Search The Tattler

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sherwin Williams Project: Emeryville's City Staff Prepares a Bogus Environmental Document

An EIR is Supposed to Tell Decision Makers About Negative Environmental Impacts 

What Will the Sherwin Williams Traffic be Like?
Nobody Knows

Opinion/News Analysis
EIR's Are Supposed to Measure
Will the City Council demand
measurements from the
Sherwin Williams EIR?
Emeryville’s City staff has prepared the environmental document that facilitates the last large development project for our town, the Sherwin Williams Project (SWP), and the City Council decides Tuesday night whether to certify the Environmental Impact Report as a properly prepared CEQA document.  
But hold on; there’s a huge problem.  The City Council cannot certify the EIR for Sherwin Williams because the EIR fails at it’s most elemental CEQA charge; to inform the decision makers about how the proposal will effect traffic in our town.  
In fact the EIR contains no useful information about traffic at all.  That’s because the traffic study within the EIR was written with the assumption the City Council will amend our General Plan to get rid of the Horton Street Bike Boulevard as it calculated the traffic effects the SWP would have on the neighborhood.  It's not up to the staff to decide the General Plan will be amended.  

What if the Council decided they like bike boulevards?  What if they want to keep the Horton Street Bike Boulevard as the General Plan says it should be?  As they have said many times they wished to do?  Well then less traffic would be using Horton Street and that excess traffic would move to other streets.  And that would change the ‘level of service’ on those other streets to a lower level.  In that case, the streets in the neighborhood would be more negatively impacted by the Sherwin Williams Project than the current EIR shows. 

The City Council and the people of Emeryville are in the dark about how the Sherwin Williams traffic will impact our neighborhoods.

The City Council needs to know this to make an informed choice about the SWP.  Is it too impactful to traffic in the neighborhood?  Is it acceptable? The Council needs to know this before they can decide on this project.  Says who?  Says the State of California: the central function of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is exactly this….to properly inform the decision makers about development proposals.  
The document the staff will be pushing Tuesday night doesn’t do that.  It fails at the sole task it’s supposed to perform.  The City Council needs to throw it back.  They need to tell the staff to prepare a  new EIR with traffic numbers that show the effect on the neighborhoods with the assumption we’re going to keep the Horton Street Bike Boulevard, that's all.

More Traffic on our Bike Boulevards Means
More Ghost Bikes for Emeryville

Will the City Council make the right decision
on Tuesday night? Will they keep open the
option to have a bike boulevard for Horton Street?
The citizen activist group Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) wrote a letter to the staff about this subject.  Inexplicably, the response to RULE’s letter was the staff didn’t understand the question.  That seems like a canard.  They're paid to know about this. 
We understand it: this is an end run on what’s supposed to be a transparent process.  The staff is trying to show a Sherwin Williams Project with less effect on traffic to make it more palatable to the public, to make it an easier sell for the Council. 

We have a right to know what the effect on traffic the Sherwin Williams Project will have in our town assuming we keep our bike boulevards. We need to know how this project will effect the real world. The world that contains the Emeryville General Plan and bicycling as a safe possibility here.  If the City Council certifies this EIR as it is being offered up to them by the staff on Tuesday night, we’ll know they never had any intention on having a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  The developers for the Sherwin Williams Project don't want a bike boulevard on Horton Street.  Let’s see who’s back this City Council has.  Watch this space….


  1. Emeryville is choking on traffic now, and making up for bad past decisions has proved expensive and elusive. So it's great to see RULE and the Tattler keeping up the pressure on the City Council to look ahead to the consequences of its actions.

    Also, as a voter, I'd love for the Tattler to pump the newest round of candidates for City Council for specifics on how they intend to help Emeryville deal with its worst problems, including traffic.

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement Will. Yes, look for the 2016 Tattler Candidates Questionnaires coming soon. Council and School Board hopefuls will get a chance to tell voters how they would rule on important topics Emeryville faces.

  2. A link to the EIR would be helpful.

    Maybe you don't want people to read it. Almost none of what you have stated is true. The EIR correctly identifies Horton Street as a bike boulevard and identifies an impact to the bike boulevard as a result of increased traffic caused by the project and includes a mitigation measure to mitigate the impact to Horton Street to a less-than-significant level, including requiring the project to fund the installation of traffic calming measures on Horton Street. See pages 143-145 of Chapter IV. The EIR goes on to identify other traffic impacts and includes measures to mitigate those impacts. The required traffic signal at Hollis and 45th will greatly improve traffic flow in the area.

    Furthermore, it will be a glorious day when the CEQA Guidelines are finally amended to do away with LOS as a metric of traffic "impact" in urban areas. Traffic is not intrinsically an environmental impact. It is a social impact that causes other environmental impacts. Traffic delay (i.e. the additional time it takes someone to get somewhere via automobile) is a social impact. Traffic causes other environmental impacts such as air pollution, impacts to water quality via runoff, and hydological impacts as a result of increased impervious surface. These impacts are already analyzed as part of CEQA. The State of California has now recognized that these impacts are more closely correlated with Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) than they are with any metric of vehicle delay. The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (as directed by the Legislature) has circulated a revised revision to the CEQA Guidelines to codify the use of VMT as the metric for analyzing traffic impacts in urban areas. It will soon be adopted and we will begin to put this silly era of analyzing traffic delay as an environmental impact behind us.

    1. Speaking of unmitigated, your comment is a load of unmitigated bullshit straight from Charlie Bryant. The pro-business blog the E'Ville Eye is willing to post your bullshit about 2% increased traffic on the bike boulevard being "less than significant" but the Emeryville Tattler brooks in the truth. What you're doing with this meme is employing EIR Speak that's meant to obscure a fundamental truth that this project WILL PRECLUDE the possibility of having a bike boulevard on Horton Street. What you're not telling us is that Horton Street already has too much traffic on it for it to be a bike boulevard (3000 vehicle trips per day) and the Sherwin Williams Project will add more traffic. A bike boulevard is not just a street with purple signs and stencils on the asphalt. A bike boulevard is a street that's a bike priority street with cars allowed. It's a street SAFE FOR BIKES. And less than 3000 trips per day is safe for bikes; more than 3000 is UNSAFE FOR BIKES. Says who? Our General Plan, bike organizations around the USA and every other city with bike boulvards. Because the traffic study, laid out by staff department heads Charlie Bryant and Maurice Kaufman doesn't tell the Council what the effect on traffic this project will have, then they didn't do their job. That's what we have here; a recalcitrant staff still doing the bidding of developers. Why the new progressive City Council majority didn't fire these two apologists for developers when they got elected is beyond me.
      What Charlie is doing is reprehensible, Mr "Anonymous".

  3. You're actually getting what you want from this EIR. Regardless of what the threshold of significance is for the impact to the bike boulevard, the EIR identifies an impact and mitigates that impact with, among other things, a requirement to fund traffic calming, including diverters. An EIR cannot legally require a project to mitigate an existing condition (i.e. reduce traffic to a lower level that what is existing). However, the traffic analysis shows that the traffic on Horton with the project and the installation of diverters will be below 3,000 ADT in all segments. So, the existing condition will be improved by the project. I don't understand what more you are looking for.

    I'm flattered that you think I'm Charlie Bryant, but there are intelligent CEQA practitioners in Emeryville aside from the City staff. I'm certain the City staff do not comment on your blog. There's no need to. You blog is usually the best argument against itself. It only took me about 15 minutes of reading to obtain the facts in this case.

    Here's the part where you revert to belittling me despite the fact that I have pointed out that you are correct about current traffic on Horton and that the EIR and this project will provide the traffic calming and traffic reduction that you have been having tirades about for years.

    1. I think you need to spend a little more time than 15 minutes because obviously you missed the Fehr & Peers traffic study Table 3 where it clearly states total daily traffic with project in cumulative condition is 3930 vehicle trips. I presume you understand the number 3930 is bigger than 3000.

      You are not even understanding what's required of an EIR traffic study. It's really very simple: The decision makers are required to be informed about the effects on existing traffic the project will have. This EIR traffic study assumes the City Council will be satisfied with 3930 vehicle trips per day on Horton Street. That means the Bike Plan (part of the General Plan) is assumed to be amended to allow for this extra traffic on the street. What the staff (yes you) should have done is add more diverters in the mock up scenario until less than 3000 vehicle trips is reached (we know it would be more than the two partial diverters at the two locations chosen for the study that was done). Then the numbers should have been run with the diverters selected so the Council could see the effects on intersections all around the neighborhood.
      The reason staff didn't do the right thing and give the Council what they need to know to make an informed decision is because then they would have had to show the extra 930 cars on intersections scattered around town near Horton Street and that would have pushed several intersections into a much worse condition with much more traffic. That would have shown the Sherwin Williams Project to be much worse and would have made approving this development much more difficult politically. So instead you just made your assumption that we're not going to have a bike boulevard...but guess what? That's not your decision to make. That's the City Council's decision. You should have done your job and stayed out of politics.

    2. Oh and BTW, we know the staff at City Hall reads the Tattler...we have moles that report back to us. We know you ARE Charlie because only Charlie Bryant would say he's flattered to be called Charlie Bryant. There's no one else that would want to be compared to him. You've been outed Charlie.