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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project: 'Cars Are Good, Bikes Are Incompatable'

Sherwin Williams Primer:
'Bike Boulevards Not Acceptable'

EIR Says Glut of Cars Should Push Bikes Out
If All Goes to Plan 

There's only one way the 540 unit Sherwin Williams project gets built; and that's by accommodating its glut of cars seeking its 1000 parking spaces by getting rid of Emeryville's General Plan mandated Bike Boulevards on Horton Street (as well as 45th and 53rd streets) according to City Hall and the environmental document it directed for the project.
But it wasn't supposed to be this way. The document prepared to study the effects of the Sherwin Williams residential building development proposal that has been written that precludes the three planned bicycle boulevards was specifically supposed to accommodate the bike transit corridors in its traffic analysis.  Emeryville's Directors of Planning and Public Works made an executive decision as it turns out, to only study one traffic scenario for the project; one that disregards the three bike boulevards.  The document was supposed to assist the City Council in their decision about the Sherwin Williams proposal as if bike boulevards could coexist with the cars.

"It didn't occur to us" 
to accommodate bike boulevards
-Charlie Bryant 
Emeryville Planning Director

The State mandated document, called the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DIER), was prepared by Maurice Kaufman, City Hall's Public Works Department Director as well as Planning Department Director Charlie Bryant by deleting from the City's General Plan the bike boulevards and moving the project forward with a field leveling, full steam ahead Statement of Overriding Consideration for the City Council to sign.  Alternatively, the bike boulevard standards quantified by the Emeryville's Bike Plan (part of the General Plan), could be "loosened" by amending the Bike Plan to permit the piling of more cars onto the bike corridors Mr Kaufman told the Tattler Wednesday.  However Emeryville's allowance of 3000 vehicles on its bike boulevards is already very high by national standards, "That's probably too high" Steve Clark, the 'bike friendly community director' at the League of American Bicyclists told the Tattler last summer.  Regardless, four years ago, Emeryville's Bike Plan was recognized by the League as good enough to award the city with the designation 'bicycle friendly city'.

Emeryville's General Plan provides for no more than 3000 vehicle trips per day on the three bike boulevards and provides a remedy of traffic diverters to maintain that metric.  Mr Kaufman and Mr Bryant directed the DEIR to assume two 'half diverters' for Horton Street, one at 40th Street and one at 53rd Street that would permit southbound traffic only and northbound traffic only respectively, in order to try to bring down the number of vehicles on the street but the study reveals the remaining traffic would still exceed the 3000 vehicles per day limit as the Bike Plan spells out.  The scenario studied in the DEIR calls for no diverters for either 45th Street Bike Boulevard or the 53rd Street Bike Boulevard.
Directors Bryant (L) and Kaufman (R)
Bike boulevards are only possible
"If you loosen your standards" (Kaufman)

 because "It didn't occur to us" (Bryant)
 to accommodate bikes (as mandated 
by the General Plan).
The DEIR could have studied the traffic effects of the Sherwin Williams project with enough diverters on the bike boulevards to accommodate Emeryville's Bike Plan but Planning Director Bryant told the Tattler that idea wasn't entertained, "That didn't occur to us" he said.  For its part, LSA Associates, the firm that actually wrote the DEIR thinks the two half diverters as proposed by City Hall, while not adequate to save the bike boulevards, are the "maximum that is feasible", a representative told the Tattler.

The public is allowed to comment on the DEIR and any comments received will be reflected in the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) as well as any responses deemed reasonable from LSA Associates.  Commenters should contact the City of Emeryville.


  1. You always make a big deal out of nothing. More cars go on the streets sharing with the bikes. That's how it's done. There's not going to be some big showdown between needed development and guys riding two wheels. It's not one or the other. We're going to get both obviously. Don't try to create a scene when it's not necessary.

    1. So we're expected to amend our General Plan to allow more than 3000 vehicles per day on the bike boulevards? How much do we raise it to? And what then do we do when the next developer needs to raise it again? Just keep raising it? Then why even have bike boulevards? Just so we can say we have them?
      These are not ideas of interest to Emeryville residents (or the surrounding communities). This is just more developer coddling at our expense. Remember, Sherwin Williams project increases our coffers at City Hall by zero. We pay out more in services to new residents than we receive in revenue (true for all resident development). We're legally allowed to say NO and so that's what we should do if a development proposal subverts our interests.

  2. After biking in Emeryville for the past 10 years, I'd say it's a stretch to call this city bicycle friendly.

    Overall, the adjacent part of Oakland has done a better job than Emeryille of making room for both bikes and cars.

    Hats off, as usual, to the Tattler, for providing a forum for griping on either side of the issue and better still for reminding us that any comments we send on the DEIR will be reflected in the final report. That's a step worth taking.

    1. Thanks Will!
      Yes, public comments to the Draft EIR will be most helpful. They are required to answer each one in the Final EIR (even though you may not like the answer).

  3. For anyone who'd like to send in a comment to the city, the City Clerk's office says you can email comments to

    Negative impacts on bicycle boulevards in the 528-page DEIR are summarized on pp.164-173. The Sherwin Williams project is described at and The full document is at

    Oh, and you won't be surprised to find that the DEIR lists as another significant unavoidable impact more bunching up of traffic at 40th and San Pablo.

    1. Gee, I wonder if you're one of the MANY bikers I see in Emeryville who does not obey traffic control devices, and does not use any kind of turn signaling.
      Why should the city coddle bikers who just flaunt the laws, and ride dangerously?

    2. Gee, it looks like you're one of the legion of dumb contrarian Tattler readers. The take away from people not obeying laws is not to overturn policy in the public interest. Otherwise we'd have to get rid of roads because people driving cars speed or get rid of laws prohibiting murder because people murder. What the hell?