There’s a big agenda ahead for the Oakland City Council at its meeting, on Tuesday, October 6 at 7:00 p.m. Discussion of the parking meter fees, which occupied a large chunk of the last meeting, will be continued at this next meeting. And then, right after the parking discussion, the full Council will finally turn its attention to the matter of the Oakland Airport Connector. In particular, the Council will consider a resolution submitted by Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Nancy Nadel, which would basically (1) oppose the Oakland Airport Connector in its current form; (2) support a more cost-effective bus connector; and (3) support the distribution of stimulus and other funding to support local transit.
In other words, this resolution is a breath of fresh air when compared to furious string of administrative acts of rubber-stamping we’ve been watching play out over the course of the past few months. Finally: a governmental body that’s actually interested in looking critically at the project’s supposed merits, or lack thereof.
As we have remarked many times before, the OAC project has changed significantly over the years, and in all possible ways for the worse. One key change has been the removal of intermediate stations, which were specifically supported by the City several years ago. October 6 will be an important meeting, then, because the City of Oakland will finally have the opportunity to adopt a definitive position on the Connector, as the project now stands.
I would like to strongly encourage all readers to attend this important meeting and to share with the Council your thoughts on this project. And here’s something to entice you to attend: if you do speak at the meeting, there’s a chance to win a prize! How? Read on.
The City Council should know just how large and diverse the coalition opposing the Oakland Airport Connector is. And the Councilmembers should feel empowered by knowing that the people of Oakland and the greater Bay Area stand behind them, should they decide to challenge BART’s and Scott Haggerty’s disrespectful and inappropriate remarks that the City of Oakland — “not a signatory to the project” — ought to just swallow the pill and remain silent about a major project about to be built within the city limit, and one that occupies a public right-of-way, no less:
You do not need to live in Oakland to attend this hearing. Construction of the Airport Connector will waste money disbursed at the local, regional, state, and federal levels, so we all have a stake in seeing this project stopped and canceled. What’s more, almost all of the OAC funds (except for the $25 million of Penta-P money from the FTA), if not spent on the OAC, would not simply evaporate — for the most part, this funding is not “free money” from the feds that is tied specifically to the OAC. Rather, it is mostly our money that is being diverted to the OAC from other local projects — which means that if the OAC were canceled, the money would remain in the Bay Area, available for use on those other projects. The project funding also includes a federal loan that we would be better off without, since BART will go into debt for decades to pay it back. Moreover, transit riders throughout the Bay Area stand to benefit from having the $70 million of federal stimulus funds currently going toward to the OAC returned to transit agencies. Anyone from the Bay Area who cares to see transportation dollars spent responsibly has an interest in the City Council adopting a definitive resolution against the OAC.
Back to the prize. A few years ago, our friends over at SF Cityscape made an online coupon with a prize, to entice readers to attend a Geary BRT meeting. This was such a great idea, I couldn’t resist resurrecting it now. It would be great to turn out a lot of people to the Council meeting, and I wanted to do my part to encourage you, loyal readers and savvy transit-o-philes, to speak on the Connector agenda item. So, if you speak at the hearing against the Connector, you will have a choice of one of the following two prizes, to be provided courtesy of Transbay Blog:
- A free drink, to be repaid on some date after the hearing (or possibly right after the hearing, depending on when it ends).
- A free BART ticket with preloaded $5.00 value, to be distributed right at the hearing.
(Why the second prize? At a previous OAC meeting, when asked what BART fare from San Francisco to Oakland Coliseum was, BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said she thought it was “about two-and-a half dollars.” The fare is actually $3.80 from downtown SF, and $4.15 from Balboa Park. It might seem surprising that the BART GM would have no idea what her own fares are … until you remember that she doesn’t appear to actually ride BART. Anyway, in the topsy-turvy world of Dorothy Dugger, this $5.00 BART ticket will give you a round-trip between SF and Oakland Coliseum.)
Getting the prize of your choice is as simple this: print out the image at the bottom of this post before coming to the October 6 meeting, and then give it to the guy with short dark brown hair, wearing a “WordCamp” T-shirt (look for the WordPress logo), at some point before, during, or after the hearing.
The catch? You have to be one of the first 10 people to find and give me the printout. If more than 10 people actually follow up on this offer, that would be fantastic: I have limited capacity to fund prizes, but you should still speak at the hearing anyway.
Even if you are unable to make the meeting, you can and should still send an email to the Councilmembers expressing your opinion and urging them to vote in favor of the resolution put forward by Kaplan and Nadel. You can find the Council’s contact information at this link. But if you can attend the meeting, please do so, and encourage friends to do the same. Either way, thanks for your participation.