Monday, May 11, 2020

The Car-Culture Chasm

Credit: Greater Greater Washington

After the Virus will Laguna return to

Friday, March 27, 2020

A Self-Distancing Opportunity

Laguna's traffic congestion during the COVID-19 "self-distancing" measure is way down. The stay-at-home order, isolation and mass layoffs contributed to reduced distance traveled by these amounts:
  • California down 36%
  • California number of miles driven down 53%
  • LAX Air traffic down 85%
  • San Francisco (all vehicle modes) down 70%
  • LA & OC 405 speeds averaging over 70mph 
  • Update: Accidents down 50% -LAT
Traffic speeds up shown in green -Google

With reduced motor vehicles on our roads and the Laguna Beach Trolley shut-down, now is a good time to try Laguna's bike-routes while complying with "self-distancing" rule.

GOOGLE Maps shows LB "bike-friendly" routes in blue. Maybe GOOGLE didn't get the memo.
Google Maps bike-friendly routes in Laguna Beach

For more charts on distance traveled, flight delays, empty SoCal freeways see this LA Times article.


Monday, March 16, 2020

TCA Toll Roads Debt Never Ends

TCA Toll Roads
The SoCal Toll Roads consist of the SR-73, SR-133, SR-241, SR-261 and "SR-241 Completion" through San Clemente and managed by the Transportation Corridor Agency, the TCA. The roads occupy three geographic regions, the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor (FETCA), the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor (SJHTCA), and the SR-241 Completion portion of the SJHTCA. 36-miles of roads were completed in 1999, the SR-241 Completion portion will complete the project for 52 miles total in this analysis. No more roads were constructed since 1999.

In 1987 the roads were initially financed by toll fees to begin planning design and construction of the projects. Other sources are these:
  • Revenue Bonds: Interest, Convertable CABS, Term Rate, Liens 
  • Development Impact Fees (DIF)
  • Toll Revenue
  • Toll Fines and Fees
Early Toll Road bonds were issued in 1995 with initial maturity planned for 2035. The bonds were restructured in 2013, 2014, and 2018 to benefit from lower interest rates and to repackage debt financing with extended maturity dates.

The charts show the debt and income incurred to finance these roads over the lifetime of the project, from 1987 when the first toll revenues were collected to 2053 - the planned maturity date of the newest bonds issued.  The first chart shows the monies contributing to the road financing, over 270 sources in all.

Prior to 2013 the revenues were actual realized income, after 2013 the income from toll revenue, fees, fines and developer fees were projected through optimistic forecasting till bond maturity in 2053. All values in these charts are annualized per year.
The next chart shows the net income from all sources, annualized per year. Notice prior to 2013 the income from toll revenue and all other sources cannot pay the bond debt service. After redeeming the bonds in 2014 and refinancing, the new debt financing reaches break-even in 2029 and forecasts a profitable outlook till 2053.

This next chart shows the truth about these toll roads, the debt never stops. Past performance of these roads show the revenue collections do not pay for the bond debt service, the projected revenues show wishful forecasts of debt service on bonds. 
The last chart shows the total cost of revenues, debt service, and operations in the bullets above, for 52 miles of completed toll roads.  

TAKE-AWAY: If light rail costs $10 million per mile, a new rail system could be built every year from 2006 to 2053 for the cost of this toll road, that is 48 light rail systems each 52 miles long.

The annualized costs increase beyond the bond maturity date.  For the Toll Roads to arrive in this financial state the accounting practices of the TCA are in serious question. See NotMyTollRoad for more details. Story in the LB Patch here.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

LB Neighborhood Trolley Service Input

The city of Laguna Beach invites the public to participate in three "listening meetings" and a short survey about the Neighborhood Trolley Service.

First Meeting: February 24 2020, 6pm
Second Meeting: February 26 2020, 6pm
Third Meeting: March 9 2020, 6pm

Laguna Beach Community and Suzi-Q Center, Third Street, Laguna Beach

The short survey is still active and taking comments.


See the website City of Laguna Beach here. 


Thursday, February 6, 2020


Consider these SoCal Toll Roads:
  • SR-73
  • SR-133
  • SR-241
  • SR-261
  • SR-241 Completion
The these toll road projects are managed by two oversight boards, the Foothill/Eastern TCA and the San Jouquin TCA (Transportation Corridor Agency).  Two financial firms evaluated the bond debt for these projects as shown in these charts.

The latest bonds mature in 2033 and 2053, these studies show for 36 miles of toll road the project cost will be
  • 2033:   $242 Million per mile
  • 2053:   $322 Million per mile.
When the San Joaquin SR-241 Corridor is included, 52 miles of toll will cost

  • 2033:    $167 Million per mile
  • 2053:    $223 Million per mile.
TCA's debt restructuring scheme guarantees the debt will never be paid off. Stop corporate welfare!

Consider the cost of lightrail is $13-$20 million per mile (no tunnels, no elevated sections, good soils, granted right-of-ways), what could SoCal residents do with the savings over Toll Roads?

If you made it this far, sit back relax, here's NotMyTollRoad's video.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Paris Offers 600 Euros to Ride Bikes

Laguna wants to make a restaurant out of a giant toilet. Meanwhile Paris France gives Parisians financial incentives to ditch their cars for eBikes. 


Friday, January 24, 2020

NOT MY TOLL ROAD Action Letter

24 January 2020:
Good afternoon,

I am asking for your help to submit Public Comments on an environmentally devastating toll road proposed for South Orange County.  The studies show the road is not needed and it will not improve mobility, in addition this special single purpose agency the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) has not paid down the debt incurred 30 years ago and it has grown in the wrong direction.  Please submit a public comment on this proposal by February 7, 2020 (action form below).  The San Juan Creek and San Mateo Water shed are in jeopardy as well as critical habitat for endangered and threatened species both plant and animal.   As you may or may not know the TCA was denied water permits for this extension - they could care less and got around that by building the next segment of the toll road for a private developer.  We have asked for an investigation into this, however, the TCA is moving and pushing forward rapidly.  In addition the proposed toll roads will go too close to 6 schools, the particulate pollution and noise is not acceptable. 

 If you want to try and help us protect our precious open space and coastal historic city,  this is the only chance you'll get!

Notice in the map below that options 13, 14, 17, and 22 go right over our beautiful biking trails and hills, and one goes right near San Clemente High School. If we don't speak up, the TCA and CalTrans will assume we don't care. WE DO!

Two easy ways to comment:

1) Fill out the form in the link below
and mail it in to: 

Caltrans District 12
1750 East 4th Street
Santa Ana, CA 92705
Attn: Env/SCTRE Scoping

2) Email your comments  (the quickest and easiest way, it will only take a few minutes)

If you oppose the toll road, PLEASE TAKE ACTION! There's no time to lose. 

Some ideas on what to write:

Please begin all comments with the words in caps: I SUPPORT ONLY THE NO BUILD OPTION
  • Write why you DON'T support the Toll Road extension project (your reasons)
  • Write what we DO support! 
I support the following mobility solutions:
  1. OCTA should complete long-planned arterials, if and when needed. 
  2. Complete new planned arterials on RMV (including keeping Los Patrones free)
  3. Complete planned improvements to I-5 in South County that do not include toll lanes
  4. Make limited additional I-5 improvements, if, when and where needed.
  5. Make the existing toll roads free as soon as possible, like the Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) originally promised.
  6. Have more direct trains at commuting hours to North Orange County. 
  7. Open up car pool lanes during non-commuting hours (like they do in Arizona.) 

Please TAKE ACTION NOW, before "life" gets in the way and you forget. The deadline is 5pm on February 7th.

Thank you!

Should you need any additional information please let me know.  

Thank you Michelle 949.280.4276 NOT MY TOLL ROAD

Thursday, December 26, 2019

How2 Remove the Car in Commute

Car use is hugely subsidized. Because user fees are set too low, we are paying people to drive more, we have excess demand for the road system. If we priced the use of our roads to recover even the cost of maintenance, driving would be noticeably more expensive, and people would have much stronger incentives to drive less, and to use other forms of transportation, like transit and cycling. -HBS


Researchers for Harvard Business School investigated what incentives or "nudges" would change commuter behavior to choose alternatives to driving, and how business organizations can encourage their employees to commute using alternatives to driving. The researchers found these incentives did not reduce single occupancy vehicle (SOV) use.

  • Matchmaking carpoolers with priority parking
  • 24/7 emergency ride-home service
  • Free transit tickets to encourage discounted commuter transit passes
  • Commuter pamphlets to save commuters time and money
Researchers found reasons why the incentives do not work:
  1. When commuters do not pay the full cost of driving ie employee free parking, free road maintenance, driving subsidies.
  2. When transit or carpooling is less convenient for an individual commuter.
  3. When approaches required change a habitual behavior: one-off events like flu shots ok, but not daily routines like exercise.


The researchers found our infrastructure, financial incentives, and social norms strongly favor driving alone to work. They found the nudges although easy for employers to implement are not are not enough to make a difference. To shift habitual commuting behavior the researchers recommend these improvements:

 Make the full cost of driving salient for employees: avoid subsidizing driving to work alone including free parking and infrastructure. Pay employees the monetary equivalent of driving as a bonus to pay for parking or keep as cash for alternative modes of travel.

 Make driving harder, and make other forms of commuting easier: provide remote parking lots for those who drive alone, local parking to those who share rides), you can enhance the convenience, safety, comfort, and cost-savings of other modes like carpooling.

 Stark implications for Laguna Beach Of course, drivers do not like institutions restricting choices convenience or parking. But the long-term health vitality in the Laguna village fundamentally depend on it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Laguna's New Pedestrian Scrambles

The anticipated pedestrian improvements at PCH between Legion and Broadway were proposed to LB Council 17 December 2019. The main design elements are:
  • All-way pedestrian crosswalk (scramble) at Forest and PCH
  • Ocean Avenue converted to one-way
  • Longer left-turn queues for cars
  • Pedestrian curb ramps and benches
  • Decorative paving stones and landscaping
$640k was budgeted for the project, the lowest bid accepted, anticipated costs are $931,000.    Here is the plan for Forest Avenue and PCH, no further drawings were available.

Click for Staff Report Details

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Keywords FINAL Draft 2019 LB Downtown Specific Plan

Here is a summary of mobility keywords found in the FINAL Draft 2019 LB Downtown Specific Plan (yes that's the title, ten years to update, 177pages, 79MB): 

    Credit: Shutter Stock dot com
  • Afford housing:  14
  • Bicycle: 5
  • Bike: 1
  • Blended parking: 0
  • Bus: 4
  • Circulation: 36
  • Complete Streets:0
  • Cycling: 0
  • DownTn housing: 4
  • Flexible parking: 1
  • Housing: 85
  • Increasing density:0
  • Lightrail: 0
  • Market-rate:0
  • Multi-story:1
  • Park:102
  • Parking requirements: 11
  • Parking structure:13
  • Pedestrians: 29
  • Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan:1
  • Rail: 0
  • Relaxed parking: 0
  • Scooter: 1
  • Shuttle: 5
  • Single formula: 0
  • Skateboard: 1
  • Transit Center: 7
  • Transit: 29
  • Trolley: 17
  • Walking: 3
  • Parking: 412 

The intent of our 2019 DSP is clear. Once again our Laguna Beach Planning Commission denies solutions to Laguna's mobility crisis by preserving a reliance on car transportation (circa 1950). The LBPC denies mobility planning altogether, Laguna will remain a parking lot.