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Stuart Flashman is an Oakland-based land use and environmental attorney, with a specific focus on the California Environmental Quality Act. He also handles election-related litigation,…
East Bay MUD, environmental law, land use, politics, Rockridge Community Planning Council, water policy
keeping "the system" from posting stuff here
As was pointed out, there are big differences of opinion within the county about what to fund. The Expenditure Plan attempted to paper them over with a Santa Claus "something for everybody" approach. That approach has worked with the last two plans, but it's apparently getting old; especially when applied to a permanent 1% sales tax (which is, of course, one of the most regressive kind of tax). Rather than come back with a slightly jiggered rewrite, ACTC needs to rethink how it does things, as does the legislature. It's also apparent from past performance that ACTC (or more accurately its past incarnation as ACTA) is not the most trustworthy or accountable agency. It was successfully sued ten years ago for misspending sales tax funds.
@ Max A -- "Actually, the Council's job is to represent their constituents." While councilmembers are elected by their constituents, and answerable to them at re-election time, actually, their job is supposed to be to represent the best interest of ALL of Oakland, not just their district. When they take their oath of office, that's what they're supposedly swearing to do. That's one of the problems of the current council (and past councils) -- too much parochialism.
BTW, I think Rockridge is already more-or-less built out. It doesn't need more growth. East and West Oakland definitely could use commercial revitalization. Unfortunately, the invisible hand of American corporate capitalism isn't particularly interested in helping areas that need it. Like John Dillinger, Safeway prefers places like Rockridge, "Because that's where the money is."
There's little question that the streetcars on Telegraph (and College) Ave. worked in the 1930s and 1940s. Now, however, we've had over a half-century of auto-oriented growth. Traffic levels on both streets are way above what they were back then. BRT would definitely work - IF you could shut down the Caldecott Tunnel and reduce UCB's size by a half! That ain't gonna happen, so neither should BRT - At least not AC Transit's pipe dream version of it.
No, not unless you can widen Telegraph Ave. and International Blvd. so you don't remove needed parking and travel lanes. Infrastructure includes both transit AND roadways. If you beef up transit by removing roadways, you haven't improved the overall situation. RCPC DOES favor improving the 1R service to what's called "rapid bus plus", including signal overrides and a priority bus lane (as they have on Mission Blvd. in downtown SF) but dedicated bus lanes would screw up a lot of other things.
@ Mr. Allstedt -- funny, for a social democrat, you place a lot of store in the "free market" to make things right. That'd be fine if the free market actually worked as Adam Smith suggested, and the invisible hand of competition produced the best results. We all know that isn't the case in Oakland California in 2011 (or any other place I can think of either).
Your blog link is illuminating. You're right that pushing parking and complaining about traffic are somewhat contradictory; but just eliminating parking won't cure traffic problems; nor will the EIR's proposed mitigation measures. When you more than double a store's size on an already-congested street, you're going to create a traffic mess. Getting people out of their cars is a big problem for 21st Century California. Safeway's project isn't part of any solution.
If California hadn't been created in such an autocentric mode, we'd have housing clustered around local walkable commercial centers. That's how Oakland's "streetcar suburbs" like Rockridge and Temescal were designed. Problem is, later development, like the Oakland Hills, used the lower density suburban model, with no local walkable commercial centers. It's going to be a hard box to get out of, and the College Ave Safeway project doesn't help. (The Rockridge Shopping Center project could -- IF it were made more transit-friendly.)
Finally, you inveigh against my law office website's essay on "smart growth". Growth isn't smart if it doesn't take into account infrastructure limits. East Bay transit is barely adequate, and, sadly, going downhill. Without adequate transit, "transit-oriented development" is just a facade hiding future traffic jams.
Since Mr. Hardesty and Mr Allstadt have spent the last two weeks taking potshots at me, perhaps it's time I weighed in. RCPC attempts to protect and enhance Rockridge for its residents and businesses. RCPC has sometimes opposed development, other times not. For example, on the Creekside project on the Rockridge-Temescal border, RCPC originally opposed the project as being out-of-scale with the surrounding neighorhood. After the developers reduced the project's size somewhat, RCPC withdrew its opposition, and did not appeal the planning commission's decision approving the project. (Other groups did. RCPC did not support that appeal.) RCPC also agreed to a compromise on the Kingfish project, again on the Rockridge-Temescal border. As the article notes, RCPC believes that the Rockridge Shopping Center Project is appropriately placed to accommodate MORE development than Safeway has proposed.
The main problem with the College Ave. store's expansion, as the article and some comments have noted, is traffic and parking. The EIR, which understates the traffic problems, nevertheless concludes traffic impacts will be "significant and unavoidable." If College Ave. were a four-lane street, a 62,000 sq. ft. project might be fine. However, College Ave. is a two-lane street that's already highly congested, especially around the Safeway.
RCPC listens to Rockridge residents and tries to mirror their concerns. Those attending Safeway's presentations for it's College Ave. project have been overwhelming in their opposition. True, Safeway has some supporters, but mostly up in the Hills and almost none in the immediate vicinity of the store.
By the way, I have been representing Bay Area environmental and community groups as an attorney on CEQA issues for over twenty years. I often take cases at far below market rates, because otherwise many local groups couldn't afford an attorney. While I'm assisting RCPC in its handling of the two Safeway project's, I'm doing so as chair of RCPC's land use committee, and on a volunteer basis. RCPC may hire an attorney to represent it, but it won't be me.
One final comment on government involvement in land use. Zoning had been an accepted part of American government for over 100 years. Libertarians may not like it, but without it, we'd have factories spewing out toxic materials right next to people's homes. That's what used to happen in the 1800s, and why zoning was invented. A Republican-dominated pro-business U.S. Supreme Court, by a six to three majority, declared zoning constitutional in 1926 (Village of Euclid v. Ambler Realty, 272 U.S. 365). As Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover -- not most people's idea of a left-winger -- appointed a national zoning advisory committee in 1921. Maybe Mr. Allstadt and Mr. Hardesty would like to repeal all laws limiting individual rights - including minimum wage and child labor laws, as well as things like fire codes. I think most people would disagree.
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