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Archive for the ‘san luis obispo’ Category

Check out the attached video that shows the issues of a San Luis Obispo Parent riding with his son to School.

We as a city need to consider and create solutions for this.  City staff are aware of this stretch and the issues I believe… and are already working to create small changes for greater safety as quickly as possible… but the real change will come only when enough parents and other cyclists show up at City Council meetings to convince Council of the need and the priority.

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montereybikebridge

I have a crazy bike bridge idea…. one that I pitched to some Cal Poly architecture students (and also some planning students) a few years ago.    I have recently suggested it to the City of SLO.

THE BACKSTORY:  SLO has been planning and building a long class one (off street) bike path that is known as the Railroad Safety Trail for many years now.   It extends from Orcutt road in the south up to the Railroad station… and from Cal Poly in the north down to the 101 freeway along California Blvd.    The section that is missing is between the 101 freeway and the Railroad station.  The City has been attempting to negotiate with the Railroad for an easement… but the Railroad has basically just said NO.

So the City of SLO public works dept has been working on various solutions that would make a safe connecting route for bikes across this middle section of town to each of the already completed sections of the RR safety trail.  So far it looks pretty good… except that a portion of the route will be on Pepper st… which includes a relatively steep section between Monterey street and Mill St.  Too steep for kids and anyone on a single speed or cruiser type bike.

The idea… is to span the small valley of Monterey st with a 1000 foot long bike bridge… which spans from Higuera st.  all the way up to Mill St…. most of which is actually just the roof of two skinny buildings built on half of what is now the east side of Pepper street.  Only a short section of this 1000 foot length would be an actual bike bridge…directly over Monterey st… the rest would be built on the roof of commercial space combined with maybe a small apartment or two… whatever.  It is a tad difficult to grasp at first… you have to imagine two buildings… one on either side of Monterey st… built on half the width of Pepper street… the roofs of which are at the level of the green line in the photo above… and then the bike path on top of those roofs.  The remainder of Pepper becomes an alley of sorts.  It is really low traffic usage now.  The new bridge would turn the steep hill… into a manageable 4% grade.  The new buildings would not block any views that the current railroad track already blocks.

The City would have to either partner up, sell or lease the land to a developer that would then build the buildings and the bike path. There would be an easement for the bike path across the buildings… and some sort of long term maintenance agreement.  It would be a tricky negotiation… but in the end it would eliminate the steep section of this portion of the RR safety trail across town.

From the south end of this bridge…  the path would continue as per the existing bicycle master plan which I don’t have space enough to go into here as it is fairly complicated… but it is already a plan and it will work.  Same goes for the northerly connection… but that section is quicker to describe.  Basically to the north.. Pepper continues as a bicycle blvd for two blocks… where there would be a new bike bridge over the RR tracks and the path then continues over to the south corner of the Highway Patrol building property on California… and then northerly between that Highway Patrol building and the RR tracks but on Highway Patrol Property.  From the Highway patrol property… the path becomes a “protected two way bike lane actually built on the west side of California blvd.   This section is protected by a barrier from the automobile traffic… and it continues across the existing wide automobile bridge over the 101 and connects with the existing RR safety trail just beyond the 101.

Interesting, yes… is it feasible… I dunno… but it would sure be fun to explore.

 

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01.31-Water-Bill-KA-285x285

Last night the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to lower the base water impact fees charged to developers of new residential units.  The new Water Development Impact Fee for a studio of 450 sq. feet or less is now $3232.  This is down from the previous fee amount of $12,735 .  This is a big change.  Fees for larger homes are also lower but not quite as much… multi family homes are $7542 (down from $12,735) and single family water impact fees are $10,775 (down from $15,919)

In addition the base wastewater development fees (for a studio) have dropped to $1119 from a previous rate of between $3079 to $3849.   Muliti family wastewater fees are 2610 and single family wastewater fees are 3729. Depending on where the unit is located there may still be some additional fees based on lift station (catchment area basin) issues etc.

So if you are wanting to build a separate studio apartment on your lot… the water and wastewater development fees have dropped from $15,079 down to $4351!  29% of what it used to be!  Previous to this Studio development was penalized as there was no separate smaller ratio reserved for tiny units.

Over the past decade or so there have been almost NO small studio’s built in the City of SLO because of this price issue.   I think the new fee structure will mean that folks with “detached bedrooms” will now be able to legally convert them to secondary dwelling unit studios without the huge fees.  Hopefully this will mean a bunch of affordable studio sized rental housing gets created.  We do really need this type of small housing here.

NEW FEES:

Water  fees               Wastewater fees          Total

$3232                           $1119                               $4351  Studio

$7542                           $2610                            $10,152  Multi Family

$10,775                        $3729                            $14,504  Single Family

OLD FEES:

$12,735                         $3079                            $15,814 Studio

$12,735                         $3079                            $15,814  Multi Family

$15,919                         $3849                            $19,768  Single Family

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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!

images-1

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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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.

photo-13

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.

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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Here is a link to the latest info on the BOB JONES TRAIL.  skip to page 3, project 5 for the latest info.

 

 

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