Comments to City Council regarding Repaving – 11-28-23

Friends of Hopkins Street knows that at least as early as 2017, Hopkins was on the five-year paving plan. No one ever questioned the need to repave it.

We know that the appropriateness of repaving was reaffirmed in 2022, when Council passed the Hopkins Corridor Project to accompany the scheduled 2023 repaving of Hopkins. No one ever suggested that the Corridor plan take precedence over paving; rather, staff coupled the two for convenience.

We know that in adopting the Corridor plan, City Council relied on information provided by overwhelmed City staff that violated City policies, was deeply flawed, likely unethical, and perhaps even illegal.

We know that when the Corridor plan became impossible to complete on time, City staff failed to remind Council that the only nexus between paving and the plan was the convenience of timing. We know that it wasn’t a matter of cost, as originally conveyed by staff, and we know that the provisions of the Corridor plan could be accomplished at a later date, even if Hopkins had already been repaved.

And yet here we are tonight, reminding you that staff inappropriately removed Hopkins from the paving plan and that the TIC would not discuss its own paving subcommittee’s recommendation that Hopkins be reinstated.

We have advised our membership that they needn’t weigh in tonight because there is just one straightforward message to convey: your vote to add Hopkins back onto the paving plan is NOT a vote about the Hopkins Corridor. Whatever your opinion of the Corridor, it is not relevant for the question before you tonight.

Tonight is about common sense. It makes no sense to delay paving a major, heavily trafficked street because staff misinformed and misled you by tying Hopkins Street paving to the Hopkins Corridor Project. City documents declare and safety studies show that rehabilitating road surfaces improves road safety for everyone. Toss aside the misinformation provided to you by City staff and upon which you may have based your previous vote. Focus instead on simple common sense: good roadbeds are safe roadbeds.

You have been advised that there is no longer enough money available to pay for paving Hopkins. We challenge that advice. The $500,000-$775,000 needed to meet the stormwater runoff regulations is provided in the 5-year plan before you, through the Storm Water Fund, which contributes $1.5M annually to defray compliance costs. We found no other projects in this 5-year plan that would require them.

According to an email from former Public Works Director Liam Garland, the cost of repaving Hopkins is estimated at $8M, and staff claims there is a $2M-$2.5M shortfall. However, much of the half-mile section west of Gilman has PCIs in the 50s, 60s, and even 70s. The worst part of that western section is between San Pablo and Stannage, which will be impacted by the ACTC San Pablo Corridor project, so would logically be coupled with that. Accordingly, continue to delay paving lower Hopkins and give priority to the segment from Gilman to Sutter.

If there is still a slight shortfall, adopt the technique used on Hopkins in 2022: borrow funds from some other project to close the gap, while promising to restore funds at a later date.

Here is what we are asking tonight: show us that common sense, fact-based public comments do make a difference. Show us that you hear the voices of concerned citizens, who come from each of your districts, and who cared enough to organize and speak out.

Show you hear us by putting Hopkins back on the paving plan with a firm date. If it is truly too late for 2024, then make it 2025. Don’t allow funds earmarked for this project to remain unused, risking loss of all the funds for Hopkins.

Show us that you have the wisdom and common sense to recognize bad processes, bad advice, and bad prior decisions. Vote tonight to add Hopkins back onto the 5-year paving plan.