Blog: May, 2011
The Numbers: 96% of U.S. Transportation Energy Comes from Oil
A recent editorial by the Regional Plan Association cites this sobering stat (from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) to make the argument for a higher tax on gasoline as a way to both reduce carbon emissions and raise revenues in a time of huge fiscal shortfalls. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy recently included a three-cent-per-gallon increase in the gasoline tax in his proposed budget, but the legislature cut the measure. Attempts to raise the national gasoline tax, or to enact a cap-and-trade system, have been rejected even more quickly.
The RPA calls this penny pinching short sighted, suggesting that we'll look back on this era of history as a time when oil extraction peaked and demand grew — a recipe, ironically, for drastic increases in gas prices. The editorial argues that governments, both local and national, must take action if our country is to reduce its dependency on oil. Facing their current fiscal crises, most governments cannot offer the carrot of improved public transportation options without paying for them with the stick of taxing car use. Until then, the problems stemming from fossil fuel consumption, including pollution, congestion and climate change, will continue to worsen.
Read the RPA's editorial>>
The Numbers: SF's Compost Program Offsets 2 years of Bay Bridge Traffic
San Franciscans have been throwing compostable waste into the “third bin” for 15 years now, since we began a composting pilot program in 1996. But anyone who thinks the third bin has only tertiary importance should know that since its beginning, San Francisco’s composting program has offset 354,600 metric tons of greenhouse gasses, equivalent to the emissions of all vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge for over two years. San Francisco has collected over 907,000 tons of compostable waste since the program began. Recology, the company that collects our garbage and recyclables, has converted that matter into 95,000 cubic yards of finished compost a year.
Last year, 77% of San Francisco’s waste was diverted to compost and recycling programs. This surpassed the goal of 75% waste diversion by 2010 set by the Board of Supervisors in 2002. The city has adopted a long-term goal of reaching zero waste, and the Department of Environment is recommending that the city aim to reach this goal by 2020.
Public Workshop #2 - Ocean Beach Master Plan
Please join us at the Golden Gate Park Senior Center on Saturday, June 4th for the Ocean Beach Master Plan Public Workshop #2.
The project team has been hard at work analyzing the impacts of different courses of action at Ocean Beach. You will have a chance to review several "test scenarios" and compare their outcomes in categories like ecology, infrastructure, and public access over a 100-year period. You can then work with us to assemble an approach that best serves the future of Ocean Beach.
This session will include both presentation and interactive participation. If possible, please arrive at the beginning and stay for the whole session
WHEN: Saturday, June 4th, 10am-1pm
(includes presentation and interactive work: please attend the whole session if possible)
WHERE: Golden Gate Park Senior Center, 6101 Fulton St. (@37th Ave)
TRANSIT: Muni 5-Fulton to 37th Ave.
San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR)
California State Coastal Conservancy
US National Park Service
San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
San Francisco Dept of Public Works
This is an ADA accessible facility. Assistive listening devices, sign language, or translation services are available on request.
7 Phone Apps That Can Make Cities Better
One of the greatest allures of a smart phone is the time it saves at the bus stop. Having real-time transit info and nearby stop locations at your fingertips makes city living just a little easier. But popular transit apps are just the beginning. Increasingly, smart phone technology is fundamentally changing the way we physically experience our cities.
We have written before about SFMTA’s SFpark program, whose new iPhone application displays real-time parking availability and pricing data, and about Park Circa, an app that lets residents rent out their private parking spots. Below are 7 more apps that can transform our understanding of urban space, provide tools for affecting physical change, help us connect with our neighbors, and generally make our cities better.
Aiming to be a mobile bulletin board, Blockboard is a new neighborhood-based app currently in beta form for residents of the Mission District. Users can post and view local news and events, ask questions of their neighbors, report potholes and graffiti to 311, or list lost belongings. To use the app for the first time, you must be in the Mission, but you can access it after that from any location.
Ever visited a building and wanted to know what zoning codes apply to it? Zonability allows users to view basic zoning ordinance data from their smart phones, making city data accessible, legible, and convenient.
Getaround is a peer-to-peer car share network in beta phase that allows users to search, request, and unlock a shared car using their iPhone. This is made possible by a small kit that car owners can install in their cars. With such technology, any private vehicle could possibly be shared.
Cool factor: There’s the option to rent a Tesla Roadster.
The city of Boston is working on an app that will use smart phone technology to automatically report where potholes exist on city streets as drivers hit them. The app is in a testing phase, and there are a number of obvious obstacles to success, but the implications are huge. Such an app would allow citizens to report a problem without sending an actual message to the city. Drivers and their smart phones could become mobile sensors for potholes in roadways.
Sometimes blasting an upbeat song while driving makes people drive faster. But speeding – particularly speeding through city streets while dancing in the driver’s seat – leads to more accidents. Slow Down, an app from Belgium, plays your music more slowly as you speed over the limit.
The Numbers: Sea Level Rise Will Expose 270,000 People in the Bay Area to Flood Risk
Tomorrow night, we open "Adapt!" an exhibition on the coming effects of climate change in the Bay Area. The show highlights key points from a SPUR policy report released earlier this month, which explains the kinds of changes we can expect to our climate — and what we need to do now to prepare. As our report explains, efforts to slow down greenhouse gas emissions have so far failed, meaning some changes to our climate are now unavoidable. One of the most profound effects scientists expect is sea level rise. By 2100, seas will rise by an estimated 55 inches, exposing 270,000 people in the Bay Area to flood risk and threatening $62 billion of development. The Bay Area is also likely to see as many as eight times the number of “extreme heat” days it currently does by the close of the century — days that our mild-weather-loving population is almost completely unprepared for. SPUR's report lists 30 strategies for handling climate change in the Bay Area, making it clear that we must act now to adapt.
The Numbers: 30.3% of San Francisco Households Do Not Have a Vehicle
Good Government Awards: How Cheryl Nashir Increased Retail Sales at SFO
SPUR’s 31st annual Good Government Awards, held earlier this year, honored five City of San Francisco employees and teams who have performed exceptionally, becoming models for other agencies and cities around the country.
Cheryl Nashir received an award in recognition of her leadership and vision in making San Francisco Airport a vibrant marketplace and increasing revenue. Since joining the Airport in 2006 she has developed and managed a dynamic mix of food and beverage, retail stores, advertising programs and other services, with the majority of selected businesses operating in the Bay Area. This has resulted in a 24% increase in the Airport’s revenue, totaling $98.7 million annually. This boost in revenue means the airport contributes $3 million to the city’s General Fund, during a time when the city faces enormous budget deficits. In addition, Nashir’s successful concessions program for Terminal 2 will generate $4.6 million to the Airport and $700,000 to the General Fund. Under Ms. Nashir’s supervision, SFO has achieved the highest food and beverage sales per passenger of any airport in the United States, as well as the third highest retail sales.
Watch our video about Cheryl Nashir's work:
The Numbers: SF Bike Rental Revenue Up 2,000% Since 1998
SPUR has made the case that an expanded bike network gives residents a safer option to add exercise and subtract carbon from their transportation diet. Better bike infrastructure would benefit tourism as well — although visitors are already discovering the pleasures of biking San Francisco: in 1998, bike rental businesses in San Francisco had combined earnings of $500,000. Thirteen years later, that figure has ballooned to $10 million, according to a post on Streetsblog. These numbers, provided by Darryll White, CEO of Bike and Roll San Francisco, show tourists voting with their feet: even without a fully developed bicycle infrastructure, visitors want to explore the city without a windshield in the way. Bicycle tourism is a growth opportunity, and just one more reason why "bikeability" is a critical component of San Francisco's future — and a critical component of SPUR's recommendations for Fisherman's Wharf (pdf), and the Embarcadero (pdf).