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)

 

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)

Supervisors raise concerns on fees associated with UCSF Mission Bay development

sfexaminer – excerpt

Some supervisors have aired concerns regarding fees associated with UC San Francisco’s purchase of two Salesforce lots across the street from the property (above) bought by the Warriors for their future arena in Mission Bay.

Salesforce.com’s decision to sell a parcel of land in Mission Bay to the Warriors has overshadowed another land deal across the street that seemed like a foregone conclusion: UC San Francisco’s agreement to purchase two Salesforce lots for a new development.

While receiving little opposition in the past, the UCSF proposal raised hackles at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee hearing Wednesday, when Supervisors London Breed, Scott Wiener and Marc Farrell each expressed concerns for what they saw as a deal in which The City got the short end of the stick.

Under state law, universities are not obligated to pay property taxes. But in order to build in Mission Bay, a redevelopment area still governed by a master plan, UCSF has to pay in-lieu fees equivalent to property taxes — approximately $39 million — until the development area dissolves in 2043.

But in negotiations, the school offered to pay all its in-lieu fees upfront on the property only if it could get a $7 million cut from the price tag: $32.1 million for infrastructure and $21.9 million for below-market-rate housing, both required by Mission Bay development agreements.

The offer initially pleased officials at the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure, who oversee Mission Bay, because it would allow them to begin construction on several housing developments now instead of waiting for the payments to come over the next 30 years.

But that plan did not sit well with several supervisors when Tiffany Bohee, who heads the office, stood before the committee Wednesday… (more)

 

This matter needs further consideration and a thorough review of the facts before any decisions are made on further development of the area. In this instance these city officials agree with issues that have concerned a lot people some time. We need to slow down the process and do a proper job of investigating all the facts before agreeing to every hair-brained scheme the developers dream up. Some people call this a CEQA review, and a number of appeals have been filed in the courts regarding upholding the laws that require them.

TEP CEQA appeal filed in SF

Nothing in the news yet, but, A CEQA appeal was filed yesterday to stop the TEP. Does anyone trust the SFMTA to fix the Muni, balance the budget, reduce traffic congestion, make parking easier, or make the trains run on time? If you are one of the millions of frustrated taxpayers who wonder what happens to the public funds SFMTA sucks up and begs for more, you might want to join the efforts to reform the MTA. They are growing in number, but here is one option: Stop SFMTA: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-sfmt…
Be sure to write your grievances in the comments as those go directly to the city authorities.
If you are a Muni rider who disagrees with the TEP, write the supervisors and tell them to deny funding:
http://discoveryink.wordpress.com/letters-…