While I have pledged not to take campaign contributions from developers, I am not anti-development.
In fact, my first job after law school was as a developer. I worked for five years on developing a $70 million mixed-use real estate project (the Fruitvale Transit Village).
I have a masters degree in city planning and I have studied some of the most successful developments in the world.
Not only that, I was a landlord in Oakland for 11 years under rent control and the just cause eviction law.
So, I have walked in the shoes of developers and property owners and I believe in the importance of high quality development for making a city more livable and economically viable.
But when I moved to Fremont almost ten years ago, I was surprised by what I saw. A city that is so perfectly located and so full of well-educated diverse residents was suffering from bad development – ugly deteriorating strip malls, neglected historical commercial districts, and expensive cookie cutter housing developments in areas that are inaccessible to schools, transit, and shopping.
I wondered why the city was being developed this way and I soon found out: developers run this town! They pool funds to make large donations to city council candidates and they work to get friendly candidates elected.
In fact, we have had city council members that work for developers and the incumbent councilmember in our district actually represents developers with projects in Fremont in his private law practice, has taken campaign contributions from developers, and has been endorsed by Fremont’s largest developer.
This has resulted in a council that is extremely developer-friendly and does not ask developers to do their part to make sure our city is attractive and livable. Repeatedly, developments opposed by residents are approved by council even though they lead to traffic, school overcrowding, skyrocketing rents, and taxed city infrastructure.
I have complained about this for years and have finally decided to stop complaining and take action. That is why I am running for city council.
Jenny Kassan is one of the nation’s leading experts on investing in the vibrant small business sector of our economy.
– Congressman Ro Khanna
from Foreword of Raise Capital on Your Own Terms.