Jim Oddie

CASA 2020 City Council Questionnaire
Candidate’s name: Jim Oddie
Candidate’s contact: jim@oddie4alameda.com
FPPC#: 1367465

Alameda’s Climate Action and Resiliency Plan (CARP) was adopted by the City Council in September 2019. Our questions relate to your commitment to the implementation of the plan.

1. Equity – CARP recognizes that climate impacts are disproportionately distributed across Alameda and not all households have the same ability or resources to respond to and recover from extreme weather events and hazards. What three specific actions you believe will be most important to address these disproportionate impacts?

We’ve already taken the most important step – adopting the CARP. The most effective way to reduce the impacts of weather events/hazards is to implement the recommendations in the CARP!

The Social Vulnerability Assessment provided as Exhibit G to the CARP should be instructive here (shout out to Marisa Johnson!). As the Assessment pointed out, there are many areas in the city that scored “high” on the social vulnerability index. Our unhoused population is extremely at risk as we have seen during the COVID-19 crisis and climate impacts of increased fires. Helping to provide services for homeless and at-risk individuals as we have done in the last six years should continue to be a priority – actions such as the wellness center, safe day parking and a resource center at Alameda Point, and housing solutions such as “Project Roomkey,” and development projects like North Housing, which will provide 90 units for the formerly homeless, and the RESHAP project. By learning from our leadership in responding to COVID and wildfires, we can formulate a proven plan to help our unhoused neighbors deal with other climate-related disasters that are on the horizon. Another specific action is to develop strong communications strategies to respond to these events and hazards. I was a leader in advocating for the rent registry, which was one of the few things both our tenant groups and property owners agreed on. This is a tool we can utilize to help with communications as renters are identified as a vulnerable population in the CARP (renters also will benefit from our emphasis on code enforcement, improving and maintaining the quality of their housing). Our communication has to be more bi-lingual as well – this is an issue that our council continues to remind city staff about (for example, requiring more non-English support from our tenant legal assistance contractor) and an area the council should remain vigilant on. Lastly, and since there are many issues noted with temporary housing, evacuation, etc. of vulnerable members of our community, it’s critical to fund public safety so we have adequate resources to serve every member in the community during an extreme weather event and/or hazard. I’m proud to be the only candidate running who has a record of accomplishment and advocating for all the following: community paramedicine, restoring the fire inspection unit, the new Emergency Operations Center/Fire Station 2, and maintaining funding levels while remaining fiscally responsible. The safety of all Alamedans continues to be one of my highest priorities.

2. A/26 – CARP calls for the City to consider “Chang[ing] zoning to allow more multifamily use, reduced parking requirements, and increased allowable density while shortening overly lengthy permitting timelines.” page 32. Given the environmental impact of single-family housing, do you support the measure proposing to repeal Article 26 and amend the General Plan to repeal the prohibition against building multi-family housing in Alameda and the Citywide density limitation of one housing unit per 2,000 square feet of land?

Yes. This provision of the CARP was critical in helping frame the discussion on A/26 over the last few months. I was one of the four councilmembers who voted to place this question on the ballot. Exclusionary zoning laws such as Measure A were implemented across the country over the last century. It’s well past time to overturn these laws that perpetuate housing segregation, which author Richard Rothstein refers to as “the badges and incidents of slavery.” Anyone who doubts the purpose of these laws just needs to look at Donald Trump’s recent twitter feed to see why these laws were enacted. There is no moral ambiguity for me on this issue. And, A/26 needs to come out of the charter now, without delay. We shouldn’t buy into the false narrative that we need more process or analysis.

3. Climate Outreach and Education -The success of CARP implementation depends on everyone understanding our climate vulnerabilities, acknowledging their role in reducing climate impacts, supporting adaptation efforts, and forming cooperative resilient neighborhoods. How do you intend to educate all Alamedans, foster collaboration within our community and engender ownership of the solutions by our individual residents and businesses?

The City Council has two main roles in accomplishing the goals outlined in this question. First is to set policy. I’ve been a strong voice for six years doing just that. We accelerated the completion of the CARP following a referral from a former colleague. We accepted grant funding from CalTrans to assist with the CARP. And, we approved it with some additional policy direction. I’ve also been a leader in adopting synergistic policy positions in support of the CARP – our transportation choices plan (mode shifting), vehicle purchasing policy updates, safe streets, bicycle projects, fuel shifting for new residential projects, aligning the CARP with the Alameda Point MIP, and the climate emergency declaration, which requires a climate impact analysis section on every staff report. We’ve also supported the success of implementation through the budget and guidance to staff. As noted in the following question, we’ve allocated funds for initial staffing and priority infrastructure projects.

The second role is via the bully pulpit that is inherent in being a councilmember. This means continuing to advocate and support the CARP after enacting it as a city policy, which is not so difficult if it’s embedded in your values! Our staff will be responsible for much of the implementation, but councilmembers can attend community meetings (business groups, HOAs, service organizations, etc.), and use the relationships we’ve built with members of the community, to talk about the CARP (or do this virtually, as the case is now). As the plan noted, engaging with our youth and helping interested residents get involved in climate action is a continuing priority. As noted in the plan, and in my answer to a previous question, we need to communicate with our residents in multiple languages.

4. Funding and Staffing – “CARP requires committed and long-term staff and resources to successfully implement the plan.” page 143. Will you prioritize hiring of staff, including the Sustainability and Resilience Manager, Climate Action Coordinator and Climate Fellow during the next budget cycle? Will you support revenue measures, such as a Facility Bond (to fund adaptation projects) and an increase to the natural gas Utility Users Fee (to fund mitigation measures)?

Yes. I voted for the addition of the Sustainability and Resilience Manager position earlier this year – when we adopted our most recent two-year budget, which I also voted for, we set aside funding to implement the CARP, including the hiring of a staff member. The City Manager is anticipating hiring for this new position in the 4th Quarter of this year; COVID-19 has delayed the process. We also are fortunate to have Patrick Pelegri-O’Day on our staff as the Climate Action Coordinator, working on CARP implementation. Not only do I prioritize this, I’ve been working on doing it and have record to show for it! In my questionnaire and campaign from 2018, I advocated for an infrastructure bond solely focused on sea-level rise related projects, such as flooding and adaptation measures, pump station renovations, storm drain repairs, and lagoon upgrades (City Staff proposed a bond measure that didn’t guarantee this focus). In 2018, it was estimated that the City of Alameda needed $110 million in infrastructure needs related to a clean Bay, pollution/flood protection, and sea level rise. In 2019, I was part of the 4-1 council majority (I seconded the motion) to send a stormwater fee increase request to the voters. I’m proud that our property owners (it was a Prop. 218 election) voted to approve the initiative. These funds will be used for the priorities I outlined in 2018, and itemized as one of the 11 most vulnerable assets in the CARP – protecting the Bay, sustainable storm drains/pumping stations, and protecting property from sea level rise. The fee increase will fund $30 million of capital infrastructure needs in these categories. The fee will also help fund staffing costs for the CARP implementation noted in this question. As this $30 million is still less than we need, I continue to believe that any future infrastructure bond be strictly focused on sea-level rise resiliency and adaptability projects. I am proud of my record of accomplishments here as well. As for the idea of increasing the UUT on natural gas, I would support this and am glad to see that the City of Berkeley is considering it with Measure HH this November. As CASA knows, Alameda will require electric-only for all new residential units, and this council was able to get the developer of Alameda Marina (who was not covered under this requirement) to agree to all-electric on the residential side.

5. Implementation – CARP’s success requires turning plans into actions and a major component of this is fostering partnerships with a wide variety of groups and organizations across town, as well as engaging residents most impacted by the effects of climate change. What efforts should Alameda undertake to provide leadership on regional solutions? How will you build the coalitions and partnerships with both other local governments and Alameda residents and organizations necessary to realize CARP’s vision. What tangible results have come from your past collaborations and partnerships on these issues?

As the District Director for Assemblymember Rob Bonta for six+ years, I was privileged to have the opportunity to collaborate with our neighbors in Oakland and San Leandro, and statewide organizations and leaders, on a number of issues, including Senator Hancock’s SB 1279 (Assemblymember Bonta was a co-author) in 2016 which prohibited the CTC from programming or allocating funds for any new bulk-coal terminal, such as the one proposed in Oakland. During the 2018 wildfires, I worked with all three cities in the 18th Assembly District to provide access to shelters for our unhoused residents during poor air quality days/nights.

I’ve also worked for the last eight years with the strategic partners whose help we will need to achieve these goals – CalTrans, EBRPD, Port of Oakland, EBMUD, PG&E, and AT&T. I’ve also served the last six years as a board member of StopWaste, working with colleagues from all of Alameda County on issues related to diverting waste from landfills. I served on the Recycling Board for four years, one as President, where we focused on increasing compliance with our mandatory recycling ordinance. On StopWaste, using Alameda and Berkeley as inspiration, we approved a county pilot program on eliminating non-compostable food take out containers. Unfortunately, this pilot had to be delayed as COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the local restaurant industry. In prior years, we expanded the plastic bag ban, which originated in Alameda County and ultimately was implemented statewide after surviving an initiative to overturn, to include all stores and restaurants in Alameda County, and advocated for council endorsement of the expansion, which we did in December, 2016.

StopWaste has also provided grant funding to local HOAs for sequestration projects. I’ve also worked with local wildlife preservation advocates to include Depave Park in the CARP – it’s now in the MIP for Alameda Point and the vision plan is on the 9/15 council agenda for approval. It is critical that Alameda takes a leadership role in the region on climate change solutions.

Although we are on the front lines of the impacts of climate change as an island in San Francisco Bay, other cities are also at risk – while they might not face the risk flooding and tidal surges that Alameda imminently does, and may not feel the same sense of urgency that we do, they will face groundwater flooding, often called a “hidden risk,” at the same time. To face these challenges together, we need collaborative leaders who are respected by their colleagues and who can forge regional solutions. Under the previous mayor, our city leadership was not respected across the region, but my colleagues and I have worked to repair those relationships and our reputation. In these last two years, Alameda is often the only city engaging in the regional discussions on these issues.