City Council candidate Jeff Cambra

City Council candidate Jeff Cambra

Alameda Elections '12
Jeff Cambra

Jeff Cambra

Special Events Producer/ Attorney

Relevant experience
I have been self-employed for 30 years in a variety of businesses. I have a strong background in management and budgeting. I understand that the City must run like a business.

Assistant City Attorney. I have written laws, advised councils, and protected residents in this position.

I am involved with more than 15 different organizations or events in the city. I have a strong connection to the community.

If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
Maintain safe neighborhoods
Support our schools
Work with property owners and local commercial real estate agents to fill vacancies in the City’s business districts and shopping centers.

What is your vision for the future of Alameda Point, and what are three steps you would take to implement that vision?
We should be guided by the 1997 Vision and the recently passed Housing Element when building a variety of housing types but remain flexible to respond to regional economic trends when designating areas for commercial, office, light manufacturing, open space, recreation, etc.

Step One: Complete the no cost conveyance process
Step Two: Adopt flexible zoning ordinances consistent with the 1997 Vision
Step Three: Create a ferry based transit village featuring multifamily housing, senior co-housing, single family homes, and live work space. Establish an infrastructure assessment district to assist in financing the construction of roads and running utility lines.

State law limits the steps local elected officials can take to address employee pension and benefit costs. Given these restrictions, how would you address the city’s unfunded pension and health care liabilities?
In order to have enough money to pay for long term debts and other general fund obligations, the City must increase revenue and decrease expenses.

The general fund gets most of its money from the City’s share of property tax and sales tax generated from sales that occur within the city limits. Consequently, a strong housing market helps increase the amount of property tax flowing to the City while expanded retail sales will increase revenue to the general fund. We need to keep our neighborhoods safe, our schools strong, and continue to improve our quality of life so that the demand for Alameda housing remains high.

The City should continue to work with the business associations and commercial property owners to aggressively market Alameda to potential businesses. The City directly benefits with increased sales tax revenue when its business districts are fully occupied and have strong sales.

Another sources of revenue include fees for service. The City should be achieving full cost recovery of the services it is entitled to collect fees for.

There are a number of steps the City might take to reduce expenses including: increasing efficiency through the use of technology and simplified processes, forming more public private partnerships when appropriate evaluating the use/value of a particular service to residents, consolidating job responsibilities through attrition. Participating in good faith in the collective bargaining process as labor contracts renew.

Do you think there are unmet housing needs in Alameda? If so, what are they and how would you address them?
There are unmet housing needs in the City. We need a variety of housing types including multifamily, affordable senior co-housing, live work, and single family in order accommodate the needs of residents. At Alameda Point, a ferry based transit village housing project with a shuttle connection to 12th Street BART could fulfill a portion of our housing needs and not significantly contribute to the traffic through the Posey Tube.

Are there any city services that you believe are underfunded? If so, how would you raise revenue or what would you cut to pay for them?
Yes. Libraries, Parks, and deferred maintenance.

In reference to libraries and parks, I would like to see more volunteers get involved so that library hours, programs and projects that were lost during previous budget cuts could be restored. Additionally, both the library and the parks have organizations that assist these departments by holding fundraising events. These fundraising activities should be expanded. In appropriate cases, the concept of a public private partnership (not privatization) should be explored.

Given the need for highly skilled workers and specialized equipment needed, the types of projects classified as deferred maintenance do not lend themselves to a volunteer solution. These maintenance projects must start to be included in future budgets in some amount.

City Manager John Russo has said he would like to implement more public-private partnerships in order to continue providing services at a reduced cost to the city. Do you agree? And if so, which services currently provided by the city do you think could be sourced through private contracts?
I agree with the notion of public private partnerships in appropriate non-essential services where transparency and accountability to residents is maintained. It is essential that city staff require the partnership to provide both financial information and a quality of service evaluations. Each partnership agreement should contain a termination clause so the City could regain control of the activity if necessary.

How could city government improve the way it does its job?
Generally speaking, most city governments rely on residents going to a city website to learn about what staff is doing and what items the council will be voting on. This requires residents to constantly monitor the city’s website. I would like to see the City’s email subject notification system, which is managed by the City Clerk’s office to be better publicized so residents knew that they could sign up and receive an email notification regarding any meetings that pertain to the subject matter the resident had requested notification on.

It is incumbent upon City staff and elected officials to reach out to residents to inform them of what their government is doing and solicit resident input.