By Steven Tavares

The city’s proposal to add striping to the often bottlenecked area near San Leandro City Hall will transform one lane into two but it also conjures up a metaphorical image of an early case of a city divide brewing after the election of San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy.

It is simply city workers painting yellow and white lines on a portion of East 14th Street. But, it is also the site of Cassidy’s first brush of comity with his city council colleagues and it failed. All indications show Cassidy’s past reputation for coming out on the losing end of board decisions is still evident and his inability to master the rules of collegial conformity could prove crucial to the extent of his success over the next four years.

City staff recommended the cosmetic change to alleviate rush hour traffic which will try negate to the current torpid flow of cars on East 14th. The constant backup on side streets with cars attempting to merge or negotiate a left turn has also been a consequence of the increased traffic. Cassidy and Councilwoman Pauline Cutter, though, showed an unwillingness to accept repeated testimony from the Engineering and Transportation Department last Tuesday where they constituted the minority of the 5-2 vote approving the striping project that had been bandied about for years.

Councilman Jim Prola and others noted the plan to apply lines to the roadway could easily be scrapped without much cost if the staff’s estimates prove incorrect, but Cassidy and Cutter were unmoved. “My concern going to two lanes is that it makes it harder to cross the street,” said Cassidy, although the council was told twice the addition of another lane would shorten the line of cars blocking side streets and allow for gaps in traffic and longer periods of time for pedestrians to cross the road.

The defeat for the two newest members of the council is hardly a concern because of the mundane nature of this particular issue, but it is the first appearance of Cassidy’s lingering aversion towards cooperation many say curtailed his effectiveness as a San Leandro school trustee. Before Monday’s vote, Cassidy asked for the striping plan to be sent back to the facilities committee without giving a reason or suggesting any tweaks other than to put off the vote until a later date. It is still early in Cassidy’s tenure as mayor, but he has attempted to send back proposals to the committee level on other occasions. It may stem from a lack of understanding of unfamiliar issues as a new member or Cassidy has already conceded an inability to play along with his fellow councilmembers and is more confident fighting his position outside of chambers. Either way, it is something to watch.