Malia Vella

CASA 2020 City Council Questionnaire

Candidate’s name: Malia Vella
Candidate’s contact: malia.vella@gmail.com
FPPC#: 1381924

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?

The CARP lays out who is most at risk in Exhibit G. This includes renters, unhoused people, and people who do not speak English as a first language. We have seen the impact of weather events and hazards like air quality and COVID 19 while I have been on council. Swift action and dispersement of resources is just as critical as getting the resources to those in need. Three actions I believe will be most important are:

(1) Ensuring thorough outreach/community engagement/meaningful partnerships with providers – including outreach in multiple languages & that is culturally sensitive, outreach that accounts for the digital divide, and working with our existing city contractors/service providers and advocacy groups that work with and represent our most at risk populations to ensure they understand what services the City is providing and what resources are available to them. This includes simple mailers in multiple languages, clear and concise online resources and brochures that we can provide to our contractors and advocacy groups, and having Councilmembers and staff meet with these providers to discuss ways we can collaborate and work to disseminate critical information and ensure that resources get to those at risk.

(2) Funding key programs and services like public safety – Our first responders manage our EOC and our emergency response. It is critical that we have adequate and well trained paramedics, (non-law enforcement) critical incident response teams, and firefighters have the training, equipment and personnel that they need to ensure swift response when aid is needed. We also need to ensure that these groups build relationships with our vulnerable and at risk groups. We have been able to do this through our community paramedicine program which I have been happy to support as an alternative to relying on higher cost, private ambulance service that is out of the city or relying on law enforcement to provide these services.

(3) Repeal Charter Amendment 26/Pass Measure Z – We need to add to our housing stock and build housing at all levels to prevent displacement/address homelessness and ensure housing equity. By doing this we can provide good housing (that complies with our CARP and is 100% electric) while also housing our un-housed and increasing supply of both rental/first time homeowner opportunities with housing stock that accounts for sea level rise and is also better able to withstand extreme weather events and hazards (our newer homes also have better insulation/and are better equipped at addressing air quality issues and reduce energy intake in a more efficient manner).

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. I also voted to place the full repeal on the ballot this November.

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?

Through partnerships with groups like CASA, we have been able to hold community forums and get the word out by meeting people where they are. CASA has done a great job of working with the local PTA’s and student groups to collaborate on issues like the Straws on Demand ordinance we passed. Additionally, I think Council has made it clear that we expect continued outreach and will continue to outreach on our own with other non-environmental groups like the Chamber, DABA/WABA/GABA, APC, ARC, Black Achievers Alliance and the League of Women Voters to ensure that there is broader collaboration within our diverse community. We did significant outreach for instance ahead of enacting Straws on Demand and our compostable take away container requirements, with Councilmembers like myself and staff attending business and chamber roundtable meetings and going business to business to hand out information and assist businesses with complying. This outreach continued even after enactment. Our student groups from across Alameda were equally engaged with Straws on Demand and the passage of the CARP and it is those kinds of outreach along with community forums and participation in City sponsored events like the Earth Day Festival and Bike for the Parks that have helped get the word out. It also means that we need to have a dedicated staffer at the City to oversee and coordinate the implementation – this is especially important to have this specific lens when giving input on our General Plan update, our transportation choices plan, and as more projects come before the city for approval. This staffer will not only be needed to review and give input on these plans but to do outreach across the community with a specific focus on analyzing proposals and ensuring that they are in line with the CARP. Having a dedicated staffer to ensure successful implementation of the CARP is key, which is why I have supported funding this position.

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. While I understand the short delay due to the pandemic, now is not the time to put off this position, and I expect the position to be filled in the coming months. There will be long term implications to delaying filling this position (we voted to fund the position earlier this year with the expectation it is filled after Patrick wraps up his work). This this should be addressed and included in this budget cycle, and I have made my position on this clear to the city manager. I was hoping we could have run a Facility Bond this election cycle, however the pandemic and a crowded ballot changed our strategy on that. It is critical not only that we run these measures, but that they pass. I will continue to support the measures and work with staff on the timing and strategy such that we can ensure their success and thus the success of the CARP. For these reasons, I was proud to support the 2019 Water Quality & Flood Protection Fee (Storm Drain Fee Increase).

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?

In the last two years Council has done an exceptional job of building on our relationships with our regional partners by doing things like supporting RM3, partnering with WETA to expand the ferry terminals, getting transit funding through ACTC and working with our elected colleagues at other levels of government. As a member of the Alameda County Lead Abatement JPA, I have worked to get information back to the city on lead abatement and remediation efforts, including updates on the paint litigation settlement and getting resources to Alamedans like the free soil testing at our Earth Day Festival, subsidized weatherization upgrades to our low-income and qualifying tenants, and free lead and mold testing to those in Alameda. As a former staffer to a state senator and state assemblymember I have worked with a number of elected officials in the area and have built off of those relationships to the benefit of Alamedans. I was able to get letters of support from our state senator and state assemblymember for our affordable housing projects. And we have worked with our partners at ABAG and ACTC to get support for much needed housing and transit projects in Alameda.