Thursday, March 27, 2008

Three parking spots per unit downtown?

On 3/25 Belmont approved a 24 unit complex at 1000 South Rd on a mitigated negative declaration with three parking spots per unit. This is the wrong approach to the downtown.

1000 South is only 1500 feet from the transit center in Belmont at Ralston and El Camino. It is at the intersection of South and Ralston. What is the vision for the downtown? Residents dodging cars doesn’t cut it.

What does Council Member Dickenson mean when he talks about efficient transit? What does the council mean when they want to reduce cut through traffic on 6th Ave one block east of the South development? How will residents get around the downtown when we are older? Do council members intend to live here when they get old?

Samtrans just gave us four accordion buses to help additional kids get to Ralston Middle and Carlmont. What message are we sending about the role of buses in this important transit corridor with a three car per unit policy? Three cars per unit need access lanes, which means clogged streets, and additional lanes and parking requirements. This increases the visual blight of ugly parking lots in the downtown while reducing the fare box recovery of transit. Cars also move more rapidly than people. This means longer blocks like we have on 6th and 5th and El Camino which reduces the fine grain grid that makes for a successful pedestrian district.

What did Council mean when they agreed with past council member Warden that cars were as dangerous as cigarettes? How does going to a 3 car per unit residential requirement solve that problem?

We inhabit a time when green house gases from cars are a challenge to the Bay Area. Both MTC and ABAG say they don’t know how to reduce particulate emissions with the expected growth in vehicle miles traveled. Three cars per unit in of all places the downtown feeds into unsustainable practices. Unaffordable units, as another speaker pointed out, add to the dilemma of how we can sustainably house our parents and our children. This is unfortunate because I have three elderly neighbors whose children bought homes in Belmont. It was obviously a nice place for families to live in. Today, as in the case of Mrs. Johnson, just walking down the block is a major enterprise.

This is also where council wanted to put a roundabout because of traffic from South. Despite increasing traffic on South with the development, Public Works said it was withdrawing the roundabout from the developer mitigation requirement, in reply to a question from Council Member Wozniack.

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