Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Posts Tagged ‘Oakland’

Missed Opportunities – A look at the Brookings Institute’s Study

Posted by Roobs on May 21, 2011

What does the Brookings Institute’s Study on Transit & Jobs Really Tell Us?


On May 12, 2011, the Brookings Institute released a first-of-its-kind study that looked at job accessibility in metropolitan areas via transit.  This exhaustive study took on the issue of job sprawl – the decentralization of jobs from the traditional downtown or urban core and out into the suburbs – and found that Western US cities’ transit systems, such as Los Angeles and Honolulu, have better job accessibility than their compact East Coast counterparts.  The reason is because Western cities’ transit systems were designed post-automobile.  That is to say, Western transit systems were designed to connect suburbs to central cities.

In summary, the Brookings study made the following conclusions:

  • Nearly 70% of large metropolitan residents live in neighborhoods with access to transit service of some kind.  This includes bus and light rail.
  • In neighborhoods covered by transit, morning rush hour service occurs about once every 10 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter.
  • The typical metropolitan resident can reach about 30% of jobs in their metropolitan area via transit in 90 minutes.
  • About one-quarter of jobs in low- and middle-skill industries are accessible via transit within 90 minutes for the typical metropolitan commuter, compared to one-third of jobs in high-skill industries.
  • Fifteen of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the Western US and 15 of the 20 metro areas that rank lowest are in the Southern US.

Download the Study Here!

The Brookings study did not do one thing that has some critics crying foul.  The study did not look at performance as a function of ridership.  Because the study ignored ridership, instead to focus on job accessibility, does that make the study flawed?  Are its conclusions and ranking of transit systems somehow incorrect because of it? Some say yes. I say no.

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Oakland Running Festival

Posted by Roobs on March 25, 2011

Cities with single marathons for only a few hours on a single day of the year are soo last century!  Move aside LA, SF and NY Marathons!  Why have just one marathon when you can have a FESTIVAL!

That’s right, Oakland is celebrating my least favorite form of exercise with the Oakland Running Festival this Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27!  A weekend of 4+ races and activities including:

  • Full marathon
  • Half marathon
  • 5k
  • Relay
  • Kids fun run!

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Improving Jack London Square

Posted by Roobs on October 19, 2010

It’s been two months since I moved from Berkeley to West Hollywood to pursue a masters degree in urban planning from UCLA.  Though I am hundreds of miles away, I find myself in class thinking of practical uses of concepts back in the East Bay.  Often times, Oakland is a good candidate for many.

In one class, we discussed two, not very dissimilar concepts for district improvements.  The first was the idea of a parking meter zones (PMZ), as proposed by “prophet of parking” and UCLA professor, Donald Shoup.  The second is the concept of a business improvement district (BID) or a community benefit district (CBD).  Each together and individually have the potential to bring out Jack London Square’s, and Oakland’s in general, true potential.

I’ve wanted to write a post to this effect for some time and am very happy that my time at UCLA has allowed me to finally move forward.

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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NIMBY Say What?

Posted by Roobs on September 10, 2010

Just the other day at the website: Next American City, Yonah Freemark, an Urban Leaders Fellow, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote a column talking about one of my favorite subjects: The East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project.  As readers will have figured out, I am very much in favor of this project and have written two posts about the issue: Why Berkeley is Wrong on BRT and Why Councilman Arreguin is Wrong on BRT

I take issue with Freemark’s columns, specifically his most recent entitled “Opposition to a Bus Rapid Transit System is More than Just NIMBYism“.  The biggest and most frustrating part is that many of the arguments against BRT in the East Bay are either false or based off false assumptions that do nothing to further legitimate debate.

In his three part column (currently at two),  Freemark quotes former Berkeley Willard Neighborhood Association president, Vince Casalaina and both seem to suggest their biggest concern is with greenhouse gases.

“If you’re going to put a quarter of a billion dollars into it,” he said, “It better do something about greenhouse gases.” Casalaina points out that the diesel bus line could actually reduce ridership on the mostly parallel BART rail line, which is electrically powered and therefore arguably cleaner.”

The part about this criticism I never truly understood is that, in the same breadth that many critics of BRT use to say that they care about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, they also say the one thing they are most afraid of losing is “driving lanes”, the ability to drive your car and park when going to the stores they are trying to protect.

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EQCA Mum on Melanie Shelby

Posted by Roobs on September 8, 2010

Equality California offers no comment on alleged relationship with former Prop 8 supporter and current Oakland City Council candidate, Melanie Shelby.

For some time I have been trying to research Melanie Shelby, candidate for Oakland City Council.  Since moving to Los Angeles to puruse my graduate education, I admit I have fallen behind.  But I haven’t forgotten.

Before I moved out of the Bay Area, I sent a request for clarification to the Melanie Shelby campaign regarding her August 4th press release following the initial verdict in the Proposition 8 trial.  I also sent a request to Equality California asking them to comment on the relationship Melanie Shelby continually says she has with them.

I first received a response from the Shelby Campaign in what one other Oakland blogger described as “psychotic”.  You can read the Shelby Campaign’s really bad, though entertaining, response as well as my rebuttal by clicking here.  It really is a great example of what a bad communications team can do for a candidate.  But that was just one side.

For the past few weeks, I have been trying different avenues to get a response from someone inside Equality California – California’s primary same-sex marriage advocacy group.  For a few weeks I have talked to individuals (off the record) and sent emails.  Unfortunately, all my requests have been unfulfilled and, as I said, my conversations with the few I have reached have been off the record.

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Melanie Shelby Wont Play With Politics

Posted by Roobs on August 17, 2010

Former Prop 8 Supporter Dodges Questions on LGBT Issues, Attacks Questioner.

Back on July 2, 2010, I wrote a post about Oakland City Council candidate, Melanie Shelby, who is running in District 4.  Melanie Shelby is well known in and out of political circles for her past support of Proposition 8 – California’s same-sex marriage ban.  Why?  Because she told everyone.

Because Melanie Shelby stated she has changed her view on same-sex marriage since starting her campaign for city council, I requested clarification from the Shelby campaign on her past and current position on same-sex marriage.  I received no response.  I wrote my post based on conversations with political insiders who have spoken to Shelby regarding this very issue.

(You can read my post here)

Melanie Shelby began saying she is working with Equality California since starting her campaign; supposedly in an effort to share her story of an evolving view of same-sex marriage.  However, she has never really explained what project this is.

Following the ruling in the case challenging Prop 8 on August 4, 2010, the Shelby campaign released a statement where she again claimed to be working with Equality California and other LGBT activists.  She also stated Californian’s still struggle with the “moral implications” of same-sex marriage.

(Read Melanie Shelby’s full press-release here.)

I again sent an email to the Shelby campaign asking for comment.  I asked what project and relationship she has with Equality California and what she meant by “moral implications”.  I also sent an email to the press office of Equality California asking them to comment on any project or relationship they had with Shelby as well.

I’m still waiting for Equality California to respond but after receiving the following response from the Shelby camp I feel compelled to address it.  I will, of course, update upon any response from Equality California (if any).

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Posted in LGBT, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Caldecott Tunnel 4th Bore

Posted by Roobs on August 10, 2010

Does Directional Traffic Congestion Affect Local Business Development?

A couple weeks ago, a friend made an interesting statement as we left an Oakland bar.  He said that he did not support the 4th bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, bringing the current three 2-lane tunnels to four.  He believes that the 4th bore is actually bad for Oakland business.

My friend stated that a 4th bore only benefits the reverse commute, meaning traffic headed into Contra Costa County and not Oakland.  Therefore, by making it easier to get to cities like Walnut Creek, we are taking away business from Oakland.  He was essentially making a direct correlation between directional traffic congestion and business development.

I thought a little about his statement and told him I disagreed and thought there was nothing terribly bad with the fourth bore project.  We pretty much left it at that and I didn’t think much of it until today.

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Posted in Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Young Dem Out-Raises Incumbent in Oakland City Council Race

Posted by Roobs on August 3, 2010

Time for a look at Oakland politics.  The news today is that Jennifer Pae, candidate for Oakland City Council in District 2, out raised the incumbent, Patricia Kerninghan.  Reports from the City Clerks office showed that Jen raised over $36,000 while Pat only raised a little over $20,000.

[Clarification by Oakbook: Jen out raised Pat this period only. Updated quote below.]

The biggest surprise in the money contest was the $36,638 Jennifer Pae raised in the most recent quarter for her bid to unseat Patricia Kernighan, the representative for District 2, who reported contributions totaling $20,393 in the same period. In this election cycle, Kernighan has raised a total of $47,000. Both candidates have accepted the city’s voluntary contribution limit and expenditure ceiling, which means that they will be allowed to spend around $107,000 each between now and Election Day.

Read more at The Oakbook

In addition, according to Clerk records, Jen has more cash on hand with $34,656.88 to Pat’s $34,286.40.

The interesting question is two-fold.  First, note that while the difference between candidates is less than $400, Pat is raising less per quarter on average compared to Jen (given Jen began her campaign after Pat).  Also, Pat seems to have spent more money but appears to be yielding less on returns.

Two, it would be interesting to know what are the dollar amount of these donations.  As a former delegate to the DNC Convention in Denver for the Obama campaign in 2008, I’m curious to see if Jen has taken a page from the Obama playbook and is raking in the low-dollar donations;  donations around $5-25 (I was a delegate for Hillary in 2008).  If this is the case, I think Jen has shown she has a great amount of community support in her district with families and individuals who want to be apart of her campaign and are donating what they can, especially in this economy.  If Pat is only brining in high dollar donations from establishment figures, then the story to come out from these numbers is that Jen Pae is definitely the community candidate.  This is a number that Pat Kerninghan should be concerned about.

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