CP&DR News Briefs July 11, 2016: Jeff Tumlin Goes To Oakland; Transportation Plan Guidelines; L.A. River Plan; and More

Noemi Wyss on
Jul 11, 2016
A year after Mayor Libby Schaaf announced its creation, the City of Oakland has formally instituted its Department of Transportation and installed Jeffrey Tumlin as interim director. Tumlin is a consultant Nelson/Nygaard on an eight-month contract with the city. Among the department’s top priorities will be a potential $600 million infrastructure bond that the city is considering for the November ballot. It would allocate $350 million for transportation, $100 million for affordable housing, and $150 million for facilities. The department will also manage the city’s streets, which had been under the purview of Public Works; other elements of transportation infrastructure, such as parking and transit, had been governed piecemeal by other city departments. According to the Oakland Tribune, many non-profit leaders and citizens hope the new department will put transportation issues such as bike infrastructure, improving existing transit and pedestrian safety to the forefront. Editor's Note: An earlier version of this brief erroneously indicated that Tumlin has left Nelson/Nygaard.

CTC Developing Guidelines For Regional Plans
The California Transportation Commission is developing guidelines for the preparation of Regional Transportation Plans (RTPs) and the California Transportation Plan (CTP). The RTP Guidelines were last updated in 2010 and the CTP Guidelines is being prepared for the first time. While the commission will adopt the Guidelines, Caltrans prepares both documents. Updates to the RTP Guidelines are necessary because of changes in state statute, final rule-making and recent passage of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015. The CTP is a long-range plan to provide policy framework to guide transportation investments and decision by all levels of government, private sector and transportation stakeholders. The workgroups include a variety of topics ranging from public health to modeling to freight. The kick-off meeting was June 30 in Sacramento but the first draft of the RTP and CTP Guidelines will be released early July for stakeholder comment with a meeting July 13 and 14. In September the Final draft will be released and few months later the Guidelines finalized. The Commission will consider the two documents late this year or early 2017.

Los Angeles Adopts $2 Billion Plan for L.A. River
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to approve a long-sought restoration plan for 11 miles of the Los Angeles River from Griffith Park to Downtown. The approved plan, Alternative 20, was the most ambitious of three plans proposed to the council by the Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the river’s infrastructure. The city and federal government will share the almost $2 billion cost, with the city contribution estimated to be around $980 million. Most of the cost goes to acquiring land for ecosystem restoration projects. The plan will be carried out on a project-by-project basis meaning the city can prioritize projects that are less costly. The plan excludes renowned architect Frank Gehry, who had been approached by the city to design some elements of the restoration. Gehry’s involvement had been scorned by some longtime river advocates; he does not have a reputation for working on landscape.

San Jose Sharks Sue City Over Downtown Development
Sharks Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the San Jose Sharks hockey team, is suing the City of San Jose over Diridon Station, a $600 million development that, the suit says, will severely impact parking downtown near the San Jose Sharks arena. The suit, filed under the California Environmental Quality Acts, contends that the environmental study was completed years ago when the city experienced different conditions. The Trammell Crow project would convert Diridon Station’s massive parking lot into a 1 million-square-foot high-rise office building with 325 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail. The Sharks are concerned about 800 parking spaces that would be removed from the vicinity around their SAP Center and say that the removal would violate a contract between the team and the city ensuring that at least 6,350 spaces are within a half-mile for attendees.

San Diego Pursues Funding Plan for Parks
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer unveiled two proposals that would provide funding boosts to regional parks and accelerate other projects. One proposal would extend Proposition C, a 2008 ballot measure that directs millions in lease revenue from Mission Bay Park into improvements there and in other regional parks. This raises around $10 million annually and expires in 2039, but the proposal would extend to 2069 to allow selling of future bonds. The second proposal involves a plan approved in 2012 to replace cars and traffic in center of Balboa Park with public gathering spaces by building a large parking garage and bypass off the Cabrillo Bridge as well as Plaza de Panama upgrades. This proposal would cost roughly $50 million and need approval from city council. The project has support from billionaire Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs who is working with Faulconer.

State Greenhouse Gas Emissions Dip Slightly amid Economic Boom
According to new data from the California Air Resources Board, in 2014, California saw a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions even though the state’s economy improved dramatically. However, the reduction was negligible: less than 1 percent, or around 2.8 million metric tons. Assmbly Bill 32, California’s 2006 climate change law, requires the state to cut back to 1990 levels by 2020; the current trend puts the state on track to reach that goal. While greenhouse gas emissions are falling across the state, those from the transportation sector have increased 1 percent. Transportation accounts for 36 percent of California’s GHG emissions. This year, gas is inexpensive, Californians are driving more, especially those with conventional, non-electric cars. Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown hopes to cut gas consumption in half by 2030.

Caltrans Tests Pay-by-Mile Gas Tax Alternative
Caltrans has recruited 5,000 volunteers to test out a new revenue pilot program to potentially replace the gas tax. The new program would be a pay-by-the-mile, which gives drivers six different ways to report their mileage and pay accordingly. This is part of the effort to regain funds that were lost from the gas tax with the switch to more fuel efficient and hybrid vehicles. Even with population growth the $4.13 billion in 2004 fell to $3.05 billion in 2015. Now, drivers will pay based on the miles each vehicle travels. Drivers can either purchase a permit for a set period of time or specified number of miles, or make payments based on odometer readings. Other option include plugging a device into the car that has a location-tracking system, self-reporting on smartphone app, or using car’s built-in GPS technology. Caltrans is looking at a variety of measures to accommodate different concerns on enforcement, privacy, administrative costs and equity.

Carlsbad Considers Consequences of Sea Level Rise
Carlsbad city planners released a draft Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment that looks at hazards through 2050 and 2100. For both, they discuss strategies to prevent flooding, erosion and property damage. The report projects an average rise of up to 1.6 feet by 2050 and 6.6 feet by 2100. The majority of damage will occur to the city’s natural shoreline, most man-made structures are not in affected areas. The sand has already been washing away, and will worsen in the next decades. This is detrimental to tourism, a main economic driver in the area. Other cities in the region such as Del Mar and National City have seen much worse results in their Sea Level Rise Assessments, both will experience significant flooding and erosion.

Updates & Quick Hits
The Proposition 1 California Urban Rivers Grant Program is holding technical assistance workshops across the state. The first begins July 13 in Sacramento and continues on to Los Angeles July 25, San Jose July 29, San Diego August 2, and August 9 in Redding.

The City of Encinitas reached a settlement with DCM Properties because of a density bonus program and adoption of the city’s housing element. Encinitas will send the housing element to the November ballot, adjust its density bonus calculation, and pay DCM Properties $125,000 in legal fees.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed an updated gambling agreement for the Amador County Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians to build a 67.5-acre casino complex. The tribe promised to pay the county $18 million, plus $8 million a year to offset environmental impacts the casino development.

SANDAG announced plans to develop a 600,000 square-foot complex with retail, office, residential space and a stopover facility for Metropolitan Transit System Rapid Buses.

LA City Council approved a $1.2-billion bond measure for the November ballot to generate money for financing new apartments and other facilities for the homeless. It increases property taxes for the next 30 years. The plan won out over a proposed parcel tax.

Morro Bay City Council voted to prohibit secondary dwellings to be used as vacation rentals to preserve affordable housing. Of the 50 secondary dwelling units in the city, only five are licensed as vacation rentals and exempt from the new ordinance.