Editor: A recent editorial in a local newspaper implied that the Oakley City Council has their heads in the sand regarding growth, jobs and traffic.  

Growth – Oakley and East Contra Costa are growing and will continue to grow. We are providing the last ‘affordable opportunity’ to purchase a home in the Bay Area. A recent study from Up for Growth California, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, states that California needs to add 3.4 million housing units to meet current demand. If you’re paying attention to what’s going on in Sacramento, their solution would be to take away local control of planning from cities and counties and then ‘pack and stack’ (higher densities and going vertical). Allowing BART to build apartments in their parking lots is the first step. New homes add road improvements, additional tax revenues and provide us the ability to be more attractive to commercial developers.               

Jobs – We are all aware of the jobs and housing imbalance that exists in East Contra Costa, and a number of initiatives have been implemented to address the issue. At the county level, there is the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative. This initiative looks to bring jobs associated with advanced transportation fuels, biotech and biomedical fields, diverse manufacturing, food processing and clean tech to the area north of Highway 4 from Hercules to Oakley.  

East Contra Costa cities, the board of supervisors and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA) have been working together to enhance the economic viability of the Byron Airport by extending the runway and improving access. Oakley and Antioch have been actively marketing the properties along the Wilbur Corridor. Hopefully, an announcement will be coming soon regarding progress in this area.

To assist potential investors learn more about opportunities in Oakley, the city created www.opportunityoakley.com.

Traffic – When the Balfour extension is complete, CCTA will have spent $1.3 billion expanding Highway 4 and bringing BART to Antioch. Part of the funding came from the East Contra Costa Fee and Finance Authority. Every new home built in East Contra Costa pays an inflation adjusted fee, currently at $22,202 for traffic mitigation. We are the only region in Contra Costa asking new homeowners to pay for their impact on traffic.    

Within the city, the No. 1 capital improvement project is widening Laurel to four lanes from Main St. to Highway 4. Widening from Cloverbrook Avenue to Main Street and a traffic signal at Rose will start construction early 2019.  

Working with CCTA, the city will be updating the traffic signals along Main St. in the core downtown area.  These new signals will be connected via fiber optic to a control center where they can be adjusted depending on traffic flow. 

We are Contra Costa’s first and only ‘smart city.’ Working with CCTA and Stantec, a community-engineering firm, the city identified the steps necessary to improve traffic flow within Oakley. 

Oakley is working with the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority to place a train platform in Oakley, taking riders from Oakley to Oakland in 50 minutes - providing commuters another option. 

Kevin Romick