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...
Walk Bike Marin’s $28m+ Failure Rewritten Into Success!

Walk Bike Marin’s $28m+ Failure Rewritten Into Success!

While I enjoy cycling and support extending bike paths and trails, residents such as myself have found themselves facing off against bicycle coalitions and bike groups that serve as the vanguard for pushing high density housing. Frequently these groups claim to represent thousands of cyclists and speak  out against the wishes of their membership as covered in another Planning for Reality article. As someone who has been involved in many market research projects I am a big fan of statistics – when used correctly – but nothing could have horrified me more than the manipulation of  Walk Bike Marin and the associated Congressional report deeming the $28m Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program a success. This was further heralded by coverage in an article in the June 30th  Marin Independent Journal “Feds Hail $28m Bike Path Program“. What Should We Be Trying to Achieve? We do need to fight climate change,  reducing vehicle miles travelled. More importantly we should spend our dollars as cost effectively as we can to focus on the most critical resources – road and freeway usage during peak weekday commutes.  It may help with emissions to reduce off-peak trips, but if we can switch people from cars to alternative commute methods that would be the real win – saving time for those who do need to commute by car, and maximizing economic benefit. The economic benefit of reducing peak hour congestion is measured in multiple ways: People can commute to jobs that would otherwise be out of range Children can be taken to activities Additional shopping trips may occur (these may be part of multi-leg trips incorporated...
What Should Come After Plan Bay Area?

What Should Come After Plan Bay Area?

Plan Bay Area hit really stiff resistance – the opposition is now mobilized and highly organized – and primed and ready for Plan Bay Area 2.0. Some might argue that some kind of revolution is needed; instead I strongly suggest ABAG and MTC incorporate new thinking into future regional transportation plans: 1) Build Bridges & Involve Opponents ABAG and MTC need to build bridges and connections with opposition leaders – to commence genuine engagement that never occurred with Plan Bay Area 1.0. Plan Bay Area 2.0 admits that this was a grave mistake.  It should not repeat this same error in the latest version of the Plan. 2) Amend Senate Bill 375 so it does not Selectively Reduce Emissions for Cars Senate Bill 375, a Steinberg Bill, needs to either be thrown out or amended so that instead of solely focusing on reducing the emissions of cars and light trucks, it reduces emissions from all forms of transportation. Since 2010, market forces, aided by government regulations, have resulted in the sharp decline of car emissions. Car emissions in Marin are now far lower than ferries and lower than buses. Given that SMART train ridership will be low in suburban Marin and Sonoma the train will  have higher passenger emissions per mile than cars. 3) Allow Residents to Vote for their ABAG Representatives There is insufficient accountability for ABAG representatives. ABAG representatives are effectively distanced from their electorates. In Marin there are three seats on ABAG (of 110). More populous areas are better represented, so if Marin and other suburban and rural areas have different needs, representatives from more urban...
From False Dichotomies to the Spectrum of Reality

From False Dichotomies to the Spectrum of Reality

One of the issues occurring as people new to the fast growth and urbanization issue in Marin try to get their heads around the issues are the false dichotomies that are appearing. Daily I see these dichotomies used by fast growth proponents in letters to the Marin IJ editor and on websites. I even hear at least one Marin County supervisor suggesting that if we don’t allow more housing in Eastern Marin then rural Western Marin must be given up to development. RationalWiki describes a false dichotomy as follows: A false dilemma, or false dichotomy, is a logical fallacy which involves presenting two opposing views, options or outcomes in such a way that they seem to be the only possibilities: that is, if one is true, the other must be false, or, more typically, if you do not accept one then the other must be accepted. The reality in most cases is that there are many in-between or other alternative options, not just two mutually exclusive ones. I thought it useful to look at each aspect the impacts of rapidly developing and urbanizing Marin in the appropriate way – on a spectrum, understanding the current situation. And most importantly basing this on facts. Marin Already Has the Highest Taxes in the State Urbanization and housing advocates are lobbying to significantly increase the stock of affordable housing in Marin. Affordable housing is an alternative way of  saying subsidized housing, exclusively playing up one specific aspect. What’s the impact of affordable housing on taxes? An entire non-profit developed apartment block can pay the same property tax contribution towards schools as just one modest single family home. So adding many...
How Access to Cars Could Help the Poor

How Access to Cars Could Help the Poor

Efforts in Marin attempt to reduce car usage, concentrating new development into high density housing with limited parking and presuming residents take transit could have adverse effects on the economy – especially residents on low incomes, suppressing their abilities to access jobs. The study is called “Driving to Opportunity: Understanding the Links among Transportation Access, Residential Outcomes, and Economic Opportunity for Housing Voucher Recipients“. It is based on detailed analysis and peer reviewed reports by authors at UCLA and the University of Maryland exposes some critical factors that should be considered. The sample set is significant – 12,000 families across 10 different cities. – Housing voucher recipients with cars tended to live and remain in higher-opportunity neighborhoods—places with lower poverty rates, higher social status, stronger housing markets, and lower health risks. – Cars are also associated with improved neighborhood satisfaction and better employment outcomes. – Among Moving to Opportunity families, those with cars were twice as likely to find a job and four times as likely to remain employed. The report notes that cars are important in helping lower income residents secure and retain jobs as they have inherent benefit over public transport. Public transport is affected by: – longer travel times – insufficient metropolitan wide coverage (getting people door to door) Access to Transit Does Not Improve Employment Prospects Another 2003 study on the topic by Sanchez, Shen and Peng titled “Transit Mobility, Jobs Access and Low-income Labour Participation in US Metropolitan Areas” states: “While policy-makers assert that increased public transit mobility can positively affect employment status for low-income persons, there is little empirical evidence to support this theory. It...