In June of 2009, and assuming one person equals two trips, the Gateway Coach over the course of that month's 22 work days saw a less than 5 person per day ridership to and from the Gold Line station. Meaning that people taking this thing back then were very close to non-existent.
Now you might wonder why a "Gateway Coach" had been deemed necessary in the days of yore. And why the $100's of thousands of dollars being pumped into this dubious little bus over the years is a necessary spend. The explanation we came up with is that its purpose has been to establish Sierra Madre as a part of the 210 "transportation corridor," and therefore subject to many of the "transit village" mandates of SB 375. In other words, and as is often the case with such things, the goal was to ramp up our RHNA number allocation, thereby driving the requirement to plan for a beaucoup creation of high density development.
This is how the process (stupid word) is described on the California Planning and Development Report site in a 2009 article entitled "SB 375 Is Now Law -- But What Will It Do?"
Most important, however, is the fact that the RHNA allocation numbers must conform to the Sustainable Communities Strategy. This has important consequences for the RHNA process and Housing Element implementation. The regional planning agencies (Mod - read: SCAG, COG) are required to provide local governments with a housing allocation representing their "fair share" of regional growth. But the Sustainable Communities Strategy is likely to concentrate future development around transit stops. The end result of the RHNA process in the future is likely to look like what the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) has recently done in the arena - cutting a deal among local governments to allow more housing in transit-rich areas, and rearranging the RHNA numbers to accommodate our goals.
Which does shed some light on why the state would be giving us a couple hundred grand in sales and gas tax money to fund bus services that nobody wants to ride. We need to become "transit rich" in order for their plans to succeed here. All done in the hope of creating the impression that communities such as ours are intimately tied in with transportation corridors such as the one traveled by our very own 210 Trolly, aka the Gold Line.
Recently SCAG, and despite the wishes of the people and government of Sierra Madre, imposed RHNA demands upon this built-out and water-starved town that are by all accounts nuts. And what is their rationale for such bizarre bureaucratic behavior? The same "Sustainable Communities Strategy" nonsense discussed back in 2009 on the CPDR site we quoted from above. Here is how the 2012 incarnation of this "SCS" reads on the SCAG site (click here). And dig all those crazy acronyms.
With the RTP, the SCS demonstrates the region's ability to attain and exceed the GHG emission-reduction targets set forth by the ARB. The SCS outlines our plan for integrating the transportation network and related strategies with an overall land use pattern that responds to projected growth, housing needs, changing demographics, and transportation demands ... The SCS focuses the majority of new housing and job growth in high-quality transit areas and other opportunity areas in existing main streets, downtowns, and commercial corridors, resulting in an improved jobs-housing balance and more opportunity for transit-oriented development. This overall land use development pattern supports and complements the proposed transportation network that emphasizes system preservation, active transportation, and transportation demand management measures.
So how is all that going down here in Sierra Madre? How is that "transportation demand management measure" working out for us? Apparently not so well. As we saw from the 2009 Gateway Coach ridership figures, things weren't exactly hopping back then. And according to the April 2012 figures, which are the same numbers passed around at Tuesday evening's City Council get-together by concerned residents, things have not changed very much.
The Gateway Coach's ridership in April 2012 consisted of 337 total trips for the month, which translates to about 7 people per day. Meaning that the total increase in ridership from 2009 consists of exactly 2 people. Broken down by demographic category, that means 2 or 3 were "youth," 2 or 3 adults, and 1 or 2 seniors. And, of course, there is no real guarantee how many of these folks were actually going to the Gold Line. Who knows, they might have gone to Best Buy or Dick's Sporting Goods instead.
The upshot is that over the last several years an empty Gateway Coach has been wandering passengerless up and down the hill attempting to fulfill the dreams of state and regional central planners. That somehow Sierra Madreans will abandon their automobiles for bus and trolly trips to work. And that in the "process" vast sums of in our tax money has been spent to keep the empty crazy bus rolling.
You can only wonder how many other such strange enterprises are going on in this state. Empty buses that just keep running year after year because it all somehow fits into land use schemes that nobody wants, and to quit now would be to admit that the SB 375 project this state has invested billions of our tax dollars in is a stunning failure.
That Sacramento wants us to vote ourselves a tax increase so that such things can continue is equally bizarre. Somehow the madness must end.
Did Josh and Nancy Tip Their Hand on the City Attorney RFP Tuesday Evening?
Nancy Walsh's odd questioning of Chris Koerber regarding his supposed talk with law firms about the RFP for City Attorney services Tuesday evening was a bit of a tell. Of course Chris had done no such thing, and his intention has always been merely to save the City some money. Something that should be of concern to everyone, but apparently is not the case.
What is equally telling is that after Nancy had read aloud her carefully prepared ploy (prepared by whom being another question), Josh Moran then jumped in and tried and move this canard along a bit. Chris brushed the whole thing off and the meeting rolled on.
But this does invite some speculation. It looks like there is some behind-the-scenes opposition to the RFP after all. Of course, this opposition would prefer not to see its resistance to the notion discussed in public, preferring to operate like we saw Tuesday. In a sly, quiet sort of way.
The bids that will come in from other law firms will be vastly cheaper than anything Colantuono & Levin would be willing to accept. And the savings realized by the tax payers will be considerable. But that is not the point for those who oppose the RFP. What makes C&L so necessary to them is that they bend the rules to suit their agendas. Which obviously lean decidedly towards DSP-style development in our downtown. That is why they command the big bucks we have been paying them over the last decade or so.
It was a very revealing moment. The gloves are off.