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Oakland Getting a New Department of Transportation

Author: Bike East Bay

Date: June 17, 2015

Step one for a new Oakland Department of Transportation was approved by the Oakland City Council June 30, as part of Council President Lynette McElhaney’s 2-year budget. Council voted 6-1-1 to establish the Department and fund it with $1.5 million over 2 years for new staffing. Mayor Schaaf’s Transportation Policy Director Matt Nichols will now start to put together the new Department and former New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has agreed to help. Bike East Bay will also help in a big way. Please send an email to Councilmember McElhaney thanking her for her support.

Why is this a big deal? Oakland Public Works is not well-organized and many hard-working transportation planners and project managers in Public Works report to supervisors in charge of sewers and police substations. Project managers who build projects report to different supervisors than do the planners who developed the projects. And there simply is not enough of a project development team to vet projects with the public, as was done with Telegraph Ave bike lanes, and ready these projects to receive funding. A new integrated DOT with a visionary transportation leader will fix this.

We thank Transport Oakland, Transform and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, who joined Bike East Bay speaking in support of a new DOT. together, Council heard how important a new Department of Transportation (DOT) is to deliver street improvement projects in your neighborhood. 

A new DOT will better

  1. repaving Streets: Oakland Public Works is unable to keep your streets in decent condition. In fact, Oakland has the 2nd worst street pavement conditions of any city in Alameda County. A new Department of Transportation will efficiently direct limited funding to street repaving, and will be much better able to secure outside funding sources from the County, State and Federal Governments than Public Works;
  2. deliver projects: Oakland needs more staff to work on street improvement projects. Currently, Public Works is in ‘response’ mode, doing their best to respond to neighborhood complaints about traffic safety, dumping, etc. Oakland needs a project development team and a project delivery team, to start transforming your streets and improving public safety, walking, transit and bicycling.
  3. secure more money: Over $750 million in discretionary countywide funding will be awarded to cities in Alameda County, and it can go to Oakland or it can go to other cities more prepared to deliver projects that are comprehensive and planned to give people commute options and help build walkable neighborhoods. Oakland needs to get projects ready for this money, and they have until Spring 2016 to do it.

More information from Transport Oakland

The Mayor’s proposed budget, released April 30, included $2.25 million to create an Oakland Department of Transportation (DOT). But the City Council’s proposed amendments include a $750,000 reduction in funding over the two-year period.

We need your help to ask your City Council members to preserve the full $2.25 million proposed for Oakland DOT. Here are two ways you can help.

  1. Email or call your City Council Member and At-Large Council Member Kaplan in the next two days to voice your support for preserving the full $2.25 million in proposed Oakland DOT funding.

  2. Speak during public comment at the June 22 special City Council meeting at 5pm at Oakland City Hall. This is the last substantive meeting in which the budget will be discussed before its final approval on June 30.

Find your Council District

District 1: Dan Kalb – [email protected],  (510) 238-7001 

District 2: Abel Guillen – [email protected](510).238.7002 

District 3: Lynette McElhaney – [email protected] (510) 238-7032

District 4: Annie Campbell Washington – 238-7004 

District 5: Noel Gallo – [email protected]510-238-7005 

District 6: Desley Brooks – [email protected](510) 238-7006 

District 7: Larry Reid – [email protected](510) 238-7007 

At-Large: Rebecca Kaplan – [email protected](510) 238-7008

Sign up to speak in public comment at the June 22 meeting by filling out an online speaker card

Sample email:

Dear Councilmember [       ]

My name is [    ] and I am a voter in District [   ]. I am writing to you because the Council President’s budget proposes a $750,000 reduction for the new Oakland Department of Transportation (DOT) compared to the Mayor’s original Budget. I urge your support to preserve the full $2.25M in Measure BB funds proposed to establish a DOT in the biennial budget for three reasons.
  1. The current rate of transportation funding spend-down and project delivery in Oakland is unacceptable. I voted for Measure BB because I want transformational changes to Oakland’s transportation system, including increased transparency, accountability, and stronger project delivery that a new DOT can bring. With new Measure BB funding available for much-needed repaving, Oakland needs a more efficient project development and delivery system to spend these new resources efficiently, bringing improvements in our District and around the City. Our current 85-year repaving schedule clearly doesn’t cut it.
  2. Oakland is long overdue for essential roles focused on transportation equity, constituent service, and transit coordination. New DOT staff should provide an equity and universal accessibility lens to transportation improvements, increase responsiveness to neighborhood requests, andinterface with transit providers to ensure smooth delivery of projects like East Bay BRT. These roles are lacking at Oakland Public Works and cannot merely be transferred to the new DOT without additional staffing.
  3. We risk missing out on 80% of the new Measure BB funds. Measure BB funds available to Oakland include “pass-through” funds that come directly to the City every month, but also discretionary funds that are administered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission. Starting this year, Oakland will need to compete with other jurisdictions to get our fair share of these additional funds. Without adequate staff to prepare projects for these competitive discretionary funds, Oakland risks losing out on 80% of the transportation funds available through Measure BB. Proper funding and staffing of the DOT will pay for itself through the tens of millions of dollars available in Measure BB funds.

For all these reasons, I urge you to support the funding the Oakland DOT at the originally proposed $2.25 million.

[Your name]

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