Chapter 7


Page 8

"I must say that I admire the gentleman's nerve," said Mr. Cuvellier. "He asks permission to address the Council and says he is willing to speak now or wait until we have heard from Colonel Bendel but without waiting to receive permission proceeds to make a speech."

"I gave him permission," said Chairman Cadman.

"The gentleman’s proposition is rather remarkable," said Mr. Moore. "He says his company will do what the law requires him without condition if we will give him a strip of ground some three hundred feet wide through our land, but it doesn't appeal to me. I don't see why we should give him the land for nothing."

Then Colonel Bendel's protest was read. It was rather lengthy, but was largely a restatement of the objections previously made.

D. Kayser, an insurance agent, said he did not believe the enterprise to be a genuine one. "A young man came to me and asked me to sign a request for the franchise, and I asked him if it was to be an overland road. He said yes and then I asked him to give me the names of the parties behind it, and be said he would, but I have never seen him since."

The meeting continued with more comments and was then adjourned.

By unanimous vote of those present on October 23, 1902 the City Council, sitting in committee of the whole, recommended the granting of the application of the San Francisco Terminal Railway and Ferry Company for a franchise to operate a steam railroad through East Oakland and Third Street to the Oakland harbor front.

The committee heard protests from J. L. Donovan on behalf of some of the Southside property owners. He said, however, that his only objection would be made to the use of Third Street for freight traffic only. He did not appear as antagonistic to the road if it were a transcontinental system for both freight and passenger travel. Protests against granting the franchise were read from the Building Trades Council, President J. P. Burke, Secretary, W. E. Greer; Shinglers' Union, President J. A. Mathew, secretary T. J. Courtney: Local Union No. 127, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators and Paperhangers, President A. H. Hetherington, Secretary P. H. Pratt. These organizations declared the road would injure the property in the section through which it will operate.

Prior to the vote there was a running talk between Schaffer, Wallace, Boyer, and Fitzgerald, and Messrs. Palmer, Moore, Reed, Nusbaumer and Bartnett relative to an agreement that had been entered into between the Southern Pacific and the new company. The striking point was the cost of maintaining the interlocking system at the Webster street crossing.

"We came to an understanding with the Southern Pacific Company that a grade crossing be established at Webster and Third streets with an interlocking system. The signal tower is to be erected at our expense," said Walter J. Bartnett.

"Mr. Palmer, who represents the Southern Pacific, is present and will bear me out."

"What Mr. Bartnett says is true in a sense," said Palmer, "but our understanding of the agreement is different. We have agreed that a grade crossing be established on Webster Street with an interlocking system. The cost of this system and the tower is to be defrayed by his company, which shall also bear the expense of maintenance. But the charter provides for the kind of an interlocking system that shall be put in. That is not a matter for us to agree between ourselves. That is a matter governed by the charter. We believe the terms of this agreement and the kind of interlocking system provided for in the charter be inserted in the ordinance for our own protection."

"We have no objection to putting in such an Interlocking system as the charter prescribes," rejoined Bartnett. "There is no dispute as to the terms of agreement. Those matters could all be covered by a contract between the parties, but I don't think they should be interjected into the ordinance."

He went on to say that the agreement provided for an overhead crossing at Twelfth Avenue, to which Mr. Palmer assented.

Moore said he wanted to have inserted in the ordinance a general clause, requiring the San Francisco Terminal and Ferry Company to install and operate at its own expense, a safety interlocking system and watch tower wherever its line crosses the line of any other existing steam railroad. He said the details of how the crossings should be made were a matter of contractual relations, but a contract could not supersede an ordinance. "Mr. Bartnett wants a flat franchise. He wants the ordinance to be silent on that point."

"We are willing to have inserted in the ordinance that we shall install the safety interlocking system and tower at our expense, but we did not agree to maintain the same at our individual expense," said Bartnett.

After some further desultory talk Wallace said he thought the committee had heard enough to enable its members to agree if given a half hour in executive session.

"I think so, too," said Schaffer.

When the conference was completed, President Louis Schaffer made a public report, saying: "We think this railroad will benefit the people of the whole city of Oakland," said Councilman Schaffer in moving the adoption of the report. "It may slightly damage the property of a few persons, which is to be regretted, but that is unavoidable in all cases of this kind, and where one will be injured thousands will be benefitted, and the progress and welfare of Oakland greatly aided. It must also be remembered that nearly all the property along the line of this road will be greatly enhanced in value, and that the property owned by some of those protestants will be made valuable for factory sites. The Southern Pacific has a franchise along First Street which is 80 feet and 9 Inches wide. Third Street is 80 feet and 3 inches wide, with an 18 foot sidewalk. If more room is required we can obtain it by narrowing the sidewalk. The other inconveniences complained of by the protestants will only be temporary. They can be corrected without denying this road the right to enter Oakland conferred by the charter. As for the claim that the new road should maintain the interlocking system at its own expense that is settled by Section 67 of the charter which provides that such crossings shall be maintained at the expense of both companies. We cannot amend the charter by ordinance."

Schaffer then moved that the ordinance as amended, be reported favorably. Wilson and Wallace seconded the motion and the vote of those present was unanimous in its favor and so it was ordered by the votes of Wallace, Wixson, Fitzgerald, Cadman, Schaffer, Boyer and Bishop. There was no noes, Cuvellier, Courtney, Dornin and Ruch being absent.

The new railroad would be allowed to come into Oakland without being subjected to onerous restrictions.

That the council would formally act in line with the recommendation was a certainty as a majority of the body voted favorably and there was only one known opponent to the measure in the Council namely, Courtney.

Afterward Attorney Bartnett said: The matter of the right of way through the Southern Pacific Company's lands will be adjusted later. We have agreed to make that a subject of separate settlement. There will be no trouble about the tower proposition. That can be easily settled. We are very much gratified over the Council's action today, and feel that it will hasten the work on our enterprise.

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