Monday, June 20, 2016

Residents Complain AC Transit Turning Downtown Oakland Park Into De Facto Bus Terminal

by Alex Barreira
Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 5:19 PM

Residents and business owners around Lafayette Square in Old Oakland are up in arms after many learned last week that their beloved park may soon become a de facto bus terminal.

Earlier this month, AC Transit announced a plan that would eliminate metered parking spaces along one side of the downtown park and replace them with a red curb for buses during layovers. The change would provide a resting plac
A proposal from AC Transit for Lafayette Square would surround three sides of the park with buses.
  • A proposal from AC Transit for Lafayette Square would surround three sides of the park with buses.
e for bus drivers in-between routes. The planned changes is part of AC Go, the department's largest service expansion in their history, which begins on June 26.

But some residents and shop owners say they were not given notice of the impending parking changes prior to this past Monday. Now, they’re concerned that buses will bring noise and air pollution to Lafayette Square and block sight lines into the park, which will reduce vigilance and increase crime.

According to neighbor Wes Radez, AC Transit told him that the decision to park buses at the park was made by staff only and without public feedback.

“They’re building a miniature Transbay Terminal in the middle of Oakland and they’re treating it like they’re removing a few parking meters,” he complained.

But AC Transit says it gave sufficient notice to several businesses and residents directly across from the affected parking spaces earlier this month. One side of Lafayette park, along 11th street, is already used as a bus layover, AC Transit spokesperson Robert Lyles noted.

“Before we activated any of this, it was legislated by our board. There was extensive outreach to the communities that would be affected,” Lyles explained.

According to the notice letter sent by AC Transit on June 7, the park was chosen in part for the presence of public restrooms available to bus drivers. There’s currently a bus stop at the corner of the park, along Martin Luther King Jr. Way, as well. But Ron Wolf, chairman of Old Oakland Neighbors, says he seldom sees it used.

“It’s maybe convenient for the bus drivers to go to bathroom while waiting for next bus to start, but there’s gotta be a better reason than that,” Wolf said.

While the park comes alive at times, such as on Earth Day, neighbors say it’s earned a troubled reputation as the site of crime and occasional drug deals. Some residents have grumbled that the city has done little to help relocate the homeless population that lives in the park.

“That park is not a good place,” Wolf said. “We’ve put thousands of man hours into making it viable.”

Those who live nearby have proposed moving the bus layover to an empty block in front of the long-mired construction site known as the “Shorenstein Pit.”

According to Lyles, a public-notice period for the plan will remain open through tomorrow, June 21, and no immediate action will be taken along Lafayette Park. He described the letter as a notice for public input, rather than an announcement of plans.

Residents remains skeptical that their communication with AC Transit will lead to a better solution. “What’s ultimately in place might be the best answer among a host of terrible answers,” Radez said. “But how on Earth do you know that if you don’t notify the community directly next to the place you’re going to affect?”

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Must Reads: DeSaulnier Calls for Criminal Probe of Bay Bridge Work; Railroad Companies Block Safety System

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. State Senator Mark DeSaulnier of the East Bay is calling for a criminal probe of the shoddy construction work on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, the SacBee$ reports. A new report revealed that Caltrans knowingly accepted flawed and potentially hazardous work from a Chinese firm that welded the new span and tower.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Must Reads: Obesity Costs Alameda County Billions Each Year; Weak El Niño Not Expected to Relieve Drought

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Health-care costs and lost worker productivity related to obesity costs Alameda County more $2 billion a year, the Trib$ reports, citing a new report commissioned by the county’s Health Committee. According to the report, nearly 70 percent of seniors are overweight or obese in the county, as are more than half the adults and about a third of the children. Sugary drinks are the primary cause for the high rates of obesity, according to the report.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Must Reads: AC Transit Kills Bus Transfers; Kernighan Pushes to Tighten Campaign Finance Rules

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. AC Transit is eliminating 25-cent bus transfers effective Tuesday and is replacing them with a $5 day pass that allows unlimited trips, the CoCo Times$ reports. AC Transit also is reducing regular bus fares from $2.10 per trip to $2.00 if riders pay with a Clipper card. The changes are expected to speed up bus service, because they eliminate the need for passengers to purchase tickets each time they ride. But some passenger groups are upset, because the $5 pass likely will increase costs for some riders.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Must Reads: State Water Bond Deal Blocked in Senate; NTSB Cites Pilot Error In Deadly Asiana Crash

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jun 24, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A proposal to place a $10.5 billion water bond on the November ballot failed to garner enough votes in the state Senate because Republicans want a greater share of the measure’s revenues to be spent on new dams and expanded reservoirs, the SacBee$ reports. Bond measure proposals require a two-thirds vote from the legislature, meaning that the water bond must have some GOP support. The current proposal would replace another $11.1 million bond measure that is already slated for the ballot, but is unlikely to be approved by state voters.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Kaplan Disbands Shady Ballot Measure Campaign; East Bay Cities May Collaborate on Minimum Wage Hike

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 23, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who is running for mayor this year, has disbanded a ballot measure committee that appears to have violated campaign laws, the Trib$ reports. In 2010, Kaplan used the committee — the Coalition for Safe Streets and Local Jobs — to pay staffers who were working on her mayoral campaign and not on the ballot measure campaign, in apparent violation of city and state election laws. Kaplan’s political allies pressured her to kill the committee out of fear that it would harm her 2014 mayoral bid.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Lawmakers Reach Budget Compromise; Government Refuses to Disclose Oil-By-Rail Shipments

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Democratic lawmakers reached a budget compromise with Governor Jerry Brown that includes funding for preschool programs for all low-income four-year-olds and overtime pay for in-home aides who care for the elderly and disabled, the Mercury News$ reports. However, the budget deal also includes demands of fiscal prudence by the governor, including funding a so-called rainy day reserve. In addition, one-quarter of the state’s cap-and-trade revenue will help fund high-speed rail, while a third will go to the construction of affordable housing near major transit hubs.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BART Board to Vote on Altering Bike Access on New Trains

by Sam Levin
Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 4:02 PM

BART is moving forward with efforts to redesign its train cars, part of its so-called "Fleet of the Future." Recently, the transit agency gave the public the chance to view models of the new cars in-person, and give feedback on the design, color scheme, seat comfort, and other features. One aspect that has attracted significant interest is the bike racks — and this week, BART's board of directors will consider whether the design needs to be altered. Cycling advocates are urging the board not to adopt any design that would reduce bike access.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Voluntary Water Rationing Isn’t Working; Caltrans Lied About Bay Bridge Cost Overruns

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 9:52 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Voluntary water rationing isn’t working in the Bay Area, as residents continue to soak their green lawns and hose down their vehicles, despite the record drought conditions, the Chron reports. Earlier this year, Governor Jerry Brown asked state residents to voluntarily cut water usage by 20 percent — but most areas of the region are falling far short of that request. As a result, water agencies may have to implement water rationing or levy stiff penalties against heavy water users.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Water Emergency Transportation Authority Awarded $3 Million Grant to Construct Facility in Alameda

by Charlie Guese
Tue, Jun 3, 2014 at 11:25 AM

As traditional Bay Area transportation faces increasing problems with congestion, capacity constraints, and occasional service disruptions on public transit, more commuters have set their eyes on ferry routes across the bay. On Monday, the Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration awarded the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry service, a $3 million grant to construct a new maintenance and operations facility in Alameda, according to WETA.

WETA, which operates ferries to Alameda, Oakland, San Francisco, Vallejo, and South San Francisco, claims that the to-be-constructed central maintenance facility would consolidate maintenance and operations in one central location for all of its vessels and would serve as an emergency operations center in case of a regional emergency. The facility will also provide new job opportunities for Bay Area residents.

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