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An AC Transit bus rolls along MacArthur Boulevard near 35th Avenue, Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Oakland, Calif. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

I signed on as a supporter of the bus rapid transit long before most people had even heard of it. But I am very disappointed with the approach AC Transit leaders have taken.

They were not here for the district when we wanted higher density residential on Telegraph. They have not negotiated in good faith with the merchants and property owners on Telegraph throughout the BRT process. And, the last sentence is being very kind.

We have tested the effect of removing all street parking in our area, and it was devastating to our business. A test was run with city staff several years ago to see what happens with lane closures and parking removal on Telegraph from 43rd to 45th streets.

The problems were tracked: When the street was repaved; when ramps were installed on the corners; and when sidewalk repairs were performed.

Staff concluded that it would be disastrous.

In all cases, we either posted numerous signs directing customers to our parking lot or posted an employee with a big arrow waving customers into our lot, or both. Each and every time the removal of street parking was catastrophic for us.

This was hard to believe, so we spent considerable time trying to figure it out. Basically, while we have tremendous good will and many loyal customers, our products are seen as commodities. For example, many of our most profitable and best-selling products (safes and security doors) do not transport well on bikes or buses.


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The effect of making it more difficult to drive and park on Telegraph would, at the margin, drive these customers away to vendors that have better access and better parking.

Over the years, we have gained many customers from competitors that had poor access and poor parking (from downtown Oakland, Berkeley, and even San Francisco). We understand that many customers weigh convenience heavily in their shopping decisions.

I do not feel that I am overstating the issue. At no point in the EIR or in the AC Transit presentations have the externalized costs to be borne by the businesses that line the transit corridors been adequately or even seriously addressed, except to say that it will be a very positive experience and that the BRT will promote economic activity.

This is amazingly disingenuous. If any of the presenters of the BRT were in danger of not only losing their income, but also losing their assets with the implementation of the BRT, they might not downplay the externalized costs so enthusiastically.

The proposed BRT route is now only from downtown Oakland to San Leandro, so my business on Telegraph is no longer endangered. But from our experience, I would say the same BRT planned for International Boulevard with dedicated center lanes that would remove 600 on-street parking spaces would be devastating to many businesses lining the corridor.

But Oakland can choose a curbside BRT that would improve International Boulevard with enhanced bus service and a pedestrian-friendly streetscape without removing parking.

To speak up for it, come to the public works committee meeting at 9 a.m. July 10 in City Hall hearing room 1 located at Frank H. Ogawa Plaza in Oakland.

Randy Reed is vice president and general manager of Reed Brothers Security in Oakland.