Lakeside Apartment Neighborhood Association


This is a view of Schilling gardens as it looked in July of 2008.
This is a portion of the WOBO map. It shows the affected area discussed in this letter.

Open Letter

MacArthur Street Changes

from BART to Mac Arthur Freeway Entrances and Exits at Harrison and Oakland


December 4, 2008

The decisions to create an unbroken median along MacArthur is particularly shortsighted for many reasons. A business that brands itself with the keyword "Thrive" is hypocritically creating conditions that will likely cause more trips to its emergency room due to collision injuries, and dampen incentives to either walk or bike. Increased auto speeds create intimidating hazards for pedestrians and cyclists; when compounded with busy parking structures having many exits and entrances, the prospect of safe, non-motorized transportation becomes nearly impossible. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to the obesity epidemic and all of its associated chronic diseases, including diabetes. Noise and air pollution will escalate in the affected area. Degraded air quality leads to increases in lung diseases such as emphysema and asthma. Noise pollution leads to loss of hearing and clusters of stress related illnesses.

Due to the pseudo-freeway conditions being encouraged along the MacArthur corridor from the freeway exit before Santa Clara all the way to the MacArthur BART station, businesses depending on foot and slower moving traffic - including bicycles, will suffer from a lack of safe access, and visibility. The AAA building, The Foodmill, a barber shop, Kaiser itself, several restaurants, a convenience market, and Lady Fingers may potentially suffer. Misguided efforts to improve motor vehicle traffic and encourage greater motorized travel speeds will choke off pedestrian and bicycle access to BART from the east. As a major public transportation hub, the MacArthur BART station is a critical lifeline for those committed to car-free living.

Freeways, and pseudo-freeways, bifurcate communities and cause social cohesion to unravel. This in turn leads to higher crime rates, blighted buildings and social alienation. Converting MacArthur into such a throughway is particularly obtuse since this street is situated at the nexus of so many currently vital communities such as Piedmont Blvd., Temescal, and Uptown. The MacArthur freeway has had a pronounced negative effect on the HarriOak neighborhood and on Adams Point. It is my belief that the arbitrary split of these neighborhoods caused by the freeway entrances and exits on Harrison and Oakland Avenues decimated the cohesion these neighborhoods formerly had with Piedmont and each other. It is no secret that gangs, drugs, muggings, break-ins, graffiti and other such opportunistic crimes "Thrive" when the social fabric breaks down and blight invades a neighborhood.

It seems that Kaiser has two paths to take with regard to their "Thrive" campaign: promote the health and well being of all community members by planning their infrastructure in such a way that encourages active, car-free lifestyles, or to allow gangs, blight, crime, graffiti, pollution and other urban plagues to "Thrive".

I am requesting that an adequate number of pedestrian/bicycle refuge islands and crosswalks be installed along the aforementioned stretch of MacArthur to maintain continuity of access for cyclists and pedestrians from one neighborhood to the next. Signals should be installed at these islands so that traffic is forced to come to a full stop. This will prevent MacArthur from being used as an extension of the MacArthur freeway and allow businesses to flourish along that stretch.

Finally, Mosswood Park is one of the few open spaces in this part of Oakland. When the MacArthur transit village with over 600 new residences is completed, the need for this valuable open space will intensify. Access to Mosswood Park, adequate maintenance, and the provision of security is important to current neighbors. These will be crucial if Oakland hopes to preserve the livability of this part of the City in the future when the pressures of increased population, decreased open land, due to the construction of the new transit village, and Kaiser's parking structures, are put into play.

We need to stop catering to increased automobile use and make a serious commitment to pedestrian, bicycle and public transportation modes. International security, curbing global warming, promoting human health, and salvaging the urban environment all depend on this.

Regards -

Anne Wellington