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By Tim Hunt

BART needs to focus on trains, not residential development

Uploaded: Aug 9, 2018

As logical as it may seem to give BART control over building high-density housing on its parking lots, it’s a crazy idea.
As the deaths and assaults on BART over the last couple of weeks demonstrate, the BART management cannot run its train system, let alone handling residential development. Dirty trains that are over-crowded, delays in opening extensions, and rising crime make for an ugly operating situation that is challenging—to understate it—the BART management and its board.
The Legislature is considering a bill by David Chiu (D-San Francisco) that would give BART zoning control of its parking lots instead of the local jurisdictions. It may be well-intentioned, but it would be a disaster. BART must focus on its rail operations and their efficiency and safety without distraction.
In the wake of the murders, BART managers have cancelled days off for its police force and will have officers working six-day weeks for the next three weeks to try and re-establish a law enforcement presence. The board will consider a $28 million package of improvements, many of which are longer term, at its meeting today.
Chiu’s bill is opposed by many city and county officials. In this case, they are right. Consider what BART has not done at the terminal Dublin/Pleasanton station. A second parking structure was supposed to be built on the Dublin side and the Pleasanton side on Owens Drive was supposed to be developed with high-density residential housing, just like Pleasanton did across the street.
After Assemblywoman Catharine Baker cut a deal with the governor to line up $20 million in state funding for the garage, BART refused to move ahead. So, Supervisor Scott Haggerty worked with Alameda County and the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority to direct the grant to the authority to build the parking on county-owned land.
As this one example demonstrates, BART is incapable of moving development forward—it’s questionable about how well it manages and operates the train system. That must be the focus, so Chiu’s bill needs to die.
With instructors reporting back to Las Positas College this week and classes starting in two weeks, the Las Positas community celebrated the opening of its latest new classroom building, no. 1000. It’s milestone in the build-out of the North Livermore campus.
In remarks, Dr. Susan Cota, who formerly led both Las Positas and the district, remarked that when she arrived in 1991, there were just seven buildings on the campus. Now, thanks to voters who approved major bond issues in 2004 and 2016, there are several new buildings including a full athletic complex.
The new facility features a language lab, computer labs and several classrooms. It also includes several spaces for collaboration including comfy chairs and white boards. The two-story building has an open central atrium with the gathering places around it. It has enough data cable to reach from Las Positas in Livermore to Chabot College in west Hayward (35 miles).
Students, faculty and other staff should be delighted with this new facility, designed and built by Balfour Beatty Construction.