Monday, April 14, 2014

Transit-oriented growth and the SMART[sic] train development scheme

From Richard Hall's Marin County blog, Planning for Reality:

Transportation funding mandates future substantial growth

To attain the targeted funding, the SMART[Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit] train has to increase development the length of the line to attain an average of 2,200 housing units within ½ mile of each station, the real agenda for “station area plans” where the title deceivingly doesn’t reference that they are really camouflaged plans to increase housing.

An area like Larkspur that experiences organic growth through development outside the immediate area cannot seek funding without committing to more growth.

The transportation funding presumes that the new residents will take transit. However:

* In Larkspur the ferries are at or near capacity, no more ferry crossings can be added due to a legal settlement to prevent wakes and protect the environment.

* In Larkspur few residents will use the train to go north; the nearest major employment center is San Francisco.

* Larkspur is in a suburban, not an urban, setting where it is more likely that the new residents will drive to get to work, take their children to school or to go on a shopping trip with heavy shopping.

* Some might argue we entered into this Ponzi scheme when voters adopted SMART. But this was all cleverly concealed by slick marketing claiming that the train was the answer to 101 congestion.

By accepting the MTC[Metropolitan Transportation Commission] grant money Larkspur has entered a TOD[transit oriented development] pyramid scheme where it will endlessly have to increase urbanization to catch up with and address transportation capacity issues. The new money will not be focused on Larkspur’s most acute problems---traffic and parking---but instead vainly hope that the new residents won’t drive.

Ultimately this is all about SMART and MTC getting their grant money by ensuring there are 2,200 housing units within ½ mile of each SMART station. This is not about solving problems---it’s a Ponzi scheme all about money and regional agencies increasing the money they receive from federal grants that increases their influence, staff and executives' paychecks...

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