Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 13, 2012

Sign o the times mess with your mind

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Transportation — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

At the last Transportation Commission meeting, Public Works staff presented the SMART Corridor project for Webster Street.   The interesting thing about this is that even though it will be adding physical street furniture to the Webster Street area, the SMART Corridor project for Webster Street won’t be coming before any of the public bodies — most specifically the Planning Board — for design review or something similar.

Given the uproar over the Park Street Streetscape project where trees were felled left and right based on a plan that had gone through the public approval process a long time ago, I think this failure of Public Works to attempt to vet some of these massive signs through the community first, feels like we are heading down the road to a Park Street tree redux.

So here are a few examples of what the SMART Corridor project will bring to the Webster Street area:

I know we all want one of those monstrosities in front of our houses, no?

According to the discussion at the TC, apparently these signs are not “to scale” but why bother popping an example in the first place if it’s not going to give people an idea of what they can expect?

And then there are these bulb-y thingies that will be installed at intersections to “monitor” traffic:

Lots of other traffic monitoring devices in order to prioritize signal lights and the like slated as part of this plan.  Basically it’s like that scene in one of those action/suspense movies where some hacker takes control of the City’s traffic switchboard and changes all the signal lights to green to let the the escape vehicle speed through the intersections.

According to the staff report construction on the SMART corridor fixtures should start in Spring of 2012 (like now) with a completion date of Fall 2012, but I think the public has very little information or knowledge about this project and the possible impacts for some neighborhoods (like the ones getting those horrific signs) it almost appears as though Public Works has learned nothing from the fallout of Park Street and is plowing ahead with what they think is best and attempting to avoid public input and scrutiny.  The total cost for this project is $1.5 million, nothing to sneeze at, I think we need some more opportunities for public input on this project.



  1. Lauren, I agree with your post this morning. When projects of concern happen on Park Street, Harbor Bay, or the East End, most often the council chambers are packed with concerned citizens to make their voices heard — and they get heard as a result. However, I’ve noticed that when projects of concern happen on the West End there are usually very few and most often NO speakers that show up at the public hearings.

    One case in point is the very large 140,000 sq ft building design for the new Target going in at Alameda Landing. The proposed design for this mega building is a block long building with “no windows”. That’s right – no windows. There are a number of other issues with the design that concern me — but more important, there is absolutely no way this building design would have been approved at South Shore or anywhere else on the Island. There were only two public speakers that showed up at the public hearing to comment on the design, and it looks like this very ugly design will get approved by the Planning Board after only one public hearing and two public comments. The redesign of the Alameda South Shore center took several public hearings and several public comments before the Planning Board approved it.

    The lesson here is: “Folks from the West End need to start showing up at public hearings if they want their voices to be heard”.

    Comment by Karen Bey — April 13, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  2. How many signs? How many “bubbles”? Just curious.

    Comment by Alapeeps — April 13, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  3. “. . .these bulb-y thingies. . .” look a lot like cameras to me. If they are “monitoring” traffic, they are either cameras or some kind of radar gun to monitor speed or how many cars are approaching an intersection. If they are cameras, one would wonder why that shouldn’t be open to public discussion, as very few of us like “Big Brother” watching our every move. And, if they are cameras, who monitors them? They may cost $1.5 mill to install, but who pays for the person to sit in front of a monitor and control the camera? The bulb design leads me to believe that if it is a camera, it can be aimed anywhere in a 360 degree arc, which means it must have a person controlling it.

    Comment by Not. A. Alamedan — April 13, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  4. Hi Alapeeps:

    Here’s a map of where the components will be installed:

    Also I just noticed that there is already one of those electronic signs installed on Mariner Square Loop, and it is much smaller than the rendering. I don’t know if it’s always been there or if I just noticed it today, but if it’s been there for a while, I can’t remember it ever being used.

    Comment by Lauren Do — April 13, 2012 @ 9:47 am

  5. Perhaps APD can use these cameras to ticket drivers who jump the light at Webster/Stargell and Webster/Atlantic … happens frequently (esp at Stargell).

    Comment by alameda — April 13, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  6. I thought one of the interesting points at the Transportation Commission meeting was that the public discussion of this project’s implementation would be at a WABA Board meeting. I wonder if the City will notice it.

    Also interesting was that staff was unable to provide information on the operations and maintenance costs that the city will bear, and that it has not been determined where that money will come from, though hopefully the County.

    Comments at the meeting indicated that WABA thought this was a good project for increasing their business viability, but increasing traffic and speeds on Webster will likely have the opposite effect. I know of no studies that show that traffic streaming through business districts leads to increases in sales. Has anyone seen anything to that affect?

    Comment by jkw — April 13, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

  7. Not. A….. I believe the cameras will have internet feeds, so the Police and Public Works can both monitor them. I’m also pretty sure that nobody will be watching them on a regular basis. I also believe that the cameras (I’m not sure if they are the same cameras) will be used to automatically detect whether cars, bikes or buses are at the intersection and trigger the lights accordingly, avoiding the issue of having to dig into the streets to install loop detectors.

    In a brief Q&A with the police chief, he is hoping that they will help with sussing out whether there are problems that need attention “in the tubes.” This project is not well understood because it has been planned in a vacuum. It’s also about to break ground, so it’s unlikely that anything will change.

    However, that doesn’t stop it from becoming a teaching tool for the problems we have in transportation planning in Alameda, and what steps need to be taken to fix them. (step one: engage the Transportation Commission, stop with the last minute “information only” presentations) That said, this project did have a short discussion at the TC in 2008 when I was on it. There were more questions raised about it than support. Nobody, including myself said “don’t do it” but there certainly wasn’t overwhelming excitement or support either.

    Having recently reviewed the tape of the meeting, it seemed clear that the expectation was that the project would return for more discussion once more information was known about the project. That never happened.

    Comment by jkw — April 13, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

  8. Alapeeps, thanks for the map.

    Doesn’t look like there are cameras in the tubes. unsure how APD will be able to see into them. Maybe they aren’t marked?

    Comment by jkw — April 13, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

  9. Whoops! missed a comment. Thanks for the map lauren.

    Comment by jkw — April 13, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

  10. “If they are cameras, one would wonder why that shouldn’t be open to public discussion, as very few of us like “Big Brother” watching our every move.”

    Not A. Alameda

    There is alot of fabulous technology out there. You can look at it as a positive or a negative. If you have a cell phone here is interesting app that they are making public…I’m sure it has been used for awhile whether you like it or not. It is just the world we live in.

    Comment by John — April 13, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  11. Most of the traffic cameras don’t record everything; they record when a car enters an intersection before the light, while the yellow light is about ready to go off, or against the light. They also record right turns on red with no full stop. There are companies who the cities contract with to monitor the film of the triggered events and in some cities, these tapes are posted on the internet, so when you get your ticket in the mail you can see yourself/car doing the violation. Very efficient and kind of scary. My husband got a ticket for over $400 for hesitating but not fully stopping while turning right on a red light, even though there was no oncoming traffic. He went to court to see if he could get it reduced and was told “no contest; State says you pay and the amount is set.” Nice little money maker.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — April 13, 2012 @ 5:12 pm

  12. not to change the subject but how come Jack gets so much time off, and the rest of us have to keep pounding away. Lauren does he still get paid or are you docking him for all this leisure time.

    Comment by John P. — April 14, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  13. John P

    I think Jack went for Fresh Air . Think he got too many whiffs from Churchlady’s pew and pewmates pungent gas they release . He is probably checking the Rainforests before they vanish from their gases.Churchlady always claims hers are Civil and Roselike and always Hermetically sealed but I think Jack discovered a leak lately.

    Comment by John — April 14, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

  14. Oh, that is very nice, John. What did I do to have you descend to this level of crudity?

    Comment by Kate Quick, — April 15, 2012 @ 8:15 am

  15. John. you think your cute, but Andrew Brietbart you ain’t. He also had the balls to go on stage as himself.

    Comment by M.I. — April 15, 2012 @ 10:34 am

  16. Kate,

    Just remember that “John” speaks for himself, the number of peopled who enjoy and respect you is vast. John’s just jealous. Try and ignore him, personally I have found it works well to just skip his comments, they add nothing to the community conversation.

    Comment by jkw — April 15, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  17. Requested and received a leave of absence, Johns.

    Mark wouldn’t travel to Cuba therefore I had no reason to go along to rescue him from declaring asylum so I decided to direct my time towards the Asian side of the globe once again, the far eastern side, Russia in particular.

    I have spent a good deal of time studying Russian history (pre-soviet Russia in college and the soviet period, primarily the Stalin era, on my own). There’s nothing like on-site examination. Consequently I will be heading to Vladivostok via Beijing next week with hopes of visiting Sakhalin Island and a couple of Stalin’s gulags.

    Not the Churchlady’s pew, John, this…(perhaps Lauren taking some of her writers to market)

    Comment by Jack Richard — April 15, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  18. I don’t take it particularly personally, but when he descends to being crude with no point at all other than to spread venom, he needs to hear that it is unacceptable. John can make his points without the personal attacks and scatological humor. It demeans him more than it does me. BTW, Church was lovely this morning – so many loving, caring and devout people. It kind of takes the sting out of those who choose to make fun of it.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — April 15, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  19. Churchlady,

    I know you like to act like we all just had lobotomy and you always act so civil and respectful but I was commenting to John P about Jacks possibilties of Jacks whereabouts and maybe why he needed fresh air and a vacation.

    Maybe I’m mistaken but I think last time Jack graced us you were well…Just being Churchlady.

    48.Jack, he couldn’t be referring to me. I may not agree with many opinions posted here, but I don’t think people who have different thoughts than mine are idiots. If I have a fact and they don’t, or are misstating the fact, they may be wrong, but differing does not imply that I have an opinion about their intelligence. Just their “facts.” And that’s a fact, Jack! Vigi, however, loves to personalize, attack another’s character, demean and belittle those with whom he/she differs. Not necessary.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — March 28, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

    50.There seem to be a bunch of “like thinkers/actors” in that department. I keep hoping that they will find something positive to work on; some way to find humanity in those with whom they differ; some way to build our community instead of standing on the sidelines throwing bricks and finding fault and conspiracies everywhere. We can differ until the cows come home but we need to do it in a different way. More like grown ups than playground bullies.

    Comment by Kate Quick, — March 28, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    I’m wondering in what way this ‘differing in a different way’ you would approve of. Seems I have read numerous comments of yours that disparage and minimize through rhetoric other people’s opinions. Sometimes we gaze in the mirror and see an unblemished saint then gaze out the window and see ‘playground bullies’ behind every comment. Would that you return harsh rhetoric aimed at you with double barreled harshness or with simple grace.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 28, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

    52.From the Lips of “Churchlady”

    I Don’t “personalize, attack another’s character, demean and belittle those”

    As She addresses “poodlekins” and accusing Others of

    “promote distrust ”

    “misrepresentation of the issue ”

    “no true knowledge of the facts ”

    “lies ”

    “false accusations”

    “rude unfair and untruthful”

    This was just in last few Days.

    Churchlady Belts out again from the Choir

    “I believe in civil discourse “

    Comment by John — March 28, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    53.Not to mention # 48.

    Comment by Jack Richard — March 28, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

    Comment by John — April 15, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

  20. Jack

    Have a fabulous Trip…….Love the Videos…LOL

    You better hurry back because I’m just about ready for my Vacation away from the Churchlady’s Vatican.

    Comment by John — April 15, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

  21. Churchlady let’s not confuse Real Church and why you are the Churchlady. Your a spoof of Dana Garveys Character Churchlady .

    About the character

    Created and played by Dana Carvey, The Church Lady is an elderly woman named “Enid Strict”, who is the uptight, smug and pious host of her own talk show, Church Chat. Enid is a spoof of “holier-than-thou” Christian churchgoers. On her show (which only lasts the duration of the sketch itself) she has multiple guests, usually celebrities of the time played by other cast members of SNL or by the actual celebrities themselves (usually whoever is guest-hosting that week’s SNL episode, appearing as themselves), who appear to be interviewed by her. However, the interviews are only a guise for her to call the celebrity guests out on their various alleged sins (which are often publicly known news events of the day). They initially receive sarcastic praises from her, until the interview eventually degrades into a tirade against their apparent lack of piety and their secular lifestyles, culminating with her judgmental admonishments and damnation. She often takes others to task for following the desires of their “naughty parts”.

    The Church Lady is known for always wearing a purple dress, a sweater, visible knee-high stockings, and a pair of cat’s eye horn-rimmed glasses. She was known for the catchphrases, “Well, isn’t that SPE-CIAL?!”, “How con-VEEN-ient!”, and “Could it be…SATAN?” (in later years, the latter would always end with a haunting echo). When sufficiently satisfied with herself, she would mug for the camera, while twitching the corners of her mouth from one side to the other for an indefinite length of time. She also gave advice in response to letters she ostensibly received. Furthermore, whenever she felt that she had demonstrated her superiority, she would do her “Superior dance” in which she would rhythmically strut to organ music (played by an organist named Pearl) in front of her alleged inferiors. Like her actor and several of his well known characters, she is a proficient drummer although this is only seen once.

    Carvey said he based the character on women he knew from his church growing up, who would keep track of his and others’ attendance.

    Comment by John — April 16, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  22. To#1: Yes, you are correct, Karen. That’s why I spoke up 4 times at the Transportation Commission meeting. Thanks, Lauren, for following up. You should also post the photo of the Closed Circuit TV Control Room Obaid provided at this meeting. I guess it will be located in the new 911 center if Measure C passes.

    Comment by vigi — April 17, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  23. Jack: 51.50! LOL!
    Churchlady: if you find “so many loving, caring, & devout people” in your church, maybe you should spend more time there, so it will rub off on you.

    Comment by vigi — April 17, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

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