Friday, March 30, 2012

Genuine city policy is written, not spoken

The LB General Plan Land Use Element

Pictured is the 17 February 2012 revision of the Laguna Beach Land Use Element, one of seven elements in a General Plan specified by California statute. In 2008 California's legislature passed a law requiring after January 1 2011, any substantive revision of a Circulation Element of a General Plan, the transportation system of a city must plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all roadway users for safe and convenient travel.

Known as the California Statute for Complete Streets, Gov. Code section 65302(b)(2)(A,B) says the General Plan shall consist of text setting forth objectives, principles, standards and planning proposals to build streets usable by "bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors."

Complete Streets code also says the Circulation Element must be correlated with the Land Use Element. That means that when the Circulation Element is revised to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network, it must also be consistent with the Land Use Element. Typically, both must be revised simultaneously to ensure mutual compatibility. Since the Laguna Beach Circulation element was not updated, it is necessary to update both documents now.

In fact, guidelines from the State Office of Planning and Research tell us the road system proposed in the circulation element must be "closely, systematically, and reciprocally related to the land use element of the plan ..." (case law). Another citation says the Elements "form an integrated, internally consistent plan of which all parts are equally weighted in their application ..." (case law). That makes it necessary to amend both elements together. The guidelines say local governments may not amend any one of the mandatory elements of the general plan more than four times in one calendar year (§65358(b)). That does not appear to be an issue for Laguna Beach. 

So Laguna Beach now faces a dilemma. If the city chooses to delay updates to their Circulation Element, the Land Use Element remains uncorrelated with transportation planning and the GP is thereby out of conformance with Government Code section  65302. If the city chooses to update both elements but ignores its obligation to plan for all users of the transportation system, then the City of Laguna is not complying with State law.

Kids, seniors, and disabled folks are left out -- sometimes in dangerous positions in the roadway risking life and limb (Aliso Bridge). That's not right and it's not legal.

We deserve better.

'Roger that, heading for the Grapevine...'

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"Contested Streets", a classic documentary on origins of auto traffic

If you don't know the origins of automobile congestion, you won't have a clue how to solve the problem. Working from the wrong information bias you will choose the wrong solution for congested streets like Laguna Canyon Road.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Businesses do better... Property values go up.... Do a Road Diet

  A Road Diet means reallocating road space to people who live here, who work here, who buy stuff here versus the privileged few who just drive through here fast. -Charlie Gandy, Long Beach Mobility Coordinator

Friday, March 23, 2012

Six-foot Easter Bunny fails to yield Glendale traffic

Would a six-foot rabbit make car drivers slow down at crosswalks? Not in Glendale California where a policeman in a rabbit suit tried to cross a busy street-corner. Remember to pack a pink Flamingo suit for crossing PCH at Oak or Laguna Canyon Road at LCAD. Story Glendale News Press

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Laguna Beach traffic can never improve

Pictured is the cover-page for the Transportation Circulation and Growth Management Element (the Element) from our city General Plan. Notice the automobiles pictured on the cover roughly circa 1930. Today the maturity and relevance of the Element is just as dated.

State government guidelines recommend periodic updates to the General Plan, the statutes recommend every 5 years (SB-244). Our Element has been amended only ONCE since 1974, 38 YEARS AGO!!! Inside page 8 says “The Element acknowledges the constraints of existing conditions but is sensitive to anticipated regional needs of the future.” Does that  mean 1939, 1959, or 1979?

The Element contains a policy statement specifying what mobility access Laguna provides for our town, what good is a policy statement that is never implemented? The Element reads 9C: “assure that local bicycle routes will be compatible with routes of neighboring jurisdictions.”, 9H: “Evaluate and improve pedestrian safety improvements and or devices at appropriate crosswalks.”, 9I: “Investigate the feasibility of creating a pedestrian mall on Forest Avenue”, and more.

The Element boasts Laguna Beach as a walking city taking credit for pedestrian beach access, but clearly not for access to South Laguna, crossing PCH or Canyon Road, or Park and Glenneyre. Bicycles are dismissed altogether because “Providing a comprehensive bicycle trail system throughout the community is not physically possible due to the steep hillside”, cyclists take note.

At the moment there are no city staff working on the Element and no plans for future work. The city is instead making motions to apply for grant funding. The prerequisite for application is to show demonstrated work on transportation planning. No transport planning, no Grant.

Ever wonder why traffic in Laguna Beach gets worse despite years and years and years of meetings with city government officials and city residents? Examples: the PTC for parking and traffic, OC Green Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee, Climate Protection Group, the Complete Streets Task Force.

Despite the CSTF and the PTC already in session, LB city government  dreamed-up yet another Sustainability Committee to convene first in May. Until city government makes a commitment to plan, write, adopt, implement and fund a new relevant mobility plan, solving transportation congestion through this town is pure fantasy.

The State of California General Plan Guidelines reads “It is important to the public that the process they participate in has an impact on the final product.” Remember that when you vote.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I know I know, never in Laguna Beach


Cute eh?

"Bicycle Cultures are Man-Made" by Click to Zoom!

Complete Streets good for business, another case study

Portland, Oregon
Promoting bicycling has great potential to increase overall physical activity; however, significant uncertainty exists with regard to the amount and effectiveness of investment needed for infrastructure. The objective of this study is to assess how costs of Portland’s past and planned investments in bicycling relate to health and other benefits. Gotschi claims by 2040, investments in the range $138 to $605 million will result in:
  • Health care cost savings of $388 to $594 million,
  • Fuel savings of $143 to $218 million,
  • Savings in value of statistical lives of $7 to $12 billion
  • Combined Benefit-cost ratios range 3.8:1 to 1.2:1
  • Combined Benefit-cost using statistical lives range 38:1 to 12:1
  • Portland Bike Plan estimate $130M for 20 years, actual $100M 15 years
  • ONE auto freeway interchange cost $143M in same period 1992-2008
“Costs and Benefits of Bicycling Investments in Portland, Oregon", Thomas Gotschi, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2011, 8(Suppl 1), S49-S58, © 2011 Human Kinetics, Inc.

Los Angeles, California
UCLA's Luskin School of Public Affairs assessed the economic impact of the Los Angeles based CicLAvia on local businesses. CicLAvia is the Sunday public event that brings 150,000 visitors to Wilshire Boulevard closed to the automobile. Here are highlights of their results.
  • Businesses experienced a 10% increase in one-day revenue
  • Businesses participating in the event experienced the largest gains
  • Participating business performed exceptionally well, loyalty business less well (dry-cleaners, hair salons).
 Read the full UCLA report here.

Complete Streets good for business, another case study

Long Beach, California
A parking space costs $16k per space to build (In Laguna its $10k)
  • Long Beach Mobility Initiative is funded through private grants
  • $500,000 funding for bicycle education
  • Gandy: investments a consequence of bike program underway (feedback)
  • Ridership increased 400 to 1000 riders per day, Second Ave Sharrows
  • Budgeting $500k to teach elementary schools on bike safety
  • Long Beach will compress 15 year development in Portland to 1 year
  • Long Beach adding 100% more bike lanes and facilities in two years
“A Conversation with City of Long Beach Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy”, Long Beach Business Journal, December 2010.

Complete Streets good for business, another case study

Vermont USA
Tourists coming to Vermont state to walk and bicycle in the scenic, human-scale
towns and compact, pedestrian-friendly town centers have proved to be an economic boon. Walkability is a human magnet.

  • In 1992 32,500 visiting cyclists spent $13.1 million ...
  • ... twice the money generated by maple syrup producers in a good year.
“A Landscape of Choice,Strategies for Improving Patterns of Community Growth,” The Growth Alternatives Alliance, 1998.

Complete Streets good for business, another case study

West Palm Beach, Florida
Results of revitalization plan applying Complete Streets principles. The City is now planning to create a 24-hour Downtown by encouraging new mixed use and residential development to enhance the pedestrian-orientation of the area.
  • Vacancy 1993: 70%
  • Property Values $10-$40 ft2
  • Commercial Rents $6 ft2
  • $10M invested for revitalization
  • Average home price $65k

  • Vacancy 1993: 20%
  • Property Values $50-$100 ft2
  • Commercial Rents $30 ft2
  • Attracted $350M private investment
  • Average home price $106k

Ian Lockwood,West Palm Beach Transportation Planner, (561) 659-8031

Complete Streets good for business, another case study

Mountain View, California
In the late 1980s, the city resolved to turn downtown Castro Street into the heart of the city by redesigning it to include, among features, a flexible zone where sidewalk café tables would replace parked cars in the summer. The city located a pedestrian-oriented civic jewel on Castro Street – a new city hall and performing arts center complex with an outdoor plaza.
• Drew $150 million in adjacent private investment
• Office-over-retail development
• Hundreds of attractive homes built at 47 units per acre
• Interspersed with pedestrian passages
• Today Castro street is a regional draw with bookstores, brew pubs, restaurants, and pedestrian friendly.
Barney Burke (retired), City of Mountain View, (650) 903-6454

Friday, March 16, 2012

Complete Streets good for business, a case study

Lodi, California
“Downtown Lodi launched a $4.5 million public-private pedestrian-oriented project... A striking gateway was installed, as well as 140 street trees, lighting, benches, and other streetscape amenities."
  • Attracted 60 new businesses
  • Commercial vacancy rate drop 18% to 6%
  • 30% increase in downtown sales tax revenue
Tony Goehring, Lodi Economic Development Director, (209) 333-6700
e-mail web

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Complete Streets good for business, a case study

Valencia Street, San Francisco
For this study, twenty-seven merchants located in the Mission District of San Francisco were interviewed about the impact Valencia Street bicycle lanes had on their businesses. Five years after construction sixty-six percent of the merchants believe that the bike lanes have had a generally positive impact on their business and/or sales, and the same percentage would support more traffic calming on Valencia Street.

General Impact on Business and Sales
• Better 66%
• No Effect 4%
• Balanced 0%
• Don’t Know 30%

Supportive of more Traffic Calming Measures
• Better 66%
• No Effect 0%
• Balanced 0%
• Don’t Know 34%

Ms. Emily Drennen, 2003, or 415/863-2248
Lodi, California

Bike Tour of Long Beach gives San Clemente ideas

The city (San Clemente) is developing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan 12 years after Long Beach wrote its own Bicycle Master Plan and began to carry it out. In 2010 a draft Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan was submitted to Laguna Beach city but never adopted. Last weekend, some officials from San Clemente, a beach town of 63,000 residents, took a three-hour guided bicycle tour of Long Beach. See their slide show here courtesy Fred Swegles, OC Register.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

San Clemente City Council test bike riding in Long Beach

Last Saturday city council members from San Clemente took bicycles to Long Beach to "pedal, ponder, and probe the possibilities of a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly Spanish Village by the Sea."

Long Beach has figured out how to create places people want to be and how they want to get there by having a balanced, multi-modal transportation network for all. Motor traffic is calmed, locals bask in sidewalk cafes, pedestrians stroll, bicyclists pedal, businesses thrive and everyone has a smile on her face. That's why the San Clemente City Council, GPAC, and staff pushed the pedals Saturday.

Councilmember Lori Donchak said it all with this observation: "Long Beach was a real eye-opener about how cycling can be a valued transportation choice in a community. Whether on foot, on bicycle, or in a car, people moving around the city were respectful of each other, and it worked. An added bonus: abundant public art especially appreciated by those on two wheels. It was good to see the Complete Street concept in action," she said. Full story in the San Clemente Patch.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fort Collins & CSU study economic impact of cycling tourism

The project, expected to take five months starting early next year, could provide future spin-off projects measuring bicycle-related tourism, the effect of real-estate sales associated with bicycle facilities and infrastructure, special events as economic generators, the rise and effect of the local bicycle industry as an economic cluster, and the relationship between on-street bike parking and local business sales, Kemp said. Coloradoan Reference

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What bike safety?

Today is Saturday and Laguna Beach is packed with bicycle riders on Canyon Road, Pacific Coast Highway, downtown and the MTB crowd are heading for the hills. Sadly there is still no bicycle safety infrastructure for them, the Laguna city government commitment to bike safety is illusory.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Samanta Ollinger: Bike Coordinator San Diego

Motorists are bike riders in disguise, they are looking for someone (city leadership) to address their concerns about bike safety. A politician who recognizes this potential will distinguish themselves from the competition who view motorists vs cyclists as a dualistic concern. Hear the interview with Samantha Ollinger at cdmCyclist.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

When will Laguna Beach city government do this?

The City Council voted unanimously to support multimodal transportation in the updated General Plan. They are the only City in Orange County to make such a declaration. Introduced by Councilman Baker, the motion passed with consensus (5-0) opinion and stated the following:
"San Clemente's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan shall be fully integrated with the City's updated Circulation Element so as to comply with the letter and spirit of California's Complete Streets Law, thereby creating a balanced multimodal transportation system for all."  PEDal Story here

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

McDonalds thoughtfully forgoes the Arches

As Laguna Beach waits for a burger- dive replacement for the KFC at Cleo Street, here's a hint from McDonalds in Huntington Beach for those extra calories.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Driving Menace gets 4 years for death of cyclist

Prosecutors say she drank at her workplace, Zinc Café in Corona del Mar, on Feb. 21 and got behind the wheel of her 2008 Volkswagen Jetta.
Miller was driving eastbound on San Joaquin Hills Road, while sending and receiving text messages on her cellphone, Deputy District Attorney Nancy Hayashida said.  Britel was riding eastbound, near Spyglass Road. Miller struck Britel from behind. She had been texting prior to the crash, her attorney said.  Miller, whose blood alcohol content was 0.10 after the accident, had received several traffic citations, including five for speeding and two for using a cellphone while driving.

"I no longer have my coach, my training partner and my friend," said Jennifer Angell.  Angell said she hopes the outcome of the case makes the roads safer.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Newport Beach Bike Safety Meeting Monday 5 March

The city of Newport Beach is holding their regular Bike Safety Committee meeting on Monday March 5th. Chaired by Mayor Nancy Gardner the committee will formally discuss bicycle safety in Newport Beach, here is a partial agenda.

4. Report on Committee Priority Projects/Efforts
a. Adding Bike Racks
b. Improving Critical Intersections
c. Improving Safety around Schools
d. Community Education (Signage, Maps, Other)
e. Safety Update - Police
5. Discussion: How can the committee

Unlike the city of Laguna Beach, Newport is serious about bicycle safety and the bicycle mode of Complete Streets Policy.  See the city issued agenda here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Patriots Day Parade builds community in Laguna Beach

We don't have to wait all year for Patriots Day, Complete Streets Policy make streets safe for all roadway users now. Photo Credit: Marilynn Young, Laguna Beach Patch. See full story in the LB Patch.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Portland study shows $6.50 benefit for $1.00 of cycling investment

Thomas Gotschi, formerly of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, presented a cost-benefit analysis of bike infrastructure and promotion in the city of Portland, Oregon. We all know that bicycling has many benefits, but if a city invests in bicycling, exactly how long does it take to officially break even on that investment? Since 1991, Portland has spent $64 million on bicycling paths, lanes, and programs. There are a lot of people reaping the benefits of bicycling there now, but it won’t be until 2017 that enough has been saved on health care and fuel for the city to recoup its investment. However, the wait is worth it: by 2040, Portland will have saved $1 billion in healthcare expenses thanks to bikes. That’s a profit of $6.5 dollars for every dollar invested in bicycling. Full Article People for Bikes here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Local Laguna Leadership

We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of exper­tise. What we don’t have are leaders.  "Solitude and Leadership" If you want others to follow, learn to be alone with your thoughts. by William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar