Action : the latest developments

October 30, 2018

Below is my recent letter to the Oakland DPW, requesting an update on the passenger drop-off zones. I’ll post any replies that I receive. Today I received an update from BART directly; they do have active plans for many improvements to the BART system (besides the passenger drop-off zones). They are, however, also dependent on the city of Oakland and the Department of Public Works to actually implement any projects.

Wlad Wlassowsky, Project Manager
Oakland Department of Public Works
250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza # 4314, Oakland, CA 94612

October 29, 2018
r.e. Passenger pickup / dropoff zones at 19th St. BART - ongoing discussion

Dear Mr. Wlassowsky,

I met with you at your office at Oakland DPW in April, 2016 to discuss implementing passenger dropoff zones (i.e. white curbs) at the 19th St. BART station. At that time you proposed interim measures to allocate a no-parking zone on Thomas L. Berkley way for passenger pickup and dropoff. I've attached a summary of our discussion. Dr. Raburn also proposed an interim plan until the 20th St. Improvement Project got underway (which was supposed to be in 2018...but it appears that this deadline will be missed).

Since then I've tried contacting you for updates, but unfortunately I haven't yet gotten a response from you, nor from your office. Even more unfortunate is that there are still no passenger dropoff zones at 19th St. BART.

Dr. Raburn told me he recently left you a message about an interim repaint (text below).

Can you please let me know when this can be implemented? The parking and pickup / dropoff situation at 19th St. BART and at many other stations has gotten progressively more congested and less functional in the two years since we initially discussed this.

I'm discouraged that such a seemingly simple, inexpensive, and very beneficial project has been so difficult to implement...in particular because both you and Robert Raburn not only agreed that my idea was a good one, but that you both proposed alternative, equally low-cost interim measures - neither of which came to pass.

Facilitating the flow of passengers at 19th St. BART (and at other stations) in this manner would be a real improvement to Oakland's infrastructure...a benefit and a convenience for everyone.

Sincerely Yours,

John Imholz

----------------
On June 25, 2018 I received the following from Robert Raburn:

John - I met with a trusted Oakland Public Works manager this morning and she noted that the OakDOT transition is causing some hiccups in project delivery. I plan to call OakDOT to inquire about expediting the project, and delivering an interim solution. I just left a message for Wlad to inquire if his shop (Public Works, Transportation Services) can still be engaged in an interim curb repaint.

-Robert Raburn, PhD Director - District 4

July 19, 2018

I just received more information about the 19th St. BART improvements (text below). The timeline shows that the bidding for these projects will start in May of 2019, with projected completion dates of December 1, 2020. Back in 2016 I was told that these projects were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018, so obviously things have been pushed down the road somewhat. Better late than never, I suppose. However, it seems to me that repainting a few curbs white (and thereby designating such curbs for passenger pickup and dropoff  would be a simple,  inexpensive, and effective interim measure.

Thanks to Dr. Raburn for keeping me updated on these issues. I'll post more updates as things develop.

Dear Mr Imholz - I appreciate your patience while BART staff investigated the status of the access improvements near 19th St Station, with a particular focus on Thomas L. Berkley Way (20th).  BART has been coordinating with the City of Oakland with respect to the District’s 19th Street BART Station Modernization Project.

The City of Oakland has three projects:

(1) 20th Street Complete Streets Improvements,

(2) Station Area LED Street Lighting Upgrades and

(3) Pedestrian Wayfinding Project. 

The scope of work in these three City of Oakland projects include: utility relocations, new signage and striping, roadway realignment, grading and paving, traffic signal modifications, streetlight modifications, new and repaired curb and sidewalk, landscape and streetscape, new LED street lighting and new pedestrian wayfinding.  The 35% design for the 20th Street Improvements does include a passenger drop-off on 20th / Thomas L. Berkley Way in front of the existing bank.

Staff received the following update from the Oakland team as part of their June 2018 quarterly report.

PROJECTED PROJECT MILESTONES:            

                                                                   100% Design           Bid Opening          Award Date           Completion Date

  1. 20th Street Improvements: 12/31/2018 05/01/2019 09/01/2019 12/01/2020

  2. LED Street Lighting: 12/31/2018 05/01/2019 09/01/2019 12/01/2020

  3. Pedestrian Wayfinding: 12/31/2018 05/01/2019 09/01/2019 12/01/2020

ACTIVITY STATUS:

  1. 20th Street Improvements: The design team is continuing to move forward on the plan, specifications, and estimate package for bid. With new and developing standards for pedestrian and bicycle facilities and treatments, the City is spending additional time in design to work out details and best practices. To address these designs, the City is including internal stakeholders in workshops to address the design challenges.

  2. LED Street Lighting Upgrades: The design team is continuing to move forward on the plan, specifications, and estimate package for bid in conjunction with the 20th Street Improvements. Lighting design is proceeding with photometric calculations in the project area.

Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance.

-Robert Raburn, PhD

 

July 17, 2018

I just received a reply from Dr. Robert Raburn (BART president). He has passed my letter on to the BART general manager. He didn't mention her by name, but I'm assuming that is Grace Crunican:  https://www.bart.gov/about/gm

I'll post more information as soon as I get a response. My hope is that all the improvement projects are indeed moving ahead. The following is the relevant text from Dr. Raburn's reply:

 

Dear Mr Imholz - I met with the General Manager last Friday and handed her your letter received last week (I was out of town over the July 4th Holiday). I requested that staff investigate and respond to both of us with the schedule for the Complete Streets Project partnership between BART and the City of Oakland. The folded letter got her attention (I kept a copy).

Meanwhile, I have noted that another project at 19th St Station, the major modernization contract, was posted as an anticipated contract in June https://www.bart.gov/about/business/procurement/lookahead. The formal request for proposals is expected to be advertised in August.

Upcoming Procurement | bart.gov

www.bart.gov

New Procurement Portal Now Available BART has a new procurement portal.All existing and prospective bidders, proposers, vendors, contractors and suppliers must register in the new system to receive information about ongoing procurement activity.

Sincerely,

-Robert Raburn, PhD, Director - District 4

SF Bay Area Rapid Transit (510) 530-3444 hm/msg

 

July 14, 2018

I have not yet received any answer or other communication from Mr. Raburn in answer to my letter of June 25, 2018. To keep the ball rolling, I just send him a pdf of that letter (you can read it below in my previous post). I don't know what became of my original snail-mail letter; I hope this second attempt will generate a response - and preferably some action to improve the pickup/dropoff zone situation. At present, this situation at 19th St. BART is no different than it was in 2016: no passenger zones and no improvements.

This is the text of today's email to Mr. Raburn:

Dear Mr. Raburn,

I sent you a letter on June 25, 2018, requesting an update on passenger pickup/dropoff zones at the 19th St. BART station. Attached is a pdf file of that letter.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, 

John Imholz

 

June 25, 2018

It's now halfway through 2018 - the year in which the  19th St. BART improvement project was scheduled to commence. I wrote to Robert Raburn (now President of BART) and asked if the project is on track. So far I've seen no sign of construction activity in the 19th St. BART area. I thought now would be a good time to check in with the BART management,  since there's only 6 months left in 2018.

I've recently received email from more people who've been ticketed for dropping passengers off at the 19th St. station, generally in a no-parking zone. These people were upset that there are NO passenger drop-off zones anywhere near the 19th St. station entrances. Red zones abound, however: Broadway near 20th St. has red zones on both sides of the street that extend almost the entire block. Thomas L. Berkeley Way (aka 20th St. in that area) also has more red curbs than anything else --no white passenger loading zones at all, though.

Important : I've personally observed that these red zones are extremely underutilized for bus and shuttle traffic. The huge stretches of red curb are generally devoid of public transportation vehicles - even during commute hours. How difficult could it be to designate a few car-lengths of these red zones for passenger loading? A wee bit of white paint, perhaps a sign or two, and whatever bureaucratic procedures that need to happen (which I suspect may be the most complex part of the procedure).

Below is my letter to Mr. Raburn. I look forward to getting an update. Check back here for developments.

 

June 25, 2018

r.e. 19th St. BART improvement project

Mr. Raburn,

I'm writing to you to ask for an update on the 19th St. BART improvement project. We're now halfway through 2018;  to date I have seen no evidence of any construction, surveying, or other preparations at the Thomas L. Berkeley Way site. There are still 6 months to go before the end of 2018, at which point the proposed start date will be past. I'm hoping you can shed some light on what progress is being made, and whether the project is indeed on schedule.

I took a careful look at the area around the 19th St . BART station, and there is still not even one dedicated dropoff zone in the vicinity of 19th BART.  When I met with Wlad Wlassowsky on April 14, 2016, he had suggested a short term solution to help alleviate the problem until the improvement project gets underway (reference below). I haven't seen any evidence of any curb changes such as you suggested in your email of August 6, 2016. 

The problem is just as dire at MacArthur station: there is a white zone with space for just one vehicle to drop off passengers. This is totally inadequate; that space is constantly occupied, and drivers fill up the adjacent red zones, which prevents busses and other public transportation vehicles from parking. This is a dysfunctional and hazardous scenario. 

I look forward to your reply.

 

Sincerely,

John Imholz

 

 

August 6, 2016

I just received another update from Robert Raburn (Director - District 4; SF Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART). Here is the timetable for the 19th St. BART improvement project. There will be a passenger dropoff / loading zone available to BART users!

I will continue to monitor progress on this project and I will periodically list those updates on this website, as well as on https://nextdoor.com/neighborhood/oakmore--oakland--ca/

Stay tuned!

Dear Mr John Imholz - I received a reply from BART staff that the City of Oakland’s Complete Streets project – also called the 20 th St. BART to Lake Merritt Urban Greenway – is planned to begin construction in 2018 and be completed by 2020.

Meanwhile, I am motivated to implement some curb changes during the coming year due to the growth in passengers being dropped off. This demand will only increase with the opening of Uber in the Fall of 2017. BART's surging ridership at 19th St(avg. 12,470 weekday trips in 2015) is in part caused by shifts in the mode of transportation access by passengers to the station from home. While walking remains the #1 mode at 60% according to our exciting 2015 Station Access Profile survey, 16% were Dropped Off (9% in 2008) and 14% Bicycled (6% in 2008).

-Robert Raburn, PhD

August 5, 2016

Robert Raburn (Director - District 4; SF Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) replied right away to my request for a progress report on the 19th St. BART improvement project. His email and my follow-up reply are below. 

Mr Imholz - Wlad may be able to tell you the schedule for the project. Just last week we were pleased to learn that the access improvements will receive additional funding from the the Federal TIGER program.‎ Please have patience, moving curbs and widening sidewalks is not a trivial matter.

-Robert Raburn, PhD

Director - District 4; SF Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART)

My follow-up reply:

Dear Mr. Raburn,

Thanks for your reply. I haven't gotten any updates from Wlad, but I know he's got a lot of projects in progress. He told me that the OPW typically has 1400 work orders / requests per year to implement. That's great news to hear about the TIGER funds. I wasn't aware of that program, so I looked it up. https://www.transportation.gov/tiger

I understand that urban construction projects are not a trivial matter, and that such projects require much time, planning, coordination, and resources. As a concerned citizen, I find it frustrating to witness Oakland's many problems on a daily basis and to have no specific plan, method, or opportunity to help directly improve the situation. For example, on occasion I've taken trash bags and collected garbage off the streets in my neighborhood, and put it out for collection with my household trash. It's daunting, however, to see the immense amount of garbage that gets dumped on Oakland streets on a regular basis, especially around Hwy. 13. The frontage roads from Park Boulevard south all the way to the I-580 merge seem to be everyone's favorite dumping ground. And trash is only one of the many problems that beset Oakland.

I've asked various politicians, city officials, and neighbors how I can be most effective in helping improve our community; the general consensus is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil when it comes to project implementation. The project that gets the most attention, press, and scrutiny gets expedited, whereas issues that are not so much in the public and political spotlight get relegated to the back burner. 

I believe that time spent informing my neighbors about such civic improvement activity is a good first step in fixing many of Oakland's problems. Most citizens I've spoken with don't know how such projects get implemented, nor do they have any idea how to help out. Pursuing the 19th St. BART pickup / dropoff zone issue has been a real learning experience for me. I feel that sharing what I've learned with my neighbors (such as the Nextdoor Oakmore community) will help get more Oakland residents interested and motivated to contribute time and effort. 

I would be very interested to learn how I can more effectively be of service to our community. I welcome any suggestions that would help me achieve this goal. Additionally, I very much respect and appreciate your efforts on behalf of our city.

Sincerely Yours,

John Imholz

 

August 2, 2016

Below is my 8.2.2016 email to Wlad Wlassowsky, Oakland Department of Public Works. I'm asking him for an update and a timeline / schedule for the Passenger Pickup / Dropoff zone project at the 19th St. BART station. I had observed construction activity in that area earlier in the summer, but apparently that was for some other project. To date there has been no actual construction, signage, or any other implementation of the pickup / dropoff zone. Currently there is no curbside space available for drivers to pull over legally and either drop off or pick up BART passengers at the 19th St. BART station . Stopping momentarily in red or bus zone to do so results in a $260 fine. 

-------------------

Hello,  Wlad,

Regarding the 19th St. BART improvement project you and I discussed on April 16th, 2016 (passenger dropoff zone, bike lanes, sidewalk widening, etc.) :

I was at the corner of Thomas L. Berkley Way and Broadway today. The equipment / construction site I observed at the beginning of June was no longer there, and the curbside / BART elevator entrance is in the same state it has been for the last several years: the existing parking places have not yet been converted to a passenger dropoff zone, nor have the sidewalks been widened. Landscaping improvements have not yet been implemented, as per Robert Raburn's "20th St Complete Streets Project." I've attached Mr. Raburn's email of April 1, 2016 below, in which he explains the project details. Apparently the construction work I observed last June was for some other project. 

I was disappointed to see that your interim solution of temporarily designating the existing red zone as "Passenger Pickup / Dropoff" during the commute hours has also not happened. There is still a sign at that location that states: "No Parking 3-6 AM Except Holidays" (scroll down to the second image below). This sign is redundant, as it is posted at a red curb -- where there is no parking at any time. 

I'm still posting developments on the Nextdoor Oakmore website https://nextdoor.com/neighborhood/oakmore--oakland--ca/, and on my own website as well. http://www.johnimholz.com/latest-developments/    Many neighbors of mine are very interested to see the passenger pickup / dropoff zone operational at the 19th St. BART station.

Sincerely Yours,

John Imholz

Oakland 94602

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Robert Raburn <Robert.Raburn@BART.gov>     April 11, 2016

To: John Imholz <johnimholzch@gmail.com>

Fwd: Appointment request; Proposal r.e. 19th St. BART passenger pickup / dropoff options

 

Dear Mr John Imholtz - Councilmember Campbell-Washington forwarded your letter to me. The 19th St Station is BART's leader in ridership growth over the past decade and deservedly needs several capacity and access improvements. Fortunately, BART successfully partnered with the City of Oakland last year to receive State Active Transportation funds for the "20th St Complete Streets Project."  Among many improvements in the three-block section between Broadway and Harrison, the project proposes to convert three parking spaces near the new escalator cover to passenger drop off. During 2015 I held two public meetings inside the station to solicit input on this important component of the 19th St Station modernization. During the American Planning Association meeting on October 5, 2015 I joined City staff in conducting a walking tour to review the full scope of this exciting project with design professionals. Beside the drop-off area, the project will widen the sidewalks in this corridor by 6'-10', add bike lanes and landscape improvements.

 Please never hesitate to contact me. I work for you!

Sincerely,  

-Robert Raburn, PhD

Director - District 4

SF Bay Area Rapid Transit District

510-530-3444 hm

 

=============================================================================================================

June 12, 2016

 

Messages are being emailed to the Oakland Department of Public Works approximately every two weeks, requesting updates on the passenger dropoff situation. I have not received any direct replies so far. However, there is currently construction going on at the corner of Broadway and Thomas L. Berkeley Way (the site of the 19th St. BART escalator entrance). I'm trying to discover the exact nature of this work; I'm hoping this is actually the real implementation of Robert Raburn's plan to add the passenger dropoff zone. http://www.robertraburn.com/next_stop_19th_street_station)

I will continue to post as things progress. The current situation:

19th St. BART, at the corner of Broadway and Thomas L. Berkley Way - May 31, 2016

19th St. BART, at the corner of Broadway and Thomas L. Berkley Way - May 31, 2016

 

 

 

May 16, 2016 -  Meeting with  Annie Campbell Washington et al

Today I met with Oakland City Council member Annie Campbell Washington (District 4), Adam Simons (Chief of Staff for Ms. Washington), and Zach Wald (District 3 Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney's Chief of Staff). I presented my research and recommendations for improving the passenger pickup / dropoff situation at the 19th St. BART station. I also told them about my April 14, 2016 meeting with Wlad Wlassowsky (Project Manager for the Oakland Department of Public Works).

We discussed the improvement project that's already in the pipeline, and which is scheduled to be completed within the next 2-3 years. Here's a description of that project:

 

"Among many improvements in the three-block section (of Thomas L. Berkley Way) between Broadway and Harrison, the project proposes to convert three parking spaces near the new escalator cover to passenger drop off............

Besides the drop-off area, the project will widen the sidewalks in this corridor by 6'-10', add bike lanes and landscape improvements." (Reference: http://www.robertraburn.com/next_stop_19th_street_station

 

Ms. Washington, Mr. Simons, Mr. Wald, and I also discussed Mr. Wlassowsky's idea for an interim fix: he suggested designating that same area (the three parking spaces near the new escalator cover on Thomas L. Berkley Way / 20th St., just east of Broadway) as "NO PARKING 6- 9 AM -- PASSENGER LOADING ONLY". This would free up those three parking spaces for passenger loading, while keeping the spaces available for regular metered parking during the rest of the day.

 

We decided that the most effective way to keep the ball rolling on these improvements would be for both Ms. Washington and I to continue to check in with OPW / Mr. Wlassowsky on a regular basis. By doing so we hope to keep attention focussed on the pickup / dropoff situation at 19th St. BART, such that the project continues to move forward in a timely manner. I've emailed Mr. Wlassowsky today; I asked him for an update on how the projects are moving along. I'll continue to stay in touch with him. Below is a picture of the project area ( Thomas L. Berkeley Way [aka 20th St.] at the corner of Broadway). I'll update the images as things move along.

 

April 28, 2016 -  Meeting scheduled for May 16.

 

On May 16, 2016  I will be meeting with members of the Oakland City Council to further discuss the proposed 19th St. BART passenger pickup / dropoff zone. I'm hoping to learn how to most effectively move this project forward. I'll post a summary of the meeting. Thanks to Annie Campbell Washington (District 4 City Council member / Vice Mayor) for setting up this meeting!

 

April 14, 2016 - meeting with Wlad Wlassowsky, Oakland Department of Public Works

 

Good news: the current situation looks better than it initially appeared. City Council member Annie Campbell Washington responded to me right away and put me in touch with the Oakland Department of Public Works; she forwarded my letter to the Oakland officials who work on such projects (traffic, safety, and city planning). Many thanks to Ms. Washington for helping me quickly connect with the appropriate people.

On April 14, 2016, I met with Wlad Wlassowsky, manager of the Transportation Services division, Oakland Department of Public Works. I presented my concerns, observations, research, and suggestions concerning the passenger pickup / dropoff situation in the area of 19th St. BART. The following is a summary of our discussion:

 

Mr. Wlassowsky was very forthcoming and helpful; he informed me about the Oakland Public Works project in the process of being implemented in the 19th St. BART area (of which I was previously unaware). Additionally, he suggested an interim measure that will enable drivers to pickup and dropoff passengers in that area prior to the final project being completed.

                                                                                PROJECT # 1.

This is the project already in the pipeline (the exact text is from an email I received from Robert Raburn, PhD, Director - District 4 (BART):

"Among many improvements in the three-block section (of Thomas L. Berkley Way) between Broadway and Harrison, the project proposes to convert three parking spaces near the new escalator cover to passenger drop off............

Besides the drop-off area, the project will widen the sidewalks in this corridor by 6'-10', add bike lanes and landscape improvements." (More information here: http://www.robertraburn.com/next_stop_19th_street_station)

Mr. Wlassovsky indicated that the project may be completed within the next three years.

 

                                                                                 PROJECT # 2. 

Mr. Wlassowsky had an additional proposal as well. He suggested designating that same area (the three parking spaces near the new escalator cover on Thomas L. Berkley Way / 20th St., just east of the corner of Thomas L. Berkley Way / 20th St. and Broadway) as "NO PARKING 6- 9 AM -- PASSENGER LOADING ONLY" . This would free up those three parking spaces for passenger loading, while keeping the spaces available for regular metered parking during the rest of the day.

                                                                          ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It occurs to me now that having 4-7 PM also available for passenger loading would be a good idea. I will pass this on to Mr. Wlassowsky.

Mr. Wlassowsky also pointed out to me that he can't guarantee the immediate implementation of this plan; the Oakland Department of Public Works gets approximately 1400 requests per year regarding traffic / parking development. That includes parking, road repair, signage, maintenance, as well as new projects. He did say that he will present this proposal to has staff and attempt to get the ball rolling as expeditiously as possible.

I'll post more as the process continues. Thanks to Wlad Wlassowky for being proactive with this. 

John Imholz

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

April 10, 2016 - Letter to Annie Campbell Washington, Oakland City Council

 

On April 10, 2016, the following letter was sent to Annie Campbell Washington, our local city council representative. I'll post any responses and updates on this webpage as things develop.

Annie Campbell Washington, Oakland City Councilmember, District 4

ACampbellWashington@oaklandnet.com (510) 238-7004

cc:   Adam Simons, Chief of Staff
ASimons@oaklandnet.com    (510) 238-7042

Jamila English, Senior Policy Analyst
JEnglish@oaklandnet.com     (510) 238-7041

Nayeli Maxson, Council Aide & Community Liaison
NMaxson@oaklandnet.com   (510) 238-7273

-----------------------------------------------

4.10.2016

Dear Ms. Washington,

I have a proposal for the Oakland Department of Public Works, concerning the lack of passenger pickup / dropoff options at the 19th St. BART station. I'd like to request a brief (10 minute) appointment with you at your convenience.

I would like to show you my proposal (consisting of a cover letter, brief written material, and two spreadsheets), and then get your opinions, input, and suggestions on how I can proceed with this project in the most expedient and effective fashion. I have limited experience in dealing with the political infrastructure here in Oakland, and I could really benefit from your expertise. 

For example, it would very helpful to me to get your opinion on the following:

1. Besides yourself, is this the best group of people to whom I should make the presentation (and are there any other people to whom I should present this proposal)?

Libby Schaff, Mayor

Brooke A. Levin, Director; Oakland Department of Public Works

Michael Neary, Assistant Director; Oakland Department of Public Works

2. What's the best way to get this proposal / message across? What approach would be the most likely to get some response and action?

3. Several of my neighbors in the Oakmore area have also signed on to this letter. Should I try and solicit more signatures to indicate that there is widespread interest in this issue?

4. Is there a neighborhood forum / meeting where I can present this information to more Oakland residents?

5. Is this an issue that should be taken up by the City Council? If not, then with whom?

I've attached the first page of the proposal to this letter. Thanks for your consideration. 

Sincerely Yours,

John Imholz