Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Preparing For the Fall Election

The Fall 2014 election is three weeks from today. Here are a few resources to prepare:

To look up your ballot, poling place, candidate information, etc, go to Voters Edge (The MapLight Voter Guide)

If you're an Alameda County voter, the County Registrar of Voters site has links to:
Verify your registration status
Get information about early voting (it's a long ballot, and you may not have time on November 4)
Request a Vote-by-Mail Ballot (again, it's a long ballot)
Learn about Ranked Choice Voting

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Election Season Starts

On this first full day of Autumn, it's time to look toward November 4 - Election Day. Television is already bombarding us with ads for and (mostly) against a couple of the statewide initiatives. We've already received mailers and flyers on a couple of Berkeley initiatives (most notably the beverage tax). Last night, the Halcyon and Bateman Neighborhood Associations hosted a candidates forum for our city council member. All of Bateman and the east portion of Halcyon will be voting for district 8. The candidates are (names link to their respective web sites):

George Beier
Mike Alvarez Cohen
Lori Droste
Jacquelyn McCormick

My goal in attending the forum was to get an impression of who these people were. It's always nice to vote for a person rather than just a name. I was pleased that all four candidates were present at last night's forum.

So, what impressions did each candidate leave?

George Beier - "community member." He always emphasized the community whenever he spoke. He spoke about how he has rallied the community around zoning issues, neighborhood problems, Willard Pool, Telegraph, etc. He also used the least amount of jargon. For example, other candidates used the acronym "ADU." He was the only one who actually said what it means (Accessory Dwelling Units, which are structures that can be built in backyards as supplemental housing.)

Mike Alvarez Cohen - "current guard." He talked about being chair of the Zoning Adjustments Board, and his endorsement by Tom Bates. However, he also came across as a bit flakey. When asked about zoning adjustments for a few recent approvals that were met with neighborhood disapproval, he dodged the question saying that either he was not present (Starbucks) or couldn't recall (Telegraph Commons height/parking.) When meeting with a neighborhood you should have been prepared to respond to questions about the ZAB's decisions that most impacted the neighborhood.

Lori Droste - "old guard." She talked about her endorsements, involvement with city commissions, working with the different city organizations. I got the feeling that I would agree with her the most out of the four candidates, but I didn't get an impression of how she would represent me or my neighborhood.

Jacquelyn McCormick - "passionate." She gave the most passionate responses to the questions asked of the candidates. She talked about how the city council needs to change, how she attends council meetings and makes her voice heard. She was also, surprisingly, the only candidate to bring up the city's fiscal issues. I already know that I do not agree with some of her opinions on city measures, but she left the biggest impression on me out of the four candidates.

I'm not close to deciding who will receive my vote, but at least I have some idea about the people running.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Comparing BART Airport Surcharges

Coliseum BART - Oakland Airport Connector construction on 6/8/2014

Ever since construction finally started on BART's Oakland Airport Connector, I've been following with anticipation. Yesterday BART finally announced the one-way fare for the connector will be $6. At first I thought, "that seems rather expensive." But then I wondered how does this compare to the surcharge to travel to SFO:

The fare from Downtown Berkeley to SFO is $9.25.
The fare from Downtown Berkeley to San Bruno (one stop before SFO) is $4.75.
The fare from Downtown Berkeley to Millbrae (one stop after SFO) is $5.10.
Using the before and after stations my guess is that if SFO was just a regular station, the fare would be $4.90 or $4.95, which puts the SFO surcharge between $4.30 and $4.35.

Given the extra distance between Coliseum BART and Oakland Airport, the $6 fare seems in-line compared with the SFO surcharge.

By the way, if you want to pay less, you will still be able to exit the Coliseum BART station, cross San Leandro Blvd and take the AC Transit 73 to Oakland Airport for around $2 (remember AC Transit fares and fare policies change on July 1.)