Mid-City Rapid Transit: A Rapid Waste: NOT What We Voted For!

The Mid-City Rapid Transit Project has been very controversial quite simply because....it is not what we voted for. I personally voted for the half cent sales tax increase to fund rapid transit because I believe in public transportation. I always vote for rapid transit projects but now I will think twice before ever doing that again. This is the WORST idea and the most egregious waste of tax dollars and today it is aggressively being pushed by District 3 Council Todd Gloria who claims to have worked out the kinks.

SanDAG and proponents like Council member Todd Gloria insist its a great idea because it trims 6 minutes off of a 46 minute route. The problem is those 6 minutes are gained by timing the lights not by the 43 million dollars spent on bus lanes along Park Blvd. It will turn an already much too wide thoroughfare into a 6 lane highway killing the pedestrian experience.

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look at the above photo of Park Blvd...imagine the center median gone, the diagonal parking gone and 6 lanes instead of 4.

Todd is boasting today that he has solved the problem because he created 16 parking spaces. Boy if there is 1 thing Todd can do its make parking spaces...seems to be the only thing he does. He has been turning Hillcrest into 1 gigantic parking lot with land that could have been used for parks or community gardens since he took office. Today he proudly announced he had found another 16 parking spaces for the controversial project thus the problem has been solved.

It is a HUGE insult to the citizens to suggest that parking was the only thing wrong with this plan. Parking was the only thing citizens had to fight this abomination to our neighborhood. This is a perfect example of how tone-deaf Todd has been to community concerns. He thinks the only concern anyone in Hillcrest has is parking.

The proposal tears out all the medians along Park Blvd making it even wider aesthetically displeasing, banal and totally out of scale. It essentially turns this part of town into University City where scale has stopped any real pedestrian friendly neighborhoods from emerging.

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Even the San Diego Architectural Foundation that issues Orchids and Onions gave this project an Onion and it has nothing to do with parking and everything to do with...its just BAD planning!!

This is what they say about the project:

"Where the Onion comes in is the Park Blvd. portion of the project that closes Polk Avenue, a main thoroughfare carrying traffic across Park Blvd. to North Park on the east; access to 163 via Florida; access to the Park Blvd. businesses including Henry's & the UH Library; El Cajon Blvd.to go east or north to the University Heights neighborhood. ....There will be a lane reduction on the west side of Park. The gain in time is negligble -- all this while the North Park & Uptown communities are in the middle of updating their 20+ old plans. No improvements have been added to the very complex intersection at El Cajon Blvd., Park Blvd. and Normal. Another bus line will also be using this area. City of Villages planning this is not! Pedestrian and bicycle friendly this is not! Pushing through traffic onto the residential streets and creating congestion at other streets is a certainty. All this while bus routes and services are being cut -- I guess if this is one way to get new buses through Federal/State grants by designing a "bus runs through it," then let the good times roll!"

The handful of riders you may gain on the bus will be more than wiped out by all the pedestrians and bikers that can no longer walk to Henrys or to the Farmers Market on the weekend.

This is a rapid waste of local and federal tax dollars and it is being done because the money is there and SanDAG and Todd Gloria are all too happy to give it away to special interest contractors even for a horrible and harmful plan.

But here is what I believe is the real motivation behind this assinine waste of money:...the goal is to have Park Blvd considered a rapid transit route regardless of how bad this plan is because according to a new state Bill SB 375 passed under the guise of "anti-sprawl" developers would not be required to go through a CEQA review for any project located within a half mile of "rapit transit".

For those of you that don't know CEQA is about the only thing citizens have to fight bad development proposals and to stop demolitions of historic buildings. It basically means they can turn Park Blvd into another ghetto of 7 story affordable housing projects destroying every last piece of history along the route.

Here is an excerpt:

"New CEQA Limitation For Transit Priority Projects. SB 375 defines a “transit priority project” as a mixed use project meeting specified ratios and densities that is located within one-half mile of a major transit stop or high-quality transit corridor identified in the regional transportation plan. Such a project can be exempt from an EIR requirement if a detailed laundry list of requirements is met."

There you have it. This is an emergency for Todd and his developer supporters (in case you haven't seen them look at this list http://www.developeralert.org/INDEXGloria.html ) so they can get around the annoying citizens that try and stop their bad redevelopment projects. Now for a half mile in either direction of Park they can avoid an EIR and a potential lawsuit by citizens that feel a project is harmful or not in the best interests of the community.

Please call Todd and voice your opposition to this project.

And since the City seems so tone deaf to our opposition contact the Federal Governement Accountability Office in DC since this project is receiving federal money as well.

<p>OIGHotline@gao.gov>

U.S. Government Accountability Office Office of the Inspector General 441 G Street, NW, Room 1808 Washington, DC 20548

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Comments

I am also a huge transit fan. I use it every day. And I live in that neighborhood. I also think this is a terrible plan. As I understand it, the plan is to have a DEDICATED bus lane. And as anyone who uses MTS knows, most bus routes are very infrequent and there's very little chance of that changing. So for the vast majority of the day, that lane will sit there empty. Uncrossable, unusable. Not only a safety problem for pedestrians trying to cross the street, but also for emergency vehicles which will no longer be able to cross Park Blvd at Polk, Lincoln, Howard, etc. If there were guaranteed long term funding to make this a fast, FREQUENT bus, I would be more inclined to give it a chance. But I don't think that's in place, so every 15-30 minutes we'll see a bus. The rest of the time, well I guess that big empty lane will be a safe place for pedestrians to hang out waiting to run across the road. (Too bad for wheelchairs, strollers, shoppers with buggies.)

Good point about how the lanes will be empty between routes. 1 more reason this plan just plain sucks. No respectable City Planner would endorse this plan. I took Urban Planning courses in Architecture school and if I presented this solution in a studio class I would receive an "F". The jurors would just annihilate this notion that I had created "smart planning" w/ this. The whole idea of Urban Planning is to build cities that make people get out of their cars and walk and ride bikes and take transit. This plan takes all those pedestrians and bikers and puts them in their cars and makes the street too intimidating to navigate any other way.

Plus as I said the 6 minutes are gained by timing the lights which would cost almost nothing. Park Blvd is already a very non-congested street. The biggest problem w/ Park is it is far too wide to make it pedestrian friendly. The real solution should be to make the center media even wider and better landscaped creating safe cross-walks. In order to make Park more ped friendly and better for business you need to slow traffic down and you do that by narrowing the street and making it a more aesthetically pleasing experience so people will walk. I would even construct a bike lane between the parking along Park and the street. Landscaping, landscaping, landscaping is what it needs. For 43 million dollars you could do SOOO much to make this a truly great street that people would walk.

The Transnet Tax Extension we passed in 2004 requires projects like this accommodate bicycles and pedestrians. The current design on Park Blvd does not.

This looks to be the classic case of designing a road for traffic efficiency only, disregarding the other modes, and ignoring the safety implications for all users (including cars). It is 2011, correct? If I didn't know better I'd think it was 30-40 years ago given the mindset (think Mission Valley).

Call Todd Gloria and SanDAG. They know better, and should be reminded of who their clients and constituents are.

Great comments guys. Thanks. I didnt know that the legislation requires bikes and peds...that may also be grounds for the neighborhood to fight it. Also I am thinking we should attack the federal funding by reporting this to the government accountability office as an example of gross waste and abuse.

U.S. Government Accountability Office Office of the Inspector General 441 G Street, NW, Room 1808 Washington, DC 20548

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