On the Road to Success: Rettig Avenue

by Hugo Evans

On a dark, cold night in late November, over 70 residents crammed into the Redwood Heights Rec Center preschool room and poured into the doorways and halls. This astounding cast was there for one thing: to participate in the discussion about the future of Rettig Avenue. The RH Neighborhood Association invited Deputy City Administrator De Luca, Fire Battalion Chief Edwards, and Traffic Engineer Wlassowsky to talk about the road, and neighbors responded. '

Denise Davila started the dialogue with an impassioned plea on behalf of 1,200 community members: limit Rettig Ave. to emergency use, protect the safety of the neighborhood, and support the health of the community and the environment. ' '

Mr. De Luca countered. He stated that the city's position is firm: Rettig is a public street, and traffic should be reinstated based on set criteria. Chairs shifted in the room after he spoke. "What is the point of meeting if the city is just going to tell us how it's going to be?" neighbors asked.' '

One after another, residents challenged the city's facilitation of City Council Resolutions that support traffic abatement. Neighbors from nearby streets gave detailed accounts of the crime, speeding, and accidents that plagued the greater neighborhood when Rettig was open to traffic. One speaker actually brought people to tears. Every day, she and her children walk from their home on Maple Avenue to Avenue Terrace Park. If traffic were reinstated on Rettig, they would be denied safe access to the only park in the area.'

A couple that recently moved to Jordan Road with their children was exasperated. They said that the problems on Monterey Blvd. are bad enough. Nobody wants more traffic. Like others, they questioned who needs to drive on the roadway. City representatives did not give a clear answer.

Perhaps the most comical, if not apropos, comment of the evening came from a transportation planner from another city. He mused that other cities would welcome the cost-savings associated with limiting the use of Rettig to emergencies and avoiding the expense of reconditioning the street for traffic. ' '

Richard Cowan, Chief of Staff for City Councilwoman Jean Quan, spoke last. He noted that while Rettig is important, it is not alone; many roads, like Rettig Ave., present unique opportunities in Oakland. Currently, the city does not have adequate processes in place to address them. In the end, however, the city representatives agreed to reassess their position and to look into alternatives for Rettig Ave. '

When over 70 neighbors take the time to show up and make their voices heard, it demonstrates that commitment and passion can enact positive change. The meeting was another step in a long process of uniting as a community to realize a common vision for a safe and healthy neighborhood.'

' For updates and more information about the process, please visit www.RettigAve.GooglePages.com.