Tag Archives: MTC

Sustainable Future for Oakland: Students Care

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by Anthony Beron

Oakland High senior Kasey Saeturn relies on the bus for the long trek to school every day. It’s already overcrowded and unreliable.

Her nightmare could end: an alternative plan known as Scenario 5 could make Oakland more “sustainable” while investing more money in buses to restore service to levels that existed in the past, she told  at an environmental impact report hearing on April 16.

“Buses are overcrowded,” she said.  She also supports “eco-friendly buses.”

Saeturn was one of several students to testify at the hearing about the Environmental Impact Report, which analyzed several alternatives to Plan Bay Area.

In their testimony, students supported Alternative 5, touted as “the environmentally superior alternative,”  which would decrease greenhouse gases and particulate pollution that triggers asthma. It would also budget more money for affordable housing and buses.

The other students were graduates of McClymonds, Street Academy and Bentley high school, who are now attending college. The Rose Foundation’s summer program “New Voices Are Rising” had stirred interest in the plan.

Woody Little, a student at UC Berkeley who grew up in Rockridge, urged that any plan avoid displacing people from their current neighborhoods and create more affordable housing.

Plan Bay Area is a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. It includes the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan (updated by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission), and the Association of Bay Area Governments’ demographic and economic forecast.

This is the first time legislation is asking MTC and ABAG to adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, which will coordinate land use and transportation in the regional transportation plan. The aim is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light-duty trucks in the nine-county region.  If the plan succeeds in getting people out of their cars, there would be more people riding buses and BART.

Pamela Tapia, a McClymonds graduate, told the story of her family’s displacement: that her mother now has to travel four hours to work and spends $60 a day. “The EIR fails to factor in the impact of gentrification on housing costs in neighborhoods that historically have been home to low-income residents.” Another McClymonds graduate, Devilla Ervin, talked about his foster mother having to move to Sacramento to find affordable housing.

Brenda Barron, who graduated from Street Academy and now attends San Francisco State, testified about changes in transportation: there are no buses near her home after 10 pm. She said that public transit  should be more affordable and frequent  and matters to younger people.

Another public hearing is scheduled in Fremont on May 1 at 6 pm at the Mirage Ballroom.

Oakland Students Testify for Better Transportation and More Low-Income Housing

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by Brenda Barron

Street Academy

It took courage, patience (waiting for four hours and through chanting by the Tea Party) and brevity (each speaker allowed one minute or 60 seconds).

Despite the hurdles, three students from Oakland public high schools testified for better transportation and more low income housing last Thursday at a heated 4 ½-hour meeting hosted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

No action was taken but the two groups unanimously voted to move forward with a deeply flawed draft of the “One Bay Area” plan, a $277 billion transportation and housing plan in the nine-county Bay Area that must also help meet greenhouse gas reduction targets set in California SB 375.

As one of the students and as a senior at Emiliano Zapata Street Academy. I spoke publicly about many problems in the community and the change that is needed.

I talked about taking public transportation since I was five years old when I started riding the bus to my mom’s work. I never thought transportation was a big deal until I grew up,  but it has changed a lot since I was five.

In the last few years, bus lines have been cut and changed so often that people get confused about which lines go to which place. People do not want see bus service cut. They want to see more bus routes, and more frequent buses.

Many people take buses because it costs less than BART, but BART takes you farther, and goes faster.   I would like to see the BART and buses cost less, especially for the young people — because we go to school and most of us don’t have jobs, so we can’t afford it. I would like to see more clean buses and BART.

Other speakers (including McClymonds graduate Devilla Ervin) pointed out flaws in the plan considered: that it does not restore  lost transit service, does not protect people from displacement, does not protect people from diesel fumes and does not create new affordable housing for people who live there.

Oakland Tech student Tanika O’Guinn and Street Academy student Eliezer Mendoza also spoke.

Pamela Tapia, a graduate from McClymonds, also representing New Voices Are Rising, talked about her own homelessness after her family lost its housing and was forced to relocate.

“My family in West Oakland lost our apartment,” Tapia said. “My mom was supporting three people on a minimum-wage job. She and my sister moved to Stockton but I had to choose between going with them and dropping out of school or staying here. The explosion of luxury homes has pushed out low-income people. As a homeless teen, I want to tell you to stop the displacement,” Tapia said.