OAKLAND, CA – In 2015, the Oakland City Council approved the proposal to reorganize city government to create a new ‘Oakland Department of Transportation’ or “OakDOT” for the City of Oakland. (Link to Ordinance) The Ordinance stated that: “The management and operation of the Department of Transportation shall be the responsibility of the Director of Transportation, subject to the direction of the City Administrator” to effectively deliver capital projects and mobility programs, accelerate the repaving of our streets/sidewalks, and to improve pedestrian bike, driver, and transit safety.
Many dedicated workers are doing vital and important work to help improve our infrastructure, including paving our streets and fixing our sidewalks, and much more. We want to acknowledge all the amazing work at Oakland Department of Transportation, Public Works, and Planning, and other Departments and we want the workforce to know their work is deeply appreciated.
However, for multiple years, community members, residents, and local business owners have expressed concerns, regarding the lack of clarity of duties among departments, the duplication of processes, and the sometimes-conflicting interpretation of rules by OakDOT, OPW, and other departments.
These problems have created delay for implementation of important projects and wasted time and money for stakeholders and city staff. As Oakland sits at the center of many regional transportation projects and agencies, from BART and AC Transit to CalTrans and more, much of what we need to accomplish to improve our transportation system requires effective collaboration.
For our economy, our environment, and our quality of life, it is important for Oakland to have well-coordinated efforts for our infrastructure and transportation.
I would like to thank the many community members and stakeholders who have reached out and have expressed their interests and suggestions regarding transportation in Oakland.
Also, I would like to particularly thank Councilmembers Sheng Thao and Loren Taylor, in seeking a solution which does not create any cuts, or fear of cuts. In order to provide for a proposal which can help solve issues, without creating any additional strife, I propose:
In seeking good governance practices, to provide clarity, while removing the request for any related budget adjustment or staff allotment change, I am asking the City Administrator to provide a report and clarify handling and resolving issues of duplication, and assignment of duties, for project approvals and other issues, relative to the DOT and other departments.
I am requesting that the report include:
· Clear delineation of work: Which transportation and streetscape-related duties are now in OakDOT, and which are in OPW, or other departments? What items require both OakDOT and OPW approval?
o For example, do upper story window permits require OakDOT approval and why?
· Consistency: How do we ensure consistency in the interpretation of rules and regulations among all the departments involved in permit issuances?
· User Friendly Communication: Who is responsible for regional collaboration with other transportation partners and transit agencies? Who is the Liaison from OakDOT to the community? To other transportation agencies who provide transportation in and through Oakland? How is the flow of work communicated to the public? Are there flow charts/organizational charts available for Council and the Public?
· Conflict Resolution: If there is lack of clarity on duties or interpretation of rules, who in the Administration is supposed to resolve that?
Rebecca Kaplan is Oakland’s 3-Term At-Large Councilmember