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HarriOak transportation workshop Thursday Jan 22

Calling all HarriOak neighbors and Oakland transportation enthusiasts: The City of Oakland, thanks to a grant from CalTrans, will create a new transportation plan for the HarriOak neighborhood. Thursday Jan 22, Oaklanders will have the opportunity to offer suggestions and take part in planning transportation improvements in the center of the city. Following Fruitvale Avenue, other neighborhoods are asking for their own transportation plans, but HarriOak’s is certainly at the top of the list of neighborhoods in need of a better streetscape.


Thurs Jan 22 2009 HarriOak meeting

Thurs Jan 22 2009 HarriOak meeting


The HarriOak neighborhood, named for the two large streets created in the 1920s or 1930s (Harrison Street and Oakland Avenue), is bordered by downtown to the South, Adam’s point to the East, Piedmont to the North, and Broadway Auto Row / Pill Hill to the West. Once called Westlake, it’s a central neighborhood with big old houses and large apartment buildings, but its desirability is marred by the intensive car use of its eponymous streets, which connect a 580 freeway exit to the Lake Merritt office district. To atone for its sin of dumping enormous volumes of car traffic into their neighborhood, CalTrans has kindly offered a planning grant for the neighborhood to visualize ostensibly pedestrian-oriented streetscape improvements.

I hope the neighbors don’t just view it as a Traffic Plan, the name given to it by CalTrans, but a Transportation Plan, that can improve all forms of transportation, from traffic calming for pedestrians to road diets for bicyclists. Thursday’s workshop will present a challenging opportunity to its participants: how to best make use of the public right-of-way, the city’s most important asset. The crux is to balance the competing needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and cars. Each individual use may have its own needs to balance: the Uptown/Broadway, Laurel District, and Fruitvale Avenue streetscape plans all clutter the sidewalk with street furniture and trees, restricting pedestrian mobility in the name of providing better transit stops and pedestrian amenities.

HarriOak is an unusual case because the neighborhood does not contain a commercial district, the focus of  most new transit-oriented development. Since the purpose of this CalTrans-funded planning workshop is to ameliorate the dangerous impacts of freeway access in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood, residents should ask CalTrans to explain if relocating the freeway exits is on the table. It’s up to participants to ensure that the workshop hears from all users: bus riders, walkers, local drivers, bike commuters, and stay-at-home parents. For once, the needs of car commuters speeding from 580 to Downtown come last.

Posted in actransit, breakingnews, california, oakland, transportation.

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8 Responses

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  1. Dave C. says

    How strange — when this post came across the transom in my feedreader, I was in the middle of writing a post at my own blog about how bad Park Boulevard is for pedestrians. Do you know if the Park Blvd area is due for any similar planning? If so, I’d love to hear about it, either here or in the comments on my post.

  2. dto510 says

    Well, Caltrans isn’t exactly handing out planning grants like candy, but Park Blvd merchants and neighbors should talk about whether a new transportation plan is a priority. If so, they can organize to ask their Councilmembers (Ignacio de la Fuente and Rebecca Kaplan) or relevant city agencies (CEDA planning, or the bike/ped program) to try to get a planning grant. I know that Downtowners are agitating for more transportation planning, and the city started but aborted a traffic study in the Temescal area. There is also talk of a citywide parking bond to support the expansion of select retail districts, which would have to involve broad-based community planning. I don’t know of any specific grant after HarriOak, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be the last.

  3. Dave C. says

    Thanks. Kernighan is actually the Councilmember for the part of Park that I think is so bad for pedestrians (E. 18th to 580).

  4. Art says

    Just to clarify, this project actually isn’t a traffic plan at all—it’s a grant that Oakland applied for and won from the community-based transportation planning program at Caltrans, which focuses specifically on livable communities. (In their words, the CBTP projects “foster sustainable economies, increase available affordable housing, improve housing/jobs balance, encourage transit oriented and mixed use development, expand transportation choices, and reflect community values.”) Typically, they focus on pedestrian, bike, and transit access. Caltrans does award a number of these grants each year, so Oakland could certainly enter for another one—though who knows what will happen with the current budget issues!

    Also, it’s worth noting that Westlake does still exist—the area called Harrioak, where this study is focused, is a smaller area within Westlake. (This is relevant mostly because the Westlake Community Coalition played a big role in helping to keep the Harrison/Oakland concerns on the city’s radar, so they deserve some props!) And the project area actually extends all the way up to Monte Vista and the Rose Garden area, which has its own set of concerns.

  5. dto510 says

    It’s more of a streetscape plan than a traffic plan, but traffic calming and introducing bike lanes are part of it, which means they’ll be divvying up right-of-way. And I really hope that someone asks CalTrans why they won’t move the freeway exits out of this residential neighborhood. The neighbors deserve to hear why it is so necessary that their ‘hood is made unsafe and undesirable for the convenience of suburban car commuters.

  6. Art says

    Here are the “official positions” of WCC, which include exactly that!

    Short-Term, Immediate Safety Needs
    - Reduction from three to two travel lanes on both Harrison and Oakland
    - Striping of bike lanes on both Harrison and Oakland
    - Reduction of speed limit to 25 mph on both Harrison and Oakland, with frequent traffic enforcement to ensure compliance
    - Median cut on 27th to allow entrance into First Congregational Church and school drop-off zone
    - Replacement of street trees removed without notice from median strips on Bay Place & Harrison as well as mitigation trees for median cut
    - Removal of AC Transit bus stop southbound on Harrison at Hamilton Place due to severe blind curve and redundancy of stop vis-à-vis new Westlake Middle School stop
    - Adjustment of timing of crosswalks and southbound left-turn lane at Harrison/27th/Bay Place to reduce pedestrian wait time

    Medium to Long Range Planning Needs
    - Return Oakland and Harrison to two-way traffic streets
    - Review Pearl Street in context of one way versus two-way traffic movement
    - Removal of on/off ramps from I-580
    vReconfigure 29th/Fairmont/Oakland intersection
    - Reconfigure Harrison/Orange intersection
    - Reconfigure 27th/Bay Place/Harrison intersection
    - Removal of pork-chop slip turns from Harrison onto 27th St
    - Address bicycle pinch points southbound on Harrison at pedestrian pork chop/island
    - Address bicycle pinch point westbound onto 27th at pedestrian island
    - Closure of 26th St
    - Review of Northbound AC Transit stops to ensure safety of school children disembarking and crossing to Westlake Middle School
    - Widening sidewalks throughout corridor
    - Beautification including street tree placement

  7. dto510 says

    It’s great that everyone is on the same page, it shows that we’re headed in the right direction, and policymakers should take these concerns and suggestions seriously. Also, at last week’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting, the city’s bike/ped program staff presented a plan for 27th / Bay Place that follows many of the neighbors’ suggestions. More information is in the agenda (PDF).

Continuing the Discussion

  1. April 20-25 Oakland Political & Community Events « Living in the O linked to this post on April 19, 2009

    [...] “This is the second meeting for this project, too. (Future Oakland has a post about the first meeting.) The Caltrans-funded plan looks at Harrison Street and Oakland Avenue from the Piedmont border to [...]