My Word: Alameda needs moratorium on new development permits

Community Opinion by Eugenie P. Thomson, P.E. : eastbaytimes – excerpt

Catellus. Alameda Landing. Del Monte. The old Naval Air Station — Alameda Point. What do all these projects have in common? Level of service (LOS) is the only criteria the city of Alameda has ever used to evaluate the traffic impacts for these megaprojects — or any other project the city has pushed through, for that matter.

The LOS-based traffic studies for these development projects have all concluded that the traffic delays they produced would be grossly lower than the delays actually occurring on Alameda streets and morning peak traffic delays dropping at the West End by 2035. Yet now, with the Encinal Terminals project (589 new homes), the city has suddenly done an about-face:

“LOS has historically proven to be an inadequate measure in Alameda because residents experience delays (at) (sic) certain intersections, yet the LOS analysis indicates that the level of service at the intersection is adequate. The delay that is being experienced is the result of downstream congestion, not a result of the intersection design or the volume of cars moving through the intersection (source: Encinal Terminals DSEIR [pdf], page 250 or page 4.G-14).”

With those words, the city admitted that the traffic studies for the Encinal Terminals and all previous megaprojects are worthless. How strange is that? I’ve been raising this point for the past 20 years in a half-dozen or more letters to City Hall…

The people of Alameda are not anti-development. We simply want the facts, including honest projections of how a proposed development and the string of expected developments will affect the time it takes us to exit or enter the Island.

These projections must be realistic and market-based: How much housing will be added as a result of this project? How many jobs, and are those numbers realistic for an island without any earthquake-lifeline-caliber connections to the mainland? We want a good traffic plan, and we want to be assured the dollars exist to build out the traffic plan via public funding and developer fees and that future developments pay their fair share.

A formal and transparent risk analysis must be undertaken to review the city costs to support all the developments, the projections of job and housing growth, the costs associated with environmental and seismic risks, and the ways to finance the public infrastructure needed. This has been standard for major transportation capital programs like high-speed rail or BART extensions and is a requirement of funding; whoever provides the capital needs evidence and assurance that the projects will be successful.

As it stands, by the time we know the facts about a proposed project and who pays for what, the developers are long gone.

We need a moratorium on building permits for these new development projects until we have a clear understanding of all potential costs and traffic impacts. If you agree, speak up on the Encinal Terminals and Alameda Marina projects; these will soon go to council… (more)

 

Bay Area residents contemplating Sacramento exodus, says report

by by

Very first “migration report” claims some natives have wandering eyes

Moving away from “environmental reviews” that favor driving: San Francisco, Mountain View, Menlo Park

greencaltrain – excerpt

Three recent environmental reviews reveal the dramatic transition under way in California’s assessment of the transportation impacts of new buildings.

San Francisco’s Central SOMA plan is the first “Environmental Impact Report” (EIR) in the Bay Area that we know of for a land use plan that moves away from a method of analysis that favors driving and promotes car-centric place design.   San Francisco’s recent report, using new rules, is dramatically different from new reports in Mountain View and Menlo Park, cities that have been transitioning to less car-centric policies, but still use the older standard in environmental reviews…

Mountain View North Bayshore

The City of Mountain View also places a high priority on reducing the share of driving in the North Bayshore area, where Google is headquartered. The North Bayshore precise plan requires a reduction in drivealone mode share from the current rate around 60% to 45% in the time frame of the plan.  This year, the city is updating its North Bayshore Precise Plan to incorporate housing, transforming a single use office park into a mixed-use neighborhood with housing and services…

Menlo Park – El Camino near Caltrain

Menlo Park is another city that has been updating its policies and plans to more effectively support multi-modal travel, though its multi-modal policies are less strong than those of Mountain View.  Like Mountain View, Menlo Park has not yet made the shift to VMT. Menlo Park recently adopted a new General Plan. Updates to its Transportation Impact Analysis guidelines, including rules to incorporate the use of VMT, and changes to transportation impact fees, are proposed for a transportation guidelines update to be completed in 2018… (more)

Alameda: State panel rejects proposed waterfront hotel

By

ALAMEDA — A state commission has rejected a waterfront hotel planned for Bay Farm Island despite the city of Alameda having green-lighted the project.

The Feb. 16 decision by the San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission means city officials cannot issue building permits for the 98-room hotel proposed for a vacant 1.5-acre parcel in the Harbor Bay Business Park near Oakland International Airport.

“Quite simply, the project is too large for the parcel, would significantly obstruct views of the bay and substantially reduce access to the shoreline,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, who also serves on the commission…

“No matter what they do, this project will not fit on this site,” resident Irene Dieter said. “It’s just not compatible with it.”…(more)

 

High Speed Rail Won’t Impact Climate Change

by Marc Joffe, California Policy Center,  1/24/17

According to the high speed rail authority’s website, the bullet train is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by just over one million metric tons annually by 2040. This reduction is supposed to be achieved by replacing almost 10 million miles of motor vehicle travel each day, and eliminating between 93 and 171 daily flights. But these HSR projections have two fatal flaws: they are based on unrealistically high ridership estimates and they fail to take into account the transition to hybrid and plug-in electric cars. If HSR’s numbers are adjusted to take these factors into account, the project’s emission savings turn out to be much less. Further, they won’t have a meaningful impact on climate change.

HSR’s Environmental Impact Report used EMFAC2007 to estimate emission savings. EMFAC2007 is an emission model published by the California Air Resources Board ten years ago.  It has since been superseded by new versions released in 2011 and 2014. The EMFAC web page specifically states: “Do not use EMFAC 2007 for new studies.”…

Even in the extremely unlike event that HSR’s one million metric ton annual emission savings estimate were to be realized, it wouldn’t have a significant impact on global warming. According to EPA figures, global CO2 emissions total 9449 metric tons in 2011. Assuming this level remains constant and that HSR’s estimates are correct, the project would only reduce global emissions by about 0.01%. And, based on the evidence provided above, it is safe to assume that the real savings will be a small fraction of this figure…

A fair rejoinder is that even though nothing California does by itself will significantly move the dial on global emissions, the example we set for the result of the world is more important. If an affluent economy like ours’ can’t get emissions under control, how can we expect others to do so. But if we want to set an example, shouldn’t we do so in a cost-effective manner? Spending $64 billion to achieve minimal emission savings does not set a good example. Undoubtedly, there are ways to make steeper reductions in emissions at lower cost… (more)

Marc Joffe is the director of policy research for the California Policy Center.

Always looking for scientific analysis and opinions on these matters.

How SF arena opponents gave a boost to Warriors’ big day

By Matier & Ross : sfchronicle – excerpt

News that the California Supreme Court had rejected a last-ditch effort to halt the Warriors’ Mission Bay arena got big cheers at the team’s groundbreaking the other day — and it turns out the opponents themselves may have been responsible for the timing…

Not only did the court deny the injunction just hours before the groundbreaking, it also declined to take up the entire case — putting a swift end to any more legal challenges that might have hung over the project…

Baer and the Giants, of course, made no secret of their unhappiness with the first spot the Warriors picked for their arena, right up the waterfront from AT&T Park. And courtside appearances aside, the Giants remain apprehensive about having to compete with the Warriors in Mission Bay for city resources and parking spaces… (more)

Q&A Gabrief Metcalf: Is the housing crisis too big to solve?

When Gabriel Metcalf suggested at a forum on affordable housing that cities should be penalized by the state for failing to build enough housing, he drew gasps from fellow panelists.

It’s not that the other panelists disagreed with Metcalf, who as president and CEO of SPUR, is one of the Bay Area’s better-known housing advocates. It’s just that no one else had been willing to make the suggestion.

We talked to Metcalf to discuss the region’s housing crisis and some strategies that might fix it. As the head of SPUR — the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association — Metcalf is in the thick of the housing conversation. That makes sense: Over the decades, SPUR — which has offices in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland — has helped catalyze some of the region’s critical policy moves, from the founding of BART to the preservation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area… (more)

This is the beginning of the state-wide pitch for truly repressive legislation that will force communities to hand over their land to developers without any “right” to control it or protect them selves. Wiener is already at work on this in Sacramento.

This is why the country has new leadership. The public is wary of this sort of “sustainable” solution to “climate control” when there are many other ways to protect the planet. Clear cutting trees to make room for more towers and crowding people into cities is SPUR’s way of amassing greater wealth and power for the wealthy and powerful.

 

How driverless cars are set to reinvent and humanise our streets

by: : ft – excerpt

This is a must read for anyone who appreciates contradictions. The future is UNKNOWN, and if we are lucky the tech industry manipulators will dance on each others toes long enough to allow the public to decide what we want.

Private vehicles could soon be replaced by autonomous ride-hailing services and even ‘helicopter’ cars.

When the muddy streets of San Francisco were laid out during the heady days of the gold rush, riding a horse was the fastest way to get around. Today a new type of vehicle can be seen cruising the city: the driverless car.

With their spinning radar sensors and bulky camera arrays, these vehicles have the awkward look of a technology that is not quite mature. Yet just as the automobile gave rise to paved streets and suburban sprawl, the driverless car is set to radically reshape the cities we live in…

Anti-car, pro-cyclists, pro-public transit industry people are fighting a losing battle and they know it. They are trying desperately to hang onto their piece of the pie so they can flip it for top dollar, nervously watching all the hot new options that are popping up. Those options are not all in sync with the current urban future plans.

Let’s face it, bike lanes and sidewalk treatments are old news and investors are always looking for THE NEXT BIG THING. If taxpayers are lucky, the self-propelling helicars will overtake High Speed Rail before that projects digs us into a huge debt. So far, they are in the land-grabbing stage. The assets can always be sold.

“We are looking at the decaying infrastructure of the last century and beyond,” says Shervin Pishevar, an early investor in Uber and a co-founder of Hyperloop One, which aims to create 700mph tubes that will move people faster than aircraft. “Cities are effectively taken hostage by the automobile designs of the 20th century.” His solution is to design and build new cities, in conjunction with hyperloop networks, which will feature lush, green urban centres and underground tunnels for transportation. He refers to this as “re-terraforming the earth.”…

Great idea. Build completely new cities from scratch that you want to live in and see who else wants to live in them.

“It is really important that we don’t allow autonomous vehicles to undo the gains that cities have made in the last 20 years in terms of rebuilding the city centre and creating vibrant downtowns,” says Merker…

The economics of driverless cars

When Uber was founded, one of co-founder Travis Kalanick’s goals was not just to create a transportation app but to make car ownership obsolete. Achieving that would mean driving down the cost of Uber’s rides so that they are eventually cheaper than owning your own car…

This looks like a huge environmental impact. Where are the calls for an Environmental Impact Reviews and studies?

… (more)

Appellate Court Rejected EIR That Found Insignificant Traffic Impacts, Despite Consistency With Infill-Promoting General Plan Policy

by Amanda J. Monchamp, Genna Yarkin : jdsupra – excerpt

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Third Appellate District, overturned an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for an urban, residential infill project, rejecting the threshold of significance the City of Sacramento used to determine that traffic impacts were less than significant at two busy intersections.
  • The appellate court held that consistency with an infill-promoting general plan mobility element policy alone does not constitute substantial evidence that there is no significant impact, even where the policy is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using flexible standards to measure traffic impacts in central city areas.

East Sacramento Partnership for a Livable City v. City of Sacramento et al., No. C079614 (Cal. Ct. App. 3rd Dist., Nov. 7, 2016)..(more)

Good news for people claiming traffic impacts are significant under CEQA. There is also a renewed interest in stadium proximity to airports due to problems with Levis Stadium. Pilots landing in San Jose complain about being blinded by the lights and thrown off course. No accidents so far, but a few near misses.

Sierra Club Opposes the Proposed Warriors’ Arena in Mission Bay

PRESS RELEASE

Nation’s Largest Grassroots Organization Focused on Environmental Protections Says the City of San Francisco Ignored Major Negative Environmental Impacts.

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Today the Sierra Club passed a unanimous resolution opposing the proposed location of the Golden State Warriors arena in Mission Bay.

The Warriors’ ownership is looking to move the team from its current location in Oakland to a site in Mission Bay in San Francisco, which is currently home to a medical campus and an internationally renowned children’s hospital serving the public. The resolution suggests that the City negligently fast-tracked approval of the arena project, ignoring environmental necessities and interests.

“We registered multiple concerns at the project’s onset, but to date, these have not been meaningfully addressed by the City. Our resolution sends a direct message to the City that the Warriors can build a world-class venue, but Mission Bay is not the place. The current project plan threatens to create a huge environmental mess and real health problems for local communities in addition to what would amount to a new, urban nightmare for parking and traffic,” said Sierra Club San Francisco Group Executive Committee Chair Sue Vaughan.

Resolution highlights include:

–   Reliance on Outdated Data:

  • The City relied on an outdated Environmental Impact Report (EIR) from 1998 as the basis for much of the analysis of the Warriors’ arena project. Since that time, the area has changed dramatically with the construction of a baseball stadium, a major hospital and the University of California San Francisco campus. The old EIR does not reflect current conditions.

–   California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Comments Were Formally Presented, Never Addressed:

  • Inappropriate Fast-Tracking of Assembly Bill 900: The proposed Warriors’ arena does not fit the definition of an AB 900 Leadership project. AB 900 was passed by the state legislature during the last recession in order to fast-track infill projects in any CEQA litigation proceedings. These projects were intended to create permanent jobs while minimizing environmental impacts. The arena project, however, was proposed at a time when there was no recession and does not meet other criteria.
  • Negative Local and Regional Transportation Impacts: Supporters of the proposed arena selected the Mission Bay site without proposing adequate transportation infrastructure to match the capacity of BART and other public transit to the current arena site in Oakland, especially an issue when events would happen simultaneously at AT&T Park and in Mission Bay. The City did not effectively analyze the added impacts of more people relying on personal vehicles to access the new site.
  • Not Greenhouse Gas Neutral: The proposed arena does not appear to meet the criteria of being greenhouse gas net neutral; nor is the statement made by project supporters that “greenhouse gas impacts will be less than significant,” adequately supported.
  • Human Impact Not Fully Measured: The City did not take into account how many events would still be held at Oracle arena or the greenhouse gas effects resulting from East Bay workers commuting to San Francisco.

“As an organization focused on ensuring the cleanest possible environment, we would be remiss if we didn’t raise a red flag as the evidence does not support the conclusion of the Environmental Impact Report on this project,” said Vaughan. “Based on what we know, Mission Bay is not a good location for a new arena that would host up to 225 events per year.”

Today’s vote by the Sierra Club on this resolution, comes on the heels of a crucial court hearing involving the Mission Bay Alliance (MBA) et al. vs. San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure et al. This hearing questioned if the City of San Francisco broke zoning and environmental laws in hastily approving a proposal for the Golden State Warriors to build a new arena in Mission Bay. Oral arguments were heard yesterday by the California Court of Appeal First Appellate District. The Court’s final decision will likely impact whether the Warriors can relocate to Mission Bay.

“We are proud to join other environmental and pro-conservation groups including the Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment and the Sunset Coalition in raising key questions about the project’s environmental impacts on the area,” said Vaughan. “We call on the City to address the public’s concerns.”

About the Sierra Club

Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization — with more than two million members and supporters. Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. More recently, we’ve made history by leading the charge to move away from the dirty fossil fuels that cause climate disruption and toward a clean energy economy.

SOURCE Sierra Club San Francisco Bay

Related Links

http://www.sierraclub.org