Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bullet train funding plan at odds with state law, judge rules

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bullet-train-funding-plan-at-odds-with-state-law-judge-rules-20130816,0,4126354.story

By Ralph Vartabedian, August 16, 2013

 Bullet train rendering

 An artist's rendering from July 2012 by the California High Speed Rail Authority of the promised "bullet train."

A Sacramento Superior Court judge has ruled the funding plan for California’s bullet train failed to comply with state law but stopped short of immediately disrupting appropriations.

In a closely watched case, Judge Michael P. Kenny ruled that state officials failed to meet a voter-approved requirement that all the funds needed for the first segment be identified.

A 2008 ballot measure approving state money for the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed train "required the Authority to identify sources of funds that were more than merely theoretically possible, but instead were reasonably expected to be actually available when needed."

The approved business plan for the $68-billion project acknowledges all of the funds needed to complete the initial operating segment of the system through the Central Valley have not been identified, Kenny ruled. Officials have billions to begin construction between Merced and Fresno. But they have not secured funds to complete the entire first segment of the system and make it operational.

The plan "demonstrates that the funding plan failed to comply with the statute, because it simply did not identify funds available for the completion of the entire" first operating segment, Kenny ruled.

In addition, Kenny found that the state failed to complete all of the environmental reviews that would be required for an operational segment of the bullet train system.

However, Kenny said he was not prepared to invalidate state appropriations made for the project. He ordered additional briefings from parties to the case and said more hearings would be needed to devise a remedy for the shortcomings of the state funding plan. The case was filed by Kings County officials and two farmers opposed to the project.

The ruling could spell new problems for the massive project. Officials have  repeatedly delayed the start of construction.

And it was not immediately clear whether the state can quickly demonstrate it has the financial commitments needed to finish the first operating segment between the San Fernando Valley and Merced.

More on cost overruns from former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's column in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 28th.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/williesworld/article/When-Warriors-travel-to-China-Ed-Lee-will-follow-4691101.php


 
 Former Mayor Willie Brown


A part of the article:

"News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.

We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.
In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there's no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in."

A version of this article appeared August 12, 2013, on page A15 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Notable & Quotable.


The Hole Digging Ways of Government

http://augustametros.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-way-of-government.html

August 12, 2013


Notable & Quotable's little story today is too good not to share.

It's a perfect description of government in action, fairy tales and all.

So get ready for ObamaCare and its many promises, sports fans.

And for all you troubled citizens in Illinois worrying about the proposed local Chicago and state "remedies" for unfunded public pension liabilities, get ready for the faux solutions.

Here's the quote of the day:

"From former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown's column in the San Francisco Chronicle, July 28:

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone.

We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it.

In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved.

The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there's no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in."

Summing Up

Isn't government non-truth telling, aka lying, about the cost of new hole digging great?

And isn't it also great that thereafter We the People will somehow have to find a way to dig our way out?

Politics sucks.

Thanks. Bob.


Willie Brown: Dig a hole and fill it with money 

http://district5diary.blogspot.com/2013/07/willie-brown-dig-hole-and-fill-it-with.html 

By Rob Anderson, July 28, 2013


Now that he never has to run for office again, Willie Brown can afford to be candid. From his column in this morning's Chronicle:

News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the Central Subway or the Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there's no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in.

Brown has said this sort of thing before.

The authors of "Megaprojects and Risk" (Brent Flyvberg, Nils Bruzelius) studied hundreds of big projects around the world. They verify Brown's opinion about big projects:

Cost underestimation and overrun cannot be explained by error and seem to be best explained by strategic misrepresentation, namely lying, with a view to getting projects started (page 16).

This "lying"---or, at the very least, a complete indifference to the cost to taxpayers for big projects---is practiced by both politicians and contractors. Labor unions don't have any problem with this, because even dumb, wasteful projects create jobs for their members. The unions then support Democratic Party politicians when they run for office.

As Brown noted, the Central Subway is a good example of the too-big-to-stop practice. This BART project is another example. The California high-speed rail project is the biggest example, but there's at least a chance that the court will put a stop to it and save taxpayers billions of dollars.






Chamber of Commerce gives overwhelming support to the City of South Pasadena's stand on 710 Extension.

From Sylvia Plummer, August 16, 2013

Thanks to Odom Stamps, Chairman of South Pasadena's Chamber of Commerce, for information on this development.


On August 5, 2013, the Board of Directors of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce voted overwhelmingly in support of City of South Pasadena.

Resolution #7172 re-affirming the City’s official position on the State Route 710 Freeway Extension, supporting multi-modal alternative and rescinding Resolution 7171. 

The resolution itself as well as a draft of an article from the South Pasadena Review are below:



South Pasadena Review Column DRAFT
South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce – Small Business

Submission date: 08/09/2013 5pm
Pub date: Wednesday, 08/14/2013

Column: Small Business Matters – Roads Not to Take
By line: Scott Feldmann
Headshot: Scott Feldmann
Photo(s): None
Word count: 572

Story: The small business chamber of the City of South Pasadena sees the 710 Tunnel as a big threat to our business district and an even bigger one to our community and our neighbors.

The Board of Directors of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce issued a resolution on August 7th, 2013 to support City of South Pasadena’s official position regarding the State Route 710 Freeway Extension, supporting a superior alternative and rescinding a prior, less protective position on the matter.

Local businesses have benefited from the vigilance of dedicated grass-roots groups who have wrestled with opposing forces on this issue for decades. Recently the dialogue has become heated again, and every voice will be needed in solidarity if our City’s leadership is to put the brakes on this runaway engineering boondoggle once and for all.

Instead, we must work together with our neighbors and the state to create a superior multi-modal alternative to the flawed, proposed SR 710 Tunnel.

One reason the Chamber Board weighed in at this point in time was their concern over the attempted diversion of money and resources by Metro away from many other important San Gabriel Valley transportation projects that actually will improve mobility and healthy living standards, toward the bottomless pit of funds that will be required for the West Coast version of Boston’s Big Bad Dig.

Measure “R” funds were passed with voter approval to extend the Gold Line, not to increase capacity for cars cutting through our city in order to avoid driving under it.

Should the project get green-lighted, the local economy and business district will be harmed substantially by the impacts of construction. Also, during and after completion the increase of cut-through traffic will congest our streets and prevent destination shoppers and diners from visiting. They will avoid us because scads of new cars will start out seeking to use the new route but end up on our streets in an attempt to skip the exorbitant Tunnel Tolls. South Pasadena will be the swirling, polluted eddy in the torrent of trucks and cars that a completed 710 will cause.

The case has been made by many that the quality of life in South Pasadena and neighboring cities will be diminished if the road gets built:  pollution of our air will pervade our parks, playgrounds and homes; emergency response teams will be strapped with the responsibility of public safety plus the risk of dangerous conditions inside one of the longest tunnels ever built; and a lengthy list of unintended consequences will be unleashed by the construction of the deep, dark, mineshaft roadway.

The City Council of South Pasadena unanimously voted to pass Resolution #7172 on July 20, 2011 listing many other reasons why the State Route 710 project, whether by surface route or bored tunnel, should forever be abandoned. The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce applauds their leadership and supports the City of South Pasadena’s official position opposing the completion of the State Route 710 Freeway, supports the adoption of the Multi-modal transportation approach, and rescinds previous Resolution #7171.

The Chamber of Commerce emphasizes to the City Council that business is important to our community, and that this City must enthusiastically support sensible transportation solutions to, in and around our town.

The Board of Directors of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce issued a resolution on August 7th, 2013 to support City of South Pasadena Resolution #7172 re-affirming the City’s official position regarding the State Route 710 Freeway Extension, supporting multi-modal alternative and rescinding Resolution 7171. I’m pleased to announce it.



Scott Feldmann is the President & CEO of a very small, very local Chamber of Commerce located in South Pasadena, and his remarks are made in an attempt to reflect what he’s finding out in the marketplace, by walking and talking among the merchants and businesses who make up the Chamber Membership – 241 businesses, as of this writing. 
 


Opposition to SR 710 Resolution

Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce

On August 5, 2013, the Board of Directors of the South Pasadena Chamber of
Commerce voted overwhelmingly in support of City of South Pasadena

Resolution #7172 re-affirming the City’s official position on the State Route 710
Freeway Extension, supporting multi-modal alternative and rescinding Resolution
7171.

Whereas, a superior alternative to the flawed, proposed SR 710 Tunnel
exists, known as the Multi-Modal alternative; and

Whereas, the resources required to complete the proposed freeway are
not available given the status of the project as “constrained,” while many
other important transportation projects that rightly have a higher priority
because they will improve mobility and healthy living standards and quality
of life in the San Gabriel Valley are in need of those resources for
completion; and

Whereas, the local economy and business district would be harmed
substantially by the impacts of construction and subsequent increase on
cut-through traffic upon freeway completion, as congestion on the 710
increases yet the drivers seek to avoid the proposed tolls; and

Whereas, the quality of life in South Pasadena and neighboring cities will
be diminished by the pollution of our air and our emergency response
teams will be overburdened by the responsibility of providing for public
safety with the substantially increased risk of traffic collisions caused by
the dangerous conditions inside one of the longest tunnels ever built,
which is an untested design scheme resulting in the volatile combination
of high speeds in restricted spaces with limited escape exits; and

Whereas, the City Council of South Pasadena unanimously voted to pass
Resolution #7172 on July 20, 2011 listing many other reasons why the
State Route 710 project, whether by surface route or bored tunnel, should
forever be abandoned; therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, that the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
supports the City of South Pasadena’s official position opposing the
completion of the State Route 710 Freeway, supports the adoption of the
Multi-modal transportation approach, and rescinds previous Resolution
#7171,

RESOLVED FURTHER; That the Chamber of Commerce emphasize to
the City Council that business is important to our community, and that this
City enthusiastically support sensible transportation solutions that will
protect our historic fabric while increasing access and mobility in an
environmentally sensitive manner and a forward thinking, efficient and
effective transportation strategy rather than the outdated mentality that
building more and bigger highways will somehow reduce congestion
instead of exacerbate it.

Respectfully Submitted,
Odom Stamps, Chairman

TALLY 08/05/2013

Chamber of Commerce Directors:
Odom Stamps, Chair Yes July 20
Michele Downing, Chair Elect Yes July 19
Richard Gerrish, Treasurer Yes July 20
Steve Dahl, Past Chair Yes July 19
Samuel Muir, Scty Yes July 19
Jeff Burke Yes August 5
Dennis Chiappetta Yes July 19
Tom Field Yes July 20
Jon Primuth Yes August 3
Jason Rubin Yes August 3
Rich Roche Abstain August 3
Tony Tartaglia Abstain July 21
Carol Zorn Yes July 20

Recorded by Scott Feldmann, President & CEO on Monday,
August 5th, 2013

South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
PO Box 3446
South Pasadena CA 91031

A 501c6 nonprofit mutual benefit organization
www.SouthPasadena.net

Update: Northbound Glendale (2) Tunnel Tentatively Scheduled to Reopen in December.

Patrick Chandler of Caltrans said construction will begin in October or November.

 http://echopark.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/northbound-glendale-2-tunnel-tentatively-scheduled-for-to-reopen-in-december

 By Marla Schevker, August 15, 2013

Steel i-beams are being used as temporary support for the structure. Photo Credit: Marla Schevker
 Steel i-beams are being used as temporary support for the structure.

After a tanker truck flipped and caught fire beneath the Golden State (5) and Glendale (2) freeways on July 13, the 5 freeway closed for nearly three days causing a major traffic jam, fuel spillage into surrounding drains and a hazardous smoke scare.

 Now over a month later, Patrick Chandler, Public Information Officer for Caltrans District 7 (Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) said construction to fix the tunnel will begin in October or November and is tentatively scheduled to be completed by Christmas. While all dates are currently in flux depending on the next stages of the process, Chandler said the project has been fast tracked.
While typical freeway projects can take years from conception to completion, Chandler said the construction on the tunnel will be completed over a couple of months.

“Our engineers have done the tests on the structure,” He said. “So, we’re past that stage and the next thing to do is design a solution.”

Chandler said that solution will include hydro-demolition, a process that uses a high pressure hose to clear burnt concrete off of the inside of the tunnel; high epoxy injections, which will use a strong polymer to fill the cracks in the walls so there is no moisture and the rebar doesn’t rust; and carbon fiber wraps to help support the structure.

Chandler said the damage is estimated at $6 million and at this time, Caltrans legal unit is working with the insurance company and CHP to determine who will pay for the repairs.

Currently, the northbound 2 freeway tunnel is supported by steel I-Beams and wooden beams as well as the structure that is still existing right now. While the concrete in both the walls and floor of the tunnel is badly damaged, Chandler said not all of the rebar has failed and not all of the concrete has failed.

“There was graffiti that was fried onto the wall and there were several layers of paint to cover up the graffiti and it was like bubbling,” Chandler said. “The flames are heating the concrete, so its’ becoming brittle and just popping off.”

In addition, all of contaminated sediment in the drains has been removed. Chandler said Caltrans cleared out about 1,000 feet of drains and at some places almost 11 inches of sediment. Caltrans worked with every environmental agency in the state including the federal EPA and California Fish and Wildlife to ensure the area was safe and clean.

“There shouldn’t be any remnants or left over issues with that,” he said.

Any resident with a question or concern should contact Chandler directly at (213) 897-3630 or patrick.chandler@dot.ca.gov. Residents can also view the Department of Transportation’s Twitter and Blog for more information or updates on the process.

Rachel LaForest and Madeline Janis on Fighting for Fairness

From Sylvia Plummer:

Rachel LaForest and Madeline Janis on Fighting for Fairness

Economic equality advocates Rachel LaForest and Madeline Janis share how social action can change both policy and lives.  LAANE has been working in Los Angeles. They have worked at the port of Long Beach, for one, to end diesel trucking (and are now being sued by large trucking firms and are before the supreme court); clean & safe ports; ending abuse of port truck drivers who have been incorrectly labeled  and must be paid a correct & fair wage; organizing to get hotel workers a higher wage (won by 62% in Long Beach) ; organized a "People's State of the City" where EVERY elected official & those running for office attended to hear the people.

One may think this organizing is harmful to our No 710 actions, however, as we have discussed, this is the group & these are the very people we need to work WITH against the 710 extension.


 http://billmoyers.com/segment/rachel-laforest-and-madeline-janis-on-fighting-for-fairness/

 See the website for the broadcast.

May 10, 2013


Economic equality advocates Rachel LaForest, executive director of Right to the City, and Madeline Janis, co-founder and national policy director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, discuss with Bill how social action can change both policy and lives. Janis led the fight for a living wage in Los Angeles; LaForest fights for fair and affordable housing across the country.

In particular, LaForest and Janis talk about the strength of human stories to power a movement, as part of a multifaceted approach that includes research, communication, and political involvement.
“You have a struggling housekeeper in a hotel who cleans 25 rooms in a day and barely puts food on the table. The idea of her being able to fight for better working conditions — a union in her hotel, a living wage — that’s going to move her a lot more than just the theory of being able to have a voice in her democracy,” explains Janis. “Although, when she finds her voice, it’s just the most incredible, empowering thing. And it’s overpowering when she stands up before a city council, or she stands up before press and tells her story.”

Using stories from real people “puts a face to the organizing that happens on the ground. It makes very real the people and the material conditions that they’re going through,” says LaForest. “It introduces neighbors to each other. It establishes trust. It’s something that really starts to build the power and a collective voice of a community, in a way that facts and figures and being able to put up front statistics just doesn’t get to.”


 http://billmoyers.com/guest/madeline-janis/

 Madeline Janis
Organizer
 
Madeline Janis is currently the National Policy Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), which she co-founded. LAANE believes that businesses benefiting from government tax breaks or contracts should repay the city by improving the lives, wages and benefits of workers they employ, as well as reinvesting in communities where they operate.

As Executive Director from 1993 to 2012, Janis lead Los Angeles’ living wage campaign, transformed the city’s sanitation system, and helped pass one of the country’s most sweeping anti-pollution and anti-poverty measures at the Port of Los Angeles, instituting a “clean trucks” program that has improved air quality and raised the standard of living for nearly 16,000 truck drivers. Janis’ groundbreaking approaches to economic development and community empowerment also helped defeat Wal-Mart’s efforts to construct — exempt from all state and local regulation — a 60-acre shopping complex in Inglewood, CA.

On the national level, LAANE is proposing a new policy to the Federal Department of Transportation ensuring that all new U.S. investment in public transportation, such as trains and buses, also create U.S jobs, particularly for veterans and the disabled. Janis served as an appointed commissioner on the board of L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency from 2002 until 2012.

Before founding LAANE, Janis was the executive director of the Central American Refugee Center. Under her leadership, the organization fought civil rights abuses by the L.A. Police Department against Central American immigrants, and helped tens of thousands of people achieve legal immigrant status. Janis is a graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts and UCLA Law School.

Marshall Ganz on Making Social Movements Matter

http://billmoyers.com/segment/marshall-ganz-on-making-social-movements-matter/

May 10, 2013

Go to the website for the broadcast.

Bill’s guest, veteran activist and organizer Marshall Ganz, joins Bill to discuss the power of social movements to effect meaningful social change. A social movement legend who dropped out of Harvard to volunteer during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964, Ganz then joined forces with Cesar Chavez of the United Farmworkers, protecting workers who picked crops for pennies in California. Ganz also had a pivotal role organizing students and volunteers for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign. Now 70, he’s still organizing across the United States and the Middle East, and back at Harvard, teaching students from around the world about what it takes to beat Goliath.

One of Ganz’s themes is the crucial role narrative plays in social movements. “I think it’s particularly important because doing the kind of work that movements do requires risk-taking, uncertainty, going up against the odds. And that takes a lot of hope,” Ganz tells Bill. “And so where do you go for hopefulness? Where do you go for courage? You go to those moral resources that are found within narratives and within identity work and within traditions.”

Full Show: How People Power Generates Change

http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-how-people-power-generates-change/

May 10, 2013

Go to the website for the broadcast.

With our democracy threatened by plutocrats and the politicians in their pockets more than ever, the antidote to organized money is organized people. It takes time and effort, but across the country, grass roots democracy is growing. Individuals are banding together, organizing toward common goals and demanding change – and often delivering it. Bill sits with three organizers leading the way.

Marshall Ganz is a social movement legend who dropped out of Harvard to become a volunteer during Mississippi’s Freedom Summer of 1964. He then joined forces with Cesar Chavez of the United Farmworkers, protecting workers who picked crops for pennies in California’s fields and orchards. Ganz also had a pivotal role organizing students and volunteers for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign. Now 70, he’s still organizing across the United States and the Middle East, and back at Harvard, teaching students from around the world about what it takes to beat Goliath.

Later on the broadcast, economic equality advocates Rachel LaForest, executive director of Right to the City, and Madeline Janis, co-founder and national policy director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, discuss with Bill how social action can change both policy and lives. Janis led the fight for a living wage in Los Angeles; LaForest fights for fair and affordable housing across the country.

St. Louis County’s David Wrone Is Our Champion Motor Mouth!

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/08/16/st-louis-countys-david-wrone-is-our-champion-motor-mouth/

By Angie Schmitt, August 16, 2013







Sometimes public officials say regrettable things. But few of them display the flagrant disregard for part of their constituency that St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic spokesperson David Wrone has.

Wrone was the runaway winner in our recent “Motor Mouths” competition to find the most clueless statement from a transportation official, by demonstrating a complete contempt for pedestrians, cyclists, or transit riders. It shouldn’t be too surprising Wrone won the Motor Mouth trophy — after all, his remarks were the ones that inspired our whole competition. By the time we closed the poll today, 123 people had voted Wrone’s quotes as the worst, fully 50 percent of the total in a seven-way contest.

Let’s review the evidence against Wrone.
“We’re a highway department; not a bicycle department.”
- November 23, 2011, on STLToday.com
and our favorite:
“As a matter of policy, we don’t build dedicated bike lanes. St. Louis County salutes the bike-riding community, but we manage our system in the knowledge that motor vehicles comprise the vast majority of our customer base.”
- June 18, 2013, CBS St. Louis
What else can we say about David Wrone, except that he earned this title?

We’d also like to congratulate our runner up, Tulsa City prosecutor Bob Garner, who admitted to riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, in violation of the local law he himself is charged to uphold, because “that’s just exercising sound discretion for everyone concerned.”

Big thanks to our all contestants and submitters!

Park raving mad: The junk science behind off-street parking quotas

http://grist.org/cities/park-raving-mad-the-junk-science-behind-off-street-parking-quotas/

By Alan Durning, August 16, 2013

This is part 8 of a Sightline series on parking requirements. Read parts 12345, 6, and 7.

Off-street parking quotas give us road rage.
Off-street parking quotas give us road rage.
Off-street parking quotas are on the books in every city in Cascadia, because they are politically expedient. But the specific quotas — two spaces per apartment or 10 per 1,000 square feet of retail floor space, for example — are based on little or nothing. Cities just make them up, then state them with precision, as UCLA professor of urban planning Donald Shoup has documented in The High Cost of Free Parking (see chapter 2).

Here’s how it works. Territorial constituents push city leaders to defend free neighborhood curb parking from newcomers, so the leaders instruct city planners to recommend parking quotas sufficient to prevent spillover from new buildings. No visitor to any new development should ever park on the street, leaders tell planners.

Let’s say you’re a planner in a city department. What are you to do? Like all planners, you were trained in a discipline in which the main curricula and classic text books say nothing at all about parking requirements. You have exactly zero training in how to set a parking requirement.


“What I tell you three times is true.” – Lewis Carroll

If you’re typical, what you do is call your peers in nearby jurisdictions and copy their mandates number for number: two off-street spaces per apartment; five per 1,000 square feet of office building; and so on. “It’s magical the way these numbers spread,” parking researcher Richard Willson told Los Angeles magazine. Groupthink fills the void where analysis is lacking. Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, would have readily understood how cities set parking requirements.

If you’re a little more discerning than most planners, and less pressed for time, you might look up the research of the Institute for Transportation Engineers or of the American Planning Association. Both organizations publish references on parking that are impressively elaborate and precise: They are not, however, impressively reasoned. They are, in Shoup’s apt phrase, “closer to numerology than to statistics.” Both warn their readers against misinterpreting them as policy recommendations. They rely on tiny samples of maximum parked-car tallies at unrepresentative, auto-dependent sites. Shoup writes, “transportation engineers survey the peak parking demand [typically the 20th busiest hour of the year] at a few surburban sites with free parking but no transit service.” (See pages 56-57.) For example, they go to suburban malls and count the cars the second Saturday before Christmas, then publish the tally. Such counts are misleadingly called “parking demand studies.” Real demand studies would examine how much parking gets used at different prices, not just when it’s free.

The APA reports parking utilization rates at more than 800 kinds of facilities — from adult bookstores to zoos — complete with charts and graphs and multiple digits to the right of the decimal place, as if the counts were measurements from particle physics. Even if you, the planner, understand statistics and review the methodology and read the warnings, you’ll still be sorely tempted to rely on them as a basis for parking minimums. Your elected bosses want quotas, not excuses, and any plausible intellectual cover will suffice. So, you’ll likely recommend the ITE or APA parking tallies to the city planning commission or council, which will elevate them into law as minimum required parking. In this way, maximum counts of free parking at auto-dependent locations will become minimum parking requirements citywide. In fact, elected officials often round the observed figures up, just to be “safe.” That is, they further increase the radical oversupply of off-street parking.

Parking counts can even become self-fulfilling prophecies. Abundant parking tends to be free parking, because you can’t charge for something that’s not scarce. And free parking powerfully encourages people to drive rather than ride transit, carpool, or other means of travel.

“There’s no sense in being exact about something if you don’t even know what you’re talking about.” – John Von Neumann

Imagine a law requiring summer camps to stock enough ice cream so that every kid can have unlimited free vanilla or chocolate on demand. It’s a laughable notion. No one could run a camp that way. Almost all cities run their parking that way, though, and the main differences among cities’ parking rules are simply how much ice cream they insist on. John von Neumann, the early 20th century polymath and foe of misplaced precision, must be spinning in his grave.

Requiring citywide, year-long minimum quotas derived from suburban, free, peak-hour parking is junk science. Imitating others in doing so is groupthink. Yet such flimflam reasoning underlies parking rules across the Northwest and beyond.

I suppose this whole scenario would be amusing, in an eye-rolling way, if parking rules did not cause egregious harm to our communities. But they do, and there’s nothing funny about inflating the price of housing (the subject of my next article), subsidizing air pollution, or making city streets less safe for people on foot or bicycles — all consequences of the mandatory oversupply of vehicle storage.

The way cities set quotas is nonsense, and the results are pernicious, but I’m not saying the process is malicious. It’s not. No one acts from ill will. It’s a classic example, in fact, of retail sanity, wholesale craziness. Elected officials respond to voters’ concerns. Transportation engineers do their job of counting cars. City planners do theirs, writing land-use rules. Developers do theirs, following the rules. And the result is stark raving mad.

A partial remedy would be lower, better-researched off-street quotas, based on sophisticated parking analysis such as King County’s Right-Size Parking study. But the ultimate solution — which I will unfold later in this series — is not better central planning. It is to defuse or counterbalance curb territoriality, put a price on on-street parking, and deregulate off-street parking entirely. City planners should do things they’re trained and expert in, like laying out roads, transit, and parks, not deciding how much parking each apartment building should have. That decision is best left to the people who are building those buildings. After all, their livelihoods depend on understanding their customers’ — city residents’ — willingness to pay for such things as places to store their cars.

Why your hybrid doesn’t get that promised mileage

http://grist.org/news/why-your-hybrid-doesnt-get-that-promised-mileage/

By Lisa Hymas, August 16, 2013

 Ford C-Max
 The C-Max had a mileage fail.



Are you a hybrid owner who’s never managed to get the high gas mileage advertised on the car window? You’re not alone.
From the Los Angeles Times:
Bowing to criticism that its C-Max hybrid didn’t get the fuel economy claimed on its window sticker, Ford Motor Co. has restated the compact car’s mileage ratings and said it will … make a “goodwill” payment of $550 to people who purchased the C-Max and $325 to those who leased the vehicle.
Ford had previously claimed the 2013 C-Max hybrid got 47 mpg for combined city and highway driving. Now it’s saying 43 mpg. That’s still higher than the 37 mpg that Consumer Reports got when it tested the model.
And it’s not just Ford. More from the L.A. Times:
Last year, the EPA tested multiple Hyundai and Kia models that had become the focus of consumer complaints about fuel-economy ratings, and ordered changes to the labels. The agency said Hyundai and Kia overstated the fuel economy on more than a third of the vehicles they had sold in recent years.

The South Korean automakers issued an apology and said they would give special debit cards to nearly 1 million owners of the affected models to make up for the difference in the lower miles per gallon logged by the vehicles.
Inaccurate mileage claims are a widespread problem, particularly with hybrids — and yesterday the EPA announced that it is finally going to do something about it.
From The New York Times:
The Environmental Protection Agency said it would update its labeling rules — which date to the 1970s — to resolve disparities among the growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the market. …

The current fuel economy rules specify that automakers can use the same fuel-economy numbers for similar-size vehicles equipped with the same engines and transmissions. …
When the Fusion hybrid achieved 47 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving, Ford was allowed to apply that rating to the C-Max hybrid as well. …

[Ford's Raj Nair acknowledged] that it was difficult to make an exact comparison between the C-Max, a utility vehicle with a chunky design, and the sleeker-looking Fusion passenger car.
In the past, drivers might not have known their exact mileage unless they tracked fill-ups and did some math, but now hybrids’ dashboards display real-time mpg numbers, so it’s a lot easier to know if a car doesn’t live up to an automaker’s claims.

The EPA didn’t lay out a time frame for changing its rules, but car companies may act soon on their own regardless. ”Expect to see automakers stick to more conservative claims rather than risk the consumer and financial backlash that can result from inaccurate and inflated fuel-economy estimates,” auto analyst Alec Gutierrez told the L.A. Times.

Connected Vehicles: An important step forward for the transit community

http://www.metro-magazine.com/blog/transit-dispatches/story/2013/08/connected-vehicles-an-important-step-forward-for-the-transit-community.aspx?ref=TransitDispatches-20130816&utm_campaign=TransitDispatches-20130816&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter

By Scott Belcher, August 14, 2013



 Signal equipment used in the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute connected vehicle test.

 Signal equipment used in the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute connected vehicle test.

Later this year the U.S. Department of Transportation will make an important decision about the future of connected vehicles, widely seen as the next major breakthrough in vehicle and pedestrian safety.

You may have heard of connected vehicles. This innovative technology enables real-time communication between vehicles and with the roadway infrastructure and mobile devices to help prevent crashes while providing new mobility benefits.

Excitement has been growing as automakers, tech companies and transportation officials work together to create a secure, interoperable wireless communications system that has the potential to save thousands of lives each year and modernize the driving experience.

While vehicle safety efforts have historically focused on reducing the impact of crashes after they happen, connected vehicles will warn drivers about dangerous situations in real time so they can avoid crashes in the first place.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that a connected vehicle network could potentially address 80% of all unimpaired crash scenarios, a safety leap exceeding even seat belts and airbags. Just last month the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) made a formal recommendation to NHTSA that the technology be installed on all newly manufactured vehicles.

Right now in Ann Arbor, Mich., nearly 3,000 cars, buses, trucks and motorcycles are driving around equipped with connected vehicle technology in a final real-world test before U.S. DOT makes its highly-anticipated decision later this year on whether and how the technology should be implemented. A similar decision for heavy-duty vehicles will be made by the end of 2014.

While much of the focus has been on the future of automobiles, the extremely important impact of connected vehicles on public transportation is often lost in the excitement.

The U.S. DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are working with transit agencies and stakeholders to advance connected vehicle applications that will help improve safety, mobility and convenience for transit riders.

Among these is an application that will warn a bus driver turning into an intersection if a pedestrian is in a crosswalk. Another application will warn drivers about vehicles making illegal right turns in front of transit buses as the driver pulls away from a bus stop. I am comfortable guessing that almost all transit drivers have experienced one or both of these scenarios.

Many existing technologies will also be greatly enhanced as a result of connected vehicle technology. A few examples include transit-preferential traffic signals that stay green longer when a bus is approaching, real-time bus and train arrival and departure information, dynamic ridesharing applications that require real-time location information and demand-responsive transit services that match low-income and elderly travelers with human service transportation providers.

We are living in an increasingly interconnected world, and our transportation system is playing catch-up. Thankfully, connected vehicles and smarter infrastructure are fast-approaching solutions that will change the way we live, work and travel.

To learn more about ITS America and Connected Vehicles, visit us online at www.itsa.org or visit the U.S. DOT’s ITS Joint Program Office online at http://www.its.dot.gov.

Despite legal hurdles, Uber expands to Valley

http://www.dailynews.com/government-and-politics/20130815/despite-legal-hurdles-uber-expands-to-valley

By Kelly Goff, August 15, 2013

Controversial ride-sharing service Uber expanded operations into the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena and the South Bay Thursday, even though the company was ordered by the city to stop operating some parts of its business in June.

The company, which uses a smartphone app to connect passengers with paid drivers, is rolling out additional cars to those areas, where it says there has been a huge demand. Previously, drivers could take passengers to those areas, but rarely picked up from anywhere outside of the central area of L.A.

“There are many drivers who already live in these communities, so for them, it makes the job even more convenient,” Uber L.A. General Manager William Barnes said in a statement. “At the same time, riders were used to getting an Uber from L.A. to outside the city and now it will be easier for them to get back.”

Instead of calling for a cab, Uber passengers use a smartphone app to request a car. There are price tiers based on the type of car ordered, from the UberX cars that are often drivers’ personal vehicles to company-owned black cars and more expensive SUVs.

Drivers don’t have meters. Instead, they use another smartphone app that calculates mileage using GPS. An UberX ride from Encino to Hollywood would cost about $45, and can be paid via smartphone. A regular taxi would cost about $10 more.

But the rapid growth of car-for-hire companies that operate outside of the traditional licensed taxi system has drawn ire from the city’s cab companies. In June, drivers staged a protest around City Hall, calling for the city to shut down companies they say are cutting into their earnings and are potentially unsafe for passengers, a day after Uber was sent a cease-and-desist order from the city’s taxicab administrator, Tom Drischler.

Two other firms that offer similar services, Lyft and Sidecar, also received letters.

At issue is whether the popular firms are violating the city’s taxicab regulations by using drivers that aren’t licensed to carry passengers and driving cars that are not inspected or properly insured. Uber has faced similar battles in New York, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco.

Despite the legal challenges, Uber spokesman Andrew Noyes said expanding outside of the central region of L.A. has been in the works for a while.

The company differs from competitors because most of its drivers are commercially licensed (although it does use noncommercial drivers for its less-expensive UberX option) and most of its cars are company-owned. It also performs background checks on drivers and carries insurance for the cars.

Last year, Uber, Lyft and Sidecar reached an agreement with the California Public Utilities Commission that allowed the start-ups to continue operation while the rule-making process continues, something the city opposed under former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s administration.

To clarify the rules, PUC Commissioner Michael Peevey proposed a plan July 30 for the state to take over regulating the companies entirely, assigning them to their own new category of transportation network.

Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement supporting that move Aug. 1.

“This decision allows new, cost-effective solutions while protecting public safety through common-sense regulations,” he said. “I also look forward to working closely with L.A.’s taxi companies to revisit our existing franchise agreements to adopt similar innovations.”

And since the letters were issued, enforcement of the city’s cease-and-desist orders has been lax.
Los Angeles Department of Transportation, which oversees the licensing of taxicabs in the city, and was behind the cease-and-desist orders, declined to comment and pointed to the mayor’s statement.

The PUC will decide Sept. 5 if it will take over ride-sharing licensing. The national trade group for cabbies, the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association, does not support the option. Its president, William Rouse, who is also general manager of Yellow Cab in Los Angeles, was not available for comment.

Network Roundup: Building Trains Is Hard, Building Parking Is Easy

http://streetsblog.net/2013/08/16/network-roundup-building-trains-is-hard-building-parking-is-easy/

By Angie Schmitt, August 16, 2013

Here’s a snapshot of what’s happening around the Streetsblog Network today: headaches and heartbreaks on the way to passenger rail, smooth sailing for parking developments:

This illustrated rendering of a new mixed-use apartment complex in Chicago's Wrigleyville is being sold as transit-oriented development, though it would have twice the required parking spaces. 

Wisconsin Paying a High Price for Passenger Rail Refusal: James Rowen at Network blog The Political Environment points out that Amtrak’s Hiawatha Line is breaking ridership records, despite Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s refusal of $810 million in federal funds to connect the line to Madison. Upgrades to Midwest intercity passenger rail, thanks to President Obama’s high-speed rail initiatives, are making cities throughout that region better connected. The rail connection between Chicago and the Twin Cities could soon be competitive with driving, and faster than flying, when you consider total travel time, a local writer says. Watertown, Wisconsin Mayor Ron Krueger says Governor Walker’s “decision will hurt the state of Wisconsin for decades to come.”

500 New Parking Spaces for Chicago’s Wrigleyville: A 500-space parking garage is planned for Chicago’s Wrigleyville area, reports Shaun Jacobsen at Network blog Transitized. The Addison Clark on Park apartment complex is being sold as transit-oriented development; it sits less than 600 feet from a CTA station. However, it has nearly twice the required amount of parking. Even the minimum allowed, 273, is “far too many for a dense neighborhood like Lakeview,” says Jacobsen. “The nature of the development is walkable by design — storefronts at the sidewalk, apartments above — so why is the developer planning to add so much parking?”

A Streetcar fight in Minneapolis: In Minneapolis, a skirmish of sorts has broken out between city and regional transportation planners over a streetcar proposal for the city’s northeast side. The Twin Cities’ regional planning body, Met Council, is balking at Minneapolis’ plans to use regional transportation funds for the project, which critics say is more about  development.
Bill Lindeke at Network blog Streets.mn says it’s an example of the controversy that frequently surrounds streetcar projects: “On the one hand, detractors argue that streetcars are little more than gimmicks, cute but expensive projects that have some sort of svengali-like hold over yuppies (which is why developers like them so much). They’re inflexible, slow, and costly, and the money would be far better spent on buses. On the other hand, streetcar supporters (like myself) argue that they provide advantages beyond illusions of permanence. They’re quiet, spacious, and offer smoother rides. I’ve heard them called ‘pedestrian accelerators’ that catalyze walkable cities while calming traffic.”

The Case for Letting Nonprofits Run Public Transit

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/08/case-letting-nonprofits-run-public-transit/6563/

By Eric Jaffe, August 16, 2013



 The Case for Letting Nonprofits Run Public Transit


Even a popular public transportation service can struggle to cover its expenses. Take the recent case of Caltrain, the commuter line that links San Francisco and San Jose. Ridership is up 38 percent since 2010. Still, this past May, the agency announced an expected budget shortfall for 2015. You wouldn't think that could be the case, but across the American transit landscape, it's actually the norm.

The difficulties of fixing transit funding have occupied some top minds in recent years. Count New York City planner turned Stanford University scholar Rohit T. Aggarwala among them. In the summer issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Aggarwala argues that inefficient public sector management is at the root of public transportation troubles.

For that reason, he says, U.S. transit systems would be far better off run by non-profit groups than by government — especially commuter lines:
Turning a commuter rail operation into a nonprofit is both feasible and potentially desirable. Doing so has the potential to reap great benefits, both for that transit system and, by demonstration, for the rest of the transit industry as well.
Aggarwala builds his case for transferring transit power from the public to non-profits on three points:
  • A clearer mission. All too often, transit agencies try to be everything to everyone. They try to attract more riders to generate revenue, and they also try to cover more space in the metro area to serve the public — even though, as the work of Jarrett Walker has shown, these two purposes run counter to one another. If non-profit groups took control of transit they could pick a mission and stick with it, in large part because of point number two …
  •  
  • Political autonomy. Generally speaking, transit agencies are managed by boards whose members are beholden to an elected official in some way or another. That makes every decision to change a route, raise a fare, or negotiate new labor contracts a politically charged debate rather than an objective business move. As a result, writes Aggarwala, operating costs tend to be higher than they should be, and service quality lower.
  •  
  • Access to new revenue. Even as non-profit transit agencies improved their business model, they could also seek out charitable donations. Private donors don't usually money to the government, but they do give to non-profits — to the tune of nearly $300 billion in 2011 alone [PDF]. And it need not be huge lumps, either; Aggarwala envisions library-type of mailers that read: "Your $10 donation would eliminate 200 vehicle-miles from our roads this year."
A good first candidate to make the shift into non-profit hands? Try Caltrain, says Aggarwala.

Here's why. For one thing, Caltrain has a wealthy ridership (43 percent make six figures). That means its focus should be on enticing people out of their cars, instead of providing an equity service. But past efforts to make the train more attractive to drivers — say, by running express trains that skip some local stops — have been met with public outrage. As things stand, the agency would rather cut service to meet financial gaps than implement upgrades that could spark a social uproar.

Aggarwala's whole argument is well-conceived and worth the read. He explains why non-profits would have no trouble running a transit system (they already dip into sectors that traditionally fall under the public domain, such as schools and hospitals). He also makes clear why this "non-profitization" is preferable to privatization (basically: less fear of profit-gouging).

The real question, of course, is whether or not the idea could ever happen. A powerful philanthropist would have to lead the charge — probably someone of Bloomberg's or Gates's stature — since it requires a fairly radical commitment by elected officials. The public would also need an option to reclaim the system (as well as some alternative mode for low-income riders being displaced by the shift).

For his part, Aggarwala wants the non-profit community to jump into the discussion the next time a commuter line faces a funding crisis. Shouldn't be too long before the next chance comes along.

Brazil: Transit Misery Leads to Anger in Brazil


A bloody police crackdown roused sympathy for demonstrators who were protesting a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares.

http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11116889/transit-misery-leads-to-anger-in-brazil

August 15, 2013

hests squashed flat against backs, hours a day, every day. That's the daily commute for the 8 million citizens who ride the subway and bus lines in Sao Paulo, South America's largest city.

Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. And that's if things work as planned. Commuter train breakdowns are common, and enraged commuters have clashed at times with police after being stranded.

Such experiences helped spark the biggest revolts to hit Brazilian streets in a generation. A bloody police crackdown roused sympathy for demonstrators who were protesting a 10-cent hike in bus and subway fares. That brought millions into the streets across the country, protests that came to encompass other frustrations, such as corruption, pitiful schools and poor health care.

Officials rolled back the fare hike. But Sao Paulo workers still pay a relatively stiff $1.30 fare for each miserable trip. That means the poorest people, who often must changes buses and subway lines repeatedly to reach work from distant slums, can wind up paying 20 percent of their pay on transportation.

President Dilma Rousseff recently announced $4 billion in public spending in Sao Paulo, much of it earmarked for new infrastructure for bus lanes and the subway.
But officials acknowledge it will take years to expand the subway, create more dedicated bus lanes and beef up public transportation fleets.

Here's a gallery of images showing some of the chaotic conditions that Brazilian commuters can expect to endure on public transit in meantime.



 In this Aug. 9, 2013 photo, passengers sit and stand in a packed bus in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sao Paulo workers pay a relatively stiff $1.30 fare for each trip. That means the poorest, who often must changes buses and subway lines repeatedly to reach work from distant slums, can wind up paying 20 percent of their pay on transportation.
 

 In this Aug. 13, 2013 photo, passengers board a bus in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. Such experiences helped spark the biggest revolts to hit Brazilian streets in a generation.




 In this Aug. 7, 2013 photo, passengers stand as they ride a subway train in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Officials acknowledge it will take years to expand the subway, expand dedicated bus lanes and beef up the fleets of public transportation.



In this Aug. 7, 2013 photo, passengers move about a subway station in Sao Paulo, Brazil. President Dilma Rousseff recently announced $4 billion in public spending in Sao Paulo, much of it earmarked for new infrastructure for bus lanes and the subway.

 

In this Aug. 8, 2013 photo, passengers cram into a packed subway train in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. Commuter train breakdowns are common, and at times enraged commuters sometimes have clashed with police after being stranded.


 
 In this Aug. 12, 2013 photo, passengers wait for a subway train in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Sao Paulo workers pay a relatively stiff $1.30 fare for each trip. That means the poorest, who often must changes buses and subway lines repeatedly to reach work from distant slums, can wind up paying 20 percent of their pay on transportation.

 In this Aug. 7, 2013 photo, a woman yawns as she hangs on to the rail in the subway in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways.

 

 In this Aug. 9, 2013 photo, passengers stand at the front of an overcrowded bus in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. Commuter train breakdowns are common, and at times enraged commuters sometimes have clashed with police after being stranded. Such experiences helped spark the biggest revolts to hit Brazilian streets in a generation.

 In this Aug. 12, 2013 photo, passengers pack a subway station in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. Such experiences helped spark the biggest revolts to hit Brazilian streets in a generation.





 In this Aug. 7, 2013 photo, passengers ride escalators to access subway platforms in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Exhausted workers often travel two or three hours each way, crammed into tightly packed buses and subways. And that’s if things work as planned. Commuter train breakdowns are common, and at times enraged commuters sometimes have clashed with police after being stranded.


 In this Aug. 7, 2013 photo, passengers ride a crowded subway train in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Chests squashed flat against backs, hours a day, every day. That''s the daily commute for the 8 million citizens who ride the subway and bus lines each day in Sao Paulo, South America''s largest city.