Thursday, September 13, 2012

An Empty Bus on the Gateway Ride to Nowhere

Yesterday we talked a little bit about the dismal ridership figures of Sierra Madre's Gateway Coach bus service. Of course, the numbers I had were from 2009, which was when we had first pointed out that people weren't taking this bus very much, and that perhaps the state sales and gas tax money being spent on this enterprise might be better used elsewhere. A notion that took three years to finally take root at City Hall, a place not celebrated for its ability to move at a brisk pace. At least when it is something that they don't particularly want to see happen.

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.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

53 comments:

  1. but it's such a pretty empty bus.

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  2. wouldn't it be easier to just toss all seven dwarves into the bed of a pick-up and let snow white coast down the hill? no need to waste ANY gas

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  3. Interior cleaning costs for the gateway Shuttle must be minimal.

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  4. why not the police shuttle the folks back and forth, after all they can afford it with their gas cost in between hangin out watching for people who run the stop signs, jest sayin'

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    1. Dial-A-Cop-Ride.

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    2. I like this idea!

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    3. Shoplift and get a free ride in a Police car!

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    4. Rides home from the Buc would be a valuable service for many.

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    5. Rename the Gateway Shuttle to the "Buc Bus".

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  5. Another tell on the CC2 opposition was the Josh harang on HOW MANY HOURS IT TAKES, ie "costs" TO PREPARE THE R.F.P.
    Good grief, it couldn't have been more obvious!

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    1. Yes, between Josh and Elaine they were able to come up with about 25 hours of work that has been done. If you rate that at a generous $100.00 per hour, that is $2500.00 dollars for a review that hasn't been done for over 8 years and will probably end up saving the city a whole lot more than that!
      How much did we spend on that Buxton study? 30K - 40K ?

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    2. Hah! How much in "staff resources" are they spending on the Green Committee?

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  6. When i was a kid the mean kid on the street had an ant farm. He intoduced red ants into a black ant population. The black ants were decimated.

    Josh and Nancy are black ants.

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  7. Would be a real pain to go back over the CC record (it may be on line) but I am sure this Gateway bus scheme was the porkbarrel project of our past favorite: Bart Doyle. The mission art work logo was used by Doyle on his campaign literature and it is on the side of the Bart Bus, too.

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  8. Another funny Josh moment Tuesday was his claim that he wanted to support the jitneys because he didn't want to take away anyone's ride. That was before the actual ridership figures were distributed. He changed his story after that.

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  9. Years ago we had a council election, when the dust settled we had elected a slate of council members we looked out for the best intrests of the town! One of the first things they did was bypass Joe Mosca as mayor and put Kurt Zimmerman in.
    During Kurt's term we had g fire in Santa Anita canyon. As mayor Kurt stepped in and called in L A county fire right away. Talking to fire officals later they said " you don't know how close you were to losing the town" But for the quick action of Mayor Zimmerman. My point is Mayor pro tem Nancy.is as close as we can get to having her in this postion of power and judgement

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    1. Someone would have to step in for her. Nancy is not competent to lead, and would be a disaster in a situation like that.

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    2. You are right, Nancy is in no way competent to lead, and I'm sure Elaine or someone in power would step in and advise? I would hope so.
      This woman is not only incompetent, she is also just a mean person.

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    3. Elaine in charge? Frying pan to fire.

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    4. Yeah, but she got elected 8:41 am. In a city wide democratic election she was elected. You can't claim C & L ditzed the results. A majority of voters picked her over better qualified candidates. What do you say to that? Not that I don't agree with you, but it does say something about Sierra Madre voters in general.

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    5. Indeed it does, 9:47.
      Walsh won. There's a world of information in that fact.

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    6. California has elected people that are now driving the state into insolvency. Democracy might very well be beyond the intellectual capabilities of most Californians.

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    7. Speak to a council person and tell them not make a bad choice but do something wise don't push dancing nancy in the mayor chair.

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    8. I don't know. A term as Mayor will just about guarantee Nancy will never get reelected.

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  10. Another good conversation starter. Thank you, Mr. C.

    p.s. A document is 'titled', never 'entitled'.

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    1. According to Daily Writing Tips, entitled, though not in common usage, can be considered correct. As in to "give a title."

      http://dailywritingtips.com/titled-versus-entitled/

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  11. Good grief, imagine if you were dependent on Walsh and Moran to be sly and quiet! I almost feel sorry for the Dirts on that one.

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    1. Josh and Nancy are about as blunt and obvious as an outhouse doorknob.

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    2. But less useful.

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    3. I like Nancy. And I find Josh hugely entertaining as he waddles his body around town in search of beer. Think Wimpy and hamburgers.

      But I agree. I kind of feel sorry for the DSP folks. They must be dying as they watch these two in action. How do I know? Because we are laughing at them. Time to look to the DSP bench. Crazy local realtor Carol Canterberry looks ready to answer the call!

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    4. LOL, that would be great, 9:24, we have the town mean old lady on the council, the town "drinker", sure, why not the town clown, Carol Canterbury, or better yet, her goofy husband T. Canterbury. Or...how about Joe Mosca groupie, Paul Hovspeian? Or that other Mosca groupie who drives around town all day.

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  12. There is a post on yesterday's Tattler posted at 12:12 am that I think is worth repeating here for today's readership.

    " Carol Liu's website has lots of good words, good causes, and then there's this: Member, Select Committee on Climate Change and AB32 Implementation."



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    1. There is no way Liu is opposed to RHNA allocations. She is telling election stories.

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  13. Who else goes straight to the comments.?

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    1. Not me. But whatever floats your boat, Noah.

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    2. The articles are always good.
      The comments are hit and miss.

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    3. And miss the Pulitzer Prize-worthy writing of John Crawford? No way.

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    4. Two different things.The articles are topical and current. The comments function as a community forum. Don't see how you do one without the other. How would you know what is going on?

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    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. There may be behnd the scenes opposition to cutting C & L from the payroll, but I don't see how it can effectively stop that from happening.
    Law firms are desperate for new clients - we will get some good deals.

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    1. 1:45, the offers will flood in. Good thing Koerber is on it. And Harabedian might be able to use his expertise to save us some money. If he really does want a political career, and all indications are that he does, it wouldn't hurt him to enjoy the popular support that comes with economic savings.

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    2. Watching Josh cave in on aMeasure V vote for the Kensington was a pleasure. I expect we'll see something very similar with the RFP. Good times!

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    3. I'm sure Harabedian knows that Moran and Walsh are losers. I don't see him throwing himself on the tracks for either of them.

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    4. With young John I think it all depends on who is watching. While I'd like to agree that he sees clearly the capabilities of those who sit with him on the council, I'm not sure that's the kind of information that motivates his decisions.

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  15. The Rond -a bout was indeed implemented to qualify our town to be part of the transit corridor, and pushed by Doyle for that purpose.

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    1. It was a failure as a transportation service. The routes were badly designed.

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    2. No matter what the design of the route, the Round-About was a disaster and should have been dropped years ago. Lots of publicity did not increase the ridership.

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    3. Frequently, on my way to shop in Monrovia or Arcadia where they have plastic bags, I see their versions of the Gateway Coach on the roadways. They, too, are virtually empty. I have no doubt that for the handful of folks who do use the coachs they are immensely convenient and comfortable. If the program was private it would have been scrapped years ago. I am with the taxpayers who say taxis are the answer! This is a case where vouchers are the right answer. Issue all applicants a book of vouchers, let them call a service and be delivered to their destinations at a significantly reduced cost! Sierra Madre spends $18K a month to shuttle its clutch of riders to Albertson's, the Senior Center for lunch, and both of them to Sierra Madre Villa Station. Vouchers for all!

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    4. The Ad Hoc committee that investigated a couple of years ago advised revising the route, eliminating the Sierra Madre Villa Station stops, and running on Saturdays to capture ridership for kids and families to the pool, downtown, and parks. "Nosiree", said the City, who then thanked the committee for their service, dismissed them, and did what they damned well pleased.

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    5. 6:37, that's exactly it.
      There are ways of mapping out buses that serve communities very well. I haven't made a study of it, but at first glance, routes that went on all the streets from east to west, then north to south, and repeated the pattern, could be of real benefit and generate enough income to more than pay for itself.
      As it is though, better to just dump the whole idea.

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  16. I love the Gold Line. We like going to Olvera st, and getting taquitos at Cielito Lindo. Didn't realize that we had a shuttle in town...

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  17. 9:24 & 10:13,,, shame on you guys, kick some one when they are trying their best. After a very long day working I come in here to keep up on whats going on in town and then I catch something like 10:13 and it saddens me. I have met her husband and he seemed like a nice guy. 9:24 " Crazy local realtor Carol Canterberry" this lady is trying her best, have a heart. It's just obvious the realtors are for higher density and for building the town up but don't stoop to that poop, you might step in it one day. I feel better now, smile.

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