OAC at MTC. Again. On Twitter!

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Twitter? Not recently enough, I’m sure.

I realize that for the most part, you guys are not nearly as excited about it as I am. In fact, when I asked about it on my reader survey last August, a full three quarters of you responded that you were just not interested in Twitter. I gotta say, folks – you really should give it another try.

Creating a Twitter account is wicked easy. And if you don’t feel like you have anything to say, you don’t have to write anything. Just read! Twitter is a news junkie’s fantasy.

As long as you follow interesting people, you are constantly learning all sorts of interesting things. You can stay current on local events by following institutions and organizations like the Oakland Museum, Oakland Public Library, East Bay Regional Park District, Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland Zoo, Oakland Running Festival, Jack London Square, Walk Oakland, Bike Oakland, Children’s Fairyland, and so on. Twitter is also great for keeping up with headlines. Many news sources post to twitter with a link to the story every time they put up something new. So if you always want to be current about what’s new on The Oakbook or InOakland without constantly reloading the site – well, Twitter can help you with that, too.

But the reason I really love Twitter is because of how much more enjoyable it makes going to meetings. I spend a lot of time sitting through public meetings, and if it’s at all possible, I try to tweet what’s going on. I decided to start tweeting Oakland meetings last Spring after finding myself completely captivated by the awesome State budget twitter coverage from Sacramento journalists KQED_CapNotes, CapitolAlert, capitolweekly, ShaneGoldmacher, and kyamamura. I love being able to keep up with what’s going on at meetings I can’t be at via Twitter – the newspaper the next day is great for a condensed summary of the important stuff that happened, but with Twitter, you get the added fun of being able to experience the flavor of the meeting, and also maybe learn about some of the amusing, but relatively unimportant stuff that goes on – the sort of thing nobody is ever going to write an article about. Plus, writing about it makes being at these meetings way more fun, especially when you’re there by yourself.

While there’s always room for improvement, I have to say I’m pretty impressed with our burgeoning Oakland meeting Twitter corps. In addition to my tweets, you can also get great Oakland meeting coverage from OaklandBecks, Jawnie, das88, MaxAllstadt, and dto510, all of whom make a habit of letting the Twittersphere know what’s going on at the City Council, AC Transit, BART, Planning Commission, Public Ethics Commission, or wherever else they happen to be.

Anyway, to give you all a sense of what you’ve been missing, I thought it might be nice to share the play by play of yesterday’s MTC meeting from Twitter. Here we go:

das88: About to head to MTC meeting. No to the OAC boondoggle – Don’t trust BART with $70 million. We won’t even get any magic beans for the money

OaklandBecks: At rally for justice and jobs outside mtc. Great tunout but even larger turnout of pro oac protestors across the street.

das88: #oakmtg Unions outfront of Mtc chanting for jobs now. They don’t seem to realize that $70M for transit saves more Union jobs. Stop layoffs.

StreetsblogSF: Transit advocates http://yfrog.com/32mhbj

StreetsblogSF: Transit advocates at MTC being drowned out by approx 100 construction unionists

StreetsblogSF: Construction union workers http://yfrog.com/3ns8poj

StreetsblogSF: West span Bay Bridge bike path supporters http://yfrog.com/3l24kicj

OaklandBecks: The seen at mtc is a bit surreal and very inspiring.

OaklandBecks: Mtc main room filled to capacity. Overflow room also full. They’re trying to set up audio in cafeteria.

das88: Standing behind Carol Ward Allen and Kerry Hammil at the MTC #oakmtg

das88: That’s literally not figuratively

MaxAllstadt: @das88 AWKward.

StreetsblogSF: Meeting & overflow rooms beyond capacity. Already chippy back and forth between chair Haggerty and public http://yfrog.com/4fwyecj

Vsmoothe: MTC/BATA meeting crazy packed. Overflow room beyond full, more overflow in cafeteria also full. Yikes. #mtcmtg

transbay: Groundhog Day comes early this year — at MTC again for another stimulus dollars showdown. Utter madness here.

OaklandBecks: Bike advocates for bay bridge very organized, wearing bright green stickers saying bridge the gap. Lots of nice hand made signs too

TransForm_Alert: MTC auditorium is at overfill capacity. Carpenters continue to believe OAC is worth fighting for.

das88: Bay Area Toll Auth (BATA) mtg beginning to disuss toll schedule

TransForm_Alert: bata staff is describing new bridge toll rates- to do seismic work on bridges.

das88: BATA recommend $5 regular toll w/congestion pricing on Bay Bridge addor minus $1 #oakmtg

TransForm_Alert: mtc’s leg analysis says can’t use revenue from the new toll increases on bike access. bikers are here to get mtc to get that authority.

TransForm_Alert: sen. hancock is introducing a bill to enable bike access on the west span of the bay bridge.

das88: #oakmtg BAa chair says W. Bikeline not germane to today’s discussion

das88: #oakmtg Tom Bates concurs saying we need to find funding first

TransForm_Alert: many speakers support higher tolls, just not for them.

das88: Recreation fisher says axel toll increase should only apply to commerecial vehicles so his kids can fish instead of play video games #oakmtg

das88: 2nd casual carpooler speaker bummed that carpools will have to pay some toll (it is proposed to be half)

das88: #oakmtg I believe though casual carpool started when toll was only $2

TransForm_Alert: daly proposes two dollars instead of two-fifty for carpools. bates seconds.

TransForm_Alert: lempert and mckenzie urge not changing rates without looking at revenue impact.

TransForm_Alert: original motion to adopt staff recommendation passes–congestion pricing is coming to the bay!

TransForm_Alert: heminger says that all revenue will be committed to seismic retrofit.

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: Can toll increase sunset once bridges are paid for? E. Director: No, never sunset, we will need more toll hikes also. #mtcmtg

StreetsblogSF: Bay Area Toll Authority unanimously approved toll increase with congestion pricing and carpool charge of $2.50.

StreetsblogSF: Commishes ask for further study of carpool rate to be sure new toll won’t discourage casual carpooling

TransForm_Alert: oac item commences…

Vsmoothe: Read MTC Exec. Director’s recommendation re: Airport Connector here: http://is.gd/7atfU (He says go for it.) #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Heminger says OAC is like Groundhog Day, going back over and over again. Yeah, advocates feel like that too.

TransForm_Alert: heminger acknowleges that staff recommendation was released only twelve hrs ago, even though they got a letter from fta on jan fifteenth.

TransForm_Alert: there is a big risk to accepting option of fta conditional award of arra funds, the region could lode seventy million dollars.

TransForm_Alert: will mtc commissioners take a gamble on bart doing a good and quick job of equity analysis?

TransForm_Alert: heminger notes that other federal funds could be at risk, in addition to arra funds.

TransForm_Alert: heminger: two options take the risk on the oac or put the money to the projects id’ed when commission had doubts about oac last year.

OaklandBecks: Heminger says risk of losing $70 million in stimulus funds is “manageable” but not insignificant.

TransForm_Alert: mtc recommends giving bart until feb sixteenth…..

TransForm_Alert: mtc thinks that over the next two weeks bart and fta can work on the outline of work to be done- no commitment from fta or bart on this.

Vsmoothe: ED: People using the Airport Connector will all be rich, since they can afford airplane tickets. Therefore, $12 fare has no impact. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: ED: Once a bid is accepted, too late to discuss alternatives. (BTW, BART was repeatedly asked to study alternatives & refused.) #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Heminger – risk of reallocating funds to transit agencies is OAC would lose other fed funds and bid would be lost. Would that be so bad?

OaklandBecks: Heminger – safest course of action is to redirect funds today. (crowd claps) But I don’t think it’s the best course. (others clap)

das88: The mayor in the house at MTC #oakmtg

OaklandBecks: Damn. Dellums about to speak. Why is it this issue he chooses to speak up? Why not spend time on something that will help Oakland?

TransForm_Alert: mayor dellums speaks in favor of the oac, but with conditions and takes civil rights seriously.

OaklandBecks: Oh wait – Dellums brings up issues he had raised about fares and local hire, which BART has not answered. Says he takes civ rights seriously

TransForm_Alert: dellums supports use of civil rights complaints to change institutions- our goal in filing the complaint.

OaklandBecks: Dellums – I met with Sec of Transportation. Said he believes BART wants to resolve matters, but FTA has to have open dialog.

Vsmoothe: Mayor: One thing I’ve learned about Washington DC is that they don’t do things on “rigid timeframes.” Let’s talk and hug it out. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: If you’re stuck at home or work, you don’t have to miss out on the exciting MTC action. Audio feed here: http://is.gd/7ayGS #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Why do pro-OAC folks think it makes the project sound good to say they couldn’t build it after trying for 20 years? #mtcmtg

StreetsblogSF: BART GM Dugger testifies that BART is committed to resolving Title VI deficiencies. Says she’s concerned as child of Civil Rights era

TransForm_Alert: bart general manager dugger says fta audit identified deficiencies.

TransForm_Alert: bart bd director carol ward allen cites two-thousand job figure that bart’s been referencing, though bart’s report to fta cited six hundred.

OaklandBecks: Carol Ward Allen offended that opponents used Title VI to stop project. If BART had considered equity arguments, we wouldn’t have had to.

Vsmoothe: Bart Dir Carol Ward Allen says again OAC will create 2500-5000 jobs. Not according to any of BART’s documents! #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: ward allen also said she was offended that anyone would use civil rights claim against the project.

OaklandBecks: Scott Haggerty not allowing OAC opponents to yield time, but allowed proponents to. 30 opponents wanted to yield – would have saved time.

Vsmoothe: @dto510 They say FTA’s issues are a “technicality.”

Vsmoothe: Pro-OAC exceeds speaker time, gets cut off. Response? “Please, just 5 more minutes.” #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: finally, speakers talking about risks and ability to protect transit jobs and prevent layoffs.

TransForm_Alert: stuart cohen of transform emphasizes huge risk to region in losing money.

TransForm_Alert: bart bd director joel keller of contra costa speaks for the oac. don’t like what your bart bd reps think? let them know!

OaklandBecks: Genesis has done an incredible job turning out their members to many meetings against OAC. They are a force to be reckoned with!

OaklandBecks: Great photos from @Streetsblogsf of the MTC meeting and protests that preceded it: http://bit.ly/aLmPrC

OaklandBecks: Speakers keep reminding Haggerty that they would have ceded time (and saved time) if he had allowed them to.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: Want to remind everyone what City we’re in – “this is not Vegas, baby!” No time to gamble! #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: I have not yet heard any arguments that OAC will benefit the public. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker, cont: Yes, OAC will put some people to work. But so would digging a hole and filling it back in. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART has cut the public out of these discussions and refused to bring them to the table. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Pro-OAC Speaker: Look around the room at all these OAC contractors, most of them don’t live in Oakland! #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Haggerty is no fun! Now he’s telling people not to clap so loudly because his throat is getting sore yelling over them.

OaklandBecks: John Knox White asks for same deference as Haggerty gave to proponents, and Haggerty (sounding annoyed) said, just speak.

OaklandBecks: It’s great that SF Muni & bike advocates are speaking out against OAC. They realize that the OAC is taking funds from the whole region.

OaklandBecks: @transbay speaking – Reminds MTC that Muni carries more riders a day than OAC will carry in a year.

OaklandBecks: @Vsmoothe speaking – Transit agencies (including BART) facing devastating service cuts and fare increases. Use $ to save service.

OaklandBecks: @Vsmoothe asks commissioners to remember those who are transit dependent (like her) when they decide.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: You can’t accurately evaluate the risk without action plan from BART. We’ve been here before, how many times do we do this? #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: MTC blowing through speaker cards a lot faster now – many people had to leave, couldn’t wait 3 hours to speak. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART today claims 5,000 jobs, but their own EIR and documents say 200-300 jobs. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: We laid out FTA requirements to you last Spring, BART said that they did it, now FTA says they haven’t. Not a surprise! #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: Disingenuous for BART to put construction workers on the line. If BART wanted to make jobs, they would have done analysis before.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: Cuts on the way for VTA are devastating, terrifying. Jobs and lives hang in the balance. Please don’t risk the money. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Joel Ramos from TransForm: I was a half hour late to MTC mtg because Muni broke down. These funds could prevent things like that.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: There is too much risk in staff’s recommendation. If BART makes a mistake way down the line, region will lose money. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Speaker: There will be a huge black mark on MTC if the Bay Area loses this money. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Speaker representing Nat Ford from SF MTA. Not taking position on OAC but saying reallocation of funds would help Muni.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: Cards have been dealt, but can’t be seen yet. You don’t know if you have 13 or 21. Not smart to make a $70 million bet. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Speaker – BART’s slogan “Taking BART to airport saves you time and money.” Won’t be true once the OAC is built.

TransForm_Alert: atu- transit workers-call for union workers not to work against each other- don’t take jobs from one to give to the other.

Vsmoothe: Speaker: BART has had decades to get this right, why expect something phenomenal from them in the next 20 days? #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Public comment on OAC is over! #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Um, I will tweet Commission discussion as it goes on, but am listening in overflow room, so I can’t see who is saying what. #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: spering (solano) proposed to have bart move on developing a corrective action plan and bring it back at a special mtg on feb 17. kinsey 2nd.

OaklandBecks: Motion to go with option one of giving BART until Feb 16 to comply with FTA requests, and to schedule special MTC mtg for Feb 17.

Vsmoothe: Motion: keep $70m assigned to OAC, but reprogram money to transit agencies if FTA doesn’t approve action plan by mid-Feb. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: It looks like they’re going to go with option 1, so put Feburary 17 MTC mtg on your calendar and try now to get off of work.

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: People supporting & opposing OAC have not changed over the years. Do we continue to support this project? Yes! #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Commissioner Glover totally wrong, saying vast majority of people in district support this project and people complaining don’t live there.

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: I hear 10 to 1 from people in area that they support project. Opponents are from outside. That’s not true, of course. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Commissioner Kinsey – it’s impossible for us to allow this $ to leave the region. I hope he remembers that comment on the 17th.

Vsmoothe: Com. Kinsey: Can’t let money get away from region. Support motion for special meeting later to consider BART action plan. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Commissioner talks about devastating situation with unemployment in building trades. What about devastating situation with transit budgets?

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: This project is a “significant way” to address 30% unemployment rate among building trades. Will make 1000s of jobs. #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: chris daly (sf) argues against risk and for prudent handling of public dollars, citing muni, bart, ac transit shortfalls.

OaklandBecks: Commissioner Daley – one of the biggest risk takers (him) in the region is going to argue against taking this risk.

Vsmoothe: Com Daly: This is taxpayer money, and we have a responsibility to administer the people’s money as prudently as possible. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Com Daly: We let AC Transit cannabalize $35m for a smart project that should happen because they’re dying. Was right decision. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Daly gets it. Listing all the terrible budget situations transit situations are in. AC Transit had to shift $ from BRT because it’s so dire.

OaklandBecks: Daly – Most of you who have been promised jobs on this project, you won’t.

Vsmoothe: Com Daly: Feel really bad for people promised jobs from OAC, and expect jobs. Know from experience the jobs won’t materialize. #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: daly raises the question of whether mtc can make sure bart adheres to civil rights requirements.

Vsmoothe: Com Daly: If we approve BART’s action plan, how are we going to ensure BART follows it? Will ED set up camp in BART office? #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: Com Daly: Every agency is looking at increasing fares and decreasing service. We could stem the tide. This is bad policy! #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Daly – President announcing spending freeze tonight. There’s going to be no help from Sacramento. We’re on our own.

StreetsblogSF: MTC Commissioner Chris Daly: not enough votes to stop funding of OAC http://bit.ly/b04Kua

OaklandBecks: Comm Bates – If we can’t stop OAC, we should keep $ in the region. Staff’s rec is prudent, but I’d prefer we give $ to transit agencies.

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: ARRA money isn’t there to save existing jobs from going away, only there to make new jobs. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Commissioners saying we should use same energy as at MTC in Sac. Of course that assumes none of us are pushing for transit $ in Sac.

OaklandBecks: Comm Tissier – We need to not have blind faith in this project. But also, FTA needs to act in good faith.

Vsmoothe: Commissioner: FTA needs to be good faith participant, this info came very late. #mtcmtg

Vsmoothe: FTA requirements have existed for very long time. MTC & BART were warned they were out of compliance last year, ignored complaints. #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: Cortese (Santa Clara County, rep’ing ABAG) and others argued against putting these funds to transit, saying they’d be gone quickly.

Vsmoothe: Com Cortese: Not fiscally responsible to give money to local transit agencies, more responsible to give it to OAC. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Heminger admits that there’s a risk that by mid-February, there might not be enough time to have FTA approve reallocation of $.

Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: If we had guarantee that $70m would give jobs to all unemployed people here, I would give it to them in a heartbeat. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Comm Lempert – if there was assurance that unemployed people here would get jobs, I’d say we should give the money to do that.

OaklandBecks: Comm Lempert – if BART has to lower fares, would project still be financially sustainable? (Not that it ever was.)

Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: We have no guarantee about the jobs. What if FTA says lower the fare? Will BART be back asking us for more $$$? #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: Lempert – this is very risky and having an action at that late of date is too big a risk. Wants to reallocate funds immediately.

Vsmoothe: Com Lempert: Every time this project has come before us, there has been a problem. The risk of sticking with it is too great. #mtcmtg

TransForm_Alert: mackenzie (sonoma) asks mtc staff about the impacts on jobs of not funding oac

TransForm_Alert: heminger (mtc) says many transit agencied would use the funds for preventative maintenance and preventing layoffs.

OaklandBecks: Woo! Another commissioner joining Daly, Bates, and Lempert in supporting reallocating funds immediately because it’s too risky.

OaklandBecks: OMG! Halstead also voting against the motion. That’s 5 commissioners against it – the most we’ve had so far at MTC.

Vsmoothe: Com Halsted & one who’s name I missed join Daly, Bates, and Lempert in saying OAC risk is too big – give $$ to transit agencies. #mtcmtg

theoverheadwire: @Vsmoothe How many do we need????

Vsmoothe: @theoverheadwire More than 5. There are 19 Commissioners. Not all are here, but 5 is not enough.

MaxAllstadt: Sound like the MTC is gonna vote the wrong way again. What’s the next step?

TransForm_Alert: Bates, Daly, Lempert, Halsted, and MacKenzie opposed continuing effort to direct ARRA funds to OAC.

OaklandBecks: @Vsmoothe Just looked it up – Jake MacKenzie from Sonoma is the other one who is opposing the motion.

MaxAllstadt: Scott Haggerty says “one of the greatest things is being able to speak” but he cuts off opponents, lets allies go overtime. #oakmtg

Vsmoothe: Com Haggerty: Money should not go to transit agencies now, doing that does nothing to help future generations.

OaklandBecks: @MaxAllstadt Ugh, Haggerty makes me so mad! Who cares about a legacy project when it’s going to be a BAD legacy?

OaklandBecks: Comm Haggerty – I don’t respect people who just want to dump $ into transit agencies to help them survive for a few more months.

Vsmoothe: Com Haggerty: We must fund OAC for our children. Nobody thinks of my kids in school, we must leave them something. #mtcmtg

MaxAllstadt: OMG is Haggerty faking being on the verge of tears? It sounds like it.

Haggerty delivered an impassioned commentary likening the OAC to the depression-era legacy of the Golden Gate Bridge-something for our kids.

MaxAllstadt: Haggerty, you are going to leave your kids something: Debt. Debt. and more Debt.

dto510: @OaklandBecksSo, he thinks we should just give up on transit, and have nothing but over-subsidized BART? Oh, wait, that is what he thinks.

TransForm_Alert: Motion passed 11-5 to give BART 2 weeks to develop a “corrective action plan” to outline how they would meet Civil Rights requirements.

Vsmoothe: Motion passes 11-5. BART has until mid-February to get action plan approved by FTA, MTC will consider action plan at that point. #mtcmtg

OaklandBecks: MTC approves motion to wait until February 16th. 11 yeses-5 nos

OaklandBecks: Speaker at public comment telling MTC they need to do better with audio at well attended mtgs – should have audio outside or in lobby.

StreetsblogSF: MTC votes 11-5 to support Oakland Airport connector, assuming BART gets FTA civil rights approval. Special meeting on 2/16 for follow up

StreetsblogSF: No votes were Daly Lempert Halstead McKinzie Bates

OaklandBecks: @StreetsblogSF Slight correction – the motion stated that the meeting will be on February 17th.

TransForm_Alert: Feb. 17: special MTC meeting to review BART corrective action plan and see how feasible it will be and what kind of risk it represents.

das88: Wonder which state is going to get our $70M ARRA money after BART flubs the Title 6 response.

If you found that a little hard to follow, that’s okay, don’t let it scare you. When originally posted, those all went up over a five hour period, so it was less overwhelming. Twitter works best when you’re getting the updates in real(ish) time, not the next day when you already know what happened in the end. If you want a good summary of what the outcome of the meeting was and what it means, I strongly suggest you read today’s excellent post on Transbay Blog about it.

And I hope to see some of you guys on Twitter soon!

40 thoughts on “OAC at MTC. Again. On Twitter!

  1. Frank Castro

    I was following along on Twitter and was also listening to the live audio stream. I was very impressed that all of you were able to make your comments in real time and were very accurately portraying what I was actually listening to. Very cool. It becomes much more important when there is no live audio stream available.

  2. Patrick

    I, too, was following V, Max and Becks on Twitter yesterday while all of this was happening (covert Twitter screening while at work). In this application, Twitter is PERFECT. I’m just not interested in people tweeting “Happy Wednesday! Going Shopping!” We have Facebook for that. I would like to know the location of the Secret Bar.

    Question that I have not satisfactorily answered: let’s just pretend for a moment that BART *is* able to conduct an acceptable equity analysis in the timeframe given. In scenario A, BART presents an analysis showing that the OAC does not favor wealthy suburbanites. Can the FTA say “bullhockey” and deny the funds? In scenario B, BART presents an analysis showing that the OAC is discriminatory – does that buy them any time to alter the proposal? Ideally, it seems, the idea I’ve read about building a station at 98th and putting in BRT to the airport seems like a winner all the way around.

  3. Dave C.

    I believe I’m the only person who also tweeted about what was going on in the men’s room right outside the hearing. That’s a glaring omission from your list, V!

  4. Becks

    I’d like to second V’s recommendation to join Twitter. I resisted for at least a year, but after being harassed continuously by V and dto510, I joined and am so glad I did.

    It is the best way to follow meetings if you’re not able to be there. For another fun example of group Oakland tweeting, check out the #oakmtg tag to read about last night’s Broadway/Valdez planning meeting.

  5. Andy K

    Twitter is addictive. Thanks to all of you who post from these various meetings. It is very insightful, and entertaining if not always uplifting.. I always look forward to reading through your posts the next day or for day time meetings, while at work.

    I use Twitter for following the many blogs that I read. I have discovered great places to eat, new blogs to follow, etc, etc.

  6. David

    I dislike the OAC, but Civil Rights? Give me a break. Not everything is a literally a federal case (about discrimination).

  7. Max Allstadt

    David, the history of American infrastructure building is rife with all sorts of civil rights horror stories. That’s why Title VI is used in this situation.

    Highways and rail lines have historically been far more likely to ruin non-white neighborhoods. Typically, train stops are farther apart in non-white neighborhoods, and the stations that do exists are less well maintained. It’s a nation wide disparity. In many cases, the fare per mile goes up faster in non-white neighborhoods, suburbs and exurbs.

    All the Feds required of BART was a study explaining how the OAC would avoid impacts like the ones I listed above. Several dozen pages of data and facts. BART didn’t do their homework. They essentially pretended that they didn’t even hear the assignment.

    Well, if you want your allowance, you gotta do your homework. BART screwed up. Pretty simple.

  8. David

    Max, you’ll notice I said “not every project.” Sure BART screwed up. The whole project is a screw up/screw job, but not because they want to screw poor black people Or Mexicans or Asians or whoever the “civil rights” impact might hit in this case, according to some parasite lawyer. BART just wants to screw taxpayers (more).

    As for highways and rails, sure, the Dan Ryan in Chicago was expressly put there by Daley’s dad to block off the black South Side from his Irish South Side, but there aren’t too many other clear-cut examples of that. I-80 stretching across northern Nevada for 350 miles doesn’t really hit too many minorities disparately. A lot of times the neighborhood (say, West Oakland) was already going down the tubes a dozen years or more before the freeway was put in. Putting in 24 didn’t destroy Rockridge, and the ‘hood remains mostly white/Asian (i.e. blacks didn’t all of a sudden only occupy one side or the other of 24).

    In any case, BART’s stupid. But so is opposing the project on “civil rights” grounds. It’s just a stupid project.

  9. Max Allstadt

    Gotta love a man who talks about civil rights in scare quotes.

    And in the world of politics, when you oppose something, you fight it by all legal means. The only exception is when a method would create a greater political liability for you than for your opponents.

    As far as bad transit and transportation planning affecting minorities negatively, you’re just wrong. Look up the rates of lung ailments in West Oakland. Look at who gets displaced when infrastructure uses imminent domain.

    BART is at least half responsible for the destruction of 7th street in West Oakland. You see similar situations in other cities. BART also is in the habit of expanding outward to wealthy suburbs before it builds infill stations in urban working class neighborhoods. BART doesn’t even go to Marin because the County essentially wanted to make it hard for poor people to live there.

    I’m sure that my fellow transit advocates could list all sorts of other reasons that BART should be watched for civil rights abuses.

  10. David

    Max, in your world, and unfortunately the typical California political world, “by any means necessary” is acceptable behavior. Other people can be principled opposition.

    Lung ailments in West Oakland are due to the Port and trucking. If it were due to the highway, white folks living along 24 in Rockridge and heck, Walnut Creek would have problems too. What about all the white folks living near I-80 in Berkeley and Albany? Last time I checked, the Port was put into West Oakland back when Oakland was essentially all-white (i.e. 100+ years ago).

    BART is commuter rail, and has always been designed to bring in farther out suburbs. Like Metra in Chicago. Then Chicago itself has the ‘L’ and bus transit.

    BART destroyed 7th St? Really? Any evidence? West Oakland was going downhill well before BART was even dreamed of, pretty much right after WWII. BART was built in, what, 1972? 25+ years later, an entire generation later.

  11. Max Allstadt

    The fact that BART was intended to serve the suburbs more doesn’t mean that’s OK.

    Look if you want to challenge the existance of Title VI, be my guest. It’s long standing federal law, and it isn’t going anywhere. And if you really want to think that there is no inequity in the way that public funds have been spent on transit and transportation, you can think that. The conventional wisdom is otherwise, as is the historical record. You’re wrong. And I’m done debating you because it seems that you’re mainly here to throw out contrarian arguments.

  12. len raphael

    When haggarty et al called the fta requirement a formality, may be there’s a large grain of truth to that.

    ie. if bart goes out and hires a consulting firm that specializes in writing those studies, and they put 30 young consults working long hours, would it be so hard to satisfy the letter of the fta demand if some lukewarm mitigations were offered along with the thick study.

    would think this is a big enough deal for the local fta office to pass the big judgements up to their DC hq. at that point i’d predict that flashy, tangible new buying, and new hiring of middle class construction workers stimulous trumps preventing layoffs. definitely trumps helping poor people.

  13. Andrew

    Another person here very happy with Twitter for following these meetings. As @andrewalden I get more than I give; as @aboutgeology I mix a little Oakland geology in with the rest of the world.

  14. Chris Kidd

    If we’re looking for clear examples of when transit projects were specifically designed to disenfranchise minorities, we only need look across the bay. I found this to be excellent reading: http://jordanklein.us/files/WA_Paper.pdf

    This pattern played out in countless metropolitan areas across the country. Title VI exists for a reason.

  15. David

    That’s fine Max. One of the many problems with debate in the Bay Area is that lack of contrarian opinions and the refusal to listen to the few that exist.

    I read that paper; it’s about the Fillmore and makes little or no mention of transit or highways. What highway through the Fillmore are you talking about?

    It’s interesting that I’m challenged to provide “evidence.” I provide evidence. The Port of Oakland was established decades before the black population of Oakland was established. There could have been no racism in establishing the port. I point out that West Oakland was on the decline decades before BART or the freeways were built. I point out that if highways are the cause of asthma in black kids, why don’t white kids in Rockridge living around 24 get asthma (or Walnut Creek or I-80). This is common sense. It is not common sense to assume that racists put up 980, but not 24. It is clear that diesel fumes from the Port, established by non-racists 150+ years ago is causing asthma, not highways putatively put up by racists. What exactly does your argument stand on?

    I’ll agree that in many cases (the Dan Ryan being a clear one) that highways positioned to divide communities. I disagree that BART is fundamentally racist; it’s commuter rail, for heaven’s sake, by definition it serves commuters, who pretty much by definition live in suburbs, and could be of any race. I disagree that 980 etc. is racist as again, if it were, so is 24.

    The OAC is stupid. Not racist.

  16. Chris Kidd

    Um, Geary was expanded from a 2 lane city street to an 8 lane expressway. Blocks were condensed into super-blocks in order to facilitate the transit of white residents of the Richmond (essentially an SF suburb at that point) into downtown. 13,000+ mostly black and japanese residents were displaced to make way for that project and for “modern apartments” that were designed for white middle class professionals.

    It’s not hard, David. Semantics don’t look good on you.

    And no, the Port wasn’t racist, but redlining the black population into close proximity to the port sure was. And it’s arguable that placing the old Nimitz directly through the center of said black community had racist roots. And if not overtly racist, then indifferent to the problems it would cause in that community, which is just as bad.

  17. David

    Redlining is not quite the same as claiming racist transit projects (speaking of racism, one should take a look at Obama’s adopted neighborhood of Hyde Park…very analogous to Fillmore). It’s not hard, Chris, not everything is racist. I made plenty of allowances. I don’t see how the OAC is racist. It’s a minor point, as again, the OAC is stupid. What difficulties will the OAC specifically cause the black community? This is like the NYTimes headline joke, “World ends, women and minorities hardest hit.” The OAC will suck up tax dollars and transit money, but not in a racist fashion; it will do it in a stupid fashion.

    Charging racism is obfuscation when the real problem here is wasted spending and opportunities. It’s just a reflexive rallying cry in the Bay Area, and one that’s rapidly losing its power, except on the minority of the population who are guilty white liberals. It would behoove you in your debates to hone the correct rationales for opposing wasteful projects. Otherwise it becomes very easy to dismiss your arguments as the rantings of weirdly race-obsessed white folks.

  18. david vartanoff

    @ the other David, and all. About 24 not destroying ‘hoods, some time reading the history of the Temescal District which WAS seriously wrecked by the Grove Shafter is in order. Temescal Memories locally published a couple years back has the info. As to BART being commuter rail not ‘subway’ you and one time BART mouthpiece Mike Healy notwithstanding, in fact BART IS urban rapid transit. Ridership ## make clear that the suburban riders (who pay a smaller % of their per seat cost) are mostly rush hour and fewer than ridership west of the hills. Of the top ten usage stations all are thoroughly urban except ECDN which is artificially high because buses from several further counties feed there.

    As to West Seventh, yes West Oakland was in decline(as was ALL of Oakland in the 60′s when BART was under construction and the redlines were moving east and north. When I lived a block from the under construction Rockridge BART station, College was junk store row, and one could always find parking on the side streets.

    Now as to the genuine Title VI complaint, the OAC aside from being dumb, is by its own description and projections clearly an “amusement park” priced transit medium explicitly NOT designed to be affordable or used by the ground services personnel at the airport. These include relatively low wage folks, many of them minorities who sell you the bottled water to take on yourlow-cost zero amenities flights. Just as when BART to SFO opened and SamTrans axed convenient and fairly priced express services, one can expect the current cheap Air Bart to be cut as well as yet another round of AC cuts(what we used from Coliseum BART in prior years). So a large FTA et al public investment is to be made to DISserve local riders in the lower wage category/disadvantaged categories.

  19. Max Allstadt

    There’s another reason the OAC is biased against disadvantaged folks. The proposed project is a cable system. All the cars are towed on the same cable. If anything goes wrong, anywhere in the entire system, the whole system shuts down.

    Got that? As I was told the OAC will be a “Single point fail = system wide fail” setup. What that means is that when it fails, anybody without a car or cab fare will be screwed if they want to get to the airport. Who’s most likely to not have a car or cab fare.

    Essentially, as long as we have a strong correlation between race and socioeconomic status in this country, any systemic bias against the poor is by extension a racial bias. And frankly, the whole point of public transportation is to make transit available to even the poorest members of society.

    This over priced, poorly designed ski-lift will make it harder for poor people to get to the airport. It’s the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to do.

  20. gem s

    “the Port was put into West Oakland back when Oakland was essentially all-white (i.e. 100+ years ago).”

    Sorry, that area was never “all-white”. Due to the proximity of the shipping trade, West Oakland had a large immigrant population 100 years ago, including Portuguese, German, Irish, Japanese, Chinese and African American. Many African Americans worked as porters for the Pullman Palace Car Company. The Chinese worked in the shrimp industry, and at a large cannery in West Oakland (which also employed many Portuguese).

    Of all the areas of Oakland you could name, West Oakland is the one that probably had the greatest numbers of African Americans at the turn of the last century.

  21. gem s

    You know, I wasn’t going to say anything more because I have better things to do, but the notion that Slum Clearance in Oakland was not racially motivated is just absurd. It is always the poorest and most disenfranchised residents who have the least opportunity to fight governments who intend to destroy their neighborhoods- to pretend otherwise is naive. (The existence of the Grove-Shafter Freeway does not disprove this, BTW. Building it effectively cut off the undesirable West Side from the rest of Oakland. The fact that the neighborhood demographics have shifted somewhat in the present does not change the mentality that existed when that freeway was conceived. There’s only a very short stretch of freeway that infringes on historically white neighborhoods. ) The entire residential area of West Oakland was falling into decline due to the Depression (in fact, this was happening all over the country); however it was **specific blocks of the African American neighborhoods within West Oakland that were targeted in the ’40s for the Peralta and Campbell Village housing projects**. There were other more run-down neighborhoods at the time, but these blocks had been African American even before the WWII housing migrations. Even so, during the Depression the 7th Street retail district had remained vibrant; to say that BART did not destroy 7th street retail and entertainment is ignoring history. I suggest viewing some of the great photographs of this area that are in the downtown library, if you’d like to do a before and after comparison.

  22. Max Allstadt

    Gem S:

    Thank you for the history lesson. I was hoping that someone with a better memory for detail than me would chime in. You’re barely scratching the surface of the travesty, but the examples you’re giving are really important. I don’t get how anybody could be in denial of this embarrassing chapter of our past. The evidence is made of concrete and it’s a hundred feet tall.

  23. david vartanoff

    Further reference

    American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland (Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America) (Hardcover)
    ~ Robert O. Self

  24. Naomi Schiff

    The Oak Center historic district came about when determined residents in West Oakland refused to allow their neighborhood to be scraped away as were many adjoining blocks. They fought redevelopment for over 30 years, and in the end secured official designation for the largest historic district in the Oakland. While this lengthy battle went on, “redeveloped” inhabitants were pushed out, the infamous redevelopment housing was built, badly run, allowed to become crime infested and dangerous as well as unhealthy, molding, and falling apart, and demolished again. Many of the old houses and many families survived in West Oakland through the whole debacle, witnesses that it is difficult for a program of large-scale demolition and soulless counstruction of acres of Housing Authority units to generate a truly functional neighborhood. The organic growth of cities is hard to replicate with whole-block development. Ask Ellen Wyrick Parkinson.

  25. Daniel Schulman

    Sorry to be late on this — after tweeting and speaking at the MTC hearing, I had read a news story about these faulty pedestrian walkways to be installed at the Dublin station.

    With all the other BART failure news, there is not too much coverage on these walkways, but apparently BART rejected the original shipped ones because of bad welds. Now new ones are sitting by the side of the station, but Caltrans won’t let them be installed because they do not meet their standards. I’ve seen different figures, but it sounds like BART will have to suck-up $6 million in costs and turn these bridges into scrap.

    I do not believe an agency that cannot properly award a six-figure lighting contract, and cannot properly oversee a seven-figure pedestrian bridge will be able to build a nine-figure airport connector properly.

    More on the pedestrian bridge story here:

  26. David

    Small note. The Depression and BART’s building were separated by 30+years.

    Prior to WWII, Oakland’s black population was about 3% overall. They certainly weren’t all huddled in West Oakland, my grandparents and great grandparents lived off of MacArthur in the Laurel.

    Housing projects aren’t evidence of transit-related racism, they’re housing, not roads or rails. It’s curious that those who don’t like the ‘projects’ support these TOD’s..but that’s another matter.

    You’re screwing up cause & effect with the 24. The point was that it was/is pretty much a white ‘hood, and yet the freeway was still built right through there. For heaven’s sake, not every freeway is racist. Is 580 racist or did they build it because, well, MacArthur was right there and a broad boulevard already?

    The OAC is stupid. Cables or whatever are stupid, I really really doubt there’s a racist plot underlying it. Seriously.

    Conflating “poor” with “black” is what gets affirmative action favoring middle/upper class blacks (and wealthier black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean) over poor whites. Something that hits poor people is not de facto racism. How racist are you, that you consider poor people to be black only?

  27. Max Allstadt

    Dude. It’s not a racist plot. It’s insensitivity. It’s not malicious intent. It’s just total lack of consideration by BART management for the needs of people unlike themselves.

    The unconscious racism here is that people in urban areas that are predominantly non-white could be negatively affected. East Oakland and Fruitvale is full of transit dependent workers who will see their fares skyrocket if the OAC is allowed to suck money out of BART’s main system.

    It’s a bubble mentality problem. When all the people calling the shots are upper-middle class, you get insensitivity to any other income bracket. I also wonder if any of the BART Board members or BART upper management are transit-dependent. Do any of them not own a car? How many of them take BART to work every day?

    I’m willing to bet that the overall suckyness of the entire system is in part because the answers to the questions I just asked are exactly the answers we shouldn’t want.

  28. David

    Now we’re getting into “unconscious racism.” Feast your mind on the phrase for a bit. Truly Orwellian.

    Anyway, I agree that BART management and union workers are living in lala land. They’re not racists, just clueless. I have a fine solution. Take away all their parking privileges.

  29. David

    Yes. I am stating that, not suggesting that. Racism requires conscious thought. Moreover, by definition, actions motivated by racism are ACTIONS. I cannot “subconsciously” dislike anyone nor can I “unconsciously” act on my putative racism. That takes effort and consciousness. Can a comatose person be racist? I know you’re going to pull out the ‘image’ studies and all that stuff, but seriously. Let’s get off the thought police and focus on common sense reasons to oppose the OAC. All the charges of racism do is cheapen the word and make people discount your reasoning. Again, except for the shrinking pool of guilty white liberals.

  30. Becks

    I’d like to echo David Vartanoff’s recommendation – American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland is a great read and incredibly informative.

  31. PRE

    “Yes. I am stating that, not suggesting that. Racism requires conscious thought. Moreover, by definition, actions motivated by racism are ACTIONS.”

    Very, very silly.

    A number of studies have show that attractive or taller people in general do better and get treated better than less attractive or shorter people in almost every aspect of life. Does anyone really question that this is certainly an unconscious response on other people’s part. Nobody would believe that when a handsome man, or pretty woman walk into a store that the person behind the counter consciously thinks to themselves “Wow they’re hot, I’m going to be nicer to them than I normally would?” On average people just UNCONSCIOUSLY do – for whatever reason that is part or human nature.

    To believe that racism can’t (and doesn’t) work in the same but negative fashion is either from willful ignorance, or just plain stupidity – you take your pick.

    Of course I think BART management isn’t racist but just completely incompetent (that’s how we’ll get a 10 mile $500M eBART with ONE station, while San Diego was able to build a 20 mile Sprinter line for the same money with 15 stations) but I stand by my point above.

  32. livegreen

    Did you see today’s Matier & Ross, showing again how BART is totally out of control on spending and run by a bunch of morons? “West Dublin costs soar as BART scraps walkways”.

    Read further down & see how the SF Board of Supervisors gave away pay to MUNI drivers, making the ceiling in pay the floor in pay. This in hopes that MUNI drivers would return the favor with concessions at some unannounced future date. Think they did?

    Oakland isn’t the only City who’s budget is being run into the ground, and taxes run into the sky, by City Leaders and Unions. Why doesn’t that make me feel better?

  33. David

    PRE. Ok. Let’s state that it’s true that everyone is unconsciously racist.

    Think about that for a second.

    Another second.

    Maybe a whole minute.

    Now think about the obvious conclusion. Do you blame people for being attracted to attractive people? If you do, well, you’re stupid.

    Similarly, then, there is no, nor should there be a consequence for “unconscious racism.”

    So. Are you saying racists should never be called out, because it’s “natural” (hey, like homesexuality too!), or does “racism” actually require, you know, conscious actions?

    Are you the thought police or just the no-thought knee jerk consumer of guilty white liberal Bay Area credo?

    And that Matier and Ross article should be stapled to every bureaucrat in both cities’ foreheads. With a staple gun.