El Cerritans deserve a city councilperson who will work both locally and regionally to make El Cerrito better.
It’s important that we keep El Cerrito’s high quality of life. Our city has come a long way with an ever stronger identity. I want to continue the great strides that have been made El Cerrito better and work to make these goals a reality:
Keep El Cerrito safe from crime and fire danger.
This must be a primary goal for any city official, because without it there is no quality of life in any city. El Cerrito must provide the working environment and resources for police and firefighters that promote long-term retention. El Cerritans must be assured that the crime rate will be reduced and a prevention program is in place. Assuring fire safety in the flatlands and the hills of El Cerrito must remain priority one.
(2020): I believe fire safety and readiness for a possible disaster must remain our #1 priority – and that’s why we must also make sure we build our budget reserves so we can respond as needed. The ability of our Police and Fire Departments must not be hindered during this time of fiscal constraint, but they should also seek ways to cut costs and programs that are not critical to their jobs to protect the safety of El Cerritans.
Our parks and recreational facilities are assets to be protected.
Day in and day out, El Cerrito’s recreational facilities, parks and trails provide opportunities for exercise, contemplation and fun. Many cities don’t have what we have. Our community center pool remains a critical asset of this community that must be maintained for all those who use or may use it in the future. Our young soccer players, baseball players and parents, and our July 4th enthusiasts deserve a field policy that assures multi-use availability all year long. Much of my childhood took place at El Cerrito Parks and I will work to keep them exemplary.
(2020): I was proud in 2019 to have worked on the committee to pass Measure H – which extended the parcel tax supporting our parks and pools. With El Cerrito voting by almost 80% in support of Measure H, our city now has on-going dedicated funding to maintain and enhance our city’s greatest recreational assets. Without this extension, our parks, pools and recreational facilities would have been at the mercy of a General Fund at a very difficult time for our city budget. Now with this better financial security for our parks and recreational assets, we must follow the Parks & Recreational Facilities Master Plan which has outlined what needs immediate attention, fix our wonderful pools to the high standards we expect and determine if we can begin adding the types of new services and facilities our residents said in the Master Plan they want.
Grow local businesses – especially along San Pablo Avenue.
Our community will only benefit in many ways from new business and restaurants that come to El Cerrito—especially along San Pablo Ave. Let’s make it easier for businesses to do business, conduct a “Buy Local” campaign, and encourage more civic and cultural events that attract visitors and retail customers to our town. New housing, near and along San Pablo Ave., can create greater demand for goods and services that will ultimately attract new businesses. And let’s make San Pablo Ave. more accommodating to pedestrian and bike traffic.
(2020): Development along San Pablo marches on – with the Mayfair lot development and two hotels coming soon to our northern gateway near the Del Norte BART station (now also under major renovation). But this most expensive region for development and construction costs in the country has slowed planned projects. We must continue to seek new businesses and revenue, fill empty storefronts and encourage new workplaces in El Cerrito so East Bay residents can work locally – or reverse commute on BART from other Bay Area cities. Like this past holiday season, adding tree lights to our Theater district and the Plaza will attract customers and can attract new businesses to a city showing it cares about business. I plan to again work to light up El Cerrito in 2020.
At long last, let's move on a new library/resource center.
A missing link in the resurgence of El Cerrito has been the lack of a place where we centralize our information resources, broadband technology and additional community activities. It is not for lack of trying – but we must educate our citizens to the need and move toward development. A new library/resource center should help bridge the gap for those who may not have access to the Internet; it should be a place for reading; a place to hold public meetings, see art; or buy a cup of coffee with friends. This is an exciting new chapter for a new El Cerrito!
(2020): The goal of building a new and much needed library in El Cerrito has not been forgotten. But it has definitely been slowed because of our city’s financial situation. It is still a major priority of mine, but the reality is there will not be much movement until our city is more solvent and can identify a venue and present a cost plan to our residents. That’s why I want to keep the discussion going about what might be the best location for a new library – including near the Plaza BART station. I continue to support the City Council decision to keep funding for a full schedule of library hours during the week, as we discuss future plans.
Seek & maintain an environmentally-sustainable community.
El Cerrito has a great environmental record with restored creeks, a recycle center that is the envy of the Bay Area, opportunities for residents to use more renewable energy sources, a Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission strategy and a 4-STAR rating for improving the city’s livability and sustainability. My background is environmental and energy policy and I want to help provide the opportunity for our citizens to help make our city as sustainable as possible. This is an obligation that city officials should take on and be held accountable for.
(2020): In 2019, El Cerrito won the prestigious Beacon Award from the League of California Cities for its environmental and sustainability efforts – specifically recognizing our parks and recycling center. This was a true tribute to the hard efforts of our city staff and all they do. El Cerrito is known for its environmental achievements like Earth Day and the efforts of our “Green Teams” to pick up city litter. The next big effort will be to update our Climate Action Plan. I will continue to be outspoken about our need to cut back on plastics and use compostable food ware when appropriate. This will put us more in line with our neighboring communities and do our part to cut back on plastic straws and waste which is a growing worldwide problem.
Build upon the opportunities that two BART stations provide El Cerrito.
With two major transit hubs at Del Norte and the Plaza, El Cerrito is unique in the Bay Area for a city our size. Increasingly major transit centers are being recognized as the key to enhancing urban centers because they can help improve the local economy, get people out of their polluting cars, encourage additional housing and enhance nearby housing values. I work at BART, and as plans move forward this year to modernize the important Del Norte station, I want to make sure the new BART station is completed on time, prioritizes good access for the disabled, pedestrians and bicycle riders, that the station will be attractive to the neighbors and citizens of El Cerrito, and that we reduce the opportunities for criminal activities. This modernization will be a big part of renovating the San Pablo/Cutting Blvd. area of our city that has been dormant for so long.
(2020): El Cerrito is limited to growth along San Pablo Avenue and around our two BART stations. Good things are happening on all three fronts. The dynamics of the Bay Area economy make progress less noticeable because of construction costs and delays. But in our Uptown District, two new hotels and significant housing will soon become evident along San Pablo Avenue and by the Del Norte BART station – which is being completely renovated. At the Plaza station, there are major plans by BART to increase Transit Oriented Development (TOD)—housing and retail. I will continue to push that BART give our residents significant input into how that development will look. I testified at BART that our hill residents will be impacted by changes in station parking and that we will need additional access options to the station. I want to continue to use funding from the new SB 1 to make streets around our BART stations safer and more accessible. Continuing placemaking around our BART stations will continue to be an important goal of mine.
Keep our city budget solvent.
There is much to do in El Cerrito and that’s why, with one of the highest tax rates in the region, it is important to prioritize our local spending efforts. We must be cautious and studious. This city has a good tradition of paying for – through special measures – critical services its citizens support -- like police and fire needs, our swimming pool, and fixing our roads. This is a tradition worth keeping, as we discuss fixing our pool and building a much needed library.
(2020): People usually run for city office to enhance their communities – to ADD positive services – not to take them away. So, the budget process we must execute for this city remains very difficult. We must effectively deal with two key budget goals: increasing revenues and cutting expenses.
The involvement of City residents makes me confident there is a greater understanding of what we must do now with finances. They and councilmembers want to be part of a transparent process where we all understand the need for urgency. I think the state audit will be a good thing and hopefully provide valuable direction going forward.
This year, Council asked staff to seek options to cut $2 million from our two-year budget. That will be difficult, but we must start with the managers of our city departments identifying some obvious cuts – the low hanging fruit—that is the most expendable and has the least impact on our residents. We must better determine what services make money. And I believe this scrutiny must include all departments -- including safety.
I agree with those who suggest that we should consider cutting all services across the board at a certain percentage, rather than dismantling entire programs or services that will be hard to recreate or initiate again.
Last year, when I was working to pass Measure V, I told residents we needed it to increase our reserves for possible disaster response and to better prepare against fires and assist abatement. These still remain my highest priorities for El Cerrito at this time.
Encourage arts and cultural events.
As a Commissioner on the El Cerrito Art & Culture Commission, I have worked with other commissioners to broaden recognition of the arts in this city with street banners, an Arts Festival in October, and supporting use of the city’s 1% arts fund to assist other activities like the EC Folk Festival and the Music for Madera Open Space Festival. I want to add new cultural traditions in El Cerrito that not only make El Cerrito a more attractive place, but will attract visitors and new businesses to our city.
(2020): It remains important – no matter the economic hardships -- to make El Cerrito a better place to live. We still need to feel good about ourselves and our home town, and art and cultural events continue to be ways to make that happen. Like efforts to place holiday lights on San Pablo Avenue trees and help focus on our important businesses downtown -- I will continue to encourage events and projects that help define an innovative and spirited El Cerrito. And that includes keeping certain event (but refashioning and cutting back the cost) of our famous July 4th celebration, as well as the MLK March, Earth Day and National Night out.
Make sure El Cerrito’s voice is heard regionally.
El Cerrito is a unique place all its own. But we are also part of an East Bay region. We can make El Cerrito better, but we still must interact closely with our neighbors. Whether it’s fighting for clean air, protecting safety along the Ohlone greenway, improving the Bay Trail, restoring the Bay, adding bike and pedestrian pathways, improving a highway onramp or modernizing the Del Norte BART station, El Cerrito needs to work with federal, state, county agencies and our neighboring cities to keep El Cerrito’s priorities heard and responded to.
(2020): With my participation on regional agencies, like the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC) and MCE, I will continue to raise specific issues that impact El Cerrito and the communities around us. Especially with critical issues like homelessness, it takes regional cooperation to begin resolving borderless problems that impact the Bay Area.