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Living in the O’s Fifth Birthday

8 Jun Sunset City Hall Federal Building

Though Living in the O is on hiatus, I couldn’t let my blog’s birthday pass without acknowledging it here. I’ve really wanted to write lately. It’s taken self-restraint to not write about the June election, so many fantastic restaurants and other businesses opening, and most of all, everything I’m learning about BART and the East Bay through my campaign. I haven’t blogged because I’ve needed to focus on campaigning to be elected to the BART Board.

But today I felt compelled to write because writing this blog and building a community around Oakland blogs is part of why I’m running for office.

Five years ago, many things rapidly changed in my life. Over a span of three or four months, my sister (who I’m very close with) and my two best friends moved away from the Bay Area. And right after that, my girlfriend (now wife) was diagnosed with a major health issue. To say it was a tough year would be an understatement.

I needed something positive to focus on outside of work, so I decided to start blogging, but I couldn’t have imagined how much blogging would change my life for the better. Continue reading

A cheap, car-free New Year’s Eve in downtown Oakland

30 Dec Broadway Shuttle Map

New Year’s Eve has never been one of my favorite nights to go out. Clubs and events are absurdly overpriced. Everywhere is at least twice as crowded as usual. It’s close to impossible to catch a cab. So many years I stay home or do something low-key with some friends.

But this year my wife and I decided we wanted to go out and when I found out that the Free Broadway Shuttle would be running its usual Saturday night schedule of 6pm-1am, I realized we could bar hop around downtown Oakland. Getting around will be super easy (and free), and if any of the places we go to are too crowded, we can move on.

I researched free or cheap bars and clubs in downtown and put together this list, which I figured I’d share here. Continue reading

Joyce Roy: Senate Public Hearing on Regional Governance in SF this Thursday

6 Dec

This guest post was written by Joyce Roy. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures.  She is an active member of ULTRA.

This is for those of you who were disturbed by the recent decision of MTC (Metropolitan Transportation Commission) to leave the headquarters they share with ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) and use Bridge toll funds for real estate speculation by purchasing a too-big warehouse in a transit-challenged location. It was not just in itself an unwise, and possibly, illegal action, but a loud and clear symptom of the Bay Area’s transportation/land-use disconnect due to the difficulty of comprehensive planning without regional governance which would combine the functions of MTC, ABAG, the Air District and BCDC.

Here is your chance to have your concerns heard by our State Senate:

Senate Transportation & Housing Informational Hearing-
SUBJECT: Regional Governance and Bay Area Economic Development

December 8, 2011
10:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Legislative Chamber of San Francisco City Hall, Room 250

You can be assured that your comments will be given serious attention because the Chair of the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee, Mark DeSaulnier, has served on MTC, ABAG, and the Air District so he understands the dysfunctional separation of those regional agencies. Continue reading

Good news & bad news: Damon Slough & MTC

20 Oct Damon Slough Map

Blogging’s been a bit light here lately because I’ve been super busy and I was in Chicago last week for a much-needed vacation. I’ve been working on a long blog post (or possibly series of blog posts) about the County’s Measure B transportation reauthorization plan, but you’ll have to wait until next week for that. In the meantime, I wanted to share a couple of updates on issues I’ve blogged about – Damon Slough and the MTC headquarters relocation.

I’ll start with the bad (though unsurprising) news. The MTC voted last Wednesday to purchase 390 Main Street in San Francisco for their headquarters. Here’s a report from Joyce Roy: Continue reading

MTC poised to purchase San Francisco building, but Senator DeSaulnier not backing down

10 Oct 390 Main Street, San Francisco

Two weeks ago the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to move their headquarters to San Francisco, despite an ongoing state audit initiated by Senate Transportation Committee Chair Mark DeSaulnier. At the time, one bit of hope was that MTC might be outbid by another entity because staff claimed that there was now competition for the building and that if the MTC didn’t move quickly, they might lose out on the opportunity to buy it.

Who knows if others were bidding on it, but it now seems as if MTC is close to making the purchase. This Wednesday they will meet in closed session to negotiate the purchase, and then in open session to discuss the deal and financing.

In my last blog post on this issue, I mentioned that Senator Mark DeSaulnier is not so pleased that MTC is moving forward with the building purchase and questionable use of toll funds. He said at the time that he would hold hearings and introduce a bill to drastically overhaul MTC. Since writing that, I saw another article where he explained in a bit more detail what he plans to do: Continue reading

AC Transit & BART seek community input on redistricting

3 Oct BART district map

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

MTC approves move to San Francisco, triggering Senator DeSaulnier to commit to drastically overhaul the agency

29 Sep MTC Attorney Letter Signature

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted yesterday to approve the purchase of 390 Main Street in San Francisco for their new headquarters. I attempted to listen to the audio of the meeting while it was happening yesterday, but once again the MTC’s audio feed was faulty (the same thing happened during their last meeting about the move) so I was unable to.

I was able to follow the meeting yesterday on Twitter, thanks to San Francisco Chronicle reporter Michael Cabanatuan @ctuan. (If you’re not following him on Twitter, you should.)

And thankfully, Joyce Roy attended the meeting and wrote this report: Continue reading

Despite ongoing state audit, MTC poised to move to San Francisco; ABAG unlikely to join them

27 Sep 390 Main Street Disabled Entrance

You might remember that two months ago, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted to move their headquarters from Oakland to San Francisco. After the City of Oakland raised questions of Brown Act violations in this initial vote, the MTC voted in August to rescind its initial vote and to create a committee that would review the decision and return with a recommendation to the MTC within 60 days.

To recap, in case you missed the excellent guest blog post from Joyce Roy about this issue a month ago, the MTC has been searching for a new headquarters for MTC and the Associations of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) – who currently share offices next to the Lake Merritt BART station – as well as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District). The plan for the three agencies to locate together makes total sense, as they work together frequently and it would make it easier for the public to interact with the three agencies. MTC narrowed down their location search to two options – building a new building on top of the 12th Street BART station in downtown Oakland at 1100 Broadway or purchasing a 1940′s warehouse half a mile from BART in San Francisco at 390 Main Street. At the meeting in August, East Bay officials and advocates turned out in force, advocating for the Oakland site, and State Senator Mark DeSaulnier – chair of the Senate Transportation Committee – sent a letter informing the Commission that his committee would audit their proposed use of bridge toll funds for the move to San Francisco.

It hasn’t been 60 days yet, but the committee appointed at that August meeting has apparently completed its work and recommended that the MTC move forward with its initial plans to move to San Francisco. The MTC will be voting tomorrow, Wednesday morning, September 28th on whether to move forward with the San Francisco building purchase (meeting details at the end of this post). Continue reading

Celebrating World Carfree Day… in a taxi

22 Sep Taxi

Today is World Carfree Day, which for me, is not so different from any other day, since most days I get around by walking and taking the bus. So when I was reminded of the day by TransForm on Twitter yesterday, I struggled a bit with how I would celebrate and what I might write here.

I’ve already gone on and on about how awesome it is to not own a car and how much I love getting around on the bus and by foot (even if sometimes it’s challenging and frustrating). But the truth is that the bus system and my feet are not enough. There’s one thing that allowed me to give away my car, and it might seem odd, but that thing is actually another car. Specifically, a taxi. Continue reading

Tomorrow (Thursday): Learn the truth about MPOs

24 Aug Transportation Equity Network Logo

I’ll have some more substantive posts up later this week, but today I received an email from the Transportation Equity Network about a free webinar they’re holding tomorrow that I thought Living in the O readers might be interested. It’s called “The Truth about Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs)” and will be held at 1pm PST tomorrow (Thursday, August 25th). With all the action going on at our MPO – the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) – this seems like a worthwhile opportunity to learn more about MPOs.

Here’s the description from their email:

Tomorrow, 8/25, at 4pm EST, TEN will host a free educational webinar entitled The Truth About Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), the second in our new series of free monthly seminars. This Thursday’s webinar will cover the importance of MPOs, the ways in which current legislation shapes MPOs, and stories of actual engagement with MPOs from TEN leaders and organizers. Continue reading

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