Question 1: Because Lafayette is a desirable place to live we are subject to continuing pressure to grow. What is your vision for growth in Lafayette?
We can progress and should but our growth needs to be well managed. Sound city planning requires us to consider the impacts of each decision. I have had a strong interest in land use since my career began in food science and nutrition. The question of how we use land for the benefit of all has been the ultimate question. My work in campus and park planning is not that different from planning a community. I have been very successful in my career and will apply these lessons learned to Lafayette. My tenure on the Planning Commission accomplished a great deal and did much to benefit our city. You need only look as far as our open hill tops and sustainability efforts to see the good that this community has accomplished. The negative campaigning and discrediting appointed and elected volunteers is divisive and not what we want for our future. Lafayette deserves better. Admittedly, this is a small group of people and not what Lafayette is about. Let’s stop dividing and use all of our resources to work on the real issues. It is important for us to hear from the entire community and I will encourage ways for all to contribute.
Question 2: Because Lafayette is a transportation access point for surrounding communities, traffic congestion is worsening as these communities grow. How do you propose we address this burden?
See Karen's traffic-related responses below.
Question 3: The natural gas pipelines that run through Lafayette to supply our city are old, have no provisions for automated inspection, and have no automated shut-off valves. How would you propose these hazards be addressed?
This was handled poorly. We need a reset. I was on the planning commission when we initiated the tree protection ordinance. However, this issue with PG&E has unearthed (no pun intended) a bigger issue regarding pipeline safety. We need a complete inspection of a pipeline that has not been appropriately reviewed since installation. Let’s get it done now. In my mind, the focus is now on community safety. I thank the dedicated people behind Save Lafayette Trees for stepping up and making a difference. It has been more difficult for them than it should have been.
In addition to the questions Sustainable Lafayette asked, Karen shared the responses she provided to questions from the Reliez Valley Traffic group:
1. Do you live in the N.E. quadrant of the city, or commute or have children that commute within the N.E. quadrant during peak hours? I have relatives who live in this area and both of my children attended Acalanes High School so we made daily trips on Dear Hill Road and Pleasant Hill Road. I also have friends that live in Pleasant Hill near Grayson with young children who have another perspective on the issues as well.
2. What circulation challenges within this N.E. quadrant have you or your family members personally experienced? The current traffic situation is the worst it has been in my 30 year residence in Lafayette. During peak commute periods, the level of service (LOS) is rated F.
3. What is your understanding of the myriad of traffic challenges we face? A large percentage of the congestion in Lafayette during peak hours is created by cut-through traffic - cars that pass through our town using WAZE to find less congested routes for their commutes. This occurs on Moraga Road as well as Taylor to Pleasant Hill. The situation in Moraga and the level of service on Moraga Road acts to prevent significant new building in Moraga because of the lack of egress or ways out of town. This is not the case with the cut-through traffic on Taylor or Pleasant Hill Road because it is regional and arrives via the freeway. The city of Lafayette has no control over the development in northern or eastern cities and towns.
4. What help, if any, have you provided RVRRT and/or how do you intend to help N.E. Lafayette with true circulation enhancements? This congestion originates much farther than Pleasant Hill and, in fact, they feel our pain. I am familiar with a smart data traffic platform that uses smart phones and GPS information from other personal devices to track trip origins and makes recommendations for mitigating the issues. We use it at the Presidio National Park to prevent cut-through traffic to the Golden Gate Bridge. It has been very helpful to reduce the congestion on Crissy Field and in some of our park neighborhoods. The City of Lafayette hired a consultant for the Moraga Traffic Study that also used this technology to find the root causes, suggest solutions and even wrote a case study on Lafayette that I can share. The current remedies with restricted turning during peak hours provide some relief but should not be the only tools used. The remedies we seek will involve partnering with our more distance neighbors to find regional solutions.
5. What are the specific circulation challenges (political, economic, etc) do you see regarding 680 and Taylor/PH Rd corridors and how might you be involved with mitigating those challenges? The almost daily accidents on 680 place an additional burden on our streets because the freeways are blocked. Our transportation authorities need to improve the safety and flow of traffic on our freeways. When lanes are closed, we need additional police to set-up appropriate alternatives and monitor the situation. The long term solution will have to involve more public transportation, jobs closer to housing and fewer single occupant cars.
6. Do you have any relationships at the CCTA or in Pleasant Hill City government? Are you willing to leverage those relationships for enhanced circulation within the N.E. inter jurisdictional pocket? I think this is key to finding shared solutions. Leading locally means building relationships and working together. We are stronger when we have the support of our regional leaders and are not isolated. I look forward to building these relationships immediately.
7. Pertaining to N.E. circulation, are you willing to advocate for ALL Lafayette students’ rights to a safe and efficient commute to school over and above jurisdictional neighbors rights for a quicker commute? When my children were in K-8, I lead the safe routes to school program and volunteered as a traffic guard for Lafayette School and Stanley. I agree that excess congestion is a safety and health issue.
8. Are you willing to hold meetings on this topic that foster two way communication and solicit ideas from residents and staff alike? As a college instructor, I am not a stranger to dialog, debate and learning. A community must be able to have open conversations about what is going well and not so well. We also need to act on what we learn, in a timely manner, and for the benefit of all.
9. Do you consider any of N.E. Lafayette’s circulation challenges particularly solvable? Many, many cities and town across the country are experiencing the same issues. We need to find who is most similar to us and find out how they are solving this problem. We did this with the Library and learning Center Project by touring all the libraries considered to be the best to learn what they did right or would not do again. Some of our ordinances started the same way by learning from others.
10. Pertaining to N.E. circulation only, what, if anything else, do you want RVRRT members to know about you and the next 4 years you hope to be in office? That I have a lot of experience in planning and sustainable development and can hit the ground running if elected in November. I also intend to cut back on my Presidio responsibilities to concentrate my efforts on leading the City of Lafayette. For more information on my qualifications, experience and priorities, please visit: www.KarenforLafayette.com