John T. Van Geffen, Candidate for Emeryville City Council


John_T._Van_Geffen_k5kb21John T. Van Geffen is a father and an attorney.  You can find more information about him at


 1 – What do you think should be your City’s response to the lack of housing stock? Do you support having  a moratorium of any kind on rent increases,  stronger rent control measures, restrictions on sales to foreign nationals? Please elaborate.

A: There are dozens of housing projects currently under consideration or in the application process in Emeryville, with well over a 1,000 new units planned (Sherwin Williams project is 540 units, Nady project is 180 units, Marketplace is 200+ sites, etc.).

This construction is great for the economy and helps alleviate the local lack of housing, however, I do have serious reservations that the majority of these planned units are for rentals and no single family homes/condos, etc. so there is no new opportunity for individual home owners.

As 70% of all Emeryville residents are renters and high turnover does not foster a community identity I definitely believe rent controls should be put in place.
Per your questions about a blanket moratorium on all rent increase and denying sales to foreigners, the first seems unconstitutional (denying owners the ability to pass increased costs onto their renters) and the second seems undemocratic (denying housing opportunities to immigrants). I understand where you’re coming from with foreign investors buying properties that then go unused, but a foreign investor could just as easily invest in a U.S. company that is heavily involved in property investments.
2 – What will you do to help the homeless population in your City?
I believe outreach and mental health programs are the best avenue for helping the homeless.
3 – What policies do you support implementing on the use of surveillance technology (surveillance cameras on streets, license plate readers, drones, etc.) by local law enforcement in your City?

A: This is an issue that needs community input as there are serious privacy rights at play. Personally, if there was the community support and funding available (not to mention personnel for monitoring), I would be in favor of a feasibility study for stationary cameras in high pedestrian areas, school zones and major intersections. I think individual resident streets should not be monitored without the express permission of those residents. Drones are not needed for a city of this size.
 4 – What will you do to address problems related to police brutality and misconduct  in your City?

A: While use of excessive force by Police is a national issue, there is not a public outcry regarding misconduct by the Emeryville police force. I believe that Police have an extremely dangerous job and have to make split second life or death decisions. To this end, I support the use of officer body cameras because it makes both the officer and the suspect safer knowing their actions will be reviewed.
 5 – What do you believe the City Council should do to address issues of gangs and drug addiction in your community?

A: That depends on what the level of intel is that the police have on specific gang members and their activity. If there are known gang affiliates than a gang injunction is the best way to address and minimize their activity. If there is merely the specter of gangs without any specific knowledge of who is in the gang, then that creates a risk of profiling.
 6 – What do you think the City Council should do to help youth  thrive?

A: I am excited to see the opening of the Emeryville Community Center for Life with its K-12 and community center activities. This will be a great tool for building the community and fostering children’s development. However, I would like to see the expansion of walking and biking paths to help keep kids off high automobile traffic streets. I would also like to open a dialogue with corporations based in Emeryville to explore an internship program with Emeryville high schoolers.

 7 – How do you propose your City should respond to formerly incarcerated citizens re-entrying the community? What will you do to support community-based support services for formerly incarcerated citizens?

A: Police department/community liaisons (not parole agents) should be used to check-in with individuals and their reintroduction into the community. Community centers can provide additional outreach and identify job opportunities with the hope of reducing recidivism.  
 8  – How do you propose your City address the causes and effects of climate change? Do you have specific policy recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in your city? If your city is on the bay, how do you propose it prepare for sea level rises?

A: If elected I will work with local businesses to switch energy needs to renewable energy. The Council should initiate a program to expedite the installation of solar panels on unused roof space/warehouse and provide a market for selling unused energy to local businesses without sufficient roof space to support their needs. Regarding Sea level rise, that is an issue that needs to be a regional discussion, not just this city.  
 9 – What percentage of the funds you’ve raised so far come from individual contributors giving $200 or less to your campaign?

A: 100%
 10 – Are you running as a Berniecrat? Do you or your campaign have a financial relationship with a member of the ACDCC? Who and in what capacity?

A: I voted for Bernie and am now throwing my full support behind Hillary.


Dear neighbors:

Emeryville is where my wife and I bought our first house. It’s where our daughter was born, will go to school, and it’ll always be the place she thinks of when she says, “I’m going home.”

I want more than just your vote; I want your help. I’m not a career politician. My campaign for City Council is grounded in the principle that holding office is about public service above all else. I’m running because I want to ensure that Emeryville prioritizes community before succumbing to economic pressures.

Moreover, as a brand new father and practicing attorney, I promise to read every single proposal, study, survey and action item that comes before the council (since I’m not going to be sleeping anyway).

About me: I want to make commuting greener and safer with expanded bike lanes, new park space and walking paths and slowed traffic patterns along our children’s school routes. Additionally, I want the city to better address renters’ rights, affordable housing and homelessness.

I don’t just want your vote; I want your ideas! Email your concerns to and if elected, I promise to work with you to see them answered.

Thank you.