Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 19, 2014

In your Transportation Element

During the second reading of Tuesday’s night’s meeting, Tony Daysog had, yet another, head scratching comment:

I can’t wait for our community to have this traffic/transit discussion because now we’re doing these TDMs as these projects here and there arise.  Alameda Point has its TDM, Alameda Landing has its TDM.  Northern Waterfront, Del Monte project has its TDM. And I do think that we have to be a lot more strategic in terms of planning.

Tony Daysog makes it sound as though Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plans are some bandage solution that is done in lieu of long term strategic planning.   It’s not.  Two years after Tony Daysog departed the City Council, the City started the process of updating the Transportation Element of the General Plan to talk about long term strategies, there’s a good overview about the Transportation Element EIR here.   The Transportation Element is the roadmap of sorts on how we tackle dealing with the inevitability of traffic in our City.  Maybe this is a part of the “discussion” that Tony Daysog wants to have, maybe it’s not, but it’s not clear that he understands the distinction.

When he says things that imply that he believes TDMs are piecemeal solutions, it’s makes it seems as though he hasn’t glanced at the actual Transportation Element in a long time (if ever).  Specifically in the Transportation Element there is a section that says that significant subareas (like Alameda Point, Alameda Landing, Del Monte/Northern Waterfront) will have their own TDM plans to help mitigate the congestion impacts that may be unique to that particular area.  From the Transportation Element:

2. Develop one or more sub-area TDM plans to help address the unique conditions of different areas within Alameda.

But let me back up, the point of TDM plans are not to solve every single congestion issue that might arise from new development.  It’s to mitigate impacts.  This is Objective 4.1.6. of the Transportation Element:

Increase the efficiency of the existing transportation system by emphasizing Transportation System Management (TSM) strategies and Transportation Demand Management (TDM) techniques.

And the first policy of that Objective:

4.1.6.a Identify, develop, and implement travel demand management strategies to reduce demand on the existing transportation system.
1. Establish peak hour trip reduction goals for all new developments as follows:
• 10 percent peak hour trip reduction for new residential developments
• 30 percent peak hour trip reduction for new commercial developments
2. Develop a TDM toolbox that identifies a menu of specific TDM measures and their associated trip reduction percentages.
3. Develop a citywide ITS infrastructure assessment using a Systems Engineering approach to determine capital investment needs.
4. Require implementation of ITS infrastructure as part of all new developments.

I didn’t catch this part of Tony Daysog’s statements but this tweet came up as part of Tuesday night’s post mortem:

Ironically, the TDM for Alameda Landing has a provision in it that Tony Daysog was pushing the exact opposite of for the Del Monte TDM, and that has to do with penalties:

landing TDM


But for those concerned that the Transportation Element of the General Plan is some mumbo jumbo that has no basis in reality, the Transportation Element went through the EIR treatment (certified by the way) which means that ALL the impacts of the Transportation Element have been disclosed in that document.  This is the document that establishes City wide policy on how to deal with traffic and transportation in the City of Alameda.  I’m not sure what other discussion Tony Daysog wants to have other than to possibly have a forum where everyone shakes their fist and talks about how terrible traffic has gotten because of x, y, or z.   As shown in many other traffic impact reports, whether or not projects actually get built in Alameda, it doesn’t really matter, congestion will increase.  The question is whether we want these new projects with the condition that the developers help to mitigate the new traffic and possibly help mitigate existing traffic if TDM measures are in place, like, for example a shuttle or car share spaces. But it’s not clear as though Tony Daysog is interesting in having a discussion around that question either since he seems confused about what TDMs are in general and unfamiliar with long range planning that has already happened around the topic of transportation in Alameda.


  1. I actually don’t think the comments about the piecemeal nature of TDM’s is too far off track. There are currently at least 3 separate shuttles running in West Alameda,- Target, Wind River, Estuary Crossing (I think there might also be a marina village shuttle) none are viable by themselves, and more are on the way. At some point, there needs to be the ability to merge all of those shuttles. I dont know what the process is for that, and based on just some general conversations I’ve had with staff, while they recognize the need to merge the shuttles and other mitigations, I don’t believe they are clear on a process for that. I think that is what Tony was trying to say, in his unique Tony style.

    Comment by notadave — December 19, 2014 @ 9:57 am

  2. NAD, I think that process was supposed to be done through the Citywide TDM the problem is, the City wide TDM wasn’t very good, never was vetted by the appropriate boards and commissions, and — I believe — never formally adopted.

    If Tony Daysog wants to have staff take another stab at creating a real City wide TDM I think that would go a long way to helping coordinate merging this disparate TDM strategies from disparate TDM plans, but sub area TDM are absolutely necessary to deal with problems that are unique to those subareas. For example, issues of parking and truck traffic are very different in the Northern Waterfront than for Alameda Landing.

    Comment by Lauren Do — December 19, 2014 @ 10:05 am

  3. At some point when the ridership on the shuttles gets high enough, AC Transit should consider restoring some of the routes or adding new routes using Measure BB funds. That’s the coordinated strategy.

    Comment by Alan — December 19, 2014 @ 2:57 pm

  4. Okay, so you’re saying there’s a plan on paper and we should all believe in it a whole bunch. Right, that makes loads of sense. Of course Tony Daysog is right. TDM is all smoke and mirrors, it’s nothing but a bs theory being thrown around as a convenient pretense for development. What’s more, even if does work as planned, it will reduce commuter traffic by 10% which does virtually nothing. You know as well as I do who the chairperson of the Transportation Committee was, someone with a very clear agenda, and now you want to present this as objective evidence, cuz it says so right there in the Transportation Element. All I see there is politics at work and nothing more, and I mean that, it’s all politics.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — December 19, 2014 @ 10:17 pm

  5. #1 and #3, what you describe is called for in the General plan:

    4.1.6.g Maximize the integration and coordination of various individual modes of transportation to enhance systemwide efficiency.

    1. Work with various local and regional transit agencies in integrating their schedules.

    as well as:

    4.3.1.a Update and implement the recommendations of the Alameda Long Range Transit Plan.

    Ironically, the last council/interim city manager/public works director refused to allow funding from a ~$400,000 federal grant to update the transit plan, and instead spent it on a really disappointing transit plan.

    Lastly, there is a plan for West End shuttles, if memory serves, it calls for shuttle service to serve more than just point-to-point and for there to be consolidation and eventual AC Transit-ification of the routes to build them into the regional network, rather than having them live in parallel. The plan for the Northern Waterfront does expect that once there is enough ridership potential, AC Transit would restart the Buena Vista (or Clement) service.

    Shuttles are supposed to be short-term solutions or serve locations that can’t support full public transit. Marina Village started their new shuttle all on their own, not because they are required to. So there is only so much control that the city can have on the shuttles. But we are already seeing the Estuary crossing shuttle extend and expand its service and AC Transit is reacting to these changes by starting planning for routes that follow the shuttles demand.

    Comment by jkw — December 19, 2014 @ 11:33 pm

  6. Darcy, evolution is just a theory. people can be unreasonable, thinking they are progressive liberals but speaking like republicans in congress. BTW-what do you mean by “politics”,? it’s a very ambiguous word. When you think about it most thinks related to government are political, by definition. all the same activity you infer as nefarious and misguided can still be done in the name of altruism or civic duty.

    Comment by MI — December 21, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

  7. 4– Transportation demand management (TDM) plans DO work, and so does the kind of integrated approach to land use planning, density, and transportation that is embedded in the bones of our 2008 Transportation Element (TE). Our TE and Transportation Master Plan were years ahead of many other local ones when adopted in 2008, but will only be as good as the land use decisions that accompany them. The TE and TDM plans will only work with smarter land use decisions.

    More higher-density developments like Del Monte will alleviate our traffic congestion, IF we are smart enough to implement transportation-oriented development (TOD) more aggressively. As long as we stick with Measure A-based single-family residence developments we will see more traffic and more traffic per household.

    Shuttles are, indeed, meant to be interim solutions, and the ix of existing shuttles on our west end can probably be streamlined and/or integrated into better AC Transit service. But that all is in the works already.

    With the new City Council and Mayor, I hope we will not see a return to the failed land use and development decisions of the past that gave us what some people consider “too much traffic.” (I disagree with that assessment, having seen “real” traffic congestion while driving 880 and Los Angeles freeways as well as to/from San Francisco, but that’s for another comment.)

    Comment by Jon Spangler — December 22, 2014 @ 9:08 am

  8. Is Alameda Landing still going to fund a water taxi to Jack London as promised when originally approved? Also even though it doesn’t say anywhere on the schedules or website the Target to Bart shuttle doesn’t run on weekends.

    Comment by Jake — December 22, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

  9. Every land use and development decision is seen as a failure by succeeding generations.

    Comment by jack — December 22, 2014 @ 5:52 pm

  10. #6: MI — I mean that it’s not a real, objective solution, but rather that it’s meant to further certain political goals. When erstwhile political leaders (Marie Gilmore) refer to it in glowing terms, then someone mentions that, incidentally, it will reduce traffic only by 10%, that’s politics. John Russo has made various references to TDM that I’d characterize as political — making promises, again, as in “remember, we said we’d control traffic impacts”, etc. — well, maybe not 90% of it, but we’re good on the rest.

    It really doesn’t help either that some folks are true believers in smart growth — so much so that they’ve become uncritical promoters. Smart growth could work well in a city with extensive transit already available — like a BART station — and better in almost any city that’s not an island. How do we know, objectively, what kind of traffic planning is going to work well here? Just for starters, I’d say that any transit system that blocks traffic approaching the bridges/tubes is going to lead to a total nightmare, I don’t care how good it sounds in somebody’s study in Belgium or Tokyo or wherever else. What’s more, it could cause literally more greenhouse gas pollution than what we’ve getting now, but who cares, it’s PC.

    One thing to watch for in anybody who favors smart growth –do they yearn for the days when people rode streetcars to work? Are they big fans of ferries? If so, they haven’t figured out that central cities are a thing of the past or they don’t care or something. Since we’ve been reliant on cars for so many years, workplaces are no longer centralized, and the notion that you can get everybody out of a car and onto a bus is naïve.

    Getting back to political: some people want development — I don’t know why, they think it brings tax money, they know it brings campaign contributions (like every other local and state politician), but complaints about traffic are bound to follow so how to fix it — tell folks you’ll “manage” it. If it were literally possible to force people to take transit, I’d say okay, fine, but it isn’t.

    And again, how do you know what will work? How do you factor in the base and its absence? How do you factor in Measure A — that was our local version of a “TDM” plan for many years, and now it’s gone. I think we’d be wise to move very slowly.

    Comment by Darcy Morrison — December 22, 2014 @ 9:13 pm

  11. Darcy’s points in comment 10 seem right on. We’re on an island with a few roads off and on. Alameda’s geography and limited existing transportation infrastructure mean many things that would work elsewhere, including next door in Oakland, won’t work here. That can be frustrating because it’s clear that we really do face many problems that need solutions, including degrading utilities at the former NAS, a clear need for affordable housing in the region, and fiscal challenges for the city. And yet, Darcy’s points still stand.

    It is difficult when in certain circumstances there really isn’t a good answer to a set of problems. That seems to be the case here. As a result, for the foreseeable future, the reality of our choices might be reduced to a less lofty goal than finding The Brilliant Solution and might just have to be something closer to figuring out What Is Least Bad.

    As with many other political disputes around these days, if might also help if people with opposing views would admit the complexity of it all and accept that most people on “the other side” are right about a lot of things, genuine in their concerns, and shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Even though the recent Mayor’s race suggested there is a 50-50 divide in Alameda in some ways, there are still many interests we share and many things most in Alameda agree on.

    In any case, since most of us are stuck together on this island for awhile, it will be better if we do try to work together where possible. That might mean lowering expectations and going one (slower) step at a time, since there don’t seem to be any easy, simple answers on development and transportation right now.

    Comment by Sui Generis — December 23, 2014 @ 8:41 am

  12. 11. you are quite reasonable and generally I won’t disagree with your sentiments, but for many folks slow means do nothing until the “community has discussed it” even after it has been through years of process, which ends up being code for do nothing. Any innovation like TDM is simply slammed as “smoke and mirrors”. Mayor Spencer is guaranteed to claim the community hasn’t had adequate in put no matter what process has proceeded because they is simply her predictable m.o., not a product of critical thought. Many speakers on Del Monte claimed they “support the project” but when it comes down to it they don’t support nay of the practical aspects that would make it viable, they just support the “theory” that an old brick building should get rehab and it’s O.K. for persons who take that on regain their investments, but when you get down to details they don’t support anything. Development brings campaign contributions which are bad, so we shouldn’t have development, or better yet no elections. There doesn’t it make you mad when somebody takes a statement and twists it so try to imply things which are ridiculous?

    Comment by MI — December 23, 2014 @ 9:24 am

  13. claiming something is simply the product of people trying to be PC really does sound like Republicans in congress.

    Comment by MI — December 23, 2014 @ 9:35 am

  14. Yes, it’s frustrating when people say they support something in theory that they don’t support in reality. If the reality is that some see the least bad option for now as some sort of moratorium, let’s just put that out there and honestly assess the pros and cons of that. The former NAS isn’t going anywhere.

    On the other side, it’s also frustrating when people snicker at and dismiss traffic concerns. There are a whole bunch of good reasons to see a very significant set of risks tied to significantly more development and the traffic that would follow.

    Comment by Sui Generis — December 23, 2014 @ 9:49 am

  15. I don’t know who you are which in this case only matters because I don’t know how to judge what you may or may not know, both in general and about the history of both development projects and activism in Alameda. I’ve posted here recently about neighborhood group proposing a moratorium back when Marina Cove I was getting rezoned and received a Negative declaration of mitigated impact. Neg Dec sounds counter intuitive because it isn’t a negative assessment but says the new use won’t have greater impact that existing use. I supported proposing that moratorium to council but could not get consensus among Green Party to do so.

    I have had very real concerns for some time about cumulative impact of multiple projects on the North side. My support for Marie Gilmore has it’s genesis in her comments from Planning Board which were skeptical of what the then developer owner of Boatworks could give Alameda, since we all know as a developer what he was trying to get from Alameda, i.e. a profit.

    NOBODY is dismissing the traffic impacts or snickering about them, though at times, when people make ignorant snarky comments about perceived negative impacts and those who do wish to move ahead, it’s easy to respond in kind. It is arguable that TDM is precisely the response of people who have great concern about traffic impact and are trying to innovate instead of do nothing. You are also correct about Alameda Point. The development has gone nowhere for almost 20 years and the planning longer than that, since 1993 when the base closure was announced. The reasons for proceeding by at least giving the nod to a development group with more roots in Alameda than any previous developer in the history of development here have been discussed at length and you need only go back a month or so to review all the arguments made on this side from both sides about the ENA approval.

    Comment by MI — December 23, 2014 @ 11:11 am

  16. for clarification, the middle paragraph in 15 is supposed to paraphrase the sentiments Marie expressed about what we get from developers and I’m fairly certain she made them from Planning Board, but of course the Boatworks came before the City so many times in so many iterations it may have also been when she was on Council, or maybe both. If I am not mistaken, Boatworks developer Francis Collins was the one who sued the City over Density Bonus in the first place. That project and the struggle over general plan proposal of an estuary park, go back years. But people still insist we are moving too fast and need to slow down. It is hard to know what a person speaking their opinion may actually know about the history of development even if they have grown up here and are 60 years old. It’s important to at least try to collect as much history and fact about chronology of development as possible in order to build a useful over view.

    Comment by MI — December 23, 2014 @ 11:23 am

  17. Another point I’d like to make is that as more and more companies move and/or expand their businesses in Alameda, they bring more workers to Alameda – and many of these workers will want to move to Alameda. I’m referring to this article about Harbor Bay:

    “Penumbra, a bio-technology company, recently executed a lease for an additional 78,000 square feet of space; the company’s Alameda footprint now totals 176,000 square feet, and headcount has grown from 16 in 2004 to 700. Penumbra expects to fully occupy its new space by March 2015. The nation’s largest distributor of soft contact lenses, ABB Optical Group, has nearly doubled the size of its west coast manufacturing and distribution center, adding 45,000 square feet of leased space for a total of 95,000 square feet”.

    Penumbra has grown from 16 people to 700 – and VF Outdoors has 600 employees and is expanding. Some of their employees already live in Alameda or will want to move to Alameda to be close to their place of employment. Many of them ferry in to Alameda from San Francisco.

    Creating a housing solution for new companies that re-locate and/or expand their businesses in Alameda is another part of what is being accomplished by developing housing projects like the Del Monte, Alameda Landing, Marina Shores, Boatworks, etc. Housing is part of the total package that we can offer new companies to re-locate to Alameda.

    Hopefully, as they watch us debate this issue, they are not alarmed by the anti-housing development sentiment. I would hate for us to lose the momentum we have gained in attracting new companies to Alameda.

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 27, 2014 @ 2:35 pm

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