State Funds Meant for “Transformative” Transit Tasks Will Go For an Undesirable Parking Lot

Final 12 months, BART rejected a proposal to construct a parking construction at its Dublin-Pleasanton station, as an alternative arising with methods to supply the identical quantity of parking for much less cash whereas encouraging bike, stroll, and transit journeys to the station. The choice methods have been consistent with new state, regional, and BART’s personal environmental and local weather targets.

However some weren’t happy. Assemblymember Catharine Baker and County Supervisor Scott Haggerty insisted {that a} new parking construction, which would offer lower than a 3rd of the parking areas on the station’s present waitlist, was completely obligatory. Baker mentioned she may get $20 million for the undertaking—which is anticipated to value about $30 million plus—and she or he didn’t like BART’s substitute methods.

So the Alameda County Normal Companies Company utilized for a grant from the California Transit and Intercity Capital Rail Program (TIRCP) to construct a construction on a county-owned parcel subsequent to the BART station. The Alameda GSA doesn’t have something to do with transit. So it obtained the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) to signal on because the accountable transit company.

However LAVTA good points nothing from a parking construction at BART. Its core perform is to supply a connection between BART and different locations in Livermore.

The TIRCP, which is funded by cap-and-trade income in addition to S.B. 1 fuel tax cash, is meant for use for “transformative capital enhancements that modernize California’s intercity … transit programs” to cut back greenhouse fuel emissions and “broaden and enhance rail service to extend ridership.”

However among the many listing of grantees introduced final week this one stands out like a sore thumb. It has a reputation that sounds good: “Dublin/Pleasanton Capability Enchancment and Congestion Discount Program.” A extra correct title could possibly be “Extra Automotive Storage and Inducements to Drive.” Does parking “modernize” transit?

The undertaking claims, as one can guess from its title, to cut back congestion (not a objective of the TIRCP, by the way in which) and to cut back greenhouse fuel emissions—presumably by encouraging freeway drivers to drag off and park on the BART station, as an alternative of driving all the way in which to their locations. It additionally admits it received’t serve any deprived communities, as known as for by A.B. 1550—though the grant contains funding “to determine alternatives to boost advantages to such communities.” In different phrases, that pesky element will likely be found out later.

The construction, says the grant, “will embrace electrical car charging stations with most well-liked parking for vanpools to maximise utilization” and “will likely be constructed with convertible makes use of in thoughts.” That final is in response to claims that autonomous autos and ride-hail and who is aware of what new factor (electrical bikes?) will render parking altogether moot sooner or later, the concept being that when that involves go, the construction could possibly be become housing or workplace house.

Despite the fact that housing for individuals is a bit more desperately wanted proper now than housing for vehicles.

The Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, at center in this image from Google Maps, is in the middle of a freeway and surrounded by seas of parking, which makes getting to it by walking, biking, and bus harder than it should be.
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The Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, at middle on this picture from Google Maps, is in the course of a freeway and surrounded by seas of parking, which makes attending to it by strolling, biking, and bus more durable than it ought to be.

BART’s various plan, for method lower than the $30 million the construction will value, would have improved bike and pedestrian station entry, formalized parking sharing at present heaps, and added automotive lifts, stacked parking, and attendants to make extra areas accessible in present parking constructions.

“I believe BART for the primary time actually stepped again and obtained inventive about how we are able to handle parking demand at our stations with out having the large value of a parking storage that locks us into the price of parking for many years to return,” mentioned BART board director Rebecca Saltzman. “I believe we had an excellent plan that met within the center and addressed parking calls for extra shortly, for much less cash.”

“It’s a disgrace that we are able to’t transfer ahead with what may have been a mannequin for the long run,” she mentioned. “It’s disappointing that folks within the county wished to maneuver ahead with this undertaking.”

To recap:

  • BART didn’t need to construct a parking construction, and got here up with a robust various technique extra aligned with state, regional, and company environmental targets
  • Assemblymember Baker actually wished that parking construction, and will get $20 million from the state for it
  • Parking isn’t an acceptable use of TIRCP funds
  • The company that utilized for the grant doesn’t present transit; the transit company that signed on to the grant won’t profit from the parking construction
  • The county of Alameda, which owns the lot the place the parking construction will likely be constructed, could also be on the hook for the remaining $10-plus million to construct it
  • The county-owned lot won’t be developed in a method that can present the county with tax income

How did this all occur? Assemblymember Baker was one of many few Republicans who agreed to vote for the extension of cap-and-trade final 12 months–though she didn’t vote in favor of S.B. 1, the fuel tax. On the BART assembly final August to debate the parking construction, board members have been unsure the place her promised $20 million was coming from and whether or not it was restricted to a parking construction or could possibly be used for one thing else. However they knew one factor:

Each Saltzman and [BART] Normal Supervisor Grace Crunican quoted latest conversations that they had with CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly, who cautioned them that use of the $20 million was solely on the discretion of Assemblymember Baker.

Assemblymember Baker insists that “That is higher than any choice BART ever may have offered,” in keeping with the Pleasanton Weekly. “This construction may have extra areas, and price much less cash than what BART ever thought of doing, and will likely be a state-of the-art construction that can be utilized for business functions or housing ought to the necessity for parking sometime subside.”

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