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Archive for the ‘city planning’ Category

UPDATE>>> 6-12-2013  The City Council has quadrupled their budget for bike infrastructure… just last night.  So this will raise the numbers in this post  from 50k to 200k.  Awesome stuff.       THANK YOU CITY COUNCIL!  Send them a thank you by clicking at the link at the bottom of this post!

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After a long and vocal public discussion San Luis Obispo’s 7 major city goals were finalized a few months ago.  Amongst these 7 major goals was one titled “Bikes and Pedestrian Paths” .

Having decided these major city goals the City is next supposed to build it’s two year budget in order to implement those goals.   SLO is discussing this two year budget this week… so here is something to be aware of:

SLO City Council’s General Fund Budget for:  SEE UPDATE AT TOP OF THIS POST

building new bicycle infrastructure for the public: $50,000 (25k per year)  see update at top of this post

purchasing new automobiles for staff:                     $4,000,000

In a nutshell…. Your City Council has decided to spend just 1 penny on new public bike infrastructure… for every dollar they spend on buying new cars for city staff.

Nowhere in the public meetings was “new cars for everyone” brought up.  Yet somehow new cars as a budget expense is almost 100 times larger than any funds directed toward bicycle infrastructure.  (this same budget allocates the same money for lawnmowers as it does new bicycle improvements… it also allocates the same amount just to hire a company to count traffic… SLO spends more of it’s general fund dollars on firehoses than it does on bicycle infrastructure… SLO spends more on drain repairs at City Hall than it does on bike paths)

When you look at it… the budget does include a few large ticket bicycle expenditures that make it look like the city is spending lots on bikes… but in reality, when you dig into the details… 100% of the funds for these larger improvements come from entities other than our city.  For instance:

Railroad Safety bicycle trail -Taft to Pepper      

0 dollars from our General Fund,

$1,759,000 TIF  funds (state transportation improvement funds) and “future” grants as yet undetermined

Bob Jones Trail Connection at LOVR

0 dollars from General Fund

600,000 from a State Highway Grant

Bob Jones Trail Octagon Barn Connection

0 dollars from General fund

165k from federal and state grants SLO is just now applying for

The only actual general fund dollars for bike infrastructure is a “misc bicycle improvements fund”  of 25k per year (see update at top of post)… which mostly goes to painting “sharrows” onto streets.  SLO will never realize it’s bike plan if our council continues to push bikes to the bottom of the list.

Here’s a link to the city council’s email addresses

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Huell Howser passed away earlier this month.  His entire library of “California’s Gold” episodes are now online because he donated his complete film catalog to Chapman University.

This episode talks about the first bikes in CA… long before cars. from 2004

Huell Howser on Bikes

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thanks to Copenhagenize for sending the link!

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The San Luis Obispo City Council voted on it’s new Major City Goals today at the budget meeting today.  The following two photos show the outcome.  Items with an average score of 3 or more are major City Goals.  The balance are still important… just not the major goals.

See for yourself in the photos below how each  council person prioritized their constituencies feelings.  Good job Council.  It’s a big list though!

It’s nice to see that expanding bike infrastructure is on the list. (and I am quite stoked that the skatepark finally will get funding)

sorry about the  focus… only had a second to get the shot.  click the photo for a large version.

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photo-14

 

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walkablecity

“Walkable City” is a fantastic new book by Jeff Speck on creating great cities and overcoming dated planning ideas.  For anyone interested in making more pedestrian, bicycle and transit oriented spaces it is a must read.  It is also a must read for anyone interested in what it takes to make your city “feel” better… or making places a better place to live.  Jeff Speck was a co-author of “suburban Nation” a few years back… also a great book.  I recommend this book to city council’s, bike/ped advocates, and city planners.

For more info:  http://jeffspeck.com

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Click the YouTube link (see link just below) for a great TEDx talk on designing streets for all users.  By Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize

http://youtu.be/pX8zZdLw7cs

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San Luis Obispo is affected by various issues:  noise, wind, cal poly, downtown, airport, freeway, mountain sun shadow, train, traffic etc.  None of these are bad in and of themselves.  Everyone has things they don’t mind… and or are attracted or repelled by… and each of us are different.  My wife and I live near the train… doesn’t bother us.  We also have a certain amount of traffic noise…. but we weigh this against our proximity to services, the downtown lifestyle, and the great weather in our part of town (less wind).   It is a balance… and everyone is different.  This Noise map may help you decide what areas are good for you.  It is from 1990 I think.  I got it from the SLO General Plan.

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This is a map showing where water meters have turned over frequently.  A water meter “turning over” means that someone has cancelled service on their meter… and another person has started service. This typically happens when one person moves out of a unit… and another moves in.  Tracking water meter turnover is a way of tracking unit turnover… how often people move in and out of a given unit.  So in the above map… the more red the color… the more frequently the turnover of units to new tenants or owners.  In some cases as much as 5 or 6 times in a two year period.

According to city-data.com the northern 93405 zip code section of San Luis Obispo is 36% owner occupied while the southern 93401 portion is 43% owner occupied housing.  Contrast this to a +/-60% owner occupied average state wide.

It would be interesting to know the evolution of this over time.  I know that in my own neighborhood Downtown… there are less and less rentals and more owner occupants ever year.  But this has only been happening for the last 10 years or so.  Prior to this my area was almost entirely rentals.  The areas seeing the largest increase in rentals appear to be those surrounding Cal Poly.

It is akin to squeezing a balloon… when the rentals leave one area… they pop up in another.  Cal Poly has suggested that they are interested in seeing all first and second year students live on campus.  This would be warmly received by the long term residents of SLO.

It is a two edged sword living in a college town.  I love the vibrancy, life, and financial stability that the college provides.  I also love having so many talented professors and the knowledge and experience they bring our city.  But the landlords that do not maintain their properties and the tenants that do not respect their neighbors act as a sort of cancer around town.  The neighborhoods most affected by lack of maintenance on the part of some owners and lack of control on the part of some tenants… are those on this heat map that appear the most red.

Most tenants are awesome I should comment…. it is usually only a percentage that cause issues.   90% these issues can be resolved through better lease language, better property management, and higher property maintenance standards on the part of landlords.

If you own a rental in town… this a basically a business you are profiting from.  I personally believe that businesses should be treated differently than residences.  Owner occupants usually care for their properties far better than landlords…. but when the landlords outnumber the owner occupants… and their lack of maintenance impacts the balance of the community so greatly… it becomes a serious issue for the  long term viability of that city.

Something we all need to think about.

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