Tag Archives: BART

Exciting news & Sierra Club City Council candidate forum

6 Jul Sierra Club candidate forum

Last night my wife was cleaning out some boxes that we hadn’t looked through in years, and she found a box that was full of a bunch of papers from my high school years, including some sweet hand written letters from friends and my sisters. In this box I found several drafts of the personal statement I submitted to get into UC Berkeley, full of hand written notes (no tracked changes) from my mom and dad. Reading my personal statement made me realize that though I have changed quite a bit since my senior year in high school, my values were very similar. (My writing issues apparently haven’t changed much either – my dad’s notes on one draft say “too many commas” and “too many transition words”.)  Here’s one paragraph from a draft of the statement:

Once issue that I have felt strongly about since childhood is ecology. In elementary school, our classes held an annual fund-raiser to buy and preserve several acres of the rain forest. I also participated in my school’s ecology club during eighth and ninth grade. Each year we organized an ecology fair and disseminated information covering issues ranging from vegetarianism to fuel conservation. We also instituted a recycling program, which the school still uses.

Being a longtime environmentalist, I was so excited this week to receive the news that the Sierra Club had endorsed my candidacy for BART Board. The decisions made in the next decade at BART are crucial not just for BART, but also for the Bay Area’s environment for decades to come. I’m just as eager as I was in elementary school to address the environmental challenges we face.

The City of Oakland also faces a myriad of environmental challenges, and next year we will have at least two new city councilmembers to address these issues. The Sierra Club and the Oakland Climate Action Coalition (OCAC) recognize the importance of the open seat races in districts 1 and 3 so they’re holding a forum on Monday featuring nearly all of the candidates running for these seats (a few couldn’t make it). From the Facebook event description: Continue reading

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

I’m running for BART Board

21 Mar Logo for Facebook cover

Two months ago I abandoned this blog, and I apologize for that. Soon after BART Director Bob Franklin announced that he would not seek reelection and would instead run for Oakland City Council, I decided to run for the open District 3 BART seat. The campaign has taken up the vast majority of free time in my life, including the time in the early mornings and late evenings that I used to dedicate to blogging.

As has happened in the past when I got busy, I optimistically thought I’d find some time to write a blog post here and there, but clearly that has not happened. So today I wanted to let Living in the O readers know that I’m taking a blogging hiatus, and I of course wanted to share the news that I’m running for BART Board. 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

Luminous Oakland – Light art comes to 17th Street BART alleyway

12 Aug 17th Street BART Alleyway

Over the past several years, Uptown has improved in so many ways. The Fox opened, many restaurants and bars opened (and all seem to be doing quite well), the Art Murmur brought new people to the area, and most recently, the Broadway Shuttle started running through Uptown on Friday and Saturday nights. But there are a few places in Uptown that could use some work. One is of course the huge lot next to the Fox that will turn into a sculpture garden next March. Another is the 17th Street BART alleyway between Telegraph and Broadway.

If you’ve ever walked through that alleyway, you know it’s not very appealing or welcoming – definitely not the first thing we want Oakland visitors to see as they come out of BART for a show at the Fox or for dinner at Flora. Thankfully, the Oakland Cultural Arts Department is working to improve it. From their website: Continue reading

Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications

26 Jul I Bike Oakland Newsletter

Since several of you seemed to enjoy my report on a recent AC Transit meeting, I thought I’d share some of what happened at last week’s Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting. Though there were several interesting items on the agenda, some were a bit too complex for a quick report or were just brief reports so I’m going to focus here on one agenda item – Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) grant applications.

From TransForm’s website, here’s a description of the SR2T regional program:

The Safe Routes to Transit (SR2T) Program awards $20 million in grants to facilitate walking and bicycling to regional transit. The program is funded by Regional Measure 2, and is administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. By improving the safety and convenience of biking and walking to regional transit, SR2T will give commuters the opportunity to leave their cars at home, and reduce congestion on Bay Area bridges. Learn about the creation of SR2T...

To date nearly $12 million has been awarded to over 30 capital and planning projects.

SR2T funds may be used for:

  • Secure bicycle storage at transit stations/stops/pods
  • Safety enhancements for ped/bike station access to transit stations/stops/pods
  • Removal of ped/bike barriers near transit stations
  • System-wide transit enhancements to accommodate bicyclists or pedestrians

The application deadline for the fourth cycle of grants out of five cycles is approaching, and Oakland Senior Transportation Planner Bruce Williams told us last Thursday about the applications Oakland is submitting. Since SR2T doesn’t fund projects all the way from conception to construction, the first project is a capital project and the other two are planning projects (though Oakland could ask for capital grants for these two projects in the next funding cycle. Continue reading

AC Transit Meeting: Redistricting, bus shelters & 51A/51B turnaround

22 Jul Oakland bus shelters map

When I watch local meetings live, I generally tweet them so those who are interested can follow what’s happening. But besides Council meetings and occasionally Planning Commission meetings, I listen to most meetings after they’ve already happened. I’m often tempted to tweet these meetings, but I think it could be incredibly confusing, so I’ve never done it. Sometimes I’ll write entire blog posts about one of the things that happened at a meeting, but I usually don’t take the time to share most of what I’ve learned on this blog.

So I’ve decided to try out a new format here – a brief roundup of local meetings. I’m going to start out with last week’s AC Transit meeting, which I listened to earlier this week. I’d greatly appreciate feedback with this format. If readers like it, I’ll do these as much as I can, but if you don’t find them useful, I’d like to hear whether you just don’t want to know about meetings unless something really exciting happens or if you have thoughts on a different format that might be more useful.

On to the meeting… Continue reading

Test out new BART seats tonight at Fruitvale BART

23 May BART Mobile Seat Lab

BART cars are some of the oldest local transit trains in the country, and besides the fact that they’re quickly deteriorating, they’re also designed for fairly low ridership. So BART has wisely decided to replace their entire fleet and has embarked on a planning process to design better trains for the system. (Due to poor financial planning and spending so much capital funding on expensive extensions with low ridership, BART doesn’t have full funding in place for the replacement of the trains, but that’s another blog post.)

Many of the design options will be important for increasing the capacity and flow of BART trains, while also keeping them relatively comfortable. But one facet of the design has gotten increased attention recently – BART seats. I’m sure by now you’ve either read or heard about the Bay Citizen story from March, which revealed that BART seats are basically the perfect environment for bacteria growth. What you read or heard might have had you think twice about sitting on BART. Continue reading

Robert Raburn, Bob Franklin & hope for BART in 2011

16 Dec

This morning, along with dozens of other transit advocates, I attended the swearing in of Robert Raburn to the BART Board of Directors. Raburn was sworn in by AC Transit Director Chris Peeples, which is meaningful as it symbolizes his commitment to work with AC Transit instead of against them and to work to better connect BART to other transit, biking, and walking. Alameda Mayor-elect Marie Gilmore and representatives of Congressman John Garamendi and Mayor-elect Jean Quan were also on hand to to support Raburn.

I was so proud watching Raburn get sworn in – proud of how hard he, his wife, and his supporters worked to get him elected and proud of the stellar campaign we ran. Last year, when folks first started talking about finding a transit advocate to run against Carol Ward Allen, it was somewhat of a fantasy, and Robert made this dream a reality.

His election proved that entrenched incumbents can be unseated, especially when they ignore their constituents and then rest on their incumbency to win them the election. And especially when their opponents run serious races and work hard to win.

Many people have asked me – so what? Robert got elected and that’s great, but many have wondered if that will just mean all controversial votes will be 7-2 with Raburn and Tom Radulovich voting against the majority. I never thought this would be the general pattern. Sure, it might happen once in a while, but with two strong transit advocates on the board and other members now taking transit advocates (and their re-elections) more seriously, I foresee many more 5-4 votes occurring, and some of those decisions will end up in transit advocates’ favor.

There’s some good news beyond Raburn’s election. Today the Board elected a new president – Bob Franklin. But before Franklin could speak, outgoing President James Fang (the only elected Republican in San Francisco) gave a very long self-congratulatory speech. He had the nerve to brag about about how BART is one of the most fiscally sound public agencies. Please tell me, in what world is borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars to to build an airport connector that will lose money annually fiscally sound? Fang then droned on about how many jobs BART has created and will create, saying that was the most important thing BART does. As I tweeted – Shorter Dir Fang – BART is about creating jobs, transit is just a bonus.

After sitting through that nauseating speech, it was nice to hear some of what incoming President Franklin had to say. Sure, Franklin talked about some of the projects that I think are wasting BART’s money – like the Oakland Airport Connector and BART to San Jose – but his top three priorities didn’t include extensions. His top three priorities are:

  1. Replacing aging cars – Yes, this is a huge priority! Except that Franklin says BART doesn’t have all the funds so will have to go to voters for more funds. Hmm, maybe some of that OAC money could have come in handy here.
  2. Improving community relations – Uh, yeah, hopefully by making substantial changes that the community supports.
  3. Improving relationships with employees – Also needs to happen to avoid another round of heated negotiations.

Franklin then moved on to a really exciting possibility – extending BART hours on weekends! Years ago, when I was a transit rider but well before I knew the ins and outs of transit, I talked about running for BART Board on the platform of extending BART hours to 2:30am. Everyone I talked to at the time agreed with me – it would be so much easier to cross the bay for a a fun night out if BART ran later. Over the years, I learned more about transit operations and funding, and though it’s still one of my dreams, I didn’t think it would be a reality anytime soon. So to hear Franklin talk about this got me really excited.

Franklin went on to mention the Make BART Trains run 24 hours Facebook page, which he said has 22,000 fans. Tom Radulovich chimed in, saying he was a fan of the page, drawing laughs from the crowd. Franklin said that if that many people have supported that page, it’s clear there’s demand for making the trains run later and that it should be studied. Streetsblog has a full story on the proposal, so if you want to learn more, check that out.

So it’s clear that Franklin is interested in studying some serious changes to BART, and we know already that Raburn and Radulovich would support changes that improve BART for riders. But unfortunately the Board is still likely to be very divided next year. Fang’s speech showed that now as much as ever he sees BART as a job provider primarily and supports building extensions at any cost. And there’s likely to be push back from some of the other directors and staff.

What this means is that advocacy will be more important than ever. We have a couple strong allies on the Board – Raburn and Radulovich – and at least one more who’s open to change, but they’ll need us to back them up to win over their allies. We need to send emails and show up hearings, and we need to help them change the debate.

It’s going to be an exciting but challenging year for BART reformers, and I can’t wait.

April 5-11 Oakland Political & Community Events

4 Apr

Monday, April 5 – Social Networking Made Easy

Do you realize you need to know about Social Networking, but get overwhelmed when you try to figure it out?  Help is on the horizon!  Dave Casuto, Director of Senior Surf, is an expert at explanations that are easy to understand!  In addition he brings a great handout so you can go over the material again later!  Dave will cover Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Linked In and more; plus he will show you how to create your own blog!  Come and bring lots of friends!This event takes place from 6:00-7:30pm at Buttercup Grill, 229 Broadway at 3rd Street. The event is sponsored by the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC).

Monday & Tuesday, April 5th & 6th – BART Community Meetings

BART is holding community meetings throughout the Bay Area this month. From BART’s website: “These series of community meetings will target minority and low-income communities along with those who have limited English skills.  The purpose is to ask these typically underrepresented communities the most effective ways BART should reach out to them so agency officials have a better understanding of their needs before making major transportation decisions.” You can probably imagine that I’m skeptical about this exercise since no major changes have been made at BART and this appears to be a way for them to meet Title VI obligations without making these changes. But who knows, maybe these meetings will make a difference, and at the least, it’s important to show up to express concerns about this process and BART in general.

Monday from 6:30pm-8:00pm at Mandela Gateway, 1350 7th Street, across from West Oakland BART.
Tuesday from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm at the San Antonio Neighborhood Community Center, 2325 East 12th Street, near Fruitvale BART.

Find more info on BART’s website.

Wednesday, April 7th – Public Ethics Commission Meeting

This week’s Public Ethics Commission meeting should be interesting and contentious. Among other items, they’ll be discussing Ignacio De La Fuente’s proposal to raise contribution limits for city elections, a report on City Council pay, and a new complaint by Marleen Sacks. The meeting will be held at 6:30pm in the Council Chambers, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. You can read the meeting agenda here.

Thursday, April 8th – Mix It Up East Bay

Join us for a monthly happy hour bringing together young activists, organizers and leaders in the East Bay. Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, the Executive Director of Oakland Rising will be the featured speaker of the night. Oakland Rising is a formation of four community-based organizations that have come together to build a progressive city-wide electoral base that forwards an agenda which addresses the needs and issues of low-income communities of color in Oakland. Free Snacks! Drink specials ’til 7 pm! Speaking program begins at 7 pm. Mix It Up East Bay is held every 2nd Thursday of the month from 6-9pm at Shashamane at 2507 Broadway. It’s accessible by 19th Street BART station or by AC Transit lines 1/1R, 51, 59. For more info and to RSVP, visit the event’s Facebook page.

Thursday, April 8th – Rockridge NCPC Town Hall Meeting with Chief Batts

The Rockridge Community Planning Council, the Rockridge NCPC, and the Oakland Yellowjackets will jointly meet to offer a special guest speaker, Chief Anthony Batts of the Oakland Police Department.  Chief Batts will be speaking and taking questions from the audience for the first hour of the meeting. We encourage you to come to the meeting to share your questions and concerns regarding crime and public safety in Rockridge with the Chief. This event will take place from 7-9pm at Rockridge Branch Library, 5366 College Avenue at Manila, Community Room (upstairs).

Thursday-Sunday, April 8th-11th - Bookmark Bookstore’s Spring Sale

The Bookmark Bookstore, operated by the Friends of the Oakland Public Library, will have its 30% off spring sale April this week. All proceeds benefit the Oakland Public Library. Sale pricing is offered to the public from Thursday, April 8 through Sunday, April 11, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.  The Bookmark is located at 721 Washington St in Old Oakland. When you shop the Bookmark, you are supporting the Oakland Public Library! Call 510-444-0473 for more information, or visit the Friends online.

Friday, April 9th – Farley’s Non-Profit of the Month Happy Hour Benefiting WOBO

Farley’s monthly “Non-Profit of the Month” Happy Hour celebrates/benefits WOBO this month! Join us at Farley’s East to eat, drink and be merry. Superstars Chris & Amy at Farley’s are not only donating proceeds from the Happy Hour to WOBO, but they’re going to put their culinary magic to work for *you* and provide free appetizers. If there’s one thing that people can agree on, it’s free, tasty food, and since it will be there, so should you! No dress code, no cover, just bring a good attitude and an appetite/thirst. For conversation if not for food and drink. The happy hour takes place from 5-9pm at Farley’s East, 33 Grand Avenue. Please RSVP on Facebook so WOBO can get a head count to prepare for food for the evening.

Friday, April 10th – Estuary Art Attack

First Fridays are not the only day of the month to check out art galleries. Jingle Town and Alameda artists have joined together to start the Estuary Art Attack, a monthly event held on second Fridays to showcase the area’s galleries, restaurants, and bars. The Art Attack will be held from 6-9 pm throughout Jingle Town and Alameda. Check out their website for more details.

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