Help Us Improve Bike and Pedestrian Connections at the Kaiser Convention Center Project!

 

Pedestrian and bicycle connections between the Lake Merritt BART station and Lake Merritt are lacking. Individuals traveling on foot to the lake and eastward must navigate indirect routes and narrow sidewalks. Cyclists, meanwhile, must take a circuitous route around the eastern edge of the Kaiser Convention Center to reach the lake. Luckily, there is an immediate opportunity to improve on these connections.

The redevelopment of the Kaiser Convention Center  on 10th Street is moving forward and is likely headed to the Oakland City Council next month. However, existing designs produced by the developer leave the 164-space parking lot functionally unchanged, converting only the surface materials to be more porous and decorative.

We at Transport Oakland believe these public lands, adjacent to one of the most valuable recreational spaces in Oakland and just a few blocks from BART, should be better utilized. At a minimum, the Oakland Planning Department should require significant improvement of the pedestrian and bike connections between Lake Merritt station and the Lake itself by converting the driveway on the west side of the facility (and alongside the Oakland Museum) to a fully-pedestrianized park/plaza extending through the existing parking lotCheck out this Streetsblog article for more information.

We invite you to review the project information and compose your own message to the Planning Commission, or join us in signing the letter by copying and pasting the message below into an email to the Planning Commission requesting that the Commission require changes to the designs.

Consideration of the project is ongoing, with the next Planning Commission meeting scheduled for April 3rd.

Email your letter to: RMerkamp@oaklandnet.com

Dear Planning Commission Members:

The renovation of the Kaiser Convention Center offers a rare opportunity for the City of Oakland to vastly improve the pedestrian connections between Lake Merritt, the Lake Merritt BART Station, and the surrounding neighborhood. As Commissioners charged with thinking holistically about City development projects and overseeing these projects’ compliance with existing City plans and policies, we urge you to support a design for the Convention Center that will improve connections to public transit, expand public green space, and enhance access to the Lake, Oakland’s crown jewel.

The City has both a legal and moral obligation to maximize public resources and take bold steps to encourage sustainable transportation. Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan (Resolution No. 84126 C.M.S.) calls for a 36 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent reduction in vehicle-miles traveled from 2005 levels by 2020. Additionally, the City’s “Transit First Policy” (Resolution No.73036 C.M.S.) prioritizes policies that reduce vehicle miles traveled and improve sustainable transportation by promoting walking, bicycling, and public transit. Finally, the City’s “Complete Streets Policy” (Resolution No.84204 C.M.S.) states that the City will approach every relevant project as an opportunity to improve streets and the transportation network for all categories of users and to maximize opportunities for Complete Streets and connectivity.  

Retaining the existing 164 parking spaces at the expense of a sufficient pedestrian and bicycle connection to the Lake would ignore these municipal obligations. The current pedestrian connection between Lake Merritt and the Lake Merritt BART Station area is confusing, uninviting, and dangerous. The existing sidewalk that runs along the Convention Center’s southwest parking lot entrance is narrow, poorly lit, and circuitous, impeding pedestrian use between 10th Street and the Lake. Failure to address these connectivity problems through this project will perpetuate the neighborhood’s poor transit and pedestrian access, rendering any such project in direct violation of the aforementioned resolutions. The existing plan not only disregards established City policy, it also represents an outmoded design out of sync with a City that prides itself on its forward-thinking agenda.

Given that the Convention Center is within a short walking distance of BART, multiple AC Transit bus routes, and nearby and underutilized parking facilities (including facilities at the Oakland Museum the Lake Merritt BART station and Laney College), it is entirely feasible to eliminate Kaiser Center parking spaces while still providing sufficient access for tenants, commercial customers, and people attending public events.

To achieve a more beautiful, accessible, and sustainable project, I urge you as members of the Oakland Planning Commission to immediately:

  1. Clarify the minimum number of parking spaces required by the City for this transit-rich facility less than 0.25 miles from a downtown Oakland BART Station;

  2. Advise Department of Planning staff to require that the applicant draft an alternate landscape plan that creates a pedestrian plaza and bike path on the west side of the facility to provide a clear, safe, comfortable, and continuous green connection between Lake Merritt Blvd., the Convention Center, and the Lake Merritt BART Station;

  3. Advise Department staff to convene a working group with Department of Transportation staff to develop a proposal that improves the pedestrian crossing between Lake Merritt and the Convention Center, and to immediately implement the recommendations that come out of this working group;

  4. Direct the applicant to incorporate secure, on-site bicycle parking facilities into the design.

I understand the complexities surrounding this project and the public interest in moving it forward. However, I am confident that modifying the exterior design can be made without slowing progress on other aspects of the project. As Planning Commissioners entrusted with development oversight throughout our great City, it is incumbent on you to ensure developments are pursued with the best interest of the public in mind. This is especially true for projects that sit on public land and are connected to public resources as high-profile and frequently used as Lake Merritt. I urge you to prioritize public access over private parking at this site and to improve the pedestrian connection between Lake Merritt, the Convention Center, and the BART Station. This is a once in a generation opportunity that has the potential to transform the  community’s access to public amenities for generations to come. Conversely, modifying the design of this space will become increasingly difficult once the Convention Center is reopened. Please don’t pass up this opportunity. Thank you for your consideration.

Respectfully,

[Your name here]

You’re Invited to the Transport Oakland Happy Hour on Thursday, March 28!

We are pleased to invite you to join us for a happy hour and conversation on transportation in the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan! Representatives from Toole Design and the Oakland Planning Department will be there to share their perspectives and highlight important transportation aspects of the Plan.

When: Thursday, March 28th, 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Where: Telegraph Beer Garden, 2318 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t attend? Sign up for our email list to be notified of future happy hours!

 

 

 

OakDOT Rolls Out Proposed 3-Year Paving Plan, Hosting Community Meetings to Discuss

 

This month OakDOT will hit the streets to promote its new paving plan that aims to deliver $100 million in paving construction, tripling its average spending on resurfacing.

Oakland historically has struggled to keep major streets in fair to good condition. Thanks to Measure KK funds are now available, allowing the continuation of existing levels of funding for major streets while substantially increasing local streets paving. In the 3-year plan proposed by DOT, $75 million would be spent on local streets and $25 million to keep major arterial streets in good condition. In contrast, the prior planning document, the 2014 paving plan, allocated 80 percent of funds to streets with high vehicle volume.

OakDOT will consider street condition, equity, and safety to prioritize work, while also improving coordination and cost shares with utilities to pave after construction. Additionally, DOT plans to fix more than the potholes and will incorporate safety improvements, improve curb ramps and sidewalk repairs, and when possible add street improvements identified in the Bike Plan, Pedestrian Plan, Downtown Oakland Specific Plan, and other adopted plans. For a more detailed summary of the plan, click here.

Transport Oakland applauds OakDOT’s emphasis on equity in prioritizing resources, rather than approaches in the past that often allocated paving dollars to the most vocal areas.     

A series of community meetings will be held this week and next week to review the plan. Attend your local meeting and be a voice for safe, multi-modal streets that encourage sustainable transportation.

 

Redwood Heights Town Hall March 13, 6:00 PM Redwood Heights Recreation Center 3833 Aliso Ave (Glenview/Redwood Heights)
Bella Vista NCPC March 13, 7:15 PM Bella Vista Elementary School Auditorium 1025 E 28th St (Eastlake/Fruitvale)
Brookfield/Columbia Gardens NCPC March 13, 6:00 PM Madison Park Academy 400 Capistrano Drive (Coliseum/Airport)
Prescott NCPC March 14, 6:30 PM Sullivan Community Center 1671 8th Street (West Oakland)
Chinatown NCPC March 20. 4:00 PM Hotel Oakland 270 13th Street (Downtown)
Beat 33X/24X Neighborhood Improvement Council March 20, 6:00 PM Eastmont Police Substation 2651 73rd Ave (Central/East Oakland)
Golden Gate NCPC

 

March 20, 6:30 PM Charles Porter Golden Gate Recreation Center 1075 62nd St (North Oakland/Adams Point)
Fruitvale Unity

 

March 20, 6:30 PM Fruitvale San Antonio Senior Center 3301 E 12th St #201 (Eastlake/Fruitvale)
Coliseum Melrose NCPC March 21, 6:00 PM 81st Avenue Library 1021 81st Ave (Central/East Oakland)
Melrose-High Hopes NCPC

 

March 27, 7:00 PM Horace Mann School 5222 Ygnacio Avenue (Central/East Oakland)
Beats 12Y/13XYZ, 1

 

March 28, 7:00 PM Berkeley Tennis Club

Tunnel Road (Berkeley) (North Oakland Hills)