Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Alameda's new mayor tosses a Hail Mary right out the gate

GO LARGE: Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer is 
showing signs of being a political risk-taker.
ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL | Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer upset her predecessor Marie Gilmore over one issue: stanching the pace of development on the island. When, in the last throes of its tenure, the previous City Council approved an 11-acre, 380-unit housing and commercial development on its northern waterfront last month, Spencer, not yet sworn-in as mayor, balked.

But, Spencer, who has already shown a propensity toward bold risk-taking decided the best way to begin her term is to undue the Del Monte Warehouse Master Plan approved Dec. 2. The decision to schedule a repeal of the action is a gamble.

On the new council, Spencer can likely count on Councilmember Frank Matarrese to repeal the project, but on a five-member council, she still needs a third vote. Most point to Councilmember Tony Daysog as the pivotal vote. Last month, he initially abstained from voting on the plan and later voted no on the second reading of the ordinance which some neighbors contend will further hemorrhage traffic in Alameda and eat away at residential parking spaces. Daysog, however, is a very deliberative public official who may prove to be the antithesis of Spencer's early quick-strike brand of government. Daysog is also difficult to read.

Meanwhile, there is as much downside to Spencer's gambit as there is upside. If she is successful in repealing the Del Monte plan Tuesday night, there may be legal and political consequences, Alameda City Attorney Janet Kern told The Alamedan.  Kern declined to elaborate, but news of Alameda rescinding a development project may signal to the rest of the region the island's new administration backs up its hostile rhetoric toward developers with legislative action.

Furthermore, there is tremendous potential for harm to Spencer's earlier tenure as mayor if her backed repeal is defeated. Despite her supporters provided a strong headwind for her and a perceived obligation to turn her electoral support into change at City Hall, going big right out of the gate is a huge political risk. If not successful, it has the potential of sowing the seeds of instability which is very difficult for any mayor to reattain.

Then again, this is same person who upended an incumbent nobody fathomed was vulnerable last November and did it with less than $10,000 and a whole lot of courage and passion.

NOTE: Daysog abstained on the Del Monte project on Dec. 2, but voted against the ordinance on its second reading Dec. 16.


Post a Comment