Daily digest for zRants, on February 25, 2016

zRants posted: "By Carolyn Lochhead : sfgate – excerpt This story gets wonkier by the minute. Now the plan is to build the train from Bakersfield to San Francisco Bay and house people in the valley. So, why are we building dense housing and a huge transit system in San F"

New post on zRants

Proponents in Washington promote California’s bullet train

by zRants

By Carolyn Lochhead : sfgate – excerpt

This story gets wonkier by the minute. Now the plan is to build the train from Bakersfield to San Francisco Bay and house people in the valley. So, why are we building dense housing and a huge transit system in San Francisco?

WASHINGTON — Ridiculed as a Train to Nowhere, California’s multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project is now a Train to Somewhere, rail officials said Wednesday, touting their decision last week to radically alter course by building the bullet train’s first leg to the Bay Area instead of the Los Angeles area.

In Washington to meet with federal agency partners, rail officials said that with construction under way near the town of Madera in the San Joaquin Valley, the $68 billion project will become a reality within a decade.

The idea is to speed workers to their jobs in unaffordable Silicon Valley and back again, to their homes in the more affordable towns of the San Joaquin Valley…

Private investors needed

By contrast, Richard said, “We know we can get a line up and running on the 250 miles between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley.”

Officials hope completing the line will get private investors to pony up $10 billion or so for the rights to operate the system, money the planners desperately need to complete the project.

Richard conceded that the line must extend all the way to San Francisco on the north from Bakersfield in the south to draw riders. For that, the authority will need an additional $2.9 billion from Congress, which Republicans refuse to spend. Richard said officials are laying the groundwork for the request to Congress but won’t ask for money for four to five years…(more)

zRants | February 25, 2016 at 4:12 am | Tags: affordable housing, development, high-speed-rail, San Joaquin Valley | Categories: California, Debt, Development, Politics, Public Debt | URL: http://wp.me/pIeN-19f

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Obama proposes hundreds of millions for BART, Muni, Caltrain

By Joe Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excperpt

“This year’s budget once again highlights the administration’s ongoing commitment to transit investments,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA.

If President Barack Obama has his way, BART, Muni and Caltrain will each net hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government.

The money is part of Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, which starts in October.

The $3.5 billion in transportation funding is also recommended by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

If approved by Congress, it would help the Bay Area electrify Caltrain, build a new BART extension, and pay for current construction of a San Francisco subway.

There are several Bay Area projects in this program, most earmarked for 2017. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which runs Muni, is recommended to gain over $173 million for the Central Subway, which will run from Union Square to Chinatown.

“This year’s budget once again highlights the administration’s ongoing commitment to transit investments,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for SFMTA.

The San Jose Silicon Valley Berryessa BART Extension Project is recommended to receive $125 million. And in a huge gain for those looking to speed Caltrain, the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project for Caltrain Modernization is recommended to receive $125 million.

“These projects transform communities, improving mobility and access to jobs, education and other important opportunities for millions of people,” said Secretary Foxx, in a statement.

Electrification is part of a larger Caltrain modernization program that will replace the diesel system with a more modern electric system, according to the Department of Transportation. The project will replace both train cars and infrastructure.

If Caltrain receives the funding, it “will have a sizeable impact” on the $430 million still needed to pay for electrification, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Caltrain will also get $73 million that had been allocated in previous years, she said, leaving a deficit of $232 million.

A report by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said Caltrain will be able to run 114 cars per day rather than 92 and reduce emissions by up to 97 percent by 2040…(more)

President Obama asks Congress for $125M for Caltrain electrification

By Bay City News : sfexaminer – excerpt

President Barack Obama has asked Congress for $125 million in the fiscal 2017 budget for the electrification of Caltrain, U.S. Department of Transportation officials announced Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement that projects like Caltrain’s electrification “transform communities” by “improving mobility and access to jobs, education, and other important opportunities for millions of residents.”

The money would come through the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program.

If Caltrain receives the money, it “will have a sizeable impact” on the $430 million still needed to pay for electrification, Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said.

Caltrain will also get $73 million that had been allocated in previous years, leaving a deficit of $232 million, Ackemann said…

Besides the funding hurdle, the project is also facing a legal challenge. The town of Atherton and two advocacy groups filed a lawsuit claiming that the environmental impact report for the project was inadequate.

The plaintiffs said the report didn’t adequately address the impacts of traffic, station configuration, electricity demand and tree removal.

Ackemann said the lawsuit is in mediation.

Caltrain’s ridership was at 58,200 boardings a day in November, according to the Federal Transit Administration. With the new system, boardings may exceed 100,000 per day by 2040.

The total cost of the project is $1.76 billion, FTA officials said… (more)

Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study (RAB)

Join San Francisco Planning for a discussion on the Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study (RAB)

The Railyard Alternatives and I-280 Boulevard Feasibility Study (RAB) is a multi-agency program studying transportation and land use alternatives in the most rapidly growing areas of the City: South of Market, Mission Bay, and Showplace Square/Lower Potrero Hill.

In anticipation of the Downtown Rail Extension (DTX), the electrification of Caltrain, and High-Speed Rail, the City is studying how best to coordinate these projects in a unified vision for the area rather than building each project independently.

The first phase of the RAB has prepared conceptual design alternatives for four different project components, in addition to a study of overall land use considerations and opportunities for placemaking:

  1. Make I-280 a Boulevard
  2. Value Engineer the Proposed Downtown Rail Extension (DTX) alignment
  3. Create a Loop Track/Extension to the East Bay to Enhance Operational Capacity at the Transbay Transit Center
  4. Reconfigure, Relocate, or Substantially Reduce the 4th and King Railyard
  5. Create Placemaking, Neighborhood Connectivity, Employment and Transit Oriented Development Opportunities

Join San Francisco Planning to learn about findings from the first phase of this study and opportunities to participate as we work toward managing growth and improving neighborhood connectivity.

Date: Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Time: 6 – 8 p.m.
Location: Potrero Hill Recreation Center, Auditorium, 801 Arkansas Street
Accessibility: The Potrero Hill Recreation Center is ADA accessible. For language assistance or disability accommodations at the event, please contact candace.soohoo or 415-575-9157 at least 72 hours in advance.
Register: Visit http://rab.eventbrite.com to register for the community meeting. Please note – the event is FREE and open to the public. Registration is not mandatory, but helpful to ensure we have enough materials and refreshments.

MUNI Access:
10-Townsend (outbound/25th & Potrero) – Arkansas and Madera Streets
10-Townsend (inbound/Jackson & Fillmore) – Wisconsin and Madera Streets

Agency Coordination:
The study has a technically advisory committee (TAC) which includes representation from Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Caltrans, California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), Caltrain, Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and various City and County Departments including: San Francisco Planning, San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), San Francisco Port Authority, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA), San Francisco Department of Public Works (DPW), San Francisco Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (OCII), San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), and San Francisco Mayor’s Office.

GUNG HAY FAT CHOY! Reflections

Happy Chinese New Year

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Year of the Monkey

Hello Everyone, New Year’s a good time for reflection. Below are some thought-provoking articles and a brilliant, creative, entertaining, funny, sad and inspiring music video about San Francisco gentrification. Cheers, Howard

CANDACE ROBERTS: “Hello Ed Lee” (Official Music Video)


Comments from Singer:

Hello Folks, I’m thrilled to present my new music video, “Hello Ed Lee”. My simultaneous love and anguish for San Francisco has led to yet another piece based on this struggling little town. Tech is bumping, rents and evictions are off the charts and San Francisco is shelling out five million dollars for Super Bowl 50 … just two days away. Hello, Ed Lee? And yes, this is a parody (of sorts) … how else does one get Ed Lee’s attention??? This project came out of nowhere at the start of 2016. It was a collaboration between myself and filmmaker Jane Goldman, also featuring maps and documentation from the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project. Please share it far and wide! Here it is again for your clicking pleasure! “Hello Ed Lee”. Thank you folks! Candace

HOODLINE: How Urban Renewal Destroyed The Fillmore in Order to Save It


After World War II, American cities were transfixed by a bold social experiment that came to be known as urban renewal.

Proponents, including leading liberals as well as business and civic interests across the country, believed razing and replacing large swaths of economically depressed older neighborhoods with bigger new buildings would result in lower crime, economic growth and a higher standard of living.

The backlash to these failures dovetailed with the growing anti-freeway movement of the same period, the nationwide civil rights and anti-war movements and dozens of other groups to create San Francisco’s modern progressive political identity.

Starting in the 1920s and 30s, federal housing agencies distributed color-coded “residential safety maps” so banks could identify the best places to back mortgages. Areas with old buildings or the “threat of infiltration of foreign-born, negro or lower grade population” like the Fillmore were outlined in red, a warning against granting loans there.

The same day the Planning Commission’s proposal was released, inspectors dispatched by District Attorney Edmund G. Brown discovered “dozens of serious fire hazards” while inspecting Fillmore district buildings, reported the Chronicle. A task force of health and fire inspectors was created following a report by Brown declaring there were “100,000 violations daily in San Francisco of the State housing act and fire, building, health and safety codes.”

Beyond physical dangers, the report suggested that residents of the blighted zone were also falling victim to moral decay. There were “71 bars, 45 liquor stores, numerous smoke shops and magazine stands suspected of gambling joints and bookies in disguise,” not to mention “‘hotels’ that accommodate members of the ‘world’s oldest profession.'”

“You have to read into the idea that these absolutely beautiful Victorian buildings were also blighted because they were populated by black people,” said Collins. “It’s amazing to me when you look back at the amount of housing that was removed.”

Broad fears over redevelopment also triggered a cascading series of regulations around housing and construction that all these decades later have generated one of the most complex approval processes of any city in the country.

TRANS-ASIAN RAIL: Connecting Europe Asia

A Trans-Asian Rail is amazing—a world-changer through transport of goods. May ease political tensions too. Unlike California High-Speed Rail and San Francisco’s Central Subway, the Trans-Asian Rail is planned strategically for maximum effectiveness and constructed efficiently. China’s long-range visionary planning and infrastructure investments are worth studying. Below is background information about its history, international agreements, engineering etc.

A Hawaiian China-watcher’s perspective: “It will probably take Hawaii 10 years to complete our 26 mile rail at a cost close to US$10 billion. For the same period of time, using the following building method, China could complete 1,600 miles at 1/20 the cost per mile of what Hawaii is paying.”

Parenthetically, San Francisco’s Central Subway costs $1 billion per mile—taking money from the rest of Muni and cutting service citywide. Now, the schedule is delayed into 2019 and costs are under stress.

YouTube: China and Trans-Asian Rail (longer 10 minute version)


Business-In-Asia: Trans-Asia Rail Link


Wikipedia: Trans-Asian Railway