Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 6, 2014

Burn!

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, Alameda Point, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I’m back!  I thought I’d get the new year started with a little EIR discussion.

So, I know that reading EIRs are boring.   But there is one part of the EIR process that lends itself to unexpected drama and fascinating reading.  Behold!  The responses by the City of Alameda to comments submitted on the DEIR.   The one that is particularly noteworthy is the City’s response to the City of Oakland.   The City of Oakland submitted a series of super snarky comments essentially saying that the City’s EIR is deficient and fundamentally flawed because it doesn’t properly address traffic impacts (or something like that).   The City of Alameda’s response is along the lines of “whoa! slow your roll there.  We’re using the same measures that you are so basically if you are telling us that our EIR is deficient, then that means that your EIR’s probably have problems too.”  (or something like that).

Mostly the City of Alameda response hones in on the City of Oakland’s most recent EIR for the Lake Merritt area which says that that project (in addition to all the other Oakland projects in the hopper) is significantly larger in scale and scope than the Alameda Point plan.  For that particular project Oakland has declared that while there will be an impact to Chinatown, short of doing some signal retiming there is nothing that the City of Oakland can do to mitigate the impact.  And even if they could do signal retiming, they may not do it anyway.   On the other hand, the City of Oakland is insisting that Alameda do something about its impact on Chinatown even though the City of Oakland has declared that nothing can be done (short of the signal retiming).   Yeah, if it seems a little unfair, you’re right.

Word is the new Planning Director at the City of Oakland wrote this letter about Alameda Point’s EIR — maybe not having reviewed the past and current EIRs that exist in Oakland right now — and didn’t even think to make a courtesy call to Alameda to let them know that she would be filing that particular nasty gram.

Below are the choicest  tidbits that I pulled out that highlight the hypocrisy of the City of Oakland’s current position on traffic impacts, really worth reading especially if you don’t plan on reading the actual EIR comments.

[T]he Alameda Point project would result in impacts to transportation facilities in Oakland and Chinatown. The EIR identifies mitigation measures to reduce automobile trips and optimize signal timing in Oakland. These conclusions and mitigations are consistent with the City of Oakland’s conclusions in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan Draft EIR. By comparison to the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan project, the Alameda Point Draft EIR found that the proposed Alameda Point project traffic would represent a fraction of the new traffic currently being proposed by the City of Oakland in locations immediately adjacent to I-880 and Chinatown. As documented on page 7 of the City of Oakland comment letter, the City of Oakland is currently planning over 15,119 new housing units and over 10 million square feet of non-residential new development in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan, the West Oakland Specific Plan, the Broadway/Valdez Specific Plan, the Central Estuary Area Plan,and the Oak to Ninth Project. The Oak to Ninth Project also includes approximately 5,000 new parking spaces. The Alameda Point project would have approximately 1,200 new housing units and three million square feet of new non-residential development (two million of the 5.5 million square feet of non-residential development is already occupied with non-residential uses and businesses in existing buildings at the former NAS Alameda). The Lake Merritt Station Area Plan EIR evaluates Oakland’s plans for approximately 5,000 new residential units and approximately two million square feet of additional non- residential development in the Lake Merritt/Chinatown neighborhood. The Lake Merritt Station Area Plan EIR finds that the traffic generated from the Oakland project would not impact pedestrian safety, that additional traffic at a number of Oakland intersections would result in automobile level of service impacts, and that at most of those locations the only feasible mitigation is signal retiming and that is not always feasible (see pages 3.2-130, 3.2-131, 3.2-134 3.2-135, 23.2-150, 3.2-151, and 3.2-153 of the Lake Merritt Area Plan EIR). The analysis in the Alameda Point EIR is consistent with Oakland’s conclusions. These similar conclusions should be expected, because the Alameda Point EIR used City of Oakland’s own thresholds of significance for the analysis. Accordingly, there is no basis for Oakland’s “critique” of the traffic analysis in the Alameda Point Project Draft EIR. [emphasis added]

If the City of Oakland considers the Alameda Point contribution to the overall increase in traffic in Chinatown to be “severe”, then logic demands that the City of Oakland disclose the “severity” of its Plan’s impact on the Oakland Chinatown community. The Lake Merritt Station Area Plan Draft EIR fails to identify the impacts from the Oakland projects as “severe.” Furthermore, the City of Alameda cannot impose mitigation obligations on the City of Oakland. Over the last 10 years, the City of Oakland has released a number of EIRs that examine the impacts of Oakland development on the Chinatown community. All of these EIRs, including the most recent Lake Merritt Station Area Plan EIR, conclude that with the exception of some signal timing adjustments, impacts to Chinatown intersections are significant and unavoidable. If the City of Oakland cannot identify feasible mitigation for these intersections, the City of Oakland cannot demand that the City of Alameda project fund a fair-share of the costs of the improvements. [emphasis added]

In the future, if the City of Oakland would like the existing traffic count data to be consistent among City of Alameda and City of Oakland EIRs, the City of Oakland should provide the data requested and required. Regional cooperation would save time and taxpayer dollars. The City of Oakland should not refuse to share data and then complain about the accuracy of data in its neighbors’ documents.

For the intersection of Jackson and Sixth Street, which is part of the Broadway-Jackson interchange, the City of Alameda is continuing to work with Alameda CTC and the City of Oakland to develop consensus on this improvement in order to bring an improvement to the LOS at those intersections. However, it should be noted that over the last 10 years and two separate efforts by the Alameda CTC to develop a “Broadway Jackson” improvement plan with Oakland, the City of Oakland has rejected every alternative development to-date.

The Alameda Point EIR’s findings for Oakland intersections are substantially consistent with the City of Oakland’s findings in the recently released Lake Merritt Station Area Plan Draft EIR, however. As noted above, in the response to Comment 7-17, the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan EIR rejects as mitigation for intersection impact the retiming of traffic signals to improve vehicle flow because such changes would conflict with City of Oakland policy concerning pedestrians. The Lake Merritt Station Area Plan EIR similarly rejects as mitigation at a number of intersection the potential addition of additional travel lanes to improve traffic flow because such changes would require acquisition of right-of-way, and/or could result in loss of bicycle lanes, medians and/or on-street parking or narrowing of existing sidewalks. The City of Alameda would not propose improvements in Oakland that have been rejected in the City of Oakland’s own analyses and which would be outside the City of Alameda’s responsibility and jurisdiction.

The City of Oakland appears to have a double standard for environmental documents. The Alameda Point Draft EIR provides an extensive discussion and disclosure of potentially significant impacts in Oakland and Chinatown, including significant and unavoidable impacts…The analysis is equivalent in scope and detail to the scope and detail that the City of Oakland provides in its own environmental documents for projects in and around Oakland Chinatown.

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16 Comments »

  1. This posting and the EIR confirm that the traffic impact of the current plan for adding thousands of new residents to Alameda Point would be “significant and unavoidable” if the current plan goes ahead. The EIR also acknowledges that an alternative plan for Alameda Point, one of less development and more preservation than under the current plan, would have less of an impact on traffic and would be better environmentally overall.

    Also, the EIR makes several references to developing the plan for Alameda Point to align with the controversial regional “Plan Bay Area.” In addition to all the other reasons not to have that regional “Plan Bay Area” dictate decisions for our unique island — an island that still has just a single two lane road as the primary surface route by which half the island and all of Alameda Point can commute — let’s add this failure of Oakland and Alameda to work together on traffic solutions as another red flag.

    Finally, if Oakland won’t be responsible in dealing with the significant traffic impact of development, it doesn’t follow Alameda that Alameda should shrug our collective shoulders and be irresponsible too. Saying there will be a Traffic Demand Management program isn’t sufficient.

    Comment by Comment on EIR — January 6, 2014 @ 4:59 pm

  2. Today in The Alamedan: “Critics in both Oakland and Alameda have blasted as unrealistic the city’s analysis of traffic congestion Point development could create on both sides of the estuary. Specifically, they have seized on a chart deep in the environmental impact report’s appendices showing that a completed Point development will feed just eight cars an hour through the Posey Tube during morning rush hour and that traffic across three of the Island’s four bridges will decline – results they have called “counterintuitive” and “unimaginable.”

    They also questioned the model used by the city to forecast future traffic, which anticipated that commuters faced with backups at the Posey Tube would drive across Alameda to cross at its bridges instead.”

    http://thealamedan.org/news/alameda-oakland-fresh-fight-over-traffic

    Comment by Comment on EIR — January 7, 2014 @ 7:04 am

  3. There is a recent article in the S F Business Times that describes San Francisco as being fully entrenched as part of “Silicon Valley”. Silicon Valley is home to the worlds largest technology companies, and some of those companies are moving to San Francisco. With so many tech companies and new start ups moving to the City, the entire Bay Area is experiencing/ will be experiencing incredible growth – the kind of growth and jobs that can help both our cities prosper in a big way.

    This is the conversation we need to be having!

    The City of Oakland would be better served keeping their eye on the ball and not getting side tracked with a fight with Alameda. This is an incredible opportunity for both cities.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 7, 2014 @ 7:59 am

  4. #2, despite what you may have learned on the interwebs, “critic” and “expert” are not the same thing.

    Comment by notadave — January 7, 2014 @ 9:01 am

  5. Alameda needs to find alternative transportation solutions, such as more ferries, buses, casal carpool, or even a rail system which connect to BART. I live close to the Webster St. Tunnel and a few time I went to South Shore and was caught in commute traffic just trying to cross the island. A lot of people in there own cars. Alameda has its own traffic problems. When I do ride BART I perfer the West Oakland station…just because there are more trains. That old Fruitvalle rail bridge if they are not going to use it they should tear it down…it is an eyesore.

    It would be great if Oakland could attract more (high tech or other) business where people could walk or drive a short distance to work. With the new construction planned for Jack London Square, and Oak to 9th project hopefully a lot more people from Oakland will start riding the ferry…many don’t even know about it. Most of the people who ride the ferry are from Alameda.

    I think the high tech in SF is great because I know so many people who live in SF and commute to San Jose…it would be great if people could find jobs close to where they work.

    There are 1,200 planed at Alameda Point but there is also about 500 other homes planned in the West End.

    Comment by Joe — January 7, 2014 @ 9:18 am

  6. As long as all the time & money are spent arguing about it & not building it, as it has been for the last 16 years, there won’t be any traffic to worry about.

    Comment by vigi — January 7, 2014 @ 9:21 am

  7. Vigi, in the meantime I will enjoy my daily walk along the water, past the Hornet,and along the Seaplane Lagoon, without any cars or throngs of people to avoid. Its really great in the afternoon with no wind.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2014 @ 11:22 am

  8. John,
    I like Seaplane Lagoon, are they going to get rid of the rest of those polluting ships except the hornet or are they staying? I use to date the second in charge of one of those ships and we ate Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Officers Dining room…The food was great but what purpose do they have now…they just sit there letting their lead paint pollute the bay. I much rather see the water and wildlife. After spending some time in the ship at the time it made me appreciate I spent my time in the Air Force and not on one of those ships.

    Comment by Joe — January 7, 2014 @ 12:23 pm

  9. Dave, thanks for the info. on these ships, I have always wondered about their history. Joe over the past 6 or 7 years I have seen each one of these ships be taken away and come back with the hulls repainted, I can’t guarantee that they are safe, but I do know that they are maintained pretty well. The rent that they bring into the city is also very helpful. P.S. take a good look at the Hornet and you will see the paint peeling off into the water. It to bad.

    Comment by John P. — January 7, 2014 @ 4:19 pm

  10. #4 Your attempt to dismiss the traffic concerns many reasonable people have about the plan to add thousands more residents to Alameda Point by suggesting those concerns are nonsense “learned on the interwebs” is impolite, smug and unhelpful.

    The truth is that “experts” and their models are fallible.

    The problem many of us have still not seen a solution to in all of this is that to get to and from busy Oakland by ground transportation there is still only a single tube in each direction for Alameda Point and all of west Alameda.

    Comment by Comment on EIR — January 7, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

  11. those ships also use a substantial
    portion of electrical power sold by Alameda Power within City limits, don’t they?

    Comment by MI — January 7, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

  12. What I would find interesting and it may have been posted on here is how much rent the City recieves for each of those ships parked there and also how much income comes in from each of the hagers, commercial space, housing units ect from the base and the value of the buildings and property taxes paid or are the exempt from property taxes and special assessment taxes such as for schools, the hospital ect…because they are currently owned by the city but have private companies renting the space?

    Comment by Joe — January 7, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

  13. I’m all for the fight being nasty and public. I feel a lot of the EIR and Traffic Studies commissioned by developers and Cities should be classified as fiction. With a battle between the two Cities each will reveal the others flaws. That is a win-win for the common Citizen.

    Comment by frank — January 7, 2014 @ 5:04 pm

  14. I don’t know about the hospital tax but I know for a fact that private businesses leasing at the base and other city owned property do pay school parcel taxes on their possessory interest.

    Comment by dave — January 7, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

  15. Here the front page, lead story in tomorrow’s Alameda Journal: “ALAMEDA — The redevelopment of the Alameda Naval Air Station will increase traffic throughout the city and parts of Oakland, clogging a road network already stretched near capacity, an Environmental Impact Report on the massive project has found. The report, which the Planning Board will consider recommending to the City Council on Monday, also said it will not be financially feasible to offset the increased traffic by widening and building more roads, or by building a new bridge or tunnels across the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.”

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/my-town/ci_24873251/alameda-planning-board-consider-alameda-point-eir

    Comment by Comment on EIR — January 9, 2014 @ 4:56 pm


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