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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

From Place to Place: Shifting the Transportation Paradigm


By Ethan Kent

Progressive transportation planning may be in the midst of a boom, but is it on the right track to create the shift and vision that the movement is looking for? What might this vision look like, and how can we capture this momentum to effect real change in how we think about transportation planning?

How we leverage alternative modes of transport in creating places can make real contributions to broad-based community development strategies.

Advocates are finally bringing attention to issues like the impact and efficiency of multiple transport modes, the fair allocation of road space and spending, and opportunities to create more seamless transportation systems and commuter options. While each of these advances are extremely important, when advocated for and implemented in isolation of the others, they do not lead to structural change. By moving the transportation discussion beyond technical mobility solutions and modal shifts, we can generate integrative solutions for each of these issues.

At the most basic level, the goal of transportation planning should be to facilitate getting people to places – connecting travelers with destinations. In the broader effort to make people as mobile as possible, however, many of our transportation networks are accomplishing a great deal less at a much larger cost.

Focusing narrowly on mobility, without simultaneously addressing place and accessibility, can in fact contribute to issues of traffic congestion and safety, social segregation, isolated land uses, car-oriented building design, decreased walkability and longer travel distances – these are the very same issues that progressive transportation planners are seeking to address!

Planning for mobility has neglected, and often degraded, those places worth traveling to.

In both political and community-level discussions, this focus on mobility alone has overshadowed a more fundamental question: What kind of cities, communities, and streets do we actually want to have? Even advocates of “alternative modes” (transit, bicycles, pedestrians) are still largely working from within a mobility framework, although a small but growing advocacy sector is beginning to frame their approach around issues of accessibility and Placemaking.

Shifting the focus of these conversations from mobility to the creation of great places will ensure a political climate and public realm that is amenable to alternate modes of transit, while at the same time reducing the need for travel and creating community destinations where people actually want to be.  If we let it, transportation planning can become a driving force of community development. By re-envisioning our cities, transportation systems, and economies around viable destinations, we are also supporting the sustainable transportation modes of mass transit, walking and bicycling.

If you don’t have a parking or congestion problem, it’s not a good place.

Congestion relief efforts have suffered from this single-issue approach. Congestion prevents people from getting places, but the real problem is that today’s mobility-focused transportation planning creates traffic, because it is not supporting the creation of multiple places or destinations. The way to address congestion or parking “problems” is to create more, and more attractive, destinations to which people will want to travel! People will walk greater distances, park further away, or take less “convenient” transit in order to visit a great place – and this activity will not only help draw people back into a community’s public spaces, but it will also ensure the maintenance of strong local economies.

By focusing just on mobility for mobility’s sake, we have been moving people and goods around more and more and accomplishing less and less. Imagine, for a moment, the success and efficiency of the world’s best public markets or civic squares – places where individual mobility is lowest and parking demand and congestion are highest.

The town of Chester, CT, moved their farmers market from a parking lot on the edge of town to parking spaces on Main Street. Despite initial resistance, the newly-located market is now a celebrated regional destination. It has become so successful, in fact, that the city eventually closed the street to cars during markets, offering games, music, and other entertainment to visitors and pedestrians.

The best way to create a true paradigm shift in transportation is to create places where people want to be – places that can simultaneously support vital local economies along with healthy lifestyles and strong communities.

Pasadena Council Meeting 7/13/15 - Review of City Comments re SR-710 DEIR

(presentation @01:54:34; comments 02:22):


How to Breathe Easy in Polluted Cities

 Try these seven ways to lessen the burden on your lungs.


By Sarah O'Meara, July 14, 2015

 Image REUTERS/Barry Huang

 Residents wearing masks on a hazy day in Beijing, October 9, 2014.

Before leaving the house, residents of Delhi and Beijing are as likely to check the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI rating) as the weather forecast. Once the level of pollutants reaches a critical concentration—which varies by location—it’s no longer safe to breathe outdoors.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) associates a numerical value of particulates with a color and an advisory warning. (AirNow)
One quarter of the world’s population now breathes unsafe air, according to the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI). The relationship between filthy air and poor health is frightening. Fine particulate matter, which comes from fuel combustion (such as from vehicle exhausts or coal-fired power plants), can easily penetrate our bloodstream and contribute to cardiovascular and lung disease. Last year, the World Health Organization reported that ambient air pollution contributes to one in eight of all deaths—that equated to 7 million deaths in 2012 alone.

Citizens have begun fighting back against the growing danger, pushing governments to release pollution figures, buying air filtration products in vast quantities, and becoming involved in grassroots campaigns to take back control of their environments. But there are also easy, affordable things you can do right now. Try these easy ways to reduce your exposure to bad air—in any city. 

Download predictive outdoor pollution apps

The number of sites and apps that offer predictive outdoor air quality reports is steadily growing. Last month, Microsoft launched an app that provides air quality information for more than 200 cities in China up to two days in advance. Your Weather combines data with weather forecasts to help city dwellers make better decisions about when and how to brave the air. In the U.S., the federal government’s Airnow website and mobile app offer a next-day AQI predictor. Earlier this year, to help residents navigate polluted Delhi, the Indian government launched the mobile app SAFAR-Air, complete with next-day air forecasting.


Install indoor air pollution sensors

Low-cost, high-accuracy sensors that measure air quality are a hot new area of technology startups. At the SXSW festival this year, Carnegie Mellon scientists unveiled their $200 Speck air pollution monitor, which can measure the concentration of fine pollutant particles in your home. In China, the $65 Laser Egg reader begins shipping this week. “The results we see from our Laser Egg are on par with professional equipment usually in the range of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars,”developer Liam Bates told Citylab.

Buy an air purifier—and keep it clean

Air purifiers are a staple in many urban homes. Although it might seem counterintuitive, it’s a good idea to turn off your air purifiers regularly to air out your home. Choose a day of low pollution and then open the windows one room at a time for at least 10 minutes, before sealing them shut and switching those purifiers back on. Doing so will allow stale air from the previous day out and allow relatively clean air back in.

If you’re in doubt of your purifier’s efficiency, start switching your filters up more often than the instructions suggest. Bear in mind that filters on air conditioning units may also become clogged more quickly in a smoggy area.

Invest in wearable technology

Wearable pollution sensors allow you to monitor your personal exposure. Inevitably, these kinds of sensors face a barrage of difficulties when recording accurate data outdoors, since pollution levels can change every second depending on external factors, such as traffic and weather patterns. However, the creators of keychain-sized gadget Clarity are confident the idea will catch on and eventually expect crowdsourced data from their product to help citizens gain a more complete picture of environmental hazards.

Other similar devices already on the market, or slated to arrive soon, include the AirBeam, the palm-sized device in the video above, as well as the Lapka PEM and the TZOA sensor, both of which can stream data to the wearer’s smartphone.

Create less indoor pollution

When measuring your personal AQI, it’s worth remembering that the air quality in your home sometimes bears no correlation to what is going outside. Many factors can affect the quality of indoor air, from cooking to burning incense. Also be sure to chuck major dust collectors, such as old cushions and heavily upholstered furniture.

Wear a respirator

Smog masks are becoming cool—as CNN noted, they even graced the runways at China Fashion Week last year. But in order to fully gain the benefits, you’ll need to purchase an air-purifying respirator, rather than a facial accessory made from cloth—a common sight in cities. Proper respirator masks make a seal with the face and have a filter to prevent contaminated air entering your mouth or nose.

Exercise at off hours

The jury’s still out as to whether the benefits of exercise outweigh the negative effects of pollution. Either way, to avoid inhaling polluted air deep into your lungs, experts suggest hitting the running track early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the most pollutant-heavy times of the day.

The Clearest Explanation Yet for Why Millennials Are Driving Less

Shifting demographics matter, but shifting attitudes may matter more.


By Eric Jaffe, July 13, 2015

 Image Automotive Rhythms / Flickr

The ongoing discussion about Millennial driving trends is not about whether they’re declining, but why. It’s clear to all that young people are driving less today than they did in the past. But the reasons for these shifts in car use are what remain locked in seemingly endless debate.

Two theories lead the charge. The first is that demographic or economic factors are primarily to blame. Since so many Millennials are out of work or delaying the start of family life, they have less daily need to drive. That certainly makes sense. The second idea suggests that young people fundamentally have a different attitude toward cars than previous generations did at that age, instead preferring to live in the city longer and travel by multiple alternative modes. That’s also a logical conclusion, if a bit harder to quantify.

The truth might be a little of this, a little of that, and even some of the other. That’s the takeaway from a new analysis of Millennial driving habits from transport scholar Noreen McDonald of the University of North Carolina. Writing in the Journal of the American Planning Association, McDonald attributes 10 to 25 percent of the driving decline to changing demographics, 35 to 50 percent to attitudes, and another 40 percent to the general downward shift in U.S. driving habits.

She concludes:
Taken together, these trends lend credence to the idea that Millennials are increasingly “going nowhere.”

Both main theories are true

 There’s no shortage of attempts to explain Millennial driving behavior. What makes McDonald’s work especially useful and compelling is that she compared the travel patterns of Millennials (born between 1979 and 1990, by her definition) with those of Generation X (born 1967-1978) at the same age. So she looked at driving data (both trips and miles) from tens of thousands of individuals in 1995, 2001, and 2009 alike.

The cross-generational method is critical for determining reasons for the driving shifts. If demographics and economics were responsible for the decline, for example, then one would still expect an employed 25-year-old Gen X’er in 1995 to have similar car habits as an employed 25-year-old Millennial in 2009. But if generational attitudes are to blame, one would expect those numbers to diverge even with the underlying demographic factor holding steady.

Indeed, McDonald found both factors in play. Today’s young people certainly have a different demographic profile than the previous generation. Take 25-to-30 year olds. The share of those employed fell from 82 percent in 1995 to 73 percent in 2009—a nine-point dip. The drop was even greater for those who’d formed a household by that age: 16 points. Meanwhile, the share living in urban areas rose from 69 to 77 percent. All these indicators support the role of demographics in decreased driving; many Millennials simply lack the need or resources for cars.

But driving changes occurred when controlling for demographics, too. Let’s stick with 25-to-30 year olds and look at average daily driving mileage. Young people this age who were unemployed in 2009 drove 3.7 miles less a day than did young people who were that same age in 1995. The downward shift held for those who had a job (-7.1 miles), lived with their parents (-6.2), formed a household (-7.9), and resided in the city (-6.2) or even the country (-8.1). So demographics mattered, but a general mindset toward driving mattered as well.

McDonald writes:
Our analysis demonstrates that both of the theories about the causes of the decline in driving among Millennials are true: Declining travel is due to changing attitudes and perspectives about driving as well as lifestyle changes such as increased schooling, decreased employment, and delay in marriage and childbearing.

A few other notable trends

McDonald’s next step was assigning a relative impact of these causes on the decline in driving. As mentioned above, demographics accounted for 10 to 25 percent of the age-group decline between generations, or 1 to 2 miles a day (below, in dark gray). Attitude toward cars counted for 35 to 50 percent, or 2 to 4 miles a day (below, light gray). And the general decline in American vehicle mileage accounted for 40 percent, or 3.2-miles (medium gray):
A few other trends spotted by the research are worth noting:
  • As expected, driving declined for all age groups between 1995 and 2009. Unexpectedly, McDonald found that for ages 19 to 30 it peaked circa 1995—suggesting, contrary to some accounts, that the decline “is not exclusive to the Millennial generation” and actually began with younger Gen X’ers.
  • Also surprising, McDonald found little difference in multi-modal travel (public transit, biking, and walking) in 2009 compared with that of 1995. If Millennials really prefer these options more than Gen X, it isn’t showing up clearly in these numbers.
  • Young people in 2009 made fewer total trips than the previous generation, as opposed to shorter trips. Take 25-to-30 year olds: in 1995 they averaged 9.4 miles a trip, and in 2009 they averaged 10 miles a trip. A closer analysis showed Millennials were shedding work and personal business trips (as expected by a lower employment rate) as well as some social trips.
McDonald concludes:
This analysis provides evidence of a long-term decrease in automobility that started in the late 1990s with younger members of Gen X and has continued with the Millennial generation. The decrease in driving has not been accompanied by an increase in other modes of travel or a decline in average trip length, meaning that younger Americans are increasingly going fewer places.
So there you have it. McDonald’s work isn’t likely to put the debate about Millennial driving habits to rest, but it does add a highly informed layer to the discussion. And her advice about what planners and cities can do while all the data points find their place—encourage alternative travel modes, and improve forecasts about driving trends—is sound regardless of the exact reasons behind the shifts.

The Principles Guiding A Proposed New Sales Tax Measure


Posted by Gloria Ohland, July 13, 2015


Move LA's Leadership Board and coalition partners are meeting with new LA Metro CEO Phil Washington Tuesday to talk about the projects that we'd like to see funded in a new sales tax measure to achieve the objectives listed above.

We are keenly interested in:
  • Completing the Metro Rail Transit Strategic Plan
  • Ensuring that there is a robust operating budget that makes it possible to keep fares low
  • Creating of network of Grand Boulevards that could include transit upgrades to bus rapid transit*
  • Expand funding for active transportation and first-last-mile connections to stations
  • Modernize the Metrolink commuter rail system
  • Invest in clean goods movement with zero- + near-zero-emission vehicles
  • Make neighborhoods better places in which to live without displacing current residents or local businesses
*Bus rapid transit (BRT) is high-quality, high-capacity bus service, with buses that often travel in exclusive lanes from station to station (not bus stop to bus stop), thereby avoiding traffic and providing a more comfortable ride. The Orange Line (from North Hollywood to Chatsworth) is “true BRT” in that it travels in its own right of way; the Silver Line (from El Monte to Gardena) travels in its own right of way some of the time.