Tag Archives: ACTIA

It’s time for the City Council to weigh in on the Oakland Airport Connector

29 Jun

Disclosure: I was recently hired to work part time on a short term basis for TransForm on the Oakland Airport Connector campaign. However, the thoughts expressed in my posts on this subject are my own and should not be construed to be those of TransForm.

The campaign for a better connector is really heating up. The Oakland Port Commission directed their staff to work with BART to look at alternatives to the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC). Don Perata sent a hard-hitting letter to MTC arguing that the OAC is “too much money for too little transit and economic value.” And just last Thursday, several Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) members strongly questioned the project and asked staff about alternatives.

Doesn’t it seem like it’s time for the Oakland City Council to weigh in? Larry Reid and BART don’t think so.

Last Thursday, Councilmember Nancy Nadel asked the Council Rules Committee to put a review of the OAC on the agenda for the July 14th Public Works Committee meeting, which she chairs. Specifically, she asked to agendize the “Discussion And Possible Action On The Bay Area Rapid Transit’s (BART) Design And Construction Proposal, Funding Status, Local Job Projections, And Projected Ridership For The Oakland Airport Connector Project.”

It seems commonplace for the Chair of the Public Works Committee to ask to review a half billion dollar public works project that the Council hasn’t reviewed in many years and which has changed substantially over time. So when the item came to Rules Committee, it was largely expected that they’d put it on the agenda.

BART and Larry Reid didn’t want that to happen though. Kerry Hamill, from BART, spoke to the committee and urged them to hold off hearings until after recess, in September. Her stated reasoning was that the RFP was just released and that BART wouldn’t have solid numbers until then. The problem with that argument is that BART has been approaching agency after agency for funding, so although the final financial numbers may change a bit when proposals return, the numbers are solid enough to present to MTC, the Port, and ACTIA, which means they should be ready to present to Oakland.

Councilmember Larry Reid backed up Hamill and pleaded with the other committee members to hold off until after recess. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan presented the reasons why the committee should immediately agendize the item – costs have skyrocketed, ridership projections have plummeted, the fare has increased from $2 to $6, and the local community stops have been eliminated. She made it clear that if the Council waits until September to review the project, it would be too late for them to impact the OAC project.

Kaplan is right, and it was apparent that besides Reid, the rest of the committee members were convinced by her arguments. Ultimately though, they didn’t take any action and pushed the issue to this week’s Rules Committee meeting. This July 2nd meeting will be the last chance to agendize the issue before the Council goes on recess.

That’s why it’s so important for any Oaklander who cares about public transit and economic development to contact the Rules Committee members and ask them to immediately agendize a review of the OAC. Please take 2 minutes and send an email via TransForm’s action page.

Or if you’d prefer, email or call the committee members directly:

Council President Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001

Jean Quan, District 4
JQuan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7004

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005

When you contact them, know that you’re not alone in asking for the City Council to weigh in on this project. Last Thursday afternoon, a few hours after the Rules Committee meeting, ACTIA heard an informational report on the OAC. Many ACTIA board members raised questions about the project and alternatives, and some specifically wanted to know whether Oakland really wants this project or not. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty said, “I need some direction out of Oakland….that says either you want this, or you don’t want this.”

So please contact the Rules Committee and echo the words of Haggerty. It is time for Oakland to give some direction on the OAC, and the July 14th Public Works Committee meeting is the time and place for that to happen.

For background information and ongoing updates about the OAC, please visit www.OaklandAirportConnector.com.

Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector:

Oakland Updates: Best of the East Bay, Uptown Unveiled, Oakland Airport Connector & Pay-Go

20 Jun

There’s so much going on in Oakland lately that it’s kind of impossible to keep up with here so I decided I’d just lump a bunch of brief updates into one post.

Still time to vote for Best of the East Bay: For some reason, the East Bay Express decided to extend voting for its Best of the East Bay Awards. Earlier this week I recommended voting for Damon and the Heathens as best band and Sean Sullivan as rising political figure. You have through Monday, June 22 to vote, so vote now if you haven’t already.

More Uptown Unveiled Photos: I posted my iPhone photos yesterday and Chris Kidd asked where he could find some more professional photos. Luckily, there are TONS on Flickr. My favorite photo sets come from The Inadvertent Gardener, psilocybes, vision63, amicicara, and Ken L. Katz. Enjoy!

What really happened at the Port? The Tribune covered the Oakland Airport Connector vote at the Port Commission, but unfortunately got it very wrong. V Smoothe wrote a blog post correcting all the mistakes and adding more background so that’s where you should go for the whole story. (The short version is that the Port voted to move ahead to apply to be able to give money to BART, and they’ll later have to vote on whether to actually give this funding or not. Also, they directed BART to look into other alternatives – yay!) So I called the Tribune reporter, Janis Mara, and discussed the mistakes in her story since I knew this was not a story that she had covered before. She went ahead and issued a correction. Thanks to V for bringing this to my attention and to Janis for making the correction.

Other Oakland Airport Connector updates: The City Council Rules Committee was supposed to vote this past Thursday on whether to agendize an update on the OAC, but Rules Committee got canceled, so it will be before them this Thursday, June 25th. That means there’s still time to contact the Council about this. Later on Thursday, ACTIA will also be discussing the OAC. It’s unclear at this point if they’ll just be receiving an update or if it will be an action item, but advocates will be there to encourage ACTIA to direct BART to study alternatives. If you need a good refresher on the OAC, check out the debate KPFA held on Friday between John Knox White of Transform and Linton Johnson of BART  (about 10 minutes in):

Terra Verde – June 19, 2009 at 1:00pm

Click to listen (or download)

And some good personal news – TransForm just hired me to work part time for the next several weeks on the OAC campaign. Since I already have another full time job, that means I’ll be very busy so posting here might be lighter than usual. (If you’re interested in filling in by writing a guest post, please contact me.)

How do you feel about pay-go? In response to Dellums saying he thought pay-go should be entirely eliminated, Debby at Today in Montclair set up a survey to find out about how Oaklanders feel about pay-go. Whether you have strong feelings or not, please take her very brief survey – I know I’m interested to see the results.

That’s it for now – if you have questions about other Oakland issues I’ve written about (or haven’t), feel free to ask them below.