The holidays are the season of sharing. And there is nothing more precious to bloggers and commenters than one’s opinion. On Thanksgiving Eve, what could be more in tune with the holiday spirit than sharing one’s opinions?* There are several opportunities to comment on important plans and projects affecting Oakland, and thanks to email, your opinion can be shared even in the glow of tryptophan, with an unbuckled belt. Below are short summaries of major decisions seeking your input, with links and deadlines for comment.
Safeway on Claremont Environmental Impact Report
At a contentious meeting last week, the Planning Commission listened to public input on what should be studied as part of Safeway’s Environmental Impact Report for expanding their store at Claremont and College. Dozens of neighbors lined up to say that they don’t want outsiders coming to their neighborhood to do grocery shopping, and that somehow Rockridge’s small-shop character is best enhanced by a gigantic surface parking lot at a prominent intersection.
You can write a letter to Planning Staff and the Commission outlining what you think should be studied. If you support the new store, you could emphasize that the pedestrian impacts of the no-build option are important to study, and that study of land-use issues or impacts on all of North Oakland (as requested by some neighbors) is unnecessary. If you oppose the project, feel free to think of the craziest thing you can imagine, and ask that it be studied. You can find contact info for comment on the Planning Commission’s November 18 agenda (PDF).
Toll increase on Bay Area bridges
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission burns through billions like it’s monopoly money, and though constantly short-changing public transportation, can’t even manage its pet highway projects well. Thus, the MTC is facing a severe deficit for the seismic strengthening of many bridges, including the Bay Bridge. True to form, rather than look for more efficient solutions, the MTC just wants more money. Currently the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is more or less the same as the MTC, is seeking public comment on a toll rise for state-run bridges (eg, not the Golden Gate Bridge or Fruitvale Bridge). This would be the first toll increase in almost twenty years that would not be endorsed by voters and would not include funds for improving public transit. On the other hand, the MTC is considering congestion pricing, which is very efficient. Comments can be addressed to the Bay Area Toll Authority before Dec 21. And if you’d like to know more about why these toll increases are needed, consider donating to McSweeney’s Bay Bridge seismic retrofit investigation, pitched on Spot.us.
AC Transit Service Changes
V Smoothe has been covering AC Transit’s service changes extensively for several months, and today writes that the final adjustment plan, released last week, is a triumph for careful consideration of public input, providing a model for other agencies. By contrast, BART slashed off-peak service 25% without even a ridership survey, and the Oakland City Council tries their darnedest not to implement inevitable service cuts. Be that as it may, the final service adjustment plan is out, and it’s open for comment. Highlights include improving service along the 51 corridor by splitting the line in two at Rockridge (which I do not like at all), and expanding service to educational destinations in the East Hills, including new service to Skyline High School, the Oakland Zoo, and the Chabot Space and Science Center. You can provide comment online, or in person at a meeting on December 1.
Union Pacific Railroad Right-of-Way Feasibility Study
Union Pacific Railroad is in negotiations to sell its “Oakland Subdivision” right-of-way to Alameda County, which would use a portion of it to recreate passenger rail connections on the Dumbarton Bridge, in South County. Union Pacific would like to sell the entire subdivision, though, and so the County is looking at possible changes to the use of part of the subdivision, which in Oakland mostly runs below the BART tracks along San Leandro St. The main thrust of the study is to make bicycle and pedestrian paths, though I don’t find the underside of BART tracks to be very scenic. In any event, it’s an interesting idea, and planners are looking for public comment. They are particularly interested in whether bicyclists would prefer Class I (grade-separated) or Class II (on-street) bike lanes as part of the project. Check out the study and leave your comments, at Alameda County Public Works (it’s the first item under Community Updates).
* Sharing your time or food tomorrow is perhaps even a better way to celebrate the holidays. I’m having a hard time finding information about volunteer opportunities in Oakland tomorrow – if a reader knows of a volunteer opportunity, please leave it in the comments.