This photo shows the current East Palo Alto City Council with Mayor Larry Moody standing in the center of the photo. Photo courtesy of City of East Palo Alto.
The following letter, distributed on Saturday, March 25, 2017, and titled Letter to the East Palo Alto Residents, was written by East Palo Alto's Mayor, Larry Moody, to respond to residents in the East Palo Alto community, who are opposed to the 4 to 1 vote the East Palo Alto City Council took on February 21, 2017 approving the alternative Good Faith agreement between the City of East Palo Alto, the Sobrato Organization and Amazon.com, Inc.
Letter to the East Palo Alto Residents
Sobrato/Amazon Good Faith Effort Definition
The full community heard from the Mayor in the public forum. Vice Mayor Abrica, Council Members Gauthier and Romero spoke and voted in support of staff’s recommendation to accept the agreement between the City and Sobrato/Amazon. We were elected to vote and make decisions that will affect the future of the community. This is one of those moments. While there are emails flying around the community there are an equal amount of Nextdoor postings, regional & local support for the council vote.
This is about Economic Development (one of the top three priorities of the council) and future opportunities for the East Palo Alto residents. Everyone agreed, more time to consider all the options and to allow for more community input would have been helpful. Time was not available.
Those who support council’s decision to move forward understand the challenge Amazon would face in filling 435 jobs in the tech sector with East Palo Alto residents. Therefore, Sobrato/Amazon have agreed to comply with FSH and demonstrating their Good Faith Effort by investing more than $1M to create a 1,500 sq. ft. Employment Center, an Employment Development Program, and hiring a full time Employment Specialist that will assist our local residents in preparing for, and finding jobs not only at Amazon, or local jobs, but also regional jobs, and submitting quarterly reports of the Program’s activities. Our current FSH ask IKEA, Nordstrom, Home Depot, and other retailers to do a Good Faith Effort, but the City has no legal enforcement authority for those who try but don't reach the 30% goal. Should we shut down Nordstrom Rack, or IKEA for failing to meet the 30% goal if they tried and didn’t find qualified applicants? We can’t if they did a Good Faith Effort. Of course not.
I feel very confident moving forward that the benefits of the proposed Employment Development Program far outweigh the current structure of our FSH policy. We have been saying that our FSH policy needed to be changed. This is a good opportunity and this is a good change. Once the misperceptions about the action of the Council is cleared and the true facts are presented and evaluated, the perception and the opinions that council interest is not with the community, will change.
I will not offer a vote to rescind the decision nor recommend the Council do so.
There is still a lot to do and an opportunity for community input while we engage our residents in shaping both the structure of the Employment Development Program and the scope of work of the Employment Specialist, that we still have to define. I do look forward to the community discussion/input on the Employment Center once Amazon arrives.