Archive for April, 2021

Perth Amboy is the NJ town where police officers swarmed a group of black teen bicyclists, arresting one and confiscating bikes. The NAACP has criticized police actions, and the encounter is being investigated by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office.

But it seems the city will be unresponsive to any investigations, as the Mayor has already put out a statement defending this city’s police force:

Caba said that the bicyclists rode through the city in an “unsafe and reckless manner” causing motorists to stop or swerve away from the group. Police stopped the group and an auxiliary police supervisor asked them to ride safely. He reminded them of the local law requiring bicycles to be registered and to display a tag.

The videos depict the interaction as professional and cordial,” Caba said. “The supervisor clearly stated he only wished to speak with the riders and police had no intentions of confiscating bikes from the riders. His actions were commendable and de-escalated any tensions that existed during the traffic stop.”

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In 2015, Professors Chang-Tai Hsieh and Enrico Moretti published a landmark paper on the economic costs of zoning over-regulation. The study got a lot of attention because it calculated housing restrictions cost the economy some $1.6 trillion.

However, the paper made some major blunders in the calculations. The actual number is in fact far higher: $3.39 trillion!!:

Critics may rush to accuse HM of motivated reasoning, but the shoe does not fit.  Their reported figures for the effect of housing deregulation on total GDP and the wage bill turn out to be gross understatements.  The reasonable interpretation, rather, is that authors and referees alike focused so intently on the advanced mathematics that they glossed over some elementary yet crucial errors.  And this is roughly what Hsieh told me: The referees requested some changes to the text (not the tables, which look fine), but these were inconsistently implemented.

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Here come the earmarks

Congressional earmarks, the notorious funding method for wasteful highways, are back. Here is how Solano County is proposing to spend their funding:

The [project] list will go to Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to be included among the 10 projects each can request for the earmark dollars. The first transportation project is for the Highway 37 and Fairgrounds Drive interchange project, which is viewed as critical for the Solano360 project as well as a general economic benefit to that part of Vallejo. The second is for the Vaca Valley Parkway and Interstate 505 Multimodal Improvement Project.


In the case of the fifth project – the $228.7 million Rio Vista Flood Risk Reduction Project – the request is for $150 million. The project is designed to provide 200-year flood protection to the city by “raising levees and constructing cutoff walls on several levees protecting the eastern and northern flanks of the city along (the) Sacramento River and raising vulnerable structures above (the) 200-year flood elevation within the flood zone.”

It takes a special lack of self-awareness to widen highways, while requesting funds to mitigate flooding from climate change.

Ok, but the highway projects include a bike/ped component, right? Because that is required under the Caltrans Complete Streets policy. Here is what EIR has to say about that:

The [Solano County] Bicycle Plan proposes construction of a Class I bike path along Fairgrounds Drive, from Marine World Parkway to Redwood Street. Under the Build Alternative, this bike path would be reduced to a Class II bike lane facility. Although the Build Alternative does not propose the construction of a separated bike path, such as the one proposed in the Bicycle Plan, the proposed improvements would establish the bicycle network connectivity the Bicycle Plan intended to establish along Fairgrounds Drive. As such, the proposed Build Alternative is not considered to be in conflict with the Bicycle Plan.

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