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

Monday, September 16, 2013

How cities invent parking quotas, in 71 animated seconds

http://grist.org/cities/how-cities-invent-parking-quotas-in-71-animated-seconds/

By Alan Durning, September 15, 2013

his is part 12 of a Sightline series on parking requirements. Read parts 12345, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.


explained this already. It took me 1,025 words to detail how cities make up parking quotas from junk science. Maximum parking tallies become minimum parking requirements, which become landscapes flooded with free parking, which induces more driving, which leads to higher tallies of maximum parking. Repeat.

Artist Don Baker explains it in 71 seconds. Behold:


http://vimeo.com/74063481

DRIVE THE DREAM Accelerates Largest Public-Private Sector Commitment to PEVs Globally

http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1469995

September 16, 2013


Today, after three years of focused effort, the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative, Governor Jerry Brown and a diverse group of California corporate leaders met at DRIVE THE DREAM to announce acceleration in the adoption of electric vehicles and workplace charging in California. This unprecedented cooperation of industry and government working together ensures continued global leadership well into the future.

At DRIVE THE DREAM, over 50 corporate executives joined Governor Brown to discuss opportunities and obstacles to continued market growth, in addition to announcing new corporate commitments to workplace charging, fleet vehicles and incentives to employees. Under Governor Brown, the State of California has set the most aggressive clean transportation goals in the country including creating a charging network to handle 1 million electric vehicles by 2020. Companies are joining the call in new, innovative ways and companies are choosing California as their test market for new initiatives due to its friendly PEV environment.

"DRIVE THE DREAM participants are working towards a plug-in electric vehicle future," said Christine Kehoe, Executive Director, California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative, "participating corporations have made substantial commitments to plug-in electric vehicles through workplace charging, corporate fleet purchases and employee incentives. We are very pleased to share several corporate announcements today and to learn about renewed commitments from 40 companies participating today, along with our PEV Collaborative members representing the automotive industry, the electric utilities, electric vehicle service providers and other member organizations."

Among the new announcements made today: AT&T announced they will replace by September 2014, 10% (55) of their fleet passenger vehicles with PEVs.

DRIVE THE DREAM features 8 leading auto-manufacturers showcasing 16 new cars, demonstrating that electric vehicles are now available in all sizes and price points. Cars showcased at DRIVE THE DREAM include the recently launched BMW i3 and GM's Cadillac ELR which go on sale in California in early 2014. Other popular cars at the event include: the Nissan LEAF, GM's Chevy Volt and Chevy Spark EV, the Tesla Model S, Honda's Fit EV and Plug-In Accord, Daimler Smart EV, Ford Focus EV and Fusion Energi, Toyota's RAV4 EV, Prius Plug-In and iQ EV, and BMW's ActiveE.

ABOUT the CALIFORNIA PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE COLLABORATIVE
The California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative (Collaborative), a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership, is working to ensure a strong and enduring transition to PEVs in California. The Collaborative members include key California PEV stakeholders such as elected and appointed officials, automakers, utilities, infrastructure providers, environmental organizations, research institutions and others.

Under the guidance of a multi-stakeholder executive membership, the Collaborative facilitates the deployment of PEVs in California to meet economic, energy and environmental goals. Using the broad and diverse expertise of each member, the Collaborative convenes, communicates and collaborates on emerging PEV market trends and works to address challenges. The Collaborative seeks to broaden and communicate existing PEV stakeholder activities to enable PEV market growth.

Collaborative members include: AeroVironment, American Lung Association in California, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, BMW, California Air Resources Board, California Center for Sustainable Energy, California Electric Transportation Coalition, California Energy Commission, California State Assembly, California State Senate, California Public Utilities Commission, CALSTART, Center For Energy Efficiency And Renewable Technologies, ChargePoint, Clean Fuel Connection, Inc., Daimler, ECOtality, Electric Power Research Institute, Ford, General Motors, Greenlots, Honda, Institute of Transportation Studies UC Davis, International Council on Clean Transportation, Kia Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nissan, Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, NRG Energy, Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Plug In America, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas and Electric, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Edison, Tesla, Toyota and Union of Concerned Scientists

For more information on the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative please visit: 

 http://www.pevcollaborative.org

New PowerPoint presentation available for Union Station Master Plan with some nice graphics and maps

http://thesource.metro.net/2013/09/13/new-powerpoint-presentation-available-for-union-station-master-plan-with-some-nice-graphics-and-maps/



 Above (click on LAUS Bd Workshop 091813 v8 Rev ) is a new presentation on the ongoing Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan process.
The presentation was prepared for use at a Metro Board of Directors workshop on the Master Plan that is being held Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 3:30 p.m. at Metro headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Members of the public are welcome to attend.

Most of the information in the presentation has been released before. Still, the document has some new visuals that neatly explain the four draft alternatives that Metro staff are studying.

Metro purchased Union Station in 2011 from the private firm that owned it. The idea behind the Master Plan is to preserve the historic nature of Union Station while also finding ways to accommodate a growing number of transit users and preparing for the planned high-speed rail project.

As the presentation shows, Metro staff have indicated their recommendation for a north-south bus terminal and east-west passenger concourse. The Metro Board is scheduled to consider the different approaches at their October meeting. Staff will then proceed to refine those approaches with the Board considering a final plan in the fall of 2014.


RELATED:
Draft alternatives released for Union Station Master Plan
Summary of public comments on Union Station Master Plan
Union Station, past and present in photographs
Grimshaw/Gruen wins contract to develop Union Station Master Plan

Bomb hoax on Metro bus in San Fernando Valley keeps police busy

http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20130916/bomb-hoax-on-metro-bus-in-san-fernando-valley-keeps-police-busy

September 16, 2013

 



LOS ANGELES - A Styrofoam cup with protruding wires and a message left on a Metro bus kept the sheriff’s Bomb Squad busy for about two hours Monday morning, a sergeant said.

The cup was left about midnight on a Metro bus at San Fernando Road and Van Nuys Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, said Metro sheriff’s Sgt. Andrew Bedogne, adding that “it was not left there by accident.” On the cup were written the words: “911. Remember,”

Sheriff’s arson-explosives experts examined the device and determined it was a hoax, he said.

The Week in Livable Streets Events

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/09/16/the-week-in-livable-streets-events-116/

By Damien Newton, September 16, 2013

The week starts a little slow, but it heats up fast starting on Wednesday. It ends with a Streetsblog/SaMo Next fundraiser. That’s fun.
  • Wednesday, Thursday- The Metro Board of Directors Committee meetings splash down this week. There’s nothing earth shattering on the agenda, the coolest meeting is a special meeting on Union Station we’ll discuss in a moment, but you can check out all the committee agendas on Metro’s Website.
  • Wednesday – The Metro Board of Directors is holding a special workshop on the Union Station Master Plan. A good time is promised to all for this mid-afternoon meeting. Metro has posted the power point that will be presented at the meeting at The Source. Get the details, here.
  • Wednesday - Nobody seems completely sure who gets to make the final decision on what is going to happen concerning access to the Expo Bikeway in Cheviot Hills, but the agreement between the city and homeowners requires a public meeting on the topic. This isn’t it, but the Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee plans to have a voice in the decision. You can learn more about their plans at a meeting of their advocacy and education committee meeting. Get the details, here.
  • Thursday – It used to be that meetings of the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee was a great chance to watch the Committee’s Chair, Deborah Murphy, harangue staff about the city’s priorities. Over the years, that has changed as the city has moved towards creating a better environment for pedestrians and people. Of course, now that Murphy is friends with Eric Garcetti, that’s likely to change even more. I don’t have a copy of the meeting agenda (yet), but the meeting is open to the public and they’re bound to be discussing something good. Get the meeting details, here.
  • Friday – It’s Park(ing) Day! True, the celebration of open space (and protest of the amount of space dedicated towards parking) isn’t quite what it used to be in Los Angeles, but there are still plenty of places in Downtown Los Angeles to get your park on. I’ll probably swing by the one in Culver City, and there are some other ones sprinkled around the map. See it on Google.
  • Friday, Saturday – Do you like cars? How about really fancy cars that run on alternative fuel, or rainbows, or something else that isn’t fossil fuels? If you do, you’ll love the 8th Annual Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica. Covering this event in 2007 was actually one of the first stories I wrote for Street Heat. See their advertising image, here.
  • SaturdayOn Saturday, September 21, through a sponsorship by Metro, C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange), with the LA River Corp, will lead a community bicycle ride, “Made in LA” along the LA River. This expedition, open to all cyclists, will pedal through and around Cypress Park and expose riders to businesses that make products right here in Los Angeles. Participants will visit Grain Surfboards, Kruegermann Pickle Factory and swrve (stylish urban bicycling apparel designers). Get the details, here.
  • Saturday – I know, I know, another Santa Monica event! What is this, Santa Monica Next? No, but this one is really cool. On Saturday, September 21st, 2013 from 11 am to 3 pm, Michigan Avenue will play host to a unique and exciting family‐friendly festival between 9th and Euclid Streets. As the second community planning workshop for the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway (MANGo) project, Pop‐Up MANGo takes the concept to the next level with temporary design installations in the street, an art workshop, music, and food! The event is FREE and open to the public. As best as I can tell, this is the first event of its kind in the region. Get the details at our calendar section, or the city’s website.
  • Sunday – It’s the Streetsblog Los Angeles/Santa Monica Next fundraiser party. Celebrate the launch of Santa Monica Next and the award winning Streetsblog Los Angeles. It’s bound to be a fun four hours at Juan and Sirinya’s. There’s going to be food, and drink and a raffle…the event is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing and the raffle by the Santa Monica Museum of Art. RSVP to damien@streetsblog.org or damien@santamonicanext.org to get directions to this rooftop party in Santa Monica. Calendar Listing. Facebook.

Article on 710 EIR/EIS



 From Sylvia Plummer, September 16, 2013

 Article on 710 EIR/EIS that will appear in the South Pasadena Review on Wednesday.



  The environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the “Gap Closure” project to connect the 710 South to the  I-210 is moving forward like a giant bulldozer.  The Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) will let nothing stand in its way.  MTA will finish the study recommending the construction of the 6.3 mile underground tunnel.  The agency conducting the study says they are considering five different options to end congestion on our streets and freeways, but this is a sham.    The EIR is being conducted by a firm hired by the MTA and it is funded by Measure R Funds (1/2cent sales tax in LA County for thirty years).  The cost of the study is 37 million dollars.  Though the MTA is funding the EIR Caltrans says they have the final say.

  We all know that the LA County freeways are congested during rush hours.  The data generated up to this time showing improvement in our freeways and local streets is somewhat sparse.  Their studies say 61,000 vehicles will be taken off the I-5 through the downtown segment in the year 2035 if two tunnels are bored with four lanes in each direction and no tolls are charged. The benefits to the 10, 60, 210, 101, 405, or the 110 are much more modest (perhaps 15,000 vehicles for all the other freeways).  The data showing reduction on our local streets (Fair Oaks, Fremont, & Garfield) is very suspect.  They say that with a two tunnel connector and no tolls that 75, 000 cars will be taken off the local streets.  They include such streets as Rosemead, San Gabriel Boulevard, los Robles, Eagle Rock Boulevard, and other unnamed streets.  These streets are a long way from the proposed tunnel.

  And by the way this tunnel is not to be a freeway, but a toll way.  The public will have to cough up $5-$15 for each trip though the trucks passing through the tunnel of course will pay more.  They have never provided a real cost estimate for the construction of the tunnel.  One estimate is 3.6 Billion.  This only covers the cost of the boring, not the other costs or the cost of operation.  Other estimates have been as high as 14 billion!  Whatever the cost is it will be borne by the public.  They say that they will create a Public Private Partnership (PPP) that will build and pay for the tunnel.  But remember that the PPP recoups its money from tolls.  If the cost of trucking goods goes up with these tolls the public’s cost of buying goods in the store will go up.    

  No one is listening to the public or the scientists who tell us that the connection will bring air pollution and disease with it.  Good studies show that there is an increased incidence of cancer related to the 710 South as well as asthma in children.  There are several other diseases that have been said to be associated with poor air quality (heart disease, strokes, autism, etc.).  The firm conducting the study tells us that the air will be “scrubbed.”   Scrubbers can take out the visible particles we see from trucks, but it is the stuff you can’t see that is just as harmful.  There is no scrubber built that takes out ultra-fine particulate matter, or ozone, or nitrous oxides, or unburned fuel.  

  It is not to be said that the construction of the tunnel can’t be stopped.  It can be stopped by our elected officials or the courts.  The recently election of Eric Garcetti as mayor of Los Angeles gives hope.  When he was a LA City councilman he voted and sponsored a resolution against the 710 tunnel in Northwest LA.  In his campaign he spoke out against the Tunnel.  The MTA board is composed of 13 voting members.  Garcetti controls four votes and longtime tunnel foe Ara Najarian is a fifth vote.  It will take seven votes to stop the tunnel.

  The courts have never looked with favor on the 710 North project.  They twice have issued injunctions in 1973 and 1999, which remain in force, to stop the project.  The EIR is filled with errors and faulty assumptions.  Their reasoning and logic in conducting the study is outright wrong.  It will take money to hire lawyers to stop the Tunnel in the courts.  There is a coalition of cities opposing the tunnel.  Among those are the Cities of South Pasadena, Pasadena, La Canada-Flintridge, and Glendale.  There are many other cities/communities which have spoken out against the Tunnel (Los Angeles, Sierra Madre, Highland Park, Eaglerock, Silverlake, Glassel Park, La Crescenta, Altadena, West Pasadena, and El Sereno).  There are even people in San Marino, Alhanbra, and Monterey Park who oppose the tunnel. There are prominent elected officials in Pasadena who have spoken out against the Tunnel (Mayor Bogaard, Pasadena City Councilman Steve Madison, and Councilwoman Margaret McAustin).  Our Local State Senator Carol Liu and former State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino have opposed the tunnel.  Congressman Adam Schiff opposes the tunnel.

  At the South Pasadena City Council meeting of September 18 there will be a presentation on the direct impacts that the EIR has proposed with the five remaining alternatives. 

                                                      The fight goes on.

South Pasadena 710 Meetings

From Sylvia Plummer, September 16, 2013

 South Pasadena City Council Meeting

Wednesday, September 18th   @  7:30pm

1414 Mission St.
South Pasadena, CA  91030

What is happening?

There will be a presentation regarding the direct impacts on the City of South Pasadena of the five remaining alternatives of the 710 EIR/EIS Study.  Presentation will take place early in the meeting.  Meeting is open to the public.
 
 Supervisor Antonovich meets with South Pasadena

Wednesday, September 25 @ 8:00 am

Arroyo Seco Golf Course
1055 Lohman Lane (lower arroyo)

What is happening?

The South Pasadena City Council will hold its annual meeting with Supervisor Antonovich .  Meeting is open to the public from any city.
 
The meeting will be similar to the one held in Pasadena 6 months ago.  So if you want to ask questions on the 710 issue this will be your chance.

How to Design a City for Women

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/09/how-design-city-women/6739/

By Clare Foran, September 16, 2013

In 1999, officials in Vienna, Austria, asked residents of the city's ninth district how often and why they used public transportation. "Most of the men filled out the questionnaire in less than five minutes," says Ursula Bauer, one of the city administrators tasked with carrying out the survey. "But the women couldn't stop writing."

The majority of men reported using either a car or public transit twice a day -- to go to work in the morning and come home at night. Women, on the other hand, used the city’s network of sidewalks, bus routes, subway lines and streetcars more frequently and for a myriad reasons.

"The women had a much more varied pattern of movement," Bauer recalls. "They were writing things like, 'I take my kids to the doctor some mornings, then bring them to school before I go to work. Later, I help my mother buy groceries and bring my kids home on the metro.'"

Women used public transit more often and made more trips on foot than men. They were also more likely to split their time between work and family commitments like taking care of children and elderly parents. Recognizing this, city planners drafted a plan to improve pedestrian mobility and access to public transit.

Additional lighting was added to make walking at night safer for women. Sidewalks were widened so pedestrians could navigate narrow streets. And a massive staircase with a ramp running through the middle was installed near a major intersection to make crossing easier for people with strollers and individuals using a walker or a wheelchair.


The barrier-free staircase in Vienna’s ninth district.

The decision to look at how men and women used public transit wasn't a shot in the dark. It was part of a project aimed at taking gender into account in public policy. In Vienna, this is called gender mainstreaming.

Gender mainstreaming has been in place in the Austrian capital since the early 1990s. In practice, this means city administrators create laws, rules and regulations that benefit men and women equally. The goal is to provide equal access to city resources. And so far, officials say it's working.

Vienna has adopted gender mainstreaming in a number of areas of city administration, including education and health care policy. But nowhere has it had more of an impact than on the field of urban planning. More than sixty pilot projects have been carried out to date. As the size and scale of these projects increase, gender mainstreaming has become a force that is literally reshaping the city.
•       •       •       •       •
Urban planners have been melding mainstreaming and city design in Vienna for over two decades and they've gotten it down to something of a science. Before a project gets underway, data is collected to determine how different groups of people use public space.

"There are so many questions that need to be asked," Eva Kail tells me. Kail has been instrumental in bringing gender mainstreaming to Vienna and currently works as a gender expert in the city’s Urban Planning Group. "You need to know who is using the space, how many people, and what are their aims. Once you’ve analyzed the patterns of use of public space, you start to define the needs and interests of the people using it," she explains. "Then planning can be used to meet these needs."

Mainstreaming got off the ground in Vienna in 1991 when Kail and a group of city planners organized a photography exhibit titled "Who Owns Public Space -- Women’s Everyday Life in the City." It depicted the daily routines of a diverse group of women as they went about their lives in the Austrian capital. Each woman tracked a different route through the city. But the images made clear that safety and ease of movement were a priority for all of them.

It sparked a media firestorm. "Newspapers, television and radio were all covering it and 4,000 people visited," Kail says. "At the time it was something completely new. But politicians quickly realized it was something people were interested in and they decided to support it."

Soon after, the city green lit a series of mainstreaming pilot projects. One of the first to be carried out was an apartment complex designed for and by women in the city’s 21st district. In 1993, the city held a design competition for the project, which was given the name Frauen-Werk-Stadt or Women-Work-City.

The idea was to create housing that would make life easier for women. But what exactly did that mean? Time use surveys compiled by Statistik Austria, the Austrian national statistics office, showed that women spent more time per day on household chores and childcare than men. Women-Work-City was built with this in mind. It consists of a series of apartment buildings surrounded by courtyards. Circular, grassy areas dot the courtyards, allowing parents and children to spend time outside without having to go far from home. The complex has an on-site kindergarten, pharmacy and doctor’s office. It also stands in close proximity to public transit to make running errands and getting to school and work easier.

A view into one of the courtyards at Women-Work-City.
 

Women-Work-City has an on-site kindergarten.
"What made the project unique was that we worked to define the needs of the people using the space first and then looked for technical solutions," Kail says. "Very often it is the opposite, where technical or aesthetic solutions determine the end result."

Following completion of Women-Work-City, city officials turned their attention to Vienna’s network of public parks and commissioned a study to see how men and women use park space. What they found was surprising.

The study, which took place from 1996 to 1997, showed that after the age of nine, the number of girls in public parks dropped off dramatically, while the number of boys held steady. Researchers found that girls were less assertive than boys. If boys and girls would up in competition for park space, the boys were more likely to win out.

City planners wanted to see if they could reverse this trend by changing the parks themselves. In 1999, the city began a redesign of two parks in Vienna’s fifth district. Footpaths were added to make the parks more accessible and volleyball and badminton courts were installed to allow for a wider variety of activities. Landscaping was also used to subdivide large, open areas into semi-enclosed pockets of park space. Almost immediately, city officials noticed a change. Different groups of people -- girls and boys -- began to use the parks without any one group overrunning the other.
 

A city park in Vienna.

People have started to pay attention. In 2008, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme included Vienna’s city planning strategy in its registry of best practices in improving the living environment. Vienna’s park redesign project, along with a program to create a gender mainstreaming pilot district, has even been nominated for the United Nations Public Service Award, a badge of honor recognizing efforts to improve public administration.
•       •       •       •       •
This change hasn’t come without criticism, however.

"When we came up with the idea for the exhibit “Who Owns Public Space" a lot of our colleagues thought it was ridiculous," Kail says. “Everyone we worked with had to give feedback. People said things like, "does this mean we should paint the streets pink?"

"Gender can be an emotional issue," Bauer adds. "When you tell people that up until now they haven’t taken the women’s perspective into account they feel attacked. We still have people asking, ‘Is this really necessary?'"

Planners also run the run the risk of reinforcing stereotypes in attempting to characterize how men and women use city space. To distance themselves from this, city officials have begun to shy away from the term gender mainstreaming, opting instead for the label 'Fair Shared City.'

Whatever its limitations, there's no question that mainstreaming has left an indelible mark on the Austrian capital. It began as a way to look at how men and women use city space differently. Today, however, mainstreaming has evolved into a much broader concept. It’s become a way of changing the structure and fabric of the city so that different groups of people can coexist. "For me, it’s a political approach to planning," Kail says. "It’s about bringing people into spaces where they didn’t exist before or felt they had no right to exist."

Bus Rapid Transit Spurs Development Better Than Light Rail Or Streetcars: Study

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2013/09/15/bus-rapid-transit-spurs-development-better-than-light-rail-and-streetcars/

By Jeff McMahon, September 15, 2013


 A Greater Cleveland RTA HealthLine BRT vehicle...
A Greater Cleveland RTA HealthLine BRT vehicle at Public Square in downtown Cleveland, Ohio

Bus rapid transit, in which buses in dedicated lanes perform like rail lines, can not only spur development, but can do so far more efficiently than light rail and streetcars, according to a study due out later this month from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

“Both BRT and LRT can leverage many times more development investment than they cost. Now we can say that for sure,” according to the institute’s director for the U.S. and Africa, Annie Weinstock, who previewed the findings at a Metropolitan Planning Council Roundtable in Chicago last week.
“Per dollar of transit investment, and under similar conditions, BRT can leverage more (development) investment than LRT or streetcars.”

For example, Cleveland’s Healthline, a BRT project completed on Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue in 2008, has generated $5.8 billion in development —$114 for each transit dollar invested. Portland’s Blue Line, a light rail project completed in 1986, generated $3.74 per dollar invested.

BRT’s efficiency makes sense—bus rapid transit lines are generally cheaper to develop than rail lines (though some transportation experts balk at the comparison)—but the difference has never before been documented, Weinstock said.
“The first conclusion we’re able to
draw here is that actually BRT is able to leverage development. This is the first time we have an analysis to say that definitively,” she said.

“And it can leverage a lot of development. Three of the corridors (studied) leveraged more than a billion dollars in development.”

BRT buses run in dedicated lanes, and stop at stations where riders pay before boarding the bus. Buses running on BRT lines may also receive traffic signal priority to speed them along. Though many projects in the United States have been described as BRT, many have only one or two features of BRT, and really are only enhanced bus lines, Weinstock said.

The U.S. has seven authentic BRT lines in Cleveland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Eugene Ore., and several in Pittsburgh. None achieve the internationally recognized “gold standard” of BRT like Bogota’s TransMilenio line. But one planned for Chicago’s Ashland Avenue might.

“There’s no gold standard BRT in the U.S. yet,” Weinstock said, “but if we continue with the Ashland project on the current trajectory, Ashland could be the first gold in the U.S.”

Jeff Schreiber from the Chicago Department of Transportation asked Schreiber what share of the development documented in the report can be said to have occurred because of BRT or LRT.

“I don’t think we are attributing the development 100 percent to the transit investment,” she said. “It’s part of the package of all of the importance given to the corridor. It’s possible that in a really strong corridor with a lot of goverment support and no transit you might get a lot of development. Probably if you add in transit you would do even better. But importantly in those situations you still need transit in order to create that kind of dense urban environment.”

The institute’s report is scheduled to be available Sept. 27 here.

Container shipping: the secretive industry crucial to our existence

The world of container shipping is crucial to our everyday existence, yet few people have any idea what happens on the high seas. In an extract from her new book, Rose George delves inside this fascinating and secretive industry 

 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/10289821/Container-shipping-the-secretive-industry-crucial-to-our-existence.html

 By Rose George, September 6, 2013


 The Maersk Kendal
 The Maersk Kendal, one of the 20 million containers crossing the world now

No sensible sailor goes to sea on the day of the Crucifixion, or the journey will be followed by ill will and malice. So here I am on a Friday in June, looking up at a giant ship that will carry me from Felixstowe to Singapore, for five weeks and 9,288 nautical miles through the Pillars of Hercules, pirate waters and weather. I stop at the bottom of the ship’s gangway, waiting for an escort, stilled and awed by the immensity of this thing, much of her the colour of a summer-day sky, so blue; her bottom painted dull red; her name – Maersk Kendal – written large on her side.

There is such busy-ness around me. Everything in a modern container port is enormous, overwhelming, crushing. Kendal of course, but also the thundering trucks, the giant boxes in many colours, the massive gantry cranes that straddle the quay, reaching up 10 storeys and over to ships that stretch three football pitches in length. There are hardly any humans to be seen. When the journalist Henry Mayhew visited London’s docks in 1849, he found 'decayed and bankrupt master butchers, master bakers, publicans, grocers, old soldiers, old sailors, Polish refugees, broken-down gentlemen, discharged lawyers’ clerks, suspended Government clerks, almsmen, pensioners, servants, thieves’. They have long since gone. This is a Terminator terminal, a place where humans are hidden in crane or truck cabs, where everything is clamorous machines.
The public is not allowed on this ship, nor even on this dock. There are no ordinary citizens to witness the workings of an industry that is one of the most fundamental to their daily existence. These ships and boxes belong to a business that feeds, clothes, warms and supplies us. They have fuelled if not created globalisation. They are the reason behind your cheap T-shirt and reasonably priced television. But who looks beyond a television now and sees the ship that carried it? Who cares about the men who brought your breakfast cereal through winter storms? How ironic that the more ships have grown in size and consequence, the more their place in our imagination has shrunk.
Nearly everything is transported by sea. Sometimes on trains I play a numbers game. The game is to reckon how many clothes and possessions and how much food has been transported by ship. The beads around the woman’s neck; the man's iPhone. Her Sri Lankan-made skirt and blouse; his printed-in-China book. I can always go wider, deeper and in any direction. The fabric of the seats. The rolling stock. The fuel powering the train. The conductor’s uniform; the coffee in my cup; the fruit in my bag. Definitely this fruit, so frequently shipped in refrigerated containers that it has been given its own temperature. Two degrees Celsius is 'chill’, but 13 degrees is 'banana’.
Trade carried by sea has grown fourfold since 1970 and is still growing. In 2011 the 360 commercial ports of America took in goods worth $1.73 trillion, or 80 times the value of all American trade in 1960. There are more than 100,000 ships at sea carrying all the solids, liquids and gases that we need to live. Only 6,000 are container vessels like Kendal, but they make up for this small proportion by their dizzying capacity. The biggest container ship can carry 15,000 boxes. It can hold 746 million bananas, one for every European, on one ship. If the containers of the Danish company Maersk were lined up, they would stretch 11,000 miles, more than halfway round the planet. If they were stacked instead, they would be 1,500 miles high, 7,530 Eiffel Towers. If Kendal discharged her containers on to trucks, the line of traffic would be 60 miles long.

A sweater can now travel 3,000 miles for 2.5 cents by sea. 
 
Trade has always travelled and the world has always traded. Ours, though, is the era of extreme interdependence. Hardly any nation is now self-sufficient. In 2011 Britain shipped in half of its gas. Every day 38 million metric tons of crude oil sets off by sea somewhere, although you may not notice it. As in Los Angeles and New York, London has moved its working docks out of the city, away from residents. Ships are bigger now and need deeper harbours, so they call at Newark or Tilbury or Felixstowe, not Liverpool or South Street. Security concerns have hidden ports further, behind barbed wire and badge-wearing and keeping out. To reach this quayside in Felixstowe, I had to pass through several gatekeepers and passport controllers, and past radiation-detecting gates alarmed by naturally radioactive cargo such as cat litter and broccoli.

It is harder to wander into the world of shipping now, so people don’t. The chief of the Royal Navy – who is known as the First Sea Lord, although the Army chief is not a Land Lord – says we suffer from 'sea blindness’. We travel by cheap flights, not liners. The sea is a distance to be flown over, a downward backdrop between take-off and landing, a blue expanse that soothes on the moving flight map as the plane jerks over it. It is for leisure and beaches and fish and chips, not for use or work. Perhaps we believe that everything travels by air, or that it does so magically and instantaneously like information (which is actually transmitted by cables on the seabed), not by hefty ships that travel more slowly than pensioners drive.

You could trace the flight of the ocean from our consciousness in the pages of great newspapers. Fifty years ago, the shipping news was news. Cargo departures were reported daily. Now the most necessary business on the planet has mostly been shunted into the pages of specialised trade papers such as Lloyd’s List and the Journal of Commerce, fine publications, but out of the reach of most when a subscription to Lloyd’s List costs £1,785 a year. In 1965 shipping was so central to daily life in London that when Winston Churchill’s funeral barge left Tower Pier, it embarked in front of dock cranes that dipped their jibs, movingly, out of respect. The cranes are gone now or immobile, garden furniture for wharves that house apartments or indifferent restaurants.

Read more from the Telegraph Magazine: Miracle material - the graphene revolution 
 
Humans have sent goods by water for at least 4,000 years. In the 15th century BC Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt sent a fleet to the Land of Punt and brought back panther skins and ebony, frankincense and dancing pygmies. Perhaps Hatshepsut counts as the first shipping tycoon, before the Romans, Phoenicians and Greeks took over. She was certainly the only Egyptian queen who preferred to be called king. Shipping history is full of such treats and treasures. Cardamom, silk, ginger and gold, ivory and saffron. The routes of spice, tea and salt, of amber and incense. There were trade winds, sailor towns and sails, chaos and colour. Now there are freight routes, turnarounds and boxes and the cool mechanics of modern industry, but there is still intrigue and fortune. Maersk ships travel regular routes around Australia and Yokohama named Boomerang and Yo-Yo, and the Bossa Nova and Samba around South America. There are wealthy tycoons still, Norse, Greek and Danish, belonging to family companies who maintain a level of privacy that makes a Swiss banker seem verbose. Publicly listed shipping companies are still a minority. Even shipping people admit that their industry is clubby, insular, difficult. In this business it is considered normal that the official Greek ship-owners’ association refuses to say how many members it has, because it can.

Maersk is different. It must be, because it is letting me on to its working ship, where no members of the public are allowed. Even Maersk officers are no longer permitted to take family members to sea, because of concerns about their safety from pirates. But Maersk is known for risks, at least in the places where its name is known at all, which is in shipping and Denmark. I find Maersk fascinating. It is the Coca-Cola of freight with none of the fame. Its parent company, AP Møller-Maersk, is the largest company in Denmark, its sales equal to 20 per cent of Denmark’s GDP; its ships use more oil than the entire nation.

I like the fact that Maersk is not a household name outside the pages of Lloyd’s List; I like that Maersk is a first name. It’s like a massive global corporation named Derek. For much of its recent history the company was run by Arnold Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller, the son of the founder, a pleasingly eccentric patriarch who stayed working until he died in 2012 aged 98. Møller was known for his firm control of his company; for walking up five flights of stairs to his office (although when he reached 94 he allowed his driver to carry his briefcase up); for being one of only three commoners to receive the Order of the Elephant; and for driving around Copenhagen in a modest car although he was one of the two richest people in Denmark. (The other inherited Lego.)


There are more than 100,000 ships at sea carrying all the solids, liquids and gases that we need to live
 
Reuters, in a profile of Maersk, describes it as 'active primarily in the marine transportation sector’. Behind that 'primarily’ are multitudes. Founded in 1904 with one ship named Svendborg, Maersk now operates the largest container shipping company in the world, with a fleet of 600 vessels. It also has the vast and dizzying interests of a global corporation. It is active in 130 countries and has 117,000 employees. It is looking for and drilling for oil and gas in Denmark, Angola and Kazakhstan. If you have visited Denmark, you have probably shopped in a Maersk-owned supermarket. You can save in a Maersk-owned bank. The list of its companies and subsidiaries is 12 pages long, double columns. Its revenues in 2011 amounted to $60.2 billion, only slightly less than Microsoft’s. Microsoft provides the software that runs computers; Maersk brings us the computers. One is infamous; somehow the other is mostly invisible.

This is remarkable, given the size of the com-pany’s ambition. Maersk is known for its experiments with economies of scale. Emma Maersk, its E-class ship (rated according to an internal classification system), was built in 2005, and excited the industry partly because she could carry at least 15,000 containers. Triple-E-class ships, expected in 2014, will carry 18,000, and be able to fit a full-sized American football pitch, an ice-hockey arena and a basketball court in their holds, if they care to. Emma was envied by naval architects and engineers, but her arrival in Felixstowe in December 2006 also caught the public imagination. Along with her 150 tons of New Zealand lamb and 138,000 tins of cat food, she carried 12,800 MP3 players, 33,000 cocktail shakers and two million Christmas decorations.

At her most laden, Kendal carries 6,188 boring TEUs, or twenty-foot-equivalent units. TEU is a mundane name for something that changed the world, but so is 'the internet’. I watch a crane lifting a TEU into the air, its cables dancing it across on to the ship, thudding it into place, then retracting with serpentine loops. It would be balletic if it weren’t for the thuds. A grey box, its corrugated iron ridges slightly scuffed and rusted, its exterior branded with maersk. There are 20 million containers crossing the world now, quiet blank boxes. Before containers, transport costs ate as much as 25 per cent of the value of whatever was being shipped. With the extreme efficiencies that intermodality brought, costs were reduced to a pittance. A sweater can now travel 3,000 miles for 2.5 cents; it costs a cent to send a can of beer. Shipping is so cheap that it makes more financial sense for Scottish cod to be sent 10,000 miles to China to be filleted.

I have met well-meaning men – and too few women – in boardrooms across London and New York who complain about widespread ignorance of shipping. They want a better public image for an industry that in Britain alone employs 634,900 people, contributes £8.45 billion in tax and generates two per cent of the national economy, more than restaurants, take-away food and civil engineering combined, and only just behind the construction industry. They despair that shipping only emerges with drama and disaster: a cruise ship sinking, or another oil spill and blackened birds. They would like people to know such names as the Wec Vermeer, arrived from Leixões and heading for Rotterdam, not just Exxon Valdez and Titanic. They provide statistics showing how the dark days of oil spills are over. Between 1972 and 1981, there were 223 spills. Over the past decade, there were 63. Each year, a publicist told me, 'more oil is poured down the drain by car mechanics changing engine oil than is spilt by the world’s fleet of oil tankers’.

Yet that invisibility is useful, too. There are few industries as defiantly opaque as this one. Even offshore bankers have not developed a system as intricately elusive as the flag of convenience, where ships can fly the flag of a state that has nothing to do with its owner, cargo, crew or route. Look at the backside of boats and you will see they name their home ports as Panama City and Monrovia, not Le Havre or Hamburg, though neither crew nor ship will have ever been to Liberia or Panama. To the International Chamber of Shipping, which thinks 'flags of convenience’ too pejorative (it prefers the sanitised term 'open registries’), there is 'nothing inherently wrong’ with this system. A former US Coast Guard commander preferred to call it 'managed anarchy’.

Kendal has also 'flagged out’ in this way, but to the national registry of the United Kingdom. She flies the Red Ensign, the maritime Union flag. This makes her a rarity. After the Second World War, the great powers in shipping were Britain and America. In 1961 Britain had 142,462 working seafarers. America owned 1,268 ships. Now British seafarers number about 24,000 and there are fewer than 100 ocean-going American-flagged ships. At a nautical seminar held on a tall ship – a proper old sailing vessel – in Glasgow, a tanker captain told the following anecdote, which got laughs, but was sad: when online forms offer him drop-down options to describe his career, he selects 'shipping’, and is then given a choice: DHL or TNT?

Read more from the Telegraph Magazine: Fortune on the rocks: the men risking their lives for barnacles 
 
Two men have descended from Kendal to fetch me. They look Asian and exhausted, so they are typical crew (although the captain and chief engineer are British). The benefits of flagging out vary according to registry, but there will always be lower taxes, laxer labour laws and no requirement to pay expensive American or British crews protected by unions and legislation. Now the citizens of rich countries own ships – Greece has the most, then Japan and Germany – but they are sailed by the cheap labour of Filipinos, Bangladeshis, Chinese, Indonesians. They are the ones who clean your cruise cabin and work in the engine room, who bring your gas, soy beans, perfumes and medicine.

Seafaring can be a good life. And it can go wrong with the speed of a wave. On paper the seas are tightly controlled. The Dutch scholar Grotius’s 1609 concept of mare liberum still mostly holds: a free sea that belongs to no state but in which each state has some rights. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is known as the umbrella convention with reason: its 320 articles, excluding annexes, aim to create 'a legal order for the seas and oceans, which will facilitate international communication and promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient utilisation of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment’. Nations that ratify it (America has not, disliking its deep-sea-mining regulations) have a right to a 12-mile boundary from their coastline, and also to a 200-mile 'exclusive economic zone’. Beyond that is the high sea. The International Maritime Organization, a UN agency, has passed dozens of regulations since the 1940s to regulate ships, crews and safety, more than most UN agencies. The International Labour Organization looks out for seafarers’ rights. There is also an International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which resolves any boundary disputes.

The sea, though, dissolves paper. In practice, the ocean is still the world’s wildest place, both because of its fearsome natural danger and because of how easy it is out there to slip out of the boundaries of law and civilisation that seem so firm ashore. Television crime dramas now frequently use ports as a visual shorthand for a place of criminal, suspicious activity. I don’t know why they don’t just go to sea. If something goes wrong in international waters, there is no police force, no union official to assist. Imagine you have a problem on a ship while you are on that ship. Who do you complain to, when you are employed by a Manila manning agency on a ship owned by an American, flagged by Panama and managed by a Cypriot, in international waters?

Or imagine you are a 19-year-old South African woman named Akhona Geveza, fresh out of maritime college, the first in your family to reach higher education, the household earner and hope. In 2010 you go to sea as an apprentice navigator on a good ship, Safmarine Kariba, run by a good company, Safmarine. On 23 June your shipmate reports to your captain that you have been raped by the Ukrainian first officer. He summons you and the officer to his cabin the next day at 11am, as if an alleged rape is a regular human resources matter. But you don’t turn up, because you are already dead in the sea. The Croatian police, whose jurisdiction covered the sea Geveza was found in, concluded she had committed suicide. She had been in a relationship that was 'consensual but rough’. An inquiry by Safmarine also concluded suicide, and found no evidence of harassment or abuse. And that, according to sea law, was all that could be demanded.

Reporters from South Africa’s Sunday Times then interviewed other cadets from the same maritime school. They found that two had been made pregnant by senior officers; two male cadets had been raped; and there was a widespread atmosphere of intimidation. A female cadet said embarking on a ship was like being dropped in the middle of a game park. 'When we arrived,’ one said, 'we were told that the captain is our god. He can marry you, baptise you and even bury you without anybody’s permission. We were told that the sea is no-man’s land and that what happens at sea, stays at sea.’

Other workers and migrants have hard lives. But they have phone lines and internet access, unlike seafarers. They have union representatives, a police force, firefighters, all the safety nets of society. Only 12 per cent of a ship’s crew have freely available internet access at sea. Two-thirds have no access at all. Mobile phones don’t work either. Lawyers who work for seafarers’ rights describe an industry that is global but also uniquely mobile, and difficult to govern, police or rule. They are careful to say that most owners are scrupulous, but for the unscrupulous ones, there is no better place to be than here. For the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), a global union representing four million transport workers, the maritime and fishing industries 'continue to allow astonishing abuses of human rights of those working in the sector... Seafarers and fishers are routinely made to work in conditions that would not be considered acceptable in civilised society.’

If that sounds like typically combative union rhetoric, ITF will point to, for a start, the £20 million they recovered in 2010 of wages unpaid to seafarers who had earned the money. The blankness of that blue sea on our maps of the earth applies to the people who work on it too: buy your Fairtrade coffee beans, by all means, but don’t assume that Fairtrade governs the conditions of the people who fetch it to you. You would be mistaken. The great Norwegian-American seafarer unionist Andrew Furuseth – known as Lincoln of the Sea for his cheekbones and achievements – was once threatened with prison for violating an injunction during a 1904 strike. 'You can throw me in jail,’ he responded. 'But you can’t give me narrower quarters than, as a seaman, I’ve always lived in, or a coarser food than I’ve always eaten, or make me lonelier than I’ve always been.’ More than a century on, seafarers still regularly joke that their job is like being in prison with a salary. That is not accurate. When the academic Erol Kahveci surveyed British prison literature while researching conditions at sea, he found that 'the provision of leisure, recreation, religious service and communication facilities are better in UK prisons than… on many ships our respondents worked aboard.’

The International Maritime Organization once published a brochure about shipping, entitled 'A Safe and Friendly Business’. Shipping has certainly become safer, but not always friendlier. In this safe and friendly business, 544 seafarers are being held hostage by Somali pirates. I try to translate that into other transport industries: 544 bus drivers, or 544 cab drivers, or nearly two jumbo jets of passengers, mutilated and tortured for years for doing their job. When 33 Chilean miners were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010, there was a media frenzy; 1,500 journalists went to Chile, and even now the BBC news website dedicates a special page to their drama, long after its conclusion. The 24 men on MV Iceberg held captive for 1,000 days were given no special page and nothing much more than silence and disregard.

The men from Kendal are ready to go. They advise me to hold the gangway rail tightly: 'One hand for you, miss, and one for the ship.’ I have travelled plenty and strangely on land: to Saddam Hussein’s birthday party in Tikrit, to Bhutanese football matches blessed by Buddhist monks, down sewers and through vast slums. I look at this gangway, leading up four storeys of height to 39 days at sea, six ports, two oceans, five seas and the most compellingly foreign environment I’m ever likely to encounter. Lead on, able seamen. I will follow.

Column: Developers roll over residents in Bergamot plan - Santa Monica Daily Press

http://webmail.earthlink.net/wam/msg.jsp?msgid=57818&folder=INBOX&isSeen=false&x=1979243348

By Bill Bauer, September 15, 2013

 071513 _ CTY bergamot


Last Tuesday, the City Council reviewed and approved the Bergamot Area Plan.

We can expect a whole lot of development within the 142.5 acre site and lots more traffic, congestion and pollution because nobody is in the mood to control new development or substantially reduce its negative impacts. The Bergamot Area Plan will set future development standards for this formerly light industrial, eastern, Mid-City neighborhood. Welcome to “Downtown East.”

Because a number of major developments have already been approved or are pending, the plan is almost an afterthought.

• The 377-apartment, East Village (Village Trailer Park site) will have 399,581 square feet of floor space.

• Next to it is the Roberts Business Center with 304,368 square feet of floor space (including 231 apartments) and the Colorado Creative Studios with 191,892 square feet of creative office space.  Agensys with 153,000 square feet of office space is nearing completion.

• The pending 766,000-square-foot Bergamot Transit Village Center on the 7.16 acre Paper Mate site is spread over five buildings as high as 86 feet. Also pending is Paseo Nebraska, a primarily residential development with 545 apartments and 356,000 square feet of space.

• Santa Monica College’s new Entertainment and Technology Building will have 63,000 square feet of space and the New Roads School addition will have 116,000 square feet of space.

That’s a total of 2,351,406 square feet of new space or about 23,000 new car trips per weekday — a far cry from the “700 less car trips” crapola that City Hall had been trying to feed us.  Two dozen West Los Angeles and Santa Monica intersections alone will be severely impacted by the additional traffic.

You can bet your Prius that congestion will get much worse despite all the bicycle and pedestrian amenities, electric vehicle charging stations and transportation demand management programs presented.

Housing is the deal breaker in the plan. City bureaucrats still cling to the false notion that people who move here will work locally for their entire careers and never drive. Fat chance. The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) called for 1,300 housing units by 2030, yet there are already 1,500 housing units in the pipeline as of 2013.

We’ve all been sold out for an unspecified number of “affordable” apartments — as if a handful of low-income rental units justify the nightmares that this deeply-flawed plan will bring. Making things worse, the council has decreed that additional height and density bonuses will accrue when extra low-income rental units are included in Bergamot area developments.

The next evening, the Planning Commission reviewed the largest project proposed for the area — the Bergamot Transit Village Center (BVTC). This is a 750,000-square-foot, mixed-use development from Houston, Texas mega-developer Hines, Corp.

When it was introduced a few years ago, someone referred to it as a “bunch of packing crates that the Water Garden came in.” It still is. In this revised version, Hines has turned a couple hundred thousand square feet of projected office space into apartments — including 75 affordable units — to grease the skids for approval.

This turkey consists of 471 rental units, 27 artist work/live units, up to 374,423 square feet of creative office space, and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Open green space is in short supply and new roadways mean two new traffic lights on Olympic Boulevard to further jam traffic.

Questions about the number of employees, density, parking, traffic effects and real community benefits were given little concern.  There’s only one thing that matters to the decision makers: “How much low-income housing?”

It takes precedent over traffic, crowding, and our quality of life and provides no neighborhood benefits, but it sure brings in a lot more voters (renters) to keep the rascals in power. That’s why obvious problems are ignored while we’re being promised that everything is “going to be peachy-keen.”

The Planning Commission will continue discussing the BTVC on Sept. 18
Last Tuesday, the City Council reviewed and approved the Bergamot Area Plan.
We can expect a whole lot of development within the 142.5 acre site and lots more traffic, congestion and pollution because nobody is in the mood to control new development or substantially reduce its negative impacts. The Bergamot Area Plan will set future development standards for this formerly light industrial, eastern, Mid-City neighborhood. Welcome to “Downtown East.”
Because a number of major developments have already been approved or are pending, the plan is almost an afterthought.
• The 377-apartment, East Village (Village Trailer Park site) will have 399,581 square feet of floor space.
• Next to it is the Roberts Business Center with 304,368 square feet of floor space (including 231 apartments) and the Colorado Creative Studios with 191,892 square feet of creative office space.  Agensys with 153,000 square feet of office space is nearing completion.
• The pending 766,000-square-foot Bergamot Transit Village Center on the 7.16 acre Paper Mate site is spread over five buildings as high as 86 feet. Also pending is Paseo Nebraska, a primarily residential development with 545 apartments and 356,000 square feet of space.
• Santa Monica College’s new Entertainment and Technology Building will have 63,000 square feet of space and the New Roads School addition will have 116,000 square feet of space.
That’s a total of 2,351,406 square feet of new space or about 23,000 new car trips per weekday — a far cry from the “700 less car trips” crapola that City Hall had been trying to feed us.  Two dozen West Los Angeles and Santa Monica intersections alone will be severely impacted by the additional traffic.
You can bet your Prius that congestion will get much worse despite all the bicycle and pedestrian amenities, electric vehicle charging stations and transportation demand management programs presented.
Housing is the deal breaker in the plan. City bureaucrats still cling to the false notion that people who move here will work locally for their entire careers and never drive. Fat chance. The Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) called for 1,300 housing units by 2030, yet there are already 1,500 housing units in the pipeline as of 2013.
We’ve all been sold out for an unspecified number of “affordable” apartments — as if a handful of low-income rental units justify the nightmares that this deeply-flawed plan will bring. Making things worse, the council has decreed that additional height and density bonuses will accrue when extra low-income rental units are included in Bergamot area developments
The next evening, the Planning Commission reviewed the largest project proposed for the area — the Bergamot Transit Village Center (BVTC). This is a 750,000-square-foot, mixed-use development from Houston, Texas mega-developer Hines, Corp.
When it was introduced a few years ago, someone referred to it as a “bunch of packing crates that the Water Garden came in.” It still is. In this revised version, Hines has turned a couple hundred thousand square feet of projected office space into apartments — including 75 affordable units — to grease the skids for approval.
This turkey consists of 471 rental units, 27 artist work/live units, up to 374,423 square feet of creative office space, and nearly 30,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Open green space is in short supply and new roadways mean two new traffic lights on Olympic Boulevard to further jam traffic.
Questions about the number of employees, density, parking, traffic effects and real community benefits were given little concern.  There’s only one thing that matters to the decision makers: “How much low-income housing?”
It takes precedent over traffic, crowding, and our quality of life and provides no neighborhood benefits, but it sure brings in a lot more voters (renters) to keep the rascals in power. That’s why obvious problems are ignored while we’re being promised that everything is “going to be peachy-keen.”
The Planning Commission will continue discussing the BTVC on Sept. 18
- See more at: http://smdp.com/column-developers-roll-over-residents-again/126975#sthash.q2sn0rDd.dpuf