Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Posts Tagged ‘san francisco’

Death by a thousand curb cuts

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on February 1, 2010

From ehoyer on Flickr

Spend any time driving in San Francisco, and you’ll notice that there isn’t a lot of parking. Then, just before you give up and put the car in a garage, it dawns on you that while there aren’t that many spaces, there also aren’t that many parked cars. Instead, driveway after driveway chops up the curb, leaving the street space unusable. Curb cuts are everywhere, of course, but San Francisco buildings seem particularly fond of them.

The effective transfer of public property to private hands is bad enough, but there are a lot of other reasons to dislike curb cuts. They increase conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles, they set up hazardous situations as cars back out onto busy streets, they encourage sidewalk parking (an epidemic on some blocks of the Mission), and, when you’re talking about a commercial street, garages aren’t nearly as good for walkability and economics as storefronts.

You’d think that with all these externalities, you’d have to pay. Well, not yet, but the city is finally going to start charging $100 per year for the privilege. A pittance considering that off street spaces go for $200 per month in some neighbourhoods, but at least it’s a start. Perhaps as the city’s finances continue to deteriorate, owners of curb cuts will be made to pay a fairer share.

And, full disclosure: we currently lease a parking space in our building, and a curb cut is involved. I think that the owner (and us, by extension) should be taxed heavily for it.

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Regressive Progressives

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on May 16, 2009

One of the frustrating things about California liberals is the obsession with conservationism. I don’t mean conserving, say, Muir Woods; I mean the obsession with keeping our urban (and suburban) landscapes in stasis. I thought the NIMBYism in Brooklyn was bad, but compared to folks in the Bay Area, Brownstoner commenters look like Bruce Ratner himself.

The latest example of selfishness dressed up as concern for trees comes to us from the Peninsula, where a bunch of NIMBYs who voted for high speed rail are shocked to learn that said rail will involve “tracks” and “wiring” and possibly also trains. These are, of course, the same people who rejected sensible transit in the 60s, but at least that didn’t screw over everyone else in the state. This time, they are threatening to hold up a great project for years, because, well, I’ll let them tell it:

“When the bond issue passed in November everyone here was real excited,” said Redwood City Mayor Rosanne Foust. “But like they say, the devil is in the details, and when it became clear that this could be a reality, we realized there needed to be a whole lot of community dialogue to discuss how this would affect our city.”

State Assemblyman Jerry Hill said the key issue for Peninsula cities is ensuring that high-speed rail doesn’t create a divide.

“You want to avoid creating a scar down the middle of the community,” Hill said. “We want to be real careful that there is no socio-geographic distinction to being on one side of the tracks.”

And we know this guy is concerned about “socio-geographic” (huh?) divides, since he represents a bunch of people who live in incredibly wealthy suburbs. You want to bet that this guy’s neighbourhood features exclusionary zoning? I’d put good money on it. And then, of course, some hyperbole:

“Our home values will absolutely plummet with the prospect of 200 trains a day going by outside,” [Menlo Park resident Martin Engel] said. “While we speculate about what could happen, they’re not telling us anything about what their plans are.”

We should be so lucky as to see 100 departures a day to LA.

So, a few things:

1. Having the HSR run through the Valley makes a lot of sense, as it allows for connections to, well, the Valley, as well as SFO.

2. These people should be on their knees thanking God that they will get real rail infrastructure in the South Bay. Caltrain is currently a joke. This project will (one hopes) result in much better trackage for it.

3. Not to mention that it will eliminate very unsafe at-grade crossings in these towns. But, you know, change is scary.

4. Are they serious about wanting a tunnel when there is tons of existing ROW? What planet are they on? You are in a low-density area. No tunnel for you!!!

And yet, I have to hear people like this drone on about how much they compost and how much they care about climate change. What a bunch of hypocrites. You know what? I hope they build HSR through the East Bay instead, and all the economic benefits go to struggling and transit-friendly Oakland rather than a bunch of upper middle class ingrates who don’t know an economic engine when they see it. No really, they literally don’t:

Redwood City mayor Rosanne Foust said her community needs more information before it is willing to consider the idea of hosting a stop on the high-speed rail route.

“Overall for the state, high-speed rail brings tremendous opportunities, but what would the benefits be for a stop in Redwood City?” Foust asked. “We don’t know yet if this would be an economic advantage.”

Really, lady? You don’t know whether having a stop on a bullet train to LA will be economically advantageous? You don’t think that it will give you a huge leg up over all the other little towns along the 101? That statement is pratically Palin-esque in its ignorance.

Sorry if I’m being harsh, but NIMBYism is infuriating, especially when perpretrated in such dishonest fashion.

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Listen to the horn go beep beep beep as we travel near and far

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on June 3, 2008

I’ve been here all of a month, but I’m as comfortable as ever. And I have observations!

The biggest change in my life — aside from increased burrito consumption — has been the acquisition of a car. You see, J and I were lucky enough to find an apartment that included a parking space. Since apartments are hotly contested here, we had to agree to rent the space along with the place. Once that sunk cost had been accepted, it was really a hop skip and jump (to the San Bruno Honda!) to tripling it with car payments, insurance, and the like.

Understand that this tore me up inside, and that I continue to feel liberal guilt about it everyday. As you’ll note from my links, I am an avid reader of Streetsblog, mouthpiece of the car-trodden cyclist, fighter of motorheads everywhere, and dogged promoter of congestion pricing. But hey, I don’t use it to commute, so that makes it a little better, right? And besides, it’s a hybrid! I hear they clean the air as you drive.

It’s weird, though. Here I am in San Francisco, surrounded by organic toothpaste and vegan chorizo and composting and more locally grown organic food than you can shake a cup of fair trade mocha at, and yet it would appear that driving is acceptable. Buy a hybrid in New York (a city that refuses to put out any recycling cans), and people look at you with a mixture of pity and disdain (and groan audibly). Buy a hybrid out here, and people cheer – no, really, they literally say “YAY!” and congratulate you — for becoming part of America’s addiction to the automobile. I don’t understand it.

Despite this, I feel guilty. Guess I’ll soothe myself with a donation to Transportation Alternatives. Ah, that hit the spot.

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