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City Council: Village Marketplace Gets Nod, Police Chief Explains Occupy Actions

Monday's meeting was a love fest for the proposed development. But Councilman Jim Prola asked Chief Spagnoli some pointed questions about sending San Leandro police to the Occupy Oakland protests.

The proposed Village Marketplace project got an unofficial nod when the City Council met Monday night.

Redevelopment official Cynthia Battenberg repeated an estimate that the city would lose about $3 million on the project.

That's the difference between the $6 million the city paid for the old Albertson's property on the 1500 block of East 14th Street and the $3 million it is thought to be valued at today.

But council members accepted Battenberg's view that the retail development and plaza would repay that investment by giving downtown a boost.

The briefing was meant to assure developer David Irmer that the city had no significant objections to the project before he and redevelopment staff iron out details like how much he should pay the city for the 1.7 acre parcel.

Council members by and large praised the project. The only mildly discordant note came from Councilman Jim Prola.

Although he supported the project overall, he questioned the labor policies of Fresh & Easy, the grocery chain that would be the development's anchor tenant.

"What would happen if the store tried to organize," Prola asked, saying he intended to follow up with company officials.

 San Leandro police sent to Oakland

Prola also asked a pointed question when Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli reported on the two times to help police the Occupy Oakland protests.

Spagnoli said the first time was on the morning of Oct. 25, when Oakland officials evicted campers from Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The second time was the the night of Nov. 2, when San Leandro police helped quell the violence that erupted after a peaceful, day-long general strike.

Spagnoli said she acted under a mutual aid agreement that allows her to decide whether the city can afford to help to another jurisdiction in an emergency.

She said the two deployments cost about $20,000.

Prola expressed relief that it hadn't cost more but questioned the rationale for the first deployment.

"What is the emergency on the 25th with people sleeping," Prola asked.

Spagnoli said there were public health issues with the encampment. She said Oakland officials had requested aid because they knew breaking it up would cause civil unrest.

Prola went on to criticize the behavior of Oakland police during the Occupy protests and during labor actions in the past.

In the only public comment on Spagnoli's presentation, Mike Katz-Lacabe, a school board member and political activist, said the mutual aid process left all the decisions up to law enforcement officials.

He said there needs to be more civilian control of police departments.

David November 10, 2011 at 01:46 PM
the design doesn't matter when the idea itself (TOD) is hugely flawed from multiple angles (financing, marketplace dynamics, downtown vitals, etc etc).
Jim November 12, 2011 at 03:24 PM
We need cheaper housing as well as good paying jobs. I would not support Britis owned Tesco coming to take more money out of the community to support international corporations thatl see us as azip code and profit margin. people can't live on minimum wages while the 1% go to the Carribean we are stuck in traffic trying to find good jobs! We need a living wage and health care for all not globalized handouts to low balling companies like Fresh &EZ!!!
David November 12, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Do you voluntarily pay more at local grocery shops? If you haven't noticed, housing has gotten much, much cheaper lately for some reason...and continues to do so (down another ~5% this year so far, and 40% from the peak). Indeed, inflation-adjusted housing prices are now the same as they were in 1999-2000, and if forecasts are correct, will hit 1997-1998 prices in the next year or so.
David November 12, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Economics lesson from Gene Simmons: “The mess is our fault – corporations have no responsibility. Capitalism is the best thing that ever happened to human beings. The welfare state sounds wonderful but it doesn’t work. Governments hand out more money than they have to support welfare and they land in debt. Then they have to borrow money… that’s bad business."
Linda November 13, 2011 at 05:18 PM
Why not convince or put energy into Trader Joes who says we dont fit there demographics, As we have to go to Castro Valley or another city to get very reasonable priced and organic produce, why not invest in Pelton center make over and bringing in advertisement for what is there and promote it, it is a pleasant experience to go to this area, this space dose not need another restraunt or coffee shop, to me all of this is a very shallow look at what really would be good for the down town,

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