Resiliency

The HayWired Earthquake Scenario: Tools and Resources to Outsmart Disaster

[This post is adapted from a news release on ABAG’s website.]

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its many partners, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), have unveiled a new scenario and public outreach campaign to showcase what could happen during a major earthquake in the San Francisco Bay area along the Hayward Fault and help the public prepare for and recover from an earthquake. The HayWired Earthquake Scenario is intended to build awareness of earthquake risk and help Bay Area residents understand what they can do to mitigate risks and bounce back once the shaking stops. The public-engagement campaign – Outsmart Disaster – offers many resources, including a new fact sheet, on-line at https://outsmartdisaster.com/. Read More

Transportation

An Update on BART's "Fleet of the Future" and Train Control Modernization Project

BART Warm Springs Opening
Noah Berger

Earlier this year, the blog provided a sneak peek at the long-awaited first new BART rail cars rolling into service around the Bay Area – and, with them, the promise of smoother, quieter, more comfortable and more spacious train rides for commute-weary Bay Area residents. In that post, we went into some detail on MTC’s essential role in funding and supporting BART’s $4.2 billion “Fleet of the Future” project to purchase and deploy 1,081 new rail cars. 

But it’s worth stepping back a bit from the funding mechanics to get a better understanding of the difficult realities that make these new rail cars and other related modernization projects so essential: BART is the region’s backbone for Transbay traffic but the system is way past its intended capacity, it is operating on 45-year old equipment, its geographic footprint is growing, and projected regional housing and job growth patterns suggest future demand will only increase. 

Earlier this month, staff from BART presented to MTC's Programming and Allocations Committee and provided an overview of, and update on, the expansion and modernization projects that BART is undertaking to increase capacity and meet future demand. Read More

Economic Development

New Data from U.S. Census Shows (Mostly) Broad and Steady Employment Growth, Highlights Changing Nature of Bay Area Economy

Construction on the San Francisco Skyline
Karl Nielsen

The latest U.S. Census data from the 2016 County Business Patterns series shows continued overall growth for the nine-county Bay Area in employment as well as the number of business establishments. While the news is mostly good, the data also reveals some soft spots, and further highlights some of the disparities that have developed between different parts of the Bay Area, as well as between different industries.

In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into the latest data to look at:  

  • Bay Area Employment, or the number of employees as of the First Quarter of a given year, and
  • Bay Area Business Establishments. 

This data will be broken down by County, Bay Area Subregion, and Industry Sector. Data will be presented from 2005, 2015 and 2016. Tables will be followed by discussion and comments. For more information on the County Business Patterns annual release, visit the data series page the U.S. Census website. Read More

Projects

Friday Video: Transbay Transit Center's Floor Blooms With Art

When the Transbay Transit Center (now officially known as the Salesforce Transit Center) opens in downtown San Francisco, travelers will have a myriad of transit options at this “Grand Central Terminal” for the West. As a bonus, public art projects from four different artists will provide a visual feast for the eyes. The above video from MTC's Mark Jones features San Francisco-based Julie Chang, who designed the terrazzo floor for the Grand Hall.

As described on MTC's website:

The terrazzo floor of the Grand Hall will welcome visitors into a warm and inviting environment that evokes a lush sunlit Victorian garden. Mined from local ecology, design elements include California poppies and jewel-toned hummingbirds highlighted by mirrored glass. Integrated into the design is a subtle overlay of icons and patterns, which are drawn from the rich tapestry of people and cultures across the Bay Area: flower-like circular rings from an Indian sari, cloud-like curves inspired by Chinese embroidery, Japanese crests, diamonds and chevrons found in a variety of sources including African textiles and Grecian pottery, and star and cross motifs from Islamic tiles.

Read More
Transportation

Third Eastbound Lane on Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Opens Today

Cross Section of Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (Looking West) Showing Proposed Improvements
Peter Beeler
Diagram showing (in orange) the new third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to accommodate peak-period traffic in the eastbound Interstate 580 direction.

Caltrans today will open a long-awaited third eastbound lane on Interstate 580 to accommodate peak period traffic from San Rafael to Richmond. The opening of the lane marks a major milestone in the multi-year, $53 million project to convert the right shoulder to carry afternoon traffic from Sir Francis Drake Blvd. in San Rafael to a newly-expanded Richmond Parkway/Point Richmond exit in Richmond.  Read More

Transportation

New Book Explores the Latest and Greatest Research on Parking, the “Cinderella of Transportation”

For many years in planning and transportation circles, parking was a subject taken for granted – like the air we breathe or the water we drink. It was so much a part of the built environment, so necessary for modern mobility, and – frankly – so esoteric that it didn’t warrant much consideration beyond the fact there should be plenty of it, and it shouldn’t cost too much either.

This started to change in 2005 when UCLA professor Donald Shoup synthesized decades of at-the-time lonely research on the subject in his book, The High Cost of Free Parking. As summarized in the above video from Vox, the book showed how parking has been misunderstood and mismanaged, resulting in city parking policies that increase housing costs and encourage sprawl; subsidize cars and car-owners at the expense of those who cannot afford or do not want to buy a car; and make the urban environment less walkable, less beautiful and less productive.

Now, Shoup has released a new book, Parking and the City, as follow-up. Read More

Housing

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Housing Market

Housing in Santa Clara County
Karl Nielsen

In "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," the great modernist poet Wallace Stevens explores what it means to know something, to show how different perspectives can be isolated while still pointing to some general (if elusive) subject.

I was of three minds,   

Like a tree   

In which there are three blackbirds.   

Every day in the Bay Area, we are bombarded with story after story about the housing market and our regional housing crisis. There are on-the-ground anecdotes and sophisticated research reports, micro assessments and macro assessments, and complex analyses of local, statewide, national and global trends. How does it all fit together? Does it fit together?

In the spirit of providing a multiplicity of perspectives, this post offers (maybe not quite thirteen) snapshots, news items, opinions and analysis looking at housing, from the granularity of a single California city to metropolises across the great round world. Read More

Environment

San Francisco Bay Restoration Projects and Estuary Success Stories

An aerial shot of the South Bay
Karl Nielsen

Last week the Bay Area celebrated a major milestone with the announcement of $17.9 million in funding for the first round of wetland restoration projects supported by the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, the local agency responsible for allocating funds raised by Measure AA.

The measure, which was passed in June 2016 by 70 percent of voters in the nine Bay Area counties, is the first regional parcel tax in California’s history. It is expected to generate $500 million in funds over the next 20 years, or approximately $25 million annually, to fund shoreline and habitat restoration, public access and recreation opportunities, and other amenities across San Francisco Bay.

Keep reading on to find out more about the projects receiving wetlands restoration funding, and to learn more about the work of the San Francisco Estuary Partnership (SFEP) – which is hosted by ABAG and staffed by MTC – in protecting and restoring the Bay as well as the rivers and streams that feed it. Read More

Funding

Bay Area and California Housing and Transportation Highlights from the Fiscal Year 2018 Federal Budget

An Aerial View of Marin County with the Bay in the Background
Karl Nielsen

Last month Congress approved a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill to fund the government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. In a departure from previous years, the budget included major boosts in funding for both defense and non-defense discretionary programs and also significantly increased investment in federal housing and transportation programs.

This post will provide summaries of major housing, transportation and other relevant provisions from the final FY 2018 spending bill; a chart comparing FY 2017 and FY 2018 funding levels; and analysis of California and/or Bay Area impacts for select housing and transportation programs. Continue reading on for more details. Read More

Projects

Friday Video: Regional Measure 3

On June 5th, voters in all nine Bay Area counties will decide on a package of congestion relief projects known as Regional Measure 3 (RM 3). If approved by a combined majority of all voters, this suite of transit, highway and bike/pedestrian improvements would be financed by an increase in tolls on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges.

Today’s video gives a brief history of the past two regional measures that were passed in the Bay Area – Regional Measure 1 in 1988 and Regional Measure 2 in 2004 –  before discussing some of projects planned for the toll funds if RM 3 passes this year.

Watch the video and continue reading for more details on these projects. You can also review the complete expenditure plan and learn more on the RM 3 information page on MTC’s website. Read More