Question from Rob Halford…
Traffic on the island has increasingly become an issue that impacts quality of life. The West End in particular feels like a video game at times. Knowing that the development we’ve seen in the last 10 years is a big contributor to this, and more development is already in progress, what do you feel is an acceptable level of growth in housing and cars over the next 10 years? How do we ensure that we’re better positioned for the next 10 years than we were for the last 10?
Regarding traffic – I believe that traffic is a regional problem and we need to work with our neighboring cities to address this issue. We are also an island. Our only in and out is over the bridges and through the tunnel, so, consequently, at peak hours traffic can become a nightmare for our commuters. To mitigate our traffic congestion we need to get the Oakland- Alameda project (formerly discussed and dissected many years ago under the “ Broadway-Jackson project” rubric) going now with no more delays. Concurrently, we need to reintroduce and expand the Estuary Crossing shuttle service. In the recent past, this service provided crossings at no cost to the public and was an easy way to get to Oakland and its BART stations. In fact, I have taken the crossing a few times myself and was very impressed with it. This was a public-private partnership in which the county, city and private partners, like Wind River, provided the funding, and it should be revived in the interests of alleviating traffic congestion.
Regarding Adequate Housing – For years we were in danger of falling out of compliance with the state housing mandate to achieve a “magic number“ and comply with Regional Housing Needs Allotment. Now that we have identified all the sites necessary to be in compliance with the mandate, we can take a breath and re-evaluate our position. Clearly, to suggest that we stop building homes altogether is in violation of regional needs as well as morally irresponsible, since as the population grows we owe it to the next generation to provide adequate housing. Having said that, we are an island and can only expand and accommodate a limited number of housing units. Thus, I would propose a controlled development at a pace that we can handle until we reach capacity. As for defining capacity, we currently have a population of 73,000 people. Can we accommodate another 10,000 another 15,000 or even 20,000? That is a question for the population and sustainability experts as they advise the Council. Regardless of this ultimate number, I strongly believe that we need to provide affordable housing, especially for our seniors and residents with disability. I have personally visited Jack Capon Villa, Waters Edge Nursing Facility, and the battered women shelter. They are a start, but we need to do a better job at protecting and housing our most vulnerable. I am also a strong proponent of providing affordable housing to the working poor, as well as for teachers, plumbers, mail carriers and the like, to allow them to live in the community in which they work.
Public safety – I believe in supporting our police department so that they can provide us with the protection that we need. We had out first homicide this year on Webster Street, where a woman was robbed and killed in front of her own restaurant. Not only do we need to fully staff our police department, but I pledge to modernize public safety in the future, and push for policies to provide the best tools and techniques to make our communities safer. In addition, we all need to get involved and watch out for each other. I personally have worked within a couple of neighborhoods, training residents on the use and applications of radar guns, and I was a key witness to a robbery and fatal shooting and provided with police with information that lead to the arrest and closure of the case.