January 6, 2010

Your monthly pass to more wonderful, walkable communities.

Here at TransForm, we’re feeling excited about the New Year.

We’ve got a brand new lineup of events full of fun, learning, and networking: TransForays, TransForums, and a TransFormal.  (Most of these events are free with your TransForm membership!) 

We’re also excited because we believe this is the year we will fundamentally change how the Bay Area and California grow and how people get around.  Check out five things TransForm will work on in 2010 to make world-class public transportation and walkable communities the norm, not the exception. 

And we’ve got more exciting news and events for you below:

  • RSVP now for the January 23 TransForay and go behind-the-scenes
  • Share your ideas for innovative ways to reduce how much people drive
  • New report shows investing in public transportation creates more jobs than highways
  • Disastrous Oakland Airport Connector approved, but one hope remains for a better project
  • 11 new projects will make it safer to get to public transportation
  • Help transform bus service in Oakland
  • Learn what our aging population means for land use and public transportation on January 8
  • January 19 and 25 forums take on the challenges of achieving higher density
  • Get the lowdown on climate change and smart growth at a Sacramento symposium and the Bay Area League Day, both on January 30

RSVP now for the January 23 TransForay and go behind-the-scenes

Our first TransForay will take you on a tour of uptown Oakland and the area around Lake Merritt BART for a look at what's transforming these areas into more wonderful, walkable places.  Experts will lead us in exploring and discussing the Uptown Apartments development, the Fox Theater, the newly-created arts district, key local businesses, and more.  We'll go behind-the-scenes at both the Uptown development and the Fox Theater.

The tour kicks off at 10am on Saturday, January 23 at Awaken Café in downtown Oakland (414 14th Street) and will end promptly at 12:30pm (with an optional lunch in Chinatown). TransForays are free for TransForm members and $5 for non-members.  Register for the TransForay by January 22.

Share your ideas for innovative ways to reduce how much people drive

In December, after two years of advocacy efforts, the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) designated $80 million for a first-in-the-nation regional grants program to fight climate change by funding innovative strategies to reduce driving.  What a victory!

Some of the funding is already designated for things like bringing Safe Routes to Schools programs to hundreds of schools in the Bay Area, which is great.  But about half of funding will be distributed in a competitive grant program for new or proven innovative ways to reduce driving.  Post your ideas for innovative ways to reduce driving, which we’ll share with MTC and use to inspire cities and agencies to apply for funding.

New report shows investing in public transportation creates more jobs than highways

A report just released shows that in the first ten months of stimulus spending, investments in public transportation created twice as many jobs per dollar as investments in highways.  Unfortunately, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a new job creation bill that is dramatically skewed towards road projects.  We are working with the Transportation For America campaign to make sure the new report's findings shape what's funded in the jobs bill and the $500 billion transportation bill to be considered later this year.  Read the report by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Smart Growth America, and U.S. PIRG.

Disastrous Oakland Airport Connector approved, but one hope remains for a better project

Sadly and despite valiant efforts, a terrible Oakland Airport Connector project was approved last month by the BART Board of Directors.  This $492,000,000 project will attract a mere 600 additional riders per day over current AirBART service, go just 23 miles/hour, and likely cost riders $6 each way on top of their BART fare.  It will have no local stops, making it a lost opportunity to improve public transportation service near the airport for Oakland workers and residents.  The project also puts current BART service at risk by taking millions in funding that could have gone towards the deteriorating core BART system.  

There is still hope for a better project.  Public Advocates filed a civil rights complaint in behalf of TransForm, Urban Habitat, and Genesis on the impacts on the East Oakland community.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is now investigating the project.  We'll continue watchdogging and want to thank the many people who spoke out for a better project.  Read more about the final hearing.

11 new projects will make it safer to get to public transportation

The Safe Routes to Transit program (administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition) just awarded $4 million for projects across the Bay Area that will make it safer and easier to walk to bicycle to public transportation. 

Check out what was funded, including a bike-sharing project in the South Bay, a plan for a bike/ped crossing of Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, and other projects across the region.  Funding for the program comes from Regional Measure 2, the one-dollar bridge toll increase for public transportation passed by voters in 2004.  

Help transform bus service in Oakland

If you live, work, or ever take public transportation in Oakland, you've got a chance to make bus service faster and more reliable.  Bus Rapid Transit, with its dedicated lanes, state-of-the-art buses, and other key features, is pending approval in Oakland. Join TransForm at a community meeting on January 11, 12, 21, 26, 27, or 28 to give input on the proposed Bus Rapid Transit route in Oakland and speak out in support of better bus service.

Learn what our aging population means for land use and public transportation on January 8

Don't miss Don Weden (a retired Santa Clara County planner) discuss what the approaching tsunami of senior citizens could mean for cities and suburbs.  Can we harness smart growth and public transportation to make places more "senior friendly" so those who no longer drive can still lead active, independent lives?  Hear Don at the Santa Clara Central Library on January 8 at 11am; the event is free and open to the public.

January 19 and 25 forums take on the challenges of achieving higher density

On January 19 discuss "eco-regionalism" and transit-oriented development at "The Rub About Density", an event being held in San Francisco by Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility.  Get insights from Richard Brenneman (journalist), Steve Noack (Community Design & Environment) and Mark Farrar (Millennium Partners; Pleasant Hill BART Transit Village).  Register now.

On January 25 at the Aurora Theater, attend a 7pm forum on what Berkeley's new downtown plan means for transit-oriented development locally plus the lessons it holds for the Bay Area as a whole.  Speakers include Berkeley Council Members Jesse Arrequin and Laurie Capitelli, plus Joel Ramos of TransForm.

Get the lowdown on climate change and smart growth at a Sacramento symposium and the Bay Area League Day, both on January 30

TransForm's very own Jeff Hobson will be on a panel about how to make transit-oriented development happen at the Planning and Conservation League's 2010 Symposium, "Greening California's Landscapes: Smart Solutions for a New Era."  Learn about and discuss solutions on a wide range of environmental issues in California at the January 30 symposium – register now!

Join the League of Women Voters of the Bay Area on Saturday, January 30 in Oakland for an in-depth look at the relationship between smart growth and climate change, with a specific emphasis on SB 375, the state’s new smart growth law.  Speakers and sessions will go in-depth on air quality, transportation, housing, and land use.  Register by January 21 for just $15 (or $25 with lunch).