Oakland City Council on February 2, 2016 authorized City Administration to start recruiting a new Director for the Department of Transportation. They held off on any endorsement of whether the new department will include functions such as sewers and storm water management—the infrastructure part, and what if any budget adjustment will be needed to pay for new administration positions. Overall, this is good news, as we were worried that budget impacts for more administration positions could stall the proposal. These financial issues will be taken up in June during the mid-cycle budget review.
At Public Works Committee on January 26, 2016, Hearing Room 2 was full with residents, labor leaders, Public Works staff, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Bike East Bay and Transport Oakland in support of a new Department of Transportation. Oakland’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Facilities Manager Jason Patton spoke in support, as did Ali Schwartz the Project Manager for Measure DD projects. So great to hear testimony from rank & file at Public Works Committee.
There is still much work to do and many issues to discuss going forward as Oakland starts a strategic plan to outline how a new department will be staffed and operated. Local 21 and SEIU representatives, labor unions for city staff, still have concerns, as do representatives of persons with a disability. But overall, at least four city councilmembers voiced support and want to see this happen.
Bloomberg Associates will be working with Mayor Libby Schaaf’s Office to start work on a Strategic Plan for the new Department, as well as recruiting for the new Director position. In addition, Walk Oakland Bike Oakland will work closely with the Mayor’s Office and the City Administration to ensure a collective and transparent process occurs over the next several months to ensure public input.
A number of downtown planning efforts are underway (as you’ll see below), but none perhaps as critical to the future of right-sizing downtown’s many bloated streets and defining the next generation of protected bikeways as this effort.
The “CCS,” as it called for short, is a coordinated effort between the City of Oakland, the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), and City of Alameda to update the assessment of local and regional circulation needs in the study area.
In October, WOBO participated in the initial public stakeholder group meeting as well as several project walking tours, and was able to preview the project’s initial “baseline assessment report.”
Although the report is not yet publicly available as of press time, here’s a preview of some key facts and content:
According to the initial traffic analysis, “more than 80% of the streets in downtown Oakland have excess vehicle capacity, meaning that space on those streets could be reallocated to better serve other road users by reducing vehicle lanes and widths and creating bicycling lanes, wider sidewalks, and/or transit-only lanes.” You probably already knew this intuitively, but now there are City-supported consultants backing this assertion up with real data!
The study area (which includes Uptown, Chinatown, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt, and a wider influence area) experiences about six crashes a day on average, and contains over 50,000 public vehicle parking spaces (half on-street and half off-street)
There are several categories of potential recommendations for converting street space to improve downtown’s “public life,” including: Sidewalk and Parking Enhancements, Pavement to Parks, Links Across Freeways, Plaza and Park Enhancements, and Shared Streets.
The baseline report includes a new “Family-Friendly Bike Network” Map prepared by the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, Jason Patton, which is a draft refinement to the existing Bicycle Master Plan proposed network. Key corridors preliminary targeted for (physically protected?) bicycle upgrades include 14th Avenue, Oak and Madison streets, as well as the Telegraph Avenue protected bikeway that is in construction…although there will be opportunities to further expand and refine this network through the CCS and Downtown Oakland Specific Plan planning processes.
The CCS project is planning to hold a public design charrette (collaborative working session) on Thursday, November 19th, from 9am to 4pm, followed by a community report-out meeting from 7pm-9pm. Mark your calendars, look for upcoming WOBO blog posts to help prepare, and bring your ideas to share!
A full house of interested downtown residents, businesses, planners and protestors filled the room to discuss how to redesign downtown Oakland. Hot topic issues included affordable housing, cultural preservation, promotion of local artists, and safer walking and bicycling.
Recap of the September 3 Kick Off Event
Oakland has kicked off its Downtown Specific Plan process, and over the next year, we have a golden opportunity to get protected bike lanes designed and approved for Broadway and 14th St, two priority bikeways. Our 14th St Bikeway Campaign has been stalled due to lack of staff resources, and the Downtown Specific Plan is just the opportunity to jump start things.
You can help by marking your calendars for a series of design charrettes and workshops starting October 19, 2015. For ten days, Oakland wants to hear your ideas for reimagining Downtown Oakland. What changes would you like?