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
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
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
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
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
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
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