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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Condado de AlamedaCandidato para Supervisor, Distrito 1

Photo de Vinnie Bacon

Vinnie Bacon

Fremont City Councilmember
18,571 votos (27.22%)Winning
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Mis 3 prioridades principales

  • Clean Money Politicians - We need to get corporate money out of politics.
  • Affordable Housing - Provide the correct type of housing in the correct locations.
  • Regional Planning - Fix the Jobs/Housing imbalance to mitigate our traffic issues.

¿Quién apoya a este candidato?

Featured Endorsements

  • Fremont Mayor Lily Mei
  • San José Mercury-News

Creencias poliza

Documentos sobre determinadas posturas

The Housing Crisis

Summary

Should decisions about how we use land be made by government accountable to residents, or by profit-driven developers?

 Should decisions about how we use land be made by government accountable to residents, or by profit-driven developers?

Developers’ number one goal is to maximize returns to their investors and will do whatever it takes to achieve that goal including proposing projects that cause school overcrowding, traffic, a lack of affordable housing, and negative impacts to the environment.

As a Fremont City Councilmember, I’ve seen firsthand how developers make campaign contributions to local elected officials and then get their projects approved in spite of the negative impacts on our communities. New unattractive and poorly planned subdivisions filled with million dollar plus homes are springing up everywhere we look. The thousands of new units being built have not resulted in greater affordability – on the contrary, fewer and fewer Bay Area residents can afford housing.

The solutions proposed by our regional and state leaders, like the ‘CASA Compact’ or the failed Senate Bill 50, advocate taking away local control to make it even easier for developers to get their way. Even though the explosion of new housing production has made the problems of lack of affordability, traffic, and overcrowded schools even worse, these leaders seem to believe that we should double down on this failed strategy by forcing unwanted development on our local communities.

The Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) regularly provides cities with the number of housing units they should be building (called the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA)).

In each eight-year cycle, the number of market rate units that are built usually far exceed the RHNA numbers, while almost no housing that would be affordable to teachers, retail workers, or others who make less than the approximately $300,000 in annual income needed to afford a median priced home in Alameda County is being produced.

For example, Fremont has already provided 227% of the market rate housing requirements, while only 18% of the affordable housing required has been built. This disparity will only get worse over the next four years as more of the Warm Springs development gets built. (See photo.)

 

 

Unfortunately, these numbers from the City of Fremont are similar to those of other local municipalities, and similar to those in prior eight-year periods.

When developers build market rate housing in Fremont, they are required to pay fees that go toward a fund that is used to subsidize affordable housing. Unfortunately, the funds generated by these fees are insufficient to come anywhere close to meeting the backlog of affordable housing that needs to be built.

Every new unit of market rate housing actually generates the need for MORE affordable housing. This was clearly shown by a Nexus study conducted for the City of Fremont. Yet the burden created by all the new expensive housing being built is falling on the taxpayers. For example, Alameda County recently passed a $200 million bond measure for affordable housing development.

The answer to solving the Bay Area housing crisis is not to give greater power to developers to impose yet more expensive, poorly planned housing developments on our communities.

 

Instead, we must insist that future development pays its fair share of the costs it creates including increased needs for affordable housing and improved infrastructure and schools.

Traffic & Regional Planning

Summary

Traffic in the Bay Area is horrific. 

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.   

Bicycling

Summary

If we’re to mitigate the issues of traffic and climate change, we have to work vigorously at providing viable alternatives to driving to work such as transit and biking. 

If we’re to mitigate the issues of traffic and climate change, we have to work vigorously at providing viable alternatives to driving to work such as transit and biking.  This position paper will look at biking.

Alameda County needs to adequately fund bikeway infrastructure when allocating transportation funding.  Most transportation improvement packages (like Measure BB) allocate most of their funding towards expensive roadway improvements.  Bikeways are much cheaper to build than roadways.  With modest changes to our funding priorities, we could have world class bikeways.

The County also needs to work with other counties to provide seamless, safe bike routes so commuters will feel safe taking their bike to/from work.

 

Vinnie doing the Primavera ride

Fremont has recently implemented Vision Zero which is an attempt to minimize the number of serious and fatal traffic accidents. This involves improvements like changing the roadway striping to narrow lanes and provide separated rights of ways for bikes. Numerous studies show that these measures significantly reduce injuries and deaths caused by traffic collisions.

Unfortunately, given our auto-oriented history, many drivers aren’t used to the idea of sharing the roads with those who, for whatever reason, are unwilling or unable to drive.

A common argument against adding protected bikeways to our streets is that there are very few bicycles on Fremont’s roads.  It is true that Fremont currently has few cyclists.  This is to be expected in a city that, until recently, had few safe routes for bicyclists to use..  If we  make our streets safer for cyclists, the number of people using bikes will grow.

I currently ride over 80 miles a week, much of it in traffic.  I really enjoy it.  However, cycling in traffic can be quite frightening.  I often need to be hyper aware of my surroundings.  I have no air bags, nor do I have a metal frame around me.  Simply being knocked off of my bike by a car could result in broken bones or worse.  Indeed, there was a recent bike fatality in Fremont.  If we really want people to get out of their cars, we need to make it safe for them to do so.

The benefits of cycling are many.  It’s great for one’s health compared to driving.  More cyclists on the road results in less air pollution, less traffic congestion and decreased parking requirements. Studies have also shown that cyclists are more likely to shop in their local neighborhood.

What can be done?

Many cities have worked hard to create a robust cycling culture.  Copenhagen and other European cities, and Davis, California have clearly shown that it can be done.  San Francisco and New York, despite being crowded cities with lots of vehicular traffic, have also invested in becoming very supportive of bicycling.

Complete Street Intersection

I’m proud of the work the City of Fremont has done in this regard.  When roads are repaved, it gives the City a chance to change the lane striping.  The City has been reducing the size of the travel lanes, putting in new bike lanes, and providing a buffer strip when possible.  This is a simple and cheap way to improve bike safety with minimal impact on motorists.  These changes should be standard practice for all cities in Alameda County.

The next step is to provide physical separation for bike lanes using plastic poles.  These are minimal infrastructure changes that don’t require extra roadway width while providing a much stronger degree of safety for cyclists.  While more expensive, an additional level of safety can be provided by adding curbs or gutters that give more assurance that cars won’t enter the bike lanes.  Examples of this are on BART Way or Walnut Avenue in Fremont.

The above improvements are embodied in the concept called “Complete Streets” that has been put forth by CalBike, a statewide cycling advocacy group.  The idea is simply that streets should safely accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and motorists together.

Alameda County could also pursue the creation of more Class I bikeways.  These are paths that are fully separated from streets.  These facilities aren’t cheap but they are orders of magnitude cheaper to build than roadways.  There are many rights of way, such as abandoned rail lines and creek paths, that are ideal candidates for these.

The County should work with surrounding jurisdictions to see how our Class I bikeways could be connected to similar facilities in adjacent counties, creating long, continuous stretches where cyclists could ride without having to deal with traffic.  An enhanced network of these would greatly encourage people to consider commuting via their bicycle.

Finally, CalBike is trying to get the State to implement a rebate program for electric bikes similar to the one they have for electric cars.  Electric bikes significantly extend the distance that someone would consider as a reasonable distance to bike to work.  Alameda County could consider such a program or, at a minimum, advocate for the State to implement this.

Biking and transit improvements need to go hand in hand.  Many cyclist’s commutes, including mine, require one to take transit as well as bike.  Transit and biking together greatly increase the feasibility of people commuting without a car.

As a County Supervisor, I will work to make sure that any major transportation funding measures include adequate funding for bicycling improvements that will help foster a significant change in the percentage of people that are willing to commute by bike instead of driving.

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