Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 5, 2015

Next to me

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

I’m not writing about Wednesday’s meeting today, that will be for tomorrow even though there was lots of drama.  For a preview check out the #alamtg twitter tag.

Tuesday’s City Council meeting had one moment that sort of defines the Trish Spencer administration.  During a discussion about the legislative policy for this Council moving forward, City Council member Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft spoke about the need to get WETA (Water Emergency Transportation Agency) a seat at the table at the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC).  Since Alameda is dependent on ferries to take a substantial number of single occupancy vehicles off the road, and out of the tubes and off the bridges it makes sense that we should be encouraging our regional Transportation Commission to be representative of all modes of transit.

Just as a refresher, Trish Spencer is the representative for Alameda to the ACTC and in the first few months of being seated indicated to an ACTC staff person that she did not want to see bus rapid transit projects in Alameda, nor did she want to see any improvements to the Broadway/Jackson intersection.  She was also the sole vote at ACTC against supporting a bill to make it easier to fund transportation infrastructure projects.  She also gets paid $225 per meeting, plus $25 travel stipend to attend these ACTC meetings.  With those data points refreshed, let’s get to it.


October 16, 2015

Unpaving the way

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

Hold on a sec, I might need to do a “hypocrisy check” from now on so that I can fully disclose ahead of time if I am supporting something that I have no intention of ever being a consumer of or am not a current consumer.

All right folks, in a preview of today’s post, I currently am not going to be a consumer of affordable (low-income) housing nor in the near future will I require affordable senior housing.  Nor, knock on wood, do I currently require the special needs housing.  According to the metric laid out in Wednesday’s comments section, I am a hypocrite for encouraging the construction of this type of housing because I do not currently live in said housing nor do I have an intent to move into said housing.  Now that’s all settled.  On October 9th, the Governor signed into law a really encouraging new bill regarding the construction of affordable and senior housing.  From Streetsblog:

A.B. 744, authored by Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), is limited to a few very specific types of housing, all meant to house population groups that tend to own few cars and drive less than the general population. Those are: housing for seniors, housing for special needs populations, and housing for low-income and very-low income people. It also applies to mixed-income developments that include a minimum number of affordable units. All categories are required to have a specified level of transit access.

Under the new law, if a developer of these types of housing asks to be allowed to build less parking than required by zoning regulations, a city has to allow it—as defined in the statute, see below—unless it can demonstrate that more parking is necessary. And A.B. 744 specifies what that “demonstration” would entail, not leaving it to a vague “parking study.” A parking study to show that a development needs more parking would have to be somewhat recent and based on “substantial evidence,” including area-wide parking availability, transit access, potential for shared parking, the effect of parking requirements on the cost of developments, and rates of car ownership among low-income, senior, and special needs individuals.

This shifts the burden of proof from the developer to the city, in the process codifying the assumption that in general these populations need and use fewer parking spots. And while it’s a win for affordable housing developers, it’s also a win for sustainable transportation, clean air, and climate change efforts.


October 8, 2015

Mind the CAT gap

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Tonight the Rec and Park Commission will be reviewing and making a recommendation on the Cross Alameda Trail portion of the Jean Sweeney Open Space Park.  While this is going to be a feel good agenda item, here’s what the Rec and Park Commission should be concerned about in addition to back patting and sending accolades to staff on a job well done: the job’s not quite done.

Here’s the concern.  While the trail will be protected on Atlantic (RAMP) between Main and Webster and then the Sweeney Open Space Park will provide a protected connection through the stretch of that street there is a terrible gap between Webster and Constitution where, I guess, people on bikes will be forced on to the sidewalks and streets to get between the two pieces of the Cross Alameda Trail.  Somehow this is an acceptable proposition for the City right now.  But it should not be an acceptable condition for the Rec and Park Commission whose biking constituency will be unceremoniously dumped from protected bike lane to protected bike lane and expected to fend for themselves in a crazy busy stretch of street.

Sources say that the funding, the $2.9 million from grants and Measure B money was supposed to be spent on the Cross Alameda Trail from Sherman all the way to Webster, but the renderings for discussion tonight only speak to the Cross Alameda Trail portion that runs through the Open Space land ending at Constitution where, arguably, the need for a safe bike connection is the most needed.


July 31, 2015

Choose your own adventure

Filed under: Alameda, Development, Public Resources, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Remember that newish group that exists in Alameda, the “driver advocacy” group that I was 99% sure was some strange parody like Bob Gundersen.  Turns out, it’s not.

There’s a Facebook page here where the organizers(s) complain that a letter they sent to the City wasn’t properly addressed by the City.  In case the I Drive Alameda folks don’t watch the Transportation Commission meetings, I do, so turns out the letters were received and acknowledged, but — as a policy — Commissions don’t respond directly to letters and the City doesn’t respond to anonymous groups:


June 19, 2015

Cyclists of change

Filed under: Alameda, Public Resources, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

To close out the week, here’s is a funny piece on why we have such visceral reactions to those who use bicycles for more than just a leisurely weekend pedal around the block, from Slate:

Despite such statistics, lots of drivers assume all people on bikes are assholes like me. In doing so, these motorists are making an inductive fallacy, not unlike saying, “Of course he beat me at basketball—he’s Asian like Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming.” Now, you might be thinking to yourself that you’ve seen more than one or two suicidal cyclists in your day—that these roaches on two wheels are an infestation that’s practically begging to be squished underfoot (and by “foot” you mean “my Yukon Denali”).

First off—wow, that is disturbingly violent. Second, your estimate of the number of asshole cyclists and the degree of their assholery is skewed by what behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman call the affect heuristic, which is a fancy way of saying that people make judgments by consulting their emotions instead of logic.

The affect heuristic explains how our minds take a difficult question (one that would require rigorous logic to answer) and substitutes it for an easier one. When our emotions get involved, we jump to pre-existing conclusions instead of exerting the mental effort to think of a bespoke answer.


June 16, 2015

Set your Site A

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Business, City Council, Development, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I don’t think I’m overreaching if I say that tonight’s City Council vote on Site A at Alameda Point is probably the biggest issue to come before this Council since they have been seated.   The one vote which has the potential to be derailed is the vote on the Disposition and Development Agreement which requires a vote of four out of five of the City Council members.  I’m not feeling particularly optimistic for Site A, but I’m really hoping that my uncharacteristically pessimistic attitude will be proven wrong by an unanimous vote.  Hell, I’d settle for a four to one vote at this point, I don’t require unanimity.

If you click on the link above it leads you to a full page of all the documents that exist and that should be able to answer any question that you might have if you’re willing to do some reading.  Staff is recommending that the City Council take affirmative action on all the items that are coming before them tonight, just to keep tabs there are three major votes:

(1) Adoption of Resolution Upholding the Planning Board Resolution No. PB-15-09 Approving a Development Plan for the 68-Acre Mixed Use Development Plan in the Waterfront Town Center Plan Area Referred to as “Site A” at Alameda Point and Approving a Density Bonus Waiver;
(2) Introduction of Ordinance Approving a Disposition and Development Agreement (and Related Documents) between the City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners, LLC (APP) for the Site A Development at Alameda Point [Requires four affirmative votes]; and
(3) Introduction of Ordinance Approving a Development Agreement between the City of Alameda and Alameda Point Partners, LLC for the Site A Development at Alameda Point.


May 29, 2015

A series of tubes

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, City Council, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Folks that are worried about traffic impacts like to quote Eugenie Thomson’s analysis that highlighted (and took out of context) one data point from the Alameda Point documents with regard to the one car in the Tube thing. The point of the Eugenie Thomson piece is to then glom on to this point to somehow render the complete traffic study invalid.

Despite staff, and by staff I mean Andrew Thomas, repeatedly attempting to correct that misconception, it still is out there in the Alameda universe as though it has some sort of weight or value. At last week’s City Council meeting, Frank Matarrese brought this up during the Site A discussion thusly:

The issue that keeps popping up is that there is only going to be one additional car going through the tube at peak time and whether or not that’s true or not, I don’t think it’s true, but we have to get some numbers that are bona fide to say what it’s like today so that we can project it out, what we have to mitigate as these units become populated.

Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft then asked staff to come up to explain this oft quoted factoid and Jennifer Ott came up to bat and in her matter of fact way explained what the traffic study said in plain language:


May 19, 2015

A woman’s place

Tonight’s City Council meeting appears to be on the boring side, but it’s in some of the consent items that there should be some drama.  In fact, it’s too bad that Jim Oddie didn’t wait until tonight to pull out the story about the ACTC representative and Trish Spencer for the agenda item approving Measure BB Master Program Funding.

As a reminder, Jim Oddie recounted that a high level staff member at the Alameda County Transportation Commission was told by Trish Spencer that she did not want the Broadway/Jackson project or BRT in Alameda.  Trish Spencer did not deny that she said that to a staff member at ACTC just that she didn’t recall the topic ever coming up during those meetings and that it was inappropriate for Jim Oddie to bring up the topic without talking to her “offline” first.  Well, here it is, a chance for Trish Spencer to definitively whether she supports Broadway/Jackson and BRT.   The resolution states the policy of this City Council moving forward about the projects that will be funded by Measure BB, including both the Alameda to Fruitvale BART BRT and the Broadway/Jackson improvements:


May 14, 2015

Broadway/Jackson fight

Now you all know that Jim Oddie is not my favorite City Council person.  But on Tuesday night he really redeemed himself by asking a series of questions during the Public Works budget presentation that lead up to the final “gotcha” question.  It was like those scenes in any Real Housewives show when a character that you’re kind of lukewarm on takes on the HBIC (look it up) and redeems herself to lock in a contract for the next season.

Like that.

So here’s the lead up.  Jim Oddie starts slowly by asking about the different projects in the Capital Improvement Plan and how they align with Measure BB and whether each and every project was something that was supported by the City of Alameda.  The two of particular concern were Bus Rapid Transit and the Broadway/Jackson project.  He also asks staff about the purpose of the Broadway/Jackson project and — for those that don’t know — it’s to relieve pressure off the tube because the back up usually happens on the Oakland side when the pedestrian signal is depressed and then getting on to the actual on ramp. After the line of question he then says, let me do the back and forth dialogue: (more…)

April 21, 2015

ACTC attack

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, City Council, Transportation — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Here it is, the rationale for Marilyn Ezzy-Ashcraft’s Council Referral at tonight’s City Council meeting.  I received the first of my Public Records Requests from the Alameda County Transportation Commission.  Mayor Trish Spencer is the representative from Alameda to the ACTC (self appointed) and receives $225 plus a $25 travel stipend to attend these meeting on behalf of the City of Alameda.

At the March meeting ACTC there was a legislative report about what’s going on with various bills at the state level regarding transportation projects and/or policy.  As you know, a lot of the money for any infrastructure projects in Alameda comes from regional, state, or federal grants.  Not a whole lot comes from Alameda general fund money, so typically it’s in Alameda’s best interest to play nice.


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