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Donald Shoup Interview, Part 1: Adaptive Reuse, Parking Cash-Out, Teaching

Selfie with Don Shoup. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Selfie with Don Shoup. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Donald Shoup is one of my heroes. He’s the authority on parking: how it shapes cities, how it enables driving, and how cities can fix the problems that parking policies create. He has a legion of followers who proudly call themselves Shoupistas. Shoup is retiring from UCLA this year. The college is sending him off with a fundraiser retirement dinner atop parking structure number 32 on Saturday May 30. You can attend, and hobnob with Shoup himself, by donating to the Shoup Fellowship fund for future UCLA planning students.

Below is part one of my interview with Don Shoup. The interview took place at the UCLA Faculty Center on Friday, May 15, the day after UCLA’s Complete Streets Forum, where Professor Shoup had been impressed with a presentation on the soon-to-be phased out traffic congestion metric, Level of Service.

Joe Linton: For many years, as a cyclist and bicycle activist, I didn’t really think about parking. I thought “I don’t park – it’s not my issue.” But then Beth Steckler, my boss at Livable Places, recommended that I read The High Cost of Free Parking. I did, and it really opened my eyes. It’s one of the few books that has really changed the way I look at cities.

Don Shoup: I think that most people are not interested in parking itself. So I’ve tried to convince them that parking is important for what really interests them, which may be affordable housing or climate change or traffic congestion or fuel consumption or accidents or health or whatever.

And I think that’s why people are beginning to pay attention to parking – because they can see it’s really perhaps the easiest way to make improvements in what they’re concerned about.

Whatever the concern, I think the most politically feasible and most cost-effective way to advance their cause is often to fix parking.

I don’t expect many people to be interested in parking per se. Most academics have neglected parking because it has such a low status.

In universities, no matter how much we talk about justice and equality, there are strict status hierarchies. International affairs are the most overarching topic. And then national affairs are very important. State government that seems provincial. Local government is totally parochial. And then in local government, what’s the lowest status thing you could talk about? That would be parking.

So I’ve been a bottom feeder, but found a lot of food down there.

And there’s so much to see if you just look at it very carefully. I think if you look at anything carefully you will find that it’s fascinating.

I am happy to think that you and others are seeing the connection between what you’re interested in and parking – and Level of Service.

Most of us are not interested in measuring the Level of Service at intersections. Nevertheless, at the Complete Streets forum yesterday, Chris Ganson, from the California Office of Planning and Research, explained why inappropriate LOS measures prevent infill development and why it is the regulations instead encourage suburban low-density development.

Linton: I call it zombie engineering. Though it’s not just engineering, it’s also planning, design. There are so many practices and policies and rules that say we have to do the car stuff first and foremost, that they end up with a life of their own. You can get rid of Level of Service, and the next thing is going to be financing or something else. It just feels like a multi-tentacled monster — cut one off, and there are still a hundred more rules saying you have to accommodate car stuff first.

Shoup: Yes, that’s true. So long as the tentacles don’t regenerate, it is worth cutting them off.

I think part of the problem with zombie urban planning is that many people, including me, don’t have a strong visual understanding of the effects of something like Level of Service or parking requirements.

I was in Vancouver a couple weeks ago. I hadn’t been there for forty years. It was so fascinating to see it looking a bit like Hong Kong, except …well, far better-looking. There are a lot of new high rises downtown – condos, apartment buildings, and office buildings. They have very wide sidewalks and not that much traffic congestion and [on] almost every block there will be a high rise. And you like it without knowing exactly why.  Read more…

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Planning and Programming Committee Recommends Metro Board Take Next Steps on Rail-to-River ATC

The Slauson corridor that runs through South L.A. takes another step forward toward becoming an Active Transportation Corridor. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

The Slauson corridor that runs through South L.A. takes another step forward toward becoming an Active Transportation Corridor. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog

On October 23, 2014, the Metro Board of Directors voted to adopt the Rail to River Intermediate Active Transportation Corridor (ATC) Feasibility Study and directed staff to identify funding for full implementation of the project. The Board also authorized $2,850,000 be put towards facilitating the environmental, design, alternative route analysis, and outreach work required for the project to move forward and requested the staff report back in May of 2015.

At this past Wednesday’s Planning and Programming Committee meeting, the committee filed the requested report detailing recommendations that the Board take the next steps of applying for grants from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grant (TIGER) program and the state Active Transportation Program (ATP). To facilitate the application process, staff also requested the Board authorize an allocation of $10.8 million in hard match funds in time to make the grant programs’ June 1 and June 5 deadlines.

The report suggests the Rail-to-River project has the potential to be very competitive.

Sited along an 8.3 mile section of the Harbor Subdivision Transit Corridor right-of-way (ROW), it will eventually connect the Crenshaw/LAX rail line to multiple bus lines (including the Silver Line), the Blue Line, the river, Huntington Park, Maywood, and/or Vernon via a bike and pedestrian path anchored along Slauson Ave.

First proposed by Ridley-Thomas and Supervisor and Metro Board Member Gloria Molina in 2012, it has the potential to effect a significant transformation in a deeply blighted and long-neglected section of South L.A.

Screenshot of proposed bikeway corridor. Phase 1 (at left) represents section that Metro could move on immediately. Phase 2 would proceed more slowly, as Metro would need to negotiate with BNSF to purchase the ROW.

The visuals included in last year’s feasibility study divide the project into two phases (to be implemented concurrently). The central segment runs along Metro’s ROW on Slauson, eventually connecting with the Crenshaw line, to the west, and possibly the river, on the east.

But it isn’t going to come all that cheaply. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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The State of American Infrastructure Spending in Four Charts

If you’ve checked the news on the subject of American transportation infrastructure lately, you’ve probably heard that the sky is falling. It’s true that Congress can’t get its act together and pass a decent transportation bill, but the amount of money that’s being spent isn’t the problem so much as the fact that we’re spending it on expanding highways instead of keeping the stuff we have in good shape.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office adds some useful perspective on public infrastructure spending (federal, state, and local, including water infrastructure) since 1956 [PDF]. Here are four major takeaways.

Infrastructure Spending is Fairly Stable as a Share of GDP

Measured as a share of Gross Domestic Product, public infrastructure spending has been fairly stable throughout the last six decades at about 2.4 percent, reports the CBO. The most recent bump came in 2009 and 2010 because of the stimulus package, when it rose to 2.7 percent. It has declined somewhat since 2011.

Source: Congressional Budget Office

But Costs Have Climbed

Beginning in 2003, the cost of raw materials like concrete and asphalt increased more rapidly than the prices of other goods, the CBO reports. So if you factor in these specific costs, inflation-adjusted public infrastructure spending has declined about 9 percent since 2003 (the dark blue line).

Read more…

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Healthy Kids Zone: Schools at the Center of Healthy Communities

Bike Month is here and rides and panels are in abundance. Though the anchor of the month is Bike to Work Day, let’s make some room for the youth and talk a bit about why so many kids don’t ride their bikes to school anymore.

A myriad of environmental factors can affect a student’s experience in the classroom even before the school day begins. For example, many Los Angeles neighborhoods are unsafe for walking and biking and saturated with unhealthy food choices contributing to elevated rates of preventable diet and exercise related diseases like obesity and diabetes. A lack of amenities, such as parks and open space, and a disconnect from the health care system further reinforce these problems.

To address these issues, Community Health Councils (CHC) has been developing a Healthy Kids Zone (HKZ) pilot project to position schools as centers of healthy communities. The HKZ project is a pioneer effort in Los Angeles and nationwide with an unprecedented scope that bolsters grassroots efforts to improve school community health and safety with citywide policy.

Healthy Kids Zone graphic

Healthy Kids Zone graphic

K-12 schools have always been considered centers of learning and socialization in our neighborhoods. Our children experience many “firsts” at school, like friendships, fist fights, and fractions. Schools host sports events and musical and theatrical performances, polling places and community meetings. They are natural neighborhood hubs, where the community’s youth come together. An HKZ builds on the natural role of schools in communities by applying higher standards of development and enforcement guidelines to designated areas in the communities surrounding high-need schools.

HKZs are designed to improve well-being for young people and the surrounding community as a whole through the improvement of five key health improvement categories:

  • nutrition,
  • physical activity,
  • environmental health,
  • safety, and
  • health services.

CHC has identified these categories as having direct impact on the health of students and school communities before and after school hours. The project has been developed in conjunction with a multi-sectoral advisory committee team representing organizations with expertise in the health improvement categories. This past spring the HKZ concept and pilot implementation project were included in the City’s first ever general plan health element, Plan for a Healthy LA, providing high-level citywide policy support for the project.  Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: A Positive Vibe For Chicago TOD

podcast icon logo

On this week’s podcast, Yonah Freemark of the Metropolitan Planning Council (you may know him from The Transport Politic) shares the scoop on transit-oriented development in Chicago.

In a recent post, Yonah writes that in order to break the pattern of slow growth but ever-increasing demand, more development should happen near Chicago’s extensive transit system. We talk about why growth isn’t happening in transit-rich neighborhoods and what needs to happen for development near transit to make a difference.

Which strategy is better, expanding transit or developing near transit? And will state efforts to finance transit expansion with special taxes on real estate pay off?

Find out what Yonah has to say and let us know what you think.

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Today’s Headlines

Happy Memorial Day weekend! SBLA will not publish on Monday, back Tuesday

  • The GHG Reduction Case For Student Transit Passes (Move L.A.)
  • Highlights For the May 31 CicLAvia Pasadena (KCET)
    CicLAvia Route Map and Historic Guide to Pasadena
  • CM Koretz Reportedly Killed Westwood Village Bike Lanes (Biking in L.A.)
  • Man Leaving Suspicious Packages Shuts Down Red/Purple Line (LAT)
  • How Much Better Will CM Ryu Be Than Retrograde Gladhander LaBonge? (Flying Pigeon)
  • Mixed-Use Across From Vermont/Wilshire Metro, 173 homes, 234 parking spaces (Urbanize L.A.)
  • KPCC Takes A Look At Googie Architecture
  • New Handheld Devices Make It Easier For Glendale PD To Write Traffic Tickets (Glendale News Press)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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First Metro Countywide Sustainability Annual Report, With Plenty Of Graphs

Metro Sustainability

Cover of 2015 Metro Countywide Sustainability Annual Report [PDF]

At yesterday’s Metro Board of Directors Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee meeting, Metro staff shared the agency’s first Metro Countywide Sustainability Annual Report [PDF]. The report establishes a baseline to “track sustainability progress going forward for Metro’s own actions and broader measures of sustainability throughout the county. The Countywide Performance Metrics measure sustainability outcomes countywide such as how people travel throughout the county, the environmental impacts of this travel and how transportation and land use shift over time.”

The report includes brief case studies on sustainability projects from vanpools, to greenways, to bike hubs. It includes a spreadsheet with Metro’s status on its identified sustainability work plan.

The bulk of the report is a series of graphs showing Countywide Performance Metrics, including Vehicle Miles Traveled, Total Person Trips for Carpool and Active Transportation, Daily Total CO2 Emissions for L.A. County, Metro Transit Ridership Total Annual Boardings, and more. Each of these metrics are shown on graphs, most of which SBLA has included below in the order in which they appear in the report.

VMT

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) for L.A. County. Image via Metro [PDF]

trips

Total trips trips made walking, bicycling, and carpooling. Image via Metro [PDF]

job

Number of jobs within a half-mile radius of transit stations. Image via Metro [PDF]

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Damien Talks Episode 3: Oakland’s Uber Advocate Chris Kidd

Welcome to the third episode of Damien Talks, our podcast about the people and politics behind the Livable Streets Movement throughout California. Our first month broadcasting coincides with Bike Month, so we’ve been working up the coast, talking to bike advocates throughout the state. 

Chris rides off into the sunset from LADOT in 2011. Image: ##https://ladotbikeblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/the-bike-blog-it-is-achanging-christopher-kidd-out-jojo-pewsawang-in/##LADOT Bike Blog##

Chris rides off into the sunset from LADOT in 2011. Image: LADOT Bike Blog

This week, Damien Talks with Chris Kidd, a board member with CalBike and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland. When he’s not being one of the state’s leading advocates, he has a day job with Planning super group Alta Planning and Design. Longtime readers of Streetsblog Los Angeles may also remember Chris as the first editor of the LADOT Bike Blog.

This week’s Damien Talks is taking part in a special week devoted to looking at how a new Department of Transportation could change things in Oakland.

We’re always looking for sponsors, show ideas, and feedback. You can contact me at damien@streetsblog.org, at twitter @damientypes, online at Streetsblog California or on Facebook at StreetsblogCA.

Thanks for listening. You can download the episode at the Damien Talks homepage on Linksyn.

Streetsblog SF
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Applying the Parklet Strategy to Make Transit Stops Better, Quicker

Planners are looking to use the parklet model to deliver bus bulb-outs at low cost. Muni and AC Transit (shown) are developing programs with different takes on the concept. Image: Ben Kaufman

San Francisco’s parklet revolution has broadened the possibilities for how curb space can be used. Now, city planners in SF and the East Bay are taking the idea in a new direction: using temporary sidewalk extensions to make transit stops more efficient and attractive.

Three different names for the concept have emerged from planners at three institutions where it was conceived independently — “temporary transit bulbs,” “multi-purpose parklets,” and “stoplets.” Those terms come from, respectively, SF transportation agencies, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit, and Ben Kaufman, a graduate student at the UCLA Department of Urban Planning.

Whatever you call it, the method could allow transit agencies to much more rapidly implement transit bulb-outs — sidewalk extensions at transit stops — and reap the benefits at about one-twentieth the cost of pouring concrete, on average, according to Kaufman.

For his UCLA graduate project, Kaufman is wrapping up a stoplet design guide for AC Transit, which received a Safe Routes to Transit grant to study the idea.

Kaufman sees stoplets as a way to re-invent the bus stop. “Why can’t we create a space that people actually want to sit at, that would make people excited to wait for a bus?” he said. “Instead of being a waiting experience, it can be a relaxing experience.” Like parklets, stoplets would be “adopted” by merchants who want to improve bus stops in front of their storefronts.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Enviros Sue To Get EPA To Reduce Particulate Matter In L.A. Air (KPCC)
  • L.A. Walks Congratulates L.A. City Councilmember Elect David Ryu
  • Studies Examine Gold And Expo Line Ridership (The Source)
  • Before-After Images Of Some Recent L.A. Building (Curbed)
  • Image Of Possible Future L.A. Convention Center Make-Overs (Urbanize)
  • L.A. Weekly Looks At L.A. and L.B. Park Rankings
  • One Korean City Banned Cars For A Month (Fast Company)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA