City leaders in Dublin are considering a really bad idea.
In an attempt to make the city more bicycle friendly, they are considering converting two car lanes to bike lanes on Dublin Boulevard between San Ramon Road and Sierra Court. The goal is to create a less car-centric environment by providing bike-only lanes and narrowing the street.
The city was developed under Alameda County auspices until it incorporated in 1981—the first of three Tri-Valley cities to do so in the 1980s (Danville and San Ramon followed suit in the next two years). The county’s focus was less on developing a city and more on creating revenue—property tax and sales tax. Dublin never had a clear master plan in county days and, although it developed a general plan once it incorporated, the leadership was never willing to impose on the market.
The city developed without any area that would be considered a downtown. Danville, with Hartz Avenue, had its own quaint area for decades as did Pleasanton and Livermore, both incorporated since the 1800s. In Danville, for instance, Elliott’s Bar was established in 1907 and moved to its current location in 1912. That’s is a long, long time for a business to flourish through the ups and downs of the economy (to say nothing of surviving Prohibition)
San Ramon, a community developed under Contra Costa County auspices, never has had a downtown area. Its leaders have studied and worked for years to try to create one—several areas have been identified over the years, but nothing has come to fruition. The city successfully utilized a redevelopment district to take care of some blighted areas. Now the city and Sunset Development (developer and owner of Bishop Ranch) are awaiting better economic times to build the City Center project at Bollinger Canyon and Camino Roman—if it happens as planned, it should create a hub.
In Dublin, the city’s core is still lots of big box retailers between Village Parkway and San Ramon Road. When BART came to the valley in the mid-90s, there was the opportunity to create a redevelopment district with a plan to remake those huge parking lots and big boxes into a mixed-use neighborhood with residential units and neighborhood retailers in an environmental designed for strolling.
Instead of the city leadership elected to allow the marketplace to dictate and, over time, more big-box retailers have come into the area. It’s good for sales tax revenues—Dublin has kept its auto dealers while becoming the sporting goods hub with Dick’s, Sports Authority and REI.
It’s doubtful, at best, that the city will ever create a walkable core community in its original area. There’s some opportunity in east Dublin—the theaters and surrounding restaurants at Hacienda Crossings have become a gathering place, but it’s a bit daunting to think about strolling across a sea of cars to Bed, Bath and Beyond. That was a good idea that missed on execution—if the buildings were clustered and the parking was on the perimeter, it would have a vastly different ambiance.
The Chamber of Commerce has come out strongly against the bike lane proposal—that’s an opinion the city leaders should respect.