Tag Archives: Alameda Planning Board

Dangerous substandard designs for our roadways?

GUEST BLOG ARTICLE from EUGENIE THOMSON

Streets throughout California are being rebuilt to accommodate the increasing number of bicycles on the road. Due to narrow rights-of-way and the implementation of separate bicycle paths within preexisting roadway cross-sections, this process involves completely redesigning roadways.

I applaud the efforts to make the roads safer for all users but alarmingly, less-than-minimum safety design standards are being applied. This practice is counter to the needs and desires of the public and it is happening here in Alameda.

The City of Alameda has been approving design concepts for these roadway reconstruction projects that violate minimum design criteria and with experimental designs (i.e. Shoreline Bikeway), followed swiftly by approval of grant applications for their final engineering and construction. The Clement Avenue and Central Avenue Complete Street Plans are moving in the same direction.

Problematically, the City has no qualified civil engineers in responsible charge of these projects. All of the City’s four lead civil engineers have left. Clearly numerous safety and traffic delay problems are going unresolved.

Would you hire a divorce attorney who is not licensed? Would you hire an obstetrician who is not licensed? Of course not. Nor should Alameda hire planners to perform civil engineering functions who are not licensed or qualified in that field. But that is exactly what is happening.

I am very concerned that the City is moving forward with reconstruction of its streets with numerous safety problems and causing nightmarish congestion by what staff calls a road diet. (i.e. reduction of lanes).

The same cycle path on Shoreline Drive was recently approved by Public Works staff and consultants to be built on the estuary side of Clement Avenue between Grand and Broadway. The city and consultant’s staff, all planners, stated there were no major flaws. This was concerning, in and of itself. But little did they know that their design was particularly dangerous. Neither the drivers nor the bicyclists would have had adequate stopping sight distances to stop safely (i.e. blind corners) and there were numerous violations of even the most minimum safety design criteria.

Further their design with only one lane (11 feet wide) in each direction required a complete shutdown of Clement Avenue for the regular wide deliveries to the marinas. Their design also added an extra signal phase just for bicycles which would have required a reduction in signal time for autos at Park Street- severely increasing delay for all Alamedans leaving the island in the morning through the Park Street/ Clement Avenue intersection. There was no mention whatsoever anywhere of this excessive increase in delay. Were they hoping Alamedans would not pay attention?

Residents and business owners went to the Transportation Commission on March 25th to fight for what was right. It is heartening the Transportation Commission turned down the City staff and consultant’s plan but with only a slim majority. Wouldn’t you agree Alamedans should not have to go to City Hall and tell staff and consultants that their work has major flaws and the plan is biased and unsafe?

Traffic safety issues are going unaddressed. Let me explain from personal experience. About 15 years ago, my Mom then in her early eighties, was hit by a bicyclist in a similar configuration as along Shoreline. She stepped out of the passenger side of the car into the path of bicyclist traveling quickly. Bicycles easily travel east along the new Shoreline path at 20 mph or much more with the usual tail wind. This too is in the same space where young children excitedly exit the cars to go to the beach.

Building a “commuter cycle” track on Shoreline was inappropriate and unsafe for a recreational trail along a beach. It is a commuter bicycle concept to save time not meant for recreation. A recreational trail should have been built like the one at Crissy Field or like those in Holland along beaches.

I beseech Alamedans to speak up to Council before these poorly designed roadway plans for Shoreline, Central and Clement Avenues cause serious injury. As I think you will agree, these roadway changes affect virtually every Alamedan. We applaud the efforts to make our roads safer. However, far greater care must be taken in keeping us safe. Roads must be designed by qualified civil engineers as required by State Law.


NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE ACTION

GUEST WRITER EUGENIE THOMSON

If serious action isn’t taken—soon—Alameda residents will find themselves stuck in hour-long traffic jams when leaving the island.

Alameda will have its moment of truth—a day when there won’t be enough money to mitigate all the traffic congestion spawned by out-of-control growth and permit parking costing homeowners over a $400 per year. Residents will only find buses that are also stuck in traffic. When that day comes, there will be no turning back. Our fragile quality of life will be gone forever.

Plain talk is where truth resides. Yet, the City overwhelms taxpayers with reams of complex documents that stymie the average voters. Why has City Hall refused to consider how much longer it will take residents to leave the island via car or bus? Why hasn’t the City been able to explain the effects of all this growth?

Could it be that the City Council, staff and consultants don’t want the residents to know the true effects of the projects? They do mention mitigations (e.g. TDM), but those mitigations are only likely to address a tiny percentage of the traffic and parking impacts.

How is it the Del Monte project’s traffic report states there are a) No parking problems even though the parking supply is only 1.25 cars per unit and the average car ownership is 2.2 cars per unit in Alameda as per the 2000 Census? and b) When all the developments on the island are built, conclude there will only be 19 more cars than today going through the Posey Tube during the AM peak hour by year 2035 and then concluding in no added congestion due to Del Monte and all the development projects combined at the west end?

And it should not take someone like me with a civil engineering license to opine that the City’s idea to lower the parking supply at future development projects is simply not workable in Alameda where sufficient parking supply exist around the development sites. The new residents will park in the surrounding neighborhood streets instead. Traffic will not be reduced like City Hall keeps on saying with reduced parking supply. What will be reduced is the cost for not building the larger garages under the condominium complexes and greatly increasing the developers’ profits.

The Del Monte project at 414 residential units along with all the other mega projects planned by Council is a bad idea for our island. Why all these risks with irreversible harm and without the consideration that Alameda is an island?

Alamedans need to speak up to cap the growth at a reasonable level and require developers to supply parking comparable to actual car ownership patterns, not to the new city standards set by the wishful anti car folks. These unproven and unsustainable standards will result in irreversible harm to our neighborhoods.

The island and its connections to the East Bay need to work for all users, its residents and businesses, pedestrians, bicycles, cars, trucks and buses.

Ignoring the problems and then creating nightmarish congestion and parking problems will ruin what is so great about Alameda. This has been going on continuously since the environmental document process regarding Alameda Point Project started, through proposed projects like Neptune Point and today with the Del Monte and other northern waterfront projects.

Now is the time to take action. Let us move forward and use our taxpayers’ dollars to build a community, we can be proud of. That I believe starts with voting for Frank Mataresse for council who supports a cap on residential development and for Trish Spencer for Mayor who comes with a fresh approach.

And secondly, I urge residents to speak up and let Council know they must define the traffic and financial risks and challenges clearly and accurately.

So many have tried, have volunteered many hours, provided written and oral constructive comments, but Council ignores them. Sadly, I too have lost total trust in any professional report from City Hall.

I urge all Alamedans to vote for Frank and Trish for more government transparency, an open debate of the traffic and financial challenges and for capping development to a level that is reasonable for our island. As of now, I will not vote for the other council seat, neither candidate is concerned about the extremely risky financial and development decisions being made by current Council.

Act today, tomorrow it will be too late.

Reference:
The Del Monte Traffic Impact Analysis March 25, 2014 for the above traffic facts can be found on the City website: Planning Board Agenda item #7B, June 23, 2014, click on File # 2014-652, then click on Draft Supplemental Negative Declaration (Exhibit 3) and download the PDF pages 214 and 233. By doing the simple math calculation one can obtain the difference between the volumes for northbound coming out of the Posey tube (this is the volume approaching the 7th and Harrison intersection # 20: AM Existing is 902 thru and 1686 turning => total 2588 vehicles per hour; and AM Cumulative year 2035: 869 thru and 1738 turning => total 2607 vph). This calculates to only 19 more cars per hour above the report’s today’s AM peak hour volume into the Posey tube after all the developments are built including Alameda Point for the Cumulative condition without Del Monte, the cumulative condition upon which Del Monte was tested for its future traffic impacts. And then concluding neither Del Monte nor all the other projects combined would produce zero traffic impacts at the west end.

And the last paragraph on page 253 provides the consultant’s parking conclusion (TR-9) of no parking problems.
Unfortunately, Council is not questioning these reports with the hidden incorrect data and unbelievable results even after the residents raise these concerns. Instead, Council is ignoring the future traffic problems, does not perform the effort to find financially feasible infrastructure solutions nor assess how much development is feasible for the island. Sad but true.


MAXIMUM CAPACITY

A LETTER from Heather Little

To the members of the Alameda City Council and Planning Board,

As members of our city leadership, I would like to ask if the concept of “maximum capacity” is a part of your decision making process when considering the numerous, high density development projects that are either underway or close to being underway all across our island? I recognize the need to allow for incremental growth and “do our part” to address the ever increasing population of the Bay Area, but the current rate of growth currently planned for our island far exceeds what is required by the Association of Bay Area Governments. In their current projected plan to address population increases over the next 8 years, the City of Alameda is only required to increase our population by a total of 1, 723 persons which you can see very clearly in Appendix C of their Regional Housing Need Plan for the San Francisco Bay Area: 2014‐2022. Yet we are potentially going to be meeting this increase requirement with just one of the projected planned projects!

With this in mind, I know we have room for development, but unlike most other bay area cities, our unique geographic circumstances lead me to believe that we have already exceeded safe levels of maximum capacity that is a required safety measure for all confined spaces.   Particularly for central and western Alameda, where all residents primarily use an aging tube to vacate, this is of extreme concern. I would request that we start remembering that we live on an island, a confined space, which requires some measure of discussion about what our ultimate limits and abilities to accommodate truly are. The argument that we “already don’t have enough egress off of the island to safely address the needs of the current population in the event of a major catastrophic event, so why should it matter if we add more?” doesn’t sit well with me.

If ABAG recognizes that incremental growth, 1,723 additional persons over 8 years, is sufficient to the needs of the bay area, why the hurry to build, build build? How are you prepared to address the traffic and parking congestion that is taking place across our city now, let alone after these multiple density housing projects are finished? You say you want to encourage a “green” city by reducing the ability (or desire) to have a single occupancy vehicle (car) yet I, as an avid cyclist, walker, scooter-er don’t see this city doing anything tangible to reduce car dependence. Where are our 0 pollution days? Our commute to work days? Our bike to the grocery days? Come on city leaders, we need more action and less talk.

Heather Little

Home owner

Plan! Alameda supporter


City Planning Board Meeting MONDAY NIGHT

City of Alameda, Planning Board Meeting

Monday June 23, 7p, City Hall

Agenda is here.

Del Monte Warehouse Project (DMWP) is agenda item 7-B.

All files provided by the City for that discussion (6) are in a dropbox here.


Del Monte Warehouse Project, con’t

NEXT MEETING – BE THERE!

City of Alameda Planning Board Meeting

7:00 PM MONDAY, JUNE 23

City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue

PLAN! Alameda is pro-development: the sustainable kind that also gives us livable streets . . . but has this to say about this project:

The proposal for 414 housing units on the site of the Del Monte plant is unacceptable as-is. 

    • It is too big
    • The parking plan violates city code
    • Impact to the entire community has not studied
    • There has been NO community involvement (as promised)

Learn more at their facebook group here, and their google+ group here.  Twitter: @PLANAlameda

Who’s PLAN! Alameda? Glad you asked:

PLAN! Alameda Proactive, Logical And Neighborly

Mission Statement

To hold the City Council and City Manager accountable for actively engaging community participation in planning sensible, responsible and sustainable growth for the island of Alameda.

Who We Are

PLAN! Alameda was formed when a group of neighbors began comparing notes about the scope of the proposed 414-unit housing development project at the Del Monte warehouse. As we started researching the proposed plan and digging through documents on the City website, we realized that large scale developments all over the northern waterfront area are being considered and are near to being approved – up to 2,000 new housing units! With one already over-loaded, aging tube to handle all the on- & off-island traffic on the West End, serious concerns over rapid approval of development projects were raised.

What began as a concern for parking in our neighborhood has grown into the realization that large-scale development proposals are being encouraged by our own city staff, without any consideration of the impact on the city as a whole (lack of public transportation infrastructure, schools, police, traffic).

PLAN! Alameda supports and looks forward to smart development that will benefit the entire island in a socially, economically and environmentally positive way.  Before any more large-scale projects are approved, the infrastructure to support this type of development must be evaluated, planned and built.  Two-thousand new housing units with insufficient parking and no realistic public transportation model is not a “plan.”

What We Want

The only way to prevent the inevitable crisis that comes from poorly planned development is to hold off on more development until a cohesive, reasonable, forward-thinking plan can be developed.

The City Council must:

  • Issue an immediate moratorium on all new single-family and housing mixed-use development projects
  • Convene a task force comprised of residents, developers and urban/transportation development professionals to explore alternatives
  • Implement a proactive “community input and design” forum, modeled on the current WETA initiative: http://www.watertransit.org/CurrentProjects/AlamedaAccess/index.aspx
  • Seek advice from other cities that have “been there/done that.” Boston, for example, has a very successful and engaged “livable streets” initiative. Urban and transportation planners sit on their Board of Directors. http://livablestreets.info

CONTACT: PlanStreetsAlameda@gmail.com


Del Monte Warehouse

Last chance to attend meetings and speak up on this topic, people.

Here’s our city’s April 2014 DEL MONTE WAREHOUSE PROJECT Initial Study / Subsequent Mitigated Negative Declaration, prepared by ESA.

Those that have followed this tell me there are inconsistencies. Most neighbors are thrilled for the Del Monte site to be cleaned up and developed, but are very rightly upset about the plan’s inadequate provisions for traffic and parking management that, as currently designed, will negatively impact the neighborhood.

25,000 square-feet of retail with no provisions for patron off-street parking (!) + 503 parking spaces for 414 housing units (!!) (read: 503 spaces for 800+ cars) just across the street from Little John Park (an active park that fills up the street parking most evenings and weekends) . . . what could go wrong?!

On May 1st, the Alameda Sun had this excellent/informative article: Former Del Monte Warehouse Redevelopment Plans Revealed.

MEETINGS TO ATTEND

7:30 PM – 830 PM, THURSDAY, JUNE 19 (yep, exactly one hour)

Presentation by Tim Lewis Communities (the developer)

Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue

 

7:00 PM MONDAY JUNE 23

City of Alameda Planning Board Meeting

City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue