Shifting Gears in Transportation - San Diego's Conversation on SB 743 Continues
Last week Circulate San Diego co-hosted a workshop on the implementation of SB 743 with Caltrans, the City of San Diego, and local chapters of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Planning Association, Women in Transportation, and the Association of Environmental Professionals.
Traffic engineers, planners, CEQA professionals, and complete streets advocates came together last week to usher in a new era for transportation in the San Diego region. Under the rubric of Senate Bill 743, the conversation focused on upcoming changes to transportation analyses, planning and implementation imposed by the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage smart growth development.
Learn more about the workshop by reading the entire blog post here.
Voice of San Diego recently reported a shortfall of parklets constructed in San Diego, only two in the last three years. They compared San Diego to San Francisco, where parklets originated, and where 60 parklets have been constructed.
The difference is all in the approach.
At Circulate we have been studying creative placemaking in cities across the U.S. and have found that a user friendly process is key to success. San Francisco for example, created a Parklet Manual to outline the permit process and encourage more applications, especially from neighborhood folks who have not typically gone through a permit process before. Cities like Los Angeles and Seattle have followed the example.
San Francisco’s Parklet Manual is 76 pages long. The first page outlines program goals:
- Re-imagine the potential of city streets
- Encourage non-motorized transportation
- Encourage pedestrian safety and activity
- Foster neighborhood interaction
- Support local businesses
Next, a diagram (see below) illustrates the step by step process including the city’s responsibilities, expectations of the applicant, and a general time frame that can be expected. This step by step process is then further explained and illustrated through diagrams in the next 60+ pages. The guide is filled with colorful, demonstrative photos.
In comparison, San Diego’s Pedestrian Plaza Information Bulletin is four pages long with one diagram on the last page. It does outline the types of permits needed to build a parklet, but for individuals not familiar with the City’s permitting process, it can be quite intimidating. And, it is not quite a one-stop-shop. At least two types of permits are required for a parklet, and there are other differences, too. We dug a little to compare the two cities’ processes for getting a parklet permit.
• Managing Department: Development Services Department
• Permit Type: Neighborhood Development Permit or Site Development Permit + Public Right of Way Permit + Maintenance Agreement
• Permit Cost: Minimum $2,000.00
• Public Hearing Requirement: Required with permit
• Insurance Requirement: $1,000,000 general liability coverage minimum
• Managing Department: Partnership among Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency, and Public Works Department
• Permit Type: Specialized Parklet Permit
• Permit Cost: Minimum $258.00
• Public Hearing Requirement: Required only if an objection is filed during public notification period
• Insurance Requirement: $1,000,000 general liability coverage minimum
All this being said, the City of San Diego can actively reexamine its parklet policy. As other cities have advanced and improved the process, San Diego can look to evolve and learn from these other examples.
If San Diego wants to see more parklets or “Pedestrian Plazas”, it can follow the lead of San Francisco by lowering the initial permit cost, creating a user-friendly guide meant for applicants new to Development Services, and creating a one-stop shop for this type of creative placemaking. This means taking a detour from the types of dry informational bulletins historically produced by the City and creating an application process with community members (non-developers) in mind.
Communities across San Diego want more of these creative placemaking projects – things like park benches, intersection murals, neighborhood game areas, and gathering spaces. We have been talking to organizations involved in these in recent months and will soon release case studies on the challenges and opportunities involved with permitting for these projects. Stay tuned.
Traffic engineers, planners, CEQA professionals, and complete streets advocates came together last week to usher in a new era for transportation in the San Diego region. Under the rubric of Senate Bill 743, the conversation focused on upcoming changes to transportation analyses, planning and implementation imposed by the state to reduce green house gas emissions and encourage smart growth development.
SB 743 was adopted in 2013 and, as Circulate SD wrote in a report released earlier this year, holds the promise to rethink how transportation and communities are shaped. Specifically, the legislation requires transportation analysis to shift from vehicular Level of Service which measures vehicle delay, to a more comprehensive approach that reduces vehicle miles traveled and considers the creation of multi-modal transportation networks, e.g. safer places for people to walk and bicycle.
The crowd of 200+ professionals clearly indicated interest in this subject, and the two guest speakers representing the state's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) and SANDAG.
Circulate SD and its partners welcome the opportunity to discuss these changes. We believe replacing LOS with VMT, while challenging initially, will promote better planning, incentivize more investment in the safety of bicycling and walking, and give local governments more freedom to implement their jurisdiction’s vision for their transportation networks.
Thank you to our co-hosts of the event, San Diego chapters of professional organizations Institute of Transportation Engineers, American Planning Association, Women in Transportation, Association of Environmental Professionals, Caltrans, and the City of San Diego.
White Paper: Anatomy of Ballot Measure – Analysis of the Transit Elements in SANDAG’s Proposed 2016 Ballot Measure Expenditure Plans
Today, Circulate San Diego is releasing a white paper analyzing the evolution of the transit and active transportation components of SANDAG's potential 2016 ballot measure.
This analysis was generated initially for internal purposes by Circulate San Diego staff and volunteers. The purpose of this memorandum is not for Circulate San Diego to speak in favor or against any ballot funding scenario. Instead, by publishing this information, it is our hope this analysis will help inform decisionmakers, advocates, the public, and the press. We aim to help develop a more broad understanding of SANDAG’s processes, priorities, and constraints.
Released with this document is an electronic appendix, which compares each of the various ballot expenditure plans side by side. Circulate San Diego also calculated the expected service dates for the various transit projects in each expenditure plan, based on the data SANDAG released.
Read the entire white paper here.
Access the electronic appendix here.
Circulate San Diego, in collaboration with a number of organizations and companies, sent a letter to the City of San Diego pertaining to the Vision Zero One Year Strategic Plan.
In the letter, Circulate stresses the significant progress the City has made towards the Vision Zero initiative, yet also highlights significant shortcomings. For example, there are no specific infrastructure projects listed for implementation in FY 2017, even though the Mayor's proposed FY 2017 budget includes valuable projects relevant to Vision Zero. Further, Circulate specifies nine recommended actions the City could take to enhance the progress already underway.
For a list of the nine recommended actions and more information, Download the full letter here.
Circulate San Diego recently launched our #PlanDiego initiative, dedicated to research and advocacy for sustainable land use policy in the region. In the coming months, we will release a series of short reports identifying major barriers to transit oriented development in the City of San Diego. These reports will be followed by a more comprehensive document identifying specific solutions we are encouraging the City to adopt to make transit oriented development more economical, affordable, and environmentally sustainable.
This report begins our exploration of barriers to transit-oriented development by examining San Diego’s current parking regulations.
Download here [PDF]
Since last October Circulate San Diego has had the pleasure of hosting an extraordinary young intern named Andrew (Andy) Furillo to assist us with Policy analysis. Andy is a Master’s candidate in International Economics at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, with a regional focus on Korea. His program includes a heavy emphasis on data analysis. He completed his undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Korean.Read more
Circulate San Diego has just released our new report on how the City of San Diego's parking rules are barriers to Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Read the whole report here.
The parking rules in the City of San Diego are generally collected in the Municipal Code, not in individual community plan documents. This presents an opportunity for parking policy to become streamlined, and comprehensive in its approach. However, current parking rules in San Diego lack cohesion.
Parking policy in San Diego is complex, inconsistent, and difficult for developers to navigate. The parking code represents a hodgepodge of different policies, layered on top of one another over time, reflect a variety of sometimes conflicting and shifting policy goals. In some circumstances, parking minimums for new developments are reduced because of lower expected or demonstrated demand. More frequently, parking minimums are increased, on the assumption that certain areas need added parking, or perhaps more cynically, to keep new developments from coming to those neighborhoods at all.
“For almost every new home constructed in San Diego, at least one new parking space is required to be built.”
For almost every new home constructed in San Diego, at least one new parking space is required to be built. This is true for even studio apartments and other homes well served by transit. San Diego’s parking rules assume every resident will drive for all of their trips. These rules are inconsistent with reality, where many San Diegans do not own a car, or would like to live without having to own a car and pay rent for car storage in the form of a reserved parking spot.
Parking minimums for new developments are generally intended to reduce the impact of a new building to the neighborhood, by limiting the number of new neighbors that use limited street parking. However, parking requirements for new developments have a variety of unintended consequences, famously identified as the “High Cost of Free Parking,” by Professor Donald Shoup, including the tendency to encourage traffic and drive up development costs and rents for end users.
While parking minimums may serve important purposes in some circumstances, parking minimums that are too high can hurt neighborhoods and limit the ability to achieve smart growth goals. The City of San Diego should examine parking reforms that will allow the City to meet its Climate Action Plan goals, and implement the General Plan’s City of Villages Strategy.
- Requests to lower parking requirements are burdensome and time-consuming.
- Reduction in parking minimums for areas near transit are minimal and limited.
- Assumption that all future residents will drive will not support mode share goals in the Climate Action Plan.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer released a report on how the City will implement the first year of its Climate Action Plan. The report details expenditures of nearly $130 million to reduce green house gas emissions through a series of actions focused on transportation, housing, energy, and water. Circulate's Executive Director Jim Stone spoke at the press conference, stating "The Climate Action Plan not only sets a course for San Diego, it serves as an example for cities around the nation. The Mayor's proposal today is a welcomed down payment on a robust implementation to demonstrate our City's continued leadership to protect our climate and our quality of life."Read more
Circulate San Diego joined with a number of environmental and transportation advocacy organizations from around California to sign onto a letter to support the revision of the Phase II Ridesharing Proposed Decision to allow transportation network company (TNC) drivers to use vehicles obtained through rentals or short-term leases. The current proposal requires that TNC drivers own or lease their vehicles for terms longer than four months, the consequence of which would be to remove hundreds of TNC electric vehicles currently in service and eliminate a promising strategy for increasing electric vehicle (EV) deployment, especially in disadvantaged communities.
Read the entire letter [PDF]