|Design Committee, minutes on BRT, your comments please Feb 10, 2004
Minutes of the meeting following that at which Jim Cunradi appeared. Includes a list of recommendations on BRT by the Design Committee. These look as relevant as ever.
|BRT draft letter 2/10/04
Draft of a proposed letter to mayor and city council urging that the city hire a temporary planner/route engineer. Bruce wrote this first draft to get the task rolling. This probably was never sent.
|Re: Proposal for Design Subcommittee's "product" 7/11/2005
Early draft of Bruce's "downtown visioning", contained in an attachment by Dorit.
|FW: Can we talk about DAP & visioning? How about Friday afternoon? 9/27/2005
Response from city staff to Deborah's proposal to meet and talk about downtown visioning.
|Re: Response/"Marching orders" from Mark, Raudel 10/17/2005
Draft of a letter to be signed by DBA president Raudel Wilson to mayor and city council urging that DBA be seated on DAPAC. I do not think this letter was ever sent.
|Jamie's center street sketch session 10/20/2006
About Jamie's proposed sketch session to author alternatives for center street in anticipation of DBA's appearance before DAPAC's Center Street subcommittee.
|Center Street Modelled Schematic Alternatives / Meeting Thursday 10/25/2006
Introduction to the 3D modeled alternative scenarios for a creek excavation in Center Street.
|Center Street Agenda & Consensus Points 10/26/2006 from Matt Taecker
Agenda for the October 26 meeting of the DAPAC Center Street subcommittee.
|ConsensusPts-CenterStr-61005.doc (attachment 10/26/06)
"Consensus Points" for the October 26 meeting of the DAPAC Center Street subcommittee.
|Design Co, Tues, Nov 14, 8:30am, DBA Office 11/6/2006
Design Committee's response to the City's TRANSIT ZONE URBAN DESIGN PLAN. We were asked by the city to comment. So the design committee dedicated time to its review and formally recorded comments, typed and polished by Deborah. Because almost none of the work has been done these comments remain of interest.
Compendium of DBA's thinking and positions regarding BRT, prepared by B. Wicinas for DAPAC "BRT Subcommittee"
|DEIS response jnr dft2 062607.doc June 26, 2007|
This is the DBA board's formal response to the BRT DEIR, addressed to Jim Cunradi of AC transit.
|Design Committee, minutes on BRT, your comments please Feb 10, 2004|
| Hi Ben, John, Austene, Dorit, Pat, Bruce and Ted:
Here are my minutes of the meeting. Please let me know if there are any changes. This content will inform the letter to go to the City. If anything is missing here, please let me know. Bruce started a draft of a letter, and I'll be working on it as soon as I hear back from you all on this content.
Thank you, Deborah Downtown Berkeley Association
DESIGN COMMITTEE MINUTES February 10, 2004 ______________________________________________________________________
Committee: Dorit Fromm, Ben Grant, Austene Hall, Pat Hanscom, John Roberts, Bruce Wicinas
Guests: Ted Burton
Prepared by: Deborah Badhia MINUTES January 2004 Minutes were approved.
BUS RAPID TRANSIT
The Design Committee looks forward to a world class transportation system to serve our district. The proposed project will have a big and long-term impact, changing the landscape for the next 25 years. Due to the scope of the project, its success will depend on the ability of the system to enhance the pedestrian experience.
The committee strong recommends are 1. That project requirements be set before design decisions are made. It is important to take into account the requirements of stakeholders such as bus riders, pedestrians, disabled, landscapers and tree people, business community, delivery vendors, bicyclists, emergency vehicles, traffic flow, etc. The scope of this project is very large, and could easily overwhelm the landscape of downtown. It must be user friendly, and contribute positively to the landscape to ensure the vitality of the system, and of the business community that hosts it. If lanes are to be removed, then traffic counts are needed to determine impact. 4. That the DESIGN of the system ensure that the human experience will be positive and make the quality of the urban realm equal to or better than the current situation with features to include: a. Pedestrian crossings are safe and have places of "refuge" including for disabled. A person alone at night should not feel vulnerable in the "middle of the street". b. The stations allow easy sight lines to the buidings and businesses across the street. c. The pedestrian zones on the edges will be reinforced and enhanced. (will other bus stops still be there?). The central median is less precious than the edge. Parking pockets are important. And, the landscaping of the sidewalk area is important. d. The "end of the line" be integrated with the BART station and our downtown transit hub (and potential new hotel/conference center), and serve those who are at the "start" of their journey as well. The information in the recent TLC grant application should be considered for recommendations for the Plaza area. e. The downtown should not be "chopped in half". 5. That the system will enhance the economic development of the business districts on its route through the design features mentioned above, and by ensuring that the route will serve those who need and want to visit downtown as visitors and as employees. 6. That the system become an effective transportation link to other areas of the City and region especially connecting with other BRT lines on the San Pablo corridor and with the BART. East/west corridors are underserved by transit. If there are not effective links, then the ridership will suffer. The Design Committee recommendations are that: a. That the City assign staff or hire a consultant to ensure that the design decisions are made with this care in mind. Perhaps local experts on great streets could be utilized to help develop the plans such as Alan Jacobs, or other UC affiliates. b. That AC Transit take into account the stakeholder requirments when making final project decisions. ACTION DBA send a letter to the City of Berkeley with our recommendations. DBA send a letter to AC Transit after the public hearing to ensure all comments are integrated in our communications. DBA invite Jim Cunradi to a DBA Board meeting to present on the topic. DBA consider coordination of an Urban Design Plan for the transportation systems. DBA consider setting up a design charrette and plan that at our March meeting. DBA send the updated Retail Development Strategy to all Design Committee members.
NEXT MEETING: March 9, 2004, DBA Office
|BRT draft letter 2/10/04|
Bruce draft 2/10/04
I had some "waiting" time near a computer so I took a shot at this while I was still wound up. I assume close-to-zero knowledge of the scheme on the part of the reader, which is good to assume I think, so the letter can be read by anyone. The point of view is "citizen," and hence may not be quite appropriate to a letter purporting to be from DBA. But - maybe this can be fused with your part; then we can run it around by e-mail to the others, and thereby get useful.
To Mayor, Council Members, City Manager, …..
To accommodate BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) in Berkeley 's downtown, AC transit is going to completely rearrange traffic lanes, medians, diagonal parking, pedestrian crossing features and streetscaping. In other words, the physical arrangement of Shattuck Avenue and of some connecting streets will soon be drastically altered. This will completely change the character of the core of Downtown, forever altering the flow of cars, pedestrians and busses, the interaction of these, and the feeling and character of the street.
These changes can be done in positive way, one which enhances the quality and function of downtown. Or they can be negative, “killing” the viability of downtown by turning it into a place everyone avoids. The outcome is completely a function of the design.
AC planners have prepared alternate scenarios for the new transit lanes. Their presentation shows maps, street section drawings and photo-realistic computer graphic renderings. They clearly show the mechanical possibilities but do not take much account of the human considerations and quality-of-experience subtleties. Of course, the problem AC must solve is largely a matter of engineering – how to fit the new transit while accommodating regular traffic, pedestrians and parking.
The City of Berkeley has a lot more at stake, and the citizens of Berkeley care about more than engineering considerations.
To make certain that the dramatic changes to downtown Berkeley wrought by this are acceptable to the residents and businesses of Berkeley the Downtown Berkeley Association Design Subcommittee recommends that the City immediately commence its own comprehensive planning effort so that it is not forced to merely select one of the AC engineering alternatives. This will require the hiring by the City of a designer who can coordinate a process as well as to create designs. The person must have professional background in urban design and transportation, relevant to this kind of problem. He/she must also have administrative and public process skills so that public input can be adequately accommodated and the input of experts can be incorporated. There are many experts in our local community but their input cannot be solicited and put to use without accompanying staff work. He/she must be able to work effectively with the AC professional staff. Besides serving as coordinator and designer, he/she will be the visible advocate for the design interests of the City of Berkeley .
This position should be of one year's duration, not permanent. A year should be sufficient to accomplish the critical mission. But it is very important to start immediately. With each month that passes the option for influencing the plans of AC are reduced. If much time goes by – such as if the whole issue is relegated to Berkeley 's Commissions – we will lose the opportunity to have a say about anything beyond cosmetics like “choices of paving.”
It may be possible to designate a person already on the City staff to assume this. But it's unlikely any current staff person can immediately drop their entire workload to give this 100% attention. The likelihood of success would be higher with the hiring of an outside person.
This probably entails a one-time City expenditure of $100,000 or more, depending on the amount of staff support, the money allocating for outside consultants, etc. Perhaps some of the money can be had from AC, but obviously they must not “own” the process or they will own the outcome. We're aware of the budget woe of the City at present. But that is a transient woe. This fundamental change to the heart of Berkeley being fashioned by AC engineers will be “permanent.” That is, it will be Berkeley 's downtown for the next 25 years. The duty of city leaders is to recognize a once-in-a-generation opportunity to author a lasting improvement and avoid an enduring mistake. So the necessary resources need be allocated in a timely way. This is a huge “prize” which the city can have for little investment. The capital funding for these changes – which is extremely large – is all coming via AC. The city need only put up the planning money.
The “budget” hard times will not be forever, but this opportunity will not be around when they're gone.
|Re: Proposal for Design Subcommittee's "product" 7/11/2005|
O.K., Deborah. Avery threw down the "gauntlet." Here is my response. I am 100% serious about this.
My intention is to run this past a successively larger audience until somebody persuasively argues it is a bad idea OR until numerous and varied people agree it is a good idea. If you are not the one who "persuasively argues it is a bad idea" I'd propose we next run this past all the regularly attending members of the Design Subcommittee. The Board would be the next step but only after the subcommittee has its chance to shoot it down.
Suggestions are welcome.
"VISIONING A DOWNTOWN" PROPOSAL
Un-vetted Draft 7/11/2005 · Please do not forward
The present moment is a "critical passage" for Berkeley's downtown. Several great changes are in motion. Hundreds of units of new downtown housing are under construction. Off-street parking has been substantially reduced by accident, not by design. In the near future U.C. will presumably move ahead with its vast downtown hotel, conference center and museum complex. The initiative to daylight Strawberry Creek has not been funded but is still championed by its advocates. Most potentially wrenching is the "Bus Rapid Transit" system on AC Transit drawing boards. This will radically rearrange central downtown Shattuck Avenue. In spite of all the development money being expended in downtown - and regardless of what the Mayor's office says - downtown is languishing, not decisively advancing. See's Candies and other businesses are still turning over and there are numerous downtown vacancies.
Probably not since BART went in has the need for a downtown master design been greater. The present mayor, like most elected officials, is not very design-cognitive and has not put a high priority on it. Most people are un-initiated to how design happens and how it exerts consequence. The City bureaucracy is "swamped,"and its charge provides for authoring design codes but not for launching major design initiatives.
Why, in spite of the great potential-laden clouds floating over Berkeley, has Downtown failed to advance on a track toward something splendid?
It does not take long to learn the answer. If you speak to seasoned planning professionals in both government and in private firms who consult to cities and to developers you quickly learn.
What should downtown "be"? Does Berkeley really want a "Downtown?"
In other words, a master plan for downtown is denied us because there is no widely-owned vision for downtown. It it possible that world-class design input could be had, perhaps even for free, if only designers were assured of a mission to inform their effort. Pent-up reservoirs of talent and creativity - perhaps a lightning bolt of design innovation - would be deployment given an assured direction.
I propose that the DBA Design Subcommittee, with and only with the blessing of the DBA board and of the City and the requisite pledges of support from local press and from sources of some modest funds, commence a highly excercise "visioning" excercise. The DBA Design Submittee, being an unknown, unaligned, powerless, non-advocacy group with resources including professional expertise, voices reflecting a range of aspects of downtown, and staff support, is will suited to initiate this project.
Experience with many public input processes, such as the many in which the School District has engaged since the passage of its 1992 bond measure, has repeatedly demonstrated the Berkeley population has abundant capacity to author its own visions and is apt to prefer its inventions over any "bought" from outside professionals.
"VISIONING EXERCISE" PROPOSAL
Step One - Written Submissions
The DBA Design Subcommittee sponsors a city-wide "Visioning Downtown" contest. Citizens and organizations are solicited to submit a written "vision" for Berkeley Downtown. The submissions must conform to a few parameters, to be determined. For example they must respect some common sense basics of economics, demographics, etc - "fantasy" is not invited. Length is limited - perhaps to 500 words. Author must be identified, be it organization or individual. The submissions shall be judged by a panel consisting of ___ persons of varied creditials, to be identified and announced beforehand. The 20 (or 10, or whatever number) submissions of "greatest interest" will be published by local press which affords broad consumption by the public - probably the Planet? The submissions who get published might receive some modest "prize" such as gift certificates. Prizes are to make it more "sporting" and to encourage participation by more people than just the rhetorically possessed. Public reaction via letters or e-mail is harvested during a subsequent comment period of an announced duration.
Step Two - Poll of Citizens
Contract a competent scientific poll of the citizens of Berkeley. This presumes that the harvested visions will be "all over the place", or cluster into two or three irreconcilable variations. Rather than igniting a war by drawing new lines of division upon which politicians and activists take sides, we use social science tools to find out where Berkeleyans really stand. BUSD has done this several times in the past 15 years with outstanding success.
Polling is expensive - over $20,000. But the idea should not be disdained on account of this price tag.
Too often Berkeley activists advocate points of view without any intention of determining what citizens really want. The survey follow-up is important and must be advertised from the start as a non-dispensable component. The purpose of the whole exercise is not to unveil "cool ideas" but to identify a vision that the Citizens of Berkeley are willing own, NOT one advocated by "the powers that be," the Mayor, the DBA, the Chamber, the CNA, "Livable Berkeley," Greens, UC, BAHA, BCA, or any other or coalition of other loud factions. Owned by The Populace. For that reason the cost of the survey should be shared by several sponsors representing divergent self-interests so it is not suspect. Perhaps DBA could kick a third to as much as $10,000 of the total cost.
If this process yielded a vision which most of the city can get behind without igniting civil war - it's a "steal."
(Responses by Bruce Wicinas, DBA Design subcommitte.)
Question 1 Any kind of design plan for downtown would need to have a much larger constituency than just DBA.
The DBA is not "the constituency" for this. Such an exercise would accomplish nothing. The goal is to vision something for which the population of Berkeley is the constituency. I think the DBA is fair enough to buy into that, and take that risk. The basic goal of DBA is a vigorous "downtown," and presumably the citizens share this desire. I am not aware that DBA is doggedly wed to any one vision of downtown. Much of DBA consists of very small merchants, and on the DBA board sit more small owners and non-owners than large rich owners. All share commitment to Berkeley.
Question 2 The "powers that be" tend to have ways of making sure poll questions result in predetermined answers.
Yes, but it does not have to invalidate the outcome. We're trying to uncover truth, not fashion a post-decision justification. I worked with BUSD and their polling firm in 1999. I was on the little panel that heard presentations from all the polling firms and made the selection. I would immediately recommend the same firm that BUSD has used on the three successive occasions. I trust them - and they are really competent at this.
Question 3 ...
|FW: Can we talk about DAP & visioning? How about Friday afternoon? 9/27/2005|
Thanks for following up. We could also take the opportunity to introduce you to the City's project manager, Matt Taecker.
Mr. Wicinas' piece is interesting, and contains most or many of the elements one would expect to find in such a process. ...This piece sounds perhaps like a good place for the DBA to sort out what it would like to bring to the broader discussion for the Downtown Area Plan. It could provide a good start. I don't quite see what the end product would be.
wanted to see if we can get together this Friday between 2-4pm with Bruce Wicinas, DBA Design Committee Chair. Here is his URL about his concept for visioning downtown Berkeley. I hope you can take a look (it's pretty short).
I would appreciate your response to it. (hopefully in person). The idea is starting to become more public as people get interested in it.
The Mayor's office was concerned about whether it's redundant with other efforts. At Calvin's advice, I spoke to Rob Wrenn. Based on a short email, Rob appears to be positive about the idea and does'nt seem to think it's redundant, nor conflicting. He had some suggestions for us that we are working on right now.
I still plan to call someone from Livable Berkeley to find out what they are doing. (We hear they want to do a charette). Additionally, we still need to find a few other sponsors to give it the wide credibility and trust that it needs.
This could become a pressure release valve for the City process. If it works out well, we can collect broad public opinion, and figure out how to reflect it within the planning process. The Downtown will gain the trust of many more residents which is crucial to the success of the "renaissance". This could be a way to start the conversation to get more people engaged.
The idea has been floated publicly quite a bit now, so people are starting to talk. It's taking on life now...so want to keep you in the loop. We are talking to a divergent group of people, with many different perspectives.
|Re: Response/"Marching orders" from Mark, Raudel 10/17/2005|
| Dear All,
This is very well said. I appreciate the thought that went into this letter.
Please keep me on the "cc" list for updates.
From: Bruce Wicinas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 2005 14:10:03 -0700
Cc: Derick Miller , Deborah Badhia <email@example.com>, Mark McLeod
Subject: Re: Response/"Marching orders" from Mark, Raudel
I think it would not hurt to send the letter. We definitely need the
council and mayor to hear that the DBA is aware of this task force and that
we think we should have a say in what happens to our Downtown. Is there any
of us who wants to or can commit the time to serve on this commission? I
would hate to make a push for the seats and have no one to fill them. I
haven't heard anyone say they could do it yet.
I think the important issue is for us to make sure we stay informed of the
task force's progression and make sure we attend some of these meetings.
Do not worry, if we're granted the seats we'll cover them somehow. It would be merciful if we were allowed to cover two seats using four people who could tag team one another. That would ease the burden but it may or may not be allowed.
Derick's argument for participating is magnificently well reasoned. All objections must cave before it.
So I shall send it? The following is my effort to reconcile the slightly divergent comments. Please correct text, "To", "From", etc.
Title: DBA Requests Seats on Downtown Design Task Force
To: Mayor Bates and all Council members
From: DBA Executive Council and Design Subcommittee
Raudel Wilson, Mark McLeod, Bruce Wicinas, Dorit Fromm, Austene Hall, Pat Hanscom, John Roberts, Arlene Silk
CC: Deborah Badhia, Mark Rhoades, Matt Taecker
Dear Mayor Bates and Council members,
During our annual work plan discussions, we set the downtown planning process as our primary focus for the next year. This process has our full attention.
We have two concerns: (1) that the Berkeley Downtown Plan of 1990 is being abandoned and (2) that the DBA, an organization representing major stake holders in the downtown, is not sufficiently represented on the task force.
Our understanding is that the downtown planning process will replace the Berkeley Downtown Plan of 1990. We were told that this document will be abandoned and the plan will start from scratch. If this is true, we are concerned. Most individuals familiar with the Berkeley Downtown Plan of 1990 judge that it is mostly still valid. It is not made obsolete by the anticipated city/UC collaboration though parts should be subject to updating. A professional product, its development was very expensive in labor and in calendar time. We believe that it represents a broad constituency and significant professional work. Using it as a starting point for the discussions would be prudent and would take advantage of the significant work that has been done.
We are concerned that the new task force does not have significant DBA representation built in. The DBA represents a large number of stake holders who have a significant interest in the development of the downtown.
It has been suggested that we gain seats through council members, who represent neighborhood based voting constituents. This is not the right chain of accountability. It is important that the residents of Berkeley be represented; it is also important that those who own property and run businesses in the downtown be represented. In a good process, both needs should be fulfilled.
We request that TWO seats be established for DBA representation independent of council member's choice of representatives.
Representatives of the DBA are available to discuss this request at the city's earliest convenience.
Raudel Wilson, President of Downtown Berkeley Association
Mark McLeod, Officer of DBA
Bruce Wicinas, for the entire Design Subcommittee of DBA
|Jamie's center street sketch session 10/20/2006|
To: John Roberts CC: Deborah Badhia; Mark McLeod; Jamie Rusin; Wendy Sitler; Bruce Wicinas
Next week is the candidate week for the sketch session at the ELS office - an idea hatched when Jamie and I spoke last week. Jamie has been out of town all this week. John Roberts was not around last week. Presumably all still consider this a good idea? Is there a day and time next week which we could all attend? "All" includes Jamie, John Roberts, Deborah, Mark, myself and Wendy.
|Center Street Agenda & Consensus Points 10/19/2006 from Matt Taecker|
Attached is the agenda for the next Center Street Subcommittee meeting at 7pm on Thursday, October 26 (upstairs at the North Berkeley Senior Center). Also attached is a summary of "consensus points" provided by Rob Wrenn. Best regards, Matt
|ConsensusPts-CenterStr-61005.doc (attachment 10/19/06)|
Center Street Subcommittee Consensus Points
The following points were agreed on at the first meeting of the DAPAC Center Street Subcommittee meeting on October 5, 2006. The Subcommittee supports inclusion of these points in the Downtown Plan. [Note: Since we did not get through the entire list of issues at the first meeting, it is anticipated that additions will be made to this list.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES & GOALS FOR CENTER STREET
Center Street is and should remain the primary pedestrian connection from BART to the Campus.
Center Street should be developed in such a way that it strengthens the connection between Downtown and the Campus.
Enrich the pedestrian experience on Center Street beyond what it is now.
Support, as land uses on Center Street , a hotel and conference center and the proposed UC Art Museum.
We want to help all three projects move forward: redesigned Center Street , museum and hotel.
A CITY PLAN FOR CENTER STREET
The subcommittee consensus was that the City should develop a plan for Center Street :
DESIGN OPTIONS FOR CENTER STREET
There was a consensus that the status quo on Center Street is not optimal and that the street can be improved and should be redesigned.
The Subcommittee recommends that the DAPAC should consider for inclusion in the Downtown Plan the following design options for Center Street between Oxford and Shattuck:
Fully Pedestrianized Street
In this design, the street would be completely pedestrianized. Regular through traffic would not be permitted. Parking and curbs would be eliminated. Street would be designed to allow the easy passage of foot traffic to and from Campus, and provide opportunities for people to stop and gather. Permanent and moveable amenities (e.g trees, landscaping, benches, street furniture, public art) would be added. An unobstructed “lane” could be created to accommodate emergency vehicles. Delivery vehicles could use such a lane for deliveries at specified hours (e.g. early morning), or deliveries could be relocated entirely to a side street.
Slow Street/Woonerf *
In this design the street would be primarily for pedestrian use but would have one or two travel lanes for cars that would be as narrow as possible. The street would be designed in such a way that cars would have to drive slowly. Parking lanes and curbs would be eliminated. Cars would not prohibited from driving onto the street; anyone who needed to could drive onto or through at any time. It was recognized that the “maximum feasible creek” option (see below) would not be compatible with this option due to space limitations.
There was agreement that a full-flow restoration of the creek on Center Street or “no constraints” option was not practical.
One design that should be prepared as part of putting together a plan for Center Street is:
Maximum Practical Creek
In this design, diverting a portion of the natural flow of Strawberry Creek would create a creek-derived water feature or partial creek restoration. As in Option 1, the street would be fully pedestrianized, with unobstructed space created to accommodate emergency vehicles. The size of the creek is constrained to approximately 25-30 ft wide due to the width of the right of way and current and planned development on private/UC property. The depth of the creek would be approximately 8 ft and the slope of the creek banks could vary. Creek-side vegetation using a variety of materials will add texture and dimensions to the streetscape.
Woonerf (Dutch word which means "street for living") is common space shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, and low-speed motor vehicles. They are usually streets raised to the same grade as curbs and sidewalks. Vehicles are slowed by placing trees, planters, parking areas, and other obstacles in the street. Motorists are treated as the intruders and must travel at walking speed. This makes a street available for public use that is essentially only intended for local residents. A woonerf identification sign is placed at each street entrance.
*Definition of a Woonerf from this Web site:
|Center Street Modelled Schematic Alternatives / Meeting Thursday 10/25/2006|
To: Bruce Wicinas; Jamie Rusin; John Roberts; Wendy Sitler; Deborah Badhia; Mark McLeod
I turned the model pictures into a web page for ease of access:
This is of course not intended for public consumption as yet. You are the only individuals who have the URL for this page.
I look forward to being the "audience" for the "exercise" tomorrow at the ELS office. I will not arrive until 2:30 or after. But I've already had my "input." Much of what I "discovered" was of course obvious without modeling but would not be obvious to most people without the aid of pictures.
1. A 25' wide ravine which meanders has a wider-than-25' rectangular footprint.
2. A ravine of asymmetrical section located on the north side of Center street needs a pedestrian barrier on its north side and a car barrier on its south side (though my model does not show these merely due to my modeling learning curve.) A ravine of asymmetrical section located on the south side of Center street needs a pedestrian/car barrier only on its north edge. The south side location also makes the creek located in a deep ravine visible from the southern sidewalk. The south side located creek can also usurp some of the extremely wide south side sidewalk. Together these factors seem to strongly favor a south side location.
3. (opinion) The 5' deep options, regardless of landscape artifice, look like infrastructure to me. I wouldn't pay $10M - $20M (probable price tag?) for that.
4. (opinion) The at-grade alternative I must admit looks rather charming, embodying the "garden" prospect with which John Roberts verbally excited the "Enviros" subcommittee of the DAPAC. Of course an at-grade implementation is not at present favored by the hard-core creek people. But maybe they can be persuaded...
FOR YOUR REFERENCE
The section of Center street :
Northern sidewalk: 15' 10"
Street (curb to curb) 42' 0"
Southern sidewalk: 22' 2"
The trees are offset from the curbs by about 3' on either side. There are three trees on the northern sidewalk located along the parking lot. The tree spacing along the south is about 24' on center. Model alternates B and C show the trees approximately faithfully.
|Design Co, Tues, Nov 14, 8:30am, DBA Office 11/6/2006|
| DBA Design Committee Meeting
Tuesday, November 14, 2006, 8:30am
DBA Office, 2230 Shattuck Avenue, Suite C, below the Shattuck Cinema
TO: DBA Design Committee
Bruce Wicinas Chair, Austene Hall - BAHA, Pat Hanscom Eugene¹s Antique¹s, Mark McLeod downtown restaurant, John Roberts John Northmore Roberts & Associates, Wendy Sitler ELS Architecture & Urban Design, Arlene Silk,
FROM: Deborah Badhia Downtown Berkeley Association
CC : Jurgen Aust, Carolyn Bookhart, Ann Burns, Rauly Butler, Bob Lycette, John DeClercq,
Evan McDonald, Janet Winters, Dave Fogarty,
Mission Statement Design Committee
To advocate for design excellence in all aspects of downtown development.
MINUTES Action Item
Approval of October 2006 minutes. (See below)
HOTEL PROJECT PRESENTATION Tues, Nov 14, 6:30pm - ACTION
The Hotel developers will present to the public on Tuesday, November 14th, 6:30-8:30pm, at the Aurora Theatre. Sponsored by Livable Berkeley and Berkeley Design Advocates. The DBA is hosting the refreshments, and the space is being donated by the Aurora Theatre.
TRANSIT ZONE URBAN DESIGN PLAN Information Bruce Wicinas
The DBA Board of Directors endorsed the Transit Zone Urban Design Plan. The Design Committee recommendations will be reflected in the DBA endorsement letter to the City of Berkeley. (See attached)
CENTER STREET Information John Roberts & Bruce Wicinas
John and Bruce will update the committee on DBA¹s regular meetings with the Enviro¹s group who favor opening a creek on Center Street, and our intent to find common ground on vision for Center Street. The DBA also met with the Mayor¹s office, and the City Manager to encourage a Center Street design process. Bruce and John are working on renderings for street design to start conversations about real issues that arise upon comparisons of varied scenarios for the street.
Downtown Clean Up Day Saturday, November 11, 9am-5pm, volunteer coordinators needed.
Trader Joe¹s & Housing Project At ZAB on Thursday, November 9th, 7pm
The Brower Center/Oxford Project - scheduled to break ground in Dec 06.
Citibank - The Lakireddy family is purchasing the old Citibank site on Shattuck Avenue.
Transit Zone Urban Design Planning Process DBA endorsed, letter pending.
Center Street Garage
UC Hotel Conference Center City still waiting on the project application
DOWNTOWN BERKELEY ASSOCIATION
DESIGN COMMITTEE Meeting Minutes of October 2006
Attended: Bruce Wicinas, Pat Hanscom, Wendy Sitler, Mark McLeod, Arlene Silk
Staff: Deborah Badhia (minutes)
TRANSIT ZONE URBAN DESIGN PLAN
The committee appreciates the TZUDP as an exhaustive and competent overview of existing conditions at and around the BART Plaza. It is very impressive compilation of information and leaves a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
The DBA will endorse the plan, and submit our recommendations in response to it. A priority for the DBA is to ensure that any short term improvements are made with the big picture under consideration. The Design Committee makes the following recommendations:
Due to public safety concerns (need for visibility), and public abuse of the planters, they have deteriorated in quality. We consider this a failed design and have no loyalty to them.
- BART Plaza
1: The DBA supports the type of zoning that will invite desired activity to the Plaza such as outdoor dining. However, due to existing conditions related to inappropriate street behavior, and other costs and difficulties related to operation of outdoor dining, we cannot be sure that the entrepreneurs will choose to utilize outdoor dining in the short term.
2: Favor that Tully¹s should remove or remodel the seating under the windows.
1: At the Rotunda, around the perimeter, bike parking is ok but seating seems questionable.
- BART Entrances & Bus Stops Canopies & Furniture
1: Devise a design vocabulary that fits the downtown Berkeley district for the canopies and furniture elements in the Transit Zone. Develop a "downtown Berkeley" vocabulary, not a "transit" vocabulary. Pay attention to the downtown Berkeley Design Guidelines and create consistency of design. The current Kiosk is an example of a look and vocabulary. Develop a uniform vocabulary for all elements which might save money over long run. Need a language of materials that speaks to the visitor as they walk through downtown.
2: Consider to hire a design firm to design the vocabulary.
4: Consider whether it¹s worth spending money on the BART drum? The committee was concerned about spending any funds that could weaken the ability to pursue long term design changes.
- East side of Shattuck
1: Games of Berkeley is downtown¹s best retail corner and the corner is worthy of care. As the report mentions, the other three corners feature banks with "dead" windows. The Games storefront needs to be visible, and have a bus sheltor/ canopy that is appropriate in size and proportion for the space.
2: For the full block, we favor the consideration of straightening out the curb even if it results in the decrease of traffic to two lanes. We are not quite endorsing this concept, but it looks promising. The current situation needs improvement. At the same time, we are hesitant to widen the sidewalk until longer term plans are considered.
- Bike Parking
We agree that bike parking is important, and favor much of the current proposal to have small numbers of bike racks throughout the transit zone. It would be helpful to us to have data on current bike parking users. For example, the Downtown Restaurant has 50 employees of them, around 6 ride a bike and park them in the basement storage area as they don¹t trust outdoor parking.
1: Favor bike parking (small numbers) to be located at the Rotunda, and at secondary BART entrances. For larger bike parking facilities, we support the expansion at the current underground site, and for the City to have more larger parking areas away from the core.
2: Discourage large numbers of bike parking in the Plaza as this is prime space for active uses.
3: Discourage bike parking under bus canopies as this is a limited seating and protected area for passengers.
4: Downtown needs excellent signage to advertise the bike parking. It would increase usage of existing facilities.
- Public Art
1: Favor the concept of public art especially to bring attention to the Addison Street BART entrance.
- Café seating
The DBA favors the concept of outdoor dining and encourages that the conditions be created to allow it to happen, but don¹t expect it to happen.
1: Allow dining tables to be located next to the buildings, otherwise, it creates a problem. Business owners need to be able to look at customers. Outdoor tables tend to be problematic due to safety, health, and check dodging, The café on the corner of Bancroft at College works due to the "pay in advance" system.
- One Way Center Street
1: We look forward to the City coming up with a very poetic solution.
1: Support that access for emergency and delivery vehicles is maintained.
2: Prefer that the landscaped area be no wider than 25 feet, and no more than 5 feet deep. Don¹t want a ravine.
4: Ability to cross the street is critical.
5: Dan Burden of Walkable Communities says that few streets are ready to be "fully closed"
and that it¹s advisable to do a phased approach, and allow flexibility for change to account for changes in the retail sector over time.
Create a rendering for 3 scenarios at 8ft, 5ft, and a symbolic creek.
Dave Wheelan presented yesterday to the Enviro group. He says that this group was very interested in exposure of the creek, more so than any other audience. They were asking for a full water treatment. On Allston, and throughout downtown, the culverts are failing, and sink holes/erosion, etc is a problem. A number of downtown streets are in danger. It is in need of consideration.
Dave will make time with Ito on a next trip to talk about these issues.
November 6, 2006
City of Berkeley
1947 Center Street, 3rd Floor
Re: DBA Endorsement of the Transit Zone Urban Design Plan
The Downtown Berkeley Association Board of Directors endorses the Transit Zone Urban Design Plan (TZUDP) of 2006. We appreciate the efforts of City staff to apply for the grant that made this process possible. The resulting TZUDP is an impressive compilation of information on existing conditions at and around the BART Plaza and an exploration of alternatives for future rearrangement of transit. It leaves a sense of the magnitude of the problems to be addressed. The DBA strongly encourages the City to use the findings to support an application for the MTC Capital grant.
Following are comments on the plan¹s recommendations for short term improvements. We see Berkeley on the brink of an opportunity for major longer term improvements of which short-term recommendations should be mindful. Therefore, you will find attached to this letter the DBA¹s"Shaping the Future of Downtown Berkeley - Design Recommendations for the Downtown Berkeley Core - June 2006". This document details the DBA¹s long-term preferred option including the two-way Shattuck Avenue and the main BART entrance located on the east side of Shattuck Avenue next to the businesses.
The DBA¹sDesign Committee makes the following recommendations:
A. Design - BART Entrances, Bus Stops, Canopies and Furniture -
Develop a "downtown Berkeley" vocabulary, not a "transit" vocabulary. Step beyond "transit furniture design" recommended in the report to a "downtown street furniture design." This can in time supplant the disparate present furniture elements and might save money over the long run.
1. Contract with an industrial design firm to develop a "signature" language of designs, forms, materials, and construction details for all the street furniture elements of downtown. These may include signs, illuminated signs, shelters, racks, and planters. Besides aesthetic improvement, this provides an enhanced sense of place and orienting cues to the visitor. A one-time authorship of designs and details which skillfully use common materials allows the City to order as needed without re-commissioning design. Elements which are variations of a standard design have the desired visual kinship and should save money in the long run.
2. The Kiosk at BART Plaza is an example of a design look, an attractive though not an "economical" one. Its meaning is diminished by being one of a kind rather than one of a family sharing resemblance.
3. Ensure that new street furniture and landscape features are designed to handle heavy foot traffic, and public abuse. Keep maintenance in mind - such as full access around all sides for steam cleaners.
4. Signage should tie in to the design "signature look". Directing people to public restrooms is a signage priority.
5. Signage, including the kiosk, needs lighting to be visible at night. Improve directional signage for the various nodes of downtown - especially to significant destinations such as the arts district and the community college. This signage should be located above and below ground in the BART stations.
B. BART Plaza -
Allow design to encourage positive uses, but also deal with practical issues.
1. The DBA supports the type of zoning that will invite desired activity to the Plaza such as outdoor dining. However, outdoor dining has been tried in our downtown and found marginally practical. We caution against committing short term resources to a vision of outdoor dining. Don¹t expect it to happen.
2. Allow dining tables to be located next to the buildings if desired by business owners. Business owners need to be able to look at customers. Outdoor tables tend to be problematic due to safety, health, and check dodging.
3. Tully¹s should remove or remodel the seating under the windows.
4. Design should account for the businesses¹ need to put their garbage cans out on a routine schedule.
C. Planters -
Landscaping should enhance the ambiance without compromising public safety or adding unduly to the City¹s maintenance burden.
The present planters raise public safety issues by curtailing visibility of sidewalks from the street. Due to ill-treatment of the plants and planters they have deteriorated in quality. We consider this a failed design and have no loyalty to them.
D. BART Entry Rotunda -
We regard the "drum" as a design which has outlived its time and advocate relocating the main entrance/exit to the east side of Shattuck Avenue. Hence we recommend frugality regarding its short-term improvement.
1. At the Rotunda, around the perimeter, bike parking is ok but seating seems questionable.
2. Is it prudent to spend money on the BART drum which is hopefully nearing the end of its useful life? Frugal interim improvement such as painting is fine.
E. East side of Shattuck -
This needs to be improved to accommodate the foot traffic and especially bus users.
1. Consider straightening out the curb For the full block even if it results in the decrease of traffic to two lanes. We are not quite endorsing this concept, but it looks promising. The current situation needs improvement. Whether to widen the sidewalk is contingent on the long term transit arrangement of Shattuck Avenue lanes.
2. Games of Berkeley is downtown¹s best retail corner and the corner is worthy of care. As the report mentions the other three corners at Center and Shattuck feature banks with "dead" windows. The Games storefront needs to be visible. Hence any bus shelter or canopy in front of it must be appropriate in proportion and not a visual barrier.
F. Bike Parking -
Bike Parking - needs to be increased but must not be concentrated in the "prime real estate" of the BART Plaza. We favor much of the proposal's recommendation to place small bike racks throughout the transit zone. It is desirable to capture data on current bike parking users. For example, the Downtown Restaurant has 50 employees - of them, around 6 ride a bike and park them in the basement storage area as they don¹t trust outdoor parking.
1. We favor small clusters of bike parking located at the Rotunda and at secondary BART entrances. We support the expansion at the current underground bike parking site and the provision of larger bike parking areas near but away from the core.
2. Discourage parking of large numbers of bikes in the Plaza as this is prime space for pedestrian use.
3. Discourage bike parking under bus canopies. This precious limited space is provided for passengers, not for bikes.
4. Downtown needs excellent signage to advertise the bike parking. Improved signage would increase usage of existing facilities.
G. Public Art -
We favor increased deployment of public art.
1. The Addison Street BART entrance is a prime candidate locations for public art, both within and without.
H. Combine with the Center Street plans -
Design changes on the east side of Shattuck must be coordinated with the Center Street plans.
We look forward to a very poetic solution for Center Street to honor the investment and excitement of the proposed Hotel/Conference Center and the UC Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive.
1. DBA recommends against closure of Center Street. We support a one-way Center street with a parking lane thus maintaining access for police, emergency and delivery vehicles.
2. If a landscaped feature is constructed it should be no more than 25 feet wide. A ravine of depth exceeding 3 feet is not pedestrian-friendly and introduces a host of problems.
3. If a landscaped feature is constructed, multiple mid-block crossings are needed.
4. DBA favors a phased approach to any major rearrangement of Center Street.
The Downtown Berkeley Association looks forward to continue working with the Transportation Division on the updating of our Transit Zone. This is a very necessary process to upgrade our facilities to meet the usage demands that have increased dramatically since the Plaza was built.
Downtown Berkeley Association
Downtown Berkeley Association, President
Cc: Tom Bates, Mayor
Dona Spring, District 4 Councilmember
Phil Kamlarz, City Manager
Bob Franklin, District 3, BART Board of Directors
Robert Del Rosario, AC Transit
Dear DAPAC BRT Committee,
On Feb. 28, 2004 the DBA sent a letter to the Mayor, the City Council and City Manager Kamlarz urging the city of Berkeley to fund a planning process for development of BRT to ensure it enhances the quality of life and consumer environment.
In March, 2005 the City Transportation Department solicited proposals for a Bart Plaza and Transit Area Design Plan, due April 12, 2005. After some time the City made a response. The funding was $75,000, a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commssion.
In June, 2005 Jim Cunradi brought to the DBA Design Comittee his presentation regarding BRT. The slideshow he left with us can be seen at http://busduse.org/ 05-06-07BRTslides.ppt That commenced more than a year of work by the DBA on this subject. This included discussions to formulate a DBA position, consultations with professional downtown designers and a public forum. Excerpts are below.
On July 27 the Draft Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza & Transit Area Urban Design Plan was submitted to the City. This is known by the acronym “TLC” for Transit for Livable Cities, a part of Metropolitan Transportation Commission. It is also known in the City as “Transit Zone Urban Design Plan (TZUDP) of 2006.” A large amount of work was executed for the $75,000. By its own assertion the plan just points directions for more comprehensive design. But it is our only design resource so far. It contains our only drawings of alternatives for consideration.
BRT entails relocation of traffic lanes, bus stops, parking, sidewalks, transit canopies, raised platforms, signage, street lights, trees. It is a complete re-configuration of the core blocks of downtown. From AC transit we cannot get design, only engineering. For examples of what AC engineers can provide without a 3 rd party source of design, see the June, 2005 slides cited above. A unified design response which can preserve a pedestrian-friendly downtown core, will require professional design services.
The possible relocation of the BART drum to the east side of Shattuck is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It can happen only via strong public support as well as decisive leadership.
Below I have copied some positions by the DBA and comments by professionals who considered the issues at its request.
Compiled by Bruce Wicinas, DBA Design Committee
I. General Concerns and Issues1. Engineering v. design: How can we get a BRT that is molded not just by traffic engineers (who probably predominate in the AC Transit bureaucracy), but also by designers (like John Roberts) and urban planners (like Strategic Economics)?
2. Impact on retail: Is there a danger that downtown Berkeley will be turned into purely a transit hub which will be very unwelcoming to retailers and/or potential retail customers?
3. Optional design and positioning of loading/unloading platforms: Are platforms so large that they will dwarf the shops behind them?
4. Effect on overall traffic flow
5. Dedicated lanes v. no dedicated lanes
6. Effect on street parking inventory
7. Effect on safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, and left-turners
8. Ability of AC Transit to adjust to fluctuations in supply and demand
9. Route: Does it make sense to run another public transit system on a north-south route that parallels the already existing BART route?
10: AC Transit motives for wanting this BRT: Does AC Transit think this version of BRT is "enlightened transportation planning and implementation," or is this "a transportation engineer's trophy?"
11. Coordination with other bus services in area: Will AC Transit be willing and able to synchronize operation of BRT with the other bus lines active in the East Bay so as to improve overall bus travel? Other lines include the AC Transit regular lines, the lines run by UCB, by LBNL, by Bayer, etc.
12. Desirability of running BRT down University to San Pablo , with turn around at the base of University Avenue.
13. Stopover locations in downtown Berkeley ? Crescent on UCB campus? Willingness of UCB to accommodate this?
14. Route in downtown Berkeley : Just Shattuck? Combination of Shattuck and Oxford ? Combination of MLK and Shattuck? Combination of MLK and Oxford ?
15. Telegraph Ave. between Dwight and Bancroft: Can the street physically accommodate a dedicated lane?
16. Projected customer population: Who is going to be served by BRT? What is the target population? Is it going to be a population which will benefit downtown Berkeley , damage downtown Berkeley , or have no impact on downtown Berkeley ?
17. Effect on BART: Will the rider ship on public transit increase, or will BRT simply siphon off some of the BART clientele? Will there be a net increase in public transit riders?
18. Effect on use of private automobiles: Will some current drivers of private automobiles be lured from their cars into BRT? Will there be a net decline in users of private cars?
19. Design of buses: The current Van Hool buses being used by AC Transit are heavily criticized by some. How serious and well-founded are the criticisms? Will the BRT vehicles be of the same brand and design?
20. How will these BRT buses be fueled? If we are near or at "peak oil," and if the availability of oil-based fuel will rapidly be significantly reduced, does it make sense to create an expensive new transportation line based on old fashioned fossil fuels?
21. Optional fuels: Buses can probably not be run on batteries. What are the options to fossil fuels for buses?
22. Does the looming fossil fuel crisis make it worth spending whatever it would cost to opt for electrified fixed rail rather than fossil fueled BRT?
II. Public Forum April 24, 2006: Transit Design for Retail Vitality
Barry Elbasani and Jamie Rusin, ELS Architects and John Roberts of Northmore Roberts & Associates
Sponsored by DBA
paraphrase notes from Barry Elbasani's comments
Downtown at present is kind-of “broken.”
We talk a lot about height, about setbacks, but what Berkeley is really all about is what meets your eye from the ground to about elevation 6'.
Portland , Oregon , has really figured “it” out – the “City Living Room.”
By what mechanism can merchants influence the occupancy of both sides of the street, on the key retail blocks? What sort of owners do we want, to reinforce uses downtown? There is presently no “Class A” office space in downtown.
Option 3 (of the TLC alternatives - the two-way west leg of Shattuck option) “recovers” about three really good blocks in the center of downtown [by restricting the heavy through transit to only a fraction of downtown blocks leaving the three recovered blocks narrower and quieter.]
The intense multi-modal confluence of transportation along Shattuck at the center turns those blocks into a transit station. A transit interchange is not a meandering place. People are hurrying through it to change transit. It is unwelcome to retailers and to potential retail customers.
There is a price to be paid for getting people out of cars.
“Plan a public gather place first”, THEN design the transit around it.
There has not been a public process to generate alternatives for downtown.
Meeting minutes from Downtown Berkeley Association DESIGN COMMITTEE - May 9, 2006
a. DBA likes BRT, but DBA needs to make certain that BRT and BART design are compatible with retail.
from Downtown Berkeley Association DESIGN COMMITTEE - Meeting Minutes of May 9, 2006
a. There is some enthusiasm for using Model 4 to create a Barcelona-style “Ramblas,” which has a park running down the middle of a wide boulevard for 1.2 kilometers, with only a single lane on each side for motor traffic. Such a street design, dedicated to foot traffic, would be, of course, inimical to BRT
Jamie Rusin summarized apparent DBA positions upon which there seemed to be consensus:
Question: What is the relationship between availability of Class A office space and capture of tax revenues from highly successful companies, and the design of the downtown district.
V. DBA VISION FOR THE TRANSIT ZONE
Downtown Berkeley Association June 1, 2006
The DBA has a vision for the downtown Berkeley district that we would like to see emerge in upcoming years. Some key elements of our vision that most directly relate to the transit planning include:
2. Downtown Berkeley's is primarily a retail center with vibrant ground floor activity. It is the City's "living room" - a comfortable destination for all Berkeley residents. It also feels like the "kitchen" - people are sharing food and drinks in cozy places.
3. Downtown Berkeley is a "destination" not a through way. Visitors become engaged and participatory in the environment.
4. Transit serves the retail and other offerings, and enhances the general circulation patterns in and around downtown, and between campus and downtown.
"Circulation Mechanics": Pedestrian, Transit and Commerce Coexistence
The following recommendations are made with retail vitality as the primary desired outcome. Maximum business activity will result in a healthy and engaging environment, stronger district character, public safety, and fiscal health for the City.
Consider improvements to the existing BART Plaza and Drum
* Consider re-surfacing or eliminating the Drum for greater transparency and more open design.
Consider moving the BART Drum to the east-side of Shattuck Avenue .
(Note that this would require a 2-way configuration of Shattuck Avenue .)
* This places the large numbers of BART-riders with UC destination to the east of Shattuck Avenue .
* This allows the westerly sidewalk to be re-sized to conform to preceding and succeeding blocks of Shattuck Avenue .
* The east side is the sunny side of the street.
* Visitors would emerge from the station surrounded by activity.
Do not move the BART entrance to the middle of Shattuck Avenue .
* The people arrive in the "middle" of the street with moving traffic on both sides.
* Transit transfer is encouraged versus interaction in the downtown.
* It further separates the east and west side of Shattuck.
* The plaza would be too small to allow any concert or activity.
Improve all of the BART stations.
* Name the main entrance clearly as "Downtown Berkeley BART Station".
* Place signage on all exits with the street name and the major destination of that exit. For example, "Addison Street/Downtown Berkeley Arts District", "Allston Way/YMCA/Berkeley High School", "Center Street/Berkeley City College"
* Say "Welcome" in the signage.
* Post maps to orient the public to bicycle parking, visitor Information, etc.
2. BUS RAPID TRANSIT
Consider Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) station design
* Consider reducing or eliminating dedicated lanes, raised platforms, and shelter canopies - especially in the last three to five blocks of the BRT route.
* Let the buses operate like ordinary buses in traditional fashion.
Consider BRT routing options.
* Consider whether downtown is really the "end of the line". How might BRT link with San Pablo later? How might University Avenue be integrated?
* Consider the possibility of ending the BRT at Kittredge. Jim Cunradi himself mentioned this as a possibility
3. AUTOMOBILES, DELIVERY VEHICLES, EMERGENCY VEHICLES
Maintain vehicle traffic on all streets.
* Merchants need every type of traffic possible! Plus, they require deliveries - sometimes very large and very regularly.
* Closure of Center Street should be limited to partial day and test periods should be implemented prior to any permanent treatment.
* Consider "flexible space" which will allow response to changing trends over time. For example, utilize paving surfaces that allow parking spaces to be easily shifted to other uses such as outdoor dining.
Preserve and enhance street parking.
* Consider the eastern side of Shattuck Avenue from Center to University to develop as a public space that includes landscaping and diagonal parking. (If the western side becomes 2-way).
* Utilize street parking to help the pedestrian experience by slowing traffic, providing a barrier between shoppers and moving cars, allow proximity to destination, and create connection between pedestrian and the street.
* Learn the calculation for average customer expenditure per parking metered space. Our understanding is that sales revenue per space can represent the annual sales of a small (1,500 sq. ft.) business.
* Reduce the number of parking spaces lost to BRT, and mitigate those that are lost.
* Consider multi-modal usage of street and curb space. For example, allow red curbs to become public parking after certain hours.
4. RETAIL DEVELOPMENT
Design for retail vitality
* When there are design choices, ask "which is the best choice in terms of supporting retail vitality?".
* Maintain or enhance the visibility of storefronts, signage, and historic architecture.
* create synergy between both sides of the street.
Identify blocks to concentrate retail.
* The public has an approximate 3 block threshold to interpret the public environment. Anchor tenants, amenities, and other features are needed to break up the district into smaller and more navigable areas.
* Identify streets where retail can be concentrated.
* Create sub-districts or nodes.
Extend the "Arts District" activity eastward to Oxford Street .
* Creates a physical connection towards the new Hotel/Conference Center and to UC.
* Consider concern that Addison Street could end up as a service street unless designed properly.
Consider ratios and dimensions for optimal street and sidewalk width
* Consider ratios for balance between building, sidewalk, and street width.
* Forty feet is considered an ideal width for a small retail street. ( 4th Street has this dimension.).
* Consider the 180 foot width of Shattuck Avenue as a public realm to be shaped by people, cars, and transit.
* Determine the minimum depth for sidewalks needed to allow outdoor dining. Center Street has a "perfect" sized sidewalk - with dimensions proportional to the street and the building.
5. OTHER, AND SPECIFICS
Make Shattuck Avenue a 2-way boulevard.
* 2-way streets tend to slow traffic and give street more of a neighborhood character.
* This will eliminate the "dog-leg" on University Avenue and re-invigorate the retail on those blocks that are now a "speed-way".
Consider a Center Street water feature / garden element.
* Consider how to include an aesthetic contribution, a piece of public art, some recognition of nature.
* Reference Donlyn Lyndon's photograph of the Rhine / German Plaza . (on file at DBA).
Consider the public maintenance requirements of any design feature.
5. Consider the fluctuation of our City's fiscal health and the staffing needed to maintain any features installed.
Consider "longevity" of landscaping and street furniture.
* Successful shopping malls update their physical design every 7-10 years. Since cities cannot afford this, it's important to make best possible design choices for long life span.
* When there are design choices, ask "which is the best choice in terms of supporting retail vitality?".
* The lighting in BART Plaza needs to be improved.
* Should be bright enough to ensure security in the evening.
* Sodium vapor should be avoided in favor of white lighting which renders more realistic colors, less sinister appearances, and a more inviting, comfortable, and reassuring feeling for shoppers.
Work with UC to ensure a vibrant downtown edge to the core of campus.
Create a downtown population invested in caring for downtown, which means encouraging office and housing uses at high densities associated with a downtown.
Downtown Berkeley Association June 1, 2006
Design Recommendations for the Transit Zone
VI. DBA Endorsement and Comments regarding Transit Zone Urban Design Plan (TZUDP) of 2006, short-term improvements .
This needs to be improved to accommodate the foot traffic and especially bus users.
To inform city decision regarding bike parking needs it is desirable to capture data on current bike parking users. For example, the Downtown Restaurant has 50 employees. About 6 commute by bike and park them in the basement storage area because they do not trust outdoor bike parking.
END – The DBA comments on Transit Zone Urban Design Plan (TZUDP) of 2006 short-term improvements.
|DEIS response jnr dft2 062607.doc June 26, 2007|
June 26, 2007
Re: DBA Comments on AC Transit East Bay Bus Rapid Transit DEIS/DEIR
Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) is pleased to be able to offer the following comments on the draft environmental documents for the proposed East Bay Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project. First, a summary of our conclusions followed by some specific comments on various components of the draft DEIS/DEIR.
DBA strongly supports AC Transit's desire to expand and improve bus transit service and patronage to Downtown Berkeley, a key regional transit hub.
DBA strongly supports physical changes to Downtown Berkeley that emphasize improvements to the pedestrian, retail, and cultural environment, and that emphasize traffic-calming measures.
DBA believes that the impacts of the new BRT infrastructure on the merchants, the pedestrian environment, and the urban design of Downtown Berkeley have not been fully assessed and mitigated in the current draft DEIS/DEIR.
DBA believes that a “Side Running” alternative for the proposed transitway in Downtown Berkeley could have considerable merit while mitigating many of the negative impacts of the central median transitway and stations. We recommend that AC Transit develop a “Side Running” BRT transitway and station alternative for Downtown Berkeley and assess its impacts.
Given the range of options offered in the current draft DEIS/DEIR, DBA believes that the “No Build” option offers the advantages of improved transit service via a “Rapid Bus” system to serve Downtown without the large infrastructure costs and disruptive impacts of the BRT system. Absent a “Side Running” alternative to consider, the “No Build” option warrants serious consideration as the preferred option for Downtown Berkeley.
The following are specific comments on Downtown components of the proposed BRT options.
Purpose and Need:
BRT must not be simply a transit enhancement. The primary purposes of the BRT system are, rightfully, related to the improvement of transit. However, the new transit infrastructure is significant and needs to be integrated with, rather than imposed upon, the urban context in order to realize the potential for the system.
Integration with and enhancement of the urban context is not explicitly stated as a need of the BRT system in the draft DEIS/DEIR, and the omission has skewed the range of urban design alternatives under consideration.
We believe that the required BRT infrastructure alternatives, as proposed in the draft DEIS/DEIR, are an imposition of transit engineering systems on Downtown Berkeley's densely built environment, rather than a careful integration into and enhancement of that environment, with significant negative impacts that are not adequately mitigated. The alternatives and mitigations offered do not adequately demonstrate how the new infrastructure will improve the overall urban design or the pedestrian, retail, and cultural environment. Additional transit patrons, separate transit lanes, crosswalk mitigations, and new stations do not necessarily lead to overall improvements in the urban environment.
Adherence to local design guidelines alone will not be adequate for framing the integration of the new transit infrastructure with the existing urban environment.
Separate BRT vs Combined BRT and Local Transit :
Combined BRT and Local systems will cluster rather than disperse the transit infrastructure and pedestrian/patrons in Downtown, thereby containing the impacts compared with separate systems. We prefer the combination in Downtown Berkeley.
If the combined BRT and Local bus service stations are located in the center-median BRT Transitway, as currently proposed, all the pedestrian/patrons will be removed from the sidewalks into the center of the street with significant negative impacts. The center of the street is an unhealthy, unpleasant, and potentially unsafe environment relative to the sidewalks, and it offers a generally negative impact on the quality of the pedestrian experience in downtown. A combined service located at the sidewalks could enhance instead of diminish the pedestrian experience.
Pedestrians/patrons clustered in the center street-median will not add to the vitality of the sidewalks as compared with a location integrated with the sidewalks. Removing the local transit patrons/pedestrians from the sidewalk will diminish sidewalk vitality.
Two-way transit on Shattuck alternate is our preferred alignment since it retains the downtown core area as a transit hub with direct BART connections and without the secondary intersection impacts of the one-way loop alternate on Oxford Street .
An alternative alignment that includes “Side Running” transitways along Shattuck Avenue is not included in the current document. Such an alternative is necessary in order to properly assess potential mitigations of impacts on the pedestrian environment, parking, and left turn lanes as well as the overall urban design. Such an alternate would use the existing (or expanded) sidewalks/plazas for the station locations. Left turn lanes along Shattuck Avenue could possibly be retained in this alternative, as could buffered parallel or head-in parking.
The potential for two-way traffic flow on both sides of Shattuck Square will effect all the BRT alternatives and must be assessed for each of the alternative alignments.
The proposed BRT Layover location, with its related infrastructure needs (eg. Size, Restrooms, etc.), needs to be part of the environmental review of the BRT system.
The future extension of BRT beyond downtown must be accommodated in each of the alternatives and evaluated.
Stations will be new urban features placed into the downtown that will significantly affect the visual environment, pedestrian and vehicular circulation, access to and visibility of stores, and the quality of the pedestrian experience. Appropriate station siting is critical for downtown, since each location will have different impacts.
Stations located in the median at the center of the street tend to favor traffic, asphalt, and transit infrastructure over the quality of the pedestrian environment, access to and visibility of merchants, and the creation of a cohesive urban place.
The current plans propose a station located north of Center Street at Shattuck Square , and the impacts of this choice are noted as minimal or positive. We believe that the impacts to the merchants, to the visual and pedestrian environment, parking, and traffic flow will be significant and negative for such a station location. The double-length center-of-street raised platform required for a station in this location, with canopies and guardrails, detached from the sidewalk will block views of stores and artificially separate a narrow street right of way while placing pedestrians in an undesirable and potentially unsafe situation.
Station options on Shattuck Ave. south of Center Street (between Center Street and Allston Way ) are not offered as alternatives. A curbside station option in this location is needed, in concert with the “Side Running” alignment option, in order to fully compare the station impacts in the heart of downtown. Such an option will likely have less negative impact to the pedestrian and retail environment, while helping to enliven the sidewalks.
Sidewalk stations at the Bancroft/Shattuck location are similarly not offered in the current document, but would offer significant benefits with the “Side Running” transitway alignment. Simple expansions of the existing plazas on the east (Peet's) and west (Library) sides of Shattuck between Bancroft and Kittredge could accommodate the stations.
The Bancroft or Bancroft/Durant station option located off of Shattuck Avenue would not serve Downtown as well as the station located on Shattuck Avenue .
Mitigations for the 19-54 parking spaces lost to the BRT system in Downtown Berkeley include replacement of 0-20 spaces. There is no criteria offered for determining the conditions under which spaces are to be replaced. Under no circumstances can we support the replacement of 0 spaces. Criteria must be clarified.
Left Turns on Shattuck:
There is no option offered in which left turns on Shattuck are allowed to continue. Without this capability, the traffic-calming characteristic of the street is diminished, making Shattuck Avenue essentially a through way, reducing its role for serving local traffic. It appears that left turns would be possible with a “Side Running” alignment option and sidewalk stations in the Downtown. The impacts on traffic flow and possible loss of curbside parking should be quantified as part of this option.
In general, we feel that the draft DEIS/DEIR information as presented is insufficient to evaluate the full range of alignments, station configurations, and impact mitigations available for a successful BRT system in Downtown Berkeley. Important negative impacts of the some of the options that are presented are missing from the evaluation. A potentially valuable “Side Running” alignment and station alternative is neither presented nor evaluated.
Our conclusion is that the BRT plans as presented result in a combination of impacts from the center-of-street stations and transitways, elimination of left turns on Shattuck Ave., and elimination of parking with minimal mitigation that, will have a significant detrimental effect on the downtown pedestrian and retail environment. Without additional options to consider for Downtown Berkeley that are more complementary to the existing environment, the draft DEIS/DEIR makes a compelling case for the “No Build” option.