Senior Emeryville Activists Celebrate Approval of New San Pablo Avenue Mid-Block Crossing

Published On May 17, 2021 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Seniors, Transit

Senior Emeryville pedestrian activists are celebrating a victory after securing approval and funding for a new mid-block crossing along San Pablo Avenue. More convenient access from the eastern-side of San Pablo Avenue to nearby amenities was identified as a needed piece of infrastructure by residents.

Residents of Avalon Senior Housing first formed a Tenant Action Committee to help amplify their voices. Avalon is an EBALDC owned and managed complex that was completed in 2000 and has 67 units designated for those 55 and over.

There are currently no pedestrian crossings between 40th and Adeline prompting many to precariously jaywalk across the busy strip and over a median. When the crosswalk is complete, it will provide residents of the complex and neighboring developments more convenient and safer access to groceries, eateries, banking and shopping.

Cross-section view of the planned crossing near the entrance of the Avalon complex entryway.

The three year process began when their ad-hoc committee met with then City Manager Carolyn Lehr at one her “Coffee with the City Manager” events. After receiving direction, they followed up by contacting elected officials and coordinating a meeting with the city’s Public Works department. They also met with then EPD Chief Jennifer Tejada who provided her personal experience with the danger of the strip and vouched for the need for a safer pedestrian crossing. The committee also met with elected officials and the transportation committee who wholeheartedly endorsed the project.

The approval also required Caltrans’ involvement as San Pablo avenue is a designated state highway (State Route 123). The city was able to help facilitate approval as well as procure grants to help fund it.


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The installation will be a “HAWK” Beacon (High-Intensity Activated crossWalK) that will flash when activated alerting vehicles of presence of crossing pedestrians. The technology can reduce pedestrian crashes by as much as 69% according to americawalks.org.

“The good news here is pedestrians have a safer way to get across busy San Pablo Avenue mid-block and no longer have to jay walk or walk two-and-a-half blocks out of their way to buy food at the Safeway Pak ’N Save,” said Avalon Senior Housing Tenants Action Committee member, Beth Esperanza Rosales. “Equally important is how this crosswalk installation represents our Emeryville City Administration listening to our needs and taking action to improve the safety and quality of life here. This successful installation represents citizen engagement in action.”

From L-R: Jacqueline Kerr, Esperanza Rosales, Gretchen Van Der Slice, Jean Banks, Bernie Lustgarten, Erma Powell, Theia Ray and James “JB” Brooks.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that the Avalon Senior Housing was an anchor building across from a big box commercial center for the redevelopment of this once industrial area. It was built – and opened its doors in 2000 — on the site of the demolished terminal for the Key System streetcars,” said Avalon Senior Housing Tenants Action Committee member, James “JB” Brooks.

“Though we are living on top of Bay Area history, we still need to get across the street safely to take care of our daily needs. With the installation of our crosswalk, we can now do that. Hallelujah and thank you City of Emeryville!”

The Avalon Senior Housing complex was built where a Key System line once ran through Yerba Buena Avenue.

Groundbreaking will likely take place in mid-june and construction will take about a month according to City of Emeryville Public Works Department director Mary Grace Houlihan.

The Tenants Action Committee is planning a ribbon-cutting event as soon as the project is completed. “We plan to be the first people to step onto the crosswalk!” Rosales proudly added.

The Avalon Tenants Action Committee has also turned their advocacy efforts toward other causes including helping the nearby homeless population.

About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

2 Responses to Senior Emeryville Activists Celebrate Approval of New San Pablo Avenue Mid-Block Crossing

  1. Anonymous says:

    Glad to see this but it just may wreak some havoc on the proposed 40th clusterfu*k redesign.

    But this is par for this city.

    • Mike Bloomberg says:

      I drive through there at least once a day and it ain’t senior activists jaywalking and defiantly disrupting traffic. When a traffic crossing isn’t used Emeryville cops should issue tickets. Stop and frisk worked in NYC and would make Emeryville safer.

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