In the 1970s, when an energy crisis held the nation hostage to the whims of OPEC, politicians and planners thought it would be a great idea for Americans to carpool. The idea never caught on, perhaps because politicians and planners had seen too many episodes of “The Flintstones” and had the false impression that everyone was working in the same career, going to the same whistle and went home to the same suburb.
Nonetheless, politicians liked the fact that they could paint diamonds on an existing lane, ban single-passenger vehicles from using it, and claim they were reducing reliance on foreign oil because of carpooling.
So began the government’s scowl on driving, which paved the way for an orgy of spending on public transport projects in the name of “getting people out of their cars”. Los Angeles County residents are paying a total of four sales tax increases, half a percent each, to fund public transit. Billions of dollars have been poured into subway and rail line projects, but public transit ridership is lower than it was in the 1980s, when Metro was just a bus service.
Why is attendance so low? This may be because the county has allowed trains and buses to become rolling homeless encampments, or because people don’t feel safe standing on a platform or at a bus stop for a while. time, or because of sexual harassment on buses and trains. , or because it is not practical.
A public transit trip can be a long ordeal. Recently I had to be at a 43 mile engagement. Google Maps helpfully informed me that I could take public transit and be there in five hours and 51 minutes. The route included a bus that makes 34 stops, another bus that makes 7 stops, a train that makes 12 stops, a bus rapid transit line that makes 14 stops, another bus that makes 25 stops, a final bus that makes three stops, and a total of about 2 miles of walking.
Or I could drive there in a little over an hour.
It is a fact that there are more job opportunities for people who have a car and are not limited by public transport routes. And of course, people need transportation for reasons other than employment. People are running errands, shopping, picking up their children, watching over their parents. Even commuters who use public transport are also likely to have a car.
That’s why you should know that in California, the war on cars has turned into a war on parking spaces.
Assembly Bill 2097 would abolish minimum parking requirements. Cities and other local government entities would be prohibited from requiring developers to provide parking spaces in any residential, commercial or other development located within half a mile of public transit, defined as a line of bus with frequent service during peak hours. Developers could voluntarily include parking spaces, but if they do, local agencies could restrict their use. A number of spaces may need to be reserved for electric charging stations or carpooling vehicles, or reserved for use by the general public. Local agencies might even require parking lot owners to charge for parking.
All of this makes it likely that people with cars who live, work or shop in these new developments will drive around the neighborhood in search of increasingly scarce on-street parking, negatively impacting all other residents of the region.
Incidentally, the war against cars is no longer a question of energy supply. Now it’s about housing and climate.
“Removing parking minimums in our transit priority areas – places with convenient access to transit – has been effective in spurring the development of more affordable, accessible and inclusive housing and also supports changes that help address the climate crisis,” San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria wrote. in an op-ed for CalMatters. Calling for “statewide parking reforms,” he said California needed to build on “the successful efforts of cities like San Diego, Sacramento and San Francisco.”
You’ll notice he didn’t mention Los Angeles, where it can take five hours and 51 minutes to cover 43 miles and you’ll need an extra pair of shoes.
Politicians’ passion for apartment buildings close to public transport has taken on an almost religious fervor. Governor Gavin Newsom told the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle, “We’re going to demand more from our cities and counties,” promising to hold them “accountable.” Newsom’s appointed Attorney General Rob Bonta has previously threatened legal action against cities that try to evade the state’s latest density-building law, Senate Bill 9, which authorizes construction of two houses and at least two granny flats on land zoned for a single family home.
In fact, the state doesn’t need to sue cities or force density into existing single-family neighborhoods because there’s no need to block new suburban housing developments.
If you honestly want to solve California’s housing crisis, support an end to the “vehicle miles traveled” calculation required by law that stops new home development in outlying areas. This silly policy is based on the belief that suburban homes in California are causing climate change. The state as a whole accounts for only 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A little more driving in California is a negligible fraction of a negligible fraction on a global scale, and it certainly shouldn’t be a reason to keep new homes from being built in the midst of a housing shortage.
Gavin Newsom lives in a mansion on a sprawling estate. All Californians value their space.
Email Susan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Susan_Shelley.