So the City Council the other night voted to move forward with the Alameda Point EIR which means…well really nothing as of yet except that there is now an EIR for Alameda Point until such time that someone decides to file a lawsuit. Apparently some people finally got the message that there is not that much housing attached to this particular overall plan that the EIR studied the impacts for which was a nice change from the folks that generally go up to speak at these meetings and say “omghousing!”
As I mentioned yesterday what I worried about while starting to watch this meeting was this blog entry by City Councilmember Tony Daysog who, one would think, would understand the nuances of what all those traffic impacts should mean. Not because he should know by virtue of being on the City Council, but because he has access to staff in the Planning Department that can walk him through things that are of concern. The passage I referenced yesterday was this one, and this concern has come up in the comments on this blog and others as well:
But there is one document that concerns me still: it’s the EIR — specifically the traffic analysis. I first raised the issue of Appendix G of the EIR during the Sept. 2013 joint City Council and Planning Board meeting, and, quite frankly, I am still troubled by it. The implied argument within those numbers, in my opinion, flies in the face of everything we’ve talked about over the years since base conversion began, particularly with regard to impacts at the outbound Posey Tube in the morning. Why else did Shea Home\Centex Homes come-up with their gondola idea back in 2000? Why else had we talked about hard cost transit items like light rail? All because staff, officials and residents rightly worried that the impacts of Alameda Point redevelopment even at the scale imagined in the CRP 1996,and therefore in the development tools before us tonight, would require some sort of fixed (i.e. expensive) solution in accordance with impacts at Posey.
To put it succinctly as possible: I’m just not buying this traffic diversion argument. Diversion will happen, yes; but not at a scale that lessens impacts through the Posey Tube. That simply flies in the face of what goes on now: when the Tube bottlenecks because of an accident, yes, many cars divert to Park Street . . . but the bulk still try to go through the Tube.
The worse thing about this argument is that he indicates that he has brought it up at previous meetings and I know, personally, that I have heard the answer at many meetings prior to this one, so…why he was still concerned about there not being a reference to a new bridge or tunnel on the West End, I’m not sure.
Anyway, I don’t know if this comment by staff was made because of what was on Tony Daysog’s blog or what has been written on other blogs, but here is the answer about that whole “traffic diversion argument” aka the eight cars through the Tube thing:
On the Chinatown letters that we received, I know there’s a lot of angst over a particular data point that was in a technical appendix to the EIR and I just wanted to very quickly address that. The EIR, as I said, uses a regional traffic model and there was a specific question that that appendix basically asked which was: If you take the current capacity of the tubes, which is set by the width of the tubes and by the regional model, and you take all the development in Alameda and all the development in Oakland and the region that’s going to occur in the next 25 years and you put all of that into the roadway network and on to the system, how much space, how many cars more can we fit through the tubes?
And the answer is: well the EIR said eight. A traffic engineer who is helping Chinatown said to Chinatown, and it went into their letter, Alameda is saying there is only eight cars that is going to be generated by Alameda Point, isn’t that crazy? If you’ve read the entire report you know that is not what we are saying, but that was a data point buried in the appendix that got a lot of coverage. So I just wanted to address exactly what that data point means.
Also, another thing raised by staff was that the idea that another Alameda to Oakland crossing was going to magically save congestion on the Alameda side is faulty since the bottleneck happens on the actual freeway itself. Even if Alameda were to create new crossings tomorrow, it just means that more people make it to the freeway faster to sit in congestion there.