Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 16, 2014

Carbon copy

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

Monday’s Planning Board meeting regarding the Alameda Point EIR (and assorted other documents) went fairly uneventfully and pretty much expected.

Long story short the EIR and assorted documents were voted through by the Planning Board to recommend to the City Council that they approve the EIR, etc.    As City Staff mentioned, this EIR reflects the third time an EIR has been studied for roughly the same project, and — as a reminder — the EIR does not guarantee approval of any specific development it just affirms the impact for the overall project itself.

There were, naturally, the omgtraffic! comments which was to be expected and far less than I had anticipated.   Former City Council candidate Eugenie Thomson was in rare form essentially saying that she, as an traffic engineer, could not understand the graphs and tables in the EIR but yet claimed that they were all wrong anyway.   Someone claimed that in his West East End neighborhood alone made up of two bedroom bungalows, each house had four to six cars each!  Each!  Which meant the EIR severely underestimated the impact from the future development.

It’s an interesting conclusion given the recent study that was released that shows that Alameda has, on average, a much lower car per household than that slice of Alameda that was referred to at Monday night’s meeting.   According to a recent UC Berkeley study (Spatial Distribution of U.S. Household Carbon Footprints Reveals Suburbanization Undermines Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Urban Population Density) which pretty much gives away the whole premise in the title, it essentially says what some folks have been saying for a while now: cities have lower carbon footprints than the suburbs.   But it also says that in major metropolitan areas like the Bay Area, the savings from denser city living is offset by the much higher carbon footprints of the suburbs that surround those large cities.  And, as you get, the further flung from the large city the higher the carbon footprint.

The researchers do say that just building more in the actual city itself is not the solution in and of itself.  Anyway, here’s a snap shot of one of the cool maps that they produced based on the research:

Here are Alameda’s two zip codes and the map and details for Vehicle Miles Traveled.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 1.44.58 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 1.45.12 PM

As you can see Alameda’s 94501 area code is pretty good and is on par with some of the zip codes in San Francisco with good access to many more transit options that Alameda has.   On the other hand Alameda’s 94502 area code which is built in the vein of more traditional suburbs so therefore has a slightly higher vehicle to household ratio than 94501 and therefore is shaded in the much darker blue which is typically indicative of cities slightly farther from the City Center of San Francisco.

To compare what a suburb suburb numbers come up as I pulled the numbers for Pleasanton, which is shaded the darkest of blues before hitting the indigo to purple range.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 1.46.06 PM

So essentially what does this tell us for future development, well, if we can, we should model Alameda Point more on 94501 than on 94502 if we want to keep VMT and car ownership at lower levels.   What that means may be types of housing or mixture of uses.  Perhaps it’s the availability of alternate transportation.   Whatever the magic mix is, it has kept the VMT and car usage on the lower side for the 94501 area code and for folks concerned about traffic impacts, the less people drive and the lower the number of cars folks own mean less traffic impacts for existing and further residents.



  1. Concerns about the huge traffic gamble it will be to add thousands more residents with no new crossings in west Alameda are often dismissed with certitude as baseless and hysterical (“omgtraffic!”).

    It is interesting that many seem to take traffic risks and concerns seriously when they are about the possibility of a couple hundred more residents on Bay Farm, but much less so when they are about the possibility of thousands more residents in west Alameda even though road access in and out is about the same on both places.

    Comment by Comment on EIR — January 16, 2014 @ 8:25 am

  2. I have not read EIR and may never get to it. There has been a reference to a statistic embedded in that document which provided for a condition where by traffic through the tube would travel at 8 cars per hour. Neither supporters of EIR or detractors have seized on that to provide context and explain how it is “counter intuitive”, as some apparently claimed, or a real possibility, or likely as others seem to think.

    Comment by MI — January 16, 2014 @ 9:22 am

  3. What I found most interesting about the public comment at the PB meeting, is that the speakers against the EIR findings were mostly from the East End, while the pro-EIR speakers actually live in the West End. The East-enders also seemed to be a bit late to the party, seeing as how the public comment period on the draft EIR had already ended.

    Comment by vigi — January 16, 2014 @ 9:26 am

  4. Vigi, I believe your commenting on a comment that the County transportation model projected that because the tubes are already impacted, the additional traffic generated by the project at peak hour would result in little change in tube traffic. The reason is that the model found that current trips through the tube that originate on the east end, would divert to the east end crossings, so the net result in the tube would be small.

    Additionally, the model projects that at full build-out, the number of out-bound trips generated by 1200 new homes at the point would be off-set by the number of trips that are currently leaving the island for work heading to Alameda Point at the 8,000 new jobs created.

    Comment by jkw — January 16, 2014 @ 9:42 am

  5. WHoops, said “vigi” meant “MI”

    Comment by jkw — January 16, 2014 @ 9:45 am

  6. That topic came up in the written comments to the EIR and staff mentioned in on Monday night too, I’m just going to cut and paste the explanation from the comments: (it’s around page 21 on the reader)

    The change in traffic volumes between the ‘no project’ and ‘with project’ during the AM and PM peak hours at the Alameda island gateways reflect both the traffic generated by the project as well as diversion to existing and future non-project traffic due to the capacity constraint in the peak direction. That is, that although the Webster and Posey Tubes are the closest automobile access points to the regional transportation network and I-880 from the project site, because the Tubes are currently operating near capacity and do not have additional capacity to accept significantly more automobile trips during the peak commute periods, the Model assigned many project trips that would use the Tubes, if capacity were available, to other routes. (It is noted that the Tubes would still be the route of choice during non-peak periods, when capacity exists; however, the analysis in the EIR focuses on the peak periods of commute traffic, as is common and appropriate in CEQA analysis.) Thus, the Model projects that many of the additional trips will be diverted to the other Estuary crossings at the Park Street Bridge, the Fruitvale Bridge, the High Street Bridge and the Bay Farm Bridge.

    To clarify, for the volume shown in the table, the column labeled “Project Volume” represents this change in volume due to the proposed project, not just project related traffic. As noted in the comment, this constraint is particularly evident in the outbound Posey Tube in the AM, where the change in volume with the project is 1 car under existing conditions and 8 cars under cumulative conditions. Under the Existing Plus Project Conditions scenario, the total change in outbound traffic is represented at other Estuary crossings, which represents traffic diverted from the Tubes. Under cumulative conditions, other growth in Alameda would result in a better jobs-housing balance thereby reducing the total outbound at island gateways during the AM peak hour. For more details on the travel demand model used for the analysis, see responses to Comments 2-1 and 7-7.

    The TL;dr takeaway is: Tubes are already at capacity during peak commute times so when we plug the numbers into the model the model assumes that some drivers will opt to take alternate routes during these times. But also because the project assumes that there will be a lot of new jobs created in addition to the new houses because Alameda has such a lopsided jobs-housing balance currently — meaning we have a lot more houses than jobs — the model also assumes that some of the commuters will be captured as taking the local jobs.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 16, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  7. The model should take Benny Hill’s advice about assumptions.

    Comment by dave — January 16, 2014 @ 10:55 am

  8. I fail to see the logic in the assumption that the traffic will divert to the East End when already there are three project approved (Marina Cove 2, Boatworks and Mapes) and a fourth project Encinal Terminal in the initial planning. Add to this that there is no requirement that students attend their neighborhood schools so parents are driving their children to one or more schools in the early hours. I am fortunate that I can walk to anywhere I go in Alameda and on the occasions I leave it is after the traffic rush. Even in walking I see more drivers are stressed and aggressive. Congestion has nothing to do with ‘Carbon Footprint’. A better model would be the type of driving that is done within the City itself. Also in the event of an Earthquake or other natural disaster how are people supposed to get off the Island if they have to.

    Comment by frank — January 16, 2014 @ 11:53 am

  9. There are internal Alameda intersections as well that are studied, they’re in the EIR.

    As to the contention of the study, if you want to disagree with the researchers that congestion has nothing to with someone’s carbon footprint, I’m assuming they welcome critiques to that affect. The contact information is here. I hope you circle back to let us know what they say about congestion and carbon footprints.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 16, 2014 @ 12:13 pm

  10. Yes they do mention internal Alameda intersections but seem to feel that if traffic is below the magic number of 44000 and 24000 vehicles per hour they don’t really have a problem. There is no mention of the other projects that are in the pipeline that I have mentioned and although the plan is essentially that people will just migrate to the other side of the Island there projections of increase of CO2 emissions is based on a multiple of population growth vs changing the traffic flow. Currently the arterial traffic filtering into Park St from Lincoln, Clement and Blanding in the morning is intense. Once Boatworks is built it will get nasty. Essentially if the traffic does flow West to East to Park St there will be idling traffic and Co2 emissions from Grand to Park in the morning dumping CO2 into those neighborhoods.

    Comment by frank — January 16, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

  11. Lauren
    I find it pathetic when you qualify the OMGtraffic peoples then go on a sarcastic rampage on peoples which have made a leaving stdiying traffic , their impact and actually one of the very few licensed traffic engineer in this case Ms Thompson , whether she has run for City council is irrelevant .
    I cannot wait the day they will have those 4000 houses plus business at the Point , I wish you good luck trying to make it in Oakland in 20 minutes from your gated community , that very same avenue leading to and from the base was clog everyday AM and PM when the base was active with traffic backed up to the freeway , there will be no difference to the contrary .
    Previous public director Mcnochio what ever his name was along with the City who also left made a point to hide every single piece of relevant information , Going as far as making life miserable for any public Employee who disagree with them up to termination , some 50 or 60 public employees were forced out , look it over ,that was more than 1/2 the staff , In 44 years I never seen any company which required to replace 50% of the staff , none in 4 countries .
    Now they are finally starting to admit there will be traffic problem . Good luck in 2 years I will be retired … wont . simple as that .

    Comment by joel rambaud — January 17, 2014 @ 12:48 am

  12. By the way Lauren if the City is not looking at an increase in traffic , why are they putting light at every intersection on Webster with video camera ?…..

    Comment by joel rambaud — January 17, 2014 @ 12:51 am

  13. I may have to buckle down and read the damn EIR, because neither reading excerpts or comments is doing much more than frustrating me. I also was taken on a tangent when a comment criticized effect on schools in EIR being a wash because of developer fees paying paying for schools. Snap! it’s just that simple. I’ll take this opportunity to say that the amount of fees that Council passed to mitigate other costs seem so prohibitive as to deter a lot of people from purchasing. So, go ahead and pile on school fees! Unless the original reference was not 8 vehicles per hour, then content of 4 and 6 don’t help much. In previous blog post and comment thread I almost commented that diversion don’t meet squat from my experience. Accidents in the tube allow much better than 8 cars per hour but the diversion to Park Street and deflection of normal Park Street people to Fruitvale etc. as a mess. One of my peeves is how folks turning left onto the Park Street bridge from Blanding are intimidated by oncoming right turns which often results in paralysis and as few as one car making said left.

    Comment by MI — January 17, 2014 @ 10:28 am

  14. 13


    Nah. They’re just following the right of way laws, which gives right turners priority, and driving prudently as they know many of the right turners go into the left bridge lane to make the next left onto Ford

    Comment by dave — January 17, 2014 @ 10:42 am

  15. As City Staff mentioned at Monday’s meeting the EIR doesn’t says there will not be a traffic problem, it discloses all the traffic problems and the reduction in the levels of service.

    Cameras at the intersections are a project of Alameda County’s SMART Corridor system. to provide traffic counts etc. So when cities have to produce EIRs and things traffic counts can be based on real data and not, you know, people “feelings” about how much traffic exists.

    So regarding the “8 vehicles through the tube” thing. That’s not in the EIR, that’s analysis by the “Oakland Chinatown Coalition” based on the data sets from the EIR. I guess the confusion with the number might be that the number quoted is additional cars on top of the existing volume that they extrapolate would be generated from the project.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 17, 2014 @ 10:57 am

  16. #13 and #14 I always wonder if they could do something to soften the right turn lane off Blanding (coming from Broadway) on to the Bridge. It is really hard to make that turn and not creep over to the second lane. I’m sure that a lot of people cheat over like you say to make the left on Ford but even trying to make a normal turn takes you over to the next lane a bit.

    Comment by frank — January 17, 2014 @ 11:02 am

  17. 15. so the original 8 cars reference, was 8 cars fewer than existing conditions? That is how I read it in 6 which makes sense. I understand that the projected vehicles generated by a project differ from what the actual impact may be. Is “cumulative” a euphemism for “what is actually likely”? 8 cars per hour total never made any sense but that is what it sounded like had been said in the first blog. Even if I’m being dense I’m unabashed because I figure I have company.

    dave, if I am at the head of the line ( east bound on Blanding) after waiting for 9 light changes to get there, I am assertive enough in approaching my own right of way to discourage oncoming traffic from west bound Blanding to the bridge from swinging wildly into the center of the bridge. Eye contact can be very useful if you can get people to look at you. When I approach from west bound I am slow enough and precise enough to invite oncoming vehicles to dove tail in alternation as opposed to stay frozen in the intersection. Once on the bridge a turn signal helps to shift left if needed. Lane changing on approaching the bridge is an art. When driving directly down Park over the bridge I often take the right lane because it flows faster, but anybody headed to north bound 880 needs to be in the left lane, so it requires attention to the speed of folks in both lanes to avoid an abrupt maneuver ( cutting somebody off to make a lane change). People who get down to Blanding on Park who make a left during commute house should be drawn and quartered, or the restriction should apply to a.m. as well as p.m.. I’ve seen people breaking 3:30-6pm prohibition twice in last 6 months.

    Comment by MI — January 17, 2014 @ 11:40 am

  18. “assertive enough in approaching my own right of way to discourage oncoming traffic”

    You can take the driver out of Philly, but you can’t take the Philly out of the driver…..

    Comment by dave — January 17, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

  19. 18. hilarious!

    Comment by jkw — January 17, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

  20. It’s a weird point to get hung up on. The TL;dr nutshell of the EIR when it comes to traffic with the Alameda Point project for me, it boils down to this: There will be an impact with the project, but there will be an impact without the project too. Build it, or don’t build it, there will be additional traffic. Period. But, with the project you get a lot of jobs and houses. Those jobs will offset some of the off island driving. That’s what the EIR says when it comes to traffic.

    Now, the policy decision that will be made by the City Council is knowing that x sq ft of commercial and y units of housing will result in the traffic impacts stated in the EIR, do they want to approve Project 1 or Project 2 or Project 3, etc and so forth. The EIR is not approval of a project, it just discloses the impacts of a certain square footage of retail, commercial, open space, and number of units. That’s it.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 17, 2014 @ 3:54 pm

  21. actually Philly isn’t known for particularly aggressive drivers,, more like overly enthusiastic sports fans. Boston traffic circles are another story. But after sitting for three light changes and watching one left turn per light change you get motivated. I’m not advocating a game of chicken, but it helps to be right up there letting the other guy know you want your turn ( literally). Best solution is simply avoid east bound Blanding to Park at all costs. But “shift ” traffic from the tube comes down all those side arteres.

    Since I decided not to read the EIR I was refraining from comment, but in previous BURN post somebody posted a quote which read “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”. The word “additional;” would have prevented that statement from appearing to state the impossible and truly “counter intuitive”. 8 cars total (grid lock) is absurd, but an additional 8 cars total hardly seems something to argue over, so in .2 above I was asking why there hadn’t been some clarification.

    Lauren wrote, “Build it or don’t build it there will be more traffic”, really? how about built it and there will be MORE traffic? My previous careless example may have seemed like I was arguing the “shift”would constitute conditions comparable to an accident at the tube. Obviously such accidents create massive diversion and we are apparently talking a mere trickle and we know this because of modeling and algorithms. I’m not anti-science here, just suspicious of how much can be accurately modeled by collecting stats and feeding them into computers. Jobs housing balance as a magic bullet seems dubious. You can use unit measurement for car per residency and to some extent project commutes based on number of jobs, but are people actually able to align the types of jobs with skill sets, etc, not to mention all the other factors in hiring? do we get worst case scenarios?

    I’m not even saying we shouldn’t have conditions which drive folks out of our cars, just feeling a little grouchy about people being seeming so sanguine and over confident.

    Comment by MI — January 19, 2014 @ 10:14 am

  22. I don’t know if anyone is feeling over confident, the EIR says there will be a lot of traffic with or without the project. That’s the job of the EIR: to disclose impacts. Again, not project approval, it’s just saying this is what can be projected based information currently available. I’d rather the EIR present the worst case scenario than to say everything’s going to be fine and dandy. If people find the projected impacts to be unacceptable then the right time to say that is when these projects start coming up to the City Council for approval.

    Comment by Lauren Do — January 19, 2014 @ 10:33 am

  23. #1 # 3
    There is a slight difference between 200 houses and 2000 should we take the formula generally used you are talking a mere 3800 more vehicle , not counting the large truck to supply stores like target “which desperately need these 2000 houses” I find it interesting none of the survey included trucks like is Santa Claus was going to do the deliveries , actually there was no survey available at the heated debate against Suncal , none according to the dictator who eliminated some 60 Employees out of public work if not more , anyone who raised a finger , got fired , forced out or retire “no one told you that before I do .
    With such Director in charge did you expect transparency , there were none .Another planner used data from a non certified planner to push for the enlargement of South shore shopping center , that planner claimed Otis was a 4 lanes street , just in case you never noticed at the foot of Broadway it’s a 2 lanes street and always bottleneck , we stayed up and passed 2:30 AM , there was a reason for it , they pushed it to very late at night so peoples would leave and not oppose their view . who was behind Suncal , one of the largest edge fund , knowing how the first one worked , knowing how edge fund function I love to find someone to prove me that no one at City hall got treated …..they were so desperate for the project they even went Physical against peoples opposing their views.
    I like to see a fair assessment of the entire project ,to this day it has never been done , lip service , don’t worry and decision based on theory , we all know how theory work.
    Truth of the matter is , the project will affect property value throughout .
    The project will affect everyone more on the west than East ,
    Truth is the Alameda Hospital will have a good supply of customers thanks to the toxic dumped on the base , by the way is there a vapor barrier between the toxic soil and the slab on these house in Bay port , none that I ever recall , Residents are prohibited from digging in the soil , I wonder why? ” please correct me if I am wrong” then take a sample of those slab and get it tested concrete is like sponge .
    Everyone want to see something happening at the base , everyone myself included , we need real information not theory .
    Lauren for as much as you may not agree with with Mrs Thompson , she is most likely the only voice you will ever have , based on Her professional knowledge and expertise being licensed by the State , none of City employee or builder were or are . Why would she care about west end when like myself is 3 minutes top from the freeway .
    You will be the biggest looser from poor decision not we . At this time I would not trust most of the City council and Mayor to watch my dogs food .
    ie: calling a long time Alameda resident a bad business person for raising rent He had not for almost a decade , that very same council Member did not mind and does not having one of his friend doubling if not tripling the rent on the High Street center which is now nothing else but an eyesore been empty for 8 years ??? talking about bad business peoples .

    Comment by Karl Bretzenzky — January 20, 2014 @ 9:22 pm

  24. San Francisco is fast becoming the new Silicon Valley. Twitter built a new 220,000 sq ft. campus in San Francisco, and in 2012 the SF Business Times reported that 24 companies moved from the Peninsula to San Francisco. On top of that companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo, and eBay have increased their presence in San Francisco by expanding into larger spaces. This is what is fueling the new economy in the Bay Area.

    As private companies work with regional planners to expand transportation choices, the traffice problems are being solved as we speak. The Google bus, the Apple bus, and now the Google ferry are just a few of the new innovative and creative ways companies are working to reduce traffic impacts, and there are other ideas out there in the pipeline.

    This is great news for Alameda! It means we can be part of this exciting growth period thats happening in the Bay Area.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 21, 2014 @ 6:35 am

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