Election 2018: Bay Area Voters to Consider $3 Bridge Toll Hike

By Michael Krasny : kqed – excerpt (includes audio)

Bay Area voters will consider a measure on the June 5 ballot that would raise tolls on the region’s seven state-owned bridges by $3 over six years. If approved, Regional Measure 3 would finance $4.5 billion in transit and highway projects, including a BART extension to Santa Clara. Supporters say the toll hike would ease traffic congestion and improve critical infrastructure. But opponents say the measure does little to encourage shared travel and unfairly burdens East Bay residents. We take up the debate… (more)

Bay Area needs powerful regional government, study says

By Andrew McGall : contracostatimes – excerpt

The Bay Area generates one of the brightest sparks in the nation’s recovering economy, but feeding its vitality means residents will have to give up some local control, dig deeper into their wallets, and make room for tens of thousands of new neighbors, according to study released Friday.

Keeping on prosperity’s path requires a regional government with power to overcome local obstacles, money from new taxes and tolls, and opening the doors to housing closed by local growth controls and state environmental red tape, according to “A Roadmap for Economic Resilience,” an in-depth study done by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Without action, the Bay Area’s highways choked with commuters, its fragmented transit systems, and anti-growth attitudes will choke the boom times, the report says.

The Bay Area may have 101 cities, “but it is one economy with more than 7 million people,” says Bay Area Council President Jim Wunderman… (more)

Special Deal Would Benefit Influential Oakland Developer

By eastbayextress – excerpt

The Oakland planning department quietly proposed zoning changes that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer in the heart of First Friday.

The proposed zoning changes would make it easier for Signature Development to build a large mixed-use project across the street from the company’s Hive development in Uptown.

The Oakland Planning and Building Department recently attempted to quietly push through changes to the city’s zoning code that would greatly benefit a politically connected developer who has acquired a big chunk of real estate in Uptown Oakland, right in the heart of First Friday, the Express has learned. Planning staffers buried the proposed zoning amendment in a six hundred-plus page document amid other proposed changes that they described as routine and neutral efforts meant only to “clean up” Oakland’s planning code. But the zoning change, which underwent no public scrutiny before the planning department recently proposed it, would greatly increase the value of property recently purchased by Signature Development Group, a major Oakland real estate company run by Michael Ghielmetti, and would make it easier to build a large development project between 24th and 25th streets near Broadway.

“There seems to be a blatant disregard for the community,” said Hiroko Kurihara, founder and director of the nonprofit 25th Street Collective, in an interview. “The zoning changes that were proposed at the last minute … left even members of the planning commission scratching their heads.”… (more)

The technique is described really well by someone who researched the methods used by SFMTA to illegally alter the parking policies while claiming they were not making any substantive changes. See details here: https://metermadness.wordpress.com/actions/

NBA championship overshadows relocation to San Francisco

Louis LaVenture : thepioneeronline – excerpt

While Oakland celebrated, lawmakers in Sacramento on Friday made the new San Francisco arena deal a lot easier to finalize when they included an environmental law exemption for the planned Warriors stadium at San Francisco’s Mission Bay in the state budget proposal unveiled last week.

The new development requires an environmental impact report detailing what wildlife and animals will be displaced by construction and the plans to rectify displacement, which will be waived for one year due to the new law exemption.

The Mission Bay Alliance is one of the main opponents of the proposed Warriors event center and according to them “The proposed stadium will have a disastrous impact on the health and welfare of thousands of patients and families.” They also stated the new arena would block access to medical services, make parking difficult and cause traffic around the area to hit a complete halt during the 225 events that are planned each year in addition to sports events.

The new arena is located near several hospitals, including those specific for women, children, cancer and cardiology. There is a public hearing regarding the San Francisco arena plan on June 30 at City Hall and public input is being listened to at the meetings until July 20... (more)

OP-ED: Imagine the Bay Area without CEQA

OP-ED: Imagine the Bay Area without CEQA

By E. Clement Shute Jr. : smdailyjournal.com – excerpt

The two of us remember the challenges that faced our state before 1970, the year the California Environmental Quality Act was enacted. We are disturbed by recent proposals to weaken this landmark legislation, which has served as the cornerstone of California’s environmental protection laws.

While the challenges facing the environment are different today (in fact, they are probably even more difficult), the need for CEQA is as strong as it was in 1970. We cannot forget the reasons that led to our state’s hard-won environmental safeguards. Those reasons still exist.
Before CEQA, monied interests dominated development decisions and California residents had little power to stop the widespread damage to our shared natural resources. Our laws at that time did not allow the public any means of requiring consideration of the environmental harms caused by development.
For example, in the early 1960s, the San Francisco Bay was being filled at a rate that, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, would have left just a shipping channel by 2020. No laws existed to prevent this environmental travesty. Led by Save the Bay, the Legislature created the Bay Conservation and Development Commission in 1969 to protect the Bay; it enacted CEQA the following year… (more)

Peninsula Cities Lose Initial CEQA Lawsuit Against High Speed Rail Authority

Peninsula Cities Lose Initial CEQA Lawsuit Against High Speed Rail Authority

by Irvin Dawid : planetizen.com – excerpt

It was the first of many lawsuits to hit the HSRA. Menlo Park and Atherton, joined later by Palo Alto – three adjoining cities on the San Mateo County/Santa Clara County border, among the wealthiest in the nation, sued in 2008 to reroute the train.
The three mid-Peninsula cities wanted the high speed train to enter the Bay Area via the Altamont Pass from the East Bay rather than the Pacheco Pass which would have it use the Caltrain corridor that bisects the three cities. Mike Rosenberg, who has covered their many lawsuits as well as those originating in the Central Valley, writes that the cities sued under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and were successful in getting the Authority to “decertify the massive environmental study” that resulted in making some changes along the route – but not the abandonment of the route, which was their intention… (more)
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