John Van Geffen:
The Tattler presents the 2016 election candidates questionnaire. Candidates for elected office will answer questions broken down into topical sections that effect Emeryville residents. Responses will be released section by section rotating through all the responding candidates representing the City Council and School Board hopefuls.
The order of presentation was chosen randomly. Regular Tattler stories will be interspersed in the 2016 election questionnaire. Readers wishing to peruse all the answers by an individual may use the search bar function by entering ”Election 2016 Candidates Questionnaire” with the name of the candidate and all of that candidate’s sections will be presented. Alternatively just typing in the name of the candidate will also work.
There are six candidates running for three seats and all answered our questionnaire save candidate for City Council Brynnda Collins.
Today, candidate for City Council John Van Geffen answers questions on livability (please check the previously posted section 1 answers for this candidate's bio):
Section 4 Livability
Tattler: Other cities have implemented bans on ‘formula’ retail; that being national chains, franchises, fast food etc. Emeryville already has a plethora of these kinds of businesses. Do you see constituting a ban as something Emeryville should do moving forward?
John Van Geffen: I believe the role of local government is to even the playing field to help residents and local businesses compete, not simply change the rules of the game in the hopes that when the dust settles things will be better (especially considering the large sums of money that the city would have to expend to defend against the resulting lawsuits from industry advocacy groups).
The most important thing the Emeryville City Council can do to create a unique and vibrant business community is to support, incentivize and promote local small businesses, not try to ban chain stores in the hopes that local businesses will just materialize as a result.
Tattler: New construction is commonly too expensive for local retail to afford because of the high rents developers must charge to recoup their construction costs. This is often cited as the reason Emeryville can’t seem to deliver the kind of locally serving retail Emeryville residents want. The Tattler has proposed new development write off retail rents associated with their residential projects by forcing developers to put in writing their assurances to bring locally serving/non-formula retail. Would you force this assurance guarantee from developers for new residential development?
John Van Geffen: Sitting here today, I cannot guarantee how I will vote on a project that does not yet exist and for which I have no information. What I can guarantee is that I will always listen to the recommendations of the Emeryville Planning Commission and seek comment from the entire Emeryville community, especially those individuals who are going to be directly affected by any new development.
Tattler: Emeryville has gotten worse over time in several key areas, specifically with regards to the things residents tell us they want to see in their town. We have been told by a generation of City Council members by their voting records that we must accept that Emeryville must get worse over time. The Tattler has made a declaration that we should not permit new development to make our town worse insofar as can be measured. So for instance in affordability, park acreage per resident, locally serving retail, ratio of home ownership to rentals; these hallmarks of livability (and more) are measurable and the effect new development has on our existing metrics can be measured. We could have a blanket insistence that all new development not make the town get measurably worse in key areas or even an insistence that new development make our town get measurably better. Would you support this?
John Van Geffen: I do not agree with the premise upon which you frame this question--i.e., "that Emeryville continues to get worse and worse over time". The Emeryville of today may not be what you personally wanted, but it is an amazing city with wonderful people and unique local businesses and our city deserves to be supported and promoted as such.