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.
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.
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