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Fireworks 0, BART $250,000

Columnist says Livermore City Council's decision to fund BART study wastes resources.

One year, our family went back to visit relatives in Texas during the Fourth of July holiday.  While we like to think that here in the Bay Area, we light off a lot of fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, in Texas it’s like you are in the middle of a battlefield.

And standing in the midst of it all was one of my more frugal cousins, who kept calculating the costs of every bang, burst and fizzle.

“There’s a dollar right there. There’s five bucks gone,” he would say with so much pain in his voice that you’d think it was actual firepower cutting down soldiers in warfare.

He never could understand the value of the spectacle for those watching it.

I was reminded of this last week when so many fireworks displays were canceled around the Bay Area, particularly the tradition here in Livermore with our annual family-friendly Fourth of July fireworks.

Any reasonable person could accept the fact that times are tough for government entities. People are losing their jobs and budgets need to be trimmed. Some of those budget cuts slice deeper for some than others. And in the overall scheme of things, losing a fireworks display is less painful than someone’s job getting cut or a social service left unmet.

So while our neighbors gathered for our traditional potluck barbecue last week, we knew it would not be capped off by watching fireworks.

But there were some explosions around our chat circle after the sore subject of City Council's most recent wasteful dollar decision was raised. The council felt that in these times it needed to spend up to a whopping $250,000 for yet another .

Haven’t they studied this thing to death? One more study is not going to do anything but line the pockets of consultants who have been profiting from this for quite some time.

The prudent thing for council members to have done would have been to allow the measure to go on the ballot and then mount a campaign that would present their side to the voters. It certainly would have cost far less than another study regurgitating the same story.

The people in favor of the route through downtown have valid points as to why they believe this is the right thing to do. If the majority of voters agree, then that is what will happen.

If the voters want BART to stay on I-580 and keep that congestion out of our downtown, they have a right to vote that way as well.

With money so dear these days, who can even say if there will be anything in the coffers to support a costly plan that would bring BART through an underground tunnel to the surface downtown?

All those money incentives could be whisked away as easily as the shutdown of a fireworks display, which seemed like small potatoes in the budget stew.

Mayor Marshall Kamena says the study will clarify the issues for the voters. It seems that the issues are already clear. We know the pros and cons of each route. No one is saying that any alternative is perfect. But when looking down the tracks at a project decades from completion, one thing we all need to keep in mind is that this country is running low on funds.

And while we might not want to give up even the simple pleasure of a fireworks show, the truth is that we cannot afford to be wasteful. Approving a study that won’t give us any more information and could cost up to a quarter of a million dollars is certainly a waste of the worst kind. 

Paisley July 13, 2011 at 04:58 PM
You just contradicted yourself in two sentences. First " Granted, some form of public transportation makes sense for densely packed urban areas, but that's not what Livermore is." Second "Crime does come with public transportation and high population densities." There are a lot of stops in between Oakland and Livermore. Some of them can be pretty nice. Why not use the Walnut Creek stops as an example? Why assume the Livermore stop will be Oakland rather than one of the others? That is fear mongering. You have already stated Livermore is not a high density population. And I agree.
Sean July 13, 2011 at 05:36 PM
I don't consider most BART stops to be "nice" especially the 5 between Oakland and the proposed Livermore station. San Leandro and Bayfair I only remember a parking lot. Castro Valley is a parking lot and not a hub West Dublin and Pleasanton see above!
jake3_14 July 13, 2011 at 06:11 PM
ALC — You're confusing cause and effect. The graffiti and delapidation in those photos would have happened with or without a BART station, because those are poor and neglected areas of Oakland. A more relevant set of photos would show what the Dublin and Pleasanton BART stations and surrounding areas look like.
jake3_14 July 13, 2011 at 06:19 PM
ALC — you really need to improve your critical thinking skills. Neither of your references even mentions the BART station, much less attempts to demonstrate a correlation between the presence of the stations and increased crime of any kind.
a local citizen July 13, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Paisley Walnut Creek is not as pristine as you would like to think. Walnut Creek/Pleasant Hill http://www.websleuths.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-62179.html http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/bart-increases-police-presence-on-trains http://www.yelp.com/biz/bay-landing-apartments-walnut-creek http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/park-regency-tenants-want-out-but-its-costing-them Read DakotaSoul comment about their car. http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/creek-police-beat-the-case-of-the-mutilated-jasmine-plants-smash-n-grabs-and-more-wandering-cattle#comment_98190 Pleasant Hill http://walnutcreek.patch.com/articles/fourth-woman-assaulted-in-walnut-creek-apartment-complex
Paisley July 13, 2011 at 08:28 PM
ALC - I am totally on your side with some of the stuff you post - but honestly. Pulling out articles from 1975? Did you think no one would read the links you posted? This is just plain silly, and doesn't reinforce your position.
Loyal Livermore Mom July 13, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Yes Sean, I saw the fwy there when I bought this house. Unfortunately we didn't have a choice at the time - we had 2 months to purchase and move in due to a relocation for my husbands job. It was when the real estate market was climbing, it was dog eat dog to find something and actually get it! We HAD to take it. I've gotten used to the fwy noise, but I don't want to hear BART. I'd be happy with BART staying out of Livermore completely. How much you wanna bet it won't even make a dent on the 580 "parking lot" that happens during commute hours. Another thing that tends to happen.......kids who have nothing better to do, will take BART on a joyride to the end just to hang out and cause mischief maybe? Well, that would make Livermore the end of the route. Thank you for the link "a local citizen". That is very cool. Unfortunately my husband still couldn't carpool because his hours are never the same day to day. But I will hang onto that info. :)
a local citizen July 13, 2011 at 09:16 PM
Paisley, it will help you see a trend.
Paisley July 13, 2011 at 09:25 PM
No. I'm sorry. The links you provided actually would give readers the opposite opinion. One link was to a patch article saying they were increasing police across all Bart lines related to terrorism. Not at all related to any area.
a local citizen July 13, 2011 at 09:54 PM
@jake3_14 Pleasanton's graffiti became worse when the BART station opened. I know this personally and would see the increasing amount of graffiti as I walked from the BART station to my office for years in Hacienda Business Park. Call the PPD about it. I did. You sound like sour grapes. I guess the city council's vote didn't go your way.
a local citizen July 13, 2011 at 09:58 PM
@jake3_14 I don't have a photo but I have news article about the new Dublin BART station Garage and a couple was victimized twice in the BART garage. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2010/07/02/couples-wheels-stolen-twice-at-bart I hope this answers your questions.
Sean July 13, 2011 at 10:07 PM
Maybe times have changed but when I was a kid we never took a train to get into trouble we found plenty to do locally! There would be added noise but at least it would be where you'd expect it to be noisy. I want BART just not downtown.
Paisley July 13, 2011 at 11:05 PM
" I know this personally and would see the increasing amount of graffiti as I walked from the BART" But graffiti has risen everywhere exponentially in the past few years. Right? It is everywhere. Not just BART. You almost can't keep the kids off anything. Even white delivery trucks. How many of those do you see now that are complete graffiti. They've stopped repainting them, because..... why bother?
jake3_14 July 14, 2011 at 02:58 PM
ALC, Correlation is not causation. Grafitti writers/taggers usually leave a literal and stylistic signature. Do you have any evidence that the grafitti you saw came from outside the Livermore Valley? And I'm not anti- or pro- either BART alternative. I'm pro-logic and pro-evidence, two things you haven't provided much of.
jake3_14 July 14, 2011 at 03:06 PM
ALC, The article proves that in a tough economy, unmonitored parking garages are likely to be invitations for criminals. It also proves that in a tough economy, locking wheel nuts are a good investment. What does this have to do with BART, except as an example of an unmonitored parking garage?
Ron Geren July 14, 2011 at 03:20 PM
The EIR says that the difference in ridership between a 580 route and downtown is 200 more in ridership per day with the downtown route. That's just 100 more people per day! (think round trips) Yet, at other times and at Monday night's council meeting, Marchand said that there were substantially more riders with a downtown route. The EIR data does not support that, so where is the supporting ridership for a downtown route?
a local citizen July 14, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Paisley, When you can provide documented data and news articles instead of hear say about these issues, I would be happy to read it. Like I said call the PPD and ask them. I did. That will give you documented data.
a local citizen July 14, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Again jake3_14, you did not call the PPD did you?
a local citizen July 14, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Again jake3_14, you did not call the PPD did you? As for the parking garage, that was the "new" BART parking garage in West Dublin that didn't exist a year ago. Because it is a BART parking garage it has everything to do with BART.
jake3_14 July 14, 2011 at 10:09 PM
ALC, You're the one proposing a causal link between the presence of BART and an increase in grafitti, so it's your burden to make a prima facie case, not mine. If you can provide causal, and not just correlative evidence from police data, please do.
jake3_14 July 14, 2011 at 10:11 PM
ALC, You're still confusing correlation with causation. If an unmonitored parking garage had been built in Livermore Valley, where the parkers left their cars all day, there might have been an equal rise in parking garage crime. See the difference now?
a local citizen July 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM
@jake3_14, You really don't have anything of interest for me to read. So let me know know when you check with the PPD.
Livermore resident July 15, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Hey "jake3_14" Why are you arguing so much since you support neither one of the BART alternative? Trying to bring logic here is not going to work. You have to take into consideration people perspective and feeling about it (After all, they select who run the city!). The City Council had failed to do so for so long. They finally realized they should. (They knew that the elections were not looking very promising …). I think for the majority of people in Livermore, bringing BART downtown is going to increase crime downtown. You are going to have a very hard time to change people view on this one. Why don’t you run a petition called “Keep BART Downtown” and see what you get. Good luck ...!!!
jake3_14 July 15, 2011 at 08:19 PM
Livermore resident, To make wise judgments requires reason as well as passion. I am passionate about insisting on introducing reason into what has been largely an emotionally-driven venting on the part of the BART naysayers in this discussion.
Livermore resident July 15, 2011 at 09:46 PM
Jake3_14, Fair enough. Please tell us what are the facts according to your wise opinion. Can you share?
jake3_14 July 15, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Livermore resident, I didn't wade into this discussion to introduce more facts about the situation — there are plenty to be found in existing documents, audio, and video records. My concern is with how the facts are being discussed: obsolete and irrelevant data presented as proof, logical fallacies repeated, attempts to shift the burden of proof away the person asserting a claim, and the like. Our nation is turning into a population that can't be reasoned with, because they don't use or understand the tools of rationality. That inability leaves us vulnerable to whoever can stomp on our emotional buttons the hardest, and that always produces bad outcomes. All I ask is that we marry the emotional and intellectual sides of this debate.
Livermore resident July 15, 2011 at 11:56 PM
Jake3_14 You are bringing nothing to the discussion. We are dealing with people and not computers. May be in November, you will start having felling when the people vote out John Marchand and Kamena.
Joanne Hurley July 28, 2011 at 11:48 PM
I wouldn't say that 8,000 voters out of 40,000 registered voters is a majority. The more I read, the more I'm for Downtown BART. And yes, I know I will never take a train to the edge of mono lake; don't be extreme. I'd like to be able to take BART to a train station and not have to then take a bus two miles to pick up another train. I'd rather see no BART than BART on I-580, frankly. I don't see how it benefits Livermore to direct BART at the Central Valley commuters. It will cost us a lot of money to offer police and fire protection, and to clean up potential graffiti and trash, but we won't be bringing anyone into an area at which they can walk to and spend tax dollars to bring revenue to the City. It will drain the General Fund and offer nothing in return.
JoAnne July 29, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Since the initiative adoption, BART is on 580 where it will attract the commuters from Livermore and Central Valley to achieve the results of removing cars from 580 to prevent increases of traffic congestion and pollution along that corridor. The ridership levels given for Livermore and to justify BART to Livermore have always relied on the Central Valley commuter. . 8,000 signatures is not a majority and it is probably a self selected rather than a representative sample of Livermore. There were also several telephone surveys (mine came from an out of state agency) and focus group studies (an acquaintance made $100 to participate) that were done regarding the BART downtown alignment. The focus of the phone survey was BART and John Marchand, and it was an extensive survey since other people that I knew received the call (pretty expensive campaign expense!). The phone survey and the focus groups were scientific representative samples, unfortunately, since it was a campaign survey, the results are not public. The results must have been strong enough to indicate that BART on 580 was the clear and obvious majority, which is why there was the sudden and dramatic adoption of the BART initiative.
Livermore resident July 29, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Mrs. Hurley, 8000 is a vast majority of voters. You need to take into account that only a sample of the registered voters were asked to sign the petition. If the success rate for getting a signature was 95%, the total amount of the Livermore voters opposing Downtown Bart is 40,000 * 95% = 38,000. Those are very simple statistical math. The City Council understood it very well when they decided to adopt the measure. I agree that BART will need to have police force to keep it safe. If I understand your statement correctly, you are afraid that BART will bring crime to where it goes ..., and you should. I just do not want it downtown and its path to Vasco.

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