A Backlash Against Cities Would Be Dangerous

By Scott Wiener, Anthony Iron : theatlantic – excerpt

Undue fears of urban density warp public policy—and make Americans more vulnerable.

Cities are a boon for public health—even now. As public-health experts have known for decades, people who live in a city are likely to walk and bike more often, and they live closer to community services such as grocery stores. Urban density also supports faster emergency-response times, better hospital staffing, and a greater concentration of intensive-care beds and other health-care resources.

In fact, no correlation exists between population density and rates of COVID-19 infection, according to recent studies examining the disease in China and Chicago. But if state and local governments still conclude that density itself is a problem, they are more likely to promote suburban sprawl as a matter of law—instead of making the accommodations, in their housing stock and their streetscapes, that allow people to live in cities safely and move about them comfortably…

One difference between New York City and San Francisco? The Bay Area responded to the pandemic earlier and more decisively than New York did, imposing social-distancing measures before major cities on the East Coast.…(more)

There is a difference between opposing cities and opposing unlimited growth in cities. The headline is misleading and the logic is missing. Senator Wiener aligns himself with the administration in Washington if he suggests we should return to business as usual. Most of his constituents disagree.

After being cooped up in tight quarters for weeks people are eager to get out. There was an exit from cities underway before the pandemic. Now the pace is picking up. Many workers have successfully transitioned to working at home and do not plan to return not the office. Employers are re-thinking their need for office space.

Cutting down on commuters does a better job of clearing the air than building dense transit-oriented housing and offices. The new normal will not be dense development. New health standards will require more space between people, throwing the crowding for profit principal  out. This will probably devalue property and reduce local taxes. Downsizing seems inevitable.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York was blunt about the rationale behind this time of quarantine.

“There is a density level in NYC that is destructive,” he tweeted Sunday, after similar comments at one of his daily press briefings. He’d seen New Yorkers out in parks together, behaving as if this were a normal sunny spring weekend, and he was dismayed. Togetherness itself could now be deadly.

“It has to stop and it has to stop now,” he tweeted. “NYC must develop an immediate plan to reduce density.”… (more)

Coronavirus Impact: Santa Clara Co. proposal would allow more employees to work from home after pandemic

abc7news – excerpt (includes video)

Board president Cindy Chavez is laying the groundwork for what some are calling a visionary plan.

“Let’s be as creative and innovative as we can. Let’s not let all the suffering that we’ve had for the last eight weeks go to waste,” she said.

After the COVID-19 pandemic is over, Chavez is looking for a commute-free commitment from large Silicon Valley companies, when and where it’s possible.

The proposal would start with the 22,000 employees county-wide, and if approved by the board, departments would be asked to look at ways to support as much telecommuting as possible…

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a diverse public policy organization representing more than 350 companies, supports the idea and says the more participation the business sector can have in formulating the plan, the more it’ll be embraced by others.…(more)

In my opinion working closer to home is the key to making stronger more independent cohesive neighborhoods. If more people work at home they will have more family time and more leisure time and that will translate into more time spent in their neighborhoods. The more time they spend in the neighborhoods the stronger the local communities will be.

UBC study links living near highways to risk of neurological disorders

By Tiffany Crawford :vancouversun – excerpt

Researchers at the University of B.C. have found a link between living near highways and an increased risk of several major neurological disorders, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

The study, published this week in Environmental Health, found proximity to major roads may also increase the risk for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s diseases, likely because of exposure to more air pollution such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

Lead author Weiran Yuchi, and a team of researchers at the UBC school of population and public health, analyzed data for 678,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 84 in Metro Vancouver. The subjects were interviewed from 1994 to 1998, and again during a follow-up period from 1999 to 2003…(more)

And, as some are pointing out, living in close quarters is also unhealthy when it comes to spreading pathogens. Note: The “city” of Wuhan under quarantine has a population of 14 million people. That is big as the state of Ohio and dwarfs US Cities. These are the megalopolis “cities of tomorrow” pushed by the urbanists and world government enthusiasts. I prefer Jefferson’s ideal of independence and self reliance.

Another reason to oppose SB50 and state-ordered dense cities.

53 percent of Californians want to leave the state, according to new survey

By Alix Martichoux : sfgate – excerpt

Dreaming of greener (read: cheaper) pastures? You’re not alone.

According to a new survey by Edelman Intelligence, 53 percent of Californians are considering moving out of state due to the high cost of living. Millennials are even more likely to flee the Golden State — 63 percent of them said they want to.

Bay Area residents surveyed were especially sensitive to affordability issues, and it’s no surprise. The median home value in San Francisco is $1.37 million, according to Zillow, and $1.09 million in San Jose. In Edelman’s survey, 76 percent of Bay Area residents say they consider cost and availability of housing to be a serious issue.

It’s not just people fleeing the Bay Area — these businesses are leaving, too

Why people leave the SF Bay Area besides housing costs (more)

‘Incentive to create havoc’: Self-driving cars set to turn streets into gridlocked hell – study

RT – excerpt

Driverless cars could spark a gridlock nightmare to avoid paying for parking, a new study warns. Autonomous vehicles could even gang up to create traffic delays, allowing them to continuously cruise around instead of park.

The idea sounds like a smart one: Avoid ever having to pay for parking by getting your car to simply continue to drive around the block until you’re ready to take off again. However, this seemingly savvy hack could turn our urban streets into traffic-clogged hellscapes, roads flooded with driverless cars, making it a challenge to actually get anywhere…(more)

Dick Spotswood: Larkspur ferry parking structure stalled by ideology

By Dick Spotswood : marinij – excerpt

Golden Gate Ferry statistics show that peak-period boats are at capacity. Likewise, the ferry terminal parking lot off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is jammed. Significantly, there’s demand for increased ferry service on the existing route to the San Francisco Ferry Building and, given water transit’s rising popularity, a new route to South of Market/Mission Bay would be well-patronized.

Expansion of both ferry capacity and parking would enable more commuters to leave their cars before enjoying quick trans-bay travel on new high-speed catamaran ferries. To make that progress happen, an essential component is a new multi-story ferry terminal parking facility. It’ll cost about $35 million. Finance it by issuing bonds and paying them back from parking lot revenue.

It hasn‘t happened because Marin County’s transportation pooh-bahs don’t want it to happen. They dream that new ferry riders will elect to bike to the terminal or take under-utilized but inconvenient ferry feeder buses. The idea of enabling commuters to drive to the ferry is anathema to their purist ideology… (more)

The numbers are in. Public transit is losing ridership. It is time to replace the anti-car attitude and failed system with a user-friendly “the customer is always right” management style. Try catering to the public instead of steering them. If people want parking near transit stations give them parking.

Stop deepening Bay Area transportation, housing crisis

By Daniel Borenstein : mercurynews – excerpt

Tired of subsidizing irresponsible billionaires? Here’s a plan to provide more housing in the right places

Here’s an idea to address the Bay Area’s transportation and housing crisis: Stop making it worse.

Since the Great Recession, the Bay Area has added 722,000 jobs but constructed only 106,000 housing  units.

Little wonder rents and home prices have soared – and even people with jobs live in cars or on the streets. Little wonder freeways are gridlocked and commuter trains are packed.

It’s time to stop digging this housing deficit hole deeper. We need more housing. But we need it in the right places.

Bay Area cities with housing shortfalls – San Francisco, Cupertino, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, for example – should stop adding more buildings for jobs unless they provide commensurate new housing…

The key is to put jobs next to housing and housing next to jobs.

.. (more)

The anti-growth movement being discussed around San Francisco Bay Area is being echoed around the country. In NY City, residents of Brooklyn objected to the Amazon invasion. They lost that battle, but, warning shots are being fired by irate citizens who want relief from the forced density and unlimited growth policies of the last decade.

It is time to support a housing jobs balance policy. Putting housing where the jobs are and jobs where the housing will eliminate the need for more transportation infrastructure and get the taxpayers off the hook for increased development costs.


Falling transit ridership will not dissuade the social engineers

By Steven Greenhut : ocregistrer – excerpt (opinion)

SACRAMENTO – It has been about 15 years since Orange County tried to build a $1-billion light-rail system that would have gone from one suburban parking lot to another. It would have moved around half of 1 percent of the county’s commuters. What I remember most about that incredibly shrinking Centerline was that while it was supposed to reduce congestion overall, it would actually have increased congestion along main thoroughfares.

That was my first up-close encounter with the Cult of Transit. There is nothing wrong with expanding bus service and building new rail lines — provided they actually enable people to get where they are going. However, urban planners’ fixation on transit stems more from social engineering than transportation engineering. The latter develops projects that enable people to get from Point A to Point B. The former builds projects designed to change the public’s behavior, i.e., prodding them into getting around in ways the planners believe is best…

Opening up the marketplace could result in myriad, small-scale alternatives, similar to the way that Uber and Lyft have disrupted the taxi industry. Government planners only understand taxing and regulating and do not understand markets, so they promote overly pricey projects that fail to meet our real-world transportation needs. Until planners figure that out, expect those transit ridership numbers to keep falling.

Steven Greenhut is Western region director for the R Street Institute. He was a Register editorial writer from 1998 to 2009. Write to him at sgreenhut@rstreet.org. rstreet.org.
.. (more)

Parking Near Transit Increases Ridership During Peak Commute Hours

By Tom Rubin­

Transit is not always an alternative to parking capacity.

The ridership for the Los Angeles Subway (now Red and Purple Lines) was
projected at 298,000 in 2000, the year it opened. In the best years, the
total barely got over half of that. What is interesting is that the stations South of the Hollywood Hills have always been far under their projections, but the two in the San Fernando Valley have far exceeded theirs. The ONLY stations with parking are the two in the Valley and Union Station and Metro had to increase parking in North Hollywood, and charge for it.

Sound Transit (greater Seattle) constructed its first light rail line without any parking, under the belief it was not necessary, because those that wanted to use transit would walk, bicycle, take a bus, or kiss-and-ride.  Unfortunately, initial ridership was far under the projections.

Parking is important to make transit work.

Particularly for suburban commuter rail stations, parking is essential. There is simply no way to run transit through low-density single-family detached subdivisions that can offer low-walk distance, frequent service to stations. If there is no parking, people will simply not use transit.

It is very fair to charge for parking at transit stations because such parking can be very expensive to build and operate.  However, if the charge is too high, it may restrict demand. A frequent tactic is to start with “free” parking, but announce that this will be reconsidered based on demand. It is very common to have to, or at least want to, add parking at transit stations as demand builds. Sometimes this is possible, sometimes it is very difficult or very expensive, or both, but, parking capacity should be part of the consideration when the transit line is first planned and approved. For older lines with demand, see what can be done and do what can be done.

If there is not enough parking at a transit station, drivers will make do by parking anywhere they can find a place to park nearby, in shopping center lots, on residential streets, and any and all other places you can think of. This tends to make the neighbors and businesses upset, so, it is important to understand that as demand increases you need to have a plan in place to respond.

This is a different way to think about pubic transit. Focus on reducing commute traffic during peak hours by increasing parking capacity at the stations. That was the thinking behind the parking garage hubs. Let people drive themselves home. How many double parked delivery vehicles could be eliminated if people did their own shopping on the way home? More people might go out at night if it was less of a challenge to get around.


Making the Most of Transit: Density, Employment Growth, and Ridership around New Stations

By Jed Kolko, with research support from Marisol Cuellar Mejia, Davin Reed, and Eric Schiff : ppic.org (excerpt) Public Policy Institute https://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_211JKR.pdf (pages 21-22)

Summary In 2008 California adopted Senate Bill (SB) 375, which requires the integration of land use and transportation planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle miles traveled (VMT). A prime example of such activities is transit-oriented development (TOD), the targeting of residential, commercial, or mixed-used development to areas around transit stations…

“Employment Patterns Affect Transit Use More Than Residential Patterns Do”(more)

Continue reading “Parking Near Transit Increases Ridership During Peak Commute Hours”

Major Regional Housing Plan – CASA Compact discussion on KQED Forum

Re: KQED Forum on CASA (audio track included)Monday at 9:00 am

Host: Rachael Myrow and Guests: Susan Kirsch, Founder, Livable California;
Michael Covarrubias, CASA Co-Chair, CEO, TMG Partners and Guy Marzorati, reporter, KQED’s California Politics and Government Desk.

See https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101869236/major-housing-plan-gets-approval-from-mtc-association-of-bay-area-governments

Who will pay for the CASA Compact programs if they are implemented? Who will finance a new regional development organization composed of unelected officials with authority to collecting new taxes? It feels as if the major theme is to use our taxes against us to create a dense living situation that we oppose.

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