Police recruitment incentives and limits on food delivery fees also approved
On March 21, City Council endorsed a design concept for the Clement Avenue/Tilden Way Project prepared by consultant Kittelson and Associates in conjunction with City staff. Council authorized allowing completion of the project design in preparation for acquiring permits and state agency approvals. Construction will begin in 2024 and finish in 2025, pending timely approval.
Clement Avenue/Tilden Way design concept
Tilden Way is an important gateway into the City, and the Blanding/Tilden/Fernside intersection is a high-crash corridor. The area reported 21 injury crashes between 2011 and 2020, with pedestrians and bicyclists accounting for 38% of the total with just 9% of the trips.
Improvements will include:
- Roundabout at the Tilden Way/Blanding Avenue/Fernside intersection. Roundabouts are proven to reduce delay, maintenance, speeding, and injury crashes by up to 78% compared to traffic signals. For emergency evacuation, the roundabout is designed to handle contraflow, so all travel lanes can be used to exit Alameda.
- Road Diet and Speed Limits. The number of lanes on Tilden will reduce from four to two or three, depending on the roadway section. Road diets reduce crashes by up to 47%. The City will reduce the speed limit to 25 miles per hour on Tilden Way between the Fruitvale Bridge and Broadway, consistent with the rest of the City.
- New Section of the Cross Alameda Trail (CAT) from Broadway to the Fruitvale Bridge. The CAT is a bicycling/walking corridor, being built in sections and connecting the west side of the island to the east side. Alameda County plans to keep four travel lanes on Fruitvale Bridge and narrow these lanes to add bicycle lanes in each direction. Also, the City of Oakland is constructing a new Fruitvale Avenue protected bikeway project. The three projects will facilitate safe bicycling to and from Fruitvale BART.
- Clement Avenue Extension to include a one-way, westbound vehicle extension between Tilden Way and Clement Avenue. This will provide incoming vehicles with a direct route to the Clement Avenue truck route. A four-way stop at Broadway and Clement Avenue will improve safety by allowing pedestrians to cross Broadway more easily.
- Neighborhood park with potential dog park along Tilden Way. A separate planning process led by the Recreation and Parks Department will design the future park.
Council unanimously approved the design concept. Kettelson and Associates will now complete its detailed project design to prepare for acquiring permits and state agency approvals. Construction is planned to begin in 2024.
Limits to third-party food delivery charges
In other business, Council reconfirmed its vote from the March 7 meeting to continue limiting charges to restaurants and customers imposed by third-party food delivery services, such as DoorDash and UberEats. This issue has proven controversial, as Alameda is now the only city in the nation to cap third-party food delivery customer fees. Some large cities, including San Francisco, limit fees charged to restaurants but do not limit customer fees. Meanwhile, most cities have allowed their food delivery price controls to sunset with the end of the Covid-19 State of Emergency.
Council received numerous messages from couriers asking them not to pass the ordinance. However, staff argued that local restaurants continue to be impacted by the effects of the pandemic, with those lacking outdoor dining facilities relying on take-out and delivery as a primary source of income. Additionally, some members of the public, particularly those who are immunocompromised, continue to struggle with Covid-19 and rely on food delivery services.
In response, Council voted 3-2 to continue capping delivery fees at 15% while allowing restaurants to buy additional services at higher costs. In addition, new fees are disallowed beyond those established by the ordinance, and increases are limited to the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index. Councilmembers Tracy Jensen and Trish Herrera Spencer dissented.
UberEats Public Affairs Officer Zahid Arab contacted the Post to comment: “Platforms like UberEats require flexibility in determining how to cover costs because we don’t control item pricing—merchants set those prices.” Arab said UberEats may have no option but to stop delivery operations in Alameda.
Vice Mayor Tony Daysog acknowledged the opposition at the March 7 meeting, saying, “This is a one-of-a-kind ordinance that frankly scares the bejesus out of behemoths like the Ubers or DoorDashes of the world. It scares them because it might not be a one-of-a-kind ordinance in Alameda but might wash up on the shores of other cities in the Bay Area or throughout California.” Daysog said that its effectiveness in protecting consumers and small merchants is something “we should all be proud of.” He argued that the ordinance has been in place for more than two years and, over that time, Alameda experienced no diminishing of food delivery services.
Police recruitment incentives
In another decision, Council unanimously voted to use salary savings from vacant positions at the Alameda Police Department (APD) to establish a temporary recruitment and hiring incentive of $75,000 for lateral, academy graduate, and entry-level police officers. The City reports that APD staffing is critically low and impacts public safety and APD’s ability to deliver services timely. Staff noted that the City had seen a 40.45% increase in Part 1 crimes from 2018 to 2022, with theft being the leading crime.
Past recruitment efforts and incentives have proven inadequate to staunch the steady increase in vacancies since 2009. Police Chief Nishant Joshi noted that this is a region-wide issue. Hiring challenges include high housing prices, competition with other types of employment where remote work is allowed, and a stigma associated with the police profession. Staff expressed confidence that a robust incentive program will help APD reduce its staffing deficit, reduce crime, and improve public safety.
The City would pay the $75,000 bonus as a payment of $25,000 upon swearing in with proof of police academy graduation and an additional payment of $50,000 upon completion of field training with a commitment of five years of service. Voluntary separation before five years would require prorated payback.
Public comment was divided, with many arguing that the only way to get quality people is to invest adequately, that public safety is essential to the quality of life, and that funding is unused because of vacancies so the City should use it for hiring. Speaker William said, “I find it baffling that the Councilmember was so passionate about the food delivery issue, and for something this important to safety, you don’t need to see the Chief of Police’s stats to know that crime is on the rise.”
Others argued that police do not prevent crime but only respond to it, that combating poverty and improving the standard of living would yield better results, and that a high quantity of applicants doesn’t necessarily mean high-quality applicants. Speaker Jennifer said, “We are not looking at the structural changes to maximize the right recruits.”
In the end, Council passed the proposal unanimously with an amendment added by Councilmember Herrera Spencer stipulating that the issue returns to Council in one year to assess the program’s effectiveness. Councilmember Malia Vella added another amendment to indicate that time off for administrative leave would not count toward years of service if the officer were at fault.
Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at https://linktr.ee/karinkjensen and https://alamedapost.com/Karin-K-Jensen.