September 18, 2018




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Transportation Investment Drives Regional Economies



SANDAG announced that their new executive director is . . . SCAG's current executive director Hasan Ikhrata. Many believe this is a major coup for SANDAG.  But others speculate that this is just SCAG's first step in a strategic acquisition. (Sidebar: the population of a SCANDAG region would exceed the state of New York's by 2 million people - plus SCANDAG would have two larger ports and way better beaches). Still, a third theory is that this was just part of the deal that brought the former San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles. But such rampant speculation is more appropriate for cable talk shows. We are just heartened to see that Hasan will keep his talents in the CALCOG family.


Godspeed Ron DiCarli

Ron DiCarli began working at SLOCOG in the first year of the Reagan presidency. He served the SLOCOG region for 38 years (28 as the executive director) until he retired last week. He was especially informed on any (and we mean any) regional policy and chaired the COG Directors group twice. But the people that he served know him as a humble, yet tenacious, public servant.  Here are some excerpts from his farewell message (edited to fit format):

I make this decision with a heavy heart, as it has been one of the privileges of my life to work with our Board, elected officials and our dedicated staff, member agencies and stakeholders. . . . Our work resulted in millions invested in our transportation system, region-wide mobility improvements, community enhancements, and a greater quality of life for our residents, visitors, and future generations. . . . We created a countywide public transit system. We secured passenger rail services that are poised for further expansions. We adopted corridor plans that laid the blueprint for future improvements. We funded and helped implement complete streets, walkable communities, local and regional bikeways, economic development programs, jobs/housing balance polices, and comprehensive highway and regional system improvements.

We’ve also faced challenges: funding, interagency considerations, parochialism, growth and increased traffic, and diminishing resources. Going forward, I am confident in our plans, institutional framework, dedicated staff, and focus on collaboration and progressiveness to overcome these hurdles. . . .  It has been a pleasure working together, collectively and collaboratively, reducing conflicts and achieving amazing and frequent long-standing accomplishments.  

Indeed. As he prepares to hit the open road on his motorcycle, we turn to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for some perspective on the achievements of a distinguished career: "the[se] solutions seem simple - after you arrived at them.  But they are simple only when you know already what they are."  Godspeed Ron. "Sometimes its a little better to travel than to arrive."


6 Figures

Part of the Prop 6 debate is its pocketbook effect. Supporters assert that the measure would save a "typical" two-car family $780 per year. But opponents calculate the cost at only $117 per driver-- or $234 for a two driver family.  What gives? The largest chunk of the difference is that the supporters assume that a "typical" family will be drive more expensive cars and thus apply a higher vehicle fee. The No on 6 Campaign, however, relies on DMV data on average car values.  But according to the findings of a recent TRIPnet reportit really does not matter what figure you use. Why? Because drivers are incurring significant costs just by driving on bad roads. For example, in a region like Fresno (not the most expensive region), the total cost burden due to bad roads is $1665 per driver: that comes from $673 in increased vehicle operating costs, $615 in accident costs, and $375 in time lost to congestion. (See cost variations by region).  But just for fun, let's assume that a person actually enjoys road congestion (its podcast time) and promises not to get into an accident (it won't happen to me), so that the only cost they incur is higher vehicle operating costs. The typical family is still paying $1346 ($673 x 2) more per year from driving on poorly maintained roads. Hedging that expense seems like a good return on investment  . . .  regardless of which cost figure you use.  


California Global Climate Summit Concludes

Last week's Global Climate Action Summit was a big deal. Governor Brown gave a nod to his "Moonbeam" nickname as he announced that California would launch its own "damn satelite" to monitor climate. Here are two other things we noted.  First, our likely next Governor--Gavin Newsom-- entertained the idea of full carbon neutrality statewide (not just the electricity grid). Governor Brown has signed an order to that effect, but Newsom wondered discussed codifying it.  Second, Google is launching the Environmental Insights Explorer that, using Googles proprietary data and methods, estimates carbon emissions by city boundary . . . including the emissions from cars and trucks. It is still a Beta, and currently only has data for five cities. But given that this is backed by the 800 pound Google-rilla of tech, we monitor it's evolution. We just hope it is easier to monitor than EMFAC.  


End of October Travel Travel Guide

California Transit Association Fall Conference & Expo

Self Help Counties: Focus on the Future


SB 375 & The Great Recession: 10 Years Later

This month marks the ten year anniversary of both the Great Recession and SB 375. Although there is no correlation, the juxtaposition creates an interesting frame for reflection. The Great Recession sensitized policy makers to significant issues related to housing fairness and social equity--lessons that are now being applied to new investment strategies that better account for previously-overlooked communities. At the same time, the growing economy results in more people traveling to more places, which creates new challenges to reduce GHG emissions. So what does this mean as we look ahead to 2030?  We are not sure yet--except that we have to work together to get the job done. On this point, we recall that Senator Steinberg brought together environmentalists, developers, businesses, and local governments to create the "Coalition of the Impossible." That same kind of collaboration--but with stronger participation from social equity stakeholders this time--will be needed going forward. We have before said that SB 375 was as much about "conversation change as climate change." Here's to continuing the conversation.  


Where California & Trump Agree?

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has pointed out local housing policies, zoning, and NIMBYism as one of the causes of the housing shortage . . . and hardly anyone noticed. And this issue appears to be one place where SB 35 author Senator Wiener could find common ground with the Trump Administration. Who knew? This Planetizen article provides context and references several HUD articles--including one that sites Massachusettes and California as examples as models for other states to follow.


CALCOG Kicks Off CARL Program

Our first cohort of the California Academy for Regional Leaders begins later this week in Sacramento.  We have 23 key staff members from all around the state that represent north and south, east and west, big and small, MPO and COG. They will meet for six two day sessions over the next 8 months that will engage in training to build their careers. The sessions will focus on leadership skills, political astuteness, policy awareness critical and emerging areas, and technical communication skills. This is a new program for CALCOG, but is consistent with our core mission of helping our member regions serve their own member cities and counties. 


SGC Punts on MPO Role . . . Again

In October, the Strategic Growth Council will adopt it's fourth revision to the AHSC Program in four years. And again, the Guidelines punt on the statutory role for MPOs "recommend and identify" projects. The SGC staff memo notes a commitment to discussing opportunities for MPO participation, which is nearly identical to the language of the third revision. CALCOG will submit comments to the draft Guidelines by the end of the week deadline (Sunday, Sept. 23), but our expectations are--shall we say--realistic.  We look forward to working with the next administration. Maybe the fifth round will be the charm. 


The Roundabout (formerly Quick Hits)

Sacramento Cash's Inn. The Capitol City earned a new level of cool with a 15 story mural of Johnny Cash facing toward nearby Folsom Prison. It was painted by Shepard Fairey (think Obama Hope poster) and is on the east side of the Residence Inn. See drone footage.  Next time you visit, walk the line to the corner of 16th & L and look up.  

Roads to Wealth.  Good roads make for long-term prosperity. Really long-term. New research shows that the placement (& dare we say fully funded maintenance) and use of ancient roads influences the geography of wealth and prosperity today.  [The Washington Post]

#Roads4AllModes. This article by the Detroit Free Press made us think twice about the impacts of pedestrian deaths on low income communities, and how both speed and the size of the vehicle can effect fatality rates. It also has a good overview of strategies related to infrastructure, detection technology, and car design. Totally worth the read to get "down to" speed on several key safety issues.

Millennials Take On Job-Housing Balance. The shortage of housing and the surplus of jobs in some urban areas are leading to a new kind of tech startup that focuses on workforce co-housing. Think of it as a TINDER for living arrangements. Query if this will it affect the RHNA methodology?

Drivers Just Winging It.  The Onion examines how drivers navigate roundabouts.  


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