Rising gas prices exacerbated foreclosure crisis, researchers find

Dhyana Levey, SF Public Press — Jul 3 2012 - 12:32pm

Spiking gas prices in recent years were likely a contributing factor to foreclosures in newly built outlying housing developments in the Bay Area, researchers say, suggesting that sprawl may be bad for the region’s economic stability. Two recent studies found links between gas prices and foreclosure rates across California and other parts of the nation. The highest concentrations of Bay Area foreclosures were in eastern Contra Costa and parts of Solano and Sonoma counties. The areas with the lowest foreclosure rates were in the urban corridors of Oakland, San Francisco and parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — areas most accessible by public transit.

Marin cities rebel against regional planning

Kelly O'Mara, SF Public Press — Jul 2 2012 - 12:02pm

Corte Madera, population 9,300, kicked off a fierce debate in Marin over housing mandates earlier this year when the town council voted to become the first member to secede from the Association of Bay Area Governments. At the time, the nine-county planning agency (until then, made up of representatives of every Bay Area city) was launching a big regional housing-growth initiative called Plan Bay Area. Now, several local groups across the Bay Area are questioning the value of the regional plan, saying it will sacrifice local control.

Muni to try quicker boarding scheme in latest effort to meet elusive performance goals

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jun 28 2012 - 11:28am

Clipper Card readers placed in the back of Muni buses long ago will finally get more use starting July 1.Transit officials are gearing up for all-door boarding throughout this system, which will reduce travel times, speed up loading on Muni buses and generate more fare revenue, said Muni spokesman Paul Rose. Muni will become the first bus and light-rail system in the country to have all-door boarding for its entire system.

With redevelopment's end, Bay Area cities scramble to keep grand plans alive

Alexis Fitts, SF Public Press — Jun 27 2012 - 3:10pm

Oakland's Auto Row renaissance may have to work on a smaller scale

Since 2000, city officials have had big plans for Auto Row. They called it the Broadway-Valdez project, a 96-acre development that included a strip of housing and restaurants next to the 19th Street BART station, the Valdez Triangle.Planners said the effort, if fully funded, would be Oakland’s best bet to revive its sagging retail sector. But the project’s prospects have dimmed since California killed redevelopment funds as a way of backfilling the state budget deficit.

Ever-changing population predictions frustrate Bay Area smart-growth planning

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Jun 25 2012 - 12:38pm

State and regional planning agencies have produced differing predictions of how many people will migrate to the Bay Area in coming decades. The disagreement is frustrating efforts to forge a consensus on how many hundreds of thousands of new homes to build across the region, and where. In May, the California Department of Finance took a fresh look at economic forecasts and officially backed away from its prediction that 9.5 million people would live in the Bay Area in 2040. The state now says it is likely to be closer to 8.4 million. But the Association of Bay Area Governments pegged the population for the same 2040 target date at a robust 9.3 million. The agency is charged with developing Plan Bay Area, an ambitious agenda to reshape the sprawling region by building 660,000 new homes in the urban image of walkable, transit-friendly San Francisco.

Tea partiers and Occupiers make strange bedfellows opposing sprawl control

Maureen Nandini Mitra, SF Public Press — Jun 21 2012 - 1:22pm

So far, Plan Bay Area — an ambitious regional blueprint for dense urban communities convenient for walking and public transit — seems to have more strident critics than defenders. Some libertarians, liberal Democrats, environmentalists, professional urban planners and anti-capitalist Occupiers have all found issue with parts of the plan, and the way its authors have sought public opinion.

Muni asks drivers to hold it in while new bathrooms get approvals

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — Jun 20 2012 - 5:19pm

Bus operators looking for a toilet after hours sitting in the driver’s seat will have to hold it just a little longer. That’s because Muni’s plans to build seven new free-standing bathrooms needs to be approved not just by the transit agency, but also Public Works and the Arts Commission. All told, it’s going to take six months.

Officials say planning for regional smart growth prevents ‘a world of hurt’

Chase Niesner, SF Public Press — Jun 15 2012 - 10:21pm

The leaders of Bay Area planning agencies are struggling to persuade local governments and community groups that joint planning will make the region more socially, economically and environmentally healthy. Dealing with sprawl, the focus of the summer print edition of the Public Press, was front and center on Friday’s edition of “Forum,” the daily public-affairs talk show on KQED Radio.

After a decade-plus of planning, San Francisco finally sets 2016 date for bus rapid transit

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — May 25 2012 - 3:16pm

It took the United States eight years to get a man on the moon, but it’s going to take transit officials almost 12 years to get a new high-speed “bus rapid transit” system onto one of San Francisco’s busiest corridors. The Van Ness Avenue project, which in 2006 was projected to open at the end of this year — in time for the Muni centennial — has been pushed back four more years, largely because transit planners had underestimated the time needed to complete the environmental work and project planning.

Express bus eyed for Caltrain to mid-Market run

Jerold Chinn, SF Public Press — May 14 2012 - 2:23pm

Muni officials want to start an express bus route to speed workers from the downtown San Francisco Caltrain to a revitalized mid-Market jobs hub. The rush-hour service would cater to what the city anticipates will be a growing technology business cluster near the new headquarters of social media giant Twitter.

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