Progressives Need to Lead CEQA Reform Effort

Apr 16th, 2013 | Posted by

Today Governor Jerry Brown confirmed what many of us had already suspected, if not assumed — CEQA reform is unlikely in the current legislative session:

The California Environmental Quality Act, Brown told reporters here, “is supported by some key groups within the Democratic Party, and I think it would be difficult for the Legislature to move that process forward.”

Brown said he remains committed relaxing provisions of the law but that he has a large agenda, including the state budget, water infrastructure and high-speed rail. He said “the appetite for CEQA reform is much stronger outside the state Capitol than it is inside.”

Brown said, “This is not something you get done in a year, but I believe before I depart this stage we will see reform in CEQA.”

My sense is that CEQA reform became much less likely when environmentalists and labor unions formed an alliance to oppose changes being proposed by business groups. Their work in recent months to frame the issue as one of defending the state’s environmental protection law against corporate efforts to undermine it and carve out loopholes was clearly effective.

It’s not hard to see why. Democrats have a supermajority in Sacramento. If you want to convince those Democrats to support your legislation, you need to have the key constituencies of the party on your side. The opposite happened this year with CEQA – key Democratic constituencies opposed the business-led reform effort.

Last weekend the California Democratic Party approved a resolution supporting CEQA reform with the following caveat:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the California Democratic Party stands with the labor and environmental community in affirming its support and commitment to CEQA’s original intent to ensure public participation and transparency in the planning process in order to protect California’s environment and calls on the state legislature and governor to oppose any efforts to weaken this law or reduce public participation.

As Brian Leubitz, a CDP regional director and veteran of the party’s resolutions committee, put it on Calitics today, this doesn’t mean “no reform” but rather that environmentalists have very strict conditions on which they would support changes to the law.

The question then is how to move forward. It’s clear that having business drive the process won’t work, at least not without some changes. I’ve heard a lot of criticisms that the proposed legislation was drafted without input from environmental advocates and labor unions. Many of them concluded that the draft legislation created loopholes and shifted the balance away from the environment.

Business still has a financial incentive to pursue reforms, as do unions whose members needs jobs. Environmentalists have the incentive of wanting to do something meaningful about the climate crisis without letting NIMBYs hold up important carbon reducing projects like solar panels and bullet trains by hijacking CEQA. There should be a path forward here for everyone.

My own humble suggestion, offered as someone who has merely been an observer throughout this process, is that the business advocates who support CEQA reforms should sit down with labor leaders and environmental groups – at least those that have shown an interest in some kind of reform. Some of those meetings should be private, especially at the outset, and then have some public conversations and conferences to help find the points of agreement. Find progressive leaders and groups who are willing to take the lead to make this happen.

Meanwhile business groups should continue making the case for some sort of reform, as they have been in news outlets across the state in recent weeks. Keep up the drumbeat and make it clear that the status quo is not acceptable and that we can do a better job protecting the environment and reducing carbon emissions. California’s labor and environmental leaders ought to do the same, framed in ways that meet their own values and needs.

  1. Richard Mlynarik
    Apr 16th, 2013 at 20:34
    #1

    CHEVRON NEEDS MORE “?PROGRESSIVE” ASTROTURF STAT! GET ON THE CASE, FANBOYS!

    The deal is that you give us everything — everything! — and more, and then maybe, maybe one year (or maybe not, but trust us) there will be a choo choo under the Christmas tree for you.

    Choo choo! Woo hoo!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Please go away, Richard. You’re boring and stupid.

    VBobier Reply:

    Richard is probably going senile.

    Tony D Reply:

    Agree.

    Eric Reply:

    He’s not even welcome any more in the hacking community. Because even there, he can’t play nicely with others.
    https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2741726

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Man, those complaints there sound like what he does here–calling people “simians,” wanting to cut off hands through the screen, other insults. . .

    Best comment, and a good piece of advice: “Open-source community would surely be better without people being bullies. It’s not like anyone’s creative ability or technical excellence comes from bullying other people.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure. And this doesn’t change the fact that progressives need to derail rather than support any environmental reform effort led by a legislator who’s left government to work for Chevron.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I have to agree with that.

    Random comment. Did you know that Chevron, for decades, propagandized its *shareholders*, trying to get them to lobby the government on behalf of its execs? Think for a moment about how backwards this situation is from how corporations are supposed to be run in theory.

    Eric Reply:

    And that doesn’t change the fact that if anything Richard is hurting the progressive cause rather than helping it.

  2. Nathanael
    Apr 16th, 2013 at 20:45
    #2

    I would suggest making some very, very simple and targeted changes to CEQA:
    (1) Reduction in automobile parking shall never be considered an adverse environmental impact.
    (2) Reduction in mobility or speed of car movements shall never be considered an adverse environmental impact.
    (3) Claims of increased motor vehicle idling caused by (1) or (2) shall never be considered an adverse environmental impact, nor shall anything claimed to result from increased idling caused by (1) or (2).
    (4) Changes in views shall never be considered an adverse environmental impact.
    (5) Claims of increased risk to pedestrians from trains at a location shall not be considered an adverse environmental impact if said risk is entirely to trespassers; those who ignore warning bells and gates; and those who are assaulted and pushed onto the railway line by others.

    I think this would pretty much get rid of most of the garbage excuses used to pervert CEQA from its original purpose. At least all the ones I know of.

    YesONHSR Reply:

    CEQA has show its faults by the 25 or so people(nimbys) in this state… That have caused much of the public relations and real planning damage for CAHSR..There voices are given far to much time and really they are just self-centered people that act like the world is ending due to HSR

    synonymouse Reply:

    So “progressives” are to prostitute themselves out to developers. Quel mouvement.

    Of course CEQA is a roadblock and has been perverted. How else are you going to slow down a bit the gangsters and grafters running California? Puts lawyers to work and if you deleted it the Nannies would just have to fill that space with even dumber legislation.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Your comment doesn’t seem to have anything to do with mine.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …the Turing machine needs to be tuned….

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Nathanael

    You are correct; the comments were directed at the original post.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you have the political muscle to get these changes through, you’ve already won.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ha! Good point. Thanks.

    I guess this points out that the real fight here is between the “parking and cars and NIMBY lobby” on one side, and the “actual sustainable development” lobby on the other side.

    I mention this because I think it helps to make it clear what we’re actually fighting for. Even if this is a pipedream, it does absolutely no good for people to be befuddled, fighting over things which aren’t actually the issues.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This fight is fairly marginal to the CEQA issue, though. It’s mostly a fight between developers (who don’t care about TOD vs. sprawlburbs) and environmentalists (who are opposed to build-more-to-consume-less ideas). The NIMBYs provide a lot of muscle to help the environmentalists, but they too don’t care about density vs. sprawl; entitled homeowners have blocked densification everywhere but also sprawl in places like Marin County.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, they can have their fight and we can have our fight. When their fight consists of two groups both of whose policies would lead to disaster if unchecked (NIMBYs and Develop Everything types), I want nothing to do with it. I would rather make it clear what I’m fighting for, and I certainly don’t want to be on either side.

    Perhaps better communications will help more people get into the *correct* fight rather than lining up with Develop Everything types or NIMBYs. I can dream.

    blankslate Reply:

    Jurisdictions are already free to adopt impact thresholds consistent with 1-5 above, based on CEQA law as it currently stands.

  3. jimsf
    Apr 17th, 2013 at 11:47
    #3

    How bout doing in a simpler way. Leave ceqa as is but exempt public infrastructure from it. Do not allow the use of eminent domain for private development but exempt and unrestrict the use of eminent domain for public infrastrucure projects.

    Joey Reply:

    There needs to be some sort of review process. Under your plan urban freeways would be expanded boundlessly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a feature, not a bug.

    jimsf Reply:

    freeways would only be expanded if the voters vote for them and if they vote for them its because they want them. If they don’t want them they vote against the funding.

    Joey Reply:

    So the effects of air quality, noise, and accessibility of the surrounding area should simply be ignored because the majority of people in one particular political district (or its politicians for that matter) think (wrongly or rightly) that it might ease congestion?

    jimsf Reply:

    yes

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m guessing you’re not an asthmatic.

    jimsf Reply:

    I do have asthma thats why I moved back to the coast (among other reasons) I live 200 feet from the 101 but the nice sea breeze blows the freeway stuff away.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and tomorrow the developer that has been quietly buying up the hundred acres around you sends you an eviction notice because he’s gonna tear it all down and build 20 story condos. The plan was approved by the county and the town two years ago.

    jimsf Reply:

    that will never happen because the people here are totally anti growth. they are anti growth on purpose because it “keeps the riff raff out” as they freely admit.( not saying I agree with that, just reporting what locals say to me) They purposely have no growth policies to keep rents and housing prices high. All the affordable housing is across the county line by design. So yeh, i pay a premium, but my neighborhood is considered built out and no building is allowed and any changes are heavily regulated as to density and character

    Joey Reply:

    “Character” is a term people usually use to mean anything they want it to mean, for the purpose of opposing anything they want to oppose. It has no bearing on what’s worth preserving and what’s worth changing.

    jimsf Reply:

    perhaps. but Im just reporting the news not passing judgement on it.

    jimsf Reply:

    frankly I think this county could stand to allow a little more growth without doing too much damage… but I’m not from here so Im not going to tell them what to do. I’m happy to have managed to squeeze in and and grab an ocean view too and I can’t blame them for wanting to preserve the quality of life. Its quite a secret gem!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so using zoning in San Francisco to keep it from becoming Queens is awful because you couldn’t afford it anymore but it’s great where you are now because you can afford it. Okay.

    jimsf Reply:

    adiron- please pay attention. I agree with using zoning in san francisco to keep it from becoming queens. I don’t think it is “awful” I support it. I even sat on a neighborhood board working to make sure the neighborhood would be preserved. My entire life in sf, I and everyone I knew, was against tearing things down. against building taller, against increasing the population, etc.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What’s wrong with Queens? Why shouldn’t San Francisco be denser? Lots of people would be willing to pay very high prices to be able to live in a denser San Francisco. If they build the Geary Subway what’s wrong with building apartment buildings along like the one that line the Grand Concourse or Michigan Avenue?

    Joey Reply:

    There’s evidence to suggest that may actually be caused by airborne pollutants (among other things). So basically you’re fine with giving all those in the area who are now at higher risk of developing asthma the finger?

    jimsf Reply:

    Well it depends on what the voters decide and how convincing the other side is. I mean we have democracy and we have the courts and we have the media so as usual the issues work through all that until a conclusion is reached. Im not sure what your point is.

    Derek Reply:

    Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

    libertyrailroad Reply:

    Why not eliminate Eminent domain all together and remove approval processes all together?

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you eliminate eminent domain you can’t build ANYTHING like a railway line, road, pipeline, sewer line, water line, power line, internet line, etc. There will always be some obstreperous jerk who refuses to let it go through their slice of land.

    Eric Reply:

    Or who lets it go through… if and only if you pay him a brazillion dollars.

  4. Robert
    Apr 17th, 2013 at 13:14
    #4

    Quentin Kopp, no longer on board the bullet train:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-morrison-kopp-20130416,0,5847815.column

    Some pretty compelling points made here…

    RT

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    which are?

    Robert Reply:

    1. [The current plan] was adopted under political pressure, toadying to the wealthy people of Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Burlingame, best characterized as NIMBYs, who fear losing their palatial properties and fear noise, which is ironic because high-speed rail trains make less noise than diesel.

    2. To operate profitably, or without any taxpayer subsidy, you must operate, at peak hours, about 10 high-speed trains per hour. If you share the tracks with the commuter system, you can’t do that. HSR wouldn’t be able to run more than two trains per hour, [although] the HSR authority claims it might be able to run four per hour.

    3. If I were able to effectuate it now, I’d build L.A. to San Diego first.

    I agree that the LA-SD in hindsight would have been the better way to start, but the political will wouldn’t have supported that. You might then also have run into the same NIMBY revolt mentioned in point #1.

    I also agree with the first two points. If the “blended” plan causes the HSR system to not achieve the same frequency of service or causes it to run slower than it would have on dedicated track, for whatever reason, the CHSRA should have gone to the legal mat to crush the NIMBY’s.

    RT

    joe Reply:

    CAHSRA’s Peer Review Panel (admitted they did not know legal issues) recommended Blended as a way to start service sooner.

    Blended was proposed in part to prove to NIMBY’s there was demand AND it offers a way to have service in place when HSR hits San Jose. Without it, it would take many billions and years, IMHO, to finish the construction from San Jose to SF.

    I believe TEMPORARY service with blended operations between SJ to SF will be more profitable than service to SJ and transfer to Caltrain.

    Blended is inferior to the full build. It is superior to not having service until full build to SF. Blended also stops the system from terminating in SJ permanently.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    You don’t need ten trains per hour to operate profitably, that’s an utterly absurd idea.

    Clem Reply:

    The first thing that I would effectuate is to call out Quentin Kopp for what he has proven himself to be over the last couple of decades: a shill for the concrete-pouring transit-industrial complex.

    Michael Reply:

    So how do you square his opposition to the current Warriors’s arena scheme and his 11th hour suggestion for a different Giants’ ballpark site?

    I don’t disagree with the rest of your Kopp assessment.

    Robert Reply:

    I would have to check the blended plan, since I haven’t been around here in awhile. But I seem to remember something along the lines of the blended plan needing two (?) sections of 4 track runs of several miles in length. I seem to remember that that wasn’t included, or maybe it was put off to be done after the near term electrification. I might have that wrong.

    RT

    Wdobner Reply:

    Eh, it really just sounds like someone who was removed or removed himself from the decisionmaking process is whining about the decisions being made now. It’s petty and doesn’t do much good to his legacy (such as it is) to distance himself from the one thing he’s associated with that stands a chance of working. But IMHO this is somewhat irksome because of how untrue it appears to be:

    The cunning progenitors of this plan have expropriated bond money to improve commuter rail [for use in the high-speed system].

    Yet 2704.095 states:

    2704.095. (a) (1) Net proceeds received from the sale of nine hundred fifty million dollars ($950,000,000) principal amount of bonds authorized by this chapter shall be allocated to eligible recipients for capital improvements to intercity and commuter rail lines and urban rail systems that provide direct connectivity to the high-speed train system and its facilities, or that are part of the construction of the high-speed train system as that system is described in subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04, or that provide capacity enhancements and safety improvements. Funds under this section shall be available upon appropriation by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act for the eligible purposes described in subdivision (d).

    I can find nothing in 2704.04 which indicates Kopp’s assertion that the CHSRA tracks must be segregated from Caltrain’s, and clearly the legislators contemplated Caltrain being a recipient of funding from the CHSRA. So how is this illegal?

    joe Reply:

    It appears illegal to an authoritative octogenarian because HSR isn’t what he expected.

    Q: When you ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979, Dianne Feinstein won. Would San Francisco be different today if you’d been elected?

    A: I would have had a difficult time because the population was changing faster than I would have been able to adapt to. It became overwhelmingly liberal. The word now is “progressive,” which I think is an evasion. I would have liked to have given it a try.

    VBobier Reply:

    In other words cause the octogenarian didn’t like a change in the population, the octo felt this was illegal? Boy is that ever wrong, not to mention phony, the person just objects to HSR cause people unlike Him are moving in, sounds like an old bigot, one who hasn’t met the grim reaper yet…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kopp has aged a lot – he looks a little older than Jerry.

    Curiously he does make mention of the controversy over Tejon vs. Tehachapi and the roles the Tejon Ranch Co. and Palmdale have played in it. He also sees that major private investment – for instance, from the Chinese – would certainly interfere with and profoundly conflict with the politics that dominate the current CHSRA scheme.

    Of all people he should know that the litigation stands only the slightest chance of even slowing down the PB-CHSRA juggernaut. That could only occur if the judge insisted on an independent engineering analysis of the PB scheme in relation to Prop 1A and it found numerous damning errors, in effect a pack of lies. But in the real world of puppet courts, laziness, facility, inertia, and disinterest triumph most all the time.

    Ergo b-grade at best. Live with it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Haven’t you heard? With the route into Bakersfield pointing away from Tejon and towards Tehachapi in the East, yer Tejon alignment argument is Effectively, Permanently, just like in the Wizard of OZ, Ding Dong the Witches DEAD, DEAD, DEAD, Certifiably DEAD…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Margaret Hamilton should have gotten an Oscar but that’s typical for Hollywood. So, John Huston should have gotten an Oscar for Noah Cross. Hey, perfectly LA. No justice.

    Evidently they just about killed her when they first put on green makeup, probably with something like verdigris in it. But her co-stars recognized how sick she was getting and threw her in the shower right away. Obviously they then found something green that was not lethal and you have one of the most successful movies ever made.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Buddy Ebson almost died from his makeup not Margaret Hamilton.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I thought it was the green stuff they first tried that was really bad. I’m pretty sure I am remembering correctly. It was on an historical program a few years ago, probably pbs, about the production of the movie.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It ain’t dead until it’s built. The ICS doesn’t go that far – it only goes to just north/west of Bako.

  5. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 17th, 2013 at 18:24
    #5

    At times, we’ve had a poster or two here comment that railroads should be out of date, that progress should come up with something newer by the time this HSR system is up and running–something more appropriate to the Space Age.

    Well, as it turns out, those advanced people known as Martians have figured out that railroads are still pretty effective and efficient; seems they have a railroad on Mars:

    http://weeklyworldnews.com/headlines/40214/railway-station-found-on-mars/

    http://thetruthbehindthescenes.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/railroad-found-on-mars/

    I wonder what they use for equipment.

    Suggested Martian rail equipment as envisioned by John Carpenter for the film, “Ghosts of Mars:”

    http://i423.photobucket.com/albums/pp313/TheBufoon/Future%20Trains/train-art.jpg

    http://i423.photobucket.com/albums/pp313/TheBufoon/Future%20Trains/train.jpg

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/61671941@N00/1605716136/in/faves-11689235@N00/

    VBobier Reply:

    Railroad out of date? Never.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/buggs/294149347/in/faves-11689235@N00/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/buggs/294170050/in/faves-11689235@N00/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamminjg/226271673/in/photostream/

    http://www.badmovies.org/movies/ghostsmars/ghostsmars1.jpg

    This railroad appears briefly in a couple of segments in this trailer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV5II8J61Ms

    Have fun.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ D.P.

    “Hunger Games” features hsr on stilts and plenty noisy in the dystopian future. As far as I can piece together the politics of the movie there has been a war between the coasts and the heartland and the urban richies have won. Enslaved, starving Appalachia digs coal for the cities. Kumbaya.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    that happened back in the 1820s. Now Appalachia digs lots less coal and the cities send them welfare benefits and highways to nowhere.

    Nathanael Reply:

    People who think that railroads are “out of date” have never looked into the technical details of *why* railroads are so effective.

    In short, passive stabilization due to angled wheels. on rail. You *cannot* do better than that. Passively self-stabilizing systems are really elegant. They’re cheap to build (compared to actively stabilized systems) and they scale. The passive stabilization is why you can run trains with hundreds of cars at high speed, but if you tried it with trucks on roads (no passive stabilization), they would fishtail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …reminds of the comment a legislator made when they were discussing allowing triple trailer trucks in New Jersey. Something along the lines of “when you hitch three containers together and haul it around with one engine it’s called a train”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, the US does have very low limits on truck gross weight. The national highway network is built for 36 metric tons, whereas the limit in Sweden and Finland is 60. It turns out to be more energy-efficient than smaller trucks, and because trucks are and will always be the last fifty miles of intermodal freight transportation, this is also useful, on the margins.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m not sure how much high gross weight helps. You can’t really make the trucks longer (they’re too long for a lot of our old 19th century streets already), and you can’t make them wider (same reason), and you can’t make them taller without rebuilding bridges. Most of the manufactured goods and agricultural goods we ship these days are pretty lightweight. How much of the truck traffic would actually benefit from higher gross weight, given the length/height/width restrictions?

  6. Ted Judah
    Apr 17th, 2013 at 22:53
    #6

    OT : Tutor Perini Defends Reputation After Lowest HSR Contract Bid.

    This article is full of gems, like the excerpt below:

    The Bay Citizen, a sister organization of California Watch, reported last fall that the company has had overruns of $765 million, or about 40%, on nearly a dozen large public works projects in the Bay Area since 2000.

    AND

    “Not to trash our customers’ engineers, but many of them make a myriad of mistakes on the drawings they put out to bid,” [Company founder John] Tutor said.

    I wonder what former BART Director Dan Richard thinks about that given that one of Tutor’s signature projects to BART to SFO….

    Side note: the Authority is not required to take the lowest bid, but it has to consider and pursue the bids in the order scored. It’s important to remember that the Dragados bid was significantly more money, but had a higher technical score.

    Inicidentially, if you multiply the Tutor bid by 40%, you get an amount just over what the all-Spanish consortium offered ($1.37 billion).

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Grr… Need edit function to fix block quotes…

    VBobier Reply:

    Unless Robert switches to a blog format like the Crooks and Liars blog that now uses Discus or to blog format that uses Facebook like Think Progress, then I doubt it will ever happen.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Facebook and Disgust comments are both terrible ideas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Using BART to SFO as a template and given that PB makes the ultimate decisions but/and Tutor has engineering and design discretion if not carte blanche the actual construction should be pretty terrible, as in stripped-down, unmitigated, noisy as hell. Ugly is beautiful. See BART to SFO tunnels.

    As to Kopp he does seem to be much more aware of the primary CAHSR issues and controversies than say Jerry Brown. Naturally he is likely very unhappy that Caltrain to the TBT even blended is poised to make BART to SFO even more peripheral and ineffectual than it currently is. But on the other hand he grasps that outside money or international bidders are definitely going to question the details of the scheme and in particular the Palmdale factor. Kopp understands the implications and the lessons of the SNCF fiasco, which is totally lost upon Moonbeam, who is only going to ruffle the feather of Antonovich & Co. if the Chinese come on board and start asking impertinent questions and butting in on the route. Which they will, because the current alignment is so stupid and frivolously expensive to construct, maintain and operate. They will proceed just like SNCF and Van Ark.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought the whole point of tunnels was that you couldn’t see them. And the one to SFO was built partly so as to not disturb the residents of cemeteries.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Check them out – but be sure to bring along your industrial strength earplugs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I have, the most extraordinary thing about those trips has been the carpeting on the floor. Someone didn’t think that out too well.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fun fact: our very very very special; PB-Bechtel (“designers”) and Tutor (“change orderers”) friends “value engineered” effective water intrusion protection out of the (100% unnecessary, delivering several hundred millions of extra public dollars to PB-Bechtel-Tutor-Saliba’s pcokets) BART SFOX tunnels.

    The talk is of civil structural lifespan in the very low numbers of decades. Impressive! And I can think of just the people who’ll be the “experts” who will be required for outrageous redesign and retrofit and redo.

    Oh, and the signalling system on that BART extension (the one with the 120% overstated ridership “projection” fraudulently invented by PB to guarantee its own profits) has never worked reliably in the ten years it has been in operation and continues to be worked around by extraordinary operational measures.

    Heckuva job!

    Quentin Kopp was of course, always front and centre shillling for this outrageous egregious unambiguous fraud project, one which set back public transportation in the SF Bay Area for a couple decades. His subsequent transit-industrial mafioso fronting for the very worst possible (and very most PB-profiting, amazingly enough!) California HSR scheme is of a piece.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard, please elaborate on the “civil structural lifespan in the very low numbers of decades”.

    What order of anticipated lifespan are they specifying, say, in relation to the typical funtional life expectancy of a bridge or viaduct designed and built by a class one?

    For instance, how long is the new Bay Bridge($5bil I think)supposed to last?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No, I can’t elaborate.

    Just don’t expect anything between Colma and San Bruno designed and built by America’s Finest Transportation Design and Construction Professionals (the same ones “designing” all of CSHRA statewide and who “won” the first CHSRA civils contract) to last hundreds of years. Or close to half a hundred years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What Syn said re the lifespan. Civil infrastructure can be designed to last centuries, e.g. railroad bridges from the 1830s that are still standing and do not require replacement. Are they specifically cutting corners on lifespan?

    synonymouse Reply:

    They are going to have a problem chintzing in the face of California seismic and probable operation of standard Amtrak FRA-AAR equipment.

    Whatever happened to all the seismic nervous nellies soiling their pants at the very thought of breaching Tejon?

    Nathanael Reply:

    “The talk is of civil structural lifespan in the very low numbers of decades. Impressive! ”

    Well, if that’s actually true, then we have all the reason we need to rebuild the BART route around Milbrae to work for HSR, eh?

  7. Emma
    Apr 18th, 2013 at 01:51
    #7

    CEQA was and is the progressive proposal.. CEQA reform is a huge step back, giving polluting contractors and irresponsible engineers a free pass towards destruction just because CHSRA can’t get its shit together on time to make it work. There are some flaws here and there, but that does not mean that we need to completely take it down which is essentially what is proposed.

    jimsf Reply:

    you just need to get labor and environmentalists (whoever “they” are, I mean is that an actual job description?) to get together and realize that building things that help benefit the environment is a good thing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    CEQA is a good idea. The problem which I’ve seen repeatedly arises from twisted ideas like claiming that “reducing parking” constitutes environmental damage.

    Derek Reply:

    Anyone who thinks reducing parking constitutes environmental damage (increased emissions from traffic congestion) needs a remedial course in economics, specifically on the subject of supply & demand.

    But then so do most of the people reading this, unfortunately. Just try getting this crowd to understand how freeway traffic congestion (a shortage) is caused by pricing the freeways below the market clearing rate (a price ceiling; see previous link).

    jimsf Reply:

    freeway congestion is caused by requiring too many people to be in the same place at the same time. Its also caused by design flaws and bad drivers.

    Derek Reply:

    freeway congestion is caused by requiring too many people to be in the same place at the same time.

    If you’re saying demand for solo freeway travel during peak traffic periods is perfectly inelastic, good luck proving it! Perfect inelasticity of demand only exists in theory.

    But if you’re saying that congestion is a result of demand being greater than supply, then you’ve defined a “shortage.”

    jimsf Reply:

    I’m saying just move some of the traffic to the times of day when there is excess capacity.
    Some of this is accomplished by self governing. Everyone in the la basin for instance knows when to go or not go a particular place via a particular freeway at a particular time. The problem arises when people don’t have a choice as to when to go. Requiring everyone to get to downtown la at 9am means everyone has to be on the freeway at the same time.

    Derek Reply:

    I’m saying just move some of the traffic to the times of day when there is excess capacity.

    That’s what variable tolls achieve.

    Requiring everyone to get to downtown la at 9am means everyone has to be on the freeway at the same time.

    To get to downtown L.A., there are many alternatives to

    Driving,
    Solo,
    Northbound,
    On the 110,
    At exactly 8:55am.

    Luckily, service and factory jobs often aren’t 9-to-5 jobs.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Derek:

    I’m saying just move some of the traffic to the times of day when there is excess capacity.

    That’s what variable tolls achieve.

    Are intended to achieve. FTFY.

    To get to downtown L.A., there are many alternatives to Driving, Solo, Northbound, On the 110,At exactly 8:55am.

    Yes, there are. But as people keep pointing out to you, not everyone has the option of shifting when or how they commute to work.

    Derek Reply:

    People got to work even before freeways were invented. Therefore, freeways aren’t necessary as a means of getting people to work.

    joe Reply:

    Another Glibertarian solution.

    Yes – people can use donkeys and horses to get to work as we have for centuries or if a peasant, they can walk.

    It would be helpful to actually propose a solution beyond magic market beans.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are places where the majority of people get to work without an automobile. A few of them right here in the United States.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Before the freeways, American cities had semi-functional public transportation. They no longer do. The cities that didn’t build freeways, like Vancouver, still do have okay transit – they’ve had enough of a core around which to build a transit revival.

    The reason I’m so gung ho about right-to-build nowadays is that it’s what’s required to help populate the cities where people already can live easily without a car; those are so zoning-constrained that there’s way more demand for housing than supply, and this is why the rent is 2 damn high. People aren’t moving to Atlanta because Atlanta is a desirable city, but because they’re priced out of New York and Chicago, and if rents bore any relationship to construction costs people would move toward the transit-rich cities instead of away from them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They stopped making more Manhattan in the 60s. They haven’t run out of Atlanta yet.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battery_Park_City

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They can make more Manhattan. Morningside Heights could easily support 25-story buildings built to the sky exposure plane; it instead ranges from 6 to 10, and Columbia isn’t even trying to raise density there, preferring outward expansion into Manhattanville.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And since we can’t warp the time space continuum to have two buildings occupy the same space they would have to buy the 6 story building and tear it down. That would then have to be reflected in the price of the apartments in the 25 story building. Jobs and people move to Atlanta instead.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m not exactly a believer in right-to-build, but I’m an opponent of height limits, and an opponent of most use restrictions. Activity which generates pollution, including noise pollution and bright lights at night, is reasonable to regulate. I’m a particularly strong opponent of “number of families” restrictions, which aren’t even enforceable, and are based in some weird, obsolete 19th century morality.

    The UK actually appears to do tolerably well under an extremely restrictive scheme where every building requires “planning permission”; there is practically no as-of-right construction. This seems to avoid the “zoning-driven design” which we see in the US. The local governments are also essentially required by national law to provide sufficient housing to meet demand, and have been required to do this in one form or another since the medieval period, so that avoids one problem which we have here.

    joe Reply:

    Waco – they built a lot of affordable homes, schools and hospitals near the factory and BOOM.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or move some of the people out of their cars.

    jimsf Reply:

    If my employer says – “you can work 5-1 6-2 7-3 8-4 9-5 10-6 11-7 12-8 or 1-9, I can choose the best time based on my needs and commute, and travel outside peak times.

    Its like traveling during shoulder season. better prices, fewer crowds.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Unfortunately the number of jobs where that’s actually a workable idea is rather limited.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Derek: I live in an area where
    (a) I have no local freeway,
    (b) the nearest freeway to me is free-flowing except in snowstorms and accidents (and probably never needed to be built,
    (c) the most important freeway in the region is a toll road.

    I understand and approve of freeway pricing, a.k.a tolling expressways. You can’t apply tolling to ordinary roads (US roads), ’cause it’s not practical to install the equipment, and people have legitimate privacy concerns.

  8. Keith Saggers
    Apr 18th, 2013 at 13:16
    #8

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/18/senate-gun-control-fail-david-simon

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Only person who’s said anything interesting on the subject. Bonus points for reminding everyone that corporate personhood is not a big deal.

    Now can we please have more seasons of The Wire? Yeah, it requires the US to end the war on some drugs first, but that’s win-win

    Alon Levy Reply:

    .

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s a more subtle point. Originally, right up until the late 19th century, corporations had to prove their *worthiness* to gain a corporate charter and be legally treated as people. It was a matter of getting a special act of the legislature. Nowadays every shyster can get a corporation just for asking, basically.. I don’t think we can easily reverse that change; the result is that we have to reduce the powers and protections of corporations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And by “powers and protections of corporations”, I mean the ability of CEOs and Boards to hide from personal liability for the actions which they order.

  9. datacruncher
    Apr 18th, 2013 at 14:11
    #9

    Settlement drops last lawsuit over Merced-Fresno high-speed rail section

    “A settlement has been reached over the last lawsuit against the Merced-Fresno section of the California high-speed rail project, a Madera County Farm Bureau leader said Thursday afternoon.”

    “The settlement has yet to be approved by the Sacramento County Superior Court judge who was to hear the case Friday. But his sign-off is expected yet Thursday.”
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/04/18/3263772/settlement-drops-last-lawsuit.html

  10. Roger Christensen
    Apr 18th, 2013 at 15:09
    #10

    Another vitriolic screamer bites the dust. Madera Farm Bureau’s Anja Raudabaugh, high priestess of anti-HSR rhetoric, is now making polite statements about “functionality”.
    Okay Kings County: your’e up.

  11. Reality Check
    Apr 18th, 2013 at 16:57
    #11

    $1.5 million grant to fund job training for high-speed rail project

    Unemployed Valley residents hoping to land a job on the California high-speed rail project can get special training thanks to a $1.5 million grant given to the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board.

    The training grant from the state Employment Development Department was awarded jointly to the Fresno WIB, the Kern/Inyo/Mono Counties Workforce Investment Board and the Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet to train eligible workers in those counties.

    Fresno WIB executive director Blake Konczal said the grant will enable the agency to train at least 325 people in construction and related trades needed for the high-speed rail project.

    “This grant is just the beginning of a series of funding sources to start developing our work force to prepare for high-speed rail jobs,” Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea said. “It’s the beginning of the icing on the cake. It’s nice to see the fruits of our labor paying off now.”

    The Fresno Workforce Investment Board has established a new website to determine the eligibility of job-seekers to receive the training. The website will also help determine whether workers fall under the qualifications of a “targeted hiring initiative” approved last fall by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

    The targeted hiring goals call for at least 30% of all work hours on the project to be worked by employees who live in “economically disadvantaged areas,” and that 10% of that work must be done by “disadvantaged workers” including people who are homeless, veterans, single parents, those receiving public assistance, lacking a high school diploma, chronically unemployed, felons or apprentices with less than 15% of the hours needed to graduate from a trade program.

Comments are closed.