RTP Guidelines Panel
Sacramento, June 30
I participated in a panel discussion sponsored by the California Transportation Commission regarding the update of Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) guidelines that is now underway.
Court of Appeal Victory
San Francisco, June 30
Congratulations to Adrienne Weil and our legal team on their victory in one of our two Plan Bay Area CEQA cases before the California Court of Appeal. The plaintiffs in this case were a group called Bay Area Citizens. I’ll make an excerpt from the unanimous opinion our Quote of the Month: “Citizens’ interpretation of SB 375 would lead to the absurd conclusion that the Legislature created an elaborate process [for developing sustainable community strategies] . . . only to allow MPOs in the end to simply cite the reductions expected from the pre-existing state mandates and take little or no further action.”
Northern California Megaregion Report
San Francisco, July 1
The Bay Area Economic Institute has published an excellent report describing the challenges in housing, land use, jobs, transportation and the environment that have spilled over from the Bay Area into adjoining regions that we now call the Northern California Megaregion. You can find the report at the following link: http://www.bayareaeconomy.org/report/the-northern-california-megaregion/
Mayor Lee Welcome Reception
San Francisco, July 5
Mayor Ed Lee hosted a reception for the three regional agency occupants of 375 Beale Street to welcome us to San Francisco (of course, the Air District has been here for its entire existence). Chair Cortese and Air District Chair Eric Mar received a ceremonial cable car bell from Mayor Lee to mark the occasion.
U.S. DOT Freight Grants
Washington DC, July 5
The U.S. Department of Transportation has notified Congress that it has selected the first round of FASTLANE freight grants that were authorized in the recent FAST Act. The first cycle included $800 million worth of funding and, alas, California received only a single $49 million grant for a highway project in southern California.
Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Net
San Francisco, July 12
To keep the bad news going, the Golden Gate Bridge District opened construction bids for the proposed suicide deterrent system and the low bid of $142 million was nearly double the engineer’s estimate. The Bridge District is evaluating the details of both bids submitted before determining its next course of action.
U.S. Metro Economy Report
Washington DC, July 19
The U.S. Conference of Mayors has released its annual U.S. Metro Economy Report which highlights the economic importance of the nation’s metropolitan areas. The Mayors’ report also contains fascinating charts comparing the gross domestic products (GDP) of U.S. metro areas with those of the various nations of the world. The two largest urbanized areas in the Bay Area (San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose) are listed separately in the report. I have mushed them together to convey the following factoid: If the Bay Area were a nation, its GDP would rank 21st among countries – just a cut below Turkey and a notch better than Switzerland.
By-Right Housing Forum
San Francisco, July 20
I attended this forum sponsored by the public policy group SPUR to discuss Governor Brown’s proposal for by-right housing approval for certain multi-family development projects as well as $400 million in one-time state funding for affordable housing projects. The Legislature will return to session next week and will have until August 30 to complete action on this and many other pending legislative measures before they break for the year.
Bay Area Partnership
San Francisco, July 21
The regular Bay Area Partnership meeting featured discussion of OBAG 2, the draft investment strategy for Plan Bay Area 2040, and the designation of “transit representatives” on the commission required by the recently finalized federal metropolitan planning regulations.
How were cities distributed globally in the past? How many people lived in these cities? How did cities influence their local and regional environments? This month’s map seeks to answer these questions by illustrating the world’s population growth within cities over a span of 6,000 years. According to the map authors, by 2030, 75 percent of the world’s population is expected to be living in cities. Today, about 54 percent of us do. In 1960, only 34 percent of the world lived in cities. This map is based upon research conducted by Scientific Data in June 2016, and represents the first spatially-explicit dataset of urban settlements from 3700 BCE to AD 2000.