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?
With the 11+ new state laws, plus the recent passage of AB2923, housing growth will come to Lafayette. This housing growth will now include affordable housing requirements, which I support. I believe that we need to re-open the Downtown Specific Plan and be proactive in our approach to growth both in housing and retail, and try to maintain our welcoming and vibrant downtown while minimizing negative impacts to traffic and parking. We are in the position to hire a new City Manager, and I believe Lafayette needs to hire a City Manager that will focus on the necessary multi-faceted approach involving residents, services, schools and traffic for these downtown infill developments.
I believe that infill developments for Lafayette near our BART station are the right location for dense housing for multiple reasons. However, Lafayette is a family town, and I believe we will continue to attract young families, and I don’t believe that it is reasonable to have housing that has minimal or no parking for family residents. This parking should include lifts underground, as well as ample electric car chargers (I’m a 4 year electric car driver and will never go back to gas!). All housing should be ADA, and include proper air quality filters since much of the downtown housing is next to Highway 24 and it’s elevated particulate levels. Incorporating as much GREEN building materials and pourous surfaces is always desirable and can be built into building codes.
As much as I support affordable housing for our teachers, I believe this can only be achieved by building on school property. The Meher School is still owned by the Lafayette School District, and could be a site for housing, but it also may be needed to reopen as a school in case the housing growth is sufficient to warrant an additional school. Our city should focus on a solution that involves sending more money to our schools as the growth continues.
I would also like to add special needs housing to Lafayette, since this population’s housing needs are great and vastly under-represented. Building housing for our adult special needs population, like https://sunflowerhill.org/ in Pleasanton and Livermore, qualifies as section 8, high density. This type of housing would be a win for Lafayette as it pertains to housing mandates and would add very little traffic to our streets. Senior housing is also much-needed and should be welcome in Lafayette for many of the same reasons.
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?
[Appropriate question as I’m reading the EIR for the Bollinger development in Moraga that will cause a significant traffic impact to traffic in Burton Valley, so unfortunately cannot address it in this public question. This will be on the Agenda for the Circulation Commission Monday Oct 15 for any who wants to attend.]
Solo cars dominating the drive to Lafayette BART or through Lafayette to access Oakland/San Francisco is outdated and inefficient. It is the responsibility of local and regional government to incentivize citizens to ride share and select mass transit over solo vehicle transport. I would like to buck trend and work with neighboring cities and the CCTA to make regional rideshare and mass transit options more popular choices. Specifically, I’d like to task neighboring jurisdictions as well as Lafayette with securing ride share lots for pick up and drop off and advertising the apps that make that an attractive and safe option for their constituency. In addition, I’d like the CCTA to study whether: converting one lane on Taylor and/or PH Roads to a carpool only lane during peak hours, and/or adding a right hand carpool lane from Ph Rd to Deer Hill; and/or making some of BART’s prime parking spaces carpool only, to incentivize commuters from the N.E. to abandon their solo vehicles. Additionally, the CCTA should study whether synchronizing lights along PH Rd would help with overall traffic flow without hampering side street flow.
We have the technology to discern the origin of the cars entering Lafayette, but it’s it’s never been used to my knowledge, to influence systematic improvements within our transportation matrix. Pedestrian and bicycle safety has to be prioritized similar to how European nations make this a priority. Unfortunately, Lafayette placed precious road width emphasis on wide landscaped medians instead of following European roadway “diet” construction methods of prioritizing safe bike and pedestrian lanes which are often buffered by parked cars or landscaped sideways.
For a more practical matter, school bus service needs to be offered for all of Lafayette, not just certain regions. This has been part of the Downtown Congestion Study, and should be pursued. The traffic improvements for Mt. Diablo and Deer Hill should also be implemented as soon as funds are available. I believe that traffic downtown warrants these improvements. I’d like all future planning and redevelopment to incentivize and imagine optimally healthier spaces, particularly within the realm of transport.
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 shutoffs. How would you propose these hazards be addressed?
Since there are existing legal issues around PG&E recent proposals, I will have to tread lightly and respond only to the technical questions poised here.
As an engineer, I have read many documents regarding pipeline safety. From these documents, I believe that pipeline integrity is best assessed through direct inspection. ‘Pigs’ and ‘Smart Pigs’ can be used to both inspect and clean gas pipelines. However, if the pipelines contain old valves, pigs cannot be installed. Automated shut-off valves are proven effective in case of earthquake or sudden pipeline rupture.
Lafayette is traversed with a related series of earthquake faults that will trigger simultaneously and produce a wave-type action through downtown similar to a single event on the Hayward fault. I believe to reduce the hazards of our older pipelines, it would be in our best interest to replace any non-piggable values with new piggable valves. To increase safety, we should place automated shut-off valves strategically throughout the system. After these valve replacements, regular maintenance cycles of Smart Pig inspections should be performed.
This combination of valve replacements, shut-off valve installations, and inspections would result in reduced hazards for Lafayette.