Climate Change, Emergencies and Pollyanna in Alameda
A few weeks ago, I attended the hearing on the proposed Alameda Marina development. I was horrified at the sanguine attitude of city staff and some speakers on the effect of traffic backup on emergency services. It was acknowledged that all routes in and out of the city are at capacity. Staff opined that ambulances, fire trucks and police could somehow get through regardless.
It is obvious that the push for more housing is not accompanied by plans for infrastructure to support that housing. Intelligent city planning provides for infrastructure before increased demands are made on an already inadequate system. The following areas are of concern:
Recently, new maps were adopted, mandating flood insurance on a large portion of Bay Farm Island. These new maps appear to not take probable effects of climate change into consideration. See www.scientificamerican.com/article/rising-sea-levels-will-hit-california.... Interactive maps at ss2.climatecentral.org show the effect of sea rise on Alameda. Note that all routes in and out of Alameda are at risk. Note that large portions of the properties slated for development will most probably be underwater in the next 50 to 100 years. What is being done? Nothing.
Has anyone realized that California is semi-desert? Increased population will put more stress on what is already an inadequate water supply. Cape Town, South Africa is a half a world away, and may seem to have nothing in common with Alameda. However, Cape Town elects a political party at odds with the majority party of the South African government, and competes for water with large, agricultural interests. Sound familiar? Cape Town is very close to running out of water. Is Cape Town’s present our future?
Increased population will create more need for schools. However, the Alameda Board of Education apparently wants to shutter Encinal High School and sell the land for more housing for more people who will have kids who need an education. How intelligent is that?
The repeated mantra is “People will take public transportation.” There is no evidence that people are currently taking public transportation, even with traffic as bad as it is, with backups at all times of the day. The idea that people will take public transportation at any point in the future has no basis in evidence. You may as well believe in the Tooth Fairy.
The other mantra is “Bicycles!” Check statistics: bicycle riding is the most dangerous means of transportation, except for motorcycles, and if you excluded idiots who drink and ride (full disclosure: I ride motorcycles) would probably be about the same. Bicycle riding is not possible for people who are disabled, people who have loads to carry and people who have more than one child. Bicycle riding is also not possible for people with long commutes.
If you take a look at Europe or Japan, where people do in fact take public transportation, what do you see? Clean, safe, fast trains that go everywhere and run at all hours. We could have the same thing, but that would mean raising taxes to European levels. Oh, the horror.
Just today, large areas of Yolo County are being told to evacuate, due to wildfires. Alameda has, as far as I know, NO evacuation plans, which may be needed in case of fire, tsunami or earthquake. With no ability to get out, people will die. Do we have any ideas as to what to do besides thoughts and prayers?