Frank Matarrese, City Council

Frank Matarrese, City Council

Frank Matarrese
Frank Matarrese

It’s 2025 and the vision you had for Alameda when you were elected in 2014 has come to fruition. Describe Alameda.
Alameda is a model city: safe, well maintained, well educated with fine schools and a topnotch library system, great parks and a fantastic place to live. Vibrant commercial centers with well-paying jobs are established in the Harbor Bay Business Park, and Alameda Point is gaining momentum as the premier regional commercial location in the East Bay with strong maritime, “green-tech” and beverage centers being joined by cutting edge businesses. Alameda has contributed new wetlands and wildlife habitat to San Francisco Bay. Alameda has led the way in accomplishing model city status with a sustainable budget and prudent long term financial planning. It is a place where all residents feel heard and respected, and visitors are welcomed.

What is your vision for Alameda Point? What proportion of the Point should be developed with housing, businesses, services and open space? How many people should live at Alameda Point, what type of housing should be built and how many jobs should development there produce?
Job creation and parkland development are my top priorities at Alameda Point.

Jobs have been created over the years at Alameda Point, but more are needed to replace those lost when the Naval Air Station closed. Many jobs can be created by cultivating business maritime, environmental cleanup, and specialty beverage sectors and supporting small businesses that are now mainstays at Alameda Point, while adding “green-tech” and other forward looking industry. I would propose reviving some form of the city’s Economic Development Commission to update the economic development strategic plan objectives in order to grow these sectors into a diverse economic zone. Plans to attract new businesses and solidify current businesses could even include options for businesses to buy the property they occupy, expanding the tax base and providing funds for infrastructure.

I see expanding habitats and recreational open space as a realistic future for much of Alameda Point, especially given climate change. Hundreds of acres of the former Naval Air Station are already destined for habitat. We should take the opportunity to expand and restore wetlands in partnership with the East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and the federal agencies in charge of the wildlife habitat. More wetlands can provide a buffer against bay tidal action, improve current habitat and will be a consumer of CO2. This is a reachable goal given that EBRPD has more than $6.5 million earmarked for park development at Alameda Point, thanks to Measure WW. The city must work immediately with EBRPD to put these funds to use, since each year that passes reduces the amount the $6.5 million buys.

The housing goals should be focused on improving and preserving historic homes and upgrading the residential units of Alameda Point Collaborative. A priority should be placed on connecting these residents with the rest of Alameda. Reuse of the historic bachelor enlisted and officer quarters historic residential buildings may be considered, but both structures present huge challenges for re-use and may be more practically better suited for nonresidential use.

Thousands of homes are being considered at Alameda Point and along the Northern Waterfront. What should developers offer to the community to alleviate the impacts of new development?
Developers should offer projects that match the scale fitting Alameda’s constraints. Unlike suburban cities, Alameda is densely populated and with its Island nature, restricted in ways to get in and out of the city. Alameda is also one of the most desirable urban communities in the Bay Area. Given Alameda’s desirability, developers will have absolutely no trouble selling homes. With this significantly lower risk to their investors relative to other locations, a developer’s return to their investors should be significantly lower resulting a profit in line with lower risk. They should be able to the make a reasonable return on fewer units, with a larger percentage of affordable units than have been proposed.

If elected, how will you address the city’s unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities?
I will propose to my City Council colleagues a motion to direct the city manager to prepare the next general fund budget under the following policy:

  • Exclude advances, drawdowns from the reserves or other “one-time” revenues in order to establish a realistic budget
  • Set aside one-time revenues for deferred maintenance, debt service (if appropriate) or the other unfunded liabilities to be approved by the City Council.
  •  
    Given the recent proliferation of big box and other national chain stores opening on the Island, what is your plan to keep small businesses viable in Alameda?
    I propose a policy that focuses on three key points:

  • Completing Webster Street and Park Street improvement projects according to updates to existing plans for both districts
  • Addressing the decaying shopping center on Bay Farm Island using a similar strategy as was used with Bridgeside Center’s predecessor
  • Maintain ongoing dialogue with needs of South Shore and the various “station” shopping areas to ensure continued commercial health of these zones and to address ongoing compatibility with neighboring residents
     
    I would propose to re-activate an Economic Development Commission as soon as possible to provide advice and guidance to the City Council.
     
    What if anything should the city do to address rising rents? Should the city regulate rents and if so, how?
    For privately owned rental units, it is vital that the Rent Review Advisory Committee be active in publicizing their role and addressing unfair practices and that the City Council make itself aware of cases and activities of the advisory committee with regular reports with goals of ensuring fair treatment of tenants and having landlords maintained their rental units in a state of good repair, meeting health and safety and city codes.
     
    The city should work closely with the Alameda Housing Authority (AHA) to provide additional affordable units that can be managed and maintained by the AHA, with a goal of meeting the needs of most vulnerable in our community.
     
    The newly formed task force assigned to review the question of rising rents should consider these, and similar goals in preparing a report with recommendations to be discussed in public forum, including the City Council.
     
    In recent years, the City Council has implemented an ordinance permitting developers to apply for permission to build multifamily housing using the state's density bonus and a new housing element for the city's general plan that permits multifamily housing on several properties. Alameda's 1973 Amendment XXVI, known as Measure A, prohibits all types of housing except single family homes and duplexes. If elected, would you maintain these exceptions to Measure A, expand them or eliminate them? Please explain your answer.
    I will uphold Amendment XXVI (Measure A) as stated in the city charter, as well as uphold the state constitution when it is required by law to make exceptions to our charter. New multifamily housing developments have been allowed in certain areas in order to comply with provisions in the state housing element law and I will follow the law and not move to eliminate them; however, I would work on reasonable limits for projects within these areas in
    recognition of Alameda’s limited access and Island constraints.
     
    A pair of California laws – AB32 and SB375 – outline specific steps intended to address climate change. Which (if any) of the steps outlined in the bills should Alameda carry out locally?
    Per the greenhouse gas reduction goals in Assembly Bill No. 32 and the sustainable communities goals in Senate Bill No. 375, I will push for Alameda to reduce greenhouse CO2 levels by (1) creating wetlands at Alameda Point (2) pushing Alameda Municipal Power to expand solar by setting a comprehensive citywide program for solar generated power atop public buildings, schools, parking lots, with help to underwrite costs and goals to be achieved; and (3) funding for installation of gray water systems (divert water to a special collection for irrigation) be included in new developments.
     
    I will propose efforts to make Alameda a sustainable community by proposing (1) reasonable limits on residential development, strictly adhering to the California Environmental Quality Act and (2) policy that directs planning to fully integrate the potential new commercial development in the city (at Alameda Point and the remaining parcels in the Harbor Bay Business Park) with the existing neighborhoods and new residential development now entitled as a sustainable community.
     
    Provide a specific example that demonstrates your leadership skills and your ability to work with others. What was the situation, what were your objectives and what was the end result?
    I have a track record of taking the lead on many issues in Alameda. Prior to serving in any public office I co-chaired Library 2000 in an effort to build a new main library. After four years of hard work, our initiative passed by 78 percent, and Alameda now has a new main library and improvements at our branches.
     
    I applied these leadership skills and significant effort as chair of the Economic Development Commission to address the blight at the shopping center near the Fruitvale Bridge that led to construction of the vibrant new Bridgeside Center.
     
    While on the City Council, I played a major role in moving the motions that resulted in turning the vacant Alameda Theatre into the successfully restored historic gem and economic catalyst it is today. I initiated the first city-sponsored forum at City Hall on environmental cleanup at Alameda Point. Among the many initiatives I introduced as City Council agenda items, one of the most critical was the establishment of a Fiscal Sustainability Committee to address the city’s long-term financial health. With the city’s general fund reserves projected to be depleted by fiscal year 2017-18, I will initiate a call to address this chronic crisis immediately upon being elected.
     
    I have never shied away from voicing my concerns with colleagues and have been successful in incorporating differing perspectives and concerns into workable motions that moved our agenda forward.
     
    As a city leader, how would you collaborate with the school district, nonprofits and other community organizations to best address community needs?
    While a member of the City Council and serving on the City Council/school board liaison committee, I called for setting up an arrangement for shared financial responsibility and allowed use for Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) sports facilities. This is already underway with the pools and has been in place for libraries and adult education. I would work to extend this to sports fields. I will continue to support programs that encourage cooperation
    and assistance of the Alameda Police Department with the AUSD for crime prevention. I will always take the requests and needs of parents, teachers, and school children under consideration.
     
    Is Alameda doing enough to prepare for a disaster? If yes, please describe what efforts are satisfying the need to prepare. If not, what else should the city do?
    As a city, we can do much more to prepare for a disaster. I would like to see disaster preparedness as a link on the home page of the city. The listed “Comprehensive Emergency Plan” is dated 2008 and should be updated, if it has not been so already. The plan should be current and feature a coordinated medical response with Alameda Hospital, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Northern California, the Water Emergency Transit
    Authority (WETA), the Maritime Administration (MARAD), and our fire department’s emergency medical team. At some point, the VA will have medical facilities, personnel and plenty of land from which to stage response and recovery operations. The VA is already anticipating hosting emergency preparedness training exercises on the 120 acres where their clinic and columbarium will be sited.
     
    Within the next five years, WETA could have as many as 11 ferries berthed at their new maintenance facility at Alameda Point that could be used for evacuation purposes.
     
    MARAD’s large roll-on, roll-off maritime Ready Reserve ships berthed at Alameda Point can be placed into service for onboard disaster triage. The Cape Orlando hosted a National Guard 95th Civil Support Team (WMD) trauma triage training exercise on their top deck in 2011. We should make sure that all of our Island disaster preparedness assets are ready to work together.
     
    I would propose investigating the feasibility of purchasing emergency saltwater pumping equipment to be on hand in the event that our water pressure or water supply is interrupted. This would help ensure firefighting capabilities.
     
    I would also call for a review of our emergency electrical generating capabilities. Many individuals rely on electrically powered medical devices that may be without power during a disaster. We should have a plan to transport vulnerable individuals to sites in town with emergency electrical service.
     
    Outreach has to be continuous and current, addressing more common scenarios (earthquakes, severe winds, gas main fires, etc.) and less common (terrorist attack). We should regularly remind Alameda residents to take advantage of the free community emergency response training (CERT) classes offered by our fire department, so that we are all better prepared for dealing with emergencies.
     
    What assurances can you provide that campaign contributions you receive won’t impact your decisions on the dais?
    I have decided not to accept any contributions from those holding a contract with the city or who are in negotiations with the city.