To Soar with the Eagles One has to Learn to Fly in the Fog

Actions taken to deal with the Bay Area’s growing transportation and land use problems have been failing for decades. (The Faster Bay Area group has set out to do better, but the returns on that effort are still out). As things stand the prognosis is for more of the same wasteful misdirection scarce transportation funding to ill-conceived programs and projects, all in the name of “progress”. This situation did not arise by accident. It came about in large part of because political power has been and still is vested in a regional public body whose policy-makers seem to neither know much nor care much about reversing the Bay Area’s deteriorating transportation condition.  This leaves them vulnerable to being unduly influenced by parochial, development and other outside interests with other objectives. Until this long-standing organizational defect is corrected, the Bay Area will continue to be afflicted by defective rail and bus operations, increased traffic backups and worsening housing agonies. 

 

The Demise of SB 50: A New Opportunity for the Bay Area

Senator Weiner’s SB 50, with its state-mandated, developer-dominated, meat axe approach to housing is dead.

But remain alert. Pieces of SB50 are almost certain to start quietly reappearing in other State bills.

As we’ve noted before, the indiscriminate piling of housing near transit stops, won’t significantly increase transit use and won’t have any discernible effect on highway congestion. That’s because except in places where there are abundant transit opportunities, few if any of the incoming new residents will willingly give up their cars. The result of this continued reliance on the private automobile for most trips would be increased traffic near stations and reduced on-street parking, thereby making it more difficult for long distance commuters to access their transit lines.  If wiser heads prevail, the next round of legislation will be distinctly different from the heavy-handed approach exhibited in SB 50. Here are a few principles that should apply:

  1. It can’t be just housing. Transportation woes and housing shortages are part of the same problem and therefore have to be addressed jointly.

  2. No one size fits all. Even if the State leads the effort the affected towns, cities and counties will need to have a say.

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Drifting Toward a Cliff

As shown in this California Air Resources Board (CARB) chart below, California’s actions designed to conform to SB375’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirement have been less than stellar. True there has been some lowering of the ultra-high levels that were occurring between 2000 and 2008, but this improvement resulted mostly from federal and State mandates imposed on automobile and truck manufacturers to improve engine efficiency. 

But to get to where California needs to get will require much more than just that. In terms of reduced automobile and truck use, virtually no progress has been made and the Bay Area is no exception to this. As can be seen, in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets the pace of reducing car use and making other GHG-reducing changes must pick up significantly. So why have efforts to clear the roadways and reduce GHG emissions so far been so lethargic? 

Continue reading

Drifting Toward a Cliff

As shown in this California Air Resources Board (CARB) chart below, California’s actions designed to conform to SB375’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirement have been less than stellar. True there has been some lowering of the ultra-high levels that were occurring between 2000 and 2008, but this improvement resulted mostly from federal and State mandates imposed on automobile and truck manufacturers to improve engine efficiency. 

But to get to where California needs to get will require much more than just that. In terms of reduced automobile and truck use, virtually no progress has been made and the Bay Area is no exception to this. As can be seen, in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets the pace of reducing car use and making other GHG-reducing changes must pick up significantly. So why have efforts to clear the roadways and reduce GHG emissions so far been so lethargic? 

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FBA Painting Castles in the Sky?

Castle in the clouds

On October 4th, Bay Area Transportation Working Group (BATWG) issued a statement setting forth three pre-requisites to gaining public support for the Faster Bay Area (FBA) $100 billion transportation megatax. NoMegaTax.org is a fast-growing coalition of Bay Area elected and appointed officials, environmentalists, transit advocates, tax payer groups and civic organizations. The following nomegatax.org letter was recently sent to 430 Bay Area officials. It effectively outlines the concerns that if not fully addressed soon, will generate overwhelming opposition to the proposed FBA plan, its enabling legislation and any ensuant tax-raising ballot measures.

NoMegaTax.org

Dear Councilmember,

We are environmentalists and transit and taxpayer advocates who have joined together in response to the Faster Bay Area proposal for a $100 Billion sales tax for transportation. We wanted to offer for your consideration our nuanced thoughts on the opportunities posed by this proposal:

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