Tag Archives: TransForm

Oakland’s Safe Routes to Transit grant applications

26 Jul

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

Blogs worth reading from Oakland organizations

18 Apr

I was so excited last week to find out that TransForm had started a blog, and it got me thinking about the other great Oakland based organizations that have blogs. I link to some of them in my blogroll but felt it was worth a post to spread the word about these great blogs:

TransForm – TransForming the Bay Area: The blog is new so it’s hard to know the scope, but judging by its name and TransForm’s mission, it is likely to cover transportation and land use issues in the Bay Area.

Ella Baker Center – Ella’s Voice: Ella’s Voice covers a wide range of issues that the Ella Baker Center works on – the environment, criminal justice, civil rights, and much more. I’ve been following the blog for a while and have enjoyed the mix of story telling, action alerts, and policy updates. Continue reading

Busy Thursday – Oakland Airport Connector & Netroots Nation

21 Jul

In case you haven’t heard, the BART Board will not let the Oakland Airport Connector die and is bringing it back tomorrow for a vote. Here’s TransForm’s alert (I’m doing some work for TransForm on the OAC):

BART staff continue to ram the Oakland Airport Connector project through, despite huge risks to existing BART service and the fact that the project still doesn’t meet federal civil rights requirements.

With the Oakland Airport Connector’s price tag of nearly $500,000,000 and anticipated operating costs of least $14 million a year, the Oakland Airport Connector will put BART so deep in debt that it will limit their ability to take out loans for critically-needed projects to fix the existing system, like replacing aging BART cars.

This will likely lead to more fare increases and service cuts over time as BART riders have to foot the bill for BART’s bad decisions!

We need your help and we need it now:

  1. Join us on Thursday, July 22nd at 8:45am for a short rally and then to speak at the BART Board meeting where they’ll have a final vote on whether to move ahead with the Oakland Airport Connector. The rally and meeting will be held at 344 20th Street in Oakland in the BART Board Room on the 3rd floor.  Email me if you’ll attend and to get talking points.
  2. Email the BART Board today to urge them not to support moving ahead with the Oakland Airport Connector at this time.

Thanks for helping us tell BART loud and clear that this project is simply too risky.

So if you can make it tomorrow, please go and tell BART they’d be making a big mistake by moving forward.

I unfortunately won’t be able to make it to this important meeting. Why? Well, I’ll be in Vegas (if my delayed flight ever takes off).

I’m speaking at Netroots Nation, on an awesome panel – “California’s Challenge: From “Failifornia” to Progressive Laboratory.” Here’s the description:

This panel will examine how progressives are working to move California from being a failed state to a progressive laboratory for change, consider the opportunities and possibilities for fixing what has become broken and assess the obstacles the state still faces as we seek to restore the California Dream. California’s crisis continues, but we now have an opportunity to assess what needs to be done to provide solutions that meet the needs of all Californians. We’ll bring together progressive leaders from across the state to talk about the budget crisis, jobs and economic recovery, immigration reform and how activists in the netroots can help build coalitions with other groups and elected officials to produce change.

And I’ll be joined by some pretty awesome panelists – Robert Cruickshank from Courage Campaign, Brian Leubitz from Calitics, Sally Lieber, former Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, Thomas Saenz, President of MALDEF, and Lindsey Horvath, member, West Hollywood City Council.

I’m guessing most readers won’t make it to Vegas on such short notice, but if you’re interested in watching, you can watch online at 3pm tomorrow (Thursday). And if you want to follow the general fun of Netroots Nation, check out the #nn10 hashtag on Twitter.

June 21-27 Oakland Political & Community Events

21 Jun

Tuesday, June 22nd – TRANSFORUM: Problems & Solutions for Public Transportation in the Bay Area

TransForm’s next TransForum will look at the harsh realities transit agencies currently face across the Bay Area and discuss potential solutions. Speakers include Carolyn Clevenger (the project manager for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Transit Sustainability Project), Lewis Clinton (AC Transit’s CFO), Stuart Cohen (TransForm’s executive director), and Carli Paine (TransForm’s transportation program director). Joel Young, a member of AC Transit’s Board of Directors, will moderate a lively discussion and Q&A session. The TransForum will run from 6:00-7:30pm (with time for networking after) at AC Transit’s headquarters, 1600 Franklin Street. Drinks and snacks will be served. TransForums are free for TransForm members and $5 for non-members. RSVP at TransForm’s website.

CANCELED – Wednesday, June 23rd – Zoning Update Committee Meeting

At this meeting, the ZUC will review the proposed zoning text and maps, as part of the Citywide Zoning Update. The agenda includes consideration of changing the zoning to the commercial and residential areas of the neighborhoods in West Oakland, North Oakland, and the North Hills. To read the staff report and to see the maps of the proposed zoning, please visit the ZUC’s website, and look at the “Upcoming Meetings” table. This meeting takes place at 4pm at City Hall, Hearing Room 1, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Wednesday, June 23rd – Oakland Boosters & Bloggers for Libby Party

If you know Libby Schaaf, you know Libby loves Oakland! Join her fellow Oakland boosters, including some stars of Oakland’s growing blogosphere, to help out Libby’s campaign for City Council, District 4 Oaktown-style – with some great art, music, locavore cocktails, and the beautiful diversity of people that makes us love our Town. Hosted by Becks, dto510, Vsmoothe, Zennie62, Ratna Amin, Amanda Brown-Stevens, Annie Campbell Washington, Justin Horner, Doug Johnson, Adam Van De Water, and other bloggers and boosters to be named. The party takes place from 5:30pm – 7:30pm at Era Art Bar & Lounge, 19 Grand Avenue. Big Booster Host Committee: $100 / Guests: $35. To join the host committee, email libbyforoakland@gmail.com. For more information and to RSVP, visit Libby’s website. (Disclosure: I am working for Libby’s campaign.)

Wednesday, June 23rd – AC Transit Board Meeting

At this week’s meeting, among other items, the AC Transit Board will be voting on BRT (sans Berkeley) and discussing the agency’s fiscal emergency. 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, June 24th – California Young Democrats Black Caucus Bay Area Kick Off

You are cordially invited to join East Bay Young Dems and the California Young Dems Black Caucus for the Bay Area leg of their kick off tour on Thursday June 24th. It will be a perfect opportunity to not only meet the members of the Caucus, but connect with many young and emerging leaders as well as seasoned community advocates from around the Bay Area and beyond. This event takes place from 7pm – 9pm at AIR Lounge, 492 9th Street (at Washington). RSVP and find more info on Facebook.

Thursday, June 24th – Temescal Street Cinema

The Third Annual Temescal Street Cinema returns to 49th and Telegraph (Bank of the West Building) this summer for another year of great, free, locally made films! There’ll be live music and free popcorn at every show, with events getting started at 8 PM every Thursday from June 11-July 16. Movies will start when it gets dark, no sooner than 8:30 PM. Come early or bring a chair! This week features Etienne!, in which a young man in San Francisco learns that his hamster will soon die and decides to take the beloved pet on a last road trip. This quirky and deadpan comedy for the whole family mines several veins of unexpected poignancy as the two meet a rich cast of characters on their travels. Find out more details at the Temescal Street Cinema website.

Sunday, June 27th – Oaklavia: Come Play in the Streets

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland is hosting Oaklavía, which will shut down streets to cars and open them up to pedestrians and bicyclists, allowing residents to experience the city’s best natural and architectural assets, outdoor activities, and arts in some of our most well-loved and unique streets and neighborhoods. There will be organized activities spaced out along the route. Explore the vibrancy of Old Oakland dancing to live Latin music, and enjoy the urban landscape of West Oakland with circus arts at Kinetic Arts Center. You’ll also find dance classes provided by the YMCA, bike repair classes by Love Your Bike, bike safety classes led by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition and food carts. This event will take place from 10am-2pm from Broadway and Grand to 7th Street and Market. For more info, including route details and activity information, visit the Oaklavia website.

Just a few more days until the Car Free Challenge starts

28 May

I don’t know how this crept up on me so quickly, but TransForm’s Car Free Challenge starts next week! I was reminded of it because yesterday I opened my mailbox and saw a package from TransForm. I had forgotten that one of the perks of joining the challenge is this awesome shirt:

If you want one of these, the only way to get one is to join the Car Free Challenge. And when you do, please join the Blogoaksphere Team. I had hoped to have time over the past few weeks to do individual outreach to bloggers, but alas, my life’s been keeping me pretty damn busy so this post will have to suffice. So far there are just two of us on the team, and I know there are many more bloggers and blog readers who support TransForm and alternatives to driving. And it’s just a week long commitment to stop driving or to drive fewer miles – I know many of you can do it!

So don’t procrastinate any longer. Join the challenge, join the team, and look out for an awesome package from TransForm, which should be a nice respite from all the campaign mail you’ll be receiving next week.

Join the Blogoaksphere Car-Free Challenge Team!

14 May

Last week, I wrote about TransForm’s Car-Free Challenge. I hope some of you have registered to take the challenge. It’s only a week-long this year and supports an incredible Oakland-based organization.

But if you haven’t, another incentive to join is to be part of the Blogoaksphere Team. Last year, several Oakland bloggers and blog readers took the challenge, but I neglected to create a team and ended up regretting it. The blogoaksphere has joined together in the past to support transit, stop parking lots from being built, and stop the wasteful and inequitable Oakland Airport Connector. So let’s join together again and see how few miles the blogoaksphere can drive.

Besides helping the environment, saving money, and bringing attention to an important issue, you’ll also have fun. TransForm is throwing a couple of parties for Car-Free Challenge participants, and offering individual and group prizes throughout the Challenge.

Don’t delay. Sign up for the Car-Free Challenge now and then join the Blogoaksphere Team.

If the registration fee is a barrier to you, you can still support the challenge and team by spreading the word to friends, coworkers, and family. And if you’re an Oakland blogger, please spread the word about the challenge and the team on your blog.

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.

The wedding exit of my dreams…

6 May

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ve been super busy planning my wedding. One of the things that popped up on my wedding planning checklist is to book transportation for the wedding. Fortunately, that’s not an expense we need to cover or a task we need to deal with. Unfortunately, our wedding is going to involve a whole bunch of driving, since it’s at Chabot Space and Science Center and there’s no bus service there on the weekends.

If only we could leave our wedding like this:

I can dream, right?

But more importantly, I can make up for our wedding’s dependence on car travel by taking TransForm’s Car Free Challenge. I took the challenge last year, and going nearly carless for a month was harder than I could have imagined (and I don’t even own a car!). This year, they’re making it a bit easier by running the challenge for a week instead of a month, June 1-7.

I’m going to take the challenge again. It’s going to be a struggle to set my goal because I have a meeting in San Leandro the first Wednesday of every month. I usually BART there and get a ride home, but a ride home would change my goal from zero miles to 13.4 miles. So I might just have to suck it up and take BART to the bus and get home after 10pm.

Whether you’re carless, extremely car dependent, or somewhere in between, consider taking the Car Free Challenge. You’ll bring attention to an important issue, have a real impact on the environment, and probably will save some money.

If you plan on taking the challenge, let me know. Last year they had teams and I thought it would be fun to start a blogoaksphere team this year. I’ll coordinate it if there’s enough interest. (Update: I’ve set up the blogoaksphere team. Please join!)

Take Action: Last chance to ensure an equitable Oakland Airport Connector

4 Feb

Disclosure: I am again doing some work for TransForm on the Oakland Airport Connector campaign.

As you’ve no doubt heard, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) voted last week to give BART a bit more time to convince the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that it has its act together and can complete its equity analysis in time to secure stimulus funding for the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC). The drop dead date approved by MTC is February 16th – by that date, if FTA does not approve BART’s equity action plan, the $70 million in stimulus funds will be redistributed to the regional transit agencies that desperately need it.

If FTA does approve BART’s action plan, MTC will meet on February 17th to vote on what to do. At that point, they can vote to keep the funds with BART for the OAC and pray that BART will follow through on its equity analysis. Or, they could vote to re-appropriate the funds to the transit agencies.

So there are still two decision makers at play here – FTA and MTC.

Many people have been asking me if there’s anything left to do. They want to take action. They want to make sure that the MTC does not roll the dice and gamble $70 million away, when the transit agencies desperately need it and BART has shown repeatedly that it is unable or unwilling to move forward with an equitable connector.

The one year fight for an equitable connector is likely coming to an end – either we’ll be stuck with an unequitable overhead connector that does not improve transit to the airport and wastes the region’s limited funds, or BART will have to start over and will hopefully embrace the bus rapid transit alternative that TransForm proposed last year.

There is one last thing you can do. Write to the FTA. Applaud them for their actions to date to ensure an equitable project, and urge them to insist that BART objectively and publicly complete the required civil rights analysis.

It’s easy to do. Visit TransForm’s action page and personalize your message. I know you have a lot to say. Say it, but keep it civil and positive. FTA has shown that they care about equity and that they will hold BART accountable for its actions. Let’s make sure they continue to do this. Send an email now and ask your friends, family, and coworkers to do the same.

Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector:

Fight against Oakland Airport Connector leads to FTA civil rights investigation of BART

17 Nov

I didn’t expect to be writing about the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) anytime soon, and I certainly didn’t expect to be sharing good news about it. Well, ok, maybe it’s not good news about the OAC, but I do have some incredible news to share about the outcome of our efforts to stop the OAC.

Today, Public Advocates Inc. and TransForm announced that their Title VI civil rights complaint against BART over the OAC has led to a full Title VI investigation of BART by the FTA! From the press release:

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights will conduct an on-site compliance review of BART’s entire Title VI program “within the next several months,” based in part on a complaint filed by transit policy experts and community advocacy groups. That complaint charged that in the rush to build the controversial Oakland Airport Connector (OAC), BART officials were evading well-established civil rights obligations…

A letter from FTA to Public Advocates Inc. staff attorney Guillermo Mayer informing him of the action reads in part:

“The specific issues in your complaint are being addressed from a broader perspective by this compliance review, with the intent of resolving any issues of non-compliance identified. If we make findings of deficiencies, FTA will monitor activities until we determine that the deficiencies noted are corrected.”

“We’ll have to wait and see what FTA finds, but the fact they find this case worthy of comprehensive federal review is a giant step forward,” said Mayer. “It also sends a strong message to agencies like BART and MTC that they’re going to have to start taking their civil rights obligations more seriously.”

I’m not sure what will come of this, but one thing I do know is that this never would have happened if we hadn’t worked so hard to stop the OAC. And even though the OAC seems to be moving forward, we could have accomplished something much bigger. Again, from the press release:

“We are fighting for a strong, sustainable BART, one that meets the needs of all Bay Area residents,” said John Knox White, Program Manager for TransForm. “This move by the FTA validates our concerns that the OAC planning process has not openly presented key information about a project that we feel will lead to future fare increases and service cuts on the BART system.”

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen! I’ll be watching this process closely and will report back when I have more information.

Previous posts on the Oakland Airport Connector: