Sound walls overdue, needed in Rockridge
I am delighted that at long last, our lower Rockridge neighborhood will have a chance to get sound walls to reduce the ever-present freeway noise we live with 24/6.
For years, my neighbors and I have tried to get sound walls, but Caltrans had no interest in responding to the noise pollution they created when they built Highway 24 through the middle of this dense neighborhood. The building of the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel made Caltrans have to listen to us, and we were glad that the settlement with Oakland included funding for some sound wall studies.
The fact is, Caltrans would never be allowed to build a freeway like this now, with no sound protection, so all we're asking for is the same consideration given to large suburban housing tracts, protected by giant sound walls even though the nearest home is sometimes 1,000 feet from the freeway. In Rockridge, we have homes that are 20 feet from the freeway. And our beloved Frog Park is built under the freeway, affected not only by the extraordinary noise overhead, but also by falling debris. Both of these problems would be solved with sound walls, and would make the area much more pleasurable for all of us.
The "My Word" column by Mr. Gabel was way off the mark and certainly does not represent the feelings of many of us in lower Rockridge who welcome the chance to get sound walls. We know that these are not going
Our neighbors think sound walls are necessary, given the decibel readings reported near the freeway among our homes. We're the ones who hear the constant freeway noise when we're outside gardening, playing with children or having a family meal. This is a very good use of the Caltrans settlement funding. It seems that this noise doesn't bother Mr. Gabel ... lucky him. But his opposition to sound walls shouldn't prevent the rest of us from expressing our support for sound walls to reduce noise for those of us who actually live near the freeway.
Brunner: Sound walls are up to community
I'm responding to Jon Gabel's Sept. 14 opinion piece on sound walls in order to set the record straight. First off, I've never taken a position on sound walls or whether to study them along the freeway through the Rockridge/Temescal neighborhood. The decision to study or build sound walls is a community decision and I'll support what the community decides.
Let's be clear where we are in the process. When it was initially proposed, the fourth bore project raised a number of concerns in the community about increased noise, degraded air quality, and local traffic congestion.
I helped negotiate an agreement between Caltrans, the city of Oakland, and the community in which Caltrans agreed to provide $8 million for enhancements to ameliorate the impacts of increased traffic from the fourth bore. Traffic signals, sidewalk improvements, bicycle improvements and sound walls studies are all qualifying projects for the use of these funds.
Following this agreement with Caltrans, the city initiated an extensive community process to produce a prioritized project list, which contained sound wall studies. Many of the projects on the list, including the sound wall studies, require more community engagement before proceeding.
I have no problem with Gabel's opposition to sound walls and the community meeting has been organized to obtain his opinion and the opinion of everyone else concerned. However, he proceeded to bring my campaign for city attorney into the discussion. He cited the fact that I criticized my opponent, the appointed city attorney, for receiving $35,000 (28 percent) of her campaign contributions from lawyers in law firms that have received over $8 million in outside contracts from her office. She gave those contracts out without any oversight by the city administrator or the City Council. She made the decision alone, leading to the perception of a 'Pay to Play' mentality.
Then, Mr. Gable went on to suggest that my extensive union and business support was somehow relevant to sound walls and would influence my decisions. I'm very proud of the support I'm getting from the Oakland Police Officers Association, the Oakland Fire Fighters, the Alameda Labor Council, the Building Trades Council, and many businesses, but this has nothing to do with sound walls. I'm not taking a position on the sound wall question. And I don't have the capability to give a contract to anyone.
Let's keep our facts straight and not get sidetracked. Let's make a good decision about fourth bore mitigations, including whether to study sound walls or not. I'll support the outcome of the community process.
Oakland City Council, North Oakland
Public safety needn't suffer if tax not OK'd
Last week's newspaper had several letters from opponents and proponents of Measure Y, the measure to renew Piedmont's parcel tax that will be on the November ballot.
I think the passion in both letters can be attributed to the expectation that Piedmont's excellent public services be preserved for our community. Eric Lindquist sees unsustainable city fringe benefit policies as a threat to those services, whereas Karen Barbieri is concerned that failure to renew the tax will lead to service reductions. Voters should read the reports of the Municipal Tax Review Committee and Budget Advisory and Planning Committee, two committees of volunteers who reviewed the city's financial status and provided recommendations to City Council regarding renewal of the tax.
These reports can be reviewed at www.ci.piedmont.ca.us.
Two points in Karen Barbieri's letter need to be clarified. The Direct Argument opposed to Measure Y cites Blair Park and undergrounding as poor examples of city spending but does not outright oppose these developments. There has been no projection from the city that failure to renew Measure Y will lead to reductions in public safety services. Indeed, funds committed to long-term maintenance of city facilities and contractual services would likely be diverted to cover any temporary suspension of the parcel tax.
Council chambers, streets uncontrolled
Anarchy made additional inroads into the civic life of Oakland on Sept. 18, when our City Council was unable to convene because a gang of arrogant, obnoxious, belligerent fools refused to stop screaming and chanting, and the result is that democracy loses and the unraveling of civility and due process in Oakland continues unabated.
Had our council been able to conduct our business, we would have once again learned that our Police Department has no firm, organized, well defined strategy to combat crime in Oakland.
Mayor Jean Quan asserts that contrary to this declaration by the Police Department that in fact "we have many strategies to combat crime."
In the vernacular of the common man, "many strategies" means that there is no strategy, as "many" is imprecise, unidentifiable and enables a culture of irresponsibility and unaccountability. Many strategies will result in bad results.
Our politicians are profoundly incapable of organizing intelligent, rational and realistic strategies and methodologies that can lead to long-term improvements. They are very accomplished at dissembling and equivocating to degrees that serve only their self-interest and do absolutely nothing constructive or proactive that could benefit the hardworking taxpayers in Oakland.
If these folks cannot even control their own chambers so that a democratically elected representative body can conduct their work, how are they going to effectively combat and defeat the out-of-control criminality and mindless savagery that is destroying our city?
Jonathan C. Breault