Blog: November, 2010
Planning the future of Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is one of the gems of the San Francisco landscape, drawing more than 2 million visitors each year. It is an important piece of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a wild landscape, an urban sea strand, a grand public open space.
Ocean Beach is also home to major elements of San Francisco’s wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
The recent erosion events South of Sloat Boulevard and ongoing community efforts have created unprecedented momentum for a sustainable long-range plan. Drawing on the work of the Ocean Beach Vision Council and others, the plan will address the impact of rising seas, the physical and ecological processes shaping the beach, and improved integration with its natural, recreational, and urban contexts.
SPUR has been conducting interviews with local community members, advocates, and public agencies. We will be convening a series of public workshops and other programming to get input from local stakeholders.
Are Smaller Homes Here to Stay?
[Photo Credit: flickr user Dean Terry]
The post-recession trend toward smaller homes in suburban communities has grown over the past few years – and as the economy continues to lag, it’s likely these more modest homes will only rise in popularity. It remains unclear, however, if Americans have really begun to reevaluate the excesses of 6.5 bathrooms and a “celebrity-style media and screening room,” or whether they’re just putting those dreams on hold for the time being.
The building industry has certainly reacted to the American home-buyer’s current need for a more affordable, pared down lifestyle. A recent New York Times article featured Builder magazine’s 2010 “concept home,” a 1,700 square foot “Home for the New Economy.” A virtual tour of the house emphasizes the house's “roominess and livability,” low energy load and flexible interior spaces.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has also released a report on the changing housing industry, focusing on consumers’ new demands for single-family homes. According to the study, “characteristics of homes started in 2009 reveal a marketplace adapting to tougher economic times with fewer luxuries, but also point to a few amenities that have been on the upswing despite the general retrenchment of consumers.” While new houses are getting smaller and cheaper, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms showed little change. The study also found that while amenities like three-car garages, fireplaces and patios have declined, porches have shown an increase in popularity. (The Home for the New Economy features front and back porches.) One luxury feature that persists in new home construction is the two-story foyer – 30% of homes started in 2009 had one. It appears American homebuyers are willing to give up almost anything before a grand entrance.
But perhaps it is more important to consider whether new communities of smaller homes can make up for the decreased square footage of the houses themselves. In the same New York Times article, New Urbanist founding father Andres Duany posits that “the sprawling homes of the last decade met a need, albeit imperfectly, by reproducing internally what suburban communities lacked: an exercise room substitutes for a park, a home theater for the Main Street cinema.” Regardless of your take on Duany’s special brand of small-town American urbanism, it’s comforting to think that an increased demand for porches (and their tendency to foster social interaction), is the first manifestation of Americans’ newfound desire to reengage with their communities. It remains to be seen whether Americans will continue to appreciate them when they can once again afford larger, more isolated properties.
To better visualize the changing features of new single-family homes, The Wall Street Journal has created an interactive floor plan comparison of boom-era and post-recession luxury homes. Read the accompanying article, “Builders Downsize the Dream Home.”
SPUR's Take on Amending the Bay Plan
[Photo Credit: flickr user Ostrosky Photos]
We know that the climate is changing. We know that sea levels are going to rise at a faster rate in the coming decades—as much as 16 inches by mid-century—and we know that large parts of the Bay Area are going to become vulnerable to flooding in the process. (Read SPUR's papers on sea level rise here and here.) Policy failure outside our region (nationally and internationally) is making it even more important within our region to both try to stop climate change and prepare for its worst and inevitable effects. How do we do this in a way that is logical yet sustainable, that harnesses regional ingenuity and collaboration, focuses growth in the right places, and prevents as much misery as possible?
Over the last two years, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has been working on a proposal to amend its guidance document, the Bay Plan, to include new findings and policies related to climate change and sea level rise. This proposal is based on years of research by BCDC and others to try to understand and project the effects of future sea level rise on the shoreline—and what rising sea levels mean for people, property, infrastructure, and fragile Bay wetlands. (See the BCDC's report, "Living with a Rising Bay" and the Pacific Institute's "The Impacts of Sea Level Rise on the California Coast.")
The latest draft of the proposal, issued in September, provides guidance on how local governments and BCDC (within its narrow jurisdiction of 100 feet inland from the shoreline), should permit projects in the future inundation zone, and what kinds of projects should be allowed at all. It proposes to initiate a years-long public process to create a regional strategy for allocating limited flood protection resources and determining where development should not occur in the future, or even be removed. BCDC has been holding an official public hearing on this topic that has remained open for months. They have received hundreds of comments and there will be more workshops and hearings over the next few months. You can find out more at the BCDC Commission meetings and through their FAQs.
SPUR has published several papers on climate change over the last few years; one creates a prioritized climate action plan for the City of San Francisco; a second paper addresses the necessity of sea level rise planning, and provides a typology of shoreline management strategies we might need to use to adapt to the changes in our region. We have an ongoing task force working to vet climate adaptation strategies for the region, including how we should deal with new threats of extreme weather and sea level rise. We have also been trying to build awareness of the need for a regional conversation around this topic through exhibits and public forums at the SPUR Urban Center.
SPUR thinks BCDC’s efforts to study and to raise awareness on sea level rise are incredibly important, and that amending the Bay Plan is a timely and logical next step. We also understand why the specifics of their draft proposal have raised concerns—from Bay restoration advocates, to local governments, to developers with sights on shoreline properties. But we think a workable solution for everyone is possible, and we suggested changes to BCDC this week in a letter and a set of line-item edits to the proposed amendments.
To summarize some of the concerns that have been raised:
- Bay environmental advocates who know that 90 percent of the Bay’s original wetlands have been destroyed want further assurances from BCDC that there will be no more inappropriate shoreline development or fill, and that opportunity sites for restoration will be saved for that purpose (helping us solve climate change, because wetlands sequester carbon).
- Developers and property owners would like the Bay Plan to guarantee that new climate change policies will not affect existing permit holders and will not conflict with the region’s new SB 375 requirements to build transit-oriented infill (which also helps us solve climate change, because people will drive less).
- Local governments would like to have a better understanding of how to permit or protect development in areas that may be inundated in the future, but want more recognition that local building officials—and not BCDC—do all the zoning and most of the permitting of new projects.
In SPUR’s view, the proposed amendments provide some fairly strong assurances to restoration advocates (that should remain strong), but inadequate assurances to property owners and developers about their future liabilities, and a confusing slate of guidance to local governments on how they should reconcile all the climate change information being handed down by regional agencies (BCDC isn’t totally responsible for this, of course, but the Bay Plan could reference some of the other efforts, and in SPUR’s version, it does). While BCDC’s attempt to solve for sea level rise, MTC’s attempt to solve for reducing personal vehicle travel, ABAG’s attempt to solve for compact land use, and BAAQMD’s attempt to solve for air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are all important, we need a fine-grained analysis to ensure that we achieve these goals in a coordinated way. We need to carefully lay out a plan for the region going forward that provides clarity, especially for local governments, and reconciles competing goals. And most importantly, we must not intentionally plan to optimize for a single issue, like sea level rise, because climate change is not the only issue facing our region in the future. We have many development and conservation goals. We don’t want to make them harder to achieve, or at worst, accidentally force more development into sprawl.
The changes SPUR suggested to BCDC this week for the Bay Plan can be summarized in five main points. We want the Bay Plan amendments to:
- Define “infill development” to include: underutilized land within urbanized areas that are served by existing infrastructure including transit, conversion of former military bases, adaptive reuse of existing structures, and ABAG Priority Development Areas;
- Encourage local governments, and the Commission within its jurisdiction, to allow infill projects to proceed, and others if they have an adaptation and financial strategy, while a regional sea level rise strategy is being developed;
- Provide formal assurances in new findings clarifying that the proposed amendments do not expand the Commission’s jurisdiction;
- Provide assurances to give certainty to activities that may be undertaken in the future that are within the scope of an existing permit;
- State that BCDC should work with other agencies and local governments to identify long-term regional flood protection strategies and create consistency with SB 375 sustainable communities strategies.
Overall, we at SPUR are very encouraged by our regional agencies’ efforts to solve for global warming in a world that cannot seem to enact the changes we need. We are grateful to BCDC for being a thought leader on this issue. We think it is totally possible and necessary to encourage appropriate infill development and meaningfully plan for sea level rise. We can do this at the regional scale, and we must also do it locally. And we believe that our proposed changes to the Bay Plan Amendments are an improvement on BCDC’s template, and will advance many of our region’s aspirations for the future.
Let us know what you think.
Demolition of the Transbay Terminal
School Brings Farming to the Big Apple: A formerly vacant lot in the East Bronx now serves as a classroom for The New York City School of Urban Agriculture, a new venture aimed at helping students use urban farming to foster a healthy food culture in their community.
Washington Rethinks its Rules on Building Height: Washington, D.C. is reexamining its outdated zoning laws that restrict building height in the city. While some argue that taller buildings would diversify the cityscape, allow for greener construction, and prevent gentrification, others worry that raising the height limit could jeopardize the unique character of the city.
Lindin Alley Planners in SF Went Extra Mile: After five years, numerous bureaucratic hurdles, and lots of determination, Lindin Living Alley has finally sprung up in Hayes Valley, adding to the collection of SF parks created by “bootstrap urbanism.”
Neglect Threatens Many of Italy’s Cherished Ruins: Over the centuries, Italy’s ruins have survived earthquakes, volcano blasts and pillaging, but as of recently, some of them are crumbling due to poor upkeep and negligence alone. The loss of such treasures could spell trouble for the country’s tourism industry.
Market on a Mission: Thanks to neighborhood planner Jeremy Shaw, a once derelict block in SF’s Mission District is now home to a vibrant community market hosting music, food and family activities every Thursday.
Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh
SPUR Tours Recycle Central
Just because you can recycle it, doesn't mean you should be using it
San Francisco is successful at many things, but there is one place where we shine above all other cities in the country – our recycling and compost programs. San Francisco was the first major city in the U.S. to implement a citywide curbside composting program open to all residents and businesses. Almost a decade after the program's initial roll-out, alongside an ever-expanding recycling program, San Francisco now boasts the highest waste diversion rate in the country – 77% in 2010. This whopping figure exceeded even our own goals for the year, and we’re on track to keep improving next year. (See SPUR's Urbanist article "Toward zero waste" here.) The cooperation of both Recology (San Francisco's waste management company) and the City has created a gold standard for waste management -- one that Cities around the world are eager to learn from and emulate.
SPUR toured Recycle Central last month, providing members with an insider's view of this visionary program. Recycle Central is Recology's state-of-the-art sorting facility located at Pier 96 along San Francisco's eastern waterfront. Collection trucks endlessly file in, dumping 750 tons of their commingled recyclables on the industrial concrete floor every day. Large bulldozers then take the recycled material and load it into machinery, which (alongside the admirably hard work of sorters) separates the material into numerous commodities. These sorted materials are then sent all around the United States and the world. Glass gets remade into bottles in the East Bay, aluminum goes by rail to Tennessee to be remade into cans, paper bales head to mills in the Northwest U.S., plastic is shipped to China. These materials are certainly put to much better use than if they had been sent to landfill.
One of the San Francisco recycling program's biggest strengths is that it accepts almost anything that could potentially be recycled. You name it: plastic clamshell take-out containers, coffee cup lids, kid's meal toys, and even CDs and DVDs (including the cases). This is all in addition to the standard items that we typically think of as recyclables: an aluminum can may be reformed many times without the addition of new materials; glass can be reformed into new glass bottles and be back on the shelf with new liquids within six weeks; markets exist for recycled paper, particularly white office paper. Recycling aluminum, glass and paper helps pay for the cost of providing San Francisco's recycling program
Towards the end of the tour while we discussed the various items that one can place in the blue bin, it became clear that Recology ironically does not want many of the materials they accept. Despite the fact that the vast majority of coffee cups and plastic toys do not get properly sorted make into people’s blue bins, these materials are extremely cheap in quality and do not make a good sell to material buyers. Essentially, nobody wants old CDs and DVDs – Recology just accepts them and tries to recycle them because doing so helps San Francisco make progress toward zero waste, a goal set by the Board of Supervisors. Recycling materials that have market value won't pay all the costs associated with collecting, sorting and shipping recyclables, but doing so helps offset some of these costs. But when we are talking about low-quality plastics, what the recycling industry calls "junk plastic," we are not talking about valued material; often the best we can hope for is a new park bench. So we as consumers should avoid purchasing or accepting junk plastic.
The point here is that just because you can recycle something, does not mean that you should be using the product. For many materials, recycling is not the solution – the solution is avoiding using the product altogether and looking for alternatives. Instead of a single-use coffee cup, buy a reusable stainless steel one. Decline taking a plastic bag—which often may have a usable life measured in minutes, and cannot be recycled— and bring a tote. I can guarantee the workers that spend upwards of five hours each day cutting away plastic bags of that gum up Recycle Central’s sorting machinery will thank you. This all makes perfect sense when you consider the mantra: "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Recycling should be the last priority. We can have the most state-of-the-art recycling system in place, but some materials are just not good, and clearly should be left out of the waste stream – especially if we would like to reach our goal of zero waste.
[Photo Credit: All photos by Colleen McHugh]
Tours are open to SPUR members only. Learn more about becoming a SPUR member.
DIY Urbanism: An Interview with PlantSF Founder Jane Martin
This fall SPUR has featured the projects of local "Do-It-Yourself" urbanists in DIY Urbanism: testing the grounds for social change. In lean economic times, individuals have become the driving force behind some of the most successful initiatives to make San Francisco a better city, often providing the crucial impetus to address problems on a larger scale.
SPUR spoke with Jane Martin, whose image as a jack-hammer wielding advocate for greener sidewalks has made her emblematic of the do-it-yourself spirit. Jane is a local designer, professor and founder of PlantSF, a non-profit which helps homeowners turn excess concrete into exposed-earth gardens.
Many San Franciscans are familiar with sight of sidewalks up to and over 20 feet in breadth. Such expanses of impermeable surface are are hostile to essential natural processes, exacerbating stormwater runoff, air pollution and urban heat islands.
Since moving to San Francisco's Mission district, Jane had struggled to secure a permit to convert some of the excess concrete around her home into usable green space. Such sidewalk plantings would serve not only to beautify the neighborhood, but also to help relieve the overburdened city stormwater facilities, allowing rain to filter into the soil rather than runoff over streets accumulating pollution.
Jane was motivated to action by her principles and her passion, but also by poop. After several storms overloaded the city's septic system, inundating her basement with sewage with nowhere else to go, Jane decided she'd had enough. "That was the big moment" she said, "being knee deep in fecal water and realizing the ground beneath my feet was dry."
Jane worked with the local government to establish a sidewalk planting permitting process that was navigable and affordable. She founded PlantSF in 2004 to continue providing information to individuals interested in reestablishing a connection to the earth outside their own doorsteps.
Prior to her advocacy, "a permit process did not exist." But Jane was encouraged by the City's receptiveness to her proposal. "Convincing people took quite a bit less effort than I expected" she said, and it went really smoothly once we set on doing it. Traditional agency divisions are counterproductive, so it takes mindful collaboration to overcome that. Fortunately some really terrific people were involved."
Thanks to Jane, interested individuals can now apply for sidewalk plantings through a streamlined process (forms available here), marked down from over $800 to just over $100.
The image of Jane literally "taking a jackhammer to the sidewalk outside her own home" embodies the Do-It-Yourself ideal. Yet it seems that the work of installing permeable landscaping actually involves a web of partnerships with neighbors, local non-profits, and city agencies. Jane's response highlights one of the main features of DIY, that it involves not a rejection of government involvement, but a more porous relationship between grassroots activists and City-directed initiatives. "Ideally this would be a city-wide program and not rely on DIY for the main part of making the earth available," Jane concedes, "but we are a town of committed individualists which in this case works against us. We lose out on many benefits because of a lack of coordination."
The government has a critical role to play in altering the current regime of stormwater management through its ability to implement master plans and direct vast resources. "People can still do their own," says Jane, "but it should be in a framework that has been well thought through by the many terrific engineers, geologists and other specialists the City employs."
Jane has joined the ranks herself, as an appointee to Mayor Newsome's Commission on the the Environment. "During my time on the commission we have addressed quite a broad range of issues, including: sustainable development, cell phone radiation, dark skies, bird-building strikes, energy efficiency, green building standards, pharmaceutical disposal and more."
Having gone from a private citizen activist to a member of the mayor's Commission on the Environment and the leader of PlantSF's ambassadorial services, Jane is uniquely positioned to comment on private-public partnerships. To others interested in changing aspects of their community, but intimidated by bureaucratic barriers, Jane says: "Get involved. Contribute your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. Work with people instead of against them. Recognize that everyone has a perspective."
According to PlantSF, Permeable Landscaping provides the following benefits:
• Reduces storm sewer loads, reducing potential for backups and flooding;
• Beautifies the neighborhood;
• Creates opportunities for community interaction;
• Deters crime;
• Increases property values;
• Reduces global warming (by absorbing heat rather than reflecting it);
• Increases oxygen production; and
• Recharges ground water.
• Creates habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife;
• Makes a place to garden;
• Provides potential for urban farming (foodscape);
PlantSF is currently performing demonstration projects in the Sunset district and will be in Noe Valley in 2011. People can check in on www.plantsf.org to learn more and to see the latest projects and to begin their own!
DIY Urbanism: Testing the grounds for social change, now on show at SPUR's Urban Center, features innovative "do-it-yourself" projects, providing a snapshot of this burgeoning and distinctively local movement.
Photo Credit: All photos via PlantSF
Elections Cloud High-Speed Rail's Future, Just as New Survey Shows It's Potential: The recent wins of politicians opposed to high-speed rail funding could threaten to stall rail projects in several states such as Florida and Ohio when, only days prior, the American Public Transportation Association had released a survey showing that 62% of people would patronize high speed rail service.
Sustainable Growth Formula Eludes Many China Cities: While some Chinese cities are making strides towards sustainable development, many others are still struggling to accommodate rapid urban growth in a sustainable manner. Failure to address these issues could mean serious consequences for the country's standard of living, as well as for the environment.
Tanzania Road Plan In Serengeti Offers Prospects and Fears: The New York Times looks at a controversial proposal in Tanzania to build national a highway straight through the center of Serengeti Park, an area that currently houses one of the most spectacular and rare ecosystems left on the planet.
Will UK's Cuts Force Poor Families Out of London? With Britain's government enacting tough new policies to slash housing aid and rent subsidies, thousands of low-income families are leaving the city in search of cheaper living costs. This exodus threatens to erode London's prized "patchwork" of mixed-income and multi-cultural neighborhoods.
The Potential for Solar Power is Enormous: Greenpeace's Solar Generation 2010 report shows the tremendous potential for solar power as a source of energy that could, theoretically, power 6,000 times our global energy consumption.
Photo Credit: Colleen McHugh
World Series Also a Victory for BART
[Photo Credit: flickr user NicoleAbalde]
As those who follow the Bay Area transit blogosphere already know, Wednesday's Giants World Series victory parade spurred BART on to its highest ridership ever"”by a huge margin. The system carried over half a million riders — 522,000 to be exact, which beat the previous record (from Oct 29, 2009, when the Bay Bridge was closed for emergency repairs) by 18%. BART wasn't the only regional system with a bumper day either: Caltrain carried 25,000 — 30,000 more riders than an average weekday (about 37,000 riders), and Golden Gate Transit more than doubled its typical ridership of 5,200, taking 12,800 people into the city.
While it was great for so many Giants fans to choose mass transit, the crowds put a spotlight on BART's capacity issues — at one point, the crowds were large enough to require a temporary closure of Montgomery Station in downtown San Francisco. Obviously there isn't a Giants parade every day (though we can hope for another next November), but in our Urbanist piece The Future of Downtown, SPUR noted that the region's growth is going to require that BART address its capacity issues. In particular, BART will need investment in the system's core to deal with the current limitations of the Transbay Tube and downtown San Francisco stations.
Exploring Future Job Centers of the Bay Area: Hacienda Park, a Midpoint for the Megaregion
Across the Bay Area, only one in 10 commuters takes transit work each day. And half of those transit commuters go to one job center: downtown San Francisco. But since most work is outside of downtowns, SPUR is trying to understand a little more about emerging suburban and non-downtown job centers. This series will look at the Bay Area's evolving and emerging business districts. For each district, we will ask four main questions:
The Location: Where is this place located? How far or near to major transit? And how large from one end to the other?
The Plan: What was the planning vision for this place? Was it master-planned? Did it grow up organically?
The Market: What kinds of jobs and companies are located there?
The Commute: How are workers getting to their jobs each day and why?
In the second edition of this series, we will explore Hacienda Park in Pleasanton, which has become a successful job center in eastern Alameda County over the past three decades. Our first post in this series, "Mission Bay as urban tech park," is here.
Hacienda Park is located in the City of Pleasanton in the Tri-Valley area of the East Bay. It is situated near the intersection of Interstate highways I-580 and I-680, and is also served by BART and several regional bus lines. Hacienda's location puts it at a midpoint between multiple regional centers — Silicon Valley and San Jose to the south, the population centers of the East Bay to the west and north, and the exurban towns and agricultural centers of the Central Valley to the east.
Initially, Hacienda's master plan focused on commercial uses — low and mid-rise office space, retail mixed-use, and hotels. The collapse of the real estate market at the end of 1980s led to the introduction of residential uses, with both owner-occupied and rental units.
At 875 acres, Hacienda Park is the largest development of its kind in Northern California, with over 16,000 employees and 3,400 residents. The master plan, which is currently about 60% built, lays out maximum development figures as below:
"¢ 1530 residential units
"¢ 5.5 million square feet of office space
"¢ 1.8 million square feet of flex/R&D space
"¢ 900,000 square feet of retail/commercial
"¢ 335,000 square feet of hotel
"¢ 138,000 square feet of Public/Institutional uses
"¢ 535,000 square feet of warehouse uses
"¢ 53.5 acres of undeveloped land
The average FAR in Hacienda Park is 38% with a height limit of 85.5 feet.
Hacienda Park was envisioned by Joe Callahan of Callahan Property Company and his development partner, Prudential, as an alternative to San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where the cost of doing business was rapidly rising. The project's attractiveness to both developers and local government was driven by two developments in the late 1970s:
"¢ Transportation improvements. Pleasanton became much more accessible by improvements to the I-580 and I-680 corridors and plans to extend BART along I-580 to Dublin. These changes gave Pleasanton better access to both workers in the East Bay and San Joaquin Valley, and businesses in Silicon Valley to the south.
"¢ The passing of Proposition 13 in 1978. Prop 13 lowered property taxes by rolling back property values to 1975 levels and restricting annual increases to an inflation factor, not to exceed 2%. California cities began to rethink their land use patterns in order to restructure their tax base. The Hacienda Park proposal was timely for the City of Pleasanton, which up until then was dependent largely on a residential tax base.
Hacienda Park did not focus on a specific market sector when it was conceived. The businesses range from small offices to regional centers to large campuses for company headquarters.
In the early 1980s, most of the buildings were single-story, tilt-up construction "back-office" buildings, until the first Class A office buildings were built for Prudential in 1984. By the mid 1980s, a variety of corporate offices were built, with the first large tenant being AT&T. By the mid 1990s, the dot com boom drove large scale commercial development by tenants in the technology sector, such as Cisco Systems and PeopleSoft, as well as other companies like Shaklee and Roche.
Today, the Park continues to benefit from its location between economic clusters: technology in Silicon Valley, research in Livermore (which draws biotechnology business), and agriculture in the Central Valley (which brings in food brokers and tenants like SunMaid).
The Park's northern edge is adjacent to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, which provides a direct connection to the East Bay and San Francisco. ACE service is available in downtown Pleasanton, about 3.5 miles from the Park, which provides access to the Central Valley. Additionally, the Park is served by a number of regional bus lines (MAX, SMART) and private employer shuttles.
While the Park is relatively well served by transit for a suburban center, issues of streetscape and scale limit workers' ability to abandon their cars. In particular, the large amount of surface parking on the site, visible in the aerial below (the average Floor-Area Ratio on the site is 0.38), inflates walking distances and reduces the BART station's attractiveness.
These problems are tackled to some extent by buses and the WHEELS paratransit service, the latter of which is subsidized by Park tenants and connects riders from regional transit to office buildings. According to the 2009 Transportation Survey conducted by the City of Pleasanton, services like this have helped to push the percentage of workers driving alone down to 71%, compared to 77% in downtown Pleasanton. Between BART, ACE, and bus services, transit share is just under 15%.
City of Pleasanton Total
[Source: City of Pleasanton, Hacienda Business Park — 2009 Employee Transportation Survey]
When commuters who drove alone were asked what changes would motivate a shift in commute mode, greater transit fare subsidies and compressed work schedules were the most popular options, followed by the Guaranteed Ride Home program. It should be noted, however, that only a minority of drivers considered switching to transit; when considering alternatives, a majority preferred either telecommuting (43% of respondents) or carpools and vanpools (30%).
Over the past three decades, Hacienda Park has successfully combined a central and easily accessed location with cost advantages to attract business. The Park is also poised for growth, with available capacity for office space under planning guidelines. However, especially as land costs increase and the surrounding freeways become more congested, Hacienda Park will need to consider encouraging a higher percentage of its workers to arrive on transit. Services like WHEELS and Guaranteed Ride Home have started this process, but the Park should also seek to get more out of the BART access at its northern end. This will mean less surface parking, increasing density, and retrofitting sites to improve walkability, in addition to improving links to ACE and other regional agencies. Whether this will be supported by tenants, or by local officials is the key question.