Candidate’s name: Trish Herrera Spencer
Candidate’s contact (email and phone): Trish@MayorTrish.com; 510-863-4496
1. Transportation: As a city council member or mayor, what specific early actions will you take to get people out of single occupancy vehicles?
To reduce single occupancy vehicle trips and attempt to address traffic congestion, my priorities are “last mile” access to BART and ferries, such as safe pedestrian and bicycle access, as well as improved reliable and on-time public transportation across town and to BART and ferries, including strong consideration for a shuttle/locally sponsored free buses supplementing AC Transit [which was highly ranked by the community as well as strongly supported by business, especially Greater Alameda Business Association (GABA)], as well as continued partnering with AC Transit, and private shuttles from developments.
Specifically, of the Implementation Priorities of Table 10: https://alamedaca.gov/sites/default/files/documentfiles/part_4_part_1_of_2.pdf
a) Alameda shuttle/locally sponsored free buses supplementing AC Transit. This had a 73.2% positive response, the highest on the City’s survey. Even though this was the #1 response by the community, it was not initially included and it is only by my advocacy with the community that it was eventually included. https://www.opentownhall.com/portals/198/Issue_3968/survey_responses
b) Pedestrian and Bicycle Vision Zero Safety Policies, bus stop improvements, EasyPass Expansion, Harbor Bay and Main Street Ferry Terminals Access and Parking Management Improvements, Parking Management in historic districts (Park Street and Webster), bike share implemented safely (address being recklessly/inappropriately parked and children’s use without helmets), casual carpool additional pickup locations, increase frequency and expand hours for ferries and implement bicycle-friendly estuary water shuttle(s) across Oakland Estuary with expanded hours [concern is reduced usage because of limited operation hours so currently have lengthy waits and limited service].
Funding will come from local, regional and State monies and grants, development assessments, and include partnering with agencies such as AC Transit, WETA, CalTrans, WABA, DABA, etc.
Another priority for me, which I’ve continually advocated for as Alameda’s representative on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) is free/reduced bus passes for students across the County based upon need (i.e., receiving free/reduced lunches) funded by Measure BB, as opposed to not considering student financial need (current pilot). Alameda County is the only county that I’m aware of that has this type of pilot. https://www.alamedactc.org/studentpass
Since I’ve worked with Superintendent McPhetridge for years (as PTA Council President and then as an AUSD Board Member),I have coordinated with him/AUSD to ensure that they’re aware of the program and encourage them to participate, which they have, however, unfortunately, no Alameda schools were selected by ACTC to participate in their pilot program. However, because of my efforts to bring this to light, City Staff partnered with Island High to offer free bus passes, supporting my efforts to address this serious problem. I was very happy to attend the student orientation at Island High about this new program, where I was able to share with the students how grateful I am of the City and AUSD to collaborate to bring this program and that we will be gathering data to provide to the County to continue our advocacy at the regional level. We know that transportation is a barrier for many students and they shouldn’t have to choose between bus money and money for other necessities. Unfortunately, at the City level, we are only able to offer this to one school. This truly must be addressed at the County level, and, as mayor, I will continue my efforts to encourage ACTC to base their program on need, which is a being considered and, I’m hopeful will occur.
Safe Routes to School for students has been a long term priority for me, participating as the Earhart Elementary school parent volunteer as far back as October, 2006 with Audrey Lord-Hausman, helping to organize for the entire School District (12 years ago). During my years on AUSD PTA Council, and eventually serving as President, we expanded the program to include middle schools. I have walked/ridden my bike to numerous schools over the years, to encourage students, including to Lincoln, Earhart, Otis, Edison, Haight, Encinal and NEA, and riding across town with Donna Eyestone and her daughter Emma to NEA. We all know that drop off and pick up traffic could be greatly reduced by making it safer for students to “walk & roll” to school; it is only by actually walking and rolling that you truly recognize the safety issues, including being able to safely lock up your bike.
2. Sustainable Development: What does sustainable development mean to you as applied to Alameda? What are three specific measures that the City can undertake that you would endorse?
My priority is and has been that if we’re going to add housing and thereby have impact on our historical quality of life (increased students at schools, need for increased city services, less land available for commercial/employment uses keeping in mind that we have a “job imbalance,” and have not replaced the 16-18,000 jobs that were lost with closing of the former Naval Air Station, traffic), then we need to be intentional in design, including “affordable by design”/workforce/middle income housing, and funded affordable housing units. We should be building as few luxury housing units as possible to fund the type of housing units that we want. They should also include housing to rent and purchase, as it is only through the ability to purchase housing that people accumulate equity, which has historically been how people accumulate wealth that they then need as they age (as opposed to only offering rentals, which is a funding stream for investors).
Recently, I initially supported Site A when the developer agreed to add a condo overlay for workforce/middle income housing. However, when the developer returned to Council to add a new investor of luxury apartments it became unlikely that condos will be offered, and then the developer returned to Council again and asked for another concession of untethering the affordable housing as both the senior and family affordable units are not fully funded (approximately 50% short, i.e., $43 Million), I opposed the project. That project, as it’s on City land, offered the developer lower costs and was a rare opportunity for the City to do its utmost to address our housing needs. Even though we asked for 25% affordable, when it’s not funded, we do not know when it will actually be built, if ever. $10 Million from that project was dedicated for a second ferry, less than a mile from the current Main Street ferry. There needed to be serious consideration of what is our priority: another ferry or $10 Million to go towards middle income/below market rate housing. I disagreed that another ferry at this time should have been the priority. Focusing on funding housing that doesn’t lead to displacement (i.e., as few luxury units as possible), should be our priority when we have that option, which is rare, as most developments are on privately owned property.
I have also supporting restoring funding of Line 19 down Buena Vista. As well as advocated for a citywide shuttle that goes to the ferry stations and BART stations, as well as “last mile” access to those (as further discussed above). As also further discussed below, I’m a strong advocate for EV charging stations, bird-safe buildings, protections of night sky (which can be included in building design), protecting historic trees when building new buildings, solar, etc.
3. Resilience: What does resilience mean to you as applied to Alameda? What are three specific measures that the City can undertake that you would endorse?
As Mayor, it’s clear that there are more than three measures that we must take. There is no one thing we must do; there are many things we must do that together may make a difference.
When I first became mayor, in 2014, our City was not part of the U.S. Mayors Conference, a national organization of mayors who together unite to take powerful actions, which I joined. Through that organization, I joined a group of mayors who call ourselves Climate Mayors. Together, we work as a group to push for strong climate action, “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create the 21st-century clean energy economy … The world cannot wait—and neither will we.” http://climatemayors.org/
It is critical that Alameda be active regionally, nationally, and internationally, which is why I, as Mayor of Alameda, actively participate in organizations with those missions.
“Resiliency is about being able to adapt and bounce back from adversity. Planning for resiliency means cost effectively hardening assets and preparing both the infrastructure and its operations for all possibilities of climate events. In some instances, this means infrastructure assessment and emergency operations planning, while in others it might mean finding new uses for existing infrastructure such as cooling centers to shelter residents during heat waves. Smart, dependable infrastructure that is operated to function during and after a climate event is the key to a resilient city. … A city’s infrastructure (energy, water, building, transit, etc.) is made up of interconnected assets that can be made more reliable. Meaningful planning means evaluating the interconnection between systems and their operations, and whether a city has the resources to support those operations during a climate event. … The process of resiliency planning convenes stakeholders (political, civic, utility, first responder).” https://www.usmayors.org/2018/02/05/city-resiliency-planning-takes-data-analytic-turn-will-it-make-adifference/
As Mayor, I’ve also joined the international Compact of Mayors, and signed The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an international alliance of cities and local governments with a shared long-term vision of promoting and supporting voluntary action to combat climate change and move to a low emission, resilient society. https://www.globalcovenantofmayors.org
As an island and peninsula community, of almost 80,000 people, many of whom are passionate and educated (formally and self) about protection, preservation and conservation efforts of our world, I strongly believe that we are ideal to be a leader in Climate Action and Resilience, and that it is only through our joint, intentional efforts that we will do our best to meet the challenges of sea level rise, changing climate, etc.
I have brought numerous referrals to Council for support that will help Alameda do its part, i.e., Update Light Regulations to Reduce Light Pollution (Protect Night Sky or Dark Sky); Protect Historic, Heritage Trees; Bird-Safe Buildings; Ban Gas Powered Leaf Blowers, and “Straws on Request and reduce single use food take-out containers.” Not all of them have made it through the system, and I believe that we must address each of these as soon as possible.
At the July 10, 2018, Council meeting, I pulled Agenda Item 5K from Consent to express concern with Staff’s proposal to adopt a new later date of 2022 to achieve the City’s zero waste goal, preferring to keep the current date of 2020. Thankfully, the majority of Council agreed with me, which would not have happened had I not pulled the item. It is critical we stay on course, making best efforts, to achieve these goals.
At the December 5, 2017 Council meeting, Agenda Item 6D, I requested that Marine Permaculture, along with the public’s comments (we had nine speakers; e.g., carbon farming, wildlife sea level rise, tracking and reporting) and Council comments be added to the Draft Work Scope to the Climate Plan, to which the maker of the motion originally objected, but was eventually included, with the support of other Councilmembers.
As our community has supported, we must also focus on reducing CO2 emissions by offering safe pedestrian and bicycle access, as well as seriously consider a cross-town shuttle, and completing last mile to BART and Ferries.
As Mayor, I also completed the Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT), which is six classes taught by our Fire Department. I am the only council member that has currently taken these trainings. I highly recommend all Alamedans to complete this training. “The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program provides training to Alameda residents and employees of Alameda businesses to increase self-sufficiency in a
disaster. Participants learn skills that will enable them to provide emergency assistance to their families and neighbors.
The course is taught in six class sessions:
- Personal Preparedness and Hazard Mitigation
- Disaster Medical 1
- Disaster Medical 2
- Fire Suppression / Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Awareness
- Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) Mitigation / Terrorism Response
- Disaster Search Techniques & Completion Exercise
In May, 2015, I also voted for the new Emergency Operation Center (EOC); a 4:1 vote (Members Ashcraft, Daysog, Oddie and myself supporting; Vice Mayor Mataresse opposing). https://alamedasun.com/news/council-approvesfire-station-eoc After discussing the request with our former Fire Chief Doug Long, I supported his recommendation. It is critical that Alameda be prepared for a disaster. Unfortunately, when I first became Mayor, our “EOC,” was essentially a file cabinet in the basement of the Police Station, with boxes of communication equipment, legal tablets, etc., that we would need in a disaster. That was highly insufficient. There were suggestions of having it in the library, which I do not believe was a viable alternative. We are an island and must be ready in an emergency; time is of the essence. I have also, as Mayor, had the opportunity to visit the U.S. Coast Guard’ local EOC, and am very familiar with what an EOC must be and I am confident that our EOC will meet our needs, in a disaster.
I have also attended our City’s Disaster Council meetings in our new EOC, joining representatives from approximately 40 regional organizations. As far as I know, I am the only mayoral candidate to attend those meetings. Even though I’m not required to do so, I try my hardest to attend such meetings so that I will have done my utmost to ensure that Alameda is prepared in a disaster.
In May, 2018, I also attended the Resilient Bay Summit, “Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge is a collaborative research and design initiative that connects design leaders to community members, local leaders and national experts. In a yearlong challenge, ten teams of architects, engineers, designers and other experts will work alongside community members and local government to identify critical areas along the San Francisco Bayfront and propose exciting new solutions that will strengthen our region’s resilience to sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes.” Here, I was able to review all of the projects. What was key in all of the projects was that we had to work regionally, and be willing to blur the lines of cities, as sea level rise and disasters don’t begin and end at city boundaries. The project that included parts of the City of Alameda was “Estuary Commons,” by All Bay Collective, which decided to “rethink” “the shoreline around San Leandro Bay with the creation of Estuary Commons. Through the construction of ponds, landforms, and expanded streams, the communities of Deep East Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro will not only be able to adapt to sea-level rise and groundwater flooding, but will also have a network of flourishing greenways to enjoy for generations to come.” http://www.resilientbayarea.org/estuary-commons
“ALL BAY COLLECTIVE PROPOSED FOUR INTERRELATED APPROACHES: 1. Catalyze existing, on-the-ground actions while helping establish conditions for longterm community equity and resilience; 2. Adapt the estuary to protect against flooding, restore ecosystems, create pathways, and provide gathering space; 3. Stitch together neighborhood and shoreline through new transportation and ecological corridors; 4. Prosper by leveraging public assets and private investment through community driven planning to deliver equitable, environmentally just, and resilient development.”
Here, is the link to their video of their final project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XLSdimXzWo
I also served as the City of Alameda’s representative on the County’s StopWaste Board, which Member Jim Oddie now serves on as our City’s representative. Through our continued efforts on that Board, our City and County are leaders in reducing single use
Another consideration would be to determine an upland site for locating an emergency climate response center, in the event of a natural disaster including flooding. It is possible that none of our bridges and the Tube would be operational and a response center in that situation should be considered.
The fact that we’re an island/peninsula community, subject to more long-term climate issues, and current issues of what would happen in a disaster emergency situation (what happens if the bridges/tube are not accessible) to meet the needs of residents and others that are in Alameda when the disaster occurs, are issues I regularly raise.
4. Sea Level Rise: In order to protect Alameda from sea level rise, are you more in favor of further hardening or armoring the perimeter of Alameda or a soft living edges approach?
My priority is to reduce hardscape along the water’s edge where possible and implement resilience by design efforts to create porous living shorelines [fresh water wetlands, salt water marshes, bringing the Wild Oyster Project here to Alameda (whom I’ve met with), as well as reef restoration (kelp forests), creating dunes, etc.]. Since we’re situated on the San Francisco Bay, which is relatively calm compared to the Pacific Ocean, we are a strong candidate for these alternative solutions, thinking beyond more traditional efforts of higher seawalls.
5. Energy: Would you support a city ordinance that requires new construction to include electric vehicle charging facilities or be EV ready, and comply with solar net Zero Building Standards? Would you support energy efficiency standards beyond those required by CalGreen? How would you address our existing buildings to reduce their carbon impact?
I regularly attend, support, and speak at community and staff led pro-environmental meetings and community events, including viewing of films, Climate Action meetings, electric vehicle, solar panel, meetings, as well as Alameda Municipal Power meetings. I continually learn from our community members and then advocate to implement ideas they raise/suggest.
I would work towards implementing the referrals that I submitted [i.e., Update Light Regulations to Reduce Light Pollution (Protect Night Sky or Dark Sky); Protect Historic, Heritage Trees; Bird-Safe Buildings; Straws on Request); Ban Gas Powered Leaf Blowers], as well as implementing net zero building standards (zero net energy consumption through increased energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind); increased sustainable mobility modes (walking, bicycling, public transportation) and personal vehicles run on electricity produced from renewable sources or other low-carbon fuels; and zero waste sent to landfills.
It is critical that new construction include EV charging facilities or be EV ready.
6. Zero Waste: How would you enforce the City of Alameda’s Mandatory Recycling Ordinance (Alameda Municipal Code Section 21-2.1(b)) ? Would you support siting a Center for Hard to Recycle Materials/Education Center in Alameda (similar to the El Cerrito Recycling Center)?
I attended a community meeting at the library where this was discussed. There were suggestions to fine residents/businesses that put items in the wrong containers. I don’t support that, as our trash containers do not lock and I see people regularly go into them when they’re set out for pick-up. I think it is appropriate to price the containers such that the pricing mechanism encourages more recycling. My family uses the smallest trash
container (20 gallons) for single family homes, which is also the cheapest. https://www.alamedacountyindustries.com/alameda/residential/residential-services
I think it’s important that we work closely with multi-family homes and businesses, to ensure that they are educated with recycling, and then price the containers to encourage composting and recycling.
I’m agreeable to look at an improved Recycling Center, however, more importantly is probably education of services currently available, such as the Center on the way to Coast Guard Island.
I’d like to add here, that our Council worked closely with ACI and the employees that actually do the sorting of garbage to ensure that the employees are paid better. I’m proud of our work to support those employees.
7. SF Bay Ecosystem: Alameda may soon be designated as a HOPE spot by Mission Blue. What specific actions can Alameda take to protect and restore the life of our bay and waterways?
Some of our schools are Ocean Guardian Schools, for instance Wood Middle and Earhart Elementary.
I have worked to bring blue-green companies here, e.g., The Ocean Cleanup was unsuccessful at connecting with staff, had a short time frame, and another business encouraged them to contact me, knowing I’d try my hardest to help them and that’s what happened. I squeezed them into my busy schedule at around lunch time, encouraged staff to meet them, and they’re here now. I’ve supported The Oyster Project and they’re here now.
I’ve also supported local efforts by Blue Endeavors at Southshore.
We can also create porous living shorelines (fresh water wetlands; saltwater marshes, bringing The Wild Oyster project here, reef restoration, kelp forests, creating dunes, etc.)
8. Climate Action Plan: Given the recent California wildfires, extreme weather events and rising global temperatures how will you support the increasingly urgent funding and implementation of the measures identified in the Climate Action Plan update?
Paying for anything is very challenging along with our unfunded pension liabilities and deferred maintenance of over $500 Million. We also have additional taxes to support our hospital, schools, etc. At some point, additional taxes contribute to displacement and that is a serious problem for us to always consider.
Our best efforts recently was with the Alameda Marina development whereby the developer will be addressing the seawall issues. It is critical that these issues also be funded regionally, including State and Federal Funding. During the time I’ve been mayor and serving on the Alameda County Transportation Commission we have been successful at obtaining regional funding; it is important to work well with our regional partners and I have been successful at that, as seen in the funding Alameda received recently in RM3, as well as other sources. https://alamedaca.gov/city-hall/news/2017/05/10/city-alameda-awarded-42-million-transportation-grants-fundmajor-priority