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Friday, June 15, 2012

Letter To The Tattler: Ken Bukowski

Former city councilman and progenitor and spokesman for the Emeryville Property Owners Association, Ken Bukowski says we need to rethink the planned bike/pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks at Bay Street called the South Bayfront Bridge.  The popular bridge was removed from consideration for funding by the State after the demise of the Redevelopment Agency, just as work was slated to begin.  Emeryville has already spent more than $2 million on consultants and engineers out of $13 million set aside by the Redevelopment Agency for construction of the bridge.  Mr Bukowski proposes going after Alameda County voter backed Measure B funds to complete the much needed bridge.
Here then is Mr Bukowski's letter:

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We Need The South Bayfront Bike/Ped Bridge
Let's Use Measure B Funds To Get It

As we move towards the November 2012 Election, is it possible for the City Council to support Measure B contingent on getting funds for the South Bayfront Bridge and potentially money for the Emery Go Round?
When the Alameda Transportation Authority came to the Council seeking support for Measure B, (extending the additional sales tax for transportation projects in Alameda County)  we still had the Redevelopment Agency.  But now, things are different.
Accordingly, the Council needs to re-examine its support for Measure B.

I will note: There is a huge imbalance of funds allocated for the South County which alone is reason to oppose the Measure.

The Measure includes funding for a Bart Extension to Livermore, (last time I checked BART extensions are about $250 million dollars per mile)  BART is the most expensive rapid rail system on Earth.
The anticipated ridership of the BART extension to Livermore does not justify spending the money.
BART is actually the reason why the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) exists.  A group of people in the Legislature in Sacramento gave the power to control all the transportation funding in the region to MTC instead of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to provide on-going and endless funding for BART.

Since its existence, the MTC robs every other transportation provider to use money for BART.  They have tried to eliminate the transbay bus service many times, and the reason we are replacing the east span of the Bay Bridge (hard to believe but it's true), is to make sure there is never another transbay rail crossing like the old Key Route trains which will compete with BART.  The new east span is being constructed with only one third the carrying capacity of the existing bridge to make sure passengers trains can never run on the bridge again. 

The MTC spends almost $400,000 per year on lobbyists which in turn finds its way back to former legislators who created MTC.  The BART train system they created is non standard gage rail.  Every other train in the world has standard gage rail which means any train can run on any rail line, except BART.
As a consequence every BART rail car must be custom built at the highest price.   The manufactures of BART trains contributed heavily to former Senator Quentin Kopp, John Foran and others.  This region really got the shaft.
In every other region of the United States, the transportation funds are handled by the regional Council of Governments.

Emery Go Round
The BART extension to Livermore and numerous other south county projects are funded with Measure B money.   We should also seek funds for the Emery Go Round to ease the burden of funding for Emeryville property owners.  The success of the Emery Go Round translates into higher property owner assessments.
Many property owners are not happy about the success of the Emery Go Round.  Some of these property owners have limited income, vacant office and warehouse space.  They are not collecting increased rent money from tenants to cover the increasing cost of the Emery Go Round assessments. 
 Over the objection of some property owners, the Emeryville Transportation Management Association is spending resources to look at other alternative modes of transportation, which some feel is inappropriate.

The point of this memo is we should push to fund a portion of the Emery Go Round with Measure B money.  The huge price tag for the BART extension alone would justify both of these causes.
 Many of these south county projects have no value to us folks in northern part of the county. 

There is 8% funding in Measure B for ped-bike projects and the South Bayfront Bridge is one that should certainly qualify.  If this is measure is approved, the transportation authority would have broad power to allocate funds for other projects.
The bridge is a cost effective investment, since we have already spent considerable money on project design and readiness. 

We provide lots of sales tax revenue to the county and state and we are not getting our fair share in return.
When support for Measure B was first considered, we still had a Redevelopment Agency.  We should pursue every possible means to accomplish the South Bayfront ped-bike bridge.
I'm asking the Council to revise support for Measure B, contingent on receiving funds for the South Bayfront Ped-Bike Bridge, and potentially for the Emery Go Round.

Ken Bukowski


  1. It makes me sick to see the city pay 2 million dollars just to think about something even though in all likelyhood it is all a pipe dream. For 2 million, they could have hired a night time security guard for 50 years at the underground crossing behind Target. As a city, why can't we be humble instead of living beyond our means?

  2. Ken seems to be emerging as a very knowledgeable property owners/residents advocate.

    1. I see it differently. Ken seems to be emerging as a paranoid conspiracy theorist. There's lot in this letter that isn't true. For example, it is not true that in every other region in the country the COG handles transportation funds. This is not true in virtually the entire state of Texas. It is also not true that every train in the world in standard gauge except BART. There are public transit trains in Philadelphia that are not standard gauge. There are other notable examples as well. Ken seems like he is stringing questionable facts together to develop a conspiracy theory just to struggle to remain politically relevant. Quentin Kopp sabotaged the South Bayfront Bike Bridge? Uh huh. Ken is grasping at straws. I don't want him claiming to represent me as a property owner. He does not. I don't think he even owns property here himself anymore.

    2. Ken's claim of a standard gauge is a bit fatuous. There are numerous "standard" railroad gauges, actually hundreds if I'm not mistaken, so I'm not sure what he is trying to get at with that point.

  3. Ok. Some details need cleaning up, but the basic idea is a good one. That bridge would be an enormous benefit to the City and if Alameda Measure B money could help us now that redevelopment is gone that sounds like something we should be pursuing.