As I blogged yesterday, the proposed SB 827 is the first truly revolutionary approach to boosting housing in the most environmentally and economically friendly places in California.
And this morning on Southern California’s KPCC radio program Airtalk, I discussed the bill with host Larry Mantle, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz (5th District), and Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association.
The 30-minute discussion surfaced most of the predictable yet flawed objections to the bill, typically raised by homeowners and their allies:
- These new residents in housing near transit won’t really ride the transit, they’ll just add to the local congestion. Mostly false: proximity to transit is a major determinant of how likely people are to ride it. However, it is true that lower-income residents are more likely to ride. But even locating middle-income residents near transit is still better than locating them far out of the city, where they’d have long drives leading to more overall traffic and pollution, or encouraging them to gentrify existing neighborhoods due to the lack of new housing supply. And as we’ve seen in urban areas like the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington DC, professionals will ride transit if it’s convenient to their work.
- New housing near transit will only add to parking and traffic congestion in my neighborhood. Yes, possibly in the immediate areas. But if the new developments don’t oversupply and under-price parking (and SB 827 relaxes minimum parking requirements) and instead offer better transit, walking and biking access, people will be more likely to choose to avoid the traffic. And overall traffic across the region will decrease with more in-town housing, which means less pollution and regional congestion for everyone. Otherwise, the alternative is more sprawl housing.
- Transit isn’t functional in L.A. right now, so there’s no need to build more housing near it. This is to some extent a circular argument. If there’s not sufficient housing (or other development) near transit, then as a result it won’t serve many of the places people want to go. Only by encouraging that development near rail and other high-quality transit — as opposed to waiting decades for rail to go to the right places — can the system be successful. We see this all around the world with well-functioning transit lines.
The discussion and listener comments are worth hearing, because they track the typical objections to the bill’s proposals. As I wrote yesterday, SB 827 will be a huge political effort. But at the same time, it presents an opportunity to discuss the facts with the persuadable part of the electorate.
The coal industry is hoping that the Trump administration will revive its sagging fortunes. I’ll be on AirTalk on KPCC radio (89.3 FM) in Los Angeles today at 11:20am PT to discuss the industry’s future. As the AirTalk page describes:
It’s no secret that environmentalists and the coal mining industry have long been at odds. But more fuel has been added to the fire, so to speak, as the Trump Administration’s Interior Department has moved to lift a moratorium on coal leases in public lands. The temporary ban was enacted under the Obama Administration, which quickly drew opposition from major mining companies.
As reported by the New York Times, about 85 percent of coal is mined from federal lands in the West, from the Powder River Basin. The basin, which includes lands in Wyoming and Montana, produces a small amount of exported coal. Trump has accused the Obama Administration of trying to stifle exports, a market which has become increasingly competitive in sales to power plants in Asia, particularly China. In the West, Vancouver has the most accessible export terminal, but more capacity is needed to stay competitive in the growing global market. And environmentalists have blocked any new developments for a terminal in the U.S.
Joining me on the panel will be:
- Mark Mills, physicist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute where his focus includes energy and energy technology, and a faculty fellow at Northwestern’s Engineering School; he tweets @MarkPMills
- Daniel Schrag, geochemist and professor of geology, environmental science and engineering; he is also the director at Harvard University Center for the Environment and served on President Obama’s Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (2009 to 2016)
For those out of the area, you can stream it live.
With the Gold Line opening in Los Angeles over the weekend, and the Expo Line to Santa Monica not far behind, Larry Mantle on KPCC radio’s AirTalk covered yesterday what these new lines will mean for mobility in the region.
I participated in the discussion along with Meghan McCarty, KPCC’s commuting and mobility reporter. You can listen here.
To my mind, the opening of these rail projects currently under construction will mean that we’ll finally have a functional rail network in Los Angeles. But that will still take years. The Purple Line subway, Crenshaw line, and regional connector are all a ways away from opening.
In the meantime, while I’m a wet blanket on the Gold Line extension to Azusa, the opening of Expo in a few months will mark a major milestone for rail in the region.
Today at noon in the LA area I’ll be on Larry Mantle’s AirTalk program, 89.3 FM (KPCC public radio). Joining me for the hour-long segment will be Art Leahy, CEO of LA Metro, and we’ll be discussing the past, present and future of LA Metro Rail. I imagine I’ll be speaking mostly about what I’ve learned in researching and writing my book Railtown, so it should be fun to have Mr. Leahy there to respond. Join if you can, and I’ll post the link after it airs.
UPDATE: The link to the audio, along with a page for commenting, can be found here.