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Jesse Budlong

17 neighbors want the City of Oakland's Building & Planning Department to reinstate the car-free Latham Square Pilot in Downtown Oakland.

The Latham Square pilot was supposed to last for six months, but after just six weeks, the widely-lauded, one-block plaza at the foot of Telegraph Avenue is no longer car-free. “The pilot program of having the pedestrian-only area was cut short and one southbound lane was reopened to cars without any warning to pedestrians,” said Jonathan Bair, board president of Walk Oakland Bike Oakland. The current configuration leaves some reclaimed pedestrian space in the middle of the street, but it is no longer connected to the sidewalk. Now the City Council will consider whether to keep it that way.

Oakland Planning and Building Director Rachel Flynn told Streetsblog the car-free pilot had been given enough time, and that “there’s only so many people that are going to come into Oakland at this time.”

“If all you’re doing is blocking off the vehicles but not increasing the bikes and pedestrians, are you achieving your goal?” said Flynn.

When asked for data on Latham Square’s use, she said, “We don’t know how to measure pedestrian and bicycle activity.”

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Chris Palmatier

"The pilot period for the Plaza is ending, and next Tuesday, the City Council’s Public Works Committee will make a decision about what Latham Square will look like permanently.
Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the community for a car free gathering space, the City’s planning department is unfortunately recommending that the Council open up the square to two way traffic. Although the recommendation is disappointing, we still have a good shot at keeping Latham Square a vibrant, car-free community gathering space. The biggest factor in the Council’s decision on Tuesday will be whether the Committee members are aware of the widespread community support for a full street closure. That’s where you come in!" - Walk Oakland Bike Oakland

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Posted Dec 13, 2013
Chris Palmatier
Chris Palmatier
Dec 17, 2013

Meeting post-mortem: After 19 speakers advocated for closure (including the EBBC's Dave Campbell) and against (mostly local business people inexplicably concerned about losing car traffic), the car-friendly staff plan was moved out of committee and on to the full council, which will meet on the issue in January. Stay tuned!

Posted by Chris Palmatier on Dec 17, 2013
Chris Palmatier
Chris Palmatier
Dec 17, 2013

Lots of folks on other channels are keeping up with this issue. Keep an eye on Walk Oakland Bike Oakland and the #LathamSquare Twitter hashtag for more.

Posted by Chris Palmatier on Dec 17, 2013
Dan
Dan
Dec 17, 2013

Thanks Chris!

Posted by Dan on Dec 17, 2013
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Chris Palmatier

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland have a petition you can sign at wobo.org/2013/10/sign-the-peti... as well as some other action items, including a Public Works Committee meeting on December 17 (see event posted on this page). Add your voice to the petition, or come to the meeting if possible!

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Posted Dec 13, 2013
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Chris Palmatier

The City of Oakland has seen fit to release a bunch of the email correspondence related to the reopening-to-cars of Latham Square. Who's up for a little document spelunking? www.scribd.com/doc/185163565/F...

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Flynn-Kendall Sent Emails Re LathanSq

Scribd is the world's largest social reading and publishing site.

www.scribd.com/doc/185163565/F...

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Posted Nov 23, 2013
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Chris Palmatier

FYI a city records request has been filed to get more information re: the reintroduction of cars into Latham Square. folks can subscribe to get information as it becomes available: records.oaklandnet.com/request...

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Posted Nov 6, 2013
Tom K.
Tom K.
Nov 7, 2013

Wow. Great to see a push for more transparency as to why this decision was made.

Posted by Tom K. on Nov 7, 2013
Chris Palmatier
Chris Palmatier
Nov 23, 2013

Good news: Oakland has released quite a few of the emails related to Latham Square and has made them publicly available via the link above. For a direct link to the scribd collection, see the most recent resource posted on this page.

Posted by Chris Palmatier on Nov 23, 2013
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Jesse Budlong
Thumb5948be31f8edb821645a8b9b896572c6

Car-free plan for Latham Square challenged by City of Oakland staffers

“There is a change that is happening in the US where young people want to live in cities and don’t want to rely on cars to get around,” said Liz Brisson,  a San Francisco urban transit planner...

oaklandlocal.com/2013/11/power...

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Posted Nov 5, 2013
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