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Archive for the ‘planning’ Category

The Bay Area is notorious for preventing infill development around transit stations. But with Branham LRT station in San Jose, things have hit a new low.

The San Jose General Plan designates the area around the Branham LRT station for mixed-use development. Nonetheless, the VTA-owned property is zoned “A” (agricultural!). To facilitate transit-oriented development, VTA submitted a request to change the zoning. Developing the Branham parking lot is a no-brainer, since it has just 13% utilization.

But neighbors and Councilmember Johnny Khamis are pushing back, forcing the VTA to at least temporarily withdraw the application:

When VTA’s application was filed recently, San Jose City Councilman Johnny Khamis said he would demand it address traffic around the northbound on-ramp to Highway 87 near the site before he would even consider a land use amendment.

“I let VTA know that they would have big opposition, including myself, to developing that property…without traffic mitigation measures at least started. “To change the zoning to housing before we address the traffic concerns, it seemed irresponsible to me,” he added.

Gee, if only there were an LRT station nearby to mitigate the traffic….

branham

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After Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, some 150 mayors throughout the US denounced Trump, and pledged to implement the accords anyway. But really, how serious are they on this?

dingbat

Berkeley Mayor Arreguin

In Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguin spewed out 8 tweets criticizing Trump. This would be the same Arreguin who canceled Berkeley’s participation in AC Transit BRT — a project that removes 19,000 tons of CO2. Arreguin is also notorious for opposing any and all infill development projects.

San Jose has also pledged to abide by the accords. Meanwhile, the city is carving out an enormous parking crater around Diridon station.

The solution to climate emissions is largely achieved through changes in zoning and transportation. This is the one area where Mayors and city councils have more power than the President. But will they use that power to change autocentric policies, or just sit back and score political points?

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Our insane zoning policies cost the economy $1.5 trillion in lost productivity annually:

According to a recent paper by the economists Chang-Tai Hsieh, from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, and Enrico Moretti, from the University of California, Berkeley, local land-use regulations reduce the United States’ economic output by as much as $1.5 trillion a year, or about 10 percent lower than it could be.

The problem is especially severe in coastal cities, where zoning policies limit the supply of housing. Based on the cost of materials and local wages, a house in San Francisco should cost less than $300k. But due to artificial land-use restrictions, prices are actually around $1 million. And there is little incentive for local government to lower the price of housing.

bboard

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So much for that BART transit-oriented development policy:

The BART board is expected to consider on Thursday an additional $37.1 million, 655-space parking garage to the Dublin station.

The proposed six-story garage would replace a current surface parking lot of 118 spots. A net 540 spaces would be added, according to a BART report. The estimated $37.1 million would include $8.6 million in design and $28.5 million in construction costs. Operating costs are expected to be $240,000 annually.

Some quick calculations show the annualized capital cost (at 5% interest rate) is $1.855 million. Including the maintenance cost ($240k) and daily parking fee ($2.50) that comes out to a daily $8 subsidy per commuter!

There are currently 3,100 people on the reserved parking waiting list. So even after spending all that money, it won’t do anything to improve parking availability.

dublin_parking

 

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Build that Wall 10 Feet Higher

Build that wall 10 feet higher…and make the apartment dwellers pay for it:

A 24-unit apartment building at 1057 Freeway Drive cleared its final hurdle Tuesday with its approval by the City Council. The project by the developer James Keller will create a cluster of two-bedroom rental dwellings close to a freeway, school, athletic fields and outlet shops – as well a string of houses on Bremen Court, some of whose owners spoke out against a gate that would have linked the apartments to the street.

Although the gate would be far too small for motor vehicles, residents still urged the council to eliminate it from the plan – and ask for more solid fencing around the apartments – amid concerns a new walkway would lead to increased traffic and trespassing.

The Keller Apartments sailed through a Planning Commission vote last month with little controversy, but details of its links to surrounding streets aroused worries among many who live on Bremen Court, including some who moved into the then-new neighborhood in the early 1990s partly because of its quietness.

Opening the way from apartments to a long-quiet street would erode the safety of those living, walking and especially playing on Bremen Court, argued Maricela Lopez, a resident since 1990. “Being the mother of a 9-year-old girl, having access for anyone to walk by, how can I as a mom be making dinner while making sure she’s safe out there?” she asked council members with her daughter by her side.

Walling off the apartment dwellers won’t make the neighborhood safer (quite the opposite in fact). And the barrier will reduce the walkability of the development, especially with the only access being a freeway frontage road.

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france2

(Link if video doesn’t play.)

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Palo Alto Mayor Patrick Burt has come up with the solution for the lack of housing in Silicon Valley: workers living in self-driving cars as they endure 2-hour commutes:

Burt:   Our TMA is moving towards reducing the number of trips 30 percent. We can have shared, autonomous vehicles powered by carbon-free electricity.

shack

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