January RCPC Town Hall draws a large crowd

Topics include mini-roundabouts on Shafter Ave., Go-Bike bike share station at Rockridge BART, tree removal/replacement around the BART station, as well as update on Claremont Hotel condo proposal.
Thursday, January 25, 2018

An overflow crowd filled the Rockridge Library's meeting room on the evening of January 24th to hear about a variety of topics, mostly related to transportation.  The topic included the removal and replacement of trees around the Rockridge BART station that had been identified as hazards, placing min-roundabouts along Shafter Avenue in conjunction with its repaving this Spring, the location of Ford Go-bike bikeshare stations around Rockridge, including in front of the Firestorm tile mural at the Rockridge BART station, and an update on a condominium project put forward by Signature Properties in a parking lot area at the Claremont Hotel and Resort, along with an expansion of the resort's membership by 250 members.

David Kessler, a resident spearheading neighborhood opposition to the Claremont project, started the evening with a short presentation, which can be viewed on YouTube at this link.  He said that the project would include 42 or 43 market rate condominiums, and neighbors were concerned with traffic impacts on two-lane Tunnel Road, as well as disrupting a designated historic site.  An Environmental Impact Report has been in preparation for over a year, but with no word yet of when it will issue.

BART, represented by Richard Fuentes, came next, to talk about the need to remove over a dozen large trees on BART's Rockridge Station property.  He said an arborist's evaluation last fall found the trees were not in good health, could drop limbs on cars and people, and needed to be removed.  (One redwood tree was actually already dead.)  The removal process started in early January, and at this point all the trees (eucalyptus and Monterey pines) have been removed.  BART, recognizing that the trees both beautify the area and screen the station from nearby neighbors, is planning replacements and is looking for public feedback on how best to do that.  You'll find attached to this article the PowerPoint presentation and a fact sheet on the replacement options.  e-mail feedback can be sent to RFuente@bart.gov.

Next, Sarah Fine, a planner in Oakland's newly established Department of Transportation (or OakDOT for short), discussed plans to set up several mini-roundabouts along Shafter Ave. when it is repaved this Spring.   A copy of that presentation is also attached to this article  She said the impetus came from that street being a bicycle boulevard - a street intended to favor bicyclists, but also being a major route used by autos to get to BART, Market Hall, and College Ave.  The roundabouts, along with the existing speedbumps, are intended to slow traffic on both Shafter and its intersecting streets, and make it safer for bicyclists.  She said polling of residents along Shafter had favored the idea, and a number of people had volunteered to care for the landscaping to be installed, even though irrigation was not being included in the roundabouts' design.  The Department had proposed to remove stop signs from Shafter at the roundabouts, while keeping them on the intersecting streets.  Audience members, however, commented, based on experience in other states and countries, that having yield signs on all the streets entering a roundabout was a better idea.  Ms. Fine took that idea under advisement.

The last (and most controversial) presentation was given by Kerby Olsen of OakDOT, about the Ford Go-Bike bikeshare stations popping up around Rockridge, mostly on College Ave.  (Again, a copy of the presentation is attached at the bottom of this article.) Particularly noteworthy was the one newly placed in front of the firestorm tile mural commemorating the 1991 Oakland/Berkeley firestorm.  That tragedy destroyed over 3,000 homes and apartments, including many in Upper Rockridge, and killed 25 people.  Some in the audience, especially those who were Rockridge residents during the firestorm, felt the bikeshare station's location was disrespectful to the memorial, although others suggested it might draw more attention to the memorial.  There was, however, a general feeling that more care should have been taken to get community feedback before finalizing the placement locations.  In addition to the BART location, some residents along Shafter complained about having a station placed directly in front of a residence without even consulting the owners. The presentation included slides showing a number of alternative sites around the BART station, and Mr. Olsen said that OakDOT had now agreed to make to present location temporary, and promised that there would be a walk-through, open to the public, to view and discuss the various alternatives before a final siting decision was made.Those interested in attending the walk-through and discussing the alternative sites should sign up for the Rockridge e-news by sending an e-mail to info@rockridge.org. The e-news will provide notification of the event.

rockridge bikeshare presentation10.07 MB
rockridge tree replacement factsheet2.26 MB
rockridge BART station tree replacement community presentation984.75 KB
shafter_rcpc_2018_01_18_final.pdf2.95 MB