In today's Almanac (10/20/2010) is a letter from Planning Commissioner Katie FerricK:
Exaggerated traffic claims against Measure T
There has been a lot of talk about the expected traffic increase caused by Measure T (allowing Bohannon to build office-hotel complex). The opposition is exaggerating when referring to traffic.
What they don't tell you is that U.S. 101 and Highway 84, not service streets, will handle 90 percent of traffic related to this project. According to the draft environmental impact report, after this project is built and before mitigation is implemented, the amount of time you will wait at major intersections during peak hours will increase by only a few seconds.
To mitigate the traffic caused by this project, improvements will be made to seven intersections, including additional traffic signals, right-turn lanes, left-turn lanes, and merge lanes. The Bohannon Development Company will be paying $2.5 million to make these improvements.
The development company has also established a transportation demand management (TDM) program which includes shuttle services to Caltrain, a vanpool program, subsidized public transit passes, and bike lockers and showers for employees.
Now that you know the truth about traffic, you need to know the truth about the benefits. When built, this project is projected to generate $1.67 million in net annual revenue for our city, and create 1,900 temporary jobs and 2,500 quality permanent jobs with many having first priority hiring preference for Menlo Park residents. This is a huge opportunity for our city and will put fellow Menlo Park residents back to work. To me, that is worth waiting a few extra seconds at an intersection
Please vote "Yes" on Measure T.
Katie Ferrick Planning Commissioner Bay Road, Menlo Park
I wish to respond
Quite frankly, I respect Katie Ferrick, but her letter is anything but telling the truth about traffic. I copy below what took place in a discussion about the TDM measures and their effectiveness: Katie was at that planning commission meeting, but apparently has forgotten the true situation on traffic.
The Planning Commission voted 4:3 to approve the project, but the approval was sent to the council with a number of conditions. One of these conditions was the PC wanted a 50% reduction in traffic. What they ended up with was really only a 7% reduction.
You just can't ignore a five fold increase in traffic at an intersection, which even today gets congested. To meet the CEQA requirements the Council had to approve Findings of Overriding Consideration because these impacts are unmitigated, and can't be mitigated to insignificant levels.
Even Mayor Cline, a big supporter of the project said "101 will be a Gawd Awful Mess"
As for Katie's other points:
1. revenue: No money in the near future that's for sure. 8 to 10 years away at best. With the equivalent of 15 Empire State Buildings vacant in Silicon Valley, this project is going nowhere fast, yet the City can't first study and do a planning process for the area that makes sense. Pray tell, where is all the housing going to go.
2. Jobs. Again far far into the future.
Vote No on T. see:
which has much more factual information.
Planning commission exchange:
Please read this exchange between Planning Commissioner Kadvany and the EIR traffic consultant.
KADVANY: ... That is probably EIR protocol, but basically the EIR says it's unlikely that the TDM would reduce impacts both, you know, below significant levels. So can we take those as equivalent and, you know, should I -- should I -- I mean, it's one thing to say I'm being conservative. It's another thing to say I don't expect -- you know, given the nature of what we understand of this program --
MR. SPENCER: Let me see if I can clarify.
COMMISSIONER KADVANY: You understand what I'm saying.
MR. SPENCER: I understand. I get that question quite a bit.
A TDM program, Transportation Demand Management program sets out a series of activities by providing things such as bicycle lockers, by contributing towards employees' shuttle passes, transit passes, perhaps contributing to the existing shuttle, for Caltrain, providing pedestrian amenities. It could be a number of different things. Anything that reduces the number of trips coming to a site, encouraging carpooling, vanpooling, transit, walking, biking and so forth.
As a transportation professional, all of these are extremely important and very, very worthwhile things to do. One of the issues that we have in our industry as traffic professionals is that it's very hard to come up with a very quantitative[,]for sure[,] analysis that says if I implement measures A, B, C and D, I know for sure I'm going to reduce the number of trips by X percent, and across --the more mixed use you have, the more opportunity you have to be successful.
This project is mixed use. It does have a good chance of having a success -- a successful TDM program. But realistically, we can't quantify it with some level of certainty that could withstand a challenge under a CEQA document. So while we encourage these measures and we say these are good to do, we don't know for sure if the level of reduction in trips would be enough to reduce the -- the impact to that less than significant level.