Berkeley, CA.– AD 15 candidates Buffy Wicks and Jovanka Beckles appeared on KQED Forum’s program on Tuesday, October 23. Unfortunately, Ms. Beckles was not truthful and mislead listeners about her record and her proposals on housing — a crucial issue for the voters of AD 15. The audio can be found here. Following are the mistruths and the facts.
Mistruth #1: Record on Affordable Housing
What Ms. Beckles Said: Jovanka states that she is going to build hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units within 10 years if elected Assemblywoman.
Truth: When Buffy Wicks pointed out that Richmond is only 10% of its way to its state housing goals, Jovanka herself admitted that Richmond is currently so far behind in these goals because “we all know these things take time.” She pointed out housing developments such as the Mira Flores project as making progress in this regard– but failed to note that the Mira Flores project has taken more than 10 years to break ground and is still only about halfway completed.
In the light of this reality in her own city, it is extremely difficult to trust Jovanka’s claim that she will build hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units across the state in 10 years. In this race, we have not heard from her any detailed understanding of or plans around how she will address the complex and slow development process that makes these affordable housing projects so hard to build.
Mistruth #2: Justification for Abstaining on a Vote that Would Have Provided Affordable Housing to Units to the People of Richmond
What Ms. Beckles Said: Jovanka stated that her abstaining vote on the 5620 Central Ave development plan (which would have provided affordable housing units to the people of Richmond) was because of a “developer that had taken advantage and was unscrupulous” and said that she later voted for a different developer that “had integrity to work in my city”.
Truth: This is blatantly false. The 5620 Central Ave. affordable housing project has not changed developers throughout the development process. The developer in question, AMG & Associates, originally drew up plans for a 300-unit complex, but community concern over issues like traffic congestion and shading of neighbors’ homes–complaints often connected to the “Not-In-My-Backyard” movement–caused plans to be scaled back to 155 units. AMG & Associates appealed the revised plans as economically unsustainable, and came to a settlement with the city in January 2016. Richmond City Council formally ratified this settlement plan on January 12, 2016 in a 5-1 vote, in which Jovanka Beckles abstained. As the Council meeting minutes detail, at no time was the current developer dismissed.
In addition, AMG & Associates are the same developers leading the Nevin Ave. development, which Ms. Beckles cited in the KQED forum as an example of positive movement to build more affordable housing. It is unclear why she would insinuate that she considers these developers to be unable to “do the job with integrity” in while at the same time taking credit for a different project of theirs.
This misleading information on KQED’s forum follows inaccuracies distributed by her campaign about the root of the housing crisis being greed, as opposed to, a shortage of housing units (see attached).
Buffy released a video today to correct the record on other lies being told about her experience, record and campaign. The video can be found here.
More information on Buffy’s platform and priorities can be found at www.buffywicks.com.
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D – Oakland, 15th District)