If you have an idea for a position paper that you feel I should make, please send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll consider it. Also, make sure to check out the videos page to see short clips of me speaking to my policy positions.
Stay Tuned, there will undoubtedly be many more position papers coming out as the campaign continues.
Affordable Housing Now!
In District 1, throughout Alameda County, and indeed, throughout the State, we face an affordable housing crisis at an unfathomable scale. Families, seniors, and young people just starting out are being crushed by high housing costs and have nowhere left to turn. As a community that believes in equity and inclusion, we must do everything we can to invest in affordable housing, especially affordable housing near transit and job centers. On the Fremont City Council, I’m proud that I have voted for every affordable housing project brought before us.
Unfortunately, the real money is in sprawling luxury homes, and that’s what our region has largely built to the detriment of our roads, schools, open space, and quality of life. Developers know that money talks in politics, and time and time again, they’ve pushed the sprawl line, resisted affordable housing commitments, and created housing for speculators and the super rich.
For example, I was the only Fremont City Councilmember that stood up to the developers when they wanted to put primarily luxury development near the Warm Springs BART station. We missed an opportunity to build a state-of-the-art example of mixed-use development near transit.
As your Supervisor, I will be laser focused on identifying ways we can construct affordable housing near transit and make sure that developers pay their fair share. I have never accepted a penny of developer money and never will. You have my word.
Visit our ‘Videos’ Page to hear Vinnie discuss this more!
Alameda County Green New Deal & Green Recovery Act
We are in an emergency. We are in an economic crisis. We are in a climate crisis.
Alameda County needs a bold Green jumpstart to our economy. That’s why I signed on to co-sponsor the Bay Area Green New Deal and the Alameda County Green Economic Recovery Act.
The pandemic has resulted in the loss of 2.4 million California jobs so far, the highest unemployment record in state history. In May 2019, Alameda County had an unemployment rate of 2.6 percent, which has now grown to 13.7 percent due to COVID-19. This has economically affected local businesses and the most vulnerable communities in Alameda county.
Alameda’s Green Economic Recovery Act is the most viable strategy for long-term economic recovery and job creation. Top economists have shown in a recent analysis how Green and sustainable recovery policies offer powerful advantages in spurring growth during economic downturn, boosting the creation of jobs, delivering higher short-run fiscal multipliers and leading to higher long-run cost savings.
The Alameda County Green Economic Recovery Act prioritizes the integration of environmental, social, and economic justice policies that benefit low-income disadvantaged communities, as well as the business sector. These policies will focus on reducing pollution exposure, improving air quality, and promoting equitable access to public facilities, open green spaces, safe and sanitary homes, as well as local organic food markets. In a current global pandemic, such initiatives need to be implemented to help local communities emerge better and stronger.
The Alameda County Green Economic Recovery Act will build a foundation for a healthier, more equitable clean energy future for all of us.
Traffic & Planning
Traffic, Transit, Road Safety, and Smart Regional Planning
On the Fremont City Council, I’ve been a fierce advocate for smart city planning. As a bike and transit commuter, I have a personal stake in ensuring that our transit systems are accessible and well-funded and our roadways are safely shared by all users. The types of policies we’ve pursued in Fremont can serve as a model for the region.
Every community in Alameda County needs to embrace a Vision Zero policy that envisions a future where traffic fatalities are a relic of the past. I’m a professional transportation planner and I have an intimate understanding of the kinds of transportation amenities that make this possible.
This focus on safety, accessibility, and ease of use is central to our Complete Streets policy, focused on making sure that when road and sidewalk repairs are implemented, we systematically and holistically analyze the improvements needed. It’s a lot more cost-effective to pursue any needed changes to sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic patterns, traffic lights, or other safety improvements all at once instead of piecemeal.
Ultimately, our goal in regional planning should be to make it convenient and safe to leave the car behind whenever possible, encouraging transit use, biking, and walking, and ensuring that the streets are safe for people of all means and abilities.
As a County Supervisor, I will fight for regional, state, and federal transportation funding and make sure that any major transportation funding measures include adequate funding for bicycling, pedestrian, and transit improvements.
Behind almost every bad policy decision is someone with a lot of money pulling the strings. Money talks in politics, but I’ve charted a different path: I don’t take corporate PAC money. Instead, I listen to everyone and do what I think is right.
From my first election to now, I have consistently taken a clean money pledge. I will not accept money from any developer or special interest. I’m always open to good ideas, but leave the checkbook at home.
This clean money pledge impacts every aspect of my job. It means I can use my best judgment and do what’s right for the people of Southern Alameda County without fear of upsetting a benefactor. I even refuse PAC money from causes I support, like environmental leadership and worker’s rights. It means that even if you don’t agree with everything I say or everything I do, you’ll know my heart is in the right place and I made the decision I thought was right.
I was always taught that integrity and independence mean something in public service. I hope they still do.
I’m proud to be the pro-environment candidate in this election. As the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club, I believe that Southern Alameda County can do a lot more to be an environmental leader.
First, the urgency of the climate crisis requires us to stop endless sprawl and prioritize (affordable) development near transit and job centers. Reducing traffic and commute times while encouraging bike and transit use is a central way the County government can improve quality of life AND address what might be the most pressing issue of our day.
For this and many other reasons, I have dedicated much of my public service career to protecting open space and opposing sprawl. Preserving the open space we have is a gift to future generations, a way to preserve fragile habitats, and an opportunity for all of us to enjoy the great outdoors no matter where we live in the County.
As a Fremont City Councilmember I have served on East Bay Clean Energy, StopWaste, San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, Liaison Committee to the East Bay Regional Park District, Housing Authority of Alameda County, Alameda County Transportation Committee, and AC Transit Technical Advisory Committee.
In all of these roles, I’ve developed a keen understanding on the interplay between smart city planning and environmental protection. As a transportation planner, I strongly support much greater investments in public transit, and that’s something I will advocate for as a Supervisor.
We must also seek out and invest in clean and renewable energy, from local and non-local sources. We must set an example for the rest of the nation and aggressively seek a net zero energy posture by 2035.
Even after the public health threat from the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, we know our local small businesses will face a long road to recovery that requires extensive County partnership. It’s a problem that goes hand-in-hand with our deteriorating job market and its impact on being able to afford to live here. As your Supervisor, I will be dedicated to developing a more resilient economy in Southern Alameda County, focusing on the current crisis with an eye to long term solutions.
Given the difficult economic times, we must be focused on improving our economy by creating jobs and helping local businesses get established.
First, we need to be clear on the goals of economic development. I believe that economic development should:
- Provide Southern Alameda County residents access to satisfying work that pays sufficiently well to ensure a good quality of life (“Work” can include employment or business ownership.);
- Grow a diverse and thriving local economy, providing a broad array of goods and services for residents and organizations;
- Help raise property values;
- Fill empty commercial spaces to create thriving historic town centers;
- Generate more tax revenue so the County and our cities can offer more services and amenities to residents and organizations;
- Build a resilient economy that can withstand bursting bubbles on the downside of future business cycles.
Luckily, we have a number of strengths:
- A highly educated and skilled workforce;
- A diverse population from many different cultures – restaurants, festivals and various community events celebrate rich culinary and cultural traditions from countries such as India, China and Afghanistan;
- Family-oriented communities – Dublin, Fremont and Livermore are viewed as safe communities that are family-friendly;
- A few local farms that sell their organic produce at neighborhood farm stands;
- Access to natural resources – Many citizens take advantage of biking trails along Alameda Creek, hiking trails through undeveloped areas, and many different areas to see wildlife;
- Rich agricultural tradition – In the early 20th century, the California Nursery Company grew plants to sell to estates throughout California on a 500-acre spread centered in Niles. Livermore is well known for its wineries.
Combined, these are incubators for attracting cutting-edge businesses, small businesses of all kinds, and a tourism economy – all reflecting the local flavor of this community that we love.
To encourage the development of more locally-owned small businesses, there is more the County can do to help entrepreneurs through the business permitting and approval process.
Additionally, our region can be more of a magnet for high-tech businesses. As your Supervisor, and as someone who has worked as a software coder and engineer, I will be focused on meeting with the business community in the Silicon Valley and other entrepreneurs to attract the kinds of businesses that will bring good jobs, civic pride, and a reliable tax base.
North Livermore Valley
As an environmentalist and someone who has served on the Board of the East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) since its inception, I understand the difficulty in procuring renewable energy in the amounts that we need today. In 2017, EBCE completed a Solar Siting Survey that looked at where infill solar facilities could be located within Alameda County.
The study found that over 650 MW could be generated in the EBCE service territory relying only on infill projects greater than 1 MW. When one includes possible projects that are 100 kW or greater, there is a potential to generate a total of 2 GigaWatts (GW).
In 2018, Alameda County staff prepared a draft set of policies that deal with siting solar facilities in East County. Part of these policy guidelines are to prioritize solar facilities in the current built environment. I believe that these policy guidelines need to be discussed and finalized before proceeding with any new large scale solar facilities.
We should be focusing on infill solar projects that allow us to generate clean, renewable energy without taking away open space. We shouldn’t have to destroy part of the environment in order to save it.
Criminal Justice Reform
Our criminal justice system has a great deal of room for improvement at every level of government, including here in Alameda County. Nationally, our justice system has proven to be discriminatory against Black, Indigenous, and Latino Americans who all have much higher rates of incarceration compared to their white counterparts and experience more violence from police officers, as well as increasing hate crimes and microaggressions against them from civilians. This is a systemic problem which descends from a long history in America of racism; slavery, the cancellation of Reconstruction after the civil war (“The Compromise of 1877”), segregation laws (“Jim Crow”), and currently, mass incarceration. Similar to epochs of the past, we are in the middle of a civil rights movement and I believe that we can rise to the occasion of this moment in history and stand up to injustice to make real change.
Through political will and societal support, I believe we can solve most of these issues. Many other places, both in and out of the U.S.A. have had success with things such as civilian oversight commissions, community-based solutions to incarceration that address the root causes of criminal behavior, instituting education programs within prisons and jails, alternatives to cash bail, and investing in restorative justice programs as an alternative to traditional punitive approaches. Lastly, we do not need to expand our prison system, and that includes expanding juvenile detention centers. We must provide transparency to the public by ensuring all county criminal justice programs provide regular reports including success and failure metrics as well as detailed line item budgets.
One final thought: Black Lives Matter.
If we’re to mitigate the issues of traffic and climate change, we have to work vigorously at providing viable alternatives to driving to work such as transit and biking. This position paper will look at biking.
Alameda County needs to adequately fund bikeway infrastructure when allocating transportation funding. Most transportation improvement packages (like Measure BB) allocate most of their funding towards expensive roadway improvements. Bikeways are much cheaper to build than roadways. With modest changes to our funding priorities, we could have world class bikeways.
The County also needs to work with other counties to provide seamless, safe bike routes so commuters will feel safe taking their bike to/from work.
When I first ran for the Fremont City Council in 2008, the subject of ballparks came up as there was a serious attempt to move the Oakland A’s to Fremont in 2008, and again in 2010. I thought it relevant to list this as a campaign issue as Alameda County is part of a joint powers agreement that oversees both the Oracle Arena and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The discussion in Fremont led me to do a lot of investigation into sports stadiums and government subsidies. In short, I believe many municipalities give large amounts of money, often hundreds of millions of dollars, and get little in return in terms of increased tax revenue. (These payments can be made directly or by waiving fees such as property taxes.) There are many stories of bad deals that cities have made over the years costing taxpayers dearly.
Alameda County is no stranger to these bad deals. In 1995, in an effort to lure the Raiders back to Oakland from Los Angeles, it was agreed that the Coliseum would be expanded by adding a new tier of seating to the top of the stadium. This became known as “Mount Davis” referring to the Raiders owner Al Davis. It cost the City of Oakland and Alameda County $500 million to build. The Oakland A’s and the Raiders could not fill up these extra seats and both ended up covering the seats with a tarp.
As the Raiders prepared to leave Oakland in 2016, there was still $95 million to be paid off by Alameda County and the City of Oakland. One proposal was that Alameda County would use its reserves to pay off the debt entirely and have the City of Oakland pay them back in time.
Going forward, I would be open to potential deals to lure sports teams to our area. But I would refuse to give away huge amounts of money to lure them here or to keep them here. Any potential deal would have to be done in a fiscally responsible manner, not because someone is excited about getting a professional sports team.
Position Papers from some of my prior Fremont City Council Campaigns are below:
Warm Springs BART
The Warm Springs BART station was an opportunity to plan an exemplary Transit-Oriented Development. Unfortunately, we’re going to get a massive residential development with little retail or commercial opportunities for current residents.
The Patterson Ranch development was approved in 2010. Despite a General Plan that argues for sustainable development near the core of town, Council approved a sprawling development on the edge of town. The already overcrowded schools in Ardenwood will be even more impacted once these homes are built.
The current General Plan allows for about 260 homes to be developed on the Patterson Ranch site. The latest development proposal would require that the City Council amend the General Plan to double the amount of homes allowed on this land. I see no reason to permit more homes to be developed in this area than current zoning allows.
In 2015 the developers sued the School District for being in an ‘unassigned’ area and lost. The District was seriously considering re-assigning this area to the Newark School District as the local Fremont schools are very overcrowded. The School District reached a deal with the developers that allowed the homes to remain in the Fremont Unified School District.
Save Kimber Park (2012)
The area in the center of the Kimber Park is not currently entitled to any new housing developments. I see no reason to change this. Council should have simply said that the proposed use does not conform with the existing zoning. Instead, they left it an open issue to be studied later.
A lot has happened since 2012. The City Council approved a much larger recreational facility on the site. (I was the lone dissenting vote.)
The developer sued that the initial re-zoning of the property was not carried out and won. Thus, the City had to go through the re-zoning process again. This came before the Council again in June of 2016 and formally became open space once again.
During my 2012 campaign, Caltrans’ tried to complete a project that would have widened the roadway in the Canyon. The project would have resulted in large retaining walls and destruction to Alameda Creek. I worked with many local residents and environmental groups to oppose the project. We were successful in stopping the project.