Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Welcome! Start Here.


All our efforts are currently being focused on the No on Measure WW campaign.
Please click here to visit

We are leaving this site up for historical and archival purposes, and we may return here once the election is over...but don't expect to see anything new here until then. For now, all the action and new updates are over at

Thanks, and we'll see you over there!
-Better East Bay Parks

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Brief Essay on Selfishness

We have been accused of selfishness, both by the EBRPD and by proponents of Measure WW. Let's think about this for a moment.

The EBRPD, Sierra Club, Regional Parks Association, and other "environmental" groups are saying "These public parks and trails, paid for by everyone, are only for us. You are not allowed to come here."

We are saying "These are public parks and trails, and they should be for everyone: hikers, equestrians, and cyclists alike."

Who's being selfish? Us -- or the EBRPD and the "environmentalists"?

It's not selfish to demand equal treatment, and it's not selfish to vote against someone that denies it to you.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Breaking News: It's "Measure WW"

It's official. The EBRPD's $500 million tax and bond measure is called:

Measure WW

We're busily updating our flyers and website. More to come!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meeting Wrapup: The EBRPD Forces the Issue...the wrong way

We don't want to be here, doing what we're doing.

We would much rather be supporting Measure WW, so we can have more parks, preserve more open space, and build sustainable trails in them for everyone to enjoy. We were willing to forgive fifteen years of stonewalling and outright lying by the EBRPD, if they would come to the table with anything at all for their second largest user group.

We already have city and state park departments, each of which is already competently maintaining parks and open space in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties -- so strictly speaking, the EBRPD is redundant. Now, you might think that people from a redundant public agency that is 100% dependent on tax dollars for its funding -- and which is coming to us, hat in hand, to ask for $500 million dollars of extra tax money over and beyond their current allocation -- would be polite and courteous.

You might think the EBRPD would be asking us "How can we serve you better, so as to justify our request for $500 million more of YOUR MONEY?" Especially when Measure WW, being a tax increase, requires a 2/3 super-majority vote to pass.

You would be wrong.

1) The meeting opened with a 30-minute harangue which blamed all their problems on us not asking them nicely enough. This went over like a lead balloon with the BTCEB, which has done trailwork and cleanup days, volunteer bike patrols, uncountable presentations to employees and the Board, and supported all the previous EBRPD bond measures, for over 15 years. The condescension was breathtaking, and it's a testament to the good nature of cyclists that the BTCEB didn't walk out of the meeting right then and there.

2) Most importantly, they told us unequivocally that people on bicycles will never get any more access to existing narrow or singletrack trails. Their claim: It's too hard, and the Sierra Club and Audubon Society sue them if they try. (It wasn't clear how asking more nicely would help with this.)

3) In the future, people on bicycles might get access to two miles of trail on Brushy Peak (currently tied up in lawsuits), the Martin Canyon Creek trail (sometime in the indefinite future), and 10-15 miles of singletrack way back in the hills that aren't even laid out yet. They agree that the process of opening new trails is broken, but they have no intention of addressing it until they write a new General Parks Plan -- which won't even be started until 2009 or 2010.

Translation: in return for your $500 million, you're going to get nothing but promises -- and it's your own fault for not asking right.

4) The best part was that they had the temerity to ask "So, since we're doing SO MUCH for you now, what are you going to do for us?" Let's see: $500 million for...15 more miles of trail access...someday...maybe? That's $33.3 million per mile. You can build a BART extension for that kind of money.

The arrogance here is stunning. The EBRPD has been so well-funded for so long that they apparently believe they're entitled to the $500 million Measure WW would give them. Our suggestion that they need to justify their request -- by actually allowing the 30% of the public that rides bicycles on dirt to quietly, sustainably visit their own public land -- has not only been has been met with derision and outright hostility.

We don't want to oppose Measure WW...but by treating the herds of cattle that trample our parks better than the people that want to quietly ride bicycles in them, the EBRPD has forced us to do so.

And it's their own fault.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The EBRPD Wants to Talk to You, on July 29th

The EBRPD has invited the mountain biking community to discuss "issues of mutual interest" on Tuesday July 29, 2008, from 7 PM to 9 PM! This is great news, because it means that your letters are having an effect, and that we are being taken seriously. Thanks to everyone who's written letters so far: click on the flyer for instructions if you haven't written one already.

Meeting place: the Trudeau Center, 11500 Skyline Blvd., Oakland, CA, 94619
Click here for a map -- it's just past JMP on Skyline.

(The "issue of mutual interest" is obvious: they want the $500 million dollars of taxpayer money that a Measure AA extension would give them, and are afraid that we will vote it down unless they placate us somehow.)

Our position remains the same: equal access for people on bicycles. New "trail access procedures" are unacceptable: hikers and horses require no "trail access procedures" to enjoy their own parks. Partial access is unacceptable: we are the second largest group of EBRPD park users, and deserve to be treated as such. Promises of future access are unacceptable: we've had ten years of promises that, like the "Checklist", use up all our time and energy and never actually give us anything.

The EBRPD could take all the "No Bikes" signs down in a day if they really wanted to, and it wouldn't cost them a thing. Then we could spend our energy building and maintaining trails for everyone to use, instead of wasting it in battles with their bureaucracy. Everyone wins!

Please be calm and courteous at this meeting -- but be firm.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The EBRPD's fundamental policy problem

Since the EBRPD closed East Ridge without providing any alternate route for people on bicycles to complete the single legal ride in the park, they've received a lot of justifiably angry letters. Their response?

Quote: "Although some day riders will be affected, the majority of riders can still complete the loop after 5pm and on weekends. We do have other options at Anthony Chabot which is just a few miles away."

[In summary, "Too to be you."]

Quote: "We are not able to open up trails to bikes without a thorough review process and approval from our board of directors."

This response highlights the fundamental policy problem: The EBRPD assumes that hikers and horses are legitimate park users, and that any impact they have, no matter how substantial, is acceptable. Any restriction on hikers and horses is viewed as a special case.

In contrast, the EBRPD assumes that people on bicycles are not legitimate park users, that any impact they have (even though it's substantially less than horses and roughly equal to hikers) is unacceptable, and that allowing cyclists to use any part of their own parks is a special, exceptional privilege requiring approval at the highest possible level.

This policy must change. Bicycling is a low-impact, human-powered, environmentally sound way for people to explore their parklands and open space, and as such, people on bicycles deserve no less than equal treatment and equal access.

Until then, the EBRPD doesn't deserve our support -- or our money. No "Measure AA extension!"