Traffic in the Bay Area is horrific. People are regularly dealing with commutes of an hour or two. As I’m caught in this traffic myself all I can think is “This is no way to live.” The impact of traffic on people’s lives and on the environment is enormous.
The problem we have is a massive jobs / housing imbalance. Historically, commercial developers have preferred to locate in Silicon Valley, the Peninsula or in San Francisco. Similarly, residential developers have preferred East Bay cities like Fremont, Dublin and Livermore. This has been happening for decades.
Unfortunately, this trend is only getting worse. There are many large commercial developments already under construction on the Peninsula, and many large residential developments under construction in the East Bay, as pictured here.
I’ve represented the City of Fremont on the Alameda County Transportation Commission and have heard some of the proposed remedies for the problem. They usually involve very expensive transportation solutions and avoid the main problem, the jobs / housing imbalance.
Recently, there’s been talk of a ‘mega-measure’ that would issue $ 100 Billion (!) to do transportation improvements throughout the Bay Area. While the list of improvements would be nice (and maybe even look as nice as the futuristic drawing below), this is an enormous price tag.
If this or a similar bond measure passes, as it likely will, we have to make sure that Southern Alameda County gets its fair share of this money. Two of the worst commutes in the Bay Area, I-880 and I-680, are here and the current transit options are lacking. Transit proposals like Valley Link and Dumbarton Rail must be considered.
Another cheaper solution would be to provide economic incentives for employers to move to the East Bay or to build more affordable housing in Silicon Valley. These would be much more cost-effective ways of reducing traffic than major infrastructure investments.
Better Local Planning Too
In City Planning they talk about good development being ‘mixed use’. The photo below shows a part of Dublin east of Tassajara Road. This entire area is residential except for the schools and parks. That means that almost every trip to work, every trip to a local retail store, will mean that people have to leave this area. Given the scale of the development, almost all of these trips will be via the automobile. Of course, the reason for this poorly planned development, is that it maximized profits for the developers.
I was the only Fremont City Councilmember that stood up to the developers when they wanted to put primarily residential development near the Warm Springs BART station. We had an opportunity to do a state of the art example of mixed-use development near transit. This was an enormous mixed opportunity.