Thursday, February 26, 2009

Santa Fe Baboons

No to domestic partnerships and yes to subsidizing sprawl. I'm not disappointed to be a resident of another state on this eve.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The International District

Jim Scarantino wrote an excellent piece in the Journal about the former "War Zone" that I believe deserves kudos. I have to credit the mayor to some extent for his effort to revitalize this neighborhood. But, ultimately, it is the residents of the International District that we should applaud. Hopefully we will see some investment from the city in terms of urban design aspects like pedestrian crosswalks, shade trees, and wider sidewalks to encourage complimentary commerce.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Casa District

I'll save my usual harangue regarding the housing/regional transit station transition and, instead, focus on the nascent district. A form is emerging that I'm, increasingly becoming fond of.
It's not the density an urban fanatic dreams about. However, the density in these three new projects will likely result in 500 or so residents within three blocks. The open, remaining half block may even be that 6-8+ story residential building we're all anxiously awaiting. My mood: hopeful.

High-Speed Rail

Ok, I feel better after my previous post. The article. Imagine a train like this parked at the ATC awaiting passengers heading to Denver.

Note there is no HSR currently planned for ABQ. Not good. It would appear that the Front Range/Intermountain West has work to complete. Missing out on this type of infrastructure would be akin to missing out on the interstate highway system.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did Someone Say Shovel Ready?

Borrowed from the NY Times

Note the picture: Our savior president standing in front of the construction site for a...wait for it...parkway.

What a crock. Explain to me how sending money on projects like a third lane for I-25 will produce long term economic affects that aren't negative? Now tell me that spending stimulus money on pie in the sky projects like a streetcar or (gasp) arena won't produce lasting, positive effects? Not so pie in the sky when you boil it down. Apparently school construction isn't logical, either.

Watching our leaders salivate over this money to cover short term projects that didn't fit their anemic, annual budgets is quite embarrassing. I hope I'm wrong about this. I know there are worthy projects in this jumble but labeling this "forward-thinking" or to even comparisons to the New Deal are absurd.

Speaking of absurd, what's with the vote of no confidence for Shmidly? UNM employees appear to have trouble with change. How many leaders will they oust in an attempt to keep the status quo? (Perhaps I know too little to comment)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Marty for Downtown and MRCOG Says What?

Image courtesy of kevinkarnsfamily

I was happy to hear Mayor Marty endorse the city center this week. I can't find the link but I either read or heard him (news clip?) suggest that it would be good to obtain funds that could be spent downtown. Not the strongest statement but we'll take what we can get. I'm certain he was referring to money for a canopy for the ATC but I'm not sure what else he might be referring to knowing that money won't come from DC for the arena or streetcar.

While the city has minuscule amounts of money funneling down from new housing construction in the 'burbs, perhaps we'll see a return of serious talk concerning inner city development and density? For some reason I'm skeptical.

During my visit over Christmas I noticed some work has been completed on the last remaining building at old AHS. Does anyone have any information about that project? I know it's not part of Rob Dickson's development.

Speaking of Rob Dickson, anyone have a clue what he's up to now that his project is fully built out?

In other news...

Now, I have ranted and raved about the Railrunner and I can't help but add more fuel to the fire. My textbook contained some information that I felt was pretty obvious but it doesn't seem to make sense to so many:

"Transit's cost effectiveness increases with higher densities at origins and destinations. It is no surprise that public subsidies for transit have increased at the same time that metro transit is not as competitive as private automobile."

"A new rail system implemented in an area laden with density caps and minimum parking requirements will have less influence on land development than such a system implemented in areas where the community wide land use design, small area plans and development management plan include actions intended to support or leverage the opportunities provided by the investment."

"transportation plans either reinforce past development trends or stimulate development in locations not contemplated in the land use plan."

After reading this I immediately thought of Nob Hill fighting a streetcar and the horrendously planned (or lack thereof) Journal Center station area.

I also often wonder who is making recommendations to add more stops to the system. I heard talk of creating an additional stop at Montano. Really? Talk of a fourth station in Santa Fe seems incredibly asinine considering the ABQ metro area currently has just 6(see population differences between SF & ABQ) stations. Throw in the pueblo stations (don't get me started on these) and we've killed the purpose of commuter rail. The chance of MRCOG actually convincing citizens to ditch their gas guzzlers in favor of the system requires a huge convenience factor. Added commuting time plus limited service is not the answer. MRCOG is mixing the concepts of commuter rail with light-rail while leaving everyone wondering what they're doing because they don't appear to have transparency in their planning nor their execution.

Overall, this in a beautiful concept and project for the metro area. But the execution is what matters most. My confidence has been shaken.

Sorry for the brain vomit style of my post.