Q&A with City Council candidate Tony Daysog

Q&A with City Council candidate Tony Daysog

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned from your first term that you hope to apply to next term?

Tony Daysog: You always have to remember that the kitchen is always going to be hot, so you can never lose your cool. I’m referring to that saying by former president Harry Truman, which says if you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen. The key lesson is try to remain cool and understand all the different viewpoints and try to seek some kind of consensus.

Are there any other traffic improvements you would like to see the city conduct?

TD: In terms of traffic improvement, I look at improvement at a variety of levels. The first level is kind of low hanging fruit in saying what can we do for example to improve the traffic flow of commuters leaving either the Posey Tube in the morning or leaving Alameda via the Fruitvale Bridge? When I look at these particular exits, I can see that there are some really low-cost maneuvers that we could possibly employ working with the City of Oakland to improve traffic flow coming out of the Fruitvale bridge or the Posey Tube.

The next level approach to improving traffic flow is the Smart City project that we as a City Council adopted. The Smart City master plan involved creating processes by which we the City of Alameda would build out our 5G or high-speed communications network. And part of the Smart City master plan involved putting the communications network that would improve traffic flow through the use of cameras that are interconnected. That part of the Smart City master plan with the phone, with regard to traffic, where the rest of the Smart City master plan was adopted. So as councilmember, I wanted to see us adopt the traffic component of the Smart City master plan, but should I get reelected that would be a priority in terms of improving traffic flow.

I want to also mention this because when you look at traffic and transit one way that kind of encapsulates traffic transition is the three E’s. The three E’s are engineering, enforcement, and education. So, with regard to engineering, you can see that we have implemented a lot of street improvements, the point of which is to slow down traffic and we have been successful. I think, given that there’s still speeding and given that tragic accidents and injuries and fatalities still occur, that’s why we really need to beef up the enforcement component. The education component, I think we got great grassroots organizations educating, but we can certainly use more people educating people to slow down when they are driving.

The higher-level approach I think what we’re doing at Alameda Point is great in terms of the incredible traffic and transit strategy, very costly by the way. We raised one of the ferry terminals where we will be implementing what’s called a bus rapid transit and finally, we will be implementing a shuttle that people only have to wait 7 1/2 minutes for in the morning. So, it’s those kinds of transit-oriented studies that we’re employing at Alameda Point.

And one of the things that I really would like to add to the conversation and add to that as a very particular effort by the City of Alameda is bringing BART to Alameda. From what I understand, there’s a lot of energy even by the BART agency to look at Alameda as a possible place for BART. If we can extend BART from downtown Oakland or from Laney into Alameda Point, by across the estuary and then from Alameda Point, head towards San Francisco, in the long term, now this is the 25-year strategy, but you got to start sometime.

In what ways can the city improve its efforts to curb homelessness?

TD: Through our contracts with nonprofit service providers and through our efforts, for example our policing efforts, we should make sure that where there are clusters of homeless families in areas such as along the estuary near Alameda Point, living in vans or trailers, we need to be proactive in letting them know of the availability of services so that they can get to a better place. Not just physically, but hopefully over time, through services, to a better place in terms of their own health and wellness. And that involves outreach by the City of Alameda, working with these homeless individuals in vans or trailers parked in that part of Alameda Point near the estuary.

Do you believe what’s in the draft Housing Element is the most efficient way for the city to reach its housing mandates?

TD: I believe that the bulk, not all, but the bulk of our 5,300 RHNA obligations ought to occur at Alameda Point. I say this not because I’m a NIMBY, when it comes to the East End sharing their burdens of the RHNA housing obligation, or I’m NIMBY when it comes to the Bronze Coast sharing their burdens. No, I say that where much of the new 5,300 housing that Sacramento says we need, it ought to be Alameda Point because that is where we are putting the transit strategies that can deal with housing impacts, i.e. traffic. I do also believe that we need to put some of the 5,300 units along our commercial corridors, specifically northern Webster Street and northern Park Street. Now here’s where the controversy is though is I’m not convinced that South Shore Shopping Center or the Harbor Bay Shopping Center is the appropriate place to designate much of the new RHNA numbers and I say that because I cannot envision a scenario where either the South Shore Shopping Center or the Harbor Bay Shopping Center can ever achieve the transit infrastructure to deal with the level of impact that would occur from the housing.

In an effort to build our 5,300 units of housing, I think the wisest course of action really is Alameda Point. And the fact that 25% of Alameda Point is going to be guaranteed affordable and that’s the strategy that nowhere else in Alameda that it could be accomplished.

One last thing I will be the first person to say that Sacramento officials, particularly officials within what’s called HCD, the housing and community development department, I will be the first one to say that Sacramento officials might not like what I’m proposing. But I do believe when we make the case, they will also come to understand what Alameda is proposing can make sense. But if they don’t agree with what I’m proposing and that they ultimately sue the city of Alameda, I will be the first one to say then it will be a fight. I will work with our city attorney to see if we can build a strong case to defend what I think is the right strategy.

How would you go about meeting the needs and wants of the police force, while also listening to concerns from residents?

TD: The George Floyd incident, as well as the Mario Gonzalez tragedy has certainly moved many of our residents when it comes to desiring reforms to our policing. I believe that on the key issue of reforming our police with regard to dealing with mental health crises that we in City Hall have done that by implementing the CARE team. I believe the people who have been moved by the tragedies have been asking for much more reforms, particularly with regard to police oversight. I am of the opinion that I worry about an oversight that results in micromanaging and that might result in making our police force perhaps second guess themselves at a time when they really need to think clearly on dealing with certain police calls. So, I am not supportive of having any kind of police oversight commission. I’m confident that the police chief we have, and the police chief we’ve had in the past, run a great shop. So, I worry about whether it’s activists or whether it’s City Council, is micromanaging our police force to the extent of assuming the police force should give up this or that equipment, like what some people call the tank.

As a council member, I see the police force as very unique. I rely on the insight and guidance of the police chief or his or her trained professionals. And the reason why they’re unique is when it comes to our parks department or when it comes to our public works department or when it comes to our planning department, when they have ideas or certain projects you can kind of calibrate the project in one way or another. You can kind of make changes here and there. But the thing about policing though is because policing involves the potential for tragic situations, there’s no such thing as half a police car or half a bullet. They either get the equipment that they need in order to do their job as they see fit or they don’t. That’s why you know I was supportive of the ALPR’s. If a police chief says he needs this equipment because it’s not the only answer, but it’s going to be helpful towards solving crime, they either get equipment or they don’t get the equipment. And it’s the same thing with our fire department too.

How would you like to see the city address its sea level rise problem?

TD: I think it was last year; I joined my other four colleagues in supporting the Climate Action Resiliency Project. The great thing about that plan is it identified 11 hot spots in the City of Alameda and that are specifically at risk of sea level rise. And the most interesting thing is that it’s not just sea level rise as it affects our shores, but it’s also groundwater rise. Groundwater is linked to the tides and so as the tides rise because the sea level rise so does groundwater in inland Alameda. Even before the adoption of the 2021 climate action report, in 2019 we had supported the stormwater fee increase. So, it’s not just City Council, but Alameda voters supported the stormwater fee increase that is generating the amount of funds to improve our storm water capabilities, generally, but also our storm water capability long term to deal with groundwater issues as they occur in inland Alameda. Along the shorelines of Alameda along those 11 areas, there’s some really interesting strategies that are being adopted.

One particular strategy that catches my eye is the part of the beach from the post office to Grand Street, as sea level rises over the next 50 to 75 years, seeing that area more as kind of a tidal marsh. So, instead of a recreational beach, we see it transforming into a tidal marsh because that kind of shoreline can absorb water as it’s coming in and out. That’s an interesting transformation not in the next 10 years, but over the next 50 to 75 years. Other shoreline treatments that we’re looking at is along Crown Memorial Beach near the Crab Cove where at that area what we’re considering a defensive retreat. That is to say that part of the shoreline we might allow to be taken over by water because that’s an area that could be taken by water. So, what the climate action plan, when dealing with shoreline issues, with regard to sea level rise, we’re not always adopting heavy infrastructure like sea walls or rock walls. In some parts of Alameda we are doing that along the estuary and that’s in the climate action plan, but in other parts where we’re adopting what you might call natural responses to sea level rise.