6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

6 Tactics to Hijack California’s Suburban Way of Life

Vilification, subversion of language, truisms and California’s one party government are just some of the tools being leveraged to push a developer funded radical rapid housing growth agenda that would dramatically reshape California’s single family home neighborhoods While Donald Trump is accused of having the attention span of a goldfish, the same accusation could be made of California voters. Few read ballot measures, typically basing their vote solely whether the the “headline” is appealing, or perhaps deferring to the endorsement of the local newspaper – newspapers which are often not without bias. This fact has not gone unnoticed by those who can benefit from it. This has led to one small but highly vocal minority special interest group hijacking not just state government but local councils and committees to push through their ideology – an ideology called “transit oriented development,” blended with the goal of driving rapid housing growth to address California’s housing crisis, above all other priorities and irrespective of negative, unintended consequences. This special interest group has successfully hijacked the conversation using 6 key tactics: Tactic #1: Propagate Opinions As “Truisms” While Dilbert creator Scott Adams accuses Trump of using hypnosis techniques, the same techniques are being used very effectively by pro rapid-growth groups such as the YIMBYs, and some groups using the pretense of advocating for “sustainable” development (there are many groups that advocate genuine sustainability which the author has great respect for). This tactic manifests itself at local council meetings, discussions with state government and, of course, in online community discussion forums. I recently started a poll on Nextdoor.com asking the seemingly simple question, “Will...
231 Train Riders Benefit While 362,390 Highway 101 Users Suffer

231 Train Riders Benefit While 362,390 Highway 101 Users Suffer

Want to do some good at Christmas – how about helping to save over three hundred thousand people collective hours of their time by sending a short email to the right person appealing for common sense? It’ll take you 2 minutes – and you can copy and paste from the email below to Supervisor Damon Connolly dconnolly@marincounty.org (click on the link to bring up a mail compose window). Delaying Hundreds of Thousands to Benefit a Handful of  Train Riders SMART’s extension to Larkspur is likely to…  help 231 daily train riders by the year 2035 (official SMART number) cause significant delays to 362,390 users of highway 101 (official Caltrans / DoT 2015 number). How You Can  Help? Send a letter like the one below to Supervisor Damon Connolly, who is both our district supervisor and our county representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Damon can be reached at dconnolly@marincounty.org Letter to Damon Connolly Damon, Can you please look into having MTC conduct appropriate traffic analysis and mitigation planning around the SMART extension to Larkspur? The extension is likely to cause backups onto 101 that should be analyzed caused by: crossings of 2nd and 3rd street relocation of bus services to surface streets from the Bettini Transit Center It is really important that the train does not exacerbate 101 backups. 2015 official Caltrans traffic counts for highway 101 show peak daily traffic of 217,000 vehicles on 101 at Lincoln Avenue – with 1.67 occupants (US DoT average car occupancy) this translates to 362,390 people. By comparison to 362,390 people using 101 at Lincoln, SMART estimates in it’s Environmental Impact Report (page 264) that it...
SMART Survey – How SMART Voters’ Views Have Shifted

SMART Survey – How SMART Voters’ Views Have Shifted

Several days ago we published the results of a transportation survey detailing Marin residents’ views on SMART and the potential impact it will have on traffic and transit center users in downtown San Rafael. You can find these initial results here. Next we wanted to focus on the attitudes and responses of people stating that they voted for SMART – or Measure Q – to see if there has been a shift as the reality of SMART has emerged. 34% Respondents Voted For SMART As of the time of writing responses were as follows: 476 people took the survey 163 of those respondents stated that they had voted in favor of SMART (Measure Q) when it passed in 2008 Respondent Locations SMART supporter’s locations reflected those of respondents as a whole, with the majority –  about 70% in both cases – living in San Rafael: The Big Revelation – Voters Have Turned Against SMART The big surprise is that of those respondents who said they had voted for SMART in 2008, 50% either believe SMART is no longer a worthwhile project or answered “don’t knonw”.  Specifically 28% said they no longer thought the project was worthwhile and 20% answered “don’t know”. This is a truly remarkable figure representing a significant reversal of support for SMART. Only 50% of those who voted for the train now believe the project is still worthwhile. This compares to a figure of 21% of all respondents believe SMART is still worthwhile. So whichever lens is used SMART is barely deemed a worthwhile project. SMART Supporters Prioritization of SMART and San Rafael Traffic Congestion When...
Survey Results – SMART Train in San Rafael

Survey Results – SMART Train in San Rafael

With the city of San Rafael facing potential disruption to downtown traffic congestion by the extension of the SMART train to Larkspur it seemed worthwhile to conduct a survey to understand people’s attitudes to the train and the relative costs and benefits of the exercise. The initial operating segment of SMART is from Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael. The extension to Larkspur is likely to add significant  traffic congestion as crossings will close off 2nd and 3rd streets four times an hour during the peak rush hour. Adding Train Crossings to an Area Already Experiencing Severe Traffic Congestion In 2014, SMART staff, in the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) using the Metropolitan Transportation Commission ridership model, projected that the extension to Larkspur would generate an additional 131 riders/day for the year 2035. In the same EIS, AECOM did traffic modeling for downtown San Rafael for 2040 and concluded that traffic would be so bad, the train crossing 2nd/3rd on its way to Larkspur would not make a material difference. They used the Level of Service grade rating which runs from A to F with D normally being the margin of acceptable. The 2nd and 3rd Street grade were both F – it doesn’t get any worse. Downtown San Rafael traffic congestion is already off the chart. Moving a Transit Center Used Daily by 4,500 People The extension of SMART to Larkspur means that left in place San Rafael Transit Center users would disembark into the path of trains – which clearly is not going to work. Today, not in 2035, the transit center serves 9,000 daily drips – or...
A Tale of Two Cities, and Their Trains

A Tale of Two Cities, and Their Trains

SMART and Metrolinx Toronto could be considered to be sister train systems – together they clubbed together to buy trains, or Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) from Japanese manufacturer Sumitomo Nippon Sharyo. This unit has been in widespread use in Japan as an Electric Multiple Unit, but its’ use in Toronto and Marin is the time it has been coupled with a tier 4 diesel engine – in this case the diesel is made by Cummins. While this is a proven diesel unit the DMUs and this engine have never before been paired – so SMART and Metrolinx are taking risks using this combination. The Toronto line runs 41 miles from Toronto’s Pearson Airport to downtown Toronto. It is called the Union Pearson Express. Metal Fatigue on the Union Pearson Express, Toronto Metrolinx Toronto hit the Marin news lately as a result to metal fatigue in a crankshaft of its’ Cummins diesel engine causing a catastrophic engine failure. Toronto, which has a double tracked line, was able to continue operations. Both train systems are having Cummins replace the crankshafts for all of their diesel engines – Toronto is doing this without disrupting operations, but for SMART this is one reason given for delaying launch. A letter from LTK Engineering in the SMART Board of Director’s 19th October meeting packet (page 85) highlighted the differences between the Union Pearson Express and SMART in the light of the Cummins engine failure: The Toronto line is a double track line, SMART is 85% single track line If a SMART train breaks down there is no way to bypass the failed train. A bus bridge would...