Two candidates are running for the 4th District supervisorial seat, which has been held for the past 19 years by incumbent Nate Miley, who seeks re-election this year. His opponent is Esther Goolsby, a community organizer for Communities for a Better Environment, a statewide organization that focuses on environmental problems and communities’ responses to them. Goolsby serves East Oakland, where she has lived since her teens.

The Independent asked questions via email about why they are running, and about current issues facing the county. One dealt with details about county Measure D, which voters passed in 2000, but which some people want modified.

Measure D, also known as the Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands Initiative, imposes strict rules for development of agricultural land in eastern Alameda County, and serves as an urban growth boundary. Changes to the law require a public vote, although it leaves room for supervisors to make “technical or non-substantive” changes considered to be consistent with the purposes of the ordinance.

Dick Schneider, who co-authored Measure D, has insisted that the changes some residents and supervisors Miley and Scott Haggerty want would open the floodgates to commercial uses that are banned, and would set a precedent to destroy Measure D protections for agriculture. The view on the other side is that they are technical changes, and the board can do them legally.

Measure D will be on the supervisors’ radar for much of the next two years. In January, Miley, Haggerty, and 3rd District Supervisor Wilma Chan directed staff to prepare the draft of an ordinance change that would appear on the countywide ballot in the 2022 presidential primary. Meanwhile, the draft will be reviewed in unincorporated areas that have local planning boards, such as Sunol, that advise the supervisors.

The Independent asked candidates whether they support changing Measure D, and also whether voters should have a chance to change or reaffirm the current rules.

The candidates also were asked about the county’s role in solving problems of homelessness — it nearly doubled in two years countywide — and rising rents, and how to build more housing.

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Esther Goolsby

Supervisors hold an immense amount of power to create positive change. I stand for justice. With my commitment and bold dedication, the county will change to be healthier.

The passion is real. Living through the toxic pollution in my neighborhood, since I was 16 years old, where a foundry has been for over 113 years, the federal government and opportunity zones are bringing even more pollution to our already overburdened neighborhoods. I breathe the air, and live in the pollution daily. And so I am grounded in community, and will continue to engage and communicate with residents and community groups throughout the District 4.

Lack of healthy food and local farm sourcing, air quality and environmental health are all focuses of my platform and part of my professional work experience. I also believe in true public safety, which focuses on advancing our environments to be safe.

Measure D

I agree with Dick Schneider's point (about expanding commercial uses without following what he says is the correct interpretation of Measure D allowances). As an environmental justice organizer for the past 10 years, I have seen commercial change as well as corporations and big business change the landscape of my immediate environment, and throughout other parts of District 4 when driving through. The impact overall of this type of change and/or expansion has been hit or miss; I'd say too often miss. From residents and the community at large, the people have often voiced that they feel it is not beneficial to them, their health, and their ability to thrive.

I would be in favor of going to an election (if Measure D would be changed), and for the decision to be made by the voters. The people need to decide.

Affordable Housing

Local jurisdictions like Oakland have refused to develop a public land policy or any policy that will follow the state law of requiring the use of the Surplus Land Act, where the for-sale land will be used for affordable housing. There is nothing complex about this crisis. The lack of any policy that protects the poorer people from losing their housing must (be changed) now. The county needs to adopt (anti-speculation) laws that would no longer allow hedge funds and corporations to buy homes, and flip them. The county needs to start the change of local policy.

The county needs to use state and federal funds to develop housing for the unhoused now. We also need services combined with housing. Housing alone is not enough.

Since rent control has passed statewide, (Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill last year, effective this year.) I will help to ensure protections to sustain and close any loopholes that enable landlords to raise the rent. I seek to prioritize building multi-family unit housing and apartments to keep up with our rising population, and also ensure that we have protections in place for county natives to be able to move back to the cities they are from. With the rise in technology and corporate entities, there are more and more luxury apartments and market-rate housing being developed. We need to ensure that 30% of housing developed is dedicated to affordable housing for people who live in/are from the area that is being developed.

Seniors that need help, should get the help they need (from rent subsidies).

Top priority

Climate Chaos - The Bay Area is becoming one of the most polluted areas in the country. We no longer have time to study this. Many plans that have been made by communities must be used to start a just transition for our future generations to thrive.

We need to address the Alameda supervisors’ role in oversight of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The residents of Alameda County cannot, and should no longer have to bear the brunt of a system that relies on fossil fuel production and burdening the environment and impacting population health.

Additional Issues

I would aim to make the work of supervisors transparent to the residents and other stakeholders. I would also make efforts to work collaboratively with health departments, committees, businesses and city administrations. Together, we would design incentives and concurrently draft similar legislation to develop guidelines that consider health in all policies, also using what has worked with the community for years. The people often already know the solutions to what impacts them and their health.

Supervisor Nate Miley

I have been a supervisor for the past 19 years. Before that, I served as an Oakland City Council member for 10 years, and a community organizer for nine, yet I am just as passionate, if not more so, about public service today as I was when I started this journey. I want to continue to bring my energy, experience, and knowledge to address issues and make society better for all of us.

Measure D

The voters intended for appropriate rural/ag uses to be protected under Measure D, including equestrian uses. I believe that (a Castro Valley riding academy that lacks enough floor space for permission under Measure D to expand a roof area) is an appropriate rural/ag use under Measure D, because the state defines equestrian use as agriculture.

I am open to taking Measure D back to the voters, not just for this specific issue, but to revisit the question of whether or not it is appropriate for urban voters to limit private property rights in rural areas, without just compensation.

Homelessness and Rent

I am deeply passionate about this issue, which is why I have pushed the county to take a stronger role in addressing the housing and homeless crisis. I am preliminarily supporting a countywide ballot initiative for homeless services, which includes a large portion of funding dedicated to preventing homelessness and displacement through well-funded rental assistance and supportive housing programs.

I supported the policy behind and campaign for Measure A1 which provided nearly $600 million for much needed affordable housing. I have been working on strategies that are and will comprehensively address the problem. Additionally, I strongly support the new County Office of Homeless Care and Coordination.

I support AB 1482 (California Tenant Protection Act), which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020 and caps rent increases at 5% plus inflation each year until 2030. The law will retroactively apply to increases on or after March 15, and it will also ban landlords from evicting tenants without cause.

A countywide ballot initiative for homeless services includes rental assistance, which will target vulnerable populations, such as seniors on fixed incomes.

Affordable housing and homelessness: Need to continue developing thoughtful, effective, and innovative solutions to break the cycle of homelessness and to create a range of housing, especially for low-income workers, teachers, first responders and seniors.

Priorities

Quality of life issues: Addressing illegal dumping through education, eradication and enforcement; creating livable communities for all, and advancing 21st century policing, ensuring a living wage, and an age-friendly county for the elderly.

Regional transportation and congestion: Planning and delivering transportation projects and programs to expand access and alleviate congestion.

Thank you for the opportunity to state my positions and encourage civic engagement for a healthier democracy.