Friday, May 2, 2008

Streetscape improvements - fighting the machine

For over two years, the West Oakland Project Area Committee has been striving to improve Martin Luther King Blvd in JAMMI with hardscape, bulb-outs, medians, and/or other street designs. A planner was assigned by the City to assist, but left town in early 2006 and was never replaced. Whenever the WOPAC has pushed staff to move on this project, we are met with a wall of resistance: not enough resources, insufficient staffing, other priorities, RFP needed, no-one to write it, not enough funding, yada yada yada.

An item suddenly appeared on the April 9, 2008 WOPAC agenda: Request for $271,250 for local match for MTC Grant Funds for 7th St. Streetscape Project. At the meeting, WOPAC was asked by City staff (Kerry Jo Ricketts-Ferris) to fund landscaping on 7th Street. The request was urgent as the first phase of the project must be completed by year-end 2009 in order to meet requirements of a funding source.

When the City staff wants to implement a project, there is no lack of resources, no problem with RFPs, sufficient staff is available, everything can and must be done as quickly as possible. When the community supports a similar project, but staff did not initiate it--forget it.

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