Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Posts Tagged ‘California’

Round Two: LA Area vs SF Bay Area

Posted by Roobs on March 12, 2014


Yesterday I posted my first LA vs. SF comparison list, where San Francisco beat out Los Angeles in a pure city on city fight.  My list addressed what I thought was a gaping oversight on most internet lists on the same topic.  They would often (though, not all of them) grant LA regional status, while limiting SF to its city borders.  Meaning, some lists gave LA points for things like Disneyland, even though the happiest place on earth isn’t even in the same county.  HOWEVER, one of my earliest posts on this blog also addressed this ill comparison.   “In Defense of Los Angeles” showed how you can’t say Los Angeles has, for example, a horrible public transit system and SF has a great one because SF is tiny compared to LA.  The scales are different.  So  now that we have seen how city vs. city stacks up, let’s make this a fair fight by comparing the two general areas together.  So how does the LA Area stack up against the SF Area?

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Posted in Pop Culture, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

LA vs. SF in 15 Categories!

Posted by Roobs on March 11, 2014


Lists on the internet comparing two different places abound.  But, perhaps, no list appears more than lists comparing the City of Los Angeles vs. the City of San Francisco (with maybe the East Coast of the United States vs. the West Coast coming in a close second).  But the one thing that has always annoyed me about these lists is that they never seem to grasp the fact that places like Disneyland are not in the City of Los Angeles.  In fact, Disneyland is not even in the same county.  So, as an urban planner (aka: map Nazi), I thought it would be fun to create my own LA vs. SF list.  Here is my totally subjective yet totally awesome comparison of Los Angeles vs. San Francisco.

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Posted in Pop Culture, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Planner’s take on Senate Bill 1

Posted by Roobs on September 24, 2013

Legislation could create successor agencies to redevelopment focus on transit-oriented and walkable communities.

Legislation could create successor agencies to redevelopment, focusing on transit-oriented and walkable communities.

 In 2011, Governor Jerry Brown snuffed out California’s plethora of community redevelopment agencies (CRA), much to the lament of cities and their city planners everywhere.  The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board recently wrote that city’s lament their loss primarily out of self-interest; stating that the structure of CRAs allowed them to self finance – giving lots of money back to the city.  Planners, on the other hand, lamented their fall for a more practical planning reason:  Redevelopment agencies were one of the great tools planners could use to assemble land in a manner that made development more feasible with tax-increment financing.  So when California State Senator, Derrel Steinberg proposed SB 1 to create CRA’s successor agencies, tentatively known as Sustainable Community Investment Authorities (SCIA), planners took note.  It was the first time we had heard of a serious attempt to restore one of the great planning tools we had lost.  But how well can it work?

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Posted in Economic Development, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Insulting Fallacy of HSR Critics on the Central Valley

Posted by Roobs on July 10, 2012

During much of the debate leading up to and even during last week’s vote to fund HSR, many legislators and critics of HSR either implicitly or outright insult the Central Valley as a poor place to begin construction of the nation’s most ambitious infrastructure project.  After the years of listening and responding to HSR critics’ arguments, I really am simply and unquestionably irritated and downright tired their statements on the Central Valley.  I have to force myself at times not to just go off on many of these individuals who fancy themselves experts on planning issues – many the most outspoken are those who have no background in the subject at all.  But specifically regarding the Central Valley, I think they just need to stop.  Just stop talking.  As native son of California’s (and arguably the country’s) most productive agricultural region, catchphrases like “train to nowhere”, the Norcal-Socal centric statements that “no one will ride it between Madera and Bakersfield”, and that it should go along Interstate 5 as opposed to State Route 99, are just downright offensive to all residents of the Central Valley.  There are many reasons why the Central Valley is an excellent place to begin construction.  Here are just a few. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Roads Aren’t Free [Updated]

Posted by Roobs on November 29, 2011

It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved highways and their true costs.

[Updated: Following the release of the draft 2012 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail project, I have come back to this post to update the numbers.  The overall argument is still the same and very valid.]

Critics tend to fancy themselves experts in all things sociological and economic when it comes to high-speed rail in California.  They argue the technology will not work –people won’t ride it – and/or that it is simply too expensive of a project to undertake during this time of economic contraction and we simply shouldn’t build it to save the money.  However, as I pointed out in a recent post, the cost of NOT building the California High-Speed Rail Project has never been zero.  In fact, it would cost  $100 billion $170 billion to build new highways and air travel facilities to meet future transportation demand as opposed to the $45-$60 billion $98 billion for HSR.  Even with this fact critics point out that it’s also the operating costs, not just capital costs that make HSR too expensive to build.  But while critics spend their time attacking the cost and financing of HSR, they neglect to check the financing of their favorite alternative to HSR: roads.  It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved roads and highways and their true costs.

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Posted in Economic Development, Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Four Basic Qs & As for Fresno-Bakersfield HSR Segment

Posted by Roobs on September 23, 2011

Photo Courtesy of AviationMentor

I spent eighteen years of my life growing up in the Central Valley in the City of Visalia, located midway between Bakersfield and Fresno.  I was never a farm boy.  I grew up in a suburban style two-story house in a cul-de-sac.  Though I didn’t grow up on a farm, I developed an appreciation and understanding (especially as I got older) of those who lived and worked in some of the nation’s most productive agricultural regions.  It’s an understanding of, not simply a lifestyle but a life devoted to the cultivation of essential crops and resources. But over the course of the debate on high-speed rail (HSR) over the first leg of construction from Bakersfield to Fresno, I hate to see these local communities being pushed and misled by local city officials and executives who would throw hardworking famers under the proverbial bus because of their own intransigence.  Here are four basic questions and answers on the “why” for the Fresno-Bakersfield segment of the California High-Speed Rail project.

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Posted in Politics, Urban Planning | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

East Coast being insufferable about the West Coast

Posted by Roobs on August 24, 2011

Now famous picture of DC earthquake devastation

Following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia, east coasters and media essentially panicked.  Buildings were evacuated and thousands, if not millions of people went to the streets during the rare seismic event.  But when all was said and done, the earthquake caused minimal damage across the East Coast with no major injuries or fatalities reported.  Those of us on the West Coast essentially had a field day with this news.  Californians deal with earthquakes everyday with larger earthquakes happening more frequently.  In fact, in the last 10 hours, there have been two earthquakes in California.  A 4.2 magnitude earthquake in Central California and a 3.6 magnitude earthquake in the San Francisco Bay Area.  So it comes as little surprise that when Californians saw their East Coast brothers and sisters overreacting to an event that caused little damage, we decided to poke fun.

Twitter and facebook blew up with Californians poking fun.  A lot of them focused on welcoming the East Coast to the earthquake club.  Some in California also went further to point out that, yes, the East Coast may have been overreacting.  But it looks like not all East Coasters can take their punches with that famous New York attitude.  I’m not entirely sure it was a joke post or a serious attempt at a rant, but the people at – an internet gossip site – apparently are crying (literally?) foul over the West Coast’s attitude with a post entitled: “Californians are being insufferable about this earthquake.”  I’m assuming it was a serious attempt at a rant considering they wrote a post later on in the day on how Californians are overreacting to an oil tanker on a train that burst into flames causing the evacuation of 4,800 people.  In any event, Gawker (and the East Coast), all I have to say is… get over yourself.

Are Californians being insufferable about the earthquake?  Probably.  However, is it justified?  Of course it is.  Here’s why:

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Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Look In the Mirror: California’s Higher Education

Posted by Roobs on July 28, 2011

In Early July, I received an email from my graduate department here at UCLA.  It was a good news letter stating I was awarded a departmental fellowship to help pay for my education.  It was a modest award of around $3,000, but very much appreciated.  At the end of July, I received another letter. This letter was not so good news concerning recent meeting of the UC Regents (the governing body of the University of California system). The Regents had approved yet another increase in student fees for both undergraduate and graduate students in response to decreasing financial support from the state.

Last year when I began my masters education, the university fees were around $11,500 for graduate degrees.  With the new increase, the fees are now near $14,600.   As I pondered over this reality, I realized that my departmental fellowship would be negated by the increase in fees, leaving me largely in the same place I was last year with the same amount of debt obligation I would need to take on.  As a native Californian and student, I am truly saddened by how poorly my fellow Californians seem to care about the education of its future generations as well as the future of our state.

There is little disagreement that the California’s higher public education system is in decline.  Though some may argue the merits of decreasing state support for these insititutions of higher education, many are willing to concede that the system if struggling.  State financial support has dropped considerably in the last decade alone, but has been dropping steadily since its height.

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Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »