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 ignored...it 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.