Friday, July 31, 2015

Caltrain Modernization, San Francisco to San Jose


San Mateo Daily Journal/Government Watch/Regional Government, 7/30/15.

"On Wednesday, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Board of Directors approved allocating $20 million to help fund Caltrain’s Modernization Program.

Image result for new electric trains San Francisco to San Jose picture
Train Modernization route, San Francisco to San Jose
Image result for new electric trains San Francisco to San Jose pictureThe funds will help support electrification of 51 miles of tracks between San Jose and San Francisco. Caltrain’s nearly $1.53 billion program, which involves purchasing electric trains, is projected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion from cars along Highway 101 and Interstate 280.

The air district’s contribution of $5 million a year for the next four years is sourced from the state’s Mobile Incentive Fund, which is collected from a $2 fee on vehicle registrations in the Bay Area."

Related article -  San Francisco Business Journal/Marlize van Romburgh, Special Projects Editor, 12/4/14, "All eyes on Caltrain as electric train environmental report emerges." Caltrain will release the final environmental impact report for its $1.7 billion train electrification and modernization project today, the Daily Journal reported. ....  Caltrain embarks on the project amid projections that its ridership will more than double in the next few years from the 1.3 million monthly figure it currently experiences. The agency hopes to have 75 percent of trains electrified by 2021, and the entire 51-mile track electrified by 2040 as part of an effort to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions." 

Reference, Bay Area Air Quality Management District.  Project overview,  San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA).  "The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board’s (PCJPB or Caltrain’s) Electrification project will replace Caltrain’s existing diesel service with a fully electrified service from the 4th and King station in San Francisco to the Tamian station in San Jose. This is one of the main components of the Caltrain Modernization program (CalMod). The CalMod program provides the commuter rail system with the strategic vision to improve system performance while minimizing equipment and operating costs, and is critical to the long-term financial sustainability of Caltrain. The project’s various components include the installation of two substations for traction power, poles and an overhead contact system, and signal and grade crossing circuitry changes, as well as the acquisition of electric rolling stock, known as electric multiple units (EMUs), to replace the majority of the current diesel trains. The project will extend for 52 miles from San Francisco to San Jose. It will result in faster and more frequent service, reduction of air pollutant emissions, and reduction of noise and vibration. The vehicle replacement portion of the Caltrain Electrification Project will take place concurrently with the electrification infrastructure portion. The first phase of the vehicle replacement project, part of the CalMod Early Investment Program, will procure 96 new EMU’s to replace 20 locomotives and 73 passenger cars on a seat-for-seat replacement basis at an estimated cost of $440 million in year-of-expenditures dollars. For the second phase, the remaining diesel locomotives and passenger cars will progressively be replaced as the vehicles reach the end of their useful life. Caltrain has completed the preliminary engineering and the federal and state environmental phases of the Caltrain Electrification Project."

Note photograph from San Francisco Business Journal; graphic from the SFCTA project overview.
 
Posted by Kathy Meeh

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Proposed Civic Center requires a city tax, South San Francisco


The Daily Journal/Austin Walsh, 7/24/15.  "South City tax heads to ballot: Officials approve putting half-cent sales tax to voters in fall election."

Image result for South San Francisco
South San Francisco improving livability of their city.
"South San Francisco residents will be asked to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to drum up funds to pay for the construction of a new civic center, after the City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to place it on the November ballot.

The revenue, which is estimated to generate roughly $210 million over a 30-year life span of the tax, is proposed to pay toward building new police and fire stations, as well as a library and recreation center, plus maintenance of existing infrastructure.  ....  “The people of South San Francisco have historically recognized the needs in the community,” said City Manager Mark Futrell. “I believe they will understand the needs and take care of these community priorities.”   Read article.

Related -  San Diego Free Press, 4/27/15. "How communities can benefit from private development in California".  The poster-child for the interaction between people and projects is South San Francisco...  The city underwent a 2-year long planning process to develop the downtown area over 20 years within half-mile of the CalTrain station. They proposed several public plazas, 1,400 residential units and 800,000 square feet of commercial space with retail and services within walking distance. .... The downtown South Francisco plan is just the foundational statement of principles, and implementation of community benefits is key to its success. One example of implementation is the adoption of an incentive zoning program with a menu of public benefits."   

Note graphic from the City of City of South San Francisco Downtown Station Area Specific Plan, also linked in the related article above. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

State Supreme Court rules tiered water pricing is unconstitutional


Sacramento Bee/Dale Kasler, 7/23/15.  "California Supreme Court won't budge on water rates."

Image result for wasting water picture
If no tiered price incentive, cost
going up, let others conserve water.
Image result for picture of Jerry Brown
What?
"In a setback to California water regulators’ conservation efforts, the state Supreme Court has kept intact a ruling that makes it harder for municipalities to impose tiered pricing to discourage heavy water use.  ... Gov. Jerry Brown, who has ordered a 25 percent cutback in urban water use, had said the ruling represents a potential 'straitjacket' for regulators.  
....  In April, the 4th District Court of Appeal struck down a water-pricing system used by San Juan Capistrano that charged customers considerably more per-gallon for heavier water use.  ... What was particularly alarming to state officials was that the Court of Appeal 'published' its decision, extending its impact to the whole state.

The ruling has already had an effect on some water agencies. ... Sacramento Suburban Water District said it thinks its tiered pricing complies with the court ruling.“There is justification for tiered rates in general,” said Rob Roscoe, general manager of Sacramento Suburban, which serves parts of northeastern Sacramento County. 'You’ve got to tie it back to your cost of service.'"

Related article -  The Sacramento Bee/Christopher Cadelago, 4/21/15. "California cities fret over tiered water rates after court decision." Now, leaders there are taking stock after a state appellate court ruled Monday that San Juan Capistrano’s four-tiered system is unconstitutional. In a unanimous decision, the three-justice 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the Orange County city’s method violated Proposition 218, a 1996 ballot measure establishing that municipalities cannot impose fees for services that exceed the actual cost. .... Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said the opinion demonstrates how the ballot initiative could prevent government from responding to a crisis such as the current drought, now in its fourth year and showing no signs of abating. The measure was sold to voters as a way 'to protect the people from their government,' he said. “It is now being used to prevent government from protecting the people’s water resources.”   Read article.

"The court said the structure violated Proposition 218, a 1996 statewide ballot measure that said municipalities can’t charge fees that exceed the cost of providing a service.
What was particularly alarming to state officials was that the Court of Appeal “published” its decision, extending its impact to the whole state."
That little tidbit has a lot of ramifications for municipal entities that have loaded up their fee structures to plug holes in their budget, not just the water districts. It may be time to revisit the fire inspection fee that impacts every business in town.  

Jim Wagner, Chair, Pacifica BACPAC

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Note photographs:  Jerry Brown by Hector Amezcua from a  Sacramento Bee File, article 4/20/15. Green lawn,  (iStock) from This sold house, "11 ways to save water.."

Posted by Kathy Meeh
Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article19194072.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Proposed office project, Redwood City downtown


The Daily Journal/Staff, 7/24/15. "Office project seeks approval: Downtown Redwood City development to require part of Fox Theatre to be demolished."

Image result for proposed downtown Redwood City, CA picture
City future here we come... 
"The developer of a proposed five-story office building in downtown Redwood City is seeking the council’s approval Monday night to move forward with the project. The project at 815 Hamilton St. consists of 7,141 square feet of retail use on the ground floor, 60,322 square feet of office use on the upper four floors and two levels of underground parking consisting of 88 parking stalls.

.... This is one of several office and housing projects in the works or already approved since the City Council adopted the Downtown Precise Plan in 2011.

Six other projects nearby are being constructed that will be completed this year or early next year including the Box headquarters on Middlefield Road; 133 apartments on Fuller Street; 18 townhomes on Brewster Avenue; 471 apartments on Middlefield Road; 196 apartments on Main Street; and 305 apartments on Monroe Street. The projects comprise 1,810 units of housing and 313,000 square feet of offices."  Read article.

Reference, City of Redwood City Downtown Precise Plan.  .... "The DTPP will create a Downtown which is beautiful, unique, and is a great place to live, work, and play. It will be a place which celebrates its history while building an exciting future, and it will offer an environmentally-friendly place to accommodate growth near transit, jobs, and services. Most importantly, it will be a source of pride for all Redwood City residents."  Related, Silicon Valley Business Journal/Mary Ann Azevedo/3/8/13, "Redwood City:  Precise plan draws developers." ...."The city’s Downtown Precise Plan has made it easier for developers by laying out “a very clear vision of what kind of development will be approved,” Zack said.  Specifically, Redwood City’s Downtown Precise Plan allows for the private development of up to 2,500 new residential units, 100,000 square feet of retail space, 500,000 square feet of office space and 200 hotel rooms in the three-block radius surrounding the county courthouse."  

UpdateSan Mateo Daily Journal/Bill Silverfarb, 7/29/15, "Mayor: office project will improve parking: Redwood City Council approves five-story building downtown."  "The Redwood City Council unanimously approved a five-story office project downtown that should improve parking in the area, Mayor Jeff Gee said Tuesday. .... The new garage will connect to the city-owned Jefferson Garage that will allow for a second exit. .... More than 900 parking spaces will be added to the area with all the new projects, he said."

Note graphic rendering, "Downtown tomorrow: The Precise Plan, (El Camino: a Grand Boulevard) from City of Redwood City, Successor Agency. 

Posted by Kathy Meeh