It’s been nearly two years since I’ve written anything here and nearly three years since I announced a “hiatus” for this blog, but as I was writing my endorsements to post on Facebook, I thought I should post them here as well. This will probably be my last blog post for a very long time, but if you’d like to keep up with my thoughts on Oakland, BART, transit, land use, and plenty of other issues, I tweet regularly and like to engage there. Follow me – @RebeccaForBART – or if you’re not on Twitter, follow me on Facebook.
Now, to the endorsements… You might have noticed that there are a LOT of competitive races and ballot measures on the ballot this year. So I have not endorsed in all of them, just those where I feel the most strongly. I’ve offered some resources below that cover many of the other races.
Oakland Mayor – Libby Schaaf: I’m so excited that Councilmember Libby Schaaf is running for mayor. I’ve long supported her (and worked on her council campaign), and I’ve been incredibly impressed by her time on the council. I’m supporting Libby because she is the smart, creative, and effective leader that Oakland needs as mayor. In one term she’s accomplished so much, and many of her accomplishments have been hard fought and on controversial issues. One example of this is the compromise she led on tenant and rent protections earlier this year. Tenants advocates and landlords had been at odds over this, and Libby was able to get them to compromise on real reforms both sides could agree on. This is just one of many examples of Libby’s ability to listen to all sides, consider all opinions, and to find solutions to difficult policy problems. Libby recently released policy papers on all of her major priorities, which include what she’s done on these issues and what she plans to do if elected mayor. I highly recommend reading them, especially if you’re still undecided in the mayor’s race.
The state’s redistricting has been completed (pending legal challenges and ballot initiatives) and the City of Oakland’s redistricting won’t happen until next year, so right now anyone who’s interested in redistricting should have plenty of time to focus on AC Transit and BART’s processes. In the coming weeks, both agencies are holding community meetings about redistricting so there should be plenty of opportunity to weigh in.
AC Transit recently released its redistricting proposals (at the bottom of this page), and for Oakland, no matter which proposal the Board picks, not much will change. Oakland right now is represented by four directors – two at-large and two representing districts. The at-large seats are not effected by redistricting at all, and the two district seats – Ward 2 (Greg Harper) and Ward 3 (Elsa Ortiz) don’t appear to be changing much at all. The boundaries between Ward 2 and 3 will shift by a few blocks, and the same will happen between 3 and 4. So chances are that no matter which proposal is picked (and there may be a compromise between the two), your director will not change.
As for BART, even though they’re starting to hold community meetings this week, I could not find proposed maps on their website. What I did find was a map that shows population stats by current districts, which suggests some of the districts will be changing significantly. Oakland currently has three representatives on the BART Board. In District 3, Bob Franklin represents Rockridge, Temescal, and parts of the Oakland hills. In District 7, Lynette Sweet represents West Oakland. And in District 4, Robert Raburn represents the vast majority of Oakland, from Broadway all the way through East Oakland. Continue reading
A couple weeks ago I was in Las Vegas for a conference. Las Vegas brings plenty of images to mind for most people – gambling, bright lights, crowded streets, over the top architecture, drunken bachelor and bachelorette parties, and so much excess. But something you might not associate with Vegas is bus rapid transit (BRT), and even a transit wonk like me had never had that association until a couple weeks ago.
For the first time I stayed in downtown Las Vegas, which still has plenty of tourist-attracting hotels and casinos but also is filled with office buildings and some housing. It also has buses, lots and lots of buses. And on my second day in Vegas, as I was walking to an event, I was overjoyed to run into not one but two bus rapid transit lines!
Here are some of the photos I took: Continue reading
Earlier this month I featured a guest post by the Alameda County Community Food Bank that asked for donations to their Frost Bite Fund. As the post explained:
While the Bay Area was abuzz about the snowfall that wasn’t a few weeks ago, the fresh produce that the Alameda County Community Food Bank relies on was freezing in the fields. We were two truckloads short of food last week (that’s 80,000 pounds), and the impact of the freeze on newly planted crops will be felt well into the summer months.
UPDATE: The Countywide Transportation Plan survey deadline has been extended – you now have until March 27th to fill it out.
Much of the discussion of transportation planning and funding on the national and local level is based on us vs. them dichotomies. Should we fund highways or high speed rail? Should we make space on our streets for car parking or bike lanes? The discussion even pits alternative modes of transportation against each other. Are buses or rail superior? Should local funds be spent on pedestrian infrastructure or bike lanes?
It’s a really unfortunate way of looking at transportation decisions, especially since most everyone in this country and city use multiple modes of transit. We are all pedestrians (yes, you are, even if you just walk 10 feet from car to destination), and nearly all of us use at least one more mode, be it buses, rail, biking, or driving. Infrastructure improvements can also benefit multiple modes. Fixing potholes benefits drivers, bicyclists, and bus riders, and reducing traffic through expansion of alternative modes of transportation helps speeds up the commute of drivers. Continue reading
This guest post was written by the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which has been in business since 1985 … with a vision toward a day when we can go out of business. We are the hub of a vast collection and distribution network that provides food for 275 nonprofit agencies in Alameda County. In 2010, the Food Bank distributed 20.1 million pounds of food — 52% of it fresh fruits and vegetables.
While the Bay Area was abuzz about the snowfall that wasn’t a few weeks ago, the fresh produce that the Alameda County Community Food Bank relies on was freezing in the fields. We were two truckloads short of food last week (that’s 80,000 pounds), and the impact of the freeze on newly planted crops will be felt well into the summer months. Continue reading
Some nights, it seems like there’s nothing to do in the East Bay, but not on Thursdays. This Thursday is no different as there are two great, low dollar benefits for causes worth supporting. If I could be in two places at once, I’d go to both, but since I can’t, I’m hopeful you will attend either the Alameda County Give 22 Kickoff or the Bridge the Bay Benefit. Continue reading