Army Base, quickly

Aah, I had so wanted to write a whole bunch of posts about the Army Base last week before the item came to Community and Economic Development Committee (CED) today, but I just couldn’t find the time, and while I still hope to get to it later this week, I wanted to say something before the meeting.

Okay, so when we last visited the Army Base question, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums wanted what he referred to as a “vision-based” development strategy for the Army Base, which basically involved asking developers to come up with a plan that would incorporate like every conceivable use on the land. In one of their better moments last year, CED wisely rejected the recommended “Mixed-Use Oakland” plan, dismissing the “vision” with one of my favorite lines from Jane Brunner ever, “This isn’t a vision. It’s a list.” Henry Chang had had enough, and awesomely suggested that we just wash our hands of this neverending saga and just sell all the land to the Port, and then use the money for like, affordable housing, or whatever.

Jane Brunner then immediately lost all the points she had just earned by talking about how bad she wanted something “spectacular” on the land, like an outlet mall. Then Larry Reid jumped in to complain about how he’s sick of shopping at Gilroy. The Committee ultimately decided to reject all the vision options presented and just issue an RFQ and let the people who want to develop the land say what they want to do. Then staff came back to Council trying to issue an RFQ with instructions to submit plans for what the Mayor had asked for anyway, and there was a little spat about how if the Mayor wants something so bad he should tell the Council himself and since he hadn’t, staff needed to write it the way the Committee had directed them to.

So then they put out the RFQ and we got 13 responses. You can download all the RFQ responses here if you’d like to read them. A review panel went through them and selected 4 that they think should move on to the RFP process, where they’ll submit something more specific about what exactly they plan to do. Overall, I think the review panel made exactly the right choices in their recommendations, prioritizing (PDF!) respondents who demonstrated the financial capacity and stability to carry out the entire 20 year project and teams with experience on former military or otherwise heavily contaminated sites.

So the recommendation is AMB/California Capital Group (PDF!), Federal Development (PDF!), First Industrial Realty (PDF!), and Prologis/Catellus (PDF!). I hope to discuss the merits and drawbacks of each of team’s response later this week, and I already have my favorite, but the four of them were just head and shoulders above the rest, so I’m pretty pleased with where things stand at the moment. Of course, that will probably all change this afternoon when I watch Jane Brunner and Larry Reid go on and on about retail, which is seriously just the worst possible use of the Army Base, but that’s for tomorrow.

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36 thoughts on “Army Base, quickly

  1. Ryan Tate

    Note that Tagami’s team (CCG) is proposing a new transit system specifically for the project (PDF page 116):

    We propose an initial PRT system stretching from the West Development Area to the Wood
    Street Train Station in West Oakland. This stretch is about 2.7 miles with 5 stops along the way
    that will facilitate ease of access to the Port and the GDA from West Oakland, and back for
    residents working at the Port and in the GDA, not to mention visitors that want access to the
    West Development water front. We envision a PRT system that extends through downtown
    Oakland, tying into existing BART stations to maximize a sustainable mass transit system.

    I’d be curious to know _where_ this PRT system would eventually end up (“through downtown Oakland” to where?) that’s not already served by BART, and which other developments would benefit. Maybe Ghielmetti’s Oak To Ninth will get a hookup? Some of the estuary proposals to the south, toward Fruitvale?

    All scenarios presented by this team include office towers, and one includes retail. But there’s no transit (“isolation of waterfront lands”), so they have to build it with yet another transit system, on top of BART, bus and the nascent BRT efforts oh and don’t forget the BART connector thing that’s coming down the pike. But it’s no big deal because everything will be cheap with this super futuristic PRT system. Surely there will be no horrific cost overruns.

  2. Ryan Tate

    PS needless to say, keeping the site entirely as port/logistics as Echa favors would not require a special new train system. But then you wouldn’t get to ride a pretty Ferris wheel like we apparently will (??!?!?) under the PRT plan (see pic p108)!

  3. Ryan Tate

    Ha, well, I think it’s a bid to be known as The Ferris Wheel Plan. Though I prefer “The Ferris Wheel And Ponies And Cotton Candy Plan” because there seemed to be some kind of actual fair in the background of that photo and, well — PONIES!

  4. V Smoothe Post author

    I kind of love it. You know, I’d totally be down with scrapping logistics and maritime support services on the Army Base if somebody wanted to build us our own Tivoli Gardens there instead. Screw the Port.

  5. LeAndre

    Someone tell Lew Wolf(owner of the A’s) to forget about Fremont and build the new ballpark there…its perfect, plenty of space, and you get your choice of a Oakland skyline view or the view of the new bay bridge(which should be finished about the same time)…Sure the land would cost a little more but it would defiantly be worth it…Giants and A’s playing directly across each other, a dream come true…

  6. Chris Kidd

    Dream come true indeed, LeAndre. I’d love nothing more than to see the A’s stay. Too bad Lew had the fix in from day one. If he’d been serious about staying, the Army Base would have been #1 on his wish list a long time ago. For the type of project he wants to do (park w/ large development housing village next door), the Army Base matches up better than all the “viable” sites in Oakland he trotted out in his dog-and-pony show before taking his plans down to Fremont. Too bad Lew’s agenda was really about getting himself a shiny new Silicon Valley fanbase.

  7. Robert

    the army base is a poor site for a modern ballpark. poor connectiosn to the rest of the downtown area, and as a consequence folks will go to the game and then go ack home, with no benefit to the city.

  8. LeAndre

    Building the ballpark just outside downtown is a good thing…building it too close, or in downtown would cause way too much congestion, the army base is close to the freeway, close to West Oakland Bart, and has room for a massive parking lot…and building a ballpark anywhere (in Oakland) would benefit the city, fans would come far and wide to well deserved ballpark to the A’s…

    You say “folks would go to the game and then go back home”…the army base provides plenty of space for bars, dinning, etc…unlike 66th ave. where get a choice of Walmart and In N Out Burger

  9. Max Allstadt

    I actually slugged through all of the CCG proposal, and the only thing that seemed a little weird to me was the PRT. Maybe it’s cause I have biases from my most recent cynical visit to Tomorrowland. For all I know the numbers add up. V if you’ve go sooo much to say about it, please have at it.

    The idea of making it one big outlet mall is absurd. We already have a giant mall with poor transit access in the East Bay. It’s called Emeryville.

    I believe there was a ferris wheel in one of the proposals. I’m all for it. Oak-Land! I have a bunch of thug-life themed ride ideas that I won’t mention here to avoid offending too many people, but for reals, a theme park actually seems like a good idea. The weather is perfect for it, and there isn’t a theme park worth a damn in the bay area at the moment.

    The skyline effect from across the bay would be worth it on it’s own. I HATE HATE HATE the fact that the people of San Francisco are welcomed to Oakland by scenes of industrial decay. I like living in that industrial decay, but if we want this town to rise up, we have to build a better welcome mat.

  10. len raphael

    skimmed all of the pdfs; and not clear what the financial arrangements/ownership rights would be? land leases? are those defined somewhere or to be negotiated? one proposal straight out says public grants/subsidies wb required.

    oakland can’t even run it’s own low income rental housing operation, let alone make the right decision planning, subidizing (guarranteeing loans?), and overseeing future operations of this complex project.

    probably best to lease it to the port as chang advised.

  11. tagami

    A few comments for my therapy…long day today so…I’ll be brief

    The OAB site requires a significant investment in infrastructure – storm sewer, soil work, environmental cleanup, sanitary sewer, water, power, roads, blah blah blah this project may need as much as 1.2million cubic yards of soil ( the fourth bore of the Caldecott is only 325,000 cubic yards)
    The job of the master developer is to handle all of the details of 23 pre-existing agreements and raise the funds ( managing peak capital of say $800m without return for 8 years and get something moving while coordinating with 47 stake holder groups the ORA, Port and 18 regulatory agencies. Childs play, Oui?
    Someone needs to be willing to focus on this one for 12-16 years be old enough to know what to do and young enough to see it through. This project needs a real commitment not corporate revolving doors of hair jelled frat boys who want to cut their teeth. You have to love it man!

    Personally I like my chances and my track record of getting things done. The Rotunda renovated after being shuttered for 25 years, and now the fox after 42 years. The official amount the city has invested in the fox ( their building not mine) is $36.5m and Fox team and I have raised $53.2m in 18 months net of $7.5 in loans being repaid of which we have secure $2m of prop 1c funding for.

    Rotunda Original Proposal 1992
    Rotunda ENA 1996
    Rotunda DDA 1998
    COE 1999
    Certificate of Occupancy 2001
    Total 9 years

    Fox Original Proposal 1997
    City invitation to meet 2001
    Second Proposal 2002
    Invitation to Negotiate 2003
    ENA FOT,INC 2005
    COE 2006
    Total 11 years

    The famous coliseum billboards

    I have served on the Planning commission, port commission, OBRA Board, Navy restoration advisory board.

    I am now working with the Train Station Partnership a group comprised of two dozen west Oakland interest. What should the building be? I studied it and said a train station! We can even use the elevated tracks…and provide the community control and uses they deem appropriate.

    Due to the proximity to the former SP train station and the abundance of “right of way” with direct access to west Oakland Bart I believe PRT is a viable solution. It is certainly much more cost effective than the system being proposed for Oakland BART Connector ( $450M PROPOSED) Roughly 2.63 miles delivered for around $30m less than 10% of the costs if we adopted $50m to be safe that is still a large savings.

    PRT was recently reviewed by ULI in the March Issue (see below).

    Streetcars, such as those used in Portland’s Pearl
    District, and elevated people movers, like those in
    downtown Miami, are moving people from rail stations
    to their final destinations. But a new concept,
    personal rapid transit (PRT), may help revolutionize
    urban transportation, providing a cost-effective way
    to get people from train stations to where they need
    to go, notes Calthorpe.

    PRT involves individual cars on a track that
    connects light- and heavy-rail stations with dense
    commercial districts and office parks. Private, safe,
    and requiring little maintenance, PRT cuts transit
    time because there are no stops and no waiting.

    Users can push a button and the software-controlled
    system automatically moves cars to where they are
    needed. The system can fit on any existing right of-
    Way, produces little noise, requires no at-grade
    Crossings, and costs one-tenth as much to build as
    Light rail—$10 million per mile ($6.2 million per km)
    Versus $100 million per mile ($62 million per km),
    according to Calthorpe.
    A pilot of the ULTra PRT system, developed by U.K.-
    based Advanced Transport Systems Ltd. (ATS), is under
    construction at London Heathrow Airport. The $49 million
    project will provide travelers transportation from the
    business parking lot to Terminal 5 via 18 low-energy,
    battery-operated, driverless PRT vehicles.

    Oh now the Ferris wheel…

    The issue was the assumption made by many that the mole (west gateway) is pre-ordained as parkland. Most of the subject site is a wharf and though the land portion may be attractive for office development the height may be a problem due to the adjacent least tern( small white bird) and the fact the natural predators would use the buildings to disrupt the nesting pairs ….the port manages to keep a biologist employed to move and remove “raptors” a Ferris wheel deemed to move and not present a “permanent” perch plus I think it’s time we had a little fun al la Neptune beach …no really it was a simple a way to express a wide range of ideals about the west gateway the subject site is encumbered by Caltrans until 2015.

    More later

  12. tagami

    A recent city wide poll I comissioned ( 525 sample size) indicated that 37 % of voters wanted the OAB to be logistics like the port or port related and 23% wanted retail 40% were undecided.

    Here is how the PRT faired Support Oppose

    more low emission buses 84 10
    more bart stops 75 19
    alternative elevated PRT system 56 18
    Other new green technologies 63 22

  13. Deckin

    Let’s see if I can’t piss everyone off. What seems to be assumed by all the very smart people both on this list and in City government and virtually everywhere is that this is a decision that can be well reached through analysis and planning and smart people putting their heads together.

    Count me among those who deny the whole premise of this business. Simply put: The city shouldn’t be in the real estate business, period. The city shouldn’t be owing large tracts of land, much less trying to figure out what to do with them. No one is smart enough to know what a good use for that land will turn out to be 5 years into the future, let alone 50. The city should do the only rational thing given the obvious shortcomings of central planning: Sell the land to the highest bidder. It’s just that simple. It’s not Yosemite we’re sitting on here. This is already developed land and leaving this up to the holy planning process with its vaunted community input is a recipe for inaction followed by failure. The evidence for this is the land, right now. Let the market decide the use and we’ll all the be wealthier and happier.

  14. Tagami


    I like your style, however the transfer of this land at no cost from the Department of Defense ( Army) to the State of California and then to the City and Port comes with strings attached, many strings. Had the the city and the Port not settled their lawsuits and disputes and executed the MOU in 2002/2003 the Site would have gone to GSA auction. The perceived bulk value at the time, not considering adjustemnts in value for environmental conditions, aging infrastructure, soil stabilization, certain tide lands trust covenants and a number of other obligations, and adjustment for being a longterm lease not a fee simple sale was $105 million for 311.2 gross acres ( that includes the 157 acres the port obtained). Some studies and independant consultants had indicated that the 13,556,176 square feet of ths site may need $270 million in infrastruture (about$20 psf)
    So $105m less $270m = -(165m). Should the City and the Port align their efforts with the State and Federal Government significant funds from TEA 2009 now referred to as MAP 21 could be obtained to cover as much as half of the $270m the match could be comprised of state funds but they also require a match or $67.5m. These funds WOULD CERTAINLY NOT BE AVAILBALE FOR A RETAIL PROJECT BUT WOULD BE READILY AVAILABLE FOR STRENGTHENING THE LOGISTICS SUPPLY CHAIN AND TRADE CORRIDOR and could be a combination of the reinvestment act dollars, TIF generated from the site, and of course private capital. By working together ( that is the city and port) they stand a very good chance at securing the funding lowering the gap and enhancing the value of the land which due to the amount of public funds and requirements will most likely be leased not sold as fee simple but a long term lease.

  15. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Max – your comment, “The idea of making it one big outlet mall is absurd. We already have a giant mall with poor transit access in the East Bay. It’s called Emeryville.” – ooooh, how I couldn’t agree more. Why couldn’t they build something like that next to BART?

    But, then, when thinking about it, BART does run right through the OAB, right? Not that adding a stop would happen within 20 years.

    I’m admittedly NOT a shopper, so I don’t care for adding shopping to the mix. But we admittedly don’t have great shopping in Oakland. I shop online because I don’t have time, energy, or patience to head to Walnut Creek, San Leandro (or somewhere further south), or SF like most of my friends do. But the bigger question is what kind of shopping does an outlet mall add? Not so great, imho. Besides, how would their leases be low enough to compete with places like Gilroy?

    I admittedly love the ferris wheel idea, but if Six Flags is having a rough time, is there enough of a draw from a ferris wheel and maybe some ponies to bring people to Oakland? Or keep people in Oakland? How about adding a ferris wheel or some other something of interest to Middle Harbor park instead?

    I actually love the idea of putting a ballpark there – it’s within sight of SF’s ballpark, it’s in a currently underutlized area, and it’s close enough to downtown to be a draw. If you added a BART stop there, that would be even better. I’m not even a baseball fan, but I love the idea of a park there.

    Logistics make perfect sense for the site from a purely practical standpoint. I don’t always love practical despite being a numbers person. ;)

  16. Andrew

    I was just asked, over on my Oakland Geology blog, whether the Army Base site is suitable for building given that it’s all or mostly fill and we are prone to earthquakes.

    I’m not a geotechnical engineer. But speaking in general, buildings can be designed and built to perform well on made land. What you need is (1) a good idea of the ground, (2) a good idea of the likely maximum shaking from major earthquakes on the Hayward fault (that’s the worst hazard by far), and (3) construction of the design by competent outfits that don’t cut corners. Those are no problem, I think, in this first-world locality.

    From the city, you need a standard for the building to meet. The lower, ordinary standard is that the building won’t collapse and kill people. (It may still need to be demolished.) The higher, more desirable standard is that the building will not only remain intact, but remain fully functional after the maximum foreseeable earthquake.

    Again, I’m no expert in earthquake engineering (although we have many experts available locally), but I do know that the excellent Moscone Center West building in San Francisco is designed to that higher standard. When I was given a tour there in 2004, the building managers told us that the budget was approximately 3 percent greater because of that requirement. After the “design earthquake,” that building can be occupied by emergency responders, refugees, city officials etc. immediately. That kind of capability is beyond reckoning, really.

    Beyond green buildings, we need sustainable, durable sanctuary buildings in Oakland, because the 1989 earthquake was just a jiggle compared to what the Hayward fault did in 1868 and will do again.

  17. Chris Kidd

    Just to be a wet blanket for all the “ballpark facing SF” crowd: MLB rules won’t allow for a ballpark whose outfield faces west. The setting sun going directly into a batter’s eyes during an evening game would cause a lot of strikeouts – but wouldn’t be great baseball. Most parks are oriented (from home plate to center field) in a northeasterly direction, though there are a few that face dead east (yankee stadium) or north/south (petco park). So the allure of a bayside ballpark loses some of its luster when you realize you won’t be able to actually see the bay from the park. But you could have a sweet view of the Oakland hills!

  18. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Thanks, Chris, for being a wet blanket. But at least there’s an explanation! So many times all we hear is no, but without any reasoning given. So thank you Mr. Wet Blanket. ;)

    And I think the Oakland Hills would still be a great view… it’s mostly about the great location near BART and downtown. You wouldn’t have a McCovey Cove (?) necessarily, but I’m sure that the Port would prefer that anyway.

    But this particular conversation is moot point, right?

    SO… about the other options. Big box is semi interesting, but I thought they were interested in Broadway so if you put shopping on Broadway, that to me is a better place for a Target, but maybe not such a great place for a Costco. I never go to Costco, even when I lived semi-near one eons ago so I might be the wrong person to ask.

    I have to say that I like the industrial uses, and especially logistics uses. With the Port right there and the current lack of public transport there it doesn’t make sense to add an outlet mall. If we’re going to get a mall, can we get a real mall that isn’t low quality oriented. (Walnut Creek comes to mind, even if I only go there once every 1-2 years.)

  19. Chris Kidd

    Joana, I have to agree about industrial uses being best. The city is already committed to preserving industrial land in west oakland. Wouldn’t it behoove the city’s plans for the future to develop out an adjoining area (OAB) with increased industrial, logistical and infrastructural (is that even a word?) capabilites? We’ve all heard V lament that the real reason industry doesn’t come to west oakland is because of (1) crime and (2) lack of modern industrial infrastructure. Wouldn’t this be a step in the right direction?

    And for an OAB ball park: you could have a pop-foul cove. sound good?

  20. Tagami

    I have spoken with a dozen large retail developers three of which are interested in partnering should we include a retail element. The main problem is that they tend not to identify their tenants until the site is ready to deliver. So 7-8 years from now 6-9 to months before we are ready to begin verticle development retailers would be interested in making commitments to locate at the site providing others would be as well. Retailers want a lot of surface parking, security, highway visable signange and cheap rent. Before drawing any other conclusions, for or against, retail development in this loaction a conversation regarding the other retail development proposed is required. Upper Broadway, the CBD, and the Grand and Cypress Mandella site controlled by Kanbar and Sullivan. It’s funy we have
    had a challenge on the office use at the “mole” ( west gateway) desireing not to further dilute the CBD, however there is significant demand for campus settings by a number of users that do not want to be located in the cbd for numerous reasons…soil and biological issues aside this too should be a fun debate.

  21. Max Allstadt

    For the record, I was never against retail at the army base. I’m just against transit-inaccessible retail. Nor do I like retail with no communal space, or retail that excludes non-chain stores.

    Bay Street is a wonderfully laid out mall, but the fact that it’s plaza spaces are privately owned diminishes it’s potential to have real street life, like musicians and table vendors. It’s wrapped up too tight. The space planning and programming couldn’t be better over there, but we really need to rethink the social aspects next if we want something a cut above. Putting retail near public open space would be fine on the base land. A boardwalk or the like. I just don’t want mall security telling me I can’t play ukulele in a bunny suit or hand out pro-ukulele propaganda.

    A little chaos is good for us. Pike Place Market in Seattle is a shining example of this. As is Harvard Square in Cambridge. Commerce and freedom can go hand in hand. Remember that when you win the RFP, Tagami.


    My understanding is that a new BART stop is totally difficult. I actually go for bike rides down to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park quite often, and though I don’t know the exact path of the BART, I know that the point at which it emerges from the ground is too far from the BASE. Plus from riding it, it feels like it never is off of an incline all the way from under the bay to West Oakland. You’d have to level it underground and build a station, or probably reroute it. Pricey.

  22. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I agree, Max, that adding a BART station is probably not gonna happen. Get Steve Lowe started on the Jack London Square BART idea and he thinks it can, but I don’t think so. I wish, but I won’t be holding my breath.

    I went down to the Square tonight to make a deposit and grab some ice cream (why couldn’t we get Fenton’s instead of Ben & Jerry’s?) and noticed 1) how dead it was and 2) saw CyberTran (offices in retail space? or just a display?) and wished, once again, that we could figure out a way to make that happen. Isn’t CyberTran PRT?

  23. Max Allstadt

    Argh. The tragic deadness of Jack London Square. Unfortunately, if you want to keep it alive at night, you need nightlife! Joanna I know your fellow Jack Londoners are pretty wary of that prospect.

    Back to PRT. I think cybertran qualifies, but I’m still skeptical. I’m going to go out on a crazy crazy limb here and say that new, relatively unknown tech is what will ultimately be the next step in transit. I was talking to V about this last night – DARPA has held a series of races of autonomous cars. The last one was urban. Cars had to follow a course, in traffic, obey traffic laws, and operate without any human assistance whatsoever after the start of the race. Some managed to finish, and quickly. Fast forward ten years, and we finally have the unmanned taxis we’ve been promised since the 50s.

    I’m not saying that’s the answer to transit, or transit at the port. I am saying that we are on the verge of a number of technological leaps that will disrupt and transform cities. That’s why I’m dubious about the Tomorrowland people movers. I think by the time that the Army Base project gets rolling, we’ll have some very interesting options to consider beyond PRT or BART or buses or anything we can even conceive of.

    OK, crazy utopian futurist rant over. I’m basically just all silly ’cause I’m getting an iphone on friday and I was thinking that in 5 years that awesome doohickey will look quaint.

  24. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    I think the problem with nightlife in the JLD has to do with what has happened in the past (ie Mingles). People love Yoshi’s, but they weren’t looking very busy tonight. I’m personally not against nightclubs, just hyphy. (waiting to get beat up for that one) We definately need something, not just bars and nightclubs. Just fill the Square so that it looks full. It just looks sad right now. I just have to hang on for this time next year when the remodel at Waterfront Hotel, Jack London Market, the parking garage, and all the landscaping is done. They’ll fill it, right? Please?

    So Cybertran. Why, why, why are people so skeptical? Is it because of who is behind it? Is it because it’s never been done before? It’s not tried and proven technology? It’s unmanned. It’s cheaper per foot than BART. I just don’t get why people are so against it.

    The DARPA unmanned cars are pretty far in the future, undoubtedly more than 10 years. Look at how long it took for hybrids to become so mainstream. I think they’ll be using them in the military long before we see them on the streets of Oakland. They are pretty cool though. But Cybertran seems more energy efficient, imho.

    We’re always going to be saying that something new is coming. Be it unmanned cars, a better iPhone, a faster computer, etc. But at some point you gotta commit and take what’s out there now. Otherwise you never make any progress. Cybertran is cutting edge right now.

  25. Max Allstadt

    I’m not skeptical of PRT because of who is behind it. I’m somewhat skeptical because it’s never been done before outside of amusement parks and airports. I’m less skeptical because a Port/Army Base development is the kind of contained situation that is very similar to an amusement park or airport. Circling the Army Base development and returning to West Oakland BART in the same way the mini train works at SFO, that I get. Makes perfect sense. Even with smaller cars. But is that PRT? Or are we talking about a larger network of stops?

    I’m most skeptical of the $10 million per mile number. I just don’t get how you get unionized workers to build steel concrete and electrical structures 20 feet in the air for that kind of number. Maybe there’s an economy of scale. It just seems low to me. If I could see a broken down bid, I might be swayed.

    The only place I’ve seen where people are vowing to build PRT right now is the green city project in the UAE, but again, they’ve got money over there to build the Burj Dubai.


    I won’t beat you up on Hyphy. I’ll just suggest you go to 2232 MLK and see what a responsible hip-hop venue looks like. If they can do it this close to Ghosttown, they can do it in JLS. It was the management, not the music.

  26. Max Allstadt

    Or rather, I wished you’d been to 2232 before they lost their lease. I’m a bit out of touch apparently. It was awesome.

  27. dto510

    I agree with Max. Oakland has enough trouble with sidewalks and buses; you know, the basics. I am stunned that anyone would propose building a monorail. And Max is right, $10m per mile is an outrageously low estimate for above-grade construction. PRT is not approved by the federal government and so is ineligible for transit subsidies – where is the money going to come from? I humbly suggest to Mr. Tagami that he invest in a shuttle stop. With the car drivers’ unrelenting attack on the world’s most successful transit system (BRT), transit proponents certainly don’t need to be distracted by an unproven, experimental monorail.

    Also, 2232 is closed? That’s too bad!

  28. tagami


    I have data that differs from you opinion, but must admit when I first saw the system had the exact same reaction you did. Further, we are very early in the process of vetting PRT but so far I have been surprised at the data and reception PRT has gotten from other project areas around the CBD and Bay Area. The PRT is not a monorail and it is not listed as unqualified for federal or state funding from the research I have doen thus far. Even though I have other ideas for funding… a federal transportation grant would be heart warming, NO? True also that the Heathrow installation is different that what we expect in Norcal, being in a seismically active area was factored that into our initial financial models, but ultimately the challange that transcends cool is that the operating costs vs the fair box . You raise a very valid point that requires mucho due diligence before we go further. We pursue this vision and search for a better Oakland.

    A video of my proposal is viewable at either, or


  29. Max Allstadt

    I’m not a Turner Construction cost estimator, remember. I build little additions on houses, giant mouths and cages for men to fight in.

    For all I know prefabrication and modular installation could kick in an economy of scale that might make the numbers work. It’s just that a mile seems awfully long. The biggest I can think though is about a hundred feet of track, 25 feet tall… To make that scale up to 10 million a mile, you’d have to do that hundred feet for just under $190,000. Tricky.

    Phil: followed your link, which lands on Charley Pine’s interview, but I found the Army Base vision, which is at

    Awesome presentation. I really like the music, actually. A little narration could make it more understandable, but I get the drift.