Oakland’s failing streets

Do you guys remember, back in 2006, last time we were picking a new Mayor, how one of the big things everyone was concerned about with the City was the condition of the streets?

You would go to these forums, and Ron Dellums would be all “You know, I don’t have an S on my chest. Also, Oakland is on an 85 year street repaving cycle. That’s unacceptable.” And everyone would kind of shake their head in dismay and mutter about how terrible that is.

And then at work the next day, the people in the next row of cubes would be all “The roads in Oakland are so bad! I drove over this enormous pothole on the way here today. I think it damaged my car!” And then someone else would be like “Oh yeah. You know, I read in the newspaper that Oakland is on an 85 street repaving cycle! It’s disgusting! God, I hope Ignacio wins.”

I guess that last part probably depends on what kind of company you worked for. There were not a whole lot of Dellums supporters at the commercial real estate brokerage I was employed by at the time. Not that it really mattered what they thought anyway, since they all lived in Piedmont and couldn’t vote here. Anyway.

These days, of course, the City has more immediate problems to deal with, and most people are, understandably, more concerned with the recent layoff of like 10 percent of the police force than they are about the crappy streets they’ve been living with for however many years.

But just because you don’t hear so much about the street condition problem anymore, that doesn’t mean it has gone away. In fact, it’s just getting worse. This morning, the Oakland City Council’s Public Works Committee (PDF) will receive a report on the condition of Oakland’s streets (PDF).

How they measure pavement

Perhaps you recall seeing some headline in the not so distant past about how Oakland has some of the worst roads in the Bay Area. If you’re anything like me, you probably saw that headline and then shrugged your shoulders and rolled your eyes and said to yourself, “Of course it does,” and then moved on with your life and not even bothered to read any more. Because why wouldn’t Oakland have the worst roads, right?

(BTW, for curious types. The rankings come from the MTC’s Bay Area Jurisdiction Pavement Condition Summary (PDF), which places Oakland 95th out of 109 jurisdictions in the Bay Area for road quality. We beat East Palo Alto, Vallejo, Napa, St. Helena, Napa County, El Cerrito, Suisun City, Richmond, Marin County, Larkspur, Rio Vista, Orinda, Sonoma County, and Palo Alto. That’s right. We basically have rural quality roads. Hooray for us.)

So, the way MTC does this ranking and the way you rate just how bad your streets are is by using something called a Pavement Condition Index. The staff report (PDF) for tomorrow’s meeting helpfully explains exactly what the different ratings mean:

The pavement industry uses a Pavement Condition (PCI), a numeric grading system on a scale of 0 to 100, to rank the condition of streets. In this system, a score of 100 represents brand new pavement and 0 represents a completely failed pavement.

All roadways deteriorate over time by traffic loading and weathering. However, the rate of deterioration can be controlled, and pavement can be greatly preserved by applying timely maintenance treatments. Paved streets normally have three life cycle stages: 1) initial deterioration; 2) visible deterioration, and 3) disintegration and failure. During the first few years of use, the roadway surface starts to experience some initial deterioration. This stage represents a PCI of 80 or above. Preservation strategies during this period are least costly and can reduce the need for more costly rehabilitation later on. Visible deterioration shows signs of distress as potholes and crackign occur. This stage represents a PCI of 50 or slightly above. A more costly rehabilitation is required at this stage using milling and overlays to extend the life of the road. Roads not properly maintained at the above stages will disintegrate and fail.

The lifespan of a pavement is expected to be about 25 years. Cost of reconstruction after this 25 year period is moer than three times the cost of preservation of rehabilitation treatments over the same period. A successful pavement management program must focus most resources on pavement preservation rather than pavement reconstruction. According to the industry best management practices pavement network is most optimally maintained at a PCI of 80.

So basically, it’s cheaper to fix streets when they are still in relatively decent condition because the repairs last longer, and once you fall below 50, you’re going to have to spend way more money to fix them. Or, if you don’t, your street will just become hopelessly ruined.

Where Oakland’s streets fall

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that most of Oakland’s streets are not landing at the top of that scale. In fact, out of all our streets, only 7% are in what is considered “excellent” condition, with a PCI rating of between ninety and one hundred.A considerably higher number (28%) have a rating of between fifty and sixty-nine, which gets them filed under “fair.” And then of course we’ve got another 27% of our streets (222 miles) that fall into the category of “poor” condition, with a rating of somewhere between zero and forty-nine. Ouch.

How much do Oakland’s roads need?

So as depressing as this information is, it really isn’t the worst of it. You see, bad streets cost a lot of money to repair. And when you don’t repair a bad street, it starts to deteriorate even faster.

A score of 60, according to Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), represents a 40% reduction in quality that a roadway reaches in about 20 years as its condition turns from “good” to “fair.” The same pavement, if untreated, will experience another 40% reduction in quality in only the next 3 to 5 years, turning from “fair” to “poor.” This accelerated rate of deterioration makes it critical to fund preventive maintenance teratments to sustain streets at high PCI levels at relatively low costs. Again, cost of reconstruction of pavement after its failure is more than three times the costs of preservation or rehabilitation treatments over the life cycle of that pavement.

And of course, not taking care of our streets is exactly what Oakland has been doing for…well, for a while now.

The report (PDF) estimates that the current cost of getting all Oakland’s streets back to decent condition would be $418 million, a substantial increase over the $300 million needed just four years ago. And if we keep going the way we have been, that cost is estimated to rise to $760 million by 2014.

How we can pay for it

So at the end of the report (PDF), there’s a little section about our different options for finding a revenue source to pay for all this needed street repair. They’ve got the Alameda County Vehicle Registration Fee on there, which is something I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now. I don’t want to be dismissive of any new money coming to the City, but this $10 per car fee is not the miracle that a lot of people are treating it as. It would bring Oakland a little under $2 million a year for road repairs, which is nice. But it’s also not a real solution.

The other options are all just like, total non-starters. $200 a year parcel tax, $300 a year bond measure, assessment districts…I mean, I just don’t see any of that happening. They float the idea of a half-cent sales tax devoted entirely to street maintenance like El Cerrito has, which I suppose I would be more okay with that a sales tax that just went into the black hole of the General Fund, but still, I don’t know that I see that one passing either. And then tacked onto the end of the list you’ve got impact fees, which people at the City have been talking about for years as the solution to like, all of Oakland’s problems or whatever, but nothing ever seems to come of it, and of course, even if they do ever get it together to pass some, you’re still left with the problem that you can’t collect fees from developers that don’t exist.

Basically, there’s no sense here that we have any realistic options for getting our annual street repair spending up to the $26 million level that we would need to keep that deferred maintenance figure from continuing to skyrocket every year.

This is scary

So. It’s, like, really bad to not have roads in your city. I mean, for one, it’s dangerous. It totally ruins people’s cars to be driving on like horrible falling apart roads full of potholes all the time. And when you’re on a bicycle and the street is all disintegrating and full of potholes? OMG. Bad roads make bus rides bumpier and less pleasant. And of course, a city where the streets are in total disrepair is hardly welcoming to investors.

This is one of the serious, long-term issues facing Oakland that it would be really nice to hear the candidates for Mayor talk about. It’s all well and good and kind of cute, I guess, to sit around saying how you’re going to personally look for potholes and report them and then drive back a week later to check and see if they’ve been fixed, but that’s not really addressing the problem.

36 thoughts on “Oakland’s failing streets

  1. Daniel Schulman

    It’s not just a cost to the city but also directly to drivers who need to make more frequent repairs. This is one area where a tax may make sense because if it is done right the people paying can save money.

    The right tax is a gasoline tax that is statewide and returned to the local jurisdictions for dedicated road repairs.

    Of course the state of California doesn’t have a very good record or returning local tax monies, and local jurisdictions (at least Oakland) don’t have a very good record of using dedicated monies for their intended purposes.

    Delayed infrastructure costs are every bit as much a debt to the city as financial balance sheet obligations. Oakland needs to make a real and sustained effort to grow the tax base.

  2. Ralph

    Wow,this must be the week for street repair. Just yesterday, I was reading about the public private partnership for Doyle Drive.

    A gas tax is indeed the most appropriate for this but I seem to recall that about 10 years ago the state took gas tax money for its own needs.

    Maybe we need to add a delayed / deferred infrastructure footnote disclosure to the office balance sheet liabilities.

  3. Andy K

    I have little faith in the City’s ability to properly repair roads, or to properly take care of the infrastructure.

    About 10 years ago, Mountain Blvd. was repaved in Montclair from south of Park Blvd. to near the Safeway. With in a few months, EBMUD was ripping up the pavement near the 76 station for some reason or other. With in one – two years, the pavement was beginning to deteriorate rapidly. Now, the road is totally falling apart. It is obvious that something was seriously done wrong.

    The other problem I have with the City’s administration of re-paving is the absolute randomness in the way streets are repaved. A few months ago, Harrison St. was repaved from Grand south to Lakeside. The existing pavement was in very good condition. Last year, a street in Chinatown (I want to say 11th) was repaved, although it was in good shape, while 12th was/is falling apart.

    The City seems unable to administer these projects effectively, and they do not seem to apply resources where they are most needed. Which, I am sad to say is not out of the ordinary.

  4. Livegreen

    What were they doing with the money during GOOD times?
    I mean, it’s not long ago we WERE in good economic times and rolling in tax $. Why wasn’t the money being spent on roads then?

    Was the CC too busy giving salary and benefit increases?

  5. Theresa in Oakland

    I agree with Andy K that something is seriously wrong with the repaving in Oakland. They repaved Shattuck just a couple years ago and it seemed like it started deteriorating within a year. Pothole repairs seem to only last a couple months. Why is that the stretch of Shattuck in south Berkeley has maintained its paving so much better and seems to never develop potholes? Seriously, I have to watch the street and potholes so closely when I’m driving on Shattuck in Oakland that it’s hard to watch for cars and pedestrians too. When I cross the Oakland-Berkeley border I can breathe a sigh of relief and can get back to actual safe driving. It’s like going from a third-world country to a first-world.

    With regards to growing the tax base, I think Oakland should start getting tough with owners of vacant lots and vacant buildings and force them to develop or turn their lot or building over to someone who can develop it. Temescal is so hip it’s getting written up in the NY Times but we’ve still got two huge vacant lots where apparently nothing is happening, and a ton of vacant storefronts that I bet some enterprising businessperson would like to use but is priced out. I believe Amsterdam has a squatters’ law where any property left vacant for over a year is allowed to be squatted on. That’d be a damn good incentive for these developers to get off their asses and stop leaving vacant lots and buildings in our neighborhoods.

  6. al

    well, since we really can’t have it both ways and continue to fund cities other than oakland with oakland’s money, it doesn’t matter hhow often or howmuch tax is levied for any purpose, in this case POV’s everywhere. Can’t leave it to the usual planners/consultants who don’t even know anything other than what they have been doing AKA big oil and old technologies aka, land lines, overhead wires and outmoded institutions that cater to a dated social paradigm.

    The planning needs to accomodate more people and less centralized infra-structure, with the exception of emergency corridors and public rail. Carving this out of exsisting sectors defies the existing logic of “farming’ real estate and computing leases, etc.

    Something has to give.

  7. Come On Now

    Theresa, which economy would support “these developers to get off their asses” and get loans to build on vacant lots?
    the current one?
    and who is going to buy these properties when they are turned into housing? The same folks leaving the Ellington, Cannery Lofts & Adeline Place half empty?

    Come On Now

  8. oakie

    How much money would have been freed up in our annual budget if city employees were paid parity with Bay Area public employees instead of a 20% premium over the average?

    Since most of the budget is labor compensation (ALL the budget, not just the “discretionary” budget, about doubles the $400 million), it should have been plenty of funding which could have paid to repave all the roads in Oakland in short order.

    The bottom line: this city squanders most of the money we give them. That’s why there’s no money to pave the roads on a reasonable schedule.

  9. Sarah

    Re: erratic city paving schedule

    People in Public Works have told me that some streets are just being left to disintegrate before being totally repaved. Depressing, but it explains why 11th Street would get fixed up while 12th Street falls apart.

    I agree with all the other posters — paving conditions are terrible in Oakland but it’s hard to trust the city government to use our money responsibly. Guess I’ll have to keep riding 5 blocks out of my way to avoid pothole hell on Telegraph.

  10. ken o

    hey theresa,
    don’t you know that was in 2008 during the final couple of months of district 1 councilwoman jane brunner’s campaign run? right up to and including the election?

    don’t you see they’re using BLACK ASPHALT to cover up, sweep under the rug real road construction?

    Cement is the way to go, or impervious cement. There really is no finer road construction than what the Romans made by hand, though.

    Nothing is permanent. Only change is permanent.

    What you see is 1st World USA turning into 3rd World USA.

    Welcome to the Tutsi minority area of Rwanda.

    Democratizing cars and buses will go away too, like the oxcarts, trains, planes and stagecoaches before them.

  11. ken o

    If I could edit my previous comment, it would read like so:

    hey theresa,
    if you’re wondering why Shattuck in North Oakland was paved two years ago, here’s a hint. That was in 2008 during the final couple of months of district 1 councilwoman jane brunner’s campaign run. Road paving continued right up to and including the election?

    Do you notice they’re using BLACK ASPHALT to cover up, sweep under the rug real road construction? (ie, cement rebar) Asphalt must be cheaper than cement to buy and install.

    Cement is the way to go, or impervious cement. There really is no finer road construction than what the Romans made by hand, though.

    Nothing is permanent. Only change is permanent.

    What you see is 1st World USA turning into 3rd World USA.

    Expect to see more roads turn into those like many streets in our sister city Richmond.

    Welcome to the Tutsi minority area of Rwanda. There, the Hutu in charge never built nice tarmac for their minority Tutsi area.

    Democratizing cars and buses will go away too, like the oxcarts, trains, planes and stagecoaches before them.

    And you know what? It’s not all bad. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a return to a world made by hand. Of gravel and dirt roads. Cambodia isn’t all heart ache.

    It is time to get yourself transportation which can handle the worst possible roads.

    It’s WAAAY past time for Oakland to triage its road building, and ONLY repave its core commercial streets.

    Broadway
    International
    Telegraph
    College
    Maybe Shattuck

    On the other hand, some streets are still holding up okay: West Street in West O. Stretches of MLK near Berkeley. Oakland really should concentrate on the above five streets though and to hell with the rest because it’s an exercise in futility.

  12. ken o

    The city hasn’t managed its finances too well.

    Like most of us, it borrowed too much debt from the future, from future taxpayers (younger generations) to fund pensions and operations NOW for us and for older generations.

    And there is a shrinking pool of “money” and resources to continue our grand motoring project.

    Even if the city didn’t mismanage itself — which In Hindsight is easy to call — we still would have had this roads problem eventually. From: overpopulation. resource exhaustion. increasing consumption per person. With all three, you are guaranteed problems every round of human civilization, or any organism.

    If you want to attempt to clear the messy kitchen of Oakland politics, check out this site:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/OakTalk/

  13. We Fight Blight

    Theresa, We Fight Blight has been advocating for several years that the City of Oakland repave Shattuck Avenue from about 51st Street to the Oakland border. We pressed the City of Berkeley very hard to repave their portion. We worked with City Councilman, Max Anderson, to get the South Berkeley section paved to Ashby by getting it added to an existing paving contract the City of Berkeley was implementing. When the federal government was looking at implementing and funding the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (economic crisis money) we advocated with Councilmember Brunner’s Office and with the Oakland City staff to include repaving our City streets as part of our City request for funds. We understood from speaking with the staff in Public Works responsible for repaving projects that Mayor Dellums and his staff never consulted them on the scope or need for repaving and consequently the City got very little money for infrastructure such as roads. Much of the request for funds was for police and social investments, not infrastructure.

    Failed roads contribute to blight and disinvestment in Oakland. Technically, failed roads are a violation of Oakland’s Blight Ordinance. We reported the City of Oakland for its failure to maintain Shattuck Avenue as a blight complaint and it was ignored by Code Enforcmement. In addition, the potholes on Shattuck Avenue are a safety hazard and liability that could cost the City should someone injure themselves. Please see Oakland: First World Taxes Third World Services at http://wefightblight.blogspot.com/2010/03/oakland-first-world-taxes-third-world.html for our take on Oakland and its maintenance of streets.

    This is called lack of leadership and priorities at City Hall and with City Council.

  14. BikeManDan.com

    Ahem
    “It totally ruins people’s cars…”

    There are many of us Oakland residents who travel these streets by means other than car including motorcycle and bicycle wherein Oakland’s monstrous potholes serve MUCH more danger

  15. V Smoothe Post author

    That’s true, Bikeman. Which is why I noted that the poor condition of the roads is also bad for bicyclists in the line immediately following the one you quoted.

  16. len raphael

    V, instand classic oakland tragi-comic line about impact fees:

    “you’re still left with the problem that you can’t collect fees from developers that don’t exist”

    was it almost a year ago, at a cc hearing on sidewalks where staff and cc members agreed to put all sidewalk repairs off for 5 years except for major streets and where an ADA complaint has been filed. not a complaint, no whining about core services.

    question: as Oakie pointed out, isn’t a big chunk of road repair supposed to be paid for out of “restricted funds”?

    as long as we’re on the topic of collapsing physical infrastructure, gotta wonder how much of the sewer fees collected by EBMUD over the years went into salaries and benefits. The increase in that fee is astounding. If landlords of rent controlled building were allowed to pass half of the increase thru, there wb a voter revulsion.

    a million years ago in nyc, there was a service that went around locating potholes and reporting it to the city. once a pothole was officially located, residents could sue the city for damages. Blight, can cyclists take city to small claims court for broken collar bones, drivers of cars that go out of control etc.?

  17. len raphael

    on the side streets, for the past 30 years, the city has mostly smeared a layer of asphalt over existing roads.

    they should have milled down some of the old road first, but didn’t.

    result is ridiculously high asphalt road, dipping down on the sides to the curbs.

    btw, god forbid you want to fix your own broken curbs. besides all the fees you have to pay the city, the city requires you to build the curb much the way Ken’s Romans did: digging down and out a couple of feet, compacting base rock, thick concrete.

    If they catch you using rebar but less concrete and baserock, you’re in big trouble. City doesn’t give a sh_ that that many of the 80 year old water mains leak into the road beds that then undermine the sidewalks. So unless you dig down as deep as a classic Roman road, your sidewalk is doomed to buckle without the verboten rebar.

  18. CitizenX

    @sarah sez: “People in Public Works have told me that some streets are just being left to disintegrate before being totally repaved.”

    Actually, that’s not quite accurate. As you might guess, it costs much less to repave a street that is in relatively good repair vs. one that is seriously deteriorated. For the most part, Public Works is letting the bad ones go and spending dollars on the decent ones. Sad, but true — without some new source of funding, the disintegrated streets will be just that.

  19. CitizenX

    Oakland spends most of its repaving funding sources on maintenance crews, rather than repaving — slurry seal, filling potholes, etc. If you ever wonder why, then, the streets don’t appear well maintained, try following a City crew around for the day and see how much actual maintenance is performed.

  20. len raphael

    Has JQ and crew blamed the decrepit water mains and the failing roads on Busch or Goldman or just Oakland’s bad luck?

    An inherent weakness of all financial accounting standards, private industry and govt/non profit is that many costs, notably depreciation is based on original cost, not replacement cost.

    That’s no excuse for our elected officials to have repeatedly made the decision to defer physical infrastructure work so they had money for what they and many residents might have considered vital social infrastructure work.

    Hard to say what residents would have said if the cc members had honestly told voters 20 or 30 years ago and thereafter that because of the high prices we pay outside contractors, the high wages we pay city maintenance workers, we have decided to spend money on social services instead of physical infrastructure.

    Because the replacement cost of infrastructure is not required to be accounted for, it was another cost punted to younger residents to pay after cc members retired in comfort.

    There is a non required accounting method that uses current market values and costs. Sounds like we have to require the city to include financial statement footnotes for depreciatiion which reflects actual current cost.

    Anyone bothering to keep track of a running total for our “structural deficit” ?

  21. len raphael

    Would we have the infrastructure problem if Oakland’s wages and benefits to it’s maintence crews had been just average instead of high? yes, but not as bad.

    Would we have the problem if (i’m assuming) there is state and local law that requires us to use union or union rate contractors?

    Probably not.

    In some ways its similar situation many individuals found out, that owning your own house is hecka expensive and many of us should have continued to rent dumps. Which is to say Oakland is not a wealthy town that can afford guns and butter, nice furniture and a nice house.

  22. len raphael

    Gotta wonder what the heck CC and our Mayors were thinking when they never funded medical retirement benefits or infrastructure rebuilding.

    Must have assumed they were going to “refi” the entire city.

  23. Born in Oakland

    Hey, I LOVE the potholes and ruined streets in my neighborhood. We never could get speed bumps and now no one speeds or does donuts or uses our neighborhood as an escape route. We crawl along when driving home so are not at risk for traffic citations. Please, do not come up with a solution to fix my neighborhood’s third world streets!

  24. Naomi Schiff

    Interesting. We have big speeding problems on our street. Obviously you have the right approach. I am going to be very very quiet about potholes from here on in.

  25. Annoyed

    Read my lips: The Governator has snatched funding for repaving from all California cities. A report card for the state of california rated city streets as a disaster by city. It’s a statewide problem.

    Again I will say that the most responsive department in Oakland is Public Works. They come when called to fill pot holes, unplug storm drains, paint over graffiti, and collect illegal dumping. When someone dumped furniture and other garbage in the middle of our street, they came out on a Saturday and picked up everything. They are nice, professional, and helpful at the call center and now that OPD is not responding to much of anything, DPW is our last hope for any kind of civilized living in the flatlands. The workers that come to do the work are also nice and professional. DPW seems to be the only department in the entire city that is actually functioning.

  26. len raphael

    There are certainly many competent motivated city employees. Problem we all agree on is that instead of having the bucks to rebuild our infrastructure, clean the streets and parks, we’re spending it on Cadillac salaries and benefits for Ford Fiesta results.

    example: Walnut Creek recently laid off all of its street sweepers except for one supervisor and hired an outside firm that does a bunch of other cities in the Bay Area. Total annual cost will be approx 60% of what it cost WC to do inhouse. That savings doesn’t include the two hundred thou that cities like WC spent on new sweepers.

  27. Brad

    On some of the roads in the Fruitvale area, you literally MUST cross over into the oncoming lane in order to avoid eight inch deep potholes. Unless you have a lifted truck, if you go in one of those, you’re not coming out.

  28. Naomi Schiff

    I agree that Public Works is doing good work on neighborhood cleanup and dumping issues. Too bad that Waste Management spreads so much trash around when they come through; apparently cutting back to one guy per truck means that they don’t pick up if they drop something.

  29. Barry K

    I wonder if our streets could be paved with Mosiacs.
    Gee, if only Public Works thought of this one to get money from the Chair of the Finance Committee herself. (Maybe they should propose a Pay-Go grant of $100,000 and the can do JQ’s image in ashphalt.)

    One can’t get free campaign support from the little people without paying for projects, and, the followup photo ops for newsletters and campaign materials.

    City Resolution 09-1478 Status: Passed 7/20/2010

    Quan’s Pay-Go Funds – Snapshot Mosaics From: Vice Mayor Quan Recommendation: Adopt A Resolution Authorizing A Professional Services Contract Of $25,000.00 Funded By Council Member Jean Quan’s Pay-Go Funds, To Gina Dominguez Of Snapshot Mosaics For The Fabrication And Installation Of Five “Way Finding” Ceramic Mosaic Sidewalk Panels And To Waive The Competitive Process

    http://clerkwebsvr1.oaklandnet.com/detailreport/?key=18812

  30. We Fight Blight

    Yeah Public Works is great. Assistant Public Works Directors make $165,500 and we cannot get them to remove a large amount of debris and furniture blocking the sidewalk on the 600 block of 53rd Street for over 1-1/2 years. Repeated calls and repeated emails to the call center gets nowhere. Sounds like no one is being supervised…

  31. Hayden

    Re: EBMUD–It might be helpful for the posters concerned about EBMUD maintenance to consider that EBMUD’s water system is statistically in great shape. I don’t recall the numbers offhand, but it’s in the upper level of US water distribution systems for not having leaks. This is perhaps even more impressive, considering that a big part of the system is in landslide-prone areas.

    As far as sewage goes, EBMUD is now studying how to further reduce inflow and infiltration into its system. This will reduce overflows into the Bay (via the wet weather treatment plants, which provide a reduced level of treatment as compared to the main plant) during rainstorms. After the study is completed, it’s a good bet there will be a discussion between EBMUD and the various cities (which operate their own parts of the sewage collection system) about how to pay for the upgrades…

    While water mains do break, and sewage lines do clog and back up sometimes, the fact of observing that doesn’t necessarily lead to a conclusion that the system is in bad shape. EBMUD, as a fee-supported municipality/agency, is in much better shape as far as managing revenue goes than the cities are.

  32. G

    Why don’t all you people here get off your butts and call your reps to demand lower employee pay so we have more money for infrastructure? Why do you vote DEMOCRAT anyways? Send a message. vote Republican. No more excuses by YOU. Send a message.

  33. ralph

    G,
    If you can find me a fiscally conservative, smart growth, pro development politician in the bay area, I will be the first to cast my vote. Until then, the best I can do is lobby my elected officials for what I believe and what is passable.

  34. Stan K

    I don’t want to sound insensitive to the non-hills areas of Oakland (bc it certainly isn’t my intent) but if you want to see third world road conditions, c’mon up to the hills. In Ridgemont, once you pass Merritt College, you damn near need a 4×4 to navigate the roads. For years there were huge gaping cracks that just get worse and worse with every winter. It seems like just recently the city PWD tried to band aid the problems but what we essentially got was something equivalent to caulking a pavement crack/hole. That worked for about 2 hours.

    Substantial property taxes are received from this area and it’s just another example of money wasted. I would love to know how the guy at the top of the hill feels whenever he pays the $70k annual taxes on his $4.9mn home.

  35. len raphael

    Stan, just talking to a buddy who lives off Broadway Terrace. After the fire residents there voted for a 90/year special assessment to pay the city to do what city is supposed to do for free: cut down tall weeds and brush on public property.

    City hasn’t cut anything so far this year. I gave him the link to M Lee’s site.

    On the other hand, in my section of temescal, someone cut down the tall weeds in the 51st Street median. Was it the city or volunteers?