Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other city officials released an ambitious transportation plan Tuesday that aims to repair and update city streets, provide more equitable access to jobs and services and eliminate traffic deaths.
Speaking at a media briefing at her office, Schaaf said the 56-page strategic plan by the city's newly-created Department of Transportation "will increase mobility and safety for our citizens in a more affordable and reliable way."
Schaaf said the plan will "create a more a vibrant city where drivers don't get flat tires from potholes, but also where bus stops and crosswalks are safe for seniors and children and where access to opportunity isn't based on where you live."
She said, "Transportation is at the heart of where we live because it's how we get to our jobs, our schools, our doctors and our houses of worship."
The mayor said she decided that Oakland should create its own department of transportation because of what she described as "the failure of regional planning over the last two decades."
Schaaf said that failure included not building enough housing for the new jobs that have been created in the Bay Area, forcing many workers to live in outlying areas and commute long distances to their jobs.
She said the new plan "encourages a healthier lifestyle" because it reduces the emphasis on cars, calls for bicycling and walking and seeks to reduce air pollution.
Interim Oakland Transportation Director Jeff Tumlin said the plan is "a new kind of document that's derived from the deeply-held values of Oaklanders," which he said includes "social and economic advancement for all of our people."
Tumlin said the transportation plan "is a big deal" because it's the first in the nation to make social equity a priority by making the city more accessible, inclusive and fair.
He said that among the plan's goals are reducing pollution in low-income neighborhoods near busy freeways.
Tumlin said, "We in transit have more impact on public health outcomes than the medical community does."
The plan follows the City Council's recent approval of revisions to the city's 50-year-old parking requirements aimed at accelerating more affordable-housing construction in Oakland.
Schaaf said there's also been a recent change in planning guidelines to allow transportation planners to consider pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users on a more equal basis with people who drive.
In addition, Schaaf said the plan comes only five weeks before Oakland voters decide the fate of Measure KK, a $350 million initiative that would allow the city to undertake unprecedented road repair and redesign projects in every neighborhood, accelerating the repair of the city's crumbling infrastructure.
The plan includes detailed 1-year and 3-year benchmarks for improving transportation in Oakland.