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Posts Tagged ‘san luis obispo’

This morning the Board of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) unanimously adopted the feasibility study over the Corridor that will eventually contain the Edna Price Canyon trail between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach.  This will eventually become a segment of the Anza Historic Trail.  This study has been ongoing for the last year or so and is the result of a CalTrans Community Based Transportation Planning Grant.  It was developed by Questa Engineering.

Next steps are the creation of various Environmental Impact Reports (EIR’s) that will cover the various segments of the trail.IMG_2603

The Feasibility Study identified  opportunities and and constraints along various trail segment options.  There are preferred routes… secondary options etc… all of which need to be analyzed in great detail taking into consideration all the various constraints so as to be able to create the best ultimate alternative given the constraints.

It has been about 8 years of work so far.  I started chatting with stakeholders circa 2008.. and that work led to an initial mapping outlined in previous posts… and then advocacy work with the various communities and stakeholder groups along the route.  There are many steps still to go… but we have started… and we are well along the way.

thank you to all the jurisdictions, individuals, and groups that have lent their support.

Eric

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ShowImageBy Eric Meyer (with Dan Rivoire) spring 2015

Eight years of careful planning — and a bit of luck — paid off last year in a big way for bicyclists in San Luis Obispo. We amended our transportation plan (known as the “Circulation Element”) in three very innovative ways.

First, we revised our transportation mode objectives, dramatically increasing the bike and pedestrian trip goals.

The new mode split goal:

50 percent motor vehicles
12 percent transit
20 percent bicycles
18 percent walking, car pools, and other forms

This is one of the most pedestrian- and bike-centric modal split objectives in the United States.

Second, we changed our roadway analysis from Level of Service (LOS)to Multi-Modal Level of Service (MMLOS).

San Luis Obispo rejected Level of Service — an outdated standard that measures transportation projects only on the basis of automobile delay — in favor of Multi-Modal Level of Service. MMLOS puts all modes on a level playing field so that the needs of one mode may only trump the needs of another in a manner designated by the modal hierarchy given to that location.

With this MMLOS objective in mind, we re-prioritized the modal hierarchy of all of our streets. Some high-traffic arterials are automobile-focused, then transit, then bikes, then peds. Other streets have different hierarchies. Residential neighborhood streets are prioritized for pedestrians first. Major arterials are prioritized for transit first. It is a complex “complete streets” effort that will balance the needs of all modes in the city over time as streets are rebuilt or modified.

Third (and most important!): We created a policy that allocates general fund transportation spending by mode to match the mode share percentage goals desired.

If you remember only one thing from this article, this is it.

This policy mandates that our city must allocate general fund transportation spending at the same ratio as the mode share goal desired. Meaning 20 percent of funding needs to go to bicycling.

This is a huge shift from business as usual in America.

These changes didn’t happen all at once. They happened over the course of about eight years under the guidance of many minds at Bike SLO County and with the help of many hundreds of citizens. If we citizens had tried to make this all happen at once during a Circulation Element update, we would have failed.

It happened because we focused on the smallest relevant plans first. Our first opportunity for meaningful policy change came when the City Planning Commission was approving the Climate Action Plan, with the aim of reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. One of the suggested strategies in this plan was to decrease single occupancy vehicle trips. One way to do that is to encourage an increase in the mode share of alternative modes such as biking and walking. I was on the city planning commission at that time and pitched the idea of pushing the bike mode share goal to 20 percent, thinking that we might get 15 percent as a compromise. But in a surprise vote, the balance of the planning commission agreed to the new 20 percent bike mode share goal.  The City Council later approved the new Climate Action Plan.

But other older city plans, like the Bicycle Master Plan and the city Circulation Element, still had the old 10 percent bike goal. (Note that the current bike mode share is only about 6 percent.) So a year or two later, when the Bicycle Master Plan came up for review, it was modified to match the new 20% from the Climate Action Plan. Since city staff were able to explain that they were merely updating the bike plan to match the more recent climate action plan, it went through without a hitch.

A few years later, the city’s transportation and land use plan, known as LUCE (for “Land Use Element and Circulation Element”) came up for updating. Because I was a current City Planning Commissioner I was appointed as chairman of the citizen task force dedicated to overseeing the update. The task force debated where to go with the modal split percentage goals in this new Circulation Element.  But the simple fact that the Planning Commission and City Council had already approved the 20% figure in the Climate Action and Bicycle Master plans led to the task force agreeing 20% bike mode share should also be the goal in this new Circulation Element.

In addition to this new modal split objective, the new MMLOS policy, and the requirement to allocate transportation funding in the same ratio as the desired modal split were all incorporated into the new Circulation Element Update.

This 20 percent mode bike mode share goal would never have been approved in the LUCE had it not already been part of the two smaller plans.

This is a key point and may be a pathway that others can follow to create similar changes in other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Dan Rivoire (Executive Director of Bike SLO County) was elected to City Council shortly after the City Planning Commission approved the LUCE update, so when it came before the council, his was the deciding vote that approved it and he is now in a position to help shepherd the new prioritization of funding.

Together these new policies create one of the strongest funding mechanisms for bicycle infrastructure in the nation. We hope that other cities might be able to learn from our efforts.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of hundreds of members of the public and the tireless efforts of many Bike SLO County Advocates who showed up at City Planning and City Council meetings to voice their concerns and desires. It is the public that creates the demand and the advocate’s job is simply to help the public and the city find the way forward.

And our efforts have been recognized!  Last month the City of San Luis Obispo was awarded gold status by the League of American Bicyclists.  This ranking puts SLO amongst the top 30 cities nationwide for bicycling. Thank you SLO bike advocates!

 

 

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 I was recently interviewed about my career….by Tammy Cody at http://www.thehonesthome.com. Check out her great podcasts on design, housing, and sustainability every Friday morning

Click the link

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This is a map of the average daily time spent commuting to and from work here in San Luis Obispo County published by Trulia. SLO is in the center… San Miguel at the top… and Santa Maria is at the bottom.  Click on it to focus and enlarge it. (bright green is 5 minutes… darker red is 1 hour)   I’m not certain how accurate it is… I just like maps.

(here is a link to Trulia SLO)

commute1

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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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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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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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Note… this meeting has been cancelled and moved to August 21July 24th is the date that the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors will be discussing the bike path property purchase along the “de Anza Trail” corridor between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach.  I don’t know the exact agenda yet… so cannot give a time.   If you cannot attend please at least fill out a comment card in support of purchasing properties that will lead to the trail at: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Page8417.aspx

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Opposite land.

In Opposite land the roles of bicycles and cars are reversed.  Every street is a bike street.  Every house has a bike garage and bicycles dominate the transportation environment.  There are elevated commuter trains over grand central Bike stations with tons of bike parking and restaurants and showers and mechanics on staff.  Roadies ride through towns on Bike Freeways with onramps and offramps.  There are large beautiful country bike loops to wineries, cafes and b and b’s in the surrounding hills.

There is a Bikotel… or “bike hotel”.   The first in the nation.  There are arterial streets for faster riders… and local streets for slower riders. There are “bike up” windows at hamburger places.   Tourists flock to the area from Europe and Japan… and Portland.   Bike infrastructure receives 98% of transportation funding…

There are cars in opposite land too… and there is a growing automobile enthusiasts network that make this “alternative transportation” choice.  There are some class one “Car-Paths” and a few decent class two “Car-paths”. But they usually end just when you need them most… before big intersections.  There is also a plan for the City to Sea Car Path… but “CalBike” is being a stick in the mud by requiring a huge Car Bridge over the CALBike freeway that nobody has the funds for.   Two of the most innovative Auto infrastructure items are the unique “Car traffic Signal” on Santa Barbara St. and the six block long “Car Blvd.” on Morro Street (which is closed to bikes in this area!) Both of these Car infrastructure improvements have been featured in automobile advocacy magazines.  Indeed… Automobile usage has been widely promoted in many circles as greatly beneficial to the public at large

But in Opposite Land… the general public says that cars are just not useful for regular people who actually go to work and need to buy groceries.  They are too difficult to get around in and too dangerous…. They just don’t make sense.

So the Opposite Land “Automobile Coalition” aims to change this.  They visualize a multi modal transit infrastructure that serves all users equally.  They have signs that say “share the road.   They explain that with more Car paths and car routes car usage would go up… dramatically.

 Yet even with advocacy… Opposite Land automobile infrastructure receives less than 2% of transportation funding.

What is it going to take to change this?  How can we convince Opposite land government that Automobiles usage is up and climbing… and deserves more than 2%?

full disclosure: BikeSnob NYC already panned Opposite Land years ago in his blog as a “parody of itself” (the author here thinks it’s important to note that Bike Snob took 6 weeks off work to drive to Opposite Land on truckroutes though… with a group of other “dieseltourists” from NYC in a Peloton of Dodge Double cab dually pickups and as such dismisses BSNY’s earlier appraisal)

BTW… the bike in the photo up top was built by John Cutter in San Luis Obispo… for the 2011 Oregon Manifest.  It received honorable mention… but probably should have won instead of that beachcruiser with a radio.

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Below is a short story I wrote in 2000 about living in Montecito CA (Santa Barbara area)… where we lived for a few years in the 1990’s.  We left in 2001 and moved back home to downtown San Luis Obispo, CA.

—–

On living in Montecito…
Despite what you might think… well… Montecito is just a pretty odd place to actually live.  There are houses here and there… usually on at least 2 acres… but I somehow don’t have any neighbors really.   I know, I know… what about Oprah and all the movie producers etc etc.  Well,  it is not exactly as it seems.

 I was one of the lucky ones… or so everyone thought anyway… I looked lucky after all… I had sold my company… I had lots of funny cool shoes from Europe and had a new Audi wagon and a cool small 50’s modern house with a nice view and old oak trees.  My wife and I were young… in our thirties… we had nice bookcases with interesting books and we had some nice paintings.

But nobody really lives in Montecito as it turns out.  This was somewhat disconcerting at first.  You’d really never know it for all the activity going on.

Anyway…

I was walking across San Ysidro Rd. one day… at the corner of East Valley… on my way over to Pierre’s (the deli) when I noticed that all four cars at the intersection were Range Rovers… probably all Realtors…all talking on separate cell phones… and even the passenger of one of the Range Rover’s was talking on a cell phone… (that’s 5 phone calls at a 4 way stop). I had to hurry so as not to get run over by one of them (no doubt discussing the proper spelling of “Palladian” with her assistant).

So I was pondering about realtors and real estate as I walked over into the parking lot at Pierre’s.  It was a normal day… I noticed nobody noticing Christopher Lloyd having coffee.  Nobody noticed Sandra Bullock either… I’m pretty sure it was her… I was trying hard to be cool and not to gawk.

I got my coffee and I began ruminating on the fact that the house next to mine has been remodeled three times in the last five years… and all the while it has never been lived in.  It sold for 1.2 about three years ago… then 2.2 about a two years ago… and now I expect it will be 6 to 7 as the most recent remodel involved scraping the entire old structure (a somewhat odd but fine old house) and building a new 5500 square foot palladian (there’s that word… see) villa. Basically this house has been more of a business for developers than a home.

It is one of 5 houses in my neighborhood that have recently become palladian villas.  In fact I would say that most of the houses in the area have been going through some sort of Tuscanization process of one sort or another constantly since we moved here. (save three that are owned by people who are so old that they still keep horses on the property)

The house two over was leveled and got built into a 10,000 foot mansion a few years back.  It sold just over a year ago for around 8.  The new owners are adding on… they needed another 1000 feet.  I have yet to see them… no sign of them anywhere.   Up the hill a bit is another.  It was modern…now it’s been hispanificated and sold… then sold again.  Another sold on the first day at 9.9.  One magazine article from LA calls these houses “white piles”… the subcontractors call them “big dick” houses.

The house across the street sold to a corporation before anyone knew it was for sale.  It’s now the latest in the “scrape it and build a huge mansion on it” category.  Montecito ABR reviewed it and declared it will be beautiful enough (preserving the character you know).  New landscaping will replace existing landscaping.

I have never hired a building contractor but I know all of them some how… Paul… Doug… Rick…. Mark… Mike.  Always a four-letter name.  Anyone who actually lives here knows them too.  You see them all the time… over various fences…  they are quite similar to neighbors actually.

Montecito may not be a place people really live I guess… it is just the impression of a beautific enclave… a well disguised business for Realtors, gardeners, and home builders… except maybe on Sundays… but during the week it is major earthmoving equipment of one sort or another… with a light topping of leaf blowers and chainsaws… punctuated by the din of “tres million watt” Mexican radio stations (the guys building all the walls around the houses nobody lives in).

So meanwhile back at Pierre’s some LA producer type drives up in his new Aston Martin.  He’s probably here to look at some houses.  He’s not staying at the Miramar mind you because despite whatever Schrager’s Gucci wearing team of PR people are telling Wallpaper… there doesn’t seem to be much construction going on.  He’s probably staying at one of the “Beanie” hotels owned by Ty Warner (Beanie Baby fortune… why does that sound so goofy)

Anyway… he gets out of the car and it’s horn beeps as he locks it…  never mind that the only other cars in the lot are a whole slew of BMW’s, a Mercedes 600CL, a Turbo Porsche with ceramic brakes, four or five Mercedes wagons (the Montecito Taurus), the aforementioned RRR (Realtor in a Range Rover) and an Audi wagon (the dot com influence you know)… and the only people sitting there that would possibly steal anything from his $200,000 car are six or seven old timers and a smattering of young retired entrepreneurs in huaraches, old shorts and scrappy t-shirts quietly arguing about how the cinnamon rolls used to taste better.

So… after my coffee I walk to my car in my huarraches… and yes… it is the Audi… parked at Pierre’s even though I went to the Pharmacy (hey I did buy a coffee and I would have bought a cinnamon roll except… well you know)  I drive over to the Post Office and park in front of Tecolote book store, quietly kicking myself for buying that last book on Amazon.

On the way home I drive by an open house (It’s Wednesday… caravan day for the RRR’s)  It’s a decent older modern house with a terrific view of the mountains.   I’m told it “might have been designed by somebody famous”.  Most agents are calling it a scraper.  It’s priced at 3.5 on 2 1/2 acres.

Later that evening my wife and I go to “the Ranch”… to the Plow and Angel restaurant… because it is only about 1500 feet from our house.   Bill Gates and his wife were eating dinner at the table two over.  The last time we went to the Plow and Angel Oprah was there… although at that time I didn’t know that she was buying the Bacon Estate.

I do suppose all this construction will have to die down a bit someday.  It can’t go on ad infinitum.  Harry Dent says the Boomer earnings peak is between now and 2007 or so… So I ponder my future… and meanwhile it is a great place to live… especially on Sundays.

I feel compelled to mention we bought an older house downtown in San Luis Obispo, CA… We don’t live there now of course… it just sits empty.  I pay gardeners to keep it up.  We’ll move back there eventually I suppose.  After a remodel.

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