Buoyed by the success of closing a two block strip of Doyle Street to vehicular traffic, Emeryville politicians are mulling a more ambitious initiative. “I think the reaction to Doyle shows us that our residents are ready to take this a bit further,” appointed 2022 Mayor John Bauters declared at a recent council meeting. “That’s why I’m introducing a complete car ban within city limits and on the sections of I-80 and The MacArthur Maze that intersect Emeryville.”
“The pandemic has really put a lot of things in focus for me and my political ambitions,” Bauters explained at a recent council meeting attended by nearly a dozen viewers. “Working from home, in between zoom meetings, I had an epiphany. I tweeted “Ban Cars” again but this time it went viral. This is when I knew the residents of this city were fully supportive of this idea.”
Bauters, recently profiled by the Chronicle, further elaborated on his personal mission. “I’m personally disappointed that the Chronicle piece soft-pedaled my ambitions. I thought I signed up for another puff-piece and that pesky journalist was apparently not completely on board. I don’t just want to encourage you to ditch your car, I want to use my full power as the appointed Mayor of our 1.2 square mile city to mandate this. ”
“We are so close to the utopian vision I’ve dreamt of when I planted roots in Emeryville a few years back.” Bauters then went on to list his accomplishments. “We’ve eliminated parking minimums, eliminated all anti-homeless laws and passed bird safe building codes. Outside the Dias, I’ve worked to support Prop 47 because nobody that steals less than $950 per day should ever be prosecuted. I really don’t think Emeryville residents realize what a tremendous benefit I’ve had on their quality of life!”
Bauters went on to detail his plans to eliminate all vehicular traffic in the city through a phased-in approach. Commuters on I-80 would need to follow a detour around the city or use the proposed Park & Ride stations at Point Emery & West Oakland.
“We expect the impacts on neighboring communities to be nominal,” Bauters explained. “We’re optimistic that drivers will stick to the outlined detour route and not cheat by using wayfinding apps to take short-cuts through them.”
Bauters outlined what additional changes would be needed to be mandated to implement the ambitious program including:
- Emery Go-Round Buses would be transitioned to Pedicabs
- Expansion of dockless Scooters program
- Cargo Bike equipped Bike share stations around shopping districts
- All existing street parking would be converted to a parklets & ‘Safe RV’ spaces
- All infrastructure would be powered by Windspire turbines
- Partnering with the Air Resource Board to promote vehicle/e-bike exchange
“Think of what we can do with all that asphalt. We can do yoga in the middle of Hollis, we can roller skate along San Pablo, we can build a slip ‘n slide on the Powell overpass! Just imagine a car-free I-80!”
Economic Development Coordinator Chad Smalley stepped in to express some concern of the impact on shoppers in the city as Emeryville’s tax-base is heavily supported by retail sales tax. “Who shops at Bay Street anymore?” chided councilmember Ally Medina. “Uh, ever heard of Amazon? And AMC and Barnes & Noble just need to go away already. Millennials prefer Netflix and Audible.”
Several business owners expressed concern over the plans to remove all parking. “Our business could be ruined by these changes,” noted one small businesses owner along San Pablo Avenue.
“Someone, like, forwarded me a study from StreetsBlog,” Medina retorted. “It said eliminating parking actually improves business traffic,” Medina attested. “Any more excuses?”
As someone who is a business owner and owns the building where my business resides on San Pablo ave – this plan stinks. We have schools in either side of our block, that take up road space to pickup and drop off kids 2x a day. So the idea that people can just park on side streets
— Kristine Vejar (she/her) (@KristineLVe) February 18, 2022
“I would really like to ride my bike everywhere.” interrupted Councilmember Scott Donahue. “But I’m 70 now, I have arthritis, I have a lot of heavy tools for my job and I don’t get to work remotely.”
“Pfft. This is why I always say we need to elect younger people!” Bauters interrupted while giving Medina a high-five.
Another speaker, who identified themselves as an employee of a retail business in Emeryville, questioned the impact this would have on their commute. “I commute from Antioch to Emeryville because it has a higher minimum wage. How am I going to get to work and support my family?”
“It’s sooo simple” Bauters explained. “You take the Tri Delta bus to BART, take the 40 minute ride to West Oakland. Jump on one of our free Emery Go-Round Shuttle … If you time it right and don’t miss any of your connections, it should only take two hours. Just don’t leave after 7 p.m. because the frequency of buses changes to every 30 minutes.”
City Manager Christine Daniel, who maintained a puzzled expression on her face throughout the exchange, stepped in to clarify. “I’m sorry to burst your bubble Mayor Bauters, but we can’t actually do any of what you’re asking. We would need to engage the public on this and tweeting about it doesn’t actually fulfill this requirement. We’d need to engage Caltrans, The Alameda County Board of Supervisors, neighboring cities, the ACTC, The 27 transit agencies …”
“I already conducted very comprehensive outreach through Twitter and the 98 people from Emeryville that follow me,” Bauters interrupted. “Those 98 people clearly represent the will of our city and I want to thank them. Emil in Norway wants Emeryville to be car free. Isla in New Zealand wants this too. They all want Emeryville to be car-free. I really feel as though consensus has been achieved and that there’s no real need for any outreach.”
“I’d still recommend outreach through either Emeryville’s primary source of news The E’ville Eye or even Nextdoor.” Daniels explained.
“Those websites are no fun,” Bauters fired back. “People want to talk about property crime and our inability to come up with solutions for homelessness. I’d rather talk about my vision for a bike utopia. If you don’t support my vision, you’re just a bunch of car-brained NIMBYs!”
“Can we ask the City Attorney if we can clarify if we can extend the Covid emergency so I can have unlimited power?” Bauters challenged.
“I’m sorry Mr. Bauters. We cannot. Now can you please approve the consent calendar? We have a meeting to hold.”
“Move to approve the consent calendar,” a deflated Bauters stated. “Second!” chimed in Medina.
Feature Image: Emeryville Mayor John Bauters gives his “Transpo Bro” CM Ally Medina a ride on a custom Emery Go-Round PediCab.