Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Marin’s Climate Action Plan – Moving into Checkmate Position

Fighting climate change is important – but what seems to have become even more important to special interests groups is placing significant impositions on the greater population, sometimes for profit, but also in the simple belief that everyone should make sacrifices to fight climate change, no matter how imposing and how minimal the actual impact is. These impositions surface as: High density housing appearing in your neighborhood, and you discover all ability to oppose it has been undermined (we have to do it to save the planet!) Noise and polluting transportation projects appearing right next to your house that encourage further development, cause congestion and ultimately a negative spiral towards apartment blocks served by trains and trolleys Money that could have been used to address severe traffic congestion problems is instead diverted to pet transportation projects that are entirely cost-ineffective at fighting climate change or moving any significant number of people Higher taxes, cap and trade funds used to pay for the above (high density housing, cost-ineffective transportation projects) Special Interests Moving into “Checkmate” Position What few know about, or realize, is that transit advocates, housing advocates and local government have been getting busy drafting their plan for how Marin should do it’s fair share to fight global climate change. Only a few of us realized what’s been happening – but it’s now time to pull the alarm cord and expose what’s going on. The drafting of Marin’s  Climate Action Plan 2014 Update is akin to special interests playing a game of chess, and moving their queen into position for checkmate. This action plan can be used in a...

SMART – Quiet Zone and Financial Update

Many hundreds of San Rafael and Novato residents stand to be impacted or significantly impacted by 100 dB SMART Train horns that will commence at around 5:45am every weekday. Most of these residents remain unaware. Test soundings of horns along the line can be heard “loud and clear” 1 1/2 miles away. Over 390 cities have implemented “Quiet Zones”. These require not insignificant expenditure – millions by the train operator, possibly tens of thousands by cities – and that cities apply to the Federal Railroad Administration for a Quiet Zone. Quiet Zones remove trains obligations to blow their horns for 15-20 seconds as they approach railroad crossings. San Rafael has sufficient railroad crossings that this means the train will be sounding it’s horn near continuously. There will be 22 trains per day concentrated to morning and evening peaks. Even though Quiet Zones eliminate these horns  considerable noise will remain: The train is required to blow it’s horn when departing each station  (E.g. Civic Center) Bells will ring at each crossing as crossing arms go up or down The diesel engine and wheels will make noise San Rafael Quiet Zone Update 1) In a July presentation SMART made to Sonoma County Alliance, it stated the following which is concerning and might signal a backtrack on Quiet Zones: If the FRA or CPUC require additional capital outlays as part of a jurisdiction’s QZ application, those expenditures are not covered by SMART. 2) A specific cost that we know is part of the Quiet Zone process is the “diagnostics” that need to be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Nadar Mansourian,...
New State Planning Guidelines Disregard Traffic Impact

New State Planning Guidelines Disregard Traffic Impact

If you live within 1/2 mile of a “major transit stop” – meaning a stop served by buses running at a frequency of every 15 minutes or less at peak, or within 1/2 mile of a train station or ferry terminal  – then you should be aware of a new change to transportation analysis. Effective January 1st 2015 areas meeting  this criteria – which spans most of Eastern Marin – can henceforth exclude traffic delay, parking impact and building aesthetics as considerations that may block development or impose mitigation measures. Even if you’re outside of a Transit Priority Area (TPA) you should still be concerned – Senate Bill 743 provides the option for the new law to apply citywide or countywide. So a pro-development city or county such as Marin, whose supervisors’ plans to build far exceeds ABAG’s quota, can apply the new rules much more extensively. The result is that in effect the entire map shown, or county of Marin could be considered a Transit Priority Area. Transit Priority Area is exactly what it says – an area where transit trumps cars. Residents are expected and encouraged to use transit instead of driving. This is where planners whims and residents reality diverge. What Does this Mean Where I Live? If a developer plans to build high density housing in your neighborhood – an occurrence happening with alarmingly increasing frequency in neighborhoods that previously thought they were insulated such as Strawberry in Mill Valley – then even if the new development causes acute traffic congestion, parking issues or the building just looks ugly there’s not much residents can do...
SMART Train Posts Platform Plans

SMART Train Posts Platform Plans

SMART has  posted  plans of the platforms at Civic Center and Downtown San Rafael. They’re fairly basic with a shelter and a few seats. It’s important to understand that the arrival of the train in Downtown San Rafael is going to have significant ramifications on the current transit center requiring extensive reconfiguration. This will not only cause disruption but  is also likely to cost a significant amount to Golden Gate Transit who own the transit center and who is responsible for covering the costs of reconfiguration. Conceivably additional costs such as reconfiguring traffic signals may fall to San Rafael. The city already has a fairly tight budget not aided by unfunded pensions....

SMART Train Growth Set to Overwhelm Highway 101

Thanks to the SMART train, a project we were promised would alleviate congestion on Highway 101, towns in Sonoma County have planned a whopping 24,010 housing units in the Priority Development Areas (PDAs) along the train line — equivalent to a city the size of San Rafael appearing in Sonoma County. In Marin Downtown San Rafael remains a PDA. The giant WinCup complex in Corte Madera has 180 units. This new growth planned by Sonoma, focusing on high density growth, is equivalent to no less than 133 WinCups.  Will All of the New Residents Be Taking the SMART Train? Do Marin’s planners really think the 60,000-plus new residents of suburban Sonoma County who work in Marin or employment centers in Oakland or San Francisco will be taking the train? No, many more will  drive down 101 rather than take the train. What About the Water for 60,000 More People? Do the planners not recognize that they will drink water coming from the same reservoirs that serve Marin? Can Marin County’s planning really be a good plan if it effectively ignores the massive growth already planned to our north? While Marin has squashed PDAs in Marinwood, Civic Center and Strawberry the sheer numbers of units in the remaining Priority Development Areas dwarf the units that were removed (see map). But SMART Told Us That it Would Alleviate 101 Congestion Many voted for SMART based on the ballot measure’s promise that it would alleviate 101 congestion. However the reality was quite the opposite as the presence of a train opened up the entire rail corridor for development – targeting more than...