Tag Archives: mtc

Bitter Tea and Tasty Sandwiches: Yesterday’s MTC “You Choose Bay Area” Workshop and “Tea Party” Eruptions

Attended MTC’s second Oakland spring workshop for Bay Area future planning and visioning tonight, May 24th, 2011.  The visioning process is called “You Choose Bay Area” which is part of ABAG and MTC’s “One Bay Area” project.  You can “vote” on the type of sub/urban future you’d like to see at the YCBA site. The workshop was from 5:30-8:30pm with basic box sandwich dinners provided.  Ham, roast beef, tuna and chicken. Tea was also provided…though not by MTC. I’ll dive into that later.

The purpose of this event (like the oversubscribed May 19th workshop I missed) was for residents of Alameda County to tell the MTC what they’d like their future to be like: Business As Usual or new and different.  How to prioritize land use and transportation options, policies and incentives and tax money.  Everyone did that quite well, though some less civilly.

The night’s most memorable negative feature was the sizable and obnoxious contingent of all-white* folks mostly from Livermore, Alamo, Dublin and other 680/580 suburbs. Some people might call these people “Tea Partyers.”  They were variously very dismissive, distrustful, extremely rude/shrill/loud/uncouth, (think Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Sarah Palin and ten of their dittohead friends in a room), ignorant about fossil fuel realities and were completely “antiMTC, public mass transit, planning, taxes, regulations and density. By re-arranging the letters in WASP, we get SAWP, or Super Angry White People. That’s what they were.

[*5/28/2011: At this point, let’s take a break and discuss race. I couldn’t help but notice that all the people who were loud, or anti-MTC/transit, happened to be white.  Does that mean the tensions in the room were due to race issues? In some people’s minds it very well could play a strong part. In a better read of the situation, it really boiled down to who was from newer  suburbs/exurbs, vs who was from older suburbs and urban cities.  Urban workshop participants were also largely white, but far more racially mixed (Asian, black, etc) given the more mixed demographics of the urban Bay Area.  I’m leaving the text as I wrote it, but keep this in mind. It’s more of a “inland vs coastal” sparring match. In microcosm, the US coasts vs the “heartland.” You can see charts of this I commissioned in 2008 for a city sustainability study.

Inlanders from the 680 valley were defending their car-based single family home way of life against decreased funding for them (which they’ve enjoyed for decades mind you), and increasing funding for less car-based, more “dense and convenient” ways of life.  I also have to note, based on the Bay Citizen story this week, that it is self-serving for Tea Party efforts to be led by a sales commission-based realtor… but still the main tension is over “The Economy, Stupid.” Also, there are no black UN (US) helicopters forcing people out of their SFHs and cars back into cities… economics alone do that. We’re in the “maturity and death” part of our society cycle right now. A new society will be born in the US by 2030. Now back to original post…]

You could say they were the ultimate version of that group of NIMBYs in North Oakland and Berkeley who frown upon any buildings taller than two stories or  Bus Rapid Transit. From talking to other people who tried to engage with them, and seeing their actions and hearing their words, I could see that they were there to get their point across to MTC (fine) but their manner of doing so was extremely rude. “Ghetto” would not be far from accurate. They were a riot. The irony! Continue reading

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Clipper beats TransLink to a pulp and it’s not even out yet!

As you all know, whoever runs the TransLink card program has announced that TransLink needs a new, sexy name. They’re rolling it out for this summer.  On this point I agree — we WANT more people to be aware of and use public mass transit, versus private car mass transit, although 95% of people seem to be against the new name, to date.  Too bad for them 😛

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Remember that waste of money, the OAC?

The OAK Airport Connector. You keep hearing about it and don’t want to keep hearing about it. Join the club.

Well, it is a huge waste of our taxpayer money so you will keep hearing about it from me until MTC+BART-CoO cancel it and build the best alternative possible.

We know what the best alternative is. We know that the best alternative costs 1/5 the $0.522 Ba-hillion OAC. We know that only $25MM out of that $0.522 will be “lost” if the OAC is not built.

AirBART Bus
AirBART Bus photo by LAW

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Tell Oakland City Council to vote against BART’s $522 million airtrain to nowhere

Another load of debt, a slow $12 train to get to not even next to the terminal, and no economic development on the ground. Great work MTC and BART! Not. So, let’s get to it!

Below reposted from TransForm (great 501c3) email:

On Tuesday, October 6th, the Oakland City Council will vote on a resolution expressing opposition to the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) project.

Two weeks ago the Oakland Public Works Committee questioned BART about the OAC and moved the resolution to the full Council because committee members have come to see that this project is bad for Oakland and bad for regional users of Oakland’s airport.

Make an immediate impact. Call your Council Member today, ask them to vote to oppose the OAC and FOR: (see numbers below)
A Stronger Economy: A bus rapid transit connector would have intermediate stops and would be affordable to all Oakland residents.
More Jobs: Reverting OAC funds back to transit agencies would create more jobs than building the OAC.
Better Transit: A bus rapid transit connector could be as fast as the OAC, AND the money saved would stop transit service cuts throughout the Bay Area.

Costs for the Connector have ballooned from the voter-approved $130 million in 2000 to $522 million. Riders are projected to pay up to $12 roundtrip (in addition to the price of a rider’s BART ticket) for a slow (possibly 27 mph), three-mile journey. All of the stops that would serve the local community have been eliminated, removing the economic development aspects of the project. Meanwhile, there is a fast, affordable alternative to the project.

After spending months trumpeting Oakland’s support of the OAC, BART is now saying that Oakland’s opinion doesn’t matter. Watch the video in which BART’s spokesperson says that. But Oakland is going to weigh in, and its voice will matter.

This vote is one of our last chances to stop the OAC and to secure a better connector, and we need your help!

There are three ways you can make your voice heard to the Oakland City Council:

Join us on Tuesday, October 6th at 7pm at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza to speak in support of the Council’s resolution and in opposition to the current Connector. RSVP and spread the word on Facebook.
Call your Council Member to encourage him/her to support the resolution (find contact information below).
Email your Council Member to encourage him/her to support the resolution (find contact information below).

Tell the City Council, vote YES.

For more information on the Connector and TransForm’s proposed alternative, please visit http://www.OaklandAirportConnector.com or contact me directly.

Thanks for making a difference today for the future of Bay Area transportation.

Contact information for Oakland City Council:

Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large
RKaplan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7008

Council President Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001

Patricia Kernighan, District 2
PKernighan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7002

Nancy Nadel, District 3
NNadel@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7003

Jean Quan, District 4
JQuan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7004

Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005

Desley Brooks, District 6
DBrooks@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7006

Larry Reid, District 7
LReid@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7007

Our Year of Being Sick; plus, the OAC *IS* Sick

A lot of us were well-adjusted to a sick economy I guess… you know, the one where everyone was living high and getting high off our credit (debt) bubbles….

I haven’t been more sick any other year (except maybe overseas) than this year. I think it’s partly due to work and personal stresses. It’s also from traveling overseas and down to LA (note to self; never go back to the south coast shitter again), not getting enough sleep and not eating well. (workaholic and net addict) Seriously, there is NO good tasting tap water in LA/LB. This must be Brita’s largest US market. (my friend there who i stayed with has one.)

Of course, it’s also the macro economy. Everyone looks for a scapegoat when things are going badly. It must be in our genetics. As I said, we were all well-adjusted to being happy, well-fed, flying to Vegas or Disney every other weekend (okay, not me, but many people) and that sort of all ended for what’s left of America’s so-called egalitarian “middle class” in 2007-2008.

Lately I’ve had the flu, a cold, and now strep. All in less than two months. The receptionist at my doctor’s office recognizes me now. Every time I start working out and getting into better shape, I get sick, which negates any gains I had. Sound like the stock market to you? Perhaps your 201k? Or is it a 101k? (I have zeroed out my ‘k’ — not playing in the wall$treet casino ever again, even though I had a really great phd fund manager and was not losing very much… check out Hussman Funds on google.)

Now, about the OAC BOONDOGGLE

Sooo… expect more posts this season since I am sick at home. Do check out TransBay Blog’s post about the Metro Transportation Commission’s evil “oakland airport connector” proposal… you see, since there’s not enough money to fund this Airtrain-to-Nowhere, BART will have to take out a “TIFA” $150,000,000 (150 million) LOAN which is utter insanity.

We are in triage mode as a region/country right? (Everyone nods their head except Gold Man Sacks execs and their puppet Obama-man.)

So a much easier solution would be to grade separate the AirTrain BUS lane into a bus-ONLY lane. Make that a 6″ tall/wide cement “curb” or berm to separate the bus-only lane from the car lanes so car drivers (I know how you are on market street in SF) don’t jump in-n-out(TM) of the bus-only lane.

You know how cheap that would be? $10MM at most? A $490MM savings?? No kickbacks??? And saves travel times by the same amount.

Then start charging solo private auto/suv drivers $2-3 for the privilege of schlepping their ‘rides’ in circles around the airport while waiting for Their Precious to appear outside the terminal gates for pick-up.

http://transbayblog.com/2009/07/21/disconnect-the-connector/

Go read it, and write an appropriate letter to YOUR ‘MTC Rep’ today ahead of the MTC’s meeting where they will decide how much of OUR tax dollars to waste on this Airtrain-to-Nowhere!

The only people who benefit from this $500 million lame “OAC” project are the contractors. They are very highly likely wining and dining each and every MTC Board member. The one who voted AGAINST this asinine proposal was Mayor Tom Bates, for who knows what reason. Good for him for that bit of good behavior though.

***CAVEAT***

The ONE good reason to build the OAC long-term is that fuel prices will go up because of peak oil. If you don’t know what that is, click here.

However, that also means that hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly, either. Which means OAK will be a used parking lot with no future, except as perhaps Oakland’s version of Alameda’s monthly go-go Antique Fair.

Finally, we have a DOT Commish blogging that “not only does this country want high-speed rail, but also that this country is ready for high-speed rail. And it demonstrates a pent-up demand in America for the kind of fast, reliable, and sustainable transportation option people in Europe and Asia already experience every day.” — and we don’t have the money or energy to build it now. Too bad we paid for GM and all this car crap for 1945-2008 and have nothing to show for it. It was a wonderful life?

Oakland’s Slice of the Stimulus Pie Update: $5.8M for Street Rehab

President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed earlier this month promises a down payment on fixing and improving the nation’s infrastructure. The $700B in it pales next to the $7-8T the Fed/Treasury have given to our central banksters. But eating cake is better than eating yellow dirt cookies, as Haitians can attest. Here is an updated list of money Oakland should see “immediately,” to spend on public amenities:

  • Oakland – Various Streets and Roads Rehabilitation Rehab City of Oakland STP-ARRA $4,774,000
  • Oakland – Citywide Curb Ramp and Sidewalk Repair Bike/Ped City of Oakland STP-ARRA $1,194,000

Oakland’s famous “80 year repaving cycle” as mentioned in this 2003 City of Oakland report should become a little shorter in places as the Oakland Public Works Dept. uses the money to rehab our streets. 

According to North Oakland blog WeFightBlight, the city is actually on a 100 year repaving cycle, and it would cost $27 million to repave or otherwise keep a high “Level of Service” condition in Oakland’s 836 miles of roads per year. Is that a boondoggle or what?

Today’s Chronicle has a full accounting of MTC’s agenda for local transportation funding priorities, with 80% of stimulus dollars targetted to maintaining existing roads and transit lines. The MTC’s own site shows that of $495 million allocated by Congress, the remaining 20% will go toward safety and new projects including the Airport Connector.

Longer term, the MTC has a “Tier 2” list of not-quite shovel-ready investments and contingency projects based on its own ability to get additional funding. These monies cannot be spent immediately:

  • Oakland – Airport to Coliseum BART air-train connection. $70,000,000 
  • BART – System-wide rehab, mostly for renovating train car interiors: $16,972,051
Since Oakland has the most BART stations (and thus potential users) than any other city, this means that city residents who hold steady jobs in San Francisco stand to benefit the most. Of course, the entire region’s BART riders will benefit from basic maintenance.

At yesterday’s MTC meeting AC Transit advocates complained, perhaps rightly so, about undue emphasis on funding  BART’s Oakland Airport connector at the expense of inner-city bus transit. I have always felt that the airport should have a connector, given the voluminous amounts of cars which sometimes create a nighttime parking lot on the way into the airport. On the other hand, if we stop flying in great numbers, then this will be Oakland’s “bridge to nowhere” within 10-15 years. I believe that any electrification of our transport systems can only be a good thing. 

Oakland’s Mayor’s office contributed a $2.6 Billion shortlist of “shovel-ready” projects through the US Mayor’s Conference earlier this year as part of the USMC’s lobbying effort led by Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

 

Source of Oakland funding receivables:

MTC, http://apps.mtc.ca.gov/meeting_packet_documents/agenda_1229/TMP-3885_memo_Attach-B-1_and_B-2_02-25-09.pdf