Answers to El Cerrito Strollers & Rollers local questions:
Question 1: Access to BART stations
Getting to El Cerrito BART from the hills or from neighborhoods west of San Pablo Avenue cannot be easily done except by driving a car. Plans are underway to repurpose BART parking lots to provide housing, retail, and other civic uses. How would you support affordable, lower-carbon BART access by means that would require fewer parking spaces at BART?
I hope to address El Cerrito’s last-mile problem and decrease emissions from local car traffic by working with the current Richmond Moves pilot program to expand its EV-on- demand rideshare service into El Cerrito, and working to provide micro-mobility options (scooters, bikes, and e-bikes) throughout the city. I will also fight to ensure the new Plaza BART housing development includes a staffed bike station; a shared EV and E-bike program; and ubiquitous EV charging access.
Question 2: Travel on San Pablo Avenue
A “strode” is a large, auto-oriented arterial that attempts to combine the functions of both street and highway. Despite having many useful destinations, strodes do not feel safe to travel on except by car and they prevent safe travel across them by bicycle and walking from neighborhood to neighborhood; they are also where the great majority of roadway deaths and major injuries occur. San Pablo Avenue can be described as a strode. What kinds of changes would you support for San Pablo Avenue so that it is safer to bicycle and walk on, both along and across?
I strongly support the “complete streets” community vision articulated in the 2014 San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan: a vibrant, walkable, sustainable, and transit-oriented boulevard that respects surrounding neighborhoods and creates a virtuous cycle of local economic activity and investment.
Greening El Cerrito requires transforming this 20th century auto-based highway corridor into a 21st century civic boulevard. Specifically, that means implementing:
• widened sidewalks to encourage pedestrian activity and enhanced place-making for local businesses;
• protected bikeways to improve safety and encourage a transportation modal shift from automobiles to health- and environment-enhancing cycling;
• mid-block crossings on large blocks to improve pedestrian flow;
• Bus Rapid Transit with a dedicated lane, to encourage a transportation shift from automobiles to walking and public transit (by expediting transit travel times and frequency);
• public art to increase civic pride and improve local place-making;
• urban agriculture to increase local food security, strengthen biodiversity, and provide opportunities for community collaboration and engagement;
• stormwater planters and bioswales to improve groundwater recharging, stormwater filtration and greening of the public space;
• more street trees to improve air quality, slow traffic, and lower heat island effects; and more small, locally-owned businesses to improve economic vitality and civic pride.
Question 3: El Cerrito's authority to effect change
San Pablo Avenue goes through several cities, but efforts to make it less exclusively auto-oriented are often met with the argument that it is a state highway, and that the communities along the way have little authority to change it. How much power and authority do you feel El Cerrito truly has to make positive changes to San Pablo Avenue?
While it is true that San Pablo Avenue is controlled by Caltrans, the good news is that Caltrans in recent years has committed to working collaboratively with cities for design changes to highways that also function as Main Streets, such as San Pablo Avenue.
This includes flexibility in highway design standards to make a multimodal roadway that is safe for all users, not exclusively for cars, and that is better suited to other community objectives. The Caltrans manual Main Streets, California (3rd edition, 2013) includes policies and guidelines that Caltrans will follow in working with cities on roadway redesign. The manual also includes examples of many such projects throughout the state. It is absolutely possible to reimagine San Pablo Avenue as a community boulevard, and I am committed to implementing that vision!
Question 4: Financial sustainability
In order to finance the infrastructure-heavy demands of automobiles, communities frequently rely on various taxing and bond measures. At the same time, there is ample evidence that creating walkable urbanism will generate wealth that can be taxed to support necessary infrastructure. What will you do to move El Cerrito toward a financially sustainable urban form that reaps the benefits of walkability?
San Pablo Avenue is filled with empty lots and empty commercial buildings, squandering valuable space that should be used by small local businesses to provide local services, keep our dollars local, and boost the city’s tax revenues. I support implementing a commercial vacancy tax, to send a market signal to landlords that these properties must be put to use. I also support a design review process for new mixed-use development that prioritizes small, affordable ground-floor commercial spaces, to ensure small-scale local entrepreneurs have access to this new infrastructure to grow their businesses.