SMART asks Marin for $10-12m to Fund and Complete Each Station

SMART is asking to divert “astounding” amounts of money from genuinely cost effective and green transportation programs in Marin, in the words of Transportation Authority of Marin Executive Director Dianne Steinhauser. Watch from the 59m 30s mark of the October 22nd  Transportation Authority of Marin board meeting to see this outrage unfold: http://marin.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=7785 In the last week SMART has revealed at the Transportation Authority of Marin board of directors meeting that each SMART station in Marin will need $10-12m in funding. (Jump to the 59m 30s mark). There are 4 stations in Marin, 5 if Larkspur is included. This request is truly preposterous and should not be honored by TAM, let alone even entertained. Voters gave SMART the money it stated it would need to build the entire line from Cloverdale to Larkspur, including stations and a greenway path for bike and pedestrians connecting all the stations and shuttles – the funding was the 1/4c sales tax. SMART is breaching agreements by diverting funds from truly cost effective and green transportation projects into its boondoggle – a boondoggle without ridership projections, just a leap of faith. This is yet another broken SMART promise. SMART is now doing exactly what was foreseen – cannibalizing transportation project...
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 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...
Marin County High Density & Bicycle Coalition

Marin County High Density & Bicycle Coalition

Marin County Bicycle Coalition members are being surprised to find their organization volunteering their neighborhoods for high density housing. Are they being used as pawns in the high density housing wars? The Marin Cyclist’s Dilemma While I’ve been outspoken regarding the need for bikers to follow traffic laws, I remain a  big fan of bikes – cycling all around my home county of Somerset as a child on my Raleigh Arena racing bike. Now as I raise our 2 children to embrace bikes I face a dilemma: – we want to join an organization that teaches our kids bicycle road safety – we do not support high density housing However the one organization here in Marin claiming to perform the first item – the Marin County Bicycle Coalition – has become one of the most ardent supporters of urbanizing Marin with high density housing. Throwing Terra Linda Under the High Density Bus I live in Civic Center / Terra Linda. Residents of 10+ Terra Linda neighborhoods fought long and hard for over a year to rescind the Civic Center Priority Development Area (PDA) and turn back a wildly ambitious high density zoning plan called the “Civic Center Station Area Plan” to something reasonable with a modicum of new affordable housing units and retain the area’s low rise, suburban character . The community eventually succeeded –  but only despite groups such as Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) pushing for the PDA to be approved. Here is what the Marin County Bicycle Coalition had to say about the Civic Center Priority Development Area: The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) would like...
Larkspur Gets a Reality Check

Larkspur Gets a Reality Check

While groups such as CALM  claim that  Marin can somehow be made more “livable” by adding 920 housing units, a hotel and over 100,000 square feet of office space to the already congested Larkspur corridor, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District responded to the plan’s Environmental Impact Report with this serious reality check (full letter): Paid parking at the Ferry Terminal and a dedicated transit shuttle, The Wave, in addition to existing transit routes serving the Terminal have not altered the demand for parking. These facts, in combination with peak commute ferries operating at capacity…are cause for the District to pursue multiple solutions to improve operational capacity. An overriding consideration is that such uses not conflict with the operational need to provide increased ferry parking. Under ImpactTRANS-6 (page 153) is is indicated that proposed development will increase demand for Golden Gate Ferry service, but it will be built over a period of time that allows the District to adjust ferry service levels accordingly. The EIR states that this is a less-than serious impact. However the District’s ferry service already operates at capacity in the peak direction. Any cumulative increase in demand for service in the traditional commute direction (i.e. to San Francisco in the morning, to Larkspur in the afternoon) will result in the need for additional crossings (trips). Increases in the number of crossings will trigger the need for a full environmental review of the additional ferry service. [emphasis added] It’s important to note that no more crossings can be added without causing unacceptable impact to the environment.  The Greater Marin, published by one of CALM’s...
Calming the Larkspur Station Area Plan with Misinformation

Calming the Larkspur Station Area Plan with Misinformation

A new fast growth organization has appeared on the radar – the Coalition for a Livable Marin, calling itself “CALM”. Its ranks are filled by familiar faces supporting fast growth with goals of urbanizing neighborhoods across Marin – including Larkspur, the Strawberry Seminary, Marinwood and Terra Linda – contrary to residents’ wishes. Members of these groups may not live in affected neighborhood, but they don’t hesitate to ally and join forces against residents opposing urbanization plans in their neighborhoods. Throughout the past two years members of these groups have claimed that misinformation is being circulated by those supporting measured and reasonable growth. The highly polished spin of their newly launched website would place them at the extreme end of the Politically Correct Spectrum. They claim to be for all the right things: “livable places, transportation choices, living local”. But are they really? Let the reader be the judge. Claim: The Larkspur Station Area Plan Alleviates Freeway Traffic Congestion – FALSE The group makes an interesting claim in it’s page purporting to lay out the facts on Larkspur Landing Station Area Plan, stating: Probably the top priority of Larkspur residents, and anyone who commutes through Larkspur Landing, is the horrific traffic congestion….To help smooth out the traffic, the SAP pushes for a direct connection between 580 and 101, to ensure freeway traffic can stay on the freeway and doesn’t need to cut through slow surface streets. What is entirely remarkable about this statement is that the Station Area Plan is a plan for the city of Larkspur to act on. It does not secure any funding to build any such freeway...