Lafayette Residents Are Concerned About Traffic Congestion

Lafayette Residents Are Concerned About Traffic Congestion

In a strong showing of civic involvement, more than 150 residents of Lafayette, California, attended a special symposium in May to learn about plans to reduce the city’s traffic congestion.

One Lafayette resident said attendance at the event would have been higher if there had not been, at the same time, an open-house at a local intermediate school.

Leading the symposium was Mike Iswalt of ARUP, a San Francisco-based firm that does consulting work in the areas of transportation planning and land use.

The event was held at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Building on Mt. Diablo Blvd.

Mr. Iswalt presented 15 strategies for reducing traffic congestion in Lafayette.  The strategies covered such topics as coordinating traffic signals, expanding bicycle pathways, and enhancing school-bus service.

Other strategies included making some streets one-way, adding pick-up and drop-off zones for schools, building a bridge to connect BART’s two parking lots in Lafayette, and staggering school times.

If all 15 strategies were adopted, the costs could range from $33 million to $49 million.

Mr. Iswalt said that Lafayette could adopt only some of the 15 strategies, thereby saving the city money.

Mr. Iswalt said that Lafayette could, over the next few years, experience population growth of 8 percent to 20 percent.  He did not rule out the possibility of growth exceeding 20 percent.

Among audience members, there was skepticism over having any growth at all,  Lafayette, like its neighboring city, Orinda, is basically full and has no room for additional construction unless high-rise, high-density residences are added.

Questions from audience members reflected concern over plans to increase the city’s population.

When one audience member said that growth could be imperiled by California’s high taxes, expensive housing, and a future economic downturn, enthusiastic applause erupted.  Mr. Iswalt said he was confident that Lafayette would grow.

Lafayette’s vice mayor and city council member, Don Tatzin, who was present at the May symposium, told the audience that a city’s plans to limit population growth can be unsuccessful.

According to an October 18, 2012, article in the Mercury News, “Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based urban justice group, filed a suit against the city [of Pleasanton] in 2006, claiming its voter-approved limit of 29,000 housing units prevented Pleasanton from building its share of affordable housing units, as set by the state.”

Urban Habitat won the lawsuit.  In 2012, the Pleasanton City Council changed its general plan.  The city’s cap on new housing was removed.

–Richard Colman

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