TransForm (formally the Transportation and Land Use Coalition) recognized very early on that Measure KK is really about process and not whether or not voters agree with the concept of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). If approved it would further delay an already exhaustive public process in Berkeley, and we encourage Daily Planet readers to vote “no” on KK.
Proponents of Measure KK wrongfully claim that it will make decisions on transit more democratic. They feel the measure is needed because the City Council is not listening to them. In fact the City Council has heard their concerns. However, proponents of Measure KK wanted the City Council to take dedicated transit lanes out of all future discussions, without further analysis to see if claims of intolerable impacts on traffic and parking would be true or not. Measure KK proponents are making judgments before a final study has been completed, and they expect the City Council to do the same. When it became clear that the City would not make the same judgments without further analysis, and were likely going to continue the study of the impacts of dedicated lanes, they claimed that the process was not “democratic enough” and acted to put Measure KK on the ballot.
We disagree with them, and trust that upon a quick summary of the process to date, you will too.
According to AC Transit’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), over a three year period from 1999 to 2002, AC Transit prepared a Major Investment Study (MIS) of the Berkeley–Oakland– San Leandro corridor to examine alternatives for improved transit service. The study was a public-driven process that included public outreach meetings. Three advisory committees were established, including a Community Advisory Committee to provide policy and technical guidance. The conclusions of that study would be the basis for what would be explored in the Draft Environmental Impact Report.
During the MIS study, the Berkeley City Council (then led by Mayor Shirley Dean), publicly adopted a city policy to give BRT—with dedicated lanes—priority on Telegraph Ave.
In May of 2007 AC Transit released the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for BRT and held three public meetings where the concept of BRT was presented and comments were recorded from the general public about the DEIR for a total of 45 days. All the comments still being made now by the Measure KK proponents were made at that time, and AC Transit is obligated by law to address them in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).
The City Council is still working out how and where BRT would operate in Berkeley, to include where dedicated lanes would exist, where stops would be located, what downtown streets BRT would take to turn around before heading southbound, etc. (See the Planning Commission Agenda for Oct. 29, 2008, in addition to several meetings and workshops that have already taken place.) An unknown number of future public meetings remain to be held before the City Council finalizes a vision of BRT in Berkeley for AC Transit to study (called a “Locally Preferred Alternative”). The results of AC Transit’s study would then be reported in the FEIR, which would also be released to the public, re-starting almost the entire process all over again before final approval by the City Council and the AC Trasit Board of Directors. Clearly, BRT is far from a “done deal”—as opponents often claim.
But wait. If Measure KK passes, there’s more.
If Measure KK were to pass, upon the City Council's approval of the FEIR, planning staff would then be required to do another study of the impacts of the proposed BRT project. The results of that study would then be released and voters would be expected to evaluate the study and cast an informed vote on approval (or not) of the dedicated lanes in the next election, or in a special election, if necessary.
As anyone can see, this process has already been encumbered enough. Requiring a whole new study and a public vote undermines staff time, public input and processes that have occurred to date, and are still yet to come. Perhaps most ridiculous of all is the fact that approval for modifications to the street for the travel or parking of private cars requires a fraction of the aforementioned process. Why didn’t Measure KK include those processes? It is this beleaguering of transit improvements alone that have led the long list of elected officials and organizations to take a “No on Measure KK” position. We hope you’ll join us.
Joel Ramos is a member of TransForm.