Faster track for transit-friendly housing

editorial board : sfchronicle – excerpt

BART’s oft-delayed trains look downright speedy next to the painful pace of housing development around its stations. Take the affordable-housing complex Casa Arabella, the second phase of which broke ground on a parking lot near Oakland’s Fruitvale Station last week. The occasion, as The Chronicle detailed, arrived nearly a quarter-century after plans for the area transit village took shape.

Housing around BART stations and other mass-transit hubs, as it turns out, isn’t so different from housing throughout California: disdained by surprisingly plentiful, powerful and vocal constituencies and therefore in all too short supply. And yet neighborhoods served by train stations are among the most logical places for high-density housing development that won’t compound traffic and pollution.

Promising new legislation by Assemblymen David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Timothy Grayson, D-Concord, seeks to address the relative scarcity of BART-accessible housing by requiring the system to adopt zoning standards that promote residential development and forcing cities to go along with them. The bill, AB2923, also would mandate that developers devote at least 20 percent of projects to affordable housing and, in a potentially counterproductive concession to organized labor, pay union-level wages… (more)

Chiu is aligning his political future with Wiener’s. They appear to be taking their marching orders from the YIMBYs and their developer backers instead of listening to their constituents.

Chiu’s AB2923 would force development on BART parking lots. Wiener’s SB 827 and its cousins, if passed, will impose state zoning on all of California’s local governments. Both are extremely unpopular with citizens around the state and neither of these bills have been vetted by their constituents, or the local governments they are being imposed upon. Cities and counties around the state are opposing SB 827.

After the last decade of government by developers, we have no less traffic, cheaper housing, or happier citizens. We have more workers with longer commute times, thousands of displaced people living on dangerous crime-ridden streets, and the highest cost of living in the world. Our local businesses are closing and the disruptive on-demand delivery industry is at a crisis point, as delivery services do not perform as promised. The effects of the entire SMART plan need to be evaluated before we continue down this path.

If you oppose dense stack and pack development, attacks on private vehicle ownership, and/or the state takeover of local jurisdictions, you may want to vote for some new representation in Sacramento when you get the chance. Stay tuned for details on how you can fight back.

Lawmakers introduce transit development bill for BART stations


Marin, California gear up for transit hub zoning fight

By Katy Murphy and Erin Baldassari : marinij – excerpt (includes maps)

Taking aim at climate change, highway gridlock and soaring housing costs, a California lawmaker has ignited a red-hot debate with a proposal that would force cities to allow more apartments and condominiums to be built a short walk from train stations and bus stops.

Arguably the most radical in a series of legislative fixes for California’s crippling housing crisis, Senate Bill 827 has the potential to reshape neighborhoods up and down the state, from Berkeley to Los Angeles, by overriding single-family zoning and superceding limits on new housing near public transportation…


In Marin, several cities have sent off letters of opposition, saying that usurping local control over development is not the way to build a community. Among the Marin cities in opposition are Mill Valley, Larkspur, Corte Madera, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael and Novato… (more)

The war against cars is finally exposed as the cover for the great new gold-rush land grab that it is. If there was ever any doubt about the connection between public transportation projects and housing, SB 827 lays those doubts to rest.

Sensitive neighborhood communities in California cities have been pushed out of their affordable homes, and businesses that served them are closing. The lucky ones escaped to the suburbs, the unlucky ones ended up on the street. If SB 827 passes, the residents who moved to the suburbs will once against be uprooted. Where are they supposed to go next?

Read the article and the sidebar that describes the intent of  SB 827 and decide for yourself how it may effect you and your neighbors. Opposition is growing around the state to forced dense development as residents from San Diego to Mendocino dispute the one-size-fits-all approach to zoning and the top-down approach to governing.

The construction industry does not live and die by legal edict. When the physical limitations of production are taken into a account it is easy to see why it takes so long to build. You need money, labor, and materials as well. The insane pace of building has driven costs through the roof. The process is broken and doing more of the same thing is not going to fix it.

Let your city officials and state representatives know how your feel about the state telling you and your neighbors how you must grow your cities and towns to meet the expectation of developers intent on expanding their portfolios by rapidly increasing land values without regard to the consequences.

Rebuttals to arguments for SB 827

Why Road Diets Suck

Because they kill businesses and anger customers, who stay home instead of going out after battling their way through impossible traffic due to impossible road diets and nonsensical traffic directives. Write your officials to let them know what they can do with their road diets. Local contacts and state and federal contacts.

LA, Orange County transit agencies seek their own ride-sharing services

By : dailybreeze – excerpt

Look out Uber and Lyft, more competition is on the way.

Public transit agencies in Los Angeles and Orange counties announced Monday that they’re seeking private-sector partners to operate new door-to-door ride-sharing programs.

The proposed “micro-transit” programs would begin operating in selected areas this summer, offering cheaper door-to-door rides than Uber and Lyft — as low as $5 per trip with free transfers to buses and rail lines.

The service would be designed to boost ridership and to keep up with private-sector technology innovations, said Joshua Schank, chief innovation officer at Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or LA Metro.

“The idea behind this service is that there are many people who need better public transit in Los Angeles that we cannot adequately serve with our existing bus and rail network,” Schank said. “You’ll be able to summon a vehicle. It’ll pick you up at a point near where you are and transport you to a point near where you’re going.”

Schank’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation was formed in 2015 to seek private-sector partnerships such as this that incorporate new technology to improve transportation.

LA Metro has been studying a ride-hailing, ride-sharing program for months, and Schank said it will send out a request for bids to private companies on Wednesday, but didn’t offer specific details about its program, such as cost and initial service areas.

“The private sector knows this better than we do,” Schank said. “We’ve developed the project internally, figured out what we wanted it to look like, and now we’re ready to ask private industry for their ideas.”

Similar to Lyft and Uber, the systems would be accessible through a cellphone app. But they won’t require that the user have a credit card, and they will accommodate disabled riders… (more)

Article sent by a reader with this comment:

And the lawsuits will be flying…they will use PUBLIC MONEY to subsidize ride-sharing services? To stay alive. Anyone else with thoughts on this? Uber is already burning investor money to grab market share. The only way these public agencies can do what is suggested here – to undercut private companies – is to use public funds to subsidize even further the cost of a ride share commute. Free passes to the buses? Who’s money is this? This is amazing.

Editor: FYI:

MTC and SFMTA are already subsidizing Motivate and Ford GoBikes in the Bay Area. They set up private/public partnerships and get the cities to hand over public street parking to gentrify the neighborhoods and soften them up for takeover for luxury condos. This does nothing to solve the state affordable housing problem, or the public transit system. It pushes the poor out to make room for wealthy investors.

Details on the Related deal, that was not shared with the public until the appearance of the GoBikes made it necessary to shine a light on the MTC deal to form a public/private partnership with Related-owned Motivate. Ford is not the operator, as it is with Chariot. That may be the worst PR move of false advertising Ford has done in some time, as the GoBikes spring up unannounced all over the city, Ford is being blamed, prompting a boycott Ford attitude as people decide to take back their streets, one bike station at a time. Other share companies may also object to the exclusive deal SFMTA has carved out for their preferred partners.




Mayor’s Plans for Bike Lanes Hide Toxic Dangers for Kids

By Richard Lee Abrams : citywatchla – excerpt

CORRUPTION WATCH-I’ve got a cracker jack idea – let’s freshen up our children’s classrooms with lead paint. Better yet, let’s protect the children from fire by using a lot of asbestos…

Asbestos has great qualities such as thermal and acoustical insulation, fire protection, strengthening of other materials. For example, asbestos strengthens floor covering making them resistant to humidity, scratches and scuffmarks.

So, let’s all cheer for more lead paint and more asbestos, especially in children’s play areas…

Oh, I forgot one of the big three in the triumvirate of good things for children’s health – toxic auto emissions…

Bike Lanes in Major Streets vs Bike Paths Away from Autos

The City locates bike lanes in major streets claiming that they are a major health benefit to the community. The City took this false information and used it as a basis for its Vision Zero campaign and its Mobility Plan 2035. Many people told the City that placing bike lanes in major streets posed a health risk to cyclists, especially children. Citizens submitted over 20 studies and research papers, all pointing out the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets. These submissions to the public record are excluded from the City’s Index of Mobility Plan 2035 public records. (Isn’t removing official documents from a public record a felony?)

Let’s Look at The Research on Bike Lanes

Harvard University in its August 15, 2014 Study, Impact of Bicycle Route Type on Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution, found that bike paths are significantly less polluted than lanes painted on the road, especially when there’s distance and some vegetation as part of the protection…

The Data Was Easily Available to the City

A 2011 article in the LA Times discussed how bicyclists may be inhaling twice as much soot as pedestrians: “You’ve decided to help your health and the environment by riding your bike to work. Good for you! Sorry to have to deliver the bad news: you may be inhaling more soot…

The Actual Purpose of Bike Lanes – Road Diets

Bike Lanes in healthy locations are worthless as Road Diets. The actual reason the Garcetti administration and councilmembers Bonin conceal the health danger to children is to create Road Diets. They need an excuse to remove travel lanes from major streets in order to create significant traffic congestion. The perverse motivation behind concealing the health dangers of bike lanes in major streets to children is to evade the state’s environmental law…

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams... (more)

That sounds about right. LA has the same system we do. So why do we want to promote our mayors to higher office when they don’t listen to us now?


Getting between motorists and their cars has become the new third rail of California politics

By Kerry Cavanaugh : latimes – excerpt

For all the talk in California about leading the world on climate change and resisting President Trump’s anti-environment agenda, the state has a third rail of environmental policy. Touch their cars and Californians will revolt.

Any effort that limits, constrains or makes driving one’s car more expensive or inconvenient — no matter how civic-minded the proposal — is immediately controversial in California, and often a nonstarter. Getting between Californians and their cars can spell the end of a political career. Just ask former Gov. Gray Davis, who was recalled in large part because of his decision to triple the vehicle license fee.

Two separate, unrelated efforts launched last week are a reminder of just how difficult it is to make public policy when it involves peoples’ cars.

At the state level, a group calling itself “Reform California” announced that it was launching an initiative drive aimed at repealing the new gas tax and vehicle fee increases. Those increases were approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature in April after years of negotiations over how to pay for an estimated $73 billion in deferred road repairs and infrastructure maintenance. The 12-cent-per-gallon increase will take effect Nov. 1.

In Los Angeles, a group of Westside residents have begun a campaign to recall City Councilman Mike Bonin for his support of so-called road diets that have eliminated traffic lanes. Bonin has been one of the council’s most outspoken advocates for Vision Zero, the city’s plan to reduce traffic deaths by slowing traffic speeds. But two projects in his district — one in Playa del Rey and one in Mar Vista — have created a huge backlash, with residents complaining that the road diets have created clogged streets, slower traffic and longer commutes…

But as the Bonin recall campaign and the backlash to road diets in other neighborhoods demonstrate, drivers do not like this change. What does the political pressure on Bonin portend for other elected officials? Are they going to stick by their commitment to a more walkable, bikeable, sustainable city. Or back away from the third rail?…(more)

Keep LA Moving

keeplamoving – excerpt

Masonic traffic b 081713

Photo of traffic stuck on Masonic before the road diet. These scenes are being repeated all oer the state of California. LA citizens are fighting back.

It’s official! KeepLAMoving has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the City of Los Angeles.

Our 53 page petiton alleges that the City did not follow proper CEQA procedure, denying residents their due process before the project commenced. It’s Court Case No. BS 170 464. Click here to see it. 

The Neighborhood Council of Westchster/Playa voted to send Mike Bonin a letter opposing the road diets on Culver and Jefferson. Click here to read it.

Gridlock Is Not The Answer

Wiener proposes major fundraising legislation for transportation agencies statewide

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

oon, the threshold for passing local transportation bonds in California could be far lower, unlocking funding for countless transit needs across the Golden State.
A new transbay tube. Caltrain electrification. Miles of new subways in cities from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

State Sen. Scott Wiener’s newly introduced state constitutional amendment would make funding projects like those far easier, by lowering the threshold to pass transportation bonds from a two-thirds voter majority to 55 percent.

That threshold is determined by the California constitution. The state constitutional amendment, which Wiener plans to introduce Monday, is still in its infancy. But if it succeeds, its effects could be far reaching.

“We have massive unfunded transportation needs on public transportation, roads and bridges,” Wiener told the San Francisco Examiner. “We need to empower local communities to fund these needs.”

Those needs include more than $59 billion in deferred transportation maintenance statewide, according to draft background language of the bill. Those needs are in the Bay Area, too…

“San Francisco’s unfunded transportation needs are billions and billions of dollars,” he said, “This money is absolutely needed.”…(more)

There is no SLUSH fund in the taxpayer’s pockets. Voters opposed the last tax hike because they can’t afford it. Government has lost the trust of the people. The SFMTA claimed they would improve traffic and transit and the opposite has happened.  Many don’t want the future being planned and more cannot afford to pay for it. The solution is a moratorium on hiring and major cuts to new projects until the current ones are completed and paid for.

San Francisco Considers Tearing Down Interstate 280 Extension for High Speed Rail, Caltrain

By Jean Elle : nbcbayarea – excerpt – video

The planning department said removing the freeway extension would free up space for housing and offices.

San Francisco is considering tearing down the Interstate 280 extension to get Caltrain and high speed rail into downtown. City officials said that portion of the freeway would turn into a boulevard, while tracks are built underground.

Residents opposing the plan jam packed a meeting late Tuesday in Potrero Hill to share their concerns. Some residents call the I-280 extension north of Mariposa Street a “vital line” that should not be torn down… (more)


Billions spent, but fewer people are using public transportation in Southern California than in 1985

By Laura J. Nelson and Dan Weikel : ridrrants – excerpt

“Despite a $9-billion investment in new light rail and subway lines, [LA County] Metro now has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago [1985], when buses were the county’s only transit option.”

Of course, the central planners’ answer is always the same — “It doesn’t work, so we need to do MORE of the same.”  Sigh.

One thing’s for sure — the planners still get their fat paychecks and astonishingly rich pensions.  No performance standards are in play… (more)

Metro plans to spend more than $12 billion over the next 10 years to build two new rail lines and three extensions, the largest capital investment of any transit agency in the country.

Here’s a thoughtful article from the liberal LA TIMES on the failure of public transit to gain traction in the city of Los Angeles.  Light rail mass transit is ever-popular with choo-choo train lovers and central planners, but doesn’t serve the needs of most of the demographic segment that NEEDS public transportation — the poor and the blue collar folks.  Meanwhile providing a quality, responsive bus service has been a low priority for central planners.   The results speak for themselves.

For almost a decade, transit ridership has declined across Southern California despite enormous and costly efforts by top transportation officials to entice people out of their cars and onto buses and trains.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the region’s largest carrier, lost more than 10% of its boardings from 2006 to 2015, a decline that appears to be accelerating. Despite a $9-billion investment in new light rail and subway lines, Metro now has fewer boardings than it did three decades ago, when buses were the county’s only transit option.
Most other agencies fare no better. In Orange County, bus ridership plummeted 30% in the last seven years, while some smaller bus operators across the region have experienced declines approaching 25%. In the last two years alone, a Metro study found that 16 transit providers in Los Angeles County saw average quarterly declines of 4% to 5%.