Coming to Rockridge?
If you own property in the Rockridge neighborhood of North Oakland, you may soon be asked to sign a petition in favor of approving soundwall studies as the first step towards constructing soundwalls along Highway 24. Many of us in Rockridge are opposed to this project and we strongly urge you: Don't sign that petition!
Please take a few minutes to look at this site and find out what the City of Oakland and The Rockridge News are not telling you. I have created this website, www.RockridgeSoundwalls.org, to inform the public that these proposed soundwalls are mostly unnecessary, and to expose a process that is unfairly biased towards approving them.
Another "Bridge to Nowhere"
The proposed soundwalls are comparable to the Gravina Island Bridge in Alaska, which came to be known as the "Bridge to Nowhere". That bridge project was abandoned due to public pressure against unnecessary and wasteful spending.
What's the problem?
- Soundwalls in Rockridge are mostly unnecessary and would be a waste of $6 million.
- The soundwall study approval process has been manipulated in favor of approval.
- Ethics issues include deception and conflict of interest by proponents.
Top reasons not to approve soundwall studies for Highway 24 in Rockridge
- Measured noise levels don't justify soundwall construction in most of Rockridge.
- The allocated funds could be applied to more useful neighborhood projects instead.
- An investment of $1.182 million in studies would not guarantee construction.
- The City would need to raise an additional $5 million to actually build the soundwalls.
- Noise and air pollution at Rockridge BART station, which would be bracketed by soundwalls.
- Aesthetic considerations.
- Possible losses in property values adjacent to Highway 24.
- Only 133 properties would see a significant (5 decibel) noise reduction.
- Soundwall grafitti removal would be the responsibility of the City of Oakland, not CalTrans, creating a tagger's paradise.
How has the approval process been manipulated?
- The Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), which administered the approval process for the previously proposed soundwalls in Alameda County, is not doing so for the currently proposed projects. Why? Because the City of Oakland never initiated ACTC's formal approval process, despite years of public statements by the City and proponents of soundwalls that ACTC was involved.
- One of the proposed soundwalls failed ACTC approval in 2006 due to lack of community support.
- The City of Oakland created, but never published, its own soundwall study approval policy.
- The City then kept changing this new policy, apparently with the goal of making it easier and easier for the soundwall studies to be approved.
- The approval process was largely in the hands of Oakland District 1 City Councilmember Jane Brunner, who termed out after running unsuccessfully for City Attorney in the November, 2012 election. District 1 is where the proposed soundwalls would be located.
- Councilmember Brunner accepted contributions for her City Attorney campaign from craft unions, contractors, and a building supply company, which could benefit from local construction projects such as soundwalls.
- Wlad Wlassowsky, Transportation Division Services Manager, City of Oakland, made an "administrative decision" not to follow the ACTC Policy but instead to create a new and much less stringent soundwall study approval policy for the City, apparently at the behest of Councilmember Brunner. This new policy was never published, comments from the general public were not solicited, and the Oakland City Council was not consulted.
- Mr. Wlassowsky also sent a letter to 481 property owners near Highway 24 to notify them that according to the State Route 24 Oakland, CA Pre-NBSSR Noise Study Final Report December 2009, they would experience at least a 5 decibel reduction in noise if the soundwalls were built. However, only 133 of these properties would actually see at least a 5 decibel reduction in noise.
- In addition to incorrectly and repeatedly reporting that the ACTC soundwall approval policy was being applied, The Rockridge News has suppressed information critical of the proposed soundwalls. The News is published by the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC), which is a member of the Fourth Bore Coalition.
This website was not originally intended to compete in length with "War and Peace", but it kept growing as the saga of the Rockridge soundwalls unfolded. The basic story is here on this page; but if you would like to know more, read on:
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- An editorial
- The history of what has happened up to now
- Details about the manipulation of the soundwall approval process
- An original analysis of the Noise Study, which shows that soundwalls are not necessary in most of Rockridge
- Links to other sources of information, including documents, newspaper articles, and local television coverage
I'm interested in your comments on the proposed soundwalls and on this website.
Please e-mail me at Comment@RockridgeSoundwalls.org.
- Jon Gabel, 38 year Rockridge resident, RCPC Board member 2008-2012,
Founder Rockridge DVD Project