Oakland is about to get a Department of Transportation (OakDOT). Transport Oakland is focused on holding the city accountable to get the new department up-and-running.
Unlike its peer cities, Oakland did not have a department focused exclusively on transportation policy, planning, and project delivery. As a result, hard-fought money was unspent and projects floundered without leadership or internal advocates.
For example, city transportation projects have been chronically underfunded, but funding Oakland received from the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) was not been spent down efficiently, with 1.5 years worth of funding typically sitting idly as an unspent balance (see Oakland’s ACTC Compliance Reports for more detail).
In addition, after a successful battle for better bike lanes, the Telegraph Complete Streets project was approved and the street was repaved, yet it took more than five months after the re-paving for the parking-protected bike lanes to be painted.
Due to our advocacy and the advocacy of partner organizations, Oakland now has a Department of Transportation (OakDOT)!
OakDOT is here! In late May and early June, the Public Works Committee and City Council, each heard an update on which functions will move to the new department (including everything through 100% design, parking enforcement). It also unanimously approved a recommendation to enter into a contract with Nelson\Nygaard to support next steps in DOT formation including designating Principal Jeff Tumlin as Interim Director. Jeff is poised to begin his role on July 1, 2016.
- April 2015: Mayor Schaaf releases her 2015-2017 budget proposal, including a policy directive to create OakDOT. The proposal establishes an overall framework for the new department including a vision statement, goals, and division descriptions. Council makes some tweaks to the budget, including reducing the proposed funding level of the new department.
- July 2015: Council approves OakDOT as a part of the biennial budget and revises Oakland Municipal Code to create the new Department of Transportation. At this point, the Department exists in name, but has no Department Director and no staff.
- July – December 2015: Oakland City Administrator’s office is in charge of developing a transition plan to form OakDOT by moving transportation functions out of existing city departments (in particular Oakland Public Works) and finalizing new budget-funded positions. We make multiple requests for a meeting to understand the schedule and process, but were unable to secure a meeting.
- January 2016: The City Administrator brings a transition plan to the Public Works Committee. The proposal departs from the vision established by the Mayor’s proposal laid out in the budget and has not been well-vetted with Public Works staff, labor unions, or advocates. After a lengthy discussion, the Public Works Committee (PWC) sends the transition plan back for more vetting and refinement. Council also acts to approve the creation of the Director of Transportation position, but the new position cannot be advertised until the transition plan that indicates what the Director will be in charge of is fleshed out.
- February – March 2016: Mayor Schaaf and the City Administrator hold four sessions with Public Works staff to seek further input on the transition plan. Meanwhile, transportation professionals at Bloomberg Associates (who provide philanthropic consulting services to select city governments) initiate staff conversations to create an OakDOT Strategic Plan to set goals for the new department and key metrics to track progress.
- April – June 2016: The City Administrator completes a transition plan that determines which of the city’s current transportation functions will be moved into the new department. In late May and early June, the Public Works Committee and City Council each heard an update on the plan. It also unanimously approved a recommendation to enter into a contract with Nelson\Nygaard to support next steps in DOT formation including designating Principal Jeff Tumlin as Interim Director. Jeff is set to take on this role beginning July 1. 2016.