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About this blog: I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to the area in 1963 when I started graduate school at Stanford. Nancy and I were married in 1977 and we lived for nearly 30 years in the Duveneck school area. Our children went to Paly. We moved ...  (More)

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Regional Growth Plans Explained

Uploaded: Aug 9, 2013
Last month the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) adopted Plan Bay Area, an integrated land use and transportation strategy for the Bay Area through 2040. At the same time ABAG adopted the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) that sets planning targets for housing in each community through 2022.

For nearly 40 years regional growth plans have been required by the federal government to guide federal transportation funding that totals in the $billions each decade. Plan Bay Area provides an overview of the amount and location of job and housing growth over the coming 25 to 30 years--information that is helpful in designing transportation investment plans for efficiently moving people and goods within the region.

These regional growth plans are based on anticipated growth in jobs, population and housing and on where these jobs and housing are expected to be located within the region. The location of growth within the region is based on local plans, on staff analyses of current and expected trends and input from ABAG committees made up of local elected officials. Greg Scharff, Palo Alto's current mayor, is a member of the ABAG Executive Committee, which includes mayors, council members and county supervisors. Both the regional growth projections and plans are updated every four years to take account of changes in the growth outlook for the region.

With the passage of SB 375 additional goals were added to the long-term regional planning process—goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and locate housing within the region to match expected job growth.

Most public discussion in Palo Alto and around the state is about the RHNA housing planning targets. The housing planning targets are required by state law and now are updated every eight years. A regional target is approved by the state and ABAG committees work out the local distribution. Since cities do not build housing these targets are for planning and zoning purposes. If no private citizen or private or non-profit developer wants to build more housing in Palo Alto, it will not happen. Cities do not force private developers to build homes.

The RHNA housing targets are for all kinds of housing but the most contentious part of the RHNA process are the targets for low and moderate income housing, much of which is done in below-market-rate (BMR) projects that include a subsidy to help residents pay for housing. The ABAG committees have adopted a "fair-share" concept for these housing targets so all cities are expected to plan for some low and moderate income housing.

What is the relationship between Plan Bay Area and the RHNA? In theory the RHNA regional housing targets are based on regional job and related housing projections. This is how it will work in the future. But for this round and the current Palo Alto housing allocations, there was no connection. The RHNA was completed before Plan Bay Area regional growth projections were known. Both the state and ABAG agree that if the RHNA had been based on Plan Bay Area, the regional housing targets would be higher than under the adopted RHNA.

Is everyone expected to live and work in the same community? The answer is no. But there is a policy goal of shortening commutes through land use and transportation policies. One part of Plan Bay Area is the identification of "priority development areas" (PDAs) where housing and job centers are relatively near transportation corridors such as freeways, CalTrain or BART. In the Fremont to San Jose area now cities and developers are exploring options for housing and jobs near the new BART stations.

In assessing these land use, housing and transportation plans, it is important to remember that no one is forced to live in a specific place and housing and job developments are subject to review and approval by cities. Moreover, people are free to live outside the region in places like Tracy, Salinas or Davis and commute in to jobs in the region.

Would it make any difference in Plan Bay Area if greenhouse gas emissions magically disappeared? Probably not. One result would be that the region would be even more attractive as a place to live and work and growth would probably increase. But the trend toward locating jobs, housing and transportation to reduce the time and expense of travel is desired by residents and businesses apart from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and these plans would proceed because they meet the needs of residents and businesses.

For the current Pan Bay Area and RHNA, residents concerned about the impacts of housing and job growth have argued that the regional growth projections are too high. I produced the regional projections and have told ABAG that if new projections were done this year, they would be higher than those in Plan Bay Area. Job growth has surged in the past two years (averaging close to 100,000 jobs per year) and residents can see new plans for housing and job growth in our city, in our subregion and around the region even as demand pushes prices higher. Immigration reform proposals will increase the expected growth in the state and region. Last year Santa Clara County had the highest population growth rate among counties in California. This growth is the result of voluntary private decisions to live and work in the region. Plan Bay Area is an attempt to plan for this anticipated growth in a way that supports economic prosperity and provides a range of housing, job location and transportation options to minimize the potential negative impacts of the coming growth on our lives.

Comments

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of ,
on Aug 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm

>The RHNA housing targets are for all kinds of housing but the most contentious part of the RHNA process are the targets for low and moderate income housing, much of which is done in below-market-rate (BMR) projects that include a subsidy to help residents pay for housing. The ABAG committees have adopted a "fair-share" concept for these housing targets so all cities are expected to plan for some low and moderate income housing.

Stephen, can you please identify the database that shows how such
BMR/low cost housing provides for essential jobs in Palo Alto?

>Greg Scharff, Palo Alto's current mayor, is a member of the ABAG Executive Committee

I thought Greg Scharff voted against final approval. Am I wrong?


Posted by Agenda21, a resident of ,
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

<"In assessing these land use, housing and transportation plans, it is important to remember that no one is forced to live in a specific place and housing and job developments are subject to review and approval by cities. Moreover, people are free to live outside the region in places like Tracy, Salinas or Davis and commute in to jobs in the region.">

Whew, it's comforting to know that ABAG and Plan Bay Area haven't yet made any rules restricting one's FREEDOM to live wherever they choose, even if that might not be along a transit hub or packed like sardines into a high-density apartment block. Why, I think people might still be FREE to drive their vehicles, too.

Welcome to Agenda 21 folks.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of ,
on Aug 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I DON'T get it. My thoughts are more general in nature.
What I can see is this is a growing bureaucracy filled with all sorts of complex goals and directives, hard to understand yet costing and affecting the typical resident, that may or may not make any sense. What really is the benefit other than the growth of power of a middle layer of government bureaucrats and certain special interests over the entire public in the region? There seems to be unpleasant examples of "stack and pack" housing being forced on various neighborhoods/cities, and I doubt the majority will wish to live in such places. Yes, I know population is rising here, however look at PAUSD, if you look over a period of years, their paid consultants who analyze and predict numbers of schoolchildren having got it wrong numerous times, leading to closing/leasing/or sales of school properties, decisions that have been much regretted later. This is just a quick example of why I am slightly skeptical of projections of ABAG and etc. IF they lead to bigtime directives to our cities OR having certain funds cut off. I'm not convinced they know what is necessary (in terms of housing, transit, jobs), though of course it is good to examine this, I think some drastic directives have a tyrannical feel to them.
We don't need a nanny state. We have enough laws. The free market works well within the context of these laws, changing needs (the population, work patterns, whatever). I do agree discussion about regional transportation and other regional issues makes sense.
But then I hesitate, when I see how Obama and Brown have insisted on the horrendously costly, massive so-called "high-speed rail" project for California that seems like make-work for a constituency of union member voters but proven after thoughtful analysis to NOT be in the interests not for the utility of most mainstream California residents, yet the taxpayers here are now on the hook for this mess! Many are challenging the ridership projections, objecting to the route; there seem to be numerous objections with merit YET it is happening regardless.
I DON'T trust a regional board of isolated government bureaucrats to "know what's best for us."
We already have things like zoning, and there ARE differences in municipalities, so this area is not like greater Houston, for example, which I understand is pretty free-wheeling in the regard of development. But I don't particularly agree with a mishmash of numbers, targets, goals, financial incentives WITHOUT thoughtful local input permitted nor reasonable context, as it appears.


Posted by member, a resident of ,
on Aug 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I believe that the planning on a regional basis is in error. On a state level Gov. Brown is working to move more water south. The theory that you will add more people to the bay area when state water will be sent south makes no sense. Reports on the reservoirs in the area report very low water levels. We have already had substantial building in the bay area and more is on the books. I think we need to stop where we are, complete existing, building projects, then evaluate how we are going to support that infrastructure which includes water, sewage, rubbish removal, etc. If you would complete the BART Project from San Mateo through Santa Clara to connect with San Jose Bart then the bay area will have completed the transportation plan. If you keep proceeding on this effort then include the state plan for water distribution, as well as the planned infrastructure need to support the population. The population should be following the available water. The high speed rail is starting in the central valley - the high speed rail should be consistent with the water plan so we are putting people where the resources are.
There is a law suit in process on water for fish - water originating in Oregon which is going to hinder central valley agriculture. All of these pieces that need to connect don't.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:22 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Craig

Did you read the part of the blog where it says people are not expected to live and work in the same community? this applies generally but also to subsidized housing.

Both sides of the debate about subsidized housing misuse the argument. Proponents often argue that such housing will reduce commutes for people such as firefighters, EMTs or teachers. It will do so in the broad regional sense but it is fine for people who work in PA to live in Burlingame or Fremont or even further away.

Opponents like to say show me where PA workers live in PA subsidized housing but it is a diversion thrown up to cloud the issue.

Subsidized housing in terms of planning is spread around the region as I said in a fair share allocation to 1) promote diversity and 2) not crowd low-income housing into only select cities.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

And yes I believe Mayor Scharff voted against the Plan Bay Area at the final meeting.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:35 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Agenda 21 Anonymous

Nice try but it is the objectors to Plan Bay Area or the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (a separate program) who wish to restrict freedom of choice.

People are choosing to live in smaller (but mostly not small) multi-story developments. No one is forcing them. Such developments in PA and in Silicon Valley are commanding high prices and rents from strong demand. More than half of new housing is multi-story.

Sardine and "stack and pack" are put downs to people choosing what is best for their situation.

Moreover, where I live the condos are 1,500-2,000 square feet and selling for more than $ 1 million. And probably as many as could be built would be snapped up immediately. The units in our building are selling in under two weeks.

Why do you choose to put down and try and control the type of housing other people want to live in?

You also have the "telling people what to do" argument mostly backward. Yes there are RHNA planning targets for cities to plan for housing should developers or individuals want to build it.

But in this debate I am on the side of freedom of choice and you are the ones who want to restrict other people for your interests not theirs. it is you who do not trust people to make their own best decisions.


Posted by member, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:42 am

The San Francisco Chronicle is not shy about discussion of the total ABAG effect. The Central Transit center proposed for San Francisco is already being reduced due to budget shortfalls and will not meet its intended goals. As to the style of the facility it looks like a lot of work to keep it clean -who thinks up this type of development? The High Speed rail is starting in a point of low population. Why not start it in Sacramento and follow the capital corridor into the bay area? The California legislature is mapping it into a zone that does not directly impact them. The article today on the BART strike says it all - we will be held hostage by the transportation kingdom. It is time to move more population down into the central California area towards LA. It does not have to all end up here.
We need a comprehensive plan for California - not a regional plan that eliminates discussion of the obvious shortfalls.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

@member

Planning on a regional basis is a good idea and not in error.

Most opponents are mesmerized by what they think are the housing implications of Plan Bay Area. So I will repeat two points for posters who did not bother to read the blog.

First this type of planning is a mandatory requirement for $billions of federal transportation funding. The original and main motivation o regional planning is to provide the best possible (none of us have perfect foresight) information base for these costly and important transportation investments.

Second the Plan Bay Area with its focus to 2040 does not provide actionable housing planning targets for cities. These come from the RHNA (current target horizon 2022). In this round the RHNA targets were not based on the Plan Bay Area growth forecast and would have been higher if they were--this from the testimony of the man who oversees the regional housing targets for the state.

Yes, it is true that water planning has a statewide element but for most things--transportation, economy, air quality--regions are the right geography for planning.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 12:02 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ member

I hear two themes from your posts.

One, it would be nice if fewer people would want to live in the Bay Area and you have all sorts of reasons why that should make sense (to them).

And two, you seem to think that the state should tell people where to live--including "not here".

I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding of what regional planning is about.

The purpose is to anticipate what private individuals and businesses will want to do and get ahead of the curve by planning to support their individual free decisions.

The fact is that people and businesses want to locate in the Bay Area so planning for their transportation, school and other needs seems to me like a good idea.

If people and businesses wanted to move to the Central Valley, their regional planning should anticipate and plan for that. But it is not a choice many businesses are making and much Central Valley residential growth supports commuters into coastal regions. Moreover the CV has high water and energy consumption relative to coastal living so it would be an unlikely choice even if the state were in the business or had the tools to force people to live somewhere.

Think "anticipate and plan for the growth" not "tell people where to live" when you consider regional planning.


Posted by member, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 2:41 pm

The whole scheme is beginning to look like a Bernie Madoff knock-off. The whole process is the "carrot" in the form of future funding for transportation needs. Reality is that there are currently projects in process suffering from a short-fall of funding - note here the transportation center in SF. The current projects in process need to be completed in a successful manner before new projects are started - prove that the management skills exist to follow-through current projects within financial projections.

The fact that the high-speed rail is starting in a low population point in the central valley disqualifies your comments on that point. Why start the high speed rail in the central valley unless it has been determined there is a need? I do not think there is a compelling need - I think it will fail and no one wants it in the Sacramento area as a reminder of a failed project.

The Central Valley is not the only location in CA as a topic of discussion - the whole coastal region going south to Ventura is a very attractive area for new housing in process, as well as location of large corporation re-locations to newer and cheaper housing for their workers. Also area moving east to Sacramento has a lot of new growth and industry re-locations for newer and cheaper housing for their workers. Many state functions are moving out of SF to these locations so that the younger workers can have affordable housing.

The Rancho Cordova area is growing and very attractive. Many large corporations are moving their computer facilities out of the bay area to one that is not as risk related as to earthquakes. That is a fact.


Posted by Parent, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

[Portion removed.]

So the housing targets are built against the will of the citizens of a community - your excuse for this being that if no one wants to build there then 'don't worry' nothing will get built. But in fact we know that there are plenty of builders that want to rake in on palo alto real estate prices, so come one- come all to feed at the trough created by the forced development mandates.

But don't worry you say - no one is forced to live there that doesn't want to live there - but of course the point is that we know people will pretty much pay any price for any piece of ticky tacky crappy high rise housing, if located in palo alto, parking space or no parking space, windows or no windows, train noise or not. So of course builders clearly are aware that anything built - they will come. And so housing mandates forced in ENSURES unlimited money to be made by developers, all housing mandated will be built period.

Oh, and you say, no one who doesn't want to LIVE in ticky tacky dense high rises, with no yards, overcrowded streets, overcrowded schools, overcrowded parks and public spaces - they don't have to - "its all voluntary". WRONG, its NOT all voluntary - what's not voluntary is the REST of the community that does not want the overcrowding of their parks, their schools, their roads - yet the vast majority of the town residents are INVOLUNTARILY forced to have their suburban neighborhoods transformed in to this ugly undesirable environment.

And oh by the way heres the way it works - the more federal transportation funding you recieve = the more transportation amenities you build = the more housing you are mandated to have = the more big developer profits to be raked in = the more transportation funding you have = more dense development = what a convenient circular pathway to developer profiteering.

Ok, so what I'm hearing is, here's how we break the chain of forced overdevelopment: 1) Choose to maintain our community as a suburban low rise residential community with walkable/bikeable streets, smaller schools, enough park space, etc. 2) refuse to zone according to the ABAG/RHNA forced-march housing mandates 3)fail to receive federal transportation funding 4)no longer fund massive transportation improvements with federal dollars 5)empower ourselves to choose to maintain our community as a suburban low rise residential community with walkable/bikeable streets, smaller schools, enough park space, etc.

There are in fact plenty of nearby bay area communities that have embraced the dense housing format SO LET THEM GO AT IT! IF THIS IS SUCH A DESIRABLE LIVING FORMAT, THEN BUYERS SHOULD BE FLOCKING THERE - THERE SHOULD BE NO SHORTAGE OF BUYERS AND NO SHORTAGE OF NEW BUILDING THERE, IF THIS IS SUCH A WONDERFUL WAY TO LIVE. SF and downtown SJ and even Mt. View come to mind - particularly SJ because lo and behold its so big, that one can escape from the density impacts in downtown , to low rise residential neighborhoods easily , its feasible to maintain separation while keeping both types of neighborhoods - which is NOT the case in Palo Alto where traffic jams and on Alma and overcrowded schools effect the whole town from Charleston to San Antonio and all cross streets in between. (By the way, last time I went to Christmas in the Park in SJ, the streets outside that little event area were like a ghost town - where ARE all these comers for the wonderful dense housing environment in San Jose????


Posted by Parent, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Web Link

If downtown dense living was so desirable, this place would be flooded with residents, and the store fronts would be like gold. Why is it so hard for downtown san jose to attract stores to their downtown ghost town?

There's no reason to be forcing overcrowding in to Palo Alto for some totally made up, faked up 'greater good' argument, when people actually don't want to live in dense housing for the sake of the great good. The REAL reason for the ABAG/RHNA mandate mechanism is that real estate speculators and developers found a way to force their way in and cash in, on Palo Alto real estate market, and there is no shortage of people willing to lower their comfort in order to get in to Palo Alto. [Portion removed.]

If we had REAL environmental greater good concerns at work, we'd have a lot of laws and incentives in place that were targeted at revitalizing (recycling) these already densified areas we already have committed to in the area.


Posted by member, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Hi All - go to the top story in Forum on CHRA Land Grab. It is directly related to the High Speed Rail and ability to get land in excess of that needed - giving control of the excess of land to people yet to be identified. So the choice of Central Valley has an intent and design which further complicates this story. The attempt to "regionalize" is to disconnect the pieces of this puzzle. Time to dig in on this issue and sort out who is doing what. Just like the magician your eye is fixed in one place while the trick is taking place somewhere else.


Posted by Robert, a resident of ,
on Aug 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

@stephen levy

Don't even try, there is no point trying to engage these people. They have a "I was here first, screw the rest of you" attitude, and couldn't care less about anyone born after 1980. I've run into the same thing where retirees are hellbent on preventing any new offices from being built, its quite sick.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ parent

Please explain to readers why these two statements of your are not contradictory?

But don't worry you say - no one is forced to live there that doesn't want to live there - but of course the point is that we know people will pretty much pay any price for any piece of ticky tacky crappy high rise housing, if located in palo alto, parking space or no parking space, windows or no windows, train noise or not. So of course builders clearly are aware that anything built - they will come.

From your post above

There's no reason to be forcing overcrowding in to Palo Alto for some totally made up, faked up 'greater good' argument, when people actually don't want to live in dense housing for the sake of the great good.

First you say (with great put down to those individuals) that numerous idiots are clamoring to live in terrible conditions in Palo Alto (for which they pay $1 million and up).

Then you say the whole thing is "forced overcrowding" which is stupid because no one wants to live like that in PA.

Then you contradict "forced" overcrowding by saying developers are more than happy meet the legitimate market preferences of buyers.

And posters continue to pose some weird conspiracy between the elected officials who vote on the ABAG plans (everyone who votes is a local elected official) and developers who are often as not characterized as "greedy".

Why do you think most elected officials support Plan Bay Area and why are developers greedy for meeting a market need?

do you think auto companies are greedy for meeting market preferences of car buyers?

Do you think we should prevent tobacco companies from selling to consumers because the product is bad for their health?

It sure sounds like a lot of made up hot air to disguise that you just don't want any more people or businesses in PA. You would rather they go elsewhere--kind of the essence of "not in my backyard".


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of ,
on Aug 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Remember the basics of the Plan Bay Area (growth planning to 2040) and RHNA (housing planning targets to 2022).

Plan Bay Area is mandated as a foundation for long-term regional transportation investment planning and to be certified for federal funding that is an important part of these investments.

The purpose is to anticipate the growth so as to better plan for its impacts. In this planning there is a vision supported by recent trends and local plans that focusing future development around downtowns and transportation access centers (including by car) is what the future will bring.

The RHNA allocates housing planning targets to communities for the short term.

I understand that residents in many communities would rather that the region would not grow or at least not in their communities.

What I don't understand is why any poster would be against trying to anticipate where people and businesses will want to locate in the future so the infrastructure is there and we remain eligible for federal funding that runs into the $billions and has nothing to do with the current high speed rail construction in the Central Valley, which by the way I am not a fan of as currently planned.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of ,
on Aug 11, 2013 at 3:39 pm

>Subsidized housing in terms of planning is spread around the region as I said in a fair share allocation to 1) promote diversity and 2) not crowd low-income housing into only select cities.

Really? Where is it spread into West Atherton and Portola Valley? Is it spread into Crescent Park; Embarcadero/Leland? All of these towns/neighborhoods hire a lot of low cost help to do their gardening and nanny their kids and clean and remodel their homes...where is the low cost housing in their neighborhood, in order to increase the diversity? Hint: I wouldn't hold my breath, if I were you, Stephen...your social engineering model will not work with the elites, and it will be resisted by the non-elites, like myself.

Above all, Stephen, where is the database that tracks all this stuff? You are a data guy, big time, so you must be demanding it, right?


Posted by Joe, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

> First this type of planning is a mandatory requirement
> for $billions of federal transportation funding.

Discussion of the so-called Bay Area Master Plan has hardly been adequate, relative to the scope in terms of impact on our communities, and the time frame involved. What's amazing is that Steve Levy is now revealing that the main reason is to facilitate greater federal control of our cities, and our lives. How many local politicians—who voted on this plan—actually understood that, or were willing to explain that to the residents of the towns that elected them into office?


> Yes, it is true that water planning has a statewide element
> but for most things--transportation, economy, air quality—
> regions are the right geography for planning.

There is some truth to this, but the premise that regional planning is all that we need to worry about seems overly simplistic. It's pretty clear that the HSR is not regional. And certainly the Federal Government is not generally known for regional planning either.

California has much of its land space engaged in agriculture—in both the northern and southern parts of the state. Should we call all of this area an agricultural region, or should we recognize that the farming lands surrounding each of the urban centers should be included with those cities? And then there are energy needs. Most urban centers have no means for producing the energy they consume. Hard to make cities work without energy.

> You are a data guy, big time,

There is little evidence in any of Steven Levy's posting that he uses big data. If he did, he'd be inclined to talk about his models a bit more than he does. That said, its not really clear how much data is needed to make the projections that are alluded to in this topic. Population growth, per year—one number per year. Current population size—one number per city. Population density per city—one number per city.

Of course, if someone wanted to do a better job, that person could use data that described the cities, and counties, in far greater detail. At the moment, ABAG has not exactly revealed its methods, or made its data available to the public.



If Steven Levy is correct—it's hard not to see this so-called plan not to be much more than a sell-out to the Federal government.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I think bay area planning is needed, yes people will chose to live in the Central Valley. Lets say Modesto and work in Santa Clara. Ok that is fine but how on earth are we going to jam more people on a out dated highway system with BART, ferries and a piecemeal bus system.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 12:42 pm

>but how on earth are we going to jam more people on a out dated highway system with

Expand and improve BART to Modesto, Salinas, Manteca/Tracy.

Create high tech centers of essential needs (e.g. data centers, prototypes progressions (even manufacturing with new tech methods, like 3D printers)in the same cities.

The SF Bay Area should not be seen as everything to everybody. Palo Alto should be a research/academic/financial/legal center, because it is next to Stanford...it should never become a low cost housing target. Stephen Levy is off his gourd on his regional command system.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Today, Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, will unveil his "Hyperloop" concept--which is another modality of mass/high-speed transportation (see pictures in link: Web Link)

"Car sized passenger capsules travel in 1.5m (5′) diameter tubes on frictionless maglev. Air is permanently removed from the two-way tubes that are built along a travel route. Airlocks at stations allow transfer of capsules without admitting air. Linear electric motors accelerate the capsules, which then coast through the vacuum for the remainder of the trip using no additional power. Most of the energy is regenerated as the capsules slow down. ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh than electric cars or trains."
----
While this transportation system might be a better solution than the current HSR (if it is technologically feasible), it's possible to conceive of this sort of system connecting suburban complexes at/beyond a 60 mile radius. With a supposed 30 minute travel time from LA, presumably people could live anywhere along the line, not just cramed into the current 6-County BayArea.

And then there is the still untapped domain of data communications-which can provide people the option of working at home, anywhere in the world.


Posted by member, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Whatever age anyone here is you have to deal with facts. Book Nature's Fortune by Mark Tercek, CEO of the Nature Conservancy (TCN) describes the history of the California Water System, as well as the New York Water System, and other water systems both in US and world. The facts are that you can develop only up to a maximum point of available resources. Chronicle today "Water for Fish" pits fish against Central Valley Farmers. California is maxing out the available water. San Diego is in going dry. And when fires, floods or droughts happen then all bets are off. You can not put more people into small areas unless you have the resources to handle it. I was down in Burbank recently and noted that most of our local tech companies had divisions in that area. They are not single sourcing all of their eggs in one basket. It is time to re-allocate this so-called massive population to other states that have a different set of resources (rivers and lakes) to work with. The Business Section of the SF Chronicle describes new technology that is tracking the available water supply throughout the state. The facts need to drive future planning. This huge amount of funding is not believable - if so fix up the new transportation center in SF. It is like a Ponzi scheme - not believable. Get some new engines for Cal Trans - first they were crying because not enough riders, now crying because too many riders. And Cal Trans will not even go into the new transbay transportation center - not enough money. Reality does not match the "great plan". Further the BART problem - that says it all. The current situation has many flaws that are now apparent.


Posted by Respectfully requesting respect, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Steven Levy: would you be willing to be more respectful of those whose views differ from your own? A little understanding and gentleness would be helpful in persuasion.

Let me give it a try. Here we are in California where--maybe you'd admit-- the climate is lovely. Yet, we see massed buildings that encroach on traditional setback and height limit rules, which have no outside accommodations for human beings to enjoy that climate in a private space. Developers have been enabled by the state of CA to circumvent traditional zoning regulations and build these out-of-character developments in exchange for higher density. You may say "people choose to live there" but developers know by experience, as you do from the nearby condos selling for $1 million, and as every real estate agent can attest, that it's the good schools (along with ABAG) that drive the high density development in Palo Alto. I'd imagine that if residents were shown developments that were less massive, more hospitable to foot traffic, and actually produced the (as yet undefined) "Public Benefit," that this high density would be less of a contentious issue. Beauty and community (which may not be measurable values in your view, but nonetheless affect the happiness of human beings) do not seem to be values that are in the minds of those maximizing profits from the "value of the land." How is the degradation of beauty and community to be accounted for?

And. The attitude you are espousing-- that the federal dollars for transportation are the driving force--does not resonate with me or others, it seems. I've lived in this community for nearly 1/4 century, and the transportation changes that were needed for all these years, which have been discussed in countless meetings, have yet to materialize. In the last quarter century, what we have experienced is more jobs, more wealth, more traffic, and more density. We residents experience the costs, but not the benefits of higher density. (I'm sure you'd agree that our real estate values have skyrocketed, and --as I've frequently been told--that property owners can all cash in and move elsewhere if we don't like what you are mandating, and that THAT is our benefit that we all can enjoy!) But what if we actually feel we belong here, that we LIVE here, and that the effects of density are worsening everyone's quality of life? And, are you asking us to believe that AFTER we get so dense that nobody can move, that THEN the transportation system will be funded? We have no experience to believe that is a possibility. So: please tell us: in your view, who benefits from this enforced growth? Is someone other than the developer, the construction industry, and a new resident benefitting? Why does the community not matter?

Do you support the idea that forcing communities to grow at a specific pace is necessary? That the state is entitled to, and must force residents to accept any regulations on growth that the state deems necessary? That the communities should have no say in the mandates that change our environment? And, if so, are communities that do not have similar job growth to ours also being forced to grow, whether they have the infrastructure to support that growth or not? This is so against the American promise of self-governance and self-responsibility. What is the frame in which you place this forced growth? Efficiency? Fairness? What? Please explain.


Posted by The money pit, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm

RRR has it exactly right. This is social engineering and wealth transfer thinly disguised as a forward-thinking, environmentally sound policy.

While we're wrangling over projects like 27 University, the really horrific changes are afoot. If you value your quality of life, why would you support Plan Bay Area?


Posted by 55+ Yr Resident, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Water will be the limiting factor to growth for our region and state


Posted by Feeling Pushed Out, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Redmond, Washington, and other cities in the US are experiencing the same growth problems as our region. People are upset about high density housing, transit (proposed light rail), tree removal, population growth, and quality of life issues.

Reference this commentary on Redmond's Comprehensive Plan for 2030: Web Link

Commenting on Redmond's adoption of the United Nations' Agenda 21 the resident writes, "these guidelines are being used to change our town, not for the benefit and comfort of our citizenry, but to conform to a model developed by an international forum that has absolutely no right to exert its unwanted influence on us."


Posted by pat, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

> I DON'T trust a regional board of isolated government bureaucrats to "know what's best for us."

AMEN! We didn't elect the board and we never voted for a mandate to turn our suburban communities into urban centers, but that's what being forced down our throats.

> What a load of

DOUBLE AMEN & HALLELUJAH!

Greg Scharff did vote NO. But do you know that most towns and cities don't even get a vote because they're too small to be counted? So much for representational democracy!

> "Proponents often argue that such housing will reduce commutes for people such as firefighters, EMTs or teachers."

This old canard is always brought as a reason to build BMR housing. Firefighters, EMTs and teachers make too much to qualify. That's not to say we shouldn't have BMR housing, but let's be honest about it.

Re HSR: See Joe Simitian on HSR at Web Link The net of it is, he's for it if it's done right, but in July 2012 he spoke against the current plan with a cost of $68.5 Billion. The Federal contribution of $3.3 Billion is a small percent of what's needed.

Stephen, you ask people to be respectful -- after you dismiss their opinions by saying, "It sure sounds like a lot of made up hot air "?

Why don't you open your mind and – after letting out your own hot air – consider that people moved to the suburbs because they like single family homes with backyards and quiet neighborhoods with safe streets.

If everyone is free to live where they want to, then let the urbanites go to SF or San Jose, where they will have all the best that urban living can offer: theatre, restaurants, vibrant streets, nightlife, public transit

SF is a big draw for lots of millennials, as we know from seeing the Google buses bring them down to Mountain View.

Will they still want to live in a high rise with views into their neighbors' windows when they choose (of their own free will) to marry and have a family?

Not all will make that choice, but from my many years of experience in high tech, the guys who wanted to live in SF (for all nightlife and activities), thus had to commute to Silicon Valley, made a big shift to wanting a home with a backyard when they had kids.

That's why we have so many folks commuting from Tracy and Modesto – they want a HOUSE – and they can only afford one in the outlying areas.

RRR is absolutely right. City governments– in league with billionaire developers – are changing the rules with PC zoning in order to build dense housing in residential areas.

Where's the "freedom" for people who already live here? Where will the choices be for future home buyers who want a suburban life style? Or will they only have the freedom to rent a $6,000/month apartment at San Antonio & El Camino?

The real problem is population growth, and no one is about to touch that hot issue.


Posted by Parent, a resident of ,
on Aug 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Defining housing allocation mandates based on demand for how many people show up at the open house is not in the interest of the community, or the region.

The capacity of a particular city to absorb that density is the other side of the coin.

You think you can build more 'supply' and help the region thereby absorb more people by building a housing structure - that's absolutely not true. You have not built the supply of housing by building a house. The structure is only a tiny fraction of the complete picture of what it takes to 'supply' housing. It requires a lot of additional infrastructure that does not magically materialize when you put up a high rise. Schools, grocery stores, streets, parks, fields, parking, water, sewage systems capacity, electric system capacity, garbage processing capacity, police, fire, safe routes to schools, bike paths, and on and on... - there are A LOT of EXPENSIVE infrastructure improvements that are required to support housing that the community is forced to absorb and just figure out- that are just completely ignored and the problem thrown over the wall, when SHORT SITED housing mandates are forced in based literally on the number of developers lining up who say - Hey isn't Palo Alto a nice place to profit from developing real estate (because just LOOK at all the lovely demand) Lets put more housing growth mandates there! Without the funding, or the PLANS, or even the recognition for the supporting infrastructure required.

Apparently the only way to stop this run away train would be for laws to be put on the books that forbid dense housing allocations that don't come with commensurate, funded infrastructure funding allocations, that are supported by completed approved, comprehensive plans that all address ALL aspects of the supporting infrastructure (not just the convenient red herring of transportation, and not just spots on a map that we can pop out another high rise.)

Raising a child is not the same thing as conceiving a baby, even if some token child support is thrown at the kid. This is exactly what ABAG/RHNA are doing - running around popping out babies which become someone else's burden to raise.


Posted by pat, a resident of ,
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm

WELL SAID, PARENT!

We can look forward to cities like LA in 2019 as seen in "Blade Runner."


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Nov 12, 2013 at 8:11 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

This is a test to see how the new Weekly blog set up handles new posts to old threads from regular bloggers.


Posted by Steve Levy, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Nov 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Steve Levy is a registered user.

There were a number of comments on Doug Moran's blog about ABAG so I decided to restart this thread so interested readers could understand how ABAG, the regional and local housing planning targets and Plan Bay Area are related. You can follow that in my initial and subsequent posts.

There are a few misstatements in readers' comments on Doug's blog.

First the Plan Bay Area long term job and population projections that I helped on and were eventually adopted have absolutely nothing to do with the current adopted regional or Palo Alto housing planning targets to 2022. As the state HCD official who does the regional allocations stated in an ABAG public meeting, their work was completed before and independent of Plan Bay Area forecasts. He also said that the regional and local area targets would have been higher if the Plan Bay Area forecasts were used but they were not.

All voting ABAG members are elected officials--council members or superivisors. As with Congress, ABAG does have appointed committees but members are chosen from the elected representatives appointed by their city or county to be ABAG representatives.

Finally the Plan Bay Area job and population growth projections, far from being higher than current trends are below recent and current growth levels, below the recent job forecasts produced by UCLA and would probably be revised upward in the next round. It should be noted that our county was the fastest growing county in California in terms of population last year and is posting job growth far higher than the ABAG projection.


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