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Eyes on the Street: Sunday Streets in the Mission

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Dancing on Valencia yesterday afternoon during the Sunday Streets event in the Mission. Photo: Streetsblog.

Dancing on Valencia yesterday afternoon during the Sunday Streets event in the Mission. Photo: Streetsblog.

Normally, Valencia Street in the Mission is dominated by traffic, double-parked cars blocking bike lanes, close calls, and the occasional injury. But not yesterday; yesterday, Valencia Street was all about games, fun and dancing–and a bit of politics and social advocacy–thanks to Sunday Streets.

Yesterday’s event, the second Mission District event this year, went from 26th St to McCoppin Hub Plaza and cars were banned from interfering with the fun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to bikes, kids on scooters, dancing and all sorts of other fun, lots of people and organizations used the event to get their advocacy and health messages across.

Francisco Siguenza, a nursing student at the University of San Francisco, was volunteering with the American Heart and Lung Association, taking blood pressure and teaching people the basics of CPR. He sees a natural connection between heart health and street fairs and events. “We can reach communities, but it [the event] is an incentive for people to learn reasons to be healthy, to eat healthy.”

Olga Fedyukova, also a nursing student at USF, teaches a passerby the basics of CPR. Photo: Streetsblog.

Olga Fedyukova, also a nursing student at USF, teaches a passerby the basics of CPR. Photo: Streetsblog.

Heart health was also the reason Jennifer Wade was out collecting signatures opposing the construction of the Warrior’s Arena in Mission Bay. “Mission Bay is surrounded by water on three sides, and I’m concerned about access to UCSF  Medical Center,” she said. Her son has a congenital heart defect and, sadly, an emergency trip to the children’s center there is inevitable. “There will be 225 events a year there [at the planned arena] and traffic is going to be a problem…it’s the wrong fit for an area with a medical campus.”

Jennifer Wade was there gathering opposition to the Warrior's Arena in Mission Bay. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jennifer Wade was there gathering opposition to the Warrior’s Arena in Mission Bay. Photo: Streetsblog.

Of course, wherever large groups of people gather, there’s going to be political activists. Along those lines, Supervisor Jane Kim was on her pink bicycle doing some old-fashioned, handshake-politics–gathering support for her bid for the District 11 State Senate seat. “Sunday Streets is such an important way to build community,” she said. “You can see how crowded it is! People love it.”

Jane Kim was out there doing some old fashioned local politicking. Photo: Streetsblog.

Jane Kim was out there doing some old fashioned local politicking. Photo: Streetsblog.

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Streetsblog USA
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Stark Divisions Between Dems and GOP on Climate Impacts of Transportation

How polarized are the two political parties on key questions about transportation policy and climate change? As you can imagine, the answer is “very.”

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), ranking member of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Photo: Wikipedia

California Senator Barbara Boxer. Photo: Wikipedia

The senior Democrat and Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — California’s Barbara Boxer and Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, respectively — each wrote an opinion this week for the Eno Center for Transportation about a proposed federal rule to require state DOTs to measure their impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Boxer is the ranking Democratic member of the committee. Her column applauds the move to measure the climate impacts of state and regional transportation policy:

Establishment of a performance measure for carbon pollution is critically needed now. Since 1970, carbon emissions produced by the transportation sector have more than doubled, increasing at a faster rate than any other end-use sector. By requiring transportation agencies to track carbon emissions, we can evaluate whether transportation investments are effective in meeting the goal of protecting the environment.

Senator Jim Inhofe (OK) is chair of the Committee on the Environment and Public Works. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Meanwhile, Committee Chair Inhofe challenged the legitimacy of the rule:

The goal of the laws I co-authored is to improve the safety and advance the modernization of our roads and bridges. FHWA’s proposed GHG regulation would divert the limited time and resources of States and local governments away from this goal to pursue instead the administration’s unlawful and overzealous climate agenda.

Yes, the “overzealous agenda” of transparently documenting how much carbon pollution is caused by billions of dollars of spending on transportation.

FHWA regulators will be wading through these kinds and many other comments in the coming months as they produce a rule that may or may not require states and regional planning agencies to finally measure their impact on the climate.

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This Week: Bike Advisory Committee, Real Estate Development, Bicycle Traffic Skills

sblog_calendar1Here are this week’s highlights from the Streetsblog calendar:

    • Monday tonight! Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting. The Bicycle Advisory Committee meets to consider bicycle transportation projects and policies to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, the Municipal Transportation Agency, the County Transportation Authority, the San Francisco Police Department, and other City and County of San Francisco agencies. Monday, August 22, 6:30-7:30 p.m. City Hall room 408, 1 Dr. Carlton B Goodlett Place (Polk St).
    • Tuesday A Real Estate Development Primer. How do developers decide what to build and where to build it? Which comes first: new infrastructure or new buildings? Learn some of the basics of urban real estate development from one of Silicon Valley’s most prolific developers. Tuesday, August 23, 6 p.m. SPUR San Jose, 76 South First Street, San Jose. Free for SPUR members. $10 for non-members. Pre-registration is not necessary for this event.
    • Wednesday Architecture Next Now, Part 2. Many newer architectural practices in the Bay Area are establishing compelling trajectories in their work through innovative design mediums. How will these efforts shape the future of our cities? Come hear these firms debate the links between research, practice and culture while challenging the conventional strategies of architecture in the Bay Area. Wednesday, August 24, 6:00 p.m. SPUR Urban Center Gallery, 654 Mission Street, San Francisco. Free for SPUR members, $10 for non-members.
    • Thursday Drinks & Discourse — Adhi Nagraj. Come grab a beer and hear from the key people who are shaping the region’s future. In this installment of SPUR’s newest Young Urbanist series, we talk with BRIDGE Housing’s director of development and chair of the Oakland Planning Commission to hear his thoughts on the cities of tomorrow, his current role and the career path that took him there. Thursday, August 25, 6:00 p.m., SPUR Oakland, 1544 Broadway. Admission is free.
    • Saturday Learn Traffic Skills 101: On-Road with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Practice what you learned in the Traffic Skills: Classroom. After a basic bike maintenance session, the class will practice bike maneuvering skills in a car-free practice area before riding on the streets in small groups led by instructors. You will gain experience riding alongside moving traffic in different traffic conditions and apply safe riding techniques practiced in the car-free space into real-life situations. Adults and anyone over 14 years of age are welcome; bicycle, helmet, and pre-registration required. Please bring your lunch. Saturday, August 27, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. 1899 Waller St., S.F.
    • Saturday Cool Effect & Proof Lab present #LetsSave. Grab a cup of Equator Coffee, snag a bite to eat, and learn more about Cool Effect’s carbon-cutting mission—then support one of their climate change fighting projects to receive 10 percent off all your Proof Lab purchases. Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m., Proof Lab Surf Shop, 244 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.

Got an event we should know about? Drop us a line.

Via Streetsblog California
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Stop Already with the “Cap-and-Trade Is Dead” Business

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Senator Fran Pavely, author of A.B. 32 and its potential successor, S.B. 32

Some members of the mainstream media seem to be enjoying a good rip on California’s climate change policies, especially its cap-and-trade program, heralding its imminent collapse and describing Governor Jerry Brown as desperate and “nervous” about whether he can save it.

And some of those media pundits are going a little overboard, like the Los Angeles Times’ in-house curmudgeon George Skelton when he derides High Speed Rail as Governor Brown’s “choo-choo.”

But hold up there, cowboys. Yes, there is a pending court case about whether cap-and-trade is a tax—and therefore whether it needed to have passed with a 2/3 majority—but there are pretty good arguments against that reasoning, and the case has already been shot down once.

And sure, last spring’s cap-and-trade auction was disappointing in terms of raising revenue, but greenhouse gas emission reductions from the cap are not affected by the amount of revenue collected in the trade. And while we still don’t know the results of this week’s auction, permits had recently been trading on the open market at a price above the auction’s floor price. So let’s not jump in to proclaim the program’s demise quite yet.

Skelton’s derisive column is not helpful in the midst of a proliferation of ramped-up pessimism and misleading allegations about cap-and-trade. Do we want California to do everything it can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or would we rather stand around arguing about it? We’re kind of running out of time here.

(Note to the author of the above-linked nonsense, and like-minded people: stop it already with the “hidden gas tax” stuff. It’s just silly. For one thing, any pass-along costs to consumers are minuscule compared to the fluctuations in gas prices we endure; and for another, consumers should be paying for cleaner air, since we’re contributing to the problem by driving so much.)

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Streetsblog USA
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Portland Will Connect Streets Over a Highway With a Car-Free Bridge

Portland's newest car-free bridge will complete a key bike route. Image via Bike Portland

Portland’s newest car-free bridge will complete a key bike route. Image via Bike Portland

Here’s one way to heal some of the damage created by urban interstates.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports that the city has won a $2.6 million state grant to help it complete a key bike route. To fill in the missing segment, Portland has to create a path across a big sunken highway. So the city will use the grant, combined with some local funds, to build a bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405.

Maus explains why this is such a smart investment:

Portland leaders have been working for over a decade to close this gap. Former mayor Sam Adams first proposed the idea of a new bridge over Flanders in 2006 when he was PBOT Commissioner. He continued to work on the project until his run for mayor in 2008 but was not able to make it happen.

According to the city’s grant application, the bridge would likely average about 3,000 crossings as soon as it opens as people shift their routes from the busy and high-stress crossings at Everett, Glisan and Couch. Once greenway elements like speed bumps, signage, and diverters are added to the street, it’s estimated that the new bridge would see 9,100 trips per day. That’s more than the amount of daily bike trips over the Hawthorne Bridge.

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Streetsblog USA
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Carless Renters Forced to Pay $440 Million a Year for Parking They Don’t Use

Many residents of American cities can’t escape the high cost of parking, even if they don’t own cars. Thanks to policies like mandatory parking requirements and the practice of “bundling” parking with housing, carless renters pay $440 million each year for parking they don’t use, according to a new study by C.J. Gabbe and Gregory Pierce in the journal Housing Policy Debate.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The financial burden works out to an average of $621 annually per household, or a 13 percent rent premium — and it is concentrated among households that can least afford it. “Minimum parking standards create a major equity problem for carless households,” said Gabbe. “71 percent of renters without a car live in housing with at least one parking space included in their rent.”

Parking is typically bundled with rent, making the price of residential parking opaque. So Gabbe and Pierce set out to estimate how much people are actually paying for the parking that comes with their apartments.

Crunching Census data from a representative sample of more than 38,000 rental units in American urban areas, they isolated the relationship between parking provision and housing prices. They determined that on average, a garaged parking space adds about $1,700 per year in rent — a 17 percent premium.

Looking only at carless households, the average cost is $621 per year and the premium is 13 percent. On average these households earn about $24,000 annually, compared to $44,000 for the whole sample, and they get no value whatsoever out of the parking spaces bundled with their rent.

Gabbe and Pierce estimate that nationwide there are 708,000 households without a car renting an apartment with a garaged parking space, for a total cost burden of about $440 million per year due to unused parking.

So how can parking policy create fairer housing prices?

Gabbe and Pierce say cities should eliminate minimum parking requirements to make housing more affordable. Cities can also help by allowing and encouraging landlords to “unbundle” the cost of parking from the cost of rent — so people who don’t have cars aren’t forced to pay for parking spaces they don’t use.

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Today’s Headlines

  • More on Cap & Trade Helping to Fund New Muni Trains (SFExaminer)
  • Bus Driver Group Accuses SFMTA of Not Standing by its Employees (SFGate)
  • Supply Causing Some Moderation of Rents (SFExaminer)
  • More on Stall of Brown’s By Right Proposal (Curbed)
  • Design for Affordable Housing at Broadway and Front (Socketsite)
  • Caltrans to Blow Up Remaining Old Eastern Span Piers (SFBay)
  • BART Delays Sunday Evening from Power Failure (EastBayTimes)
  • Berkeley BART Station to Lose Rotunda (CBSLocal)
  • Neighbors Oppose Burlingame Condos Near Caltrain and Downtown (DailyJournal)
  • Join a Walk of San Francisco (SFExaminer)
  • Prettiest Street in SF (Curbed)
  • Commentary: BART Needs Billions (EastBayTimes)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA
Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA

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SFMTA Wants Your Help Planning San Francisco’s Subway Future

A rendering of Muni's new rail cars, coming soon. Image: Siemens.

A rendering of Muni’s new rail cars, coming soon. Image: Siemens.

Now’s your chance to go full transit geek.

SFMTA has launched its “Subway Vision” web page as a first step in developing a long-range transportation plan for the next fifty years. Or as they explained it in their release:

We want you to help draw the San Francisco subway map of the future.

We’ve teamed up with the San Francisco Planning Department and other city partners to launch a new website where you can help shape the city’s plan for future subway — our Subway Vision for the next fifty years. It’s part of the foundation we’re laying for an effective, equitable and sustainable transportation network for the future of San Francisco.

To get this right, we need your input on priorities – whether it’s extending the Central Subway to Fisherman’s Wharf, building a second Transbay Tube for BART into Mission Bay or extending the Market Street subway across the city to allow for longer trains.

Streetsblog took a quick and dirty stab at it (see the results below).

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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CA Awards $390 Million in Cap-and-Trade Funding for Transit Capital

This week Cal - including $40M for L.A. Metro's rail connection with LAX airport. Image via Metro

This week CalSTA announced $390M in transit capital grants throughout the state, including $40M for L.A. Metro’s rail connection with LAX airport. Image via Metro

This week, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) announced the recipients of its Transit and Intercity Capital Program (TIRCP) grants. TIRCP distributes state cap-and-trade funding to local transit agencies for projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The TIRCP awards total $390 million statewide.

The largest awards include $82M for rail improvements between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, $69M for downtown L.A. Metro subway capacity improvements, and $45M to San Francisco MTA for new light rail vehicles.

Though state cap-and-trade has been criticized by its foes, including petroleum interests, it continues to be a key source of funding for critical livability projects, including these extensive transit capital projects, plus high-speed railtransit-oriented affordable housing, and more. Governor Jerry Brown is pushing to extend cap-and-trade, and has suggested he may go as far as proposing a statewide initiative to put it to a public vote if he can’t find support within the legislature. But in the meantime, the program is raising revenues, and money is being distributed.

The full list of California TIRCP projects follow after the jump, listed in alphabetic order by agency name. Details follow, and more are available on CalSTA’s statewide project listsRead more…

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Guest Editorial: Eisenhower’s Parking Policies No Longer Work for San Francisco

Street parking on Nob Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Street parking on Nob Hill. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The last time San Francisco looked comprehensively at how we plan for parking, Eisenhower was president, gas was 25 cents a gallon, and we hadn’t even started building BART. It was an era when cities came to be dominated by drive-ins and drive-thrus, when streetcar lines were were being torn up, and new freeways were bulldozing old neighborhoods. As a result, our city’s parking policy still acts as a viagra for traffic, pollution and unaffordability.

As the City debates a Transportation Demand Management ordinance aimed at taming traffic congestion, now is the time to update San Francisco’s parking requirements, from the ground up. The City has decided it’s time to tackle congestion, and commissioned a survey of research on what works. The research concluded that “available parking is perhaps the single biggest factor in people’s decision to drive. The research shows that just building housing on a transit line doesn’t reduce automobile use, but reducing parking does.” We’re also in the city’s worst-ever housing affordability crisis, and parking requirements are a key culprit in driving up housing costs. Refreshing San Francisco’s parking policy critical to growing an affordable, sustainable city with vital and dynamic neighborhoods.

San Francisco should stop forcing parking on homes and businesses that do not need or want it. Paying for superfluous parking drives up housing and business costs, and worsens the city’s housing shortage and our escalating commercial rents.

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