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Jersey Pays Subaru to Bring Another Parking Crater to Downtown Camden

Camden, New Jersey, took home the 2015 Golden Crater award for the nastiest parking scar in the country, and it looks like state and local leaders aren’t about to let the city rest on its laurels.

Subaru plans to bring a suburban office complex to downtown Camden, New Jersey. Image via South Jerseyist

Subaru plans to bring a suburban office complex to downtown Camden, New Jersey. Image via South Jerseyist

Joseph Russell at South Jerseyist reports that, thanks to over $100 million in tax breaks from Governor Chris Christie and the state legislature, Subaru is preparing to move its North American headquarters from nearby Cherry Hill to downtown Camden. Russell says the Subaru project was billed as “a game changer for the city” — a development that would bring jobs while revitalizing the downtown Gateway District. But the site plans, revealed last week, depict a low-rise office building surrounded by asphalt.

The plans call for a building shorter than the current headquarters in Cherry Hill. Brandywine Realty Trust, which has developed some wonderful buildings in Philadelphia, wants to build a squat suburban headquarters located in a sea of over 1,000 parking spaces.

From the perspective of those who thought, maybe, these tax breaks might actually lead to positive change in the city, as everyone working toward them has claimed, disappointment is the kindest word for what we are feeling. Devastation, bewilderment, and disgust are far more apt. This project could not be more disengaged from the city. Those parking spots guarantee that every single Subaru employee will drive in to work in the morning, stay on campus to eat lunch, and drive home at night. They will not interact with the city. Even if they wanted to, they are hardly given the chance. Employees would have to traverse a punishing sea of asphalt to get out of the suburban-style office park.

This plan, should it get built, will set the city back decades. Successful cities and towns all around the country are working to undo the harm caused by sprawling development. Here in New Jersey, office parks like this are going empty as people seek dynamic, urban environments to work in. What Subaru is doing here is guaranteeing that South Jersey will pay for the privilege of living in an increasingly obsolete development model, truly a dying past, for decades to come.

As for local access to jobs, Russell cites a Philadelphia Inquirer story by Inga Saffron, who points out that, though only 65 percent of Camden residents have access to cars, the Subaru site will be separated from the downtown transit hub by a mile-long walk along a “mini-highway.”

Elsewhere on the Network: The Political Environment says Milwaukee traffic congestion doesn’t justify spending billions on new roads, and Bike Delaware explains the problems with “Share the Road” signage.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Muni Metro Double Berthing Gets Green Light From CPUC to Launch as Early as May (SF Examiner)
  • Disability Advocates Protest Muni Proposal to Re-Route 33-Stanyan From SF General Hospital (Tecolote)
  • SPUR: Muni’s New, More Legible Map Helps Create a More Seamless Transit System
  • Walk to Work Day: City Officials, Advocates Gather Again to Mark Progress on Safer Streets (SF Appeal)
  • Market Street Prototyping Festival Lines Sidewalks to Create “More Dynamic Social Spaces” (ABC)
  • “Walk [Your City]” Signs Posted Around San Jose, SF Showing Walking Times to Destinations (SFBay)
  • Tenderloin Residents, Workers Petition to Remove a Second Block of Parking to Deter Crime (Hoodline)
  • McCoppin Hub Still Closed for Vandalism Repairs, Says DPW, But Neighbors Don’t Buy it (MLocal)
  • Man Who Ran Over Fireman Charged With Torture, Mayhem, and Assault With a Deadly Weapon (NBC)
  • San Mateo County Police Target Distracted Drivers in Daly City, South SF (People Behaving Badly)
  • San Jose’s Parking Meters Glitch When Trucks Roll By, Drivers Get Tickets (NBC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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The Stakes Are High for Transit as Congress Dithers Over Transpo Funds

A “stand up for transportation” rally in Philly this morning. Photo: @thegreengrass

“Stand up for transportation” rallies are happening right now all over the country, demanding Congress put an end to the uncertainty surrounding federal transportation funding.

In Washington, some Republican lawmakers are pushing the opposite tack — an approach known as “devolution” that would create more uncertainty by basically wiping out the federal gas tax, leaving states to figure out how to adapt. The fallout would disrupt some bad road projects, but it would hit transit agencies the hardest. Eliminating federal transit funds would blow a huge hole in transit budgets, cutting off 43 percent of agencies’ capital funding, the American Public Transportation Association estimates.

At Transportation for America, Stephen Lee Davis explains why the “devolution” idea won’t appeal to states either:

Read more…

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Sustainable Cities Final Presentation

From the SF Bicycle Coalition:

We’ve been working with three Stanford University students throughout their winter semester to create a toolkit of resources as part of our Women Bike SF program we’ve just launched. Informed by our membership, other organizations throughout San Francisco and research on similar initiatives throughout the world, they have been putting together resources to increase bike ridership among women, trans* and female-identifying individuals in San Francisco.

Please RSVP here if you can attend.

Sustainable Cities is a service-learning course offered through the Program on Urban Studies and Earth Systems Program. Students learn and work collaboratively with Bay Area government agencies and community organizations to support their sustainability goals. Now in its sixth year, the class attracts undergraduate and graduate students from a multitude of disciplines, ranging from urban studies to civil and environmental engineering to law and public policy majors, to support clients on meaningful fieldwork-based projects. To see more information about the class, please visit: http://urbanst164.stanford.edu.

The Winter 2015 class is working with five community partners on the following projects: 1) assessing feasibility of an equitable and integrated Bay Area public transportation fare structure – Friends of Caltrain; 2) mapping residential displacement and demographic shifts in San Mateo County – Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto; 3) developing a public engagement strategy for household hazardous waste disposal in the City of San Jose – Department of Environmental Services; 4) creating a toolkit for Women Bike SF to increase bike ridership in San Francisco – San Francisco Bicycle Coalition; 5) providing technical and policy analysis for the City of Oakland soft story retrofit program – Resilient Oakland Initiative.

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SPUR Forum: New Plans for New Areas

From SPUR:

Much of San Francisco’s current development boom has its basis in the ambitious area plans the city adopted over the past decade. With no new area plans in the pipeline, however, smaller-scale planning efforts will be leading development into the future. Come learn about some of these targeted, tactical strategies that hope to yield both new housing and neighborhood-serving development. Co-presented by the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition and AIA San Francisco.

+ Katy Tang / San Francisco Board of Supervisors​
+ Amanda Loper / David Baker Architects​
Gil Kelley / San Francisco Planning Department

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Mission Public Life Plan Meeting

From the SF Planning Department:

Please join us for the third public meeting for the Mission Public Life Plan.

Date: Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Location: Women’s Building Auditorium, 3543 18th Street #8
The Women’s Building is ADA accessible. For disability accommodations or language assistance, please contact us 48 hours in advance.

At this meeting, we will explore how sidewalk (streetscape) improvements can celebrate the identity of this important street. We will also discuss the preliminary results from our streetscape design survey.

If you haven’t completed the survey, feel free to take the Mission Street Public Space Survey.

We want to hear from you. Please join us on January 21st!

For more information about the Mission Street Public Life Plan program, please contact:

Website: http://missionpublic.sfplanning.org 
Call: (415) 575-9086

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Today’s Headlines

  • New Divisadero Commercial District Designation Removes Parking Minimums for Businesses (Hoodline)
  • SFMTA Now Allows People to Protest Parking and Transit Citations Online (Muni Diaries)
  • Flywheel Taxi App Gets New CEO (SF Examiner); Uber’s PR Problems Are Chronic (SF Examiner)
  • Submission for Market St Prototyping Festival to Display Transit Info Through Lit-Up Totems (Curbed)
  • BART’s Oakland Airport Connector Opens Tomorrow (ON); TransForm: Hooray for 1% of BART Riders
  • Transbay BART Riders Suffer Major Delays Due to Equipment Problems (SFGate)
  • Developer Envisions Future Transit Village on Millbrae BART Station’s Parking Lot (Biz Times)
  • VTA’s BRT Proposal for El Camino Real Faces Concerns Over Traffic Impacts in Palo Alto (NBC)
  • People Behaving Badly: Burlingame Drivers Make Strange Excuses for Violations
  • Mountain View Parent Looks to Make Biking Safer for Kids at Two Schools (Peninsula)
  • Golden Gate Mendocino Ferry Gets $3.6M Interior and Water Jet Upgrades (Marin IJ)
  • Driver Who Struck Special-Needs Teens on San Mateo Sidewalk in Sept Arrested and Charged (SFGate)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Note: Streetsblog may be offline for maintenance this evening, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST.

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San Bruno Voters to Determine Future Downtown Growth with Measure N

The San Bruno Caltrain Station Area, as envisioned by the city’s Transit Corridors Plan with future retail and office development. Planners say the plan depends on the passage of Measure N. Image: Yes for San Bruno – Supporting Measure N

Last week, just two weeks before San Bruno voters choose whether or not to approve the Measure N ballot measure, city officials finally cleared the last legal hurdle for the measure, which would modify building height limits that voters set in 1977 with Ordinance 1284. That ordinance required a “town-hall type of hearing whereby experts, proponents, and opponents may be heard and questioned by voters,” so last Tuesday, a debate was held between San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane and Peninsula Health Care District Board of Directors candidate Doug Radtke.

Ordinance 1284 limits all new building heights in San Bruno to 50 feet or three stories, caps residential zoning densities to those set forty years ago, and bans multi-story parking structures — unless a specific development project is approved by a majority of voters. If Measure N is approved, maximum building heights will increase to 90 feet (five stories) within one block of the new Caltrain station, to 70 feet along El Camino Real, to 65 feet along San Bruno and Huntington avenues, and to 55 feet along San Mateo Avenue. The measure would also repeal Ordinance 1284’s ban on multi-story parking structures, which will “help solve parking needs as the downtown becomes more vibrant and parking demand increases,” according to the city’s Measure N FAQ sheet.

Maximum building heights if Measure N is approved: 90 feet (yellow), 70 feet (blue), 65 feet (green), 55 feet (pink). Image: 2013 San Bruno Transit Corridors Plan

City planners say the higher building heights and residential densities specified in Measure N are critical to implement San Bruno’s Transit Corridors Plan, which aims to enable the development, over the next 20 years, of a higher-density residential and commercial area within walking distance of the city’s new Caltrain station. The station was reconstructed half a mile north of its isolated former location at Sylvan Avenue, opening in April as an elevated structure at the intersection of the city’s two main streets, San Mateo and San Bruno avenues.

“We expect full build-out to result in 4,000 additional jobs, 2,400 of which are a direct result of passing Measure N,” said Ruane, quoting a fiscal and economic impact report authored by consulting firm Economic & Planning Systems. “It would increase the population by 3,784 in the Transit Corridors Area, [with] Measure N accounting for 1,558.”

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Embarcadero Enhancement Public Workshop (Folsom to AT&T Park)

From SFMTA:

The Project

The Embarcadero Enhancement Project is a planning exercise to develop a conceptual design for a protected bikeway along The Embarcadero to improve safety and comfort for all.

This Workshop

This public design workshop will focus on The Embarcadero’s southern segment (Folsom St. to AT&T Park.)

You’ll get to:

  • Take part in a hands-on design exercise to envision a protected bikeway on The Embarcadero;
  • Let us know about key issues and opportunities on the corridor, and;
  • Meet other people interested in transportation, The Embarcadero, urban design and San Francisco!

 

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Rincon Hill Community Meeting

From SFMTA:

Rincon Hill Community Meeting – Transit Alternatives

Join us at our upcoming Rincon Hill Community Meeting to find out what we learned from our recent transit study survey and to review and provide feedback on transit option proposals for the Rincon Hill community.

Meeting details:

  • Thursday, October 30, 2014 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • South Beach Harbor Community Room, Pier 40, by AT&T Park
  • Open House from 6-6:30pm
  • Brief presentation and Q&A from 6:30-7pm
  • Staff available until 7:30 p.m.