Year 3, Month 1, Day 5: You Can’t Get There From Here

The San Francisco Bay Area would seem to need an upgraded regional public transportation system (San Jose Mercury-News):

“We want to get a sense of whether the public wants this region to continue growing in a way it has for several decades, or whether the public is ready for a change,” said Lisa Klein, a senior transportation planner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments are jointly developing the plan.

Denser development with more homes per acre near transit centers reduces people’s need to drive to work, school, stores and play, planners say.

But some critics are uncomfortable with the trend they see as heavy-handed pressure to push residents into “stack and pack” housing.

“They base their utopian model on high-density housing with shops underneath, no parking, but a lot of cycling and walking,” said Heather Gass, an Alamo real estate saleswoman, in a blog post critical of the growth plan. “What these people don’t seem to understand is that people move to the suburbs to get away from this type of urban lifestyle.”

Assholes. Sent January 1:

While people may indeed be moving to the suburbs to escape a bike-and-walk urban lifestyle, as a real estate spokeswoman suggests, there is another sort of escape happening in the dispute over increased public transportation in the Bay Area. Simply put, that is the desire to continue convenient amenities while ignoring inconvenient facts.

Like it or not, the next twenty years will see a transformation of American transportation that will outdo the introduction of the automobile in the previous century. As fossil fuels become more expensive in the short term (due to burgeoning extraction costs) we’ll become increasingly aware of how expensive they are in the long term (what with cleanup costs, health impacts, resource wars and the impact of global climate change). And it will become obvious that a car-based economy is no longer sustainable.

Cities and regions that prepare intelligently for this crisis will prosper in the ensuing decades.

Warren Senders

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