Senate Bills 9 and 10, and their Impact on Transportation

Senate Bills 9 and 10, take effect Jan. 1, 2022. Signed into law by Governor Newsom in September 2021, these bills would make it easier for Californians to build up to six additional housing units on many properties previously reserved exclusively for single-family homes. This approach gained credence in Sacramento because of heavy pressure from housing developers, but also because some State Legislators came to believe that placing housing units near transit stops would lead to more transit use and therefore less traffic congestion.

This conclusion was reached despite MTC’s Plan Bay Area 2050 projection that adding 1.54 million new housing units between and 2015 and 2050 would do little if anything to improve transit’s dismally low percentage of commute trips, much less non-commute trips. In fact, despite PBA 2050’s emphasis on affordable housing and expansion of transit services, its projections show that by 2050 there will be at least 2.5 million additional personal vehicle trips a day on the region’s roadways and that even with a 110 percent expansion in transit miles operated, only about 3% of the region’s jobs would be accessible within 45 minutes by transit; versus 18 percent within 30 minutes by personal vehicle. Under the circumstances it seems evident that higher residential densities created if the two bills are left to stand will inevitably lead to more congestion in the region’s urban neighborhoods and communities and more barriers put in place of good transit travel.

Senate Bills SB 9 and 10 are among the most contentious bills to ever get through the California legislative process. They face broad opposition because they largely override local government’s zoning and land use decision-making, disrupt established and stable neighborhoods and yet provide no assurance that they would either create more affordable housing or significantly increase transit use. It appears that in 2022 these highly controversial bills will face one or more State ballot propositions designed to rescind them.

 

Getting Real About Seamless Transit

There’s been a lot of recent talk in the Bay Area about seamless transit. Different people and groups seem to have different opinions of what the term means.

To get this straight, it is necessary to start with an objective. In the first place it is obvious that traffic congestion has gotten out of hand in many places. In addition most scientists now agree that man’s excessive use of fossil fuel energy is causing global warming, including such disastrous “byproducts” as hurricanes, habitat destruction, ocean rise, fresh water shortages and wild fires. In as much as 45% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions comes from transportation, seamless transit can be regarded as an effort to reduce transportation’s share of the problem.

To cut greenhouse gases and ease traffic congestion will require in part that our bus, train and ferry boat systems become convenient enough to convince many travelers to drive less and use transit more. So what would it take to actually bring this about?

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Special Note to the BART and CCJPA Boards, Directors Powers and Padgette and the Link 21 Team

Subject:  Golden Opportunity for Early Link 21 Action

The purpose of this letter is to ask that your two Boards and the Link 21 team become champions of linking the Salesforce Transit Center to Market Street and the Embarcadero Station via a subsurface moving-ramp pedestrian connection.

At the September 9, 2021 BART Board meeting your Link 21 Team made an excellent presentation outlining its progress to date. During the meeting there was much enthusiasm expressed by all concerned for developing a truly integrated rail and bus network such as those commonly found in other advanced countries.

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The Question is Why?

On May 26, 2021, a disgruntled Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) employee went on a shooting rampage at the agency’s main Guadalupe light rail yard, fatally striking nine co-workers with bullets before killing himself. There was and is universal agreement that this senseless slaughter of innocent people was horrifying and that every conceivable effort should be made to provide optimal care to the victims and their families.

But why, as a result, did the Authority shut down VTA light rail service for over three months?

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