Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LA Port Reports 2005-2008 Air Emissions Down

Monday, November 9, 2009

LA Port Reports 2005-2008 Air Emissions Down

The Port of Los Angeles said that total air pollution emissions from port operations were down 16 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, and down 23 percent compared to 2005.

The data was part of the port's latest annual air inventory report– covering the year 2008– that was released last week.

The report, available on the port's website, said that diesel particulate matter– often seen as tailpipe or smokestack soot– dropped 12 percent in 2008 compared to the previous year. Diesel particulate matter, according to the port, also fell 31 percent between 2005 and 2008.

The port, along with the neighboring Port of Long Beach, which issues its own air inventory reports, first began issuing annual reports in 2005. Subsequent studies use the 2005 report as a baseline of comparison.

The LA report also said that oxides of nitrogen, or NOx, a smog-forming emission, also fell in 2008 by 18 percent compared to 2007. NOx declined in 2008 by 20 percent compared to the 2005 numbers.

Emissions of oxides of sulfur, or SOx, another smog-forming component, increased in 2008 by 5 percent compared to 2007 but was down 32 percent compared to the baseline year of 2005.

All told, the Port of Los Angeles-generated emissions accounted for about 7 percent of the total Southern California air basin pollution in 2008, a 2 percent drop from 2007 according to the port figures.

It is worth noting that from 2007 to 2008, cargo volume through the port fell by 7 percent while increasing 5 percent from 2005 to 2008.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Update on Little Tokyo / Regional Connector

Some interesting ideas presented here. Given LT's opposition to anything transitioning to grade, this seems like it'll help win community support. I find it interesting that there's a bit of a PPP involved here, too--good to know some developers are thinking outside the box and recognizing that this "generosity" could be a good negotiating tool for their development as well as provide increased economic activity for them due to transit proximity/access.

Little Tokyo Asks Metro to Study Grade-Separated Alternatie for Regional Connector


A 5th Option?


Happy Halloween.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The End of LOS?

Is it too good to be true?


California may drop LOS requirement in CEQA. Adding more traffic lanes at the expense of other modes may no longer be required by "environmental" laws.

Bike lanes to create jobs?

People are finally starting to realize that people will only bike if there are bike lanes to safely use bicycles on.

This blog post highlights more details about this.

But it does make sense that bike lanes can create jobs and create some economic revitalization in areas that have high potential bike ridership but little to no bicycle infrastructure.

Anyone want to run a survey and find the areas with largest potential bicycle ridership in America?

Monday, October 19, 2009

In reference to Professor Kodama's Post

Here is the link to the article about Santa Monica and Parking

Santa Monica to experiment with parking psychology


Don Shoup and San Fransisco can be found below

Donald Shoup on San Francisco’s Groundbreaking Parking Meter Study

and finally the last one about Green port, NY

Putting Greenwich Street Back Together

If any of these articles are incorrect lemme know.

Santa Monica, Don Shoup, San Francisco, New York

Anyone see the Los Angeles Times article on parking in Santa Monica? How about Don Shoup talking about San Francisco - and two other cities? How about parking in Greenport, New York?

Let me know your thoughts in class...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parking thoughts from the other side of the world

I find that when anyone discusses parking and Japan, people often think of those really cool ferris wheel-esque designs where you drop your car off in a slot and then all of the cool automatic and digital mechanisms go into place and swiftly take your car off to this amazing hidden magical place...

Well, this isn't about that.

In doing my language studies, I read an interesting article about a parking structure owner who could never fill all three stories of his lot in part because there was another structure owner who had a better location.

However, with a little creativity he decided to stratify the daily and monthly cost per floor. The top floor was the cheapest with the bottom floor being the most expensive. What is unusual about this case is he didn't raise his overall price for the bottom floor to account for charging less on the 2nd and 3rd levels. Rather he saw that he was never getting any cash flow from the upper levels and decided to "cut his losses" when in actuality he accommodated market demands and ended up making multiples of what he would have otherwise.

This presents a novel yet effective method in solving the empty roof level parking problems in many vertical parking structures since, as we all know, the higher the floor the more it costs but the less likely it is to be used.

You can pay me later for the idea :-p

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Congestion Pricing and the Environment

There was some hoopla about the recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal claiming that congestion pricing would actually increase emissions by making driving easier. As a cyclist first, transit user second, and pedestrian third, I'm all for giving these modes advantages over driving, but increasing and/or ignoring congestion is not the way to do that. As the only person qualified to judge the value of my time, I want there to be a driving system priced appropriately that gets me where I need to go when I'm in a rush and willing to pay. Some people will always drive, but if the economics are right, that will be much less common. Giving me the freedom to choose which appropriately-priced mode of transportation I consume for any given trip is no different than any other market. I don't expect chocolate volcano lava cake for the price of grocery store ice cream and I don't expect to cruise through the heart of a major urban area at 55 mph for the price of, well, free. And as a primary user of alternative modes, making driving harder does not make my life easier. If the cost of driving is included in its price, consumers can make informed choices about their travel. It would be nice if bicycle, transit, and pedestrian infrastructure received even a fraction of the attention that our roads get.

As for the actual merits of the WSJ piece, I'll leave it to Streetsblog to point out that every city that has tried congestion pricing saw a reduction in congestion and emissions, while improving the travel times of all modes. It's amazing what good economics will do.

More Streetsblog commentary that is right on point.

Monday, October 12, 2009

George Costanza

Who is right? The person backing into a parallel spot or going in head first?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Schwarzenegger could end part of 710 Freeway debate


The full article can be found here:

Full Article


An article from the LA Times on 10/11/2009 discusses how a bill on the Governors desk that can end any hopes of a surface level connection of the 710 to the 210.

Our favorite resource Bob Huddy is quoted at the end about the feasability of building a 4.5 mi underground tunnel that would connect the 710 without cutting South Pasadena in half.

His quote is here, "Robert Huddy, who retired last year as the Southern California Assn. of Governments' manager for regional transit planning, agreed, adding that a public-private partnership could build the tunnel as a toll road.

'This has been done in Spain, in France, in Russia, in Switzerland, in Germany, in similar conditions," Huddy said. "We have had advances in tunneling technology . . . but it's very expensive.'"

A PPP financing option for the 710 might work but what would be the incentive or capital that the South Pasadena/Glendale area be able to offer that can bring a viable private partner to the table?

Let's hope Bob Huddy will chime in.

-Alan

Friday, October 2, 2009

Congestion Awareness

Hi,

I just joined this blog site to speak about traffic congestion and transportation issues. As a retired planner from
Caltrans and having worked with many agencies and local communities, it is distressing that congestion is still
one of major, unsolved problems in urban planning. There are many reasons for congestion, such as inadequate transit services, personal preferences to drive, urban sprawl and poor planning in where we locate homes and work sites. I don't think there is a single solution.

However, energy consumption and climate change have to be a part of the dialogue. More investments in public transit must also be in the mix. Adopting technology from the internet and wireless devices might also be used. And we should include more community involvement in our planning processes, particularly from those underserved communities who often bear the burden of noise, pollution and hazards from this congestion. I would be interested in hearing what others think about this broad topic. Thank you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Villaraigosa's Thoughts on LA's Transit System


For those who were not able to attend Mobility 21 you probably missed the keynote speech from Mayor Villaraigosa.

The Huffington Post is reporting about his thoughts.

You can read it and his thoughts on the transportation system in Los Angeles here.

My only beef with Villaraigosa's vision is that he too easily expresses his politics in his thoughts. High Speed Rail will def. be a big project for Southern California....wait...all of California in the next decade, but the Subway to the Sea? Calling Subway to the Sea one of the most important transportation projects in California...is a bit premature.

Off the top of my head I can think of several as equally important or more important infrastructure projects that should rank ahead of the Subway to the Sea. Increasing capacity for the Ports to increase international trade for example. Regional connectors and electric vehicle/hydrogen infrastructure.

Thoughts, ideas, opinions?

CA 2, Santa Monica Blvd, and Beverly Hills

It's no secret that Beverly Hills tries to reduce the amount of outsiders coming through its city nor is it unnoticed that they make the staggering of their lights unproductive to discourage people from driving through.

However, CA 2 aka Santa Monica Blvd. is not just any street as it, to my understanding, should be under Cal Trans' jurisdiction. If this is the case, then why do the signals on the boulevard decrease traffic flow efficiency (as on other city run streets) in Beverly Hills?

Personally, I'm shocked that nothing has been done about this especially with all of the money that has been spent on that street by taxpayers and Cal Trans.

Thoughts anyone?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Donald Shoup In Action

From Professor Kodama,

Putting Parking into Reverse

Professor’s Theories Influence Cities
to Reconsider Pervasive Free Parking

By Josh Stephens

Related Stories

Blog: Shoup Shows Cities How to 'Just Say No' to Parking

Related Links

UCLA Professor Donald Shoup

The Shoupistas

SFPark Program

By some estimates, the only thing Ferraris, Hummers and Priuses have in common is that 95 percent of the time they’re all going nowhere. Though idleness would seem to be the most benign aspect of America’s automotive fleet, UCLA Planning Professor Donald Shoup has written 733 pages that say otherwise. Because when cars aren’t going, they are parked somewhere, and when they are parked in one place, an average of six spaces per car nationwide stand vacant. Shoup considers the proliferation of parking spaces to be a plague on American cities, and because the vast majority lie open for the taking, they represent the largest devaluation of real estate short of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Published in 2005, The High Cost of Free Parking has begun to influence planners and policymakers in cities across the country.

Published in 2005, Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking amounts to an unwieldy volume full of data, regressions, and intricate analysis of these most overlooked squares on the grid of American cities. If America’s streets were a Monopoly board, it would be a dull contest indeed, with almost every space “Free Parking.” Each of the country’s roughly 200 million vehicles typically demands spaces at home and work, with shares of countless spaces at the market, restaurant, post office, mall and every other imaginable destination. Eighty-seven percent of all trips are made by personal vehicle and 99 percent of those trips arrive at a free parking space.

Many of these spaces stem from carelessly planned street parking schemes and arbitrary minimum parking requirements, by which cities dictate the number of spaces that different types of land uses must provide for tenants and customers. The result is a land use that is as ubiquitous as it is vapid and that, according to Shoup, “disfigures the landscape, distorts urban form, damages the environment, and wastes money that could be spent more productively elsewhere.” Shoup estimates that the total annual subsidy of free off-street parking exceeds $300 billion per year.

Donald Shoup

Professor Donald Shoup rides his bike to work at UCLA.

“That makes parking artificially abundant and therefore cheap and does in some ways tend to subsidize auto use when people would otherwise make other choices,” said Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Libertarian-leaning Reason Foundation.

Shoup contends that many cities, hamstrung by convention, superstition and guidelines hearkening back to the halcyon days of suburban sprawl, have been giving away their most valuable real estate: parking spaces. Shoup has waged a campaign to convince cities to revolutionize their parking policies, from charging higher meter prices to allowing communal lots to reducing sacrosanct minimum parking requirements. Such efforts, he says, could speed the flow of traffic, encourage denser development, rehabilitate pedestrian environments and even make it easier to find a place to park. Now, four years after his book’s publication, cities across America are devising ways to stop parking in its tracks.

Car Culture “Ruined the City”

Because most requirements call for on-site parking, the cart often comes before the horse as developers design their sites. At restaurants, parking often takes up more space than the eateries themselves. Office buildings look like spires perched on blocks of concrete. Suburban malls look ready to signal mayday lest they spring a leak. Meanwhile, free parking affects driver behavior by making driving artificially inexpensive. At its most ironic extremes, Shoup’s research contends that drivers can circle blocks endlessly in search of cheap street parking while burning more gas money than they would save by going directly to private lots.

Dr. Shoup Prescribes . . .

• “Performance pricing” of street parking according to the “85 percent rule,” so that it is expensive enough to promote frequent turnover and keep 15 percent of spaces empty at all times.
• “Parking benefit districts” which invest meter revenues in sidewalks, street trees, repairs and other public amenities.
• Shared/community parking.
• Parking maximums, not minimums.
• More rational estimates of parking demand.
• Off-site parking for both commercial and residential.
• Use of smart technology, such as in-pavement sensors and meters with rates that vary according to demand.
• Adaptive reuse of mall and big box parking lots.
• Cooperation with employers to create incentives for employees to use alternative transportation.

At the metropolitan scale, according to Shoup, all of these requirements have caused cities to bloat according to a vicious cycle. As parking requirements facilitate the use of cars, total travel increases, public transit use decreases, buildings scoot farther away from each other, density diminishes, central cities go into tailspins and sprawl increases—all of which, in turn, increases the need for more parking. The result is pockmarked cities, wasted money and an archipelago of literally billions of spaces that, collectively, take up more land than many countries.

“They’ve ruined the city,” said Shoup, who often rides his bicycle to work at UCLA. “People don’t know why the city looks so ugly and why there are shopping centers in the middle of a giant sea of parking.”

One would think that such a massive investment on the part of homeowners, businesses and cities would depend on careful study and rational planning, which would determine precisely the amount of parking that each particular use requires and analyze the attendant costs and benefits. Instead, Shoup contends that the single biggest blight on American cities is also the least-studied and most poorly understood, even as recent planning trends have been calling for the revitalization of urban centers.

“I’m really saying that cities are doing everything wrong, when it comes to parking,” Shoup said. “I firmly believe that. For 75 years we’ve made terrible mistakes with nobody noticing.”

“I think building cities around cars is the great, unaddressed issue,” said Rick Cole, city manager for Ventura, Calif. “Parking is the most glaring example of how we have systematically subsidized an auto-driven landscape and systematically devalued the pedestrian landscape.”

How anyone managed to miss over 3 million acres of garages, lots, aprons, lanes and carports is anyone’s guess, as planners have placed as much value on studying parking as Americans have on paying for it.

“I think we’ve been more aware of the problem of moving in automobiles, traffic flow, traffic congestion . . .” said John Jakle, co-author of Lots of Parking: Land Use in a Car Culture. “But we really haven’t thought seriously about storage problems.”

Origins of Free Parking Policies

What began as an amenity for businesses turned into a requirement as cities insisted that private establishments provide parking to lessen the load on city streets. Minimum parking requirements spread across the urban frontier like wildfire, and by the middle of the 20th century nearly all urban and suburban land uses fell under their sway.

The University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center

Parking lots tend to push neighborhoods apart, disturbing the continuity of cities and downtowns, according to Shoup.

The underlying problem, according to Shoup, is that the requirements themselves were based on a combination of poor data, mimicry and sheer whimsy. At their most scientific, they account for annual peak demand—the maximum number of cars on the busiest day of the year—rather than something that could be construed as an average. A “pseudoscience” was created out of assigning precise requirements to everything from convents to batting cages, and couching them in terms of “requirements” implied that they must be provided free of charge.

They gave planners a ready tool with which to prescribe ideal minimums for all imaginable uses and according to arcane measurements: typically, barbershops must have two spaces per barber; rectories, three spaces per four clergymen; bicycle repair, three spaces per 1,000 square feet (oh, the irony); office buildings, 2.79 for every 1,000 square feet; large shopping centers require five spaces for every 1,000 leasable square feet; and even apartments often have a minimum of two spaces. In new developments, these requirements equate to thousands of dollars of added cost, even just for surface lots. Meanwhile, fitting in parking spaces means that all other elements of the urban fabric are pushed away from each other, leading to the vicious cycle that Americans know as sprawl.

“We do things in this country and in other places because we think they make sense and then over time, they make less and less sense,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, an outspoken proponent of Shoup’s ideas.

But Shoup notes that the absence of a price does not equate to an absence of cost. As “perhaps the most spatial of economic activities”—because it trades in nothing but space itself—parking imposes costs that factor into everything from rents to Big Macs. And the demand data on which planners rely reflects the demand for free parking—as opposed to parking that is priced like any other good or service.

“There is a cost for parking,” Jakle said. “We just have obscured it and passed it along in various ways under this notion that everybody ought to have a right to park, free of charge.”

Shoup contends that many parking requirements are, at best, based on the demand for free—as opposed to rationally priced—parking. Others rely on little more than tradition, myth and the sort of foolish consistency that Emerson warned of while he was strolling about the woods. The rest comes from sources such as the Institute for Transportation Engineering’s Parking Generation, which relies on parking data gathered largely from suburban, single-use sites and that is difficult to interpret for all but the savviest statisticians.

“If you take any of this data out of context . . . you’re doing somebody a disservice,” said Kevin Hooper, technical editor of Parking Generation. “Everybody has a different perspective on what this data might mean.”

“[Old parking manuals] give you numbers as if Moses wrote them,” said Jose Gomez-Ibanez, professor of planning at Harvard. “Now they give you a range and show you how many studies they came from. It’s all from [Shoup’s] criticism about how arbitrary they are.”

The result of relying on those numbers was the viral proliferation of convenient but nearly baseless parking minimums in city after city.

“It was reactive, they copied each other,” Shoup said. “Students have learned nothing in their graduate education, because the professors had nothing to teach them, and didn’t want to anyway.” Planners were doing the opposite of what the field implies—“just winging it.”

Changing Minds

Shoup’s response is a systematic collection of criticisms and policy recommendations aimed at breaking America’s addiction to free parking. He is not fighting with ideology, he said, but with hard, cold logic.

“It isn’t just opinion,” he said. “I wanted to really demolish what the current practice is and make it indefensible. I think I’ve done that.”

Donald Shoup

Shoup contends underused parking towers are a blight on cities such as Los Angeles.

Though Shoup himself gives only the occasional informational lecture and admits that his book is nearly unreadable in its entirety, it has turned into a manifesto for a growing movement of planners, public officials and other loyal revolutionaries who decry the degradation of the urban landscape. These self-styled “Shoupistas” (yes, there is a Facebook group) have created a cult of personality and rationality around Shoup and his straightforward, elegant approach to healing American cities.

It’s so simple, in fact, as to be nearly obvious. Rather than focus on the supply side of the parking equation, Shoup focuses on the demand side and on the heretical notion that, even in a consumerist society, it might be all right to implement policies that would reduce demand.

“I think what he’s doing is basically forcing us all to fundamentally change our ideas about how you deal with cities . . . and how you use public policy to make a real difference in what those cities are like,” Dukakis said.

“I credit him more than anybody else with changing planners’ attitudes towards parking standards,” Gomez-Ibanez said. “He makes them realize that parking standards may be arbitrary and perhaps unwise.”

Shoup lays out a range of ways to re-conceptualize and rationalize cities’ approach to parking policy. He recommends that real estate that costs between $10,000 and $50,000 depending on location should be neither mandated nor given away.

Discouraging Drivers by Price

Shoup describes an array of solutions that, while they would not singlehandedly replace surface lots with parks or quaint new urbanist townhouses, would express parking spaces’ true value and thereby discourage driving while potentially generating revenue for cities.

The fundamental change that cities need to make, according to Shoup, is to charge a price for metered parking that would be expensive enough to create roughly a 15 percent vacancy rate. At that rate, Shoup said, many drivers will either park in private lots or use other means of transportation, and those drivers who want to park on the street will find readily available spaces without “cruising” endlessly. Indeed, one of Shoup’s studies claimed that in a variety of high-traffic areas in Los Angeles, curb parking was always cheaper than pay parking, by as much as a factor of 10. In Westwood Village alone, this disparity leads to “cruising” that “creates enough vehicle travel to make 38 trips around the earth.”

“Once you manage the curb parking then you can really think about removing off-street parking requirements, or reducing them at the very least,” said Shoup. As for the seemingly arbitrary 85 percent, Shoup said, “When you explain this to people you ask, do you have a better rule? And they’re just speechless.”

One group likely to raise protests, though, are businesses owners who may fear that higher prices will drive away patrons. In fact, Shoup contends that higher turnover (prompted by higher rates) will benefit some businesses, and he ensures that the benefits will be more than just theoretical. Shoup proposes “parking benefit districts” by which revenue at the meters would be re-invested in the immediate neighborhood for upgrades such as sidewalk improvements, signage and other amenities that would make the areas more comfortable for pedestrians and less comfortable for cars.

“Obviously merchants are nervous about anything that costs anything that their customer is going to have to pay for, or that they’re going to have to pay for,” Cole said. “But there’s also a recognition that right now we’re giving away something of value, and by recapturing that value, if we return that value to the customers and the businesses, they’ll end up on the positive side.”

Subtleties of this sort of pricing scheme would include variable rates depending on the day of the week and time of day. With the help of sensors and the latest generation of meter technology, cities could even adjust rates according to real-time data.

Additional reforms that Shoup promotes include bundled parking, in which businesses or even residences can fulfill their parking requirements by using collective off-site lots and, ultimately, trading parking minimums for parking maximums. He recommends that cities “let the prices do the planning.”

Cities Get on Board

The Shoupista movement has already made its way into the halls of power in a number of cities. Pilot projects to reform parking are underway in a number of major cities, and still others are keeping an eye out. The Los Angeles Planning Department is rolling out “Parking Management Districts,” in which community planners can choose from a variety of strategies meant to respond to local conditions.

Chicago is auctioning off concessions to manage its 36,000 citywide parking meters, and presumably whoever wins the concession will adopt rates that will make the investment worth it. Washington, D.C., has imposed higher rates around its new baseball stadium, and a bevy of small California cities are catching on, while Pasadena used bundled parking to revive its downtown long before Shoup’s book was published.

“His ideas have been tested out in only a few areas, but where they’ve been tested out, they’ve been working quite well,” said Paul Sorenson, operations researcher at the RAND Corp. “Theoretically, they’re quite sound, so the combination of those to me suggests that he’s really on target.” Sorenson recently led a major study on alleviating traffic in Los Angeles and included Shoup-inspired tactics in his recommendations.

Leading the pack is San Francisco, where the new SFPark program has received $23 million in federal funding. SFPark takes nearly the entire suite of Shoupisms to heart and is implementing them in an 18-month pilot project that will apply to 7,000 curbside and over 11,000 off-street spaces. It will rely heavily on cutting-edge meter and data-gathering technology to adjust rates and reduce congestion.

“It delivers a whole series of benefits in helping transit operate, to improve transit speed and reliability, maintain bridges and reduce greenhouse gases,” SFPark Manager Jay Primus said. “At the same time it makes driving and parking more predictable and more convenient.”

Primus noted that SFPark might not generate any extra revenue because higher meter rates may be offset by a decrease in parking citations, but he said that the other benefits outweigh considerations of revenue.

“I think one of the exciting things in San Francisco is that this is a prepaid, empirical test of a lot of [Shoup’s] concepts,” Primus said.

The University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center

The massive parking lots that come along with big box stores and malls could be improved if some of their spaces were filled in with apartment complexes or townhouses, according to Shoup.

Though he focuses mainly on the revitalization of major downtowns, Shoup contends that small cities and even suburban commercial areas can benefit from the reforms he recommends. Indeed, Ventura Manager Cole is pursuing an aggressively Shoupian strategy for his city of 100,000, and Redwood City, Calif., population 79,000, is considered one of the pioneers. However, suburbs and sprawling big boxes without transit service or pedestrian links to much of anything have fewer tools to choose from.

Still, Shoup’s optimism extends even to the typology that most revels in parking excess: the big box store. Convinced that urbanism can emerge in the backwash of sprawl, Shoup contends that if big boxes, malls and even strip malls were allowed to reduce their parking and replace excess spaces with something more useful, suburbanites might embark on the greatest land reclamation scheme this side of the Netherlands. He envisions apartment buildings and townhouses sprouting on the edges of malls parking lots and thereby creating nearly fully formed neighborhoods in place of vacant asphalt.

Plans “Politically Difficult”

Shoup’s reforms may not have such an easy time in other cities as they have in famously progressive San Francisco. The very notion of raising prices or restricting supply unnerves many stakeholders who are accustomed to the traditional rules.

“I think all cities should be considering it,” Cole said. “The trouble is that it’s not a political no-brainer, it’s an economic and environmental no-brainer. But it remains politically charged, which means that smart people need to enlist, need to help communities understand the disadvantages of the current mentality and the value to be gained from moving to a more rational model.”

In Washington, D.C., the opening of a 45,000-capacity baseball stadium in a dense urban neighborhood prompted City Councilman Tommy Wells to reconsider parking policies in his ward. In doing so, he had to contend with skeptical residents and downright angry bar patrons when he implemented new pricing strategies (along with other incentives for Nationals fans to use transit and bikes).

“Dealing with parking is incredibly politically difficult,” Wells said. “I used quite a bit of political capital to change the parking rules.”

And while Shoup contends that parking’s impact on the built environment and its historical mismanagement make it perhaps the most crucial element of future reforms, others are skeptical that attention to any single element of land use can make that much difference.

“I’m always suspicious of somebody who says there’s a revealed truth because in the area of land development, there really isn’t,” said Stuart Meck, lead author of the American Planning Association’s 2002 Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook, which Shoup criticizes for paying scant attention to parking.

Meck added that he and Shoup are on good terms but that, regardless of Shoup’s data analysis, “the use of particular land use controls is a political decision, and when you cut away [his] research, the decision to require parking and how much to charge for it are political decisions.”

Once made, however, those decisions need not require the expense of a single dime or the pouring of a single bucket of concrete. By relying on the invisible infrastructure of pricing and legal fiat, the Shoupistas hope to change cities by changing behavior, seeking efficient use of existing resources rather than trying to build new ones, and removing constraints.

Josh Stephens is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

America's Scariest Roads

It's been a while since people have posted something on here.

Everyone should keep it up, because its a great way to share information with each other.

Here's a list of the scariest drives in America
.

Taking first place is California's own Big Sur and second place is Big Road in Hawaii.

Very interesting, but makes me wanna take a road trip and drive through these scariest places.

Anyone interested?

Friday, March 20, 2009

What's going on in Transportation Policy?

After watching these two extensive seminars on transportation policy called "Integrating Land Use and Transportation Policy in California" and "Clean Infrastructure: Transportation Policy for the 21st Century (FULL VIDEO) - 1/14/09" I figured some of you may be interested in watching as well. Although there both over an hour, the information provided and the ideas and questions proposed serve as a possible rubric for the future.



Thursday, March 19, 2009

Putting Parking into Reverse - from Professor Don Shoup

Putting Parking into Reverse
Professor’s Theories Influence Citiesto Reconsider Pervasive Free Parking
By Josh Stephens
Related Stories
Blog: Shoup Shows Cities How to 'Just Say No' to Parking

Related Links
UCLA Professor Donald Shoup
The Shoupistas
SFPark Program

By some estimates, the only thing Ferraris, Hummers and Priuses have in common is that 95 percent of the time they’re all going nowhere. Though idleness would seem to be the most benign aspect of America’s automotive fleet, UCLA Planning Professor Donald Shoup has written 733 pages that say otherwise. Because when cars aren’t going, they are parked somewhere, and when they are parked in one place, an average of six spaces per car nationwide stand vacant. Shoup considers the proliferation of parking spaces to be a plague on American cities, and because the vast majority lie open for the taking, they represent the largest devaluation of real estate short of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Published in 2005, Shoup’s The High Cost of Free Parking amounts to an unwieldy volume full of data, regressions, and intricate analysis of these most overlooked squares on the grid of American cities. If America’s streets were a Monopoly board, it would be a dull contest indeed, with almost every space “Free Parking.” Each of the country’s roughly 200 million vehicles typically demands spaces at home and work, with shares of countless spaces at the market, restaurant, post office, mall and every other imaginable destination. Eighty-seven percent of all trips are made by personal vehicle and 99 percent of those trips arrive at a free parking space.
Many of these spaces stem from carelessly planned street parking schemes and arbitrary minimum parking requirements, by which cities dictate the number of spaces that different types of land uses must provide for tenants and customers. The result is a land use that is as ubiquitous as it is vapid and that, according to Shoup, “disfigures the landscape, distorts urban form, damages the environment, and wastes money that could be spent more productively elsewhere.” Shoup estimates that the total annual subsidy of free off-street parking exceeds $300 billion per year.

“That makes parking artificially abundant and therefore cheap and does in some ways tend to subsidize auto use when people would otherwise make other choices,” said Robert Poole, director of transportation studies at the Libertarian-leaning Reason Foundation.

Shoup contends that many cities, hamstrung by convention, superstition and guidelines hearkening back to the halcyon days of suburban sprawl, have been giving away their most valuable real estate: parking spaces. Shoup has waged a campaign to convince cities to revolutionize their parking policies, from charging higher meter prices to allowing communal lots to reducing sacrosanct minimum parking requirements. Such efforts, he says, could speed the flow of traffic, encourage denser development, rehabilitate pedestrian environments and even make it easier to find a place to park. Now, four years after his book’s publication, cities across America are devising ways to stop parking in its tracks.

Car Culture “Ruined the City”
Because most requirements call for on-site parking, the cart often comes before the horse as developers design their sites. At restaurants, parking often takes up more space than the eateries themselves. Office buildings look like spires perched on blocks of concrete. Suburban malls look ready to signal mayday lest they spring a leak. Meanwhile, free parking affects driver behavior by making driving artificially inexpensive. At its most ironic extremes, Shoup’s research contends that drivers can circle blocks endlessly in search of cheap street parking while burning more gas money than they would save by going directly to private lots.
Dr. Shoup Prescribes . . .

• “Performance pricing” of street parking according to the “85 percent rule,” so that it is expensive enough to promote frequent turnover and keep 15 percent of spaces empty at all times.• “Parking benefit districts” which invest meter revenues in sidewalks, street trees, repairs and other public amenities.• Shared/community parking.• Parking maximums, not minimums.• More rational estimates of parking demand.• Off-site parking for both commercial and residential.• Use of smart technology, such as in-pavement sensors and meters with rates that vary according to demand.• Adaptive reuse of mall and big box parking lots. • Cooperation with employers to create incentives for employees to use alternative transportation.
At the metropolitan scale, according to Shoup, all of these requirements have caused cities to bloat according to a vicious cycle. As parking requirements facilitate the use of cars, total travel increases, public transit use decreases, buildings scoot farther away from each other, density diminishes, central cities go into tailspins and sprawl increases—all of which, in turn, increases the need for more parking. The result is pockmarked cities, wasted money and an archipelago of literally billions of spaces that, collectively, take up more land than many countries.

“They’ve ruined the city,” said Shoup, who often rides his bicycle to work at UCLA. “People don’t know why the city looks so ugly and why there are shopping centers in the middle of a giant sea of parking.”

One would think that such a massive investment on the part of homeowners, businesses and cities would depend on careful study and rational planning, which would determine precisely the amount of parking that each particular use requires and analyze the attendant costs and benefits. Instead, Shoup contends that the single biggest blight on American cities is also the least-studied and most poorly understood, even as recent planning trends have been calling for the revitalization of urban centers.

“I’m really saying that cities are doing everything wrong, when it comes to parking,” Shoup said. “I firmly believe that. For 75 years we’ve made terrible mistakes with nobody noticing.”
“I think building cities around cars is the great, unaddressed issue,” said Rick Cole, city manager for Ventura, Calif. “Parking is the most glaring example of how we have systematically subsidized an auto-driven landscape and systematically devalued the pedestrian landscape.”
How anyone managed to miss over 3 million acres of garages, lots, aprons, lanes and carports is anyone’s guess, as planners have placed as much value on studying parking as Americans have on paying for it.

“I think we’ve been more aware of the problem of moving in automobiles, traffic flow, traffic congestion . . .” said John Jakle, co-author of Lots of Parking: Land Use in a Car Culture. “But we really haven’t thought seriously about storage problems.”

Origins of Free Parking Policies
What began as an amenity for businesses turned into a requirement as cities insisted that private establishments provide parking to lessen the load on city streets. Minimum parking requirements spread across the urban frontier like wildfire, and by the middle of the 20th century nearly all urban and suburban land uses fell under their sway.

Parking lots tend to push neighborhoods apart, disturbing the continuity of cities and downtowns, according to Shoup.

The underlying problem, according to Shoup, is that the requirements themselves were based on a combination of poor data, mimicry and sheer whimsy. At their most scientific, they account for annual peak demand—the maximum number of cars on the busiest day of the year—rather than something that could be construed as an average. A “pseudoscience” was created out of assigning precise requirements to everything from convents to batting cages, and couching them in terms of “requirements” implied that they must be provided free of charge.

They gave planners a ready tool with which to prescribe ideal minimums for all imaginable uses and according to arcane measurements: typically, barbershops must have two spaces per barber; rectories, three spaces per four clergymen; bicycle repair, three spaces per 1,000 square feet (oh, the irony); office buildings, 2.79 for every 1,000 square feet; large shopping centers require five spaces for every 1,000 leasable square feet; and even apartments often have a minimum of two spaces. In new developments, these requirements equate to thousands of dollars of added cost, even just for surface lots. Meanwhile, fitting in parking spaces means that all other elements of the urban fabric are pushed away from each other, leading to the vicious cycle that Americans know as sprawl.

“We do things in this country and in other places because we think they make sense and then over time, they make less and less sense,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, an outspoken proponent of Shoup’s ideas.

But Shoup notes that the absence of a price does not equate to an absence of cost. As “perhaps the most spatial of economic activities”—because it trades in nothing but space itself—parking imposes costs that factor into everything from rents to Big Macs. And the demand data on which planners rely reflects the demand for free parking—as opposed to parking that is priced like any other good or service.

“There is a cost for parking,” Jakle said. “We just have obscured it and passed it along in various ways under this notion that everybody ought to have a right to park, free of charge.”

Shoup contends that many parking requirements are, at best, based on the demand for free—as opposed to rationally priced—parking. Others rely on little more than tradition, myth and the sort of foolish consistency that Emerson warned of while he was strolling about the woods. The rest comes from sources such as the Institute for Transportation Engineering’s Parking Generation, which relies on parking data gathered largely from suburban, single-use sites and that is difficult to interpret for all but the savviest statisticians.

“If you take any of this data out of context . . . you’re doing somebody a disservice,” said Kevin Hooper, technical editor of Parking Generation. “Everybody has a different perspective on what this data might mean.”

“[Old parking manuals] give you numbers as if Moses wrote them,” said Jose Gomez-Ibanez, professor of planning at Harvard. “Now they give you a range and show you how many studies they came from. It’s all from [Shoup’s] criticism about how arbitrary they are.”
The result of relying on those numbers was the viral proliferation of convenient but nearly baseless parking minimums in city after city.

“It was reactive, they copied each other,” Shoup said. “Students have learned nothing in their graduate education, because the professors had nothing to teach them, and didn’t want to anyway.” Planners were doing the opposite of what the field implies—“just winging it.”

Changing Minds
Shoup’s response is a systematic collection of criticisms and policy recommendations aimed at breaking America’s addiction to free parking. He is not fighting with ideology, he said, but with hard, cold logic.

“It isn’t just opinion,” he said. “I wanted to really demolish what the current practice is and make it indefensible. I think I’ve done that.”

Shoup contends underused parking towers are a blight on cities such as Los Angeles.
Though Shoup himself gives only the occasional informational lecture and admits that his book is nearly unreadable in its entirety, it has turned into a manifesto for a growing movement of planners, public officials and other loyal revolutionaries who decry the degradation of the urban landscape. These self-styled “Shoupistas” (yes, there is a Facebook group) have created a cult of personality and rationality around Shoup and his straightforward, elegant approach to healing American cities.

It’s so simple, in fact, as to be nearly obvious. Rather than focus on the supply side of the parking equation, Shoup focuses on the demand side and on the heretical notion that, even in a consumerist society, it might be all right to implement policies that would reduce demand.
“I think what he’s doing is basically forcing us all to fundamentally change our ideas about how you deal with cities . . . and how you use public policy to make a real difference in what those cities are like,” Dukakis said.

“I credit him more than anybody else with changing planners’ attitudes towards parking standards,” Gomez-Ibanez said. “He makes them realize that parking standards may be arbitrary and perhaps unwise.”

Shoup lays out a range of ways to re-conceptualize and rationalize cities’ approach to parking policy. He recommends that real estate that costs between $10,000 and $50,000 depending on location should be neither mandated nor given away.

Discouraging Drivers by Price
Shoup describes an array of solutions that, while they would not singlehandedly replace surface lots with parks or quaint new urbanist townhouses, would express parking spaces’ true value and thereby discourage driving while potentially generating revenue for cities.

The fundamental change that cities need to make, according to Shoup, is to charge a price for metered parking that would be expensive enough to create roughly a 15 percent vacancy rate. At that rate, Shoup said, many drivers will either park in private lots or use other means of transportation, and those drivers who want to park on the street will find readily available spaces without “cruising” endlessly. Indeed, one of Shoup’s studies claimed that in a variety of high-traffic areas in Los Angeles, curb parking was always cheaper than pay parking, by as much as a factor of 10. In Westwood Village alone, this disparity leads to “cruising” that “creates enough vehicle travel to make 38 trips around the earth.”

“Once you manage the curb parking then you can really think about removing off-street parking requirements, or reducing them at the very least,” said Shoup. As for the seemingly arbitrary 85 percent, Shoup said, “When you explain this to people you ask, do you have a better rule? And they’re just speechless.”

One group likely to raise protests, though, are businesses owners who may fear that higher prices will drive away patrons. In fact, Shoup contends that higher turnover (prompted by higher rates) will benefit some businesses, and he ensures that the benefits will be more than just theoretical. Shoup proposes “parking benefit districts” by which revenue at the meters would be re-invested in the immediate neighborhood for upgrades such as sidewalk improvements, signage and other amenities that would make the areas more comfortable for pedestrians and less comfortable for cars.

“Obviously merchants are nervous about anything that costs anything that their customer is going to have to pay for, or that they’re going to have to pay for,” Cole said. “But there’s also a recognition that right now we’re giving away something of value, and by recapturing that value, if we return that value to the customers and the businesses, they’ll end up on the positive side.”
Subtleties of this sort of pricing scheme would include variable rates depending on the day of the week and time of day. With the help of sensors and the latest generation of meter technology, cities could even adjust rates according to real-time data.

Additional reforms that Shoup promotes include bundled parking, in which businesses or even residences can fulfill their parking requirements by using collective off-site lots and, ultimately, trading parking minimums for parking maximums. He recommends that cities “let the prices do the planning.”

Cities Get on Board
The Shoupista movement has already made its way into the halls of power in a number of cities. Pilot projects to reform parking are underway in a number of major cities, and still others are keeping an eye out. The Los Angeles Planning Department is rolling out “Parking Management Districts,” in which community planners can choose from a variety of strategies meant to respond to local conditions.

Chicago is auctioning off concessions to manage its 36,000 citywide parking meters, and presumably whoever wins the concession will adopt rates that will make the investment worth it. Washington, D.C., has imposed higher rates around its new baseball stadium, and a bevy of small California cities are catching on, while Pasadena used bundled parking to revive its downtown long before Shoup’s book was published.

“His ideas have been tested out in only a few areas, but where they’ve been tested out, they’ve been working quite well,” said Paul Sorenson, operations researcher at the RAND Corp. “Theoretically, they’re quite sound, so the combination of those to me suggests that he’s really on target.” Sorenson recently led a major study on alleviating traffic in Los Angeles and included Shoup-inspired tactics in his recommendations.

Leading the pack is San Francisco, where the new SFPark program has received $23 million in federal funding. SFPark takes nearly the entire suite of Shoupisms to heart and is implementing them in an 18-month pilot project that will apply to 7,000 curbside and over 11,000 off-street spaces. It will rely heavily on cutting-edge meter and data-gathering technology to adjust rates and reduce congestion.

“It delivers a whole series of benefits in helping transit operate, to improve transit speed and reliability, maintain bridges and reduce greenhouse gases,” SFPark Manager Jay Primus said. “At the same time it makes driving and parking more predictable and more convenient.”
Primus noted that SFPark might not generate any extra revenue because higher meter rates may be offset by a decrease in parking citations, but he said that the other benefits outweigh considerations of revenue.

“I think one of the exciting things in San Francisco is that this is a prepaid, empirical test of a lot of [Shoup’s] concepts,” Primus said.

The massive parking lots that come along with big box stores and malls could be improved if some of their spaces were filled in with apartment complexes or townhouses, according to Shoup.
Though he focuses mainly on the revitalization of major downtowns, Shoup contends that small cities and even suburban commercial areas can benefit from the reforms he recommends. Indeed, Ventura Manager Cole is pursuing an aggressively Shoupian strategy for his city of 100,000, and Redwood City, Calif., population 79,000, is considered one of the pioneers. However, suburbs and sprawling big boxes without transit service or pedestrian links to much of anything have fewer tools to choose from.

Still, Shoup’s optimism extends even to the typology that most revels in parking excess: the big box store. Convinced that urbanism can emerge in the backwash of sprawl, Shoup contends that if big boxes, malls and even strip malls were allowed to reduce their parking and replace excess spaces with something more useful, suburbanites might embark on the greatest land reclamation scheme this side of the Netherlands. He envisions apartment buildings and townhouses sprouting on the edges of malls parking lots and thereby creating nearly fully formed neighborhoods in place of vacant asphalt.

Plans “Politically Difficult”
Shoup’s reforms may not have such an easy time in other cities as they have in famously progressive San Francisco. The very notion of raising prices or restricting supply unnerves many stakeholders who are accustomed to the traditional rules.

“I think all cities should be considering it,” Cole said. “The trouble is that it’s not a political no-brainer, it’s an economic and environmental no-brainer. But it remains politically charged, which means that smart people need to enlist, need to help communities understand the disadvantages of the current mentality and the value to be gained from moving to a more rational model.”
In Washington, D.C., the opening of a 45,000-capacity baseball stadium in a dense urban neighborhood prompted City Councilman Tommy Wells to reconsider parking policies in his ward. In doing so, he had to contend with skeptical residents and downright angry bar patrons when he implemented new pricing strategies (along with other incentives for Nationals fans to use transit and bikes).

“Dealing with parking is incredibly politically difficult,” Wells said. “I used quite a bit of political capital to change the parking rules.”

And while Shoup contends that parking’s impact on the built environment and its historical mismanagement make it perhaps the most crucial element of future reforms, others are skeptical that attention to any single element of land use can make that much difference.
“I’m always suspicious of somebody who says there’s a revealed truth because in the area of land development, there really isn’t,” said Stuart Meck, lead author of the American Planning Association’s 2002 Growing Smart Legislative Guidebook, which Shoup criticizes for paying scant attention to parking.

Meck added that he and Shoup are on good terms but that, regardless of Shoup’s data analysis, “the use of particular land use controls is a political decision, and when you cut away [his] research, the decision to require parking and how much to charge for it are political decisions.”
Once made, however, those decisions need not require the expense of a single dime or the pouring of a single bucket of concrete. By relying on the invisible infrastructure of pricing and legal fiat, the Shoupistas hope to change cities by changing behavior, seeking efficient use of existing resources rather than trying to build new ones, and removing constraints.

Josh Stephens is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bicycling in NYC


NY Times recently published an article about bicycling in NYC.

Click here to read.

The article highlights the changes that have been adopted in NYC to accommodate bicyclists. The author offers great commentary and creates a timeline that looks at bicycling 30 years ago to present day bicyclists statistics. Even though he cites Streetsblog a lot, I'm curious if he just didn't call Bob Huddy.

The author also has four recommendations on how to increases bicycling and the relationship of the bicycle to the car and the pedestrian.

Enjoy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Denver: Affordable housing through TOD--- will it work?

City to buy real estate

Denver will spend $15 million over the next 10 years acquiring property near mass transit for affordable housing.
By Margaret Jackson
The Denver Post

Over the next 10 years, Denver will spend about $15 million buying properties near mass transit in an effort to preserve and create affordable housing.

With seed money from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation totaling $2.25 million, the city has been able to leverage additional private investment into the Denver Transit-Oriented Development Fund. The city is investing $2.5 million in the fund, with $2 million coming from franchise-fee revenues from Xcel Energy.

Denver is among 12 cities and states to receive $32.5 million in funding from the foundation.

Other investors in the fund include Enterprise Community Partners, Urban Land Conservancy, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Rose Community Foundation and the Mile High Community Loan Fund.

The Urban Land Conservancy is expected to be the sole borrower from the fund and will be responsible for property acquisition and establishing partnerships for redevelopment. Formed in 2003 by a loosely affiliated group of real-estate professionals, the organization's mission is to acquire land and buildings to be developed for community needs, such as affordable housing, early-childhood programs, senior care and charter schools.

The fund is expected to preserve and create up to 3,000 affordable housing units. The focus will be on rentals, but there will be some homes for sale.

"The gap between supply and demand for affordable housing is about 12 million units across the country," said Sister Lillian Murphy, chief executive of Mercy Housing. "The preservation work is absolutely critical, particularly when there's more and more pressure because of the foreclosure situation."

A primary goal of the Transit-Oriented Development Fund is to preserve and expand affordable housing within a half-mile of existing and new rail service and a quarter-mile of frequent bus routes. Denver working families who earn between $20,000 and $50,000 annually spend 59 percent of gross income on housing and transportation costs, according to a 2006 study by the Center for Housing Policy.

"Proximity to light rail and TOD is a crucial part of this," Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said.

Planners for FasTracks made sure the lines went to places with open pieces of land so high-density housing could be developed, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said.

Margaret Jackson: 303-954-1473 or mjackson@denverpost.com

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

DMV -- HELP!

Why does the DMV always have long lines?

Elimination of Parking Requirements

1 Comment

Long Beach’s State Senator Lowenthal Takes on Parking Requirements

3_2_09_lowenthal.jpgLast week, State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) introduced legislation that takes aim at how California's municipalities think about parking and parking requirements. What S.B. 518 is missing in co-sponsors it makes up for in chutzpah. If enacted, the legislation would require that every municipality in the state earn at least "20 points" in parking reforms. These reforms range from eliminating the city's parking requirement for development which is worth 20 points to requiring that employers offer transit passes en lieu of parking worth only 2 points.

Locally, this bill would have an amazing impact on transportation planning if it were to become law. All of a sudden the city would be forced to think of building transit-oriented development without having at least two car spaces for every residential unit or setting aside part of its parking fees for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

However, getting this legislation passed and signed is going to be a heavy lift. Despite the many positive impacts that parking reform would have for transportation network and environment by reducing V.M.T., there is bound to be a lot of pro-automobile forces pushing back against the legislation and so far there has been almost sign of a campaign promoting it. As a matter of fact, the only place I found this legislation mentioned was Infosnack, a blog originating out of Washington, D.C. In other words, seeing this legislation passed into law may be a heavy lift; but then most things worth doing are.

For a full list of all the ways a municipality can earn points, read on after the jump.

MEASURE                                  |POINTS |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|PARKING REQUIREMENTS AND ZONING | |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Eliminate minimum parking requirements | |
|citywide or within the unincorporated | |
|county. |20 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Reduce average minimum parking | |
|requirements for all general office, | |
|general retail, general commercial, and | |
|similar development citywide or within | |
|the unincorporated county to: | |
|Less than 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet |2 |
|Less than 2 spaces per 1,000 square feet |5 |
|Less than 1 space per 1,000 square feet |10 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Eliminate minimum parking requirements | |
|for projects in transit intensive areas. |10 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish maximum parking restrictions | |
|for all general office, general retail, | |
|general commercial, and similar | |
|development at or below the following: | |
|3 spaces per 1,000 square feet |10 |
|2 spaces per 1,000 square feet |15 |
|1 space per 1,000 square feet |20 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish commercial parking maximums of | |
|2 or fewer spaces per 1,000 sq. feet | |
|citywide or within the unincorporated | |
|county. |10 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish commercial parking maximums of | |
|2 or fewer spaces per 1,000 sq. feet in | |
|transit intensive areas. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish residential parking maximums | |
|of 1 or fewer spaces per unit in transit | |
|intensive areas. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish design controls requiring | |
|parking to be underground or ""wrapped'' | |
|in active uses on building frontages | |
|facing public streets. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Remove restrictions against residential | |
|tandem parking, including eliminating | |
|requirements that parking must be | |
|independently accessible to count toward | |
|minimum residential parking requirement, | |
|if any. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Remove restrictions against mechanized | |
|and mechanical ""lift'' parking, | |
|including counting mechanized spaces | |
|toward minimum requirement, if any. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish a shared parking ordinance and | |
|requirements for interconnection of | |
|parking in all commercial areas. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Remove or increase allowable density | |
|limits and floor area ratios (FAR), | |
|allowing infill development on existing | |
|parking lots. |10 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION DEMAND | |
|MANAGEMENT | |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to require that any | |
|lease for a residential dwelling unit | |
|within a housing development of five or | |
|more units, if a parking space or spaces | |
|are provided in connection with the | |
|lease, include a separate unbundled | |
|charge for the parking space or spaces | |
|that reflects the full cost of the | |
|parking space or spaces but is not less | |
|than the number of parking spaces | |
|multiplied by the cost of a monthly | |
|transit pass within the city, county, or | |
|city and county and that the lessee may | |
|opt out of the parking charge by | |
|foregoing use of the parking space or | |
|spaces. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to require that any | |
|lease for commercial space in a complex | |
|of five or more commercial tenants | |
|include a separate unbundled charge for | |
|the parking space or spaces that | |
|reflects the full cost of the parking | |
|space or spaces but is not less than | |
|the number of parking spaces multiplied | |
|by the cost of a monthly transit pass | |
|within the city, county, or city and | |
|county and that the lessee may opt out | |
|of the parking charge by foregoing use | |
|of the parking space or spaces. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to require that any | |
|new employment contract under which the | |
|employer provides a parking space within | |
|the city, county, or city and county | |
|include a nonreimbursable charge to the | |
|employee that reflects the full cost of | |
|the parking space but is not less than | |
|the cost of a monthly transit pass | |
|within the city, county, or city and | |
|county and that the employee may opt out | |
|of by foregoing use of the parking space.|5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to require employers | |
|to offer transit passes to all | |
|employees, including full time, part | |
|time, and seasonal employees, on a | |
|pretax basis and certify | |
|compliance upon application for a new or | |
|renewal business license. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|PARKING MANAGEMENT | |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to set on-street | |
|parking meter and public parking lot and | |
|garage rates to achieve an 85% target | |
|occupancy rate during hours when | |
|adjacent businesses are open or employ | |
|demand-responsive rates that vary | |
|throughout the day to achieve an 85% | |
|target occupancy rate. |10 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish a Parking Benefit District, | |
|whereby all or a portion of new public | |
|parking revenues are directed toward | |
|improvements within the district where | |
|the revenue was raised. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Establish a Residential Parking Benefit | |
|District, whereby a limited number of | |
|commuters may pay to park in an | |
|otherwise restricted Residential Parking | |
|Permit area, with the net revenue | |
|directed toward improvements within the | |
|district where the revenue was raised. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Install parking meters in areas with | |
|parking occupancy rates of greater than | |
|85% and establish meter rates such that | |
|parking availability improves to 85% or | |
|better. |2 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|PARKING REVENUE | |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt an ordinance to direct at least | |
|50% of net public parking revenues to | |
|programs that reduce parking demand, | |
|including, but not limited to, public | |
|transit, transportation demand | |
|management, or bicycle and pedestrian | |
|infrastructure and promotion. |3 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt a parking sales tax or use fee | |
|upon parkers, with at least 85% of | |
|resulting net revenue directed at | |
|programs that reduce parking demand, | |
|including, but not limited to, public | |
|transit, transportation demand | |
|management, or bicycle and pedestrian | |
|infrastructure and promotion. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+
|Adopt a parking impact fee or property | |
|assessment on parking owners, with at | |
|least 85% of resulting net revenue | |
|directed at programs that reduce parking | |
|demand, including, but not limited to, | |
|public transit, transportation demand | |
|management, or bicycle and pedestrian | |
|infrastructure and promotion. |5 |
+-----------------------------------------+-------+

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Forbes: America's Most Congested Cities and Worst Intersections


Forbes released their annual most congested cities and worst intersections list today.

Intersections
Most Congested Cities

Of the top five most congested cities, in order are; LA, NYC, Chicago, Dallas, DC.

The study found that the worst hour to drive in was 5pm on Thursday for LA and 5pm Friday on Friday for NYC. The report also discusses trends about how congestion has fallen for all cities compared to the 2008 results and that a slower economy could lead to a faster commute. Keep in mind, that is not an appropriate TDM tool.

Notably some cities TDM tools have worked, Atlanta, reduced congestion by 36% with suburban park and ride initiatives funded by federal dollars.

As for intersections, the Hollywood Freeway has 11 of the top 100 worst interchanges.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Modern Parkway: Carmel, Indiana

This post showcases a modern approach to the precursor of the modern freeway: the grade-separated parkway. In Carmel, IN, Keystone Ave. (formerly IN-431) runs just east of the Civic Center, between US-31 to the north, and I-465 to the south. A 4-lane facility, with at-grade intersections with the primary cross-streets, Keystone Avenue needs congestion relief, and dissatisfied with INDOT's solution of adding another lane to each directional flow, Mayor Jim Brainard decided to revive the old form of the urban parkway, a grade-separated road with emphases on context-sensitivity, nature, and safety. Unlike the Arroyo Seco Parkway, or the original parkways back East, Carmel is implementing roundabout interchanges so as to minimize the footprint of the grade-separations. The following link takes you to the project website, where you can find pictures, videos, renderings, and other information about this endeavor that is unique in the United States, but borrows from concepts present in Europe:

Project CarmelLink


My Thoughts

The Good:
  • Attention to detail, particularly with regards to aesthetics.
  • Grade-separation at key intersections.
  • Parkway depression instead of elevation transforms a series of auto-oriented, pedestrian-unfriendly intersections into potential linkages connecting eastern Carmel to the central core.
  • Use of compact, dual "teardrop" roundabouts instead of traditional diamond interchanges or expensive SPUIs.
  • Because of limited depression, on- and off-ramps are shorter, so closeness of interchanges should not be an issue (~ between 1.1 and .4 miles apart)
  • Bicycle-friendly
  • Planned hardscape improvements
The Bad:

  • Currently planned 40mph speed limit is a 10mph reduction over current configuration, and bears no correlation to design speeds; blatant revenue-generator.
  • Raised curb median is not appropriate for the intuited driving speeds.
  • Horizontal cross-section may be insufficient to widen in the future with adequate shoulder space.
The Unknown:

  • Would raised planters with landscaping surrounded by Jersey barriers (Caltrans: K-rails) improve crashworthiness?
  • Will adequate advanced signage of turning movements at roundabout interchanges be installed?
  • What about 131st St./Main St.? How will this interchange interact with the interchanges at 126th and 136th Streets? Will proximity be an issue?
  • Will "weave lanes" be striped between interchanges?
  • What about metering?

Despite these questions and criticisms, I rate this project very highly. The vision is far greater than anything any other cities in Indiana attempt to create, and the potential for this to be regarded as Mayor Brainard's legacy is high; Carmel just won the bid to host the 2011 National Roundabout Conference and has more roundabouts inside the city limits than anywhere else in the United States (40+ built, ~80 in total planned), and all were implemented by Mayor Brainard.


What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Metrolink To Stop Offering Metro Rail Transfers

Metrolink-to-MTA transfer policy set to change

3:49 PM | February 13, 2009

Metrolink customers who transfer to MTA buses and trains in Los Angeles County should brace for some bad news for their wallets: The days of free transfers will likely end next year.

The issue was discussed at today's special meeting of the Metrolink Board of Directors in downtown Los Angeles. The board was set to make a decision about the transfers at its regular meeting on Feb. 27, but that has been postponed.

The issue is coming to a head because of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's decision last February to install gates and turnstiles at many of its rail stations to reduce the number of passengers who ride without buying tickets. The problem for Metrolink customers is that the paper tickets Metrolink uses won't work in the turnstiles the MTA is installing.

So the onus is on Metrolink to do something. After reviewing the available technology, Metrolink staff told board members that one possible solution is to require customers to also buy a TAP card -- the electronic fare cards that the MTA is trying to adopt. Metrolink would provide the TAP card at a discount: $20 to $30 for an MTA monthly pass, which currently sells for $62.

To put it in more blunt terms, Metrolink passengers who now transfer for free would have to carry two tickets and pay $240 to $360 extra annually to transfer to MTA buses or trains. Metrolink says this would be an increase of about 11% in total cost for their average customers.

As part of the switch, Metrolink also plans to end free transfers for people traveling with one-way or round-trip tickets. Between the moves, Metrolink expects to lose about 725 passengers a day who don't want to pay the higher fares. The trains currently carry about 46,000 passengers on the average weekday.

The obvious problem here is that the two agencies have incompatible ticketing systems. That leads to the obvious question: Why not have Metrolink and MTA adopt the same ticketing system?

Not so fast. Metrolink also runs in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, and transit agencies in each of those counties have their own ticketing systems.

"We have four other counties that would have to adopt the TAP system," said Francisco Oaxaca, a spokesman for Metrolink. "We're the one that has to come up with a way to work across all five counties. The other counties are going to follow their own paths toward some sort of smart-card technology similar to TAP, but they're all on different time frames and have different needs."

At this point, the only potential out for Metrolink customers is if the MTA decides to chip in some money to further discount TAP cards for them. The chance of that happening? Probably not very good, based on past fiscal policies.

-- Steve Hymon

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/02/metrolink-trans.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Smart Transportation


The Wallstreet Journal released an article detailing how new "smart" infrastructure can reduce congestion and help America build for the future.

Article can be viewed here

The article discusses smart transportation and cites how CalTrans has been reviewing car travel speeds in the Bay Area to predict when traffic jams will occur, before they occur. Regardless, there is a large demand for more data in order to create the necessary models that will estimate arrival times. Singapore currently uses IBM technology to predict congestion blocks up to 45 minutes before they happen.

It also discusses the use of smart bridges, which can have sensors detect stress points in a bridge during high traffic times. This will allow for better maintence, and reduce incidents like the Minnesota bridge collapse.

The article also discusses the smart grid and smarter water systems.

A good article to read for anyone working in the city.