMA.
4. Property Owners who question a board seat for a non-paying public member
5  Community members who feel the TMA control of the service creates an unnecessary barrier for suggestions,
ideas and concerns about the service or the assessments.
6. Property Owners who feel a FIFTEEN Year assessment, arbitrarily determined by City Staff,
is too long.
7. Property owners who believe a new PBID will allow on-going inequity of assessments. Maintaining equitable  assessments is necessary to reflect changes in land use, and increased public demad. constantly chaning Assessments the existing continues without proper adjustment and no reimbursement for past assessments.

8. Property owners who object to a new city ordinance created for this assessment district  It allows an assessment district to be initiated  without property owner petitions otherwise required by state law. The Charter City status has empowered the Staff to initiate and assessment without the prior consent or knowledge of the affected owners, and then just mail out ballots for binding approval. It denies due process for property owners who may be adversely impacted of any ability to influence the language of a final and binding ballot decision before the fact. . This is a dangerous precedent which should not be allowed to continue.

Who is in favor of the PBID?   Those who like the Emery Go Round  but don’t understand the above information. Property owners who have not paid a prior assessment are not familiar with the TMA. People who are afraid of losing the service if the tax is not approved. . History shows that failed tax measures are usually improved the second time around. ere can I get more information?   The EPOA web page provides lots of history and

Where can I get more information?   This web page provides lots of history and information, including video recordings of TMA Board and City Council Meetings on the subject.

How are votes tallied?  The ballots are mailed to the city clerk, and on August 4, 2015  they will be opened and counted at the council meeting.

BE WARE, this is NOT a secret ballot. The public will know how everyone voted.

If property owners reject this assessment  does it mean the end of the Go-Round?  NO, the existing funding lasts for another year. A failed vote the first time usually results in a better decision the second time around.

Parking & Traffic are already big problems in our City. Can you project how eliminating the EGR would impact this?  I can’t project this scenario, because I know the Emery Go Round. service brings 5500 paying customers  each day to BART, (25% of all passenger boarding at MacArthur Bart are from the Emery Go Round)  The loss of the regional benefit would be too significant to stop this service.


Below please find the Engineer’s Report which established the District, and the current assessment roll for the participating property owners.


Proposed Citywide PBID Management District Plan (1)

Proposed Citywide PBID Engineer’s Report (1)



Emery-Go-Round-Assessment-Roll -2014-2015


Emery Go Round Bylaws


BOARD MEETINGS: Agenda Packets, and Audio Recordings


BOARD AGENDA PACKET – March 20, 2013

Emery Go Round Special Board Meeting – February 15, 2013

The Emery Go Round Board had a Special Meeting on Friday, February 15, 2013 in the community meeting room at Bay Street. Below please find a copy of the audio recording of the meeting and the agenda packet.



The Board approved a contract with a new operator. Drivers seeking to continue employment are forced to switch to the new operator. At least 20 of the same drivers have already switched to the new operator.

The EPOA  is concerned about the escalating assessments for Emery Go Round Service. We believe the existing Property/Business Improvement District “PBID,” ,is no longer the proper funding mechanism to pay for the service. The existing payment strucutre of  financing is a method generally used to provide improvements to business districts, where each contributor receives direct benefit. The Emery Go Round was created when the City brought several business owners together who previously provided their own individual shuttle service to provide BART for their employees. The city created an assessment district was which was approved by 70% of the property owners to fund the service.

A TEN member Board of Directors was created. SEVEN seats were assigned to the largest contributors. ONE seat assigned to the Chamber of Commerce (for no good reason); ONE at large seat assigned to represent all of the small business owners, ONE Seat for Board member who owns property designated for residential rental units. The members representing to last to seats have to be elected by a property owner vote. This essentially means the majority of this Board has the power to control the amount of the assessments for all the participating properties. All the property owners in this district have actually made a financial investment in a separate business enterprise controlled by the largest contributors. who derive most of the benefit. The minority owners are locked into paying for something they may not agree with or may not be able to afford.

The Emery Go Round has become essential public bus service for the Emeryville Community. As the use of the service continues to grow the Board has done an excellent job responding to the public demand. A professional bus operator has been hired. They are doing a good job of managing bus operations. However, unlike a private business where higher use brings additional revenue to cover higher costs of operation.,. the success of the Emery Go Round simply means higher assessments. Small business owners should not be expected or locked into paying for on-going increases to provide service to the general public. Like many new businesses which start out with a specific purpose adjustments soon become necessary to meet unanticipated needs.

The Emery Go Round has demonstrated the real need for a pubic bus service in Emeryville. Most people who live and work in Emeryville recognize the Emery Go Round as their only access to public transportation. Even if they seldom use the service, it is there when they need it. Emeryville is not well served by AC Transit, and we don’t have a Bart Station. Smaller property owners don’t have much opportunity to receive additional benefit from the increasing use of the system.

With approximately FOUR years left before the expiration of the current PBID assessment it is time for the Emery Go Round Board, and the City to seek another source of funding. Members of the new EPOA have raised concerns about the present funding mechanism, and have asked the Board to examine other methods of paying for the service. We believe the public use of the bus system violates the State Law for PBID assessments, by providing a public benefit rather than the type of direct benefit which is supposed to be specific to participating business owners. The boundaries of this district includes properties which  are not paying for the service..

Suggestions for alternative funding are not welcome and are not getting serious attention. The first way to assign proper responsibility for the costs is to determine who is using the service as a first step. By law, AC Transit is the only bus operator in the East Bay with the authority to collect a fee from the public for bus service. The labor unions have locked that into place years ago with State Law to eliminate the potential for non union bus operators.

An unexpected vacancy has occurred on the Board for the person holding the seat for the residential director. The unexpired term can be filled by the Board. One of the members of the EPOA, Francis Collins has applied for the seat. Typically, the Board simply finds a replacement and makes the appointment. Now that someone who has not been pre-selected by the Board is interested it has created a problem. The selection process has become riddled with various problems, all of which can be seemingly be attributed to the unwillingness of allowing anyone, other than a predetermined candidate, to be chosen.

The EPOA has accused the Staff, and potentially a few board members of unfairly trying to influence the outcome of the decision. Staff has failed to send out the appropriate notices of the Board vacancy, failed to provide public notice of the nominating and other committee meeting. The nominating committee met, and now prepared to make a recommendation  with no ability for Francis Collins to get meaningful consideration.  The new member would have already been chosen, but there was not a quorum at the January meeting when the choice would have been made.

The EPOA input to recommend a different assessment methodology as well as to influence the decision of the new Board Member is unwelcome. Audio recording of the Board meetings and posting those recordings seems to be a problem. Attempts to audio record or participate in the Committee meetings have not been allowed, since no public notices of those meetings have been provided.  The general attitude is go away and leave us alone. We feel that is destructive. Failing to recognize the Emery Go Round to be a pubic bus system, and failing to determine the actual ridership to assign fair levels of assessment is not being considered. The EPOA has been told to take our concerns to the City Council.

However,. the sole purpose of the Board is to oversee the management of the bus operation, and to make recomendations to the City Council regarding the assessments. We are waiting for the result of the selection to fill the vacant seat. There are two candidates. The chosen candidate for consideration by the Board is a new property manager for the new Avenue 64 residential project, a relatively new person in town. The other candidate is Francis Collins. He owns property in Emeryville for 45 years. He knows every street in the City, and has lots of experience with Emeryville City Government.  He is a long time, and respected member of the Emeryville business community and a major participant in the EPOA.

The fairness of the process to select board members and finding equity for the funding of the bus service is a goal which must be achieved. We urge the Board to change its attitude, and to welcome participation by all who want ti participate. We also urge the Board to provide proper notice of all committee meetings as required by law.

It is time to find a different way to fund the Emery Go Round. One potential option would be  imposing a QUARTER CENT SALES TAX for all retail sales in the City. This would be paid by people who shop in Emeryville. This solution would be an immediate benefit to the small business owners. There are potentially other solutions. It is real clear the existing formula does not work. Before the present PBID expires, different alternatives should be created and then presented for consideration. working cooperatively to insure this vital service can continue uninterrupted.

Below please find the current assessment roll for the service.



Board Meeting Thursday, January 18, 2013

  • The Board met at 9:00am at 5616 Bay Street, in the community meeting room on the 1st floor next to the escalators.  There was NOT a quorum of Board Members, No action could be taken.
  • Al DeGrout – Novartis
  • Denise Pinkston, TMG Partners – Chair
  • Emily Warmerdam – Hines
  • Andrew Allen – at large
  • Bob Canter, Emeryville Chamber of Commerce – Vice Chair
  • Geoff Sears, Wareham Development – Secretary
  • Alice Rose – MMRS/Bay Street – Treasurer
  • Peter Schriber – Pixar
  • Lisa Finnin-Ciccoli – Ikea
  • VACANCY – Residential Property

In the absence of a quorum they went through the agenda items and recommended approval of the budget. The next Board Meeting will be on February 21st at 9:00am. The Board is also going to consider appointing someone to fill the slot for the residential board member. An audio recording of the Board Meeting can be found below.


Emery Go Round Board Packet – January 24, 2013


Emery Go Round Board meeting Packet – September 20, 2012
Board Packet May 17, 2012




Emery Go Round — 2 Comments

  1. Please remove BFUU’s address (1924 Cedar St.) from the description of the Wanda Stewart video July 3, 2014. We’ve just received a piece of mail for her and, while the event she spoke at took place here (July 3, 2014), this is not an address at which she can receive mail. Thanks!

  2. I’m sorry it took so long for me to see your comment. the address has been removed as requested

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* 4+6=?