Tag Archives: BRT

Arreguin killed BRT for Berkeley & possibly North Oakland

18 Jun

Last week I shared the exciting news that BRT could be saved in Berkeley and North Oakland. Councilmember Jesse Arreguin had agreed to bring the BRT LPA up for another vote next week, but at the last minute, with no advance notice to advocates, he pulled the item. Through this action, Arreguin killed BRT in Berkeley for at least several years and BRT in North Oakland is in severe danger. (So you can take the June 22nd Berkeley City Council meeting off your calendar).

I’m deeply disappointed by Councilmember Arreguin’s actions. I can respect (but not fully understand) that he disagrees on BRT, but his actions were incredibly disrespectful to the many environmental and transit advocates who were counting on him. I guess NIMBYs are a more important constituency to him.

My friend Reuben has an excellent and thorough piece up on his blog explaining what happened and why Jesse’s wrong:

Somewhere along the line, you would think that the constant barrage of facts and studies would prove some point.  Whether you are for or against something, the general train of thought is that the “correct” argument is the argument that has the most support (data, literature, etc) behind it.  Bus Rapid Transit is a positive thing for the neighborhoods and cities it serves.  There are numerous examples of BRT all around the country and the world.  BRT is nothing new and has been around for decades.  So you would think when Berkeley was asked to consider studying the construction of a fully tricked out BRT system they would take to heart all these examples and past literature and data to make an informed decision.  But Berkeley has its own rules and so does Berkeley City Counciman Jesse Arreguin.

Not since John Kerry’s infamous flip-flop during the 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush have we seen an example of moving back and forth on the same issue as we see with Councilman Arreguin on BRT in Berkeley.  Except in this case, Councilman Arreguin first didnt vote for anything, then indicated he would vote for it before finally voting against it.

To be completely fair, Councilman Arreguin and I have more often than not been on opposite sides of the development and planning spectrum.  I tend to be rather moderate in my politics and favor development projects, especially dense development near transit, such as in Downtown Berkeley.  But you would think that me and Councilman Arreguin would actually be on a role reversal on the subject of BRT.  You would think that better public transit would actually be the priority of the once endorsed candidate of the Sierra Club vs. myself, a self described pro-development, never-going-to-completely-give-up-my-car guy.  But oddly enough, we are where we are.

Please click through and read his full post for the whole story and an explanation of what this means for Berkeley and North Oakland.

Berkeley City Council coming around on BRT

10 Jun

Last night, I did something that I never thought I’d do – asked AC Transit to delay a vote on bus rapid transit (BRT). Don’t worry, I haven’t caught the Berkeley NIMBY bug. Along with about a dozen other transit advocates, I implored AC Transit to delay the vote just two weeks because there’s been a very exciting development in Berkeley, which you probably remember voted against even studying dedicated lanes.

Eric explains at Transbay Blog:

Berkeley Councilmember Anderson, who was not present at the April 29 meeting, has indicated that he would support full BRT.  Councilmember Arreguín, who abstained on April 29, has also indicated that he would support full BRT.  If so, the 4-4 vote on April 29 would become a 6-3 vote endorsing BRT.  The agenda has not yet been set as of the time of this writing, but the current plan is for Berkeley to revisit BRT at its June 22 meeting.

The AC Transit Board of Directors intended to adopt an LPA for the whole project on June 9, incorporating the local preferences of the three cities.  However, the Board continued the item and delayed its decision on BRT until June 23, just one day after the Berkeley meeting.  This will give the Berkeley City Council an opportunity to reverse its prior decision.  The way forward is not crystal clear if that vote gets delayed, or if Berkeley insists on substantial changes, but the process should be straightforward if Berkeley promptly approves the build alternative on June 22.

And why should Oaklanders care if Berkeley’s included in BRT? One reason is that many people ride the bus from Oakland to Berkeley. If BRT turns around at the Berkeley border, all of those Oaklanders will have to transfer, which could negate much of the time savings from BRT.

Just as importantly, many of us North Oaklanders are extremely concerned that if Berkeley’s not included in BRT, AC Transit might turn BRT around in downtown Oakland. That would be a huge loss to North Oakland, and though it wouldn’t be fair to us, I can understand why AC Transit would consider this if Berkeley isn’t willing to support BRT.

So please put the evening of Tuesday, June 22nd on your calendar. Though the votes are there, it’s important for many of us to show up to support the councilmembers who may change their votes. I’m sure there will be plenty of people screaming at them about how BRT would ruin Berkeley, so it’s important that we balance this with reason. I’ll post further details about the meeting when I have them.

Joel Ramos: Car enthusiasts Kill BRT in Berkeley

12 May

This is the second in a two-part series of guest posts about Berkeley’s vote on BRT. Today’s post, by Joel Ramos, focuses on what happened and what’s next, particularly as it relates to Oakland. Yesterday’s post, by Reuben Duarte, looked at BRT through an environmental and planning lens.

This guest post was written by Joel Ramos, who grew up riding AC Transit and is now a Community Planner at TransForm. He began working in Oakland in 1998 when he worked on getting community input for planning projects in the Fruitvale. He has been conducting outreach to community groups along the proposed BRT corridor for the past four years.

April 29th was an unfortunate day for “Green” Berkeley, and East Bay transit riders as a whole.

Despite support from the Sierra Club, the Alameda County Building Trades Council, UNITE-HERE Local 2850, TransForm, Livable Berkeley, the UC Berkeley Graduate Student Union, the East Bay Young Democrats  and others to study a Full-Build BRT alternative with dedicated lanes, Berkeley City Council members Jesse Arreguin, Gordon Wozniak, Susan Wengraff, and Kriss Worthington would only vote to study an alternative that had not yet been considered. The alternative that was approved would be similar to existing 1R service, but with bulb-outs, proof-of-payment systems, and traffic signal priority – but no dedicated lanes – as the build alternative.

The outcome of this vote and the comments made by the councilmembers made it clear that logic lost and mob-rule reigns in Berkeley. The public comments made just before the vote made it clear that a majority of the opponents had been mis-informed, and were led to be convinced that the project would “kill Telegraph” and had “no environmental benefits”, despite any legitimate sources or studies, and in denial of the success of every other BRT project that has been built in the U.S.

While most transit advocates expected nothing less from Councilmember Kriss Worthington, it was Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Gordon Wozniak that were most surprising.

Wozniak (who often claims to be a “scientist”) openly stated that even if studied, he wouldn’t vote for the build alternative on account of (unfounded) fears of traffic impacts to his district. Jesse Arreguin (who won the Sierra Club’s endorsement in his election campaign) abstained from the vote for a study of dedicated lanes, despite the Sierra Club’s consistent support of the study of dedicated lanes for BRT. Councilmember Susan Wengraff was the least informed (and apparently most ignorant of the thousands of riders who opt for the 1/1R everyday and DON’T ride BART), and said she was against the project because she thought it duplicated BART. She then abstained from the vote for a study of the Full-Build Alternative with dedicated lanes. Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Gordon Wozniak were the only two who voted “No” for the motion made by Daryl Moore to study the dedicated lanes as part of a BRT system, but the motion failed anyway.

It  was an eye-opening Public Hearing for BRT in “Transit First” Berkeley.  The transit advocates in the meeting were validated by one speaker’s efforts who asked every opponent of BRT to raise their hand. When the opponents did, he then asked them to keep their hand up if they voted for Measure G (Berkeley’s recent ballot measure to commit to reduce greenhouse gases). Nearly every opponent’s hand was lowered again. The speaker then pointed out that 80% of Berkeley’s voters had voted for Measure G, and that clearly, the BRT opponents were not a representation of Berkeley overall.

Nevertheless, the City Council voted to validate the radical skepticism of the car-centric opponents, and their rude, uninformed resistance to change of the fossil-fueled status quo in Berkeley.

What This Means For BRT in North Oakland

Unfortunately, the approved alternative is not expected to deliver the same amount of reliability that dedicated lanes would give, and to run BRT outside of dedicated lanes for long stretches in Berkeley could cause a delay in the overall system, reducing the overall capacity for shorter headways. It remains unclear if what Berkeley did vote for would even be worthwhile for AC Transit to pursue, as opposed to simply leaving Berkeley out of the future project altogether. If Oakland (upon study of the impacts of a full-build BRT system in a Final Environmental Impact Report) decides to move forward with a full-build BRT system, AC Transit could decide to have BRT “turn around” before going to downtown Berkeley (i.e. at the Uptown Transit Center or Macarthur BART).

As such, BRT supporters who live in North Oakland should see this as a “call to arms” for BRT in the Temescal, which may now be left out of the scope of the project if AC Transit decides not to build anything in Berkeley, and instead opt to turn BRT around at either Macarthur BART or at the Uptown Transit center.

To help in that fight, join a group of North Oakland BRT supporters by contacting Joel Ramos of TransForm at joel@TransFormCa.org or contact Councilmember Brunner yourself (jbrunner@oaklandnet.com) and let her know of your continued support for BRT with bike lanes and dedicated lanes in the Temescal.

Reuben Duarte: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT

11 May

This is the first in a two-part series of guest posts about Berkeley’s vote on BRT. Today’s post, by Reuben Duarte, looks at BRT through an environmental and planning lens. Tomorrow’s post, by Joel Ramos, will focus on what happened and what’s next, particularly as it relates to Oakland.

This guest post was written by Reuben Duarte, who serves on the board of East Bay Young Democrats, is a Waterfront Commissioner for the City of Berkeley, and is a transit advocate and planning enthusiast. This post was originally posted on the East Bay Young Democrats website.

Two Thursdays ago, the Berkeley City Council voted on the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) plan for AC Transit’s East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.  The Council essentially had three options: 1) “Full Build”, as recommended by the city staff, which would mean dedicated lanes running up Telegraph Avenue and “island” bus stops, where passengers could board the bus in the middle of the road, much like you see in San Francisco on Market Street. 2) A “Reduced Impact Alternative” as prepared by Mayor Bates and other councilmembers, which was a watered down version of the Full Build option, but still included dedicated lanes and islands.  3) A so-called “Rapid Bus Plus” (RBP) option which, in essence, is a no-build option because it removed all dedicated lanes and made no lane reconfigurations on roads.

After impassioned, and sometimes theatrical testimony by the public, the Berkeley City Council succumbed to NIMBY pressure and rejected any elements of full-build and endorsed only option three, the so-called, “Rapid Bus Plus” plan.

Before I go into the issues of BRT, let me quickly address the importance of the LPA and why you should be upset that Berkeley has practically killed the BRT project for everyone else.  In very simplified terms, the way a project like this goes is that AC Transit puts together an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how they want the project to run.  In this case, they give their preferred route for a BRT system from San Leandro to Oakland to Berkeley.  This is then sent to each city for review.  Each city then decides what they believe is the best alternative for their city, the LPA.

You need to understand that the EIR is a legal document and can’t really be changed once submitted.  For example, Councilman Kriss Worthington of Berkeley was critical of the BRT system because he believed it should connect to the Berkeley Amtrak station down University Avenue.  Now, regardless of how you feel about adding a University Ave. section to BRT, because AC Transit did not study University Ave. in its EIR, it legally cannot study implementing it as an option now.  It would have to start a brand new EIR that included the University section, essentially starting all over.

Some will argue that BRT isn’t dead because the vote passed was a vote on a study of BRT and not the actual construction of it.  But because it’s a regional project, BRT needs a decent amount of consensus among the cities to be implemented.  Because Oakland City Council has endorsed the study of a full-build option and Berkeley has now rejected full-build in favor of no-build, if AC Transit went ahead and built the system as Oakland and Berkeley want, what would happen is that you would have dedicated lanes in Oakland along Telegraph Ave. until you reached the Berkeley border where it would switch to normal configuration from dedicated lanes to non-dedicated lanes.  This would also affect regular traffic because drivers would need to merge into one lane going each way on Telegraph once entering Oakland.  The result would be a less reliable and slower BRT in Berkeley where buses and cars would clump at the border and would cause ripple affects to the entire system, thus making the entire system less feasible.

Having said the above, there were several key issues that opponents used to fear monger and get their way.  The key issues were over parking and business along Telegraph. However, these and many other concerns over BRT are unfounded.

BRT is Consistent with the Passage of Measure G, the City’s Adopted Climate Action Plan and the Defeat of Measure KK

At the Berkeley City Council meeting, you would have thought half the city was up in arms over the proposed project.  However, this would be a miss-perception, as one intrepid public speaker pointed out during his public comment.  In 2008, Berkeley residents overwhelmingly rejected Measure KK, a city ballot initiative that would have required voter approval before any agency dedicate a street lane for higher-occupancy vehicles (i.e. buses).  But because of Measure KK’s thunderous defeat, the speaker pointed out it would be a mistake to construe the opposition in attendance as a true representation of the opinions of the city as a whole, and he would be right.

In 2006, Berkeley residents overwhelmingly approved Measure G, setting an 80% reduction target in greenhouse gasses.  Last year in 2009, the City Council approved Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan where a goal of the plan is to ensure “public transit, walking, cycling and other sustainable mobility modes are the primary modes of transportation by residents and visitors.”  BRT would have allowed Berkeley to achieve this goal and Telegraph Ave. is just the sort of corridor that should be tailored for use by transit-riders and pedestrians rather than private automobiles.

BRT Would Reduce Greenhouse Gasses

A better public transit system means more transit riders and fewer automobiles on the road.  With the projected number of 50,000 daily riders by 2025, BRT could eliminate 10,000 daily auto trips.  Not only does this help to mitigate the lower auto-capacity on Telegraph Ave., but it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the use of private cars pushed into the atmosphere.  Improved transit that is faster and more reliable would encourage drivers to take the bus to jobs in Downtown Oakland and San Leandro and vice versa into Berkeley.

BRT Would Improve Conditions for Cyclists on Telegraph

One of the groups speaking in favor of BRT was the cyclist community.  They recognize the resulting reduction and calming of traffic conditions along the Telegraph corridor will allow for improved bike lanes with better bike access and rider safety, thus promoting an additional alternative to the automobile.

BRT Would Have Brought More Customers to Vendors

Opponents of BRT made grandiose arguments suggesting that BRT would kill businesses, especially the street vendors on a four block stretch of Telegraph between the UC Berkeley campus and Dwight Street.  They implied customers would not patron if there were no private automobiles.

I found this argument odd because as a former student of UC Berkeley, I can say that the primary patrons are 1) students and 2) those that walked or took the bus to Telegraph.  Very few people actually drive to Telegraph then park, largely because there isn’t any parking nearby already.  So the street vendors eager to suggest the death of their business as a result of BRT would have actually increased their customer base had BRT been implemented because a faster, more reliable transit system would encourage more people to use it.  That is, unless street vendors exist off the fuel exhaust of private automobiles.

Further, BRT would not have removed parking on Telegraph Ave. in this four-block area because there isn’t any parking to remove.  The only available parking on Telegraph itself is a few loading-zone areas that would have remained under Berkeley’s Staff LPA. The rest of the parking is in existing lot, garage or street parking on adjacent streets that would have remained unchanged under the plan.

BRT Could Spur Economic Development on Telegraph

While many opponents hailed BRT as the end of civilization in Berkeley as we know it, they failed to point to any tangible example of civilizations end as a result of BRT.  On the other side, however, almost every single proponent of the BRT project pointed to an example, either in the US or abroad, where BRT existed and actually improved the streetscape and local economies.  For example, a city like Cleveland, OH had implemented a similar BRT system connecting their downtown core to one of its universities.  The corridor they chose along Euclid Avenue was largely seen as an underutilized area.  But after BRT was built in 2008, at the height of the economic recession, the area experienced an economic boom of $3.3 billion in new developments and economic activity.

Also, a common example was down in the often transit-criticized city of Angels with Los Angeles’ Wilshire BRT project.  Compared to AC Transit’s project, LA’s Wilshire BRT project called for dedicated lanes along the curb of Wilshire Boulevard but only during peak commuter hours.  I bring this up because it was briefly suggested by Councilmember Kriss Worthington at the meeting on whether a “peak-hour” lane could be used instead of 24-hour dedicated lanes.  This, I personally don’t have too much of an issue with and would have supported, had the council been willing to actually look at anything more than a no-build option.  But they didn’t so… I guess it doesn’t really matter now.

Majority of Shoppers, Workers and Residents Don’t Drive Into Downtown.

A friend of mine made an interesting argument against BRT in an attempt to explain why councilmembers representing areas far from the BRT corridor would oppose it.  He suggested that residents in the hills and in North and West Berkeley would lose the most with BRT because they are more likely to drive into Downtown Berkeley and Telegraph, thus, would need readily available parking.  This is a good argument only if you can prove that the majority of customers in Downtown Berkeley drive in.  However, this isn’t the case.  In 2002, Berkeley City Council requested a UCB Dept. of Urban & Regional Planning studio study to look at this very issue of parking.  The study showed that over 60% of workers in Downtown Berkeley take non-auto modes of transportation and only 37% said they reach downtown by car.  Further, 70% of shoppers use non-auto to get to Downtown while only 20% drove.  In 2007, there was a second UCB study that confirmed the findings, showing 63% of visitors used non-auto modes of transportation to Downtown while only 34% use a private car.

The studio study determined the problem with parking shortages in Downtown Berkeley are in large part the result of visitors who stay in excess of parking limits, facilitated by broken meters and meter “feeding”.  While it is easy to say that this study focused on Downtown Berkeley vs. Telegraph Ave., the overall issue of parking, as addressed in this study, should show that eliminating parking is not a death blow to Berkeley businesses since most customers don’t drive to shop.

In the end, the Berkeley City Council chose to stick with a more auto-oriented Telegraph Avenue.  It is disappointing when a city that claims leadership in the fight against global warming and the use of alternative transportation and shown all the clear benefits of BRT; when given the option to truly lead by example would cave to the pressure of anti-development NIMBYs who just don’t want to build anything anywhere near anything.  Residents, in Berkeley and in the other cities that would be served by BRT, should be ashamed when a city like Los Angeles is showing more attention and progressive thinking towards public transportation than Berkeley.

Tweeting BRT

22 Apr

Tuesday night’s Council meeting was long and contentious. I’d love to blog about many things that were discussed, but sadly don’t have the time for it. Instead, I offer you tweets on the BRT discussion.

But before I do, I want to thank everyone who spoke in support of BRT at the Council meeting. There were 45 speakers total, and most were supportive of BRT. I especially want to thank TransForm, and particularly Joel Ramos, who did a kick ass job organizing folks to attend and providing talking points. It was so inspiring to see so many people speak at a Council meeting for the first time. You all did a great job!

Thanks also to everyone who tweeted. If you’re not on Twitter yet, join already! You don’t even have to tweet. Just follow Oaklanders and you’ll see how easy it is to keep up with meetings, events, and local breaking news. Some regulars are featured below – Vsmoothe, dto510, das88, lotormatic, and me. MaxAllstadt and jawnie also regularly tweet Oakland meetings.

I’ll post some video of the discussion next week because some of the comments need to be seen and heard, as Twitter can only capture so much.

OaklandBecks OMG – Reid trying to shift items around to have BRT heard before Central Estuary Plan! Prob hoped advocates wouldn’t have arrived.

lotormatic 45 speakers on BRT – why does this worry me.

OaklandBecks Was it really worth it for Council to take off a week when it lead to this mtg from hell? We’ll be here all night at this rate.

OaklandBecks I think I’ve heard the presentation on BRT so many times now that I could probably give it with help of slides.

Vsmoothe BRT up. Crazy northgate lady speaking now. Big surprise, she’s against it. BRT is redundant b/c she can already take BART to SF.

Vsmoothe Why are Oaklanders so hell-bent on opposing any change to anything ever? Our citizenry is united against all progress. Depressing.

Vsmoothe Senior opposed to BRT: “Seniors don’t need BRT because we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.”

OaklandBecks Joel from TransForm refutes previous anti BRT arguments with map showing convenience of BRT to senior services.

Vsmoothe Joel Ramos of TransForm up now. Talks about extensive outreach, corrects inaccurate information about BRT. Great speech.

dto510 The head of the Slow Food Drive Fast association dramatically decried the possibility of putting people before cars!

lotormatic These commenters on BRT are making me reconsider a career in transportation planning

Vsmoothe Merchant: BRT will put us out of business. We blocked parking in front of our store for 30 minutes and store went completely empty.

Vsmoothe Terence Candell opposes BRT. Infringes on people’s right to walk across the street. Well, he won’t be getting my vote for Mayor.

dto510 CM Larry Reid is way pissed off about BRT and especially transit advocates. Something to do with the OAC perhaps?

Vsmoothe CM Reid repeatedly interrupts, insults, and attacks pro BRT speaker during his speech. Rudeness is shocking, even for Reid.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan lists things she wants included in BRT project: repave entire street, pedestrian lighting, signalized crosswalks…

OaklandBecks Kaplan mentions that BRT will have service every 5 min. That is the kind of service I dream of.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan, cont: emergency vehicle access, impact area hiring, preserve nice medians, new nice medians, etc.

Vsmoothe CM Reid: BRT will destroy East Oakland, ruin chance of retail in East Oakland ever.

OaklandBecks You know what else I dream of? Crossing Telegraph w/o fearing for my life. The BRT ped improvements will make that a reality.

OaklandBecks Reid – BRT will destoy East Oakland community. Oh, but the OAC will do no harm?

Vsmoothe CM Reid’s obnoxious self-righteousness is really off putting. Says transit advocates never take bus to his District. I do.

OaklandBecks Reid saying he wants vital retail in East Oakland. Um, BRT has increased retail vitality in every city.

dto510 I also take the bus to D7. i don’t think the enormous road capacity is good for the area.

lotormatic Reid says AC Transit should provide more frequent bus service instead of BRT. Um…

Vsmoothe Now CM Reid is just straight up making shit up. Claims AC Transit will eminent domain houses near BRT route.

OaklandBecks Reid says he’ll take us on tour of his district to prove us wrong. Strange, since he consistently refuses mtgs w transit advocates.

OaklandBecks De La Fuente thinks Oakland should look at all options, which is what staff and and advocates want.

das88 Why is CM Reid so upset? Is OAC on the agenda? Did he receive some secret tweets?

OaklandBecks Note – Reid has never attended the BRT interagency steering committee that he sits on.

OaklandBecks Staffer Bruce Williams explains that Oakland will get to weigh in again after EIR, AC Transit can’t move ahead w/o them.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan to staff: Are you sure AC Transit does not have eminent domain power to take over our street? Answer is yes.

OaklandBecks Why does everything confuse Brunner? How does she not know what a locally preferred alternative is?

Vsmoothe Jesus. I know the Council doesn’t often deal w/transit, but it’s bizarre to watch them all be so flummoxed by the concept of an EIR.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan: I don’t really think having buses on the main street is the same as building a freeway through your neighborhood.

Vsmoothe Jean Quan apparently did not bother to read or learn anything about BRT before the meeting. I suppose I should not be surprised.

Vsmoothe Staff tries to explain possible mitigations to CM Brunner, she talks like she didn’t hear one word.

OaklandBecks Kaplan proposed center boarding, which would save half the parking spots. Also, lost parking will be mitigated.

Vsmoothe CM Brunner: I support idea of transit, would like us to be like Portland. But transit seems to cause many problems.

OaklandBecks BRT locally preferred alternative passes unanimously. Yes, even Larry Reid voted for it.

OaklandBecks  OMG – Reid trying to shift items around to have BRT heard before Central Estuary Plan! Prob hoped advocates wouldn’t have arrived.

lotormatic 45 speakers on BRT – why does this worry me.

OaklandBecks  Was it really worth it for Council to take off a week when it lead to this mtg from hell? We’ll be here all night at this rate.

OaklandBecks  I think I’ve heard the presentation on BRT so many times now that I could probably give it with help of slides.

Vsmoothe BRT up. Crazy northgate lady speaking now. Big surprise, she’s against it. BRT is redundant b/c she can already take BART to SF.

Vsmoothe Why are Oaklanders so hell-bent on opposing any change to anything ever? Our citizenry is united against all progress. Depressing.

Vsmoothe Senior opposed to BRT: “Seniors don’t need BRT because we are not in a hurry to get anywhere.”

OaklandBecks  Joel from TransForm refutes previous anti BRT arguments with map showing convenience of BRT to senior services.

Vsmoothe Joel Ramos of TransForm up now. Talks about extensive outreach, corrects inaccurate information about BRT. Great speech.

dto510 The head of the Slow Food Drive Fast association dramatically decried the possibility of putting people before cars!

lotormatic These commenters on BRT are making me reconsider a career in transportation planning

Vsmoothe Merchant: BRT will put us out of business. We blocked parking in front of our store for 30 minutes and store went completely empty.

Vsmoothe Terence Candell opposes BRT. Infringes on people’s right to walk across the street. Well, he won’t be getting my vote for Mayor.

dto510 CM Larry Reid is way pissed off about BRT and especially transit advocates. Something to do with the OAC perhaps?

Vsmoothe CM Reid repeatedly interrupts, insults, and attacks pro BRT speaker during his speech. Rudeness is shocking, even for Reid.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan lists things she wants included in BRT project: repave entire street, pedestrian lighting, signalized crosswalks…

OaklandBecks  Kaplan mentions that BRT will have service every 5 min. That is the kind of service I dream of.

Vsmoothe CM Kaplan, cont: emergency vehicle access, impact area hiring, preserve nice medians, new nice medians, etc.

Vsmoothe CM Reid: BRT will destroy East Oakland, ruin chance of retail in East Oakland ever.

OaklandBecks  You know what else I dream of? Crossing Telegraph w/o fearing for my life. The BRT ped improvements will make that a reality.

OaklandBecks  Reid – BRT will destoy East Oakland community. Oh, but the OAC will do no harm?

Vsmoothe CM Reid’s obnoxious self-righteousness is really off putting. Says transit advocates never take bus to his District. I do.

OaklandBecks  Reid saying he wants vital retail in East Oakland. Um, BRT has increased retail vitality in every city.

dto510 I also take the bus to D7. i don’t think the enormous road capacity is good for the area.

lotormatic Reid says AC Transit should provide more frequent bus service instead of BRT. Um…

Vsmoothe Now CM Reid is just straight up making shit up. Claims AC Transit will eminent domain houses near BRT route.

OaklandBecks  Reid says he’ll take us on tour of his district to prove us wrong. Strange, since he consistently refuses mtgs w transit advocates.

OaklandBecks  De La Fuente thinks Oakland should look at all options, which is what staff and and advocates want.

das88 Why is CM Reid so upset? Is OAC on the agenda? Did he receive some secret tweets?

OaklandBecks  Note – Reid has never attended the BRT interagency steering committee that he sits on.

OaklandBecks  Staffer Bruce Williams explains that Oakland will get to weigh in again after EIR, AC Transit can’t move ahead w/o them.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan to staff: Are you sure AC Transit does not have eminent domain power to take over our street? Answer is yes.

OaklandBecks  Why does everything confuse Brunner? How does she not know what a locally preferred alternative is?

Vsmoothe Jesus. I know the Council doesn’t often deal w/transit, but it’s bizarre to watch them all be so flummoxed by the concept of an EIR.

Vsmoothe CM Kernighan: I don’t really think having buses on the main street is the same as building a freeway through your neighborhood.

Vsmoothe Jean Quan apparently did not bother to read or learn anything about BRT before the meeting. I suppose I should not be surprised.

Vsmoothe Staff tries to explain possible mitigations to CM Brunner, she talks like she didn’t hear one word.

OaklandBecks  Kaplan proposed center boarding, which would save half the parking spots. Also, lost parking will be mitigated.

Vsmoothe CM Brunner: I support idea of transit, would like us to be like Portland. But transit seems to cause many problems.

OaklandBecks  BRT locally preferred alternative passes unanimously. Yes, even Larry Reid voted for it.

April 12-18 Oakland Political & Community Events

11 Apr

Tuesday, April 13th – Public Works Committee Hearing on Bus Rapid Transit

After years of mostly Berkeley meetings about AC Transit’s bus rapid transit (BRT) project, Oakland is finally discussing it’s locally preferred alternative. If you support BRT, please come to this meeting or submit comments ahead of time – this project is incredibly important to the future of Oakland. The Public Works Committee hearing will be held at 9:30am in Hearing Room 1, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza and the full agenda can be read here. You can read more about the BRT proposal in the staff report and at OaklandBRT.com.

Wednesday, April 14th – Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan Community Workshop #1

The City of Oakland, BART and the Peralta Community College District, through a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, have come together to prepare a Station Area Plan for the area around the Lake Merritt BART Station. The Plan will consider land use, buildings, design, circulation, BART improvements, streetscape improvements, parks and public spaces. It will identify actions the City and the other public agencies should take to improve the area, and it will establish regulations for development projects on private property. This is the first community workshop, to identify community goals and key concerns. The meeting takes place from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at Metropolitan Transportation Commission Auditorium, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland. Find out more a the Lake Merritt Plan website.

CANCELED – Wednesday, April 14th – East Bay Democracy for America Meetup: Single Payer, PGE’s Grab &  OFA

Come to the April Meetup, co-sponsored by East Bay Young Democrats. It’s time to start thinking about where to put energy for the June primary and for the November election. There are lots of places where energy will be needed. Now that the Congress has passed a healthcare reform bill, its time for California to pass single payer. It’s still possible for us to make the changes here and show that single payer is the best solution for the rest of the country. We’ll also look at Prop 16 – PG&E’s the sole funder for this proposition that will make it much harder for municipalities to create their own power systems. If this proposition does not pass PG&E’s share of the electricity market will likely shrink and they’ve vowed to spend $35 million to pass it. Obama for America organized lots of phone banking to help pass healthcare reform. We’ll hear from the local OFA organization about how grassroots activism is still desired by the Democratic Party. The meeting will be held at 6:30 at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Avenue. RSVP here.

Wednesday, April 14th – AC Transit Board Meeting

At this week’s meeting, the Board will mostly be addressing financial issues. They’ll also receive a report on on-time performance and will vote on a resolution to honor Jim Gleich, who passed away last month. This meeting will take place at 6pm in the 2nd floor board room, 1600 Franklin Street. You can read the agenda and see the relevant memos here and you can listen online here.

Thursday, April 15th Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-6:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Thursday, April 15th – Vehicle Registration Fee Initiative Public Workshop

The Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) is considering placing a transportation measure on the November 2, 2010 ballot to provide a Vehicle Registration Fee (VRF) of $10 that would be used for local transportation and transit improvements throughout Alameda County.  The opportunity for a Countywide transportation agency to place this fee before the voters was authorized last year by the passage of Senate Bill 83, authored by Senator Loni Hancock (Oakland). This workshop provides an opportunity for the public to weigh in on what the funds generated by this fee should be used for. The workshop will be held from 6:30-8:30 pm in Hearing Room 3, One Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. For more information, visit the ACCMA VRF website.

Saturday, April 17thEarth Day Cleanup Events Citywide

On Saturday, Earth Day clean up events will be held throughout Oakland. Oakland Earth Day is the time communities, neighbors, acquaintances, relatives, friends and people from all walks of life come together to show our appreciation, celebrate and give a little something back to earth. Join Oakland community members from 9am-12pm to help beautify Oakland. Check out the City’s PDF listing of dozens of events – you’re sure to find something near you.

February 15-21 Oakland Political & Community Events

14 Feb

Tuesday, February 16th – Oakland City Council Special Budget Meeting & Regular Council Meeting

This Tuesday, there are two Council meetings – the regular Council meeting preceded by a special budget meeting. As V Smoothe explained, the new budget proposal is mostly tricks and some cuts, and though based on past meetings, it’s unlikely that anything will actually get decided, it’s important to attend and weigh in. As for the regular Council meeting, it looks like a short agenda, but there are some contentious items that will ensure the Council stays in session until late in the night. Among them are the awarding a $30 million contract for parking citation and revenue collection, exempting certain positions from the hiring freeze, and the awarding of Workforce Investment Board contracts. See the budget meeting agenda and the regular meeting agenda and check out my post about how to watch and understand City Council meetings if you need some guidance on how or where to view the meeting. The budget meeting is scheduled to run from 5pm-6pm (which sounds ridiculously short to me) and the non-ceremonial parts of the regular Council meeting start at 7pm. Both meetings will be held in the Council Chambers in City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, February 17th – Planning Commission Hearing on Bus Rapid Transit

After years of mostly Berkeley meetings about AC Transit’s bus rapid transit (BRT) project, Oakland is finally going to discuss it’s locally preferred alternative. If you support BRT, please come to this meeting or submit comments ahead of time – this project is incredibly important to the future of Oakland. The Planning Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 15th at 6:00 pm in Hearing Room 1, City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza and the full agenda can be read here. You can read more about the BRT proposal in the staff report and at OaklandBRT.com.

Thursday, February 18thBART Police Department Review Committee Meeting

The BART Police Department Review Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the BART Board Room, which is located in the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, Third Floor, 344 20th St., Oakland, CA.

Thursday, February 18th Oakland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee Meeting

Oakland’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) meets monthly to discusses bicycle and pedestrian issues. This month’s agenda includes discussions of median modifications on MacArthur Blvd at Richmond Blvd, the bicycle and pedestrian facilities program one-year plan, I [BIKE] Oakland 2010 Bikeways Map design review, and nominations for BPAC Chair and Vice-Chair. The BPAC is extremely inclusive – any Oakland resident who attends three consecutive meetings becomes a voting member of the committee – so if you’re interested in bike and ped issues, you should consider attending. The BPAC will be meeting from 5:30-7:30pm in Hearing Room 4 of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Friday, February 19th WOBO Presents: An Evening with Willie Weir

Join Walk Oakland Bike Oakland to hear Willie bring to life tales from his latest book Travels with Willie that will have you chuckling and leave you wanting to chuck your day job and hit the road. Bicycling magazine says, ‘Travels with Willie is one of the rare bike books that gets it right.’ Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine and a cycling commentator for public radio station KUOW in Seattle. His bicycle travels have taken him around the globe–including such ‘off the tourist path’ destinations as India, South Africa, Bosnia, Laos and Colombia. Tickets: $5 WOBO members, $10 non-members. Special $25 annual WOBO membership (including event ticket) will be available at the door. The book Travels with Willie will be available for purchase for $15 (cash only). All ticket revenue and a portion of book sales will benefit WOBO. This event takes place from 6:30-8:30pm at Oakland Humanist Hall (390 27th Street, between Telegraph & Broadway). For more info, visit WOBO’s website.

Saturday, February 20th - Jane Brunner’s October Community Advisory Meeting: “How Can We as Individuals, and as a City, Address Climate Change?”

This month’s community meeting features Garrett Fitzgerald, City of Oakland Sustainability Coordinator and Emily Kirsch, Oakland Climate Action Coalition. Instead of a typical question and answer period, the meeting will be using the “World Café” approach, breaking up into small groups and intensively discussing our different perspectives on climate change, and our ideas for action we can take. This meeting will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon at Peralta Elementary School, 460 63rd Street. To learn more, call 238-7001.

Saturday, February 20th - Oaklandish Tour De Taco

Hosted by Cyrus Farivar of californiatacotrucks.com and the East Bay Bike Coalition, the Oaklandish Tour De Taco is a gastronomical quest on wheels through the Fruitvale district of Oakland. Whether you’re a taco truck veteran or a mobile food newb, the Oaklandish Tour De Taco is not to be missed. Bring: Bike, helmet, camera, $10-15 for tacos, maybe $5-$10 for ice cream/beer. Bring your friends, your bikes, and an empty stomach to Fruitvale BART, Saturday, February 20th at 11:00am. For more info and the full list of taco trucks to be visited, visit the Facebook event page.

Saturday, February 20th - “DO IT FOR HAITI” A Monumental Benefit and Clothing Drive

“DO IT FOR HAITI” offers a staggering roster of performers and a unique opportunity to support Haiti relief efforts, learn first hand about local organizations working in Haiti and get involved with organizations making a difference on the ground. Events will feature performances and live music including socially relevant theater, Afro-Haitian music and dance, monumental sculpture and art events for children. The event runs from 2:00-11:55pm at NIMBY – 8410 Amelia Street, Oakland CA 94621, which is BART accessible and has bicycle and car parking available. Admission: $10 (children under 12 free). Donations of summer weight clothing for children and adults will be accepted on site. For more info, including the full lineup of artists, see the Facebook event page.

Saturday, February 20th - Obama Campaign Documentary Viewing

Join Organizing for America to honor and commemorate the historic election of President Obama and celebrate the work we did together during his first year in office. We’ll watch the HBO documentary, By the People: the Election of Barack Obama, and plan our work in the coming year. We all need to recommit ourselves to supporting the President and making the change we voted for a reality. Movie starts promptly at 5:30. Barbecue before and after! The event runs from 5-8pm at Everett and Jones, 126 Broadway (corner of 2nd). RSVP and find more info at the event’s website.

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