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August 15, 2006

Comments

Chuck DeVore

Jack Mallinckrodt makes some good observations here. Especially, "The 1990 measure M built more than 278 lane-miles of new freeway capacity. With four times the anticipated revenue, the new plan proposes to build only 134 new lane-miles. That's eight times less bang-for-the-buck."

What I'd like to explore more is why there are hundreds of millions set aside for environmental mitigation as well as expanded bus service, not to mention the inefficient car pool lane separations and special ramps.

I'm not yet convinced that we should vote to renew Measure M as it is now proposed -- in fact, I'm beginning to lean more in the "no" direction.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District
www.ChuckDeVore.com

Meg Waters

Mallinckrodt's observations might be good if they were true and accurate, but they aren't. Here's a sampling of errors:

-- There are no funds designated for carpool lanes except possibly extending the current lane that ends in Dana Point and contiuing it to San Clemente.

--Just as Lurk pointed out there is little land to add rails to Metrolink, there is not much land left to widen freeways without massive takings of businesses and homes (eminent domain). The strategy is to widen where possible, and then improve the efficiency of the system by relieving choke points such as interchanges and making arterials run more smoothly.

--Not only is widening difficult from a land availability standpoint -- tell us what city would accept doubling the size of a freeway through their community?

-- Project S funds specifically cannot be used for Centerline, or anything like it.

-- Mass transit improvements are designed to relieve peak hour traffic -- the equivalent of adding a freeway lane.


He should offer an alternative that is realistic with a viable funding mechanism. He also needs to show how it will in fact, reduce traffic without taking homes and businesses.

The one thing I did agree with in Mallinckrodt's piece was his statement that "The original Measure M was a heroic effort..." since he was staunchly opposed to it, then perhaps he is admitting he was wrong then, and we might also assume he is wrong now.

In the interest of full disclosure, I work for the campaign...

Meg Waters


Lurk

Here's a proposition that I'll bet no one "in authority" has the spine to accept and just try: open the car pool lanes to everyone for some short period of time -- say 10 days, or maybe a bit longer. Devise some SIMPLE way of measuring average speeds before, during and after the period and fairly present the results.

Allan Bartlett

I'm with Chuck. To have any chance to earn my very skeptical vote, this Measure is going to have to be amended to put mass transit at the back of the line and funding for roads & highways at the front. Short of that, I will be voting No in November on this. I guess the thought of having our gas taxes and other litany of taxes we pay go for infrastructure is asking to much. Gotta make sure we give those illegal aliens the benefits they deserve(snark).

Powder Blue Report

Biff

So we open the carpool lanes to everybody for ten days (or some other random trial period). Traffic flows freely! Families with a single-occupant-vehicle-commuting spouse are reunited for dinner ten minutes earlier! Dirty hippie environmeddlers are sent packing back to Berkeley as the rest of Orange County rejoices!

Then, a few months later, the novelty of the "new" lanes wears off and they become just as jammed as any other lane on the freeway. What happens then?

What happens next?

Bladerunner

Lurk--why not keep the car pool lanes in operation M-F when traffic is at peak levels for work but on weekend allow total access to the lanes? Isn't 3/10 of a loaf better then none?

Bruce Matthias

Biff-

What happens next is less important than that we sent the hygenically challenged enviros back to the land of the loony. The local Birkenstock shop loses a little business and the OC Weekly personals get fewer calls, but for the most part the local economy purrs along as usual.

Tim Whitacre


Lurk:

Great Post.

I too am skeptical of voting in favor of the extended tax, especially with the waste of millions that would go towards "mass transit" here in Orange County. It's been proven that dog won't hunt here.

I agree that we should open up the car pool lanes for off-peak hours. I think we should also begin to educate drivers on our freeways by posting "Slower traffic keep right" signs, up and down the County - you know, common sense stuff that doesn't require great expense.

How about we encourage cites to modernize vs. multiply housing. What's the possibility of making individual cities responsible to pay a usage fee to the county based on the amount freeway traffic generated from their boundaries? What about financially rewarding cities for effectively mitigating their own traffic problems? A little incentive goes a long away.

These are questions that aren't meant to be answered here; rather they're meant to encourage all of us to critically think about the issue.

I personally don't think we should self-impose any new tax upon ourselves without first requiring our Elected Officials to roll up their sleeves and give us viable solutions with current bloated budgets.

Since a large portion of the price of a gallon of gas goes to taxes, you'd think we could effectively mitigate the problem with what we currently pay.

Here's an interesting link that I think everyone should visit:

http://api-ec.api.org/filelibrary/Gasoline-taxes.pdf

It shows that as of August 2005, California is third highest gas-taxed state in the country. We pay 23.6 cents per gallon in "Other Taxes" while the National Average is 8.8 cents (almost triple). We pay 41.6 cents per gallon in total State Taxes while the National Average is 27.5 cents (almost double). By the way, there are some additional taxes that aren't reported in the above link that affect different counties and cities in the State.

Exactly where’s the 65.2 cents per gallon going and what can our State and County Elected Officials do about it to bring our fair share back to Orange County?

I would like to see this thoroughly investigated FIRST, BEFORE we are asked to surrender more of our hard-earned money to out-of-control, tax & spend politicians and their pet agencies.

That's my two cents.

Semper Fi,

Tim Whitacre

OpenMinded

You are all correct. Let's not vote for Measure M at all. Then we really have no solution to traffic congestion. That will show them!

As for the carpool lanes, no one has every shown me any data to show that they do not work IN Orange County. I don't want some study done somewhere else. I want to see OC data. I agree in off peak hours, even weekends they should be opened up, but during the week peak, the carpools are used extensively. The carpools on the 57 and the 5 near the 22 are packed!

In regards to transit, it takes over 100,000 people off the road a day. Do you want them on the freeway/streets you drive?

OC_Spock

Tim, the "OC fair share" song is so old, we need new tunes.

OC is stuck politically in getting our $$ back from Sacto. Give me just ONE idea how to take over power from LA, which has 26 Assembly Districts touching it, I will listen. Just one idea.

There is none, but it sure is a safe strawman to raise every 10 minutes. Who can argue.

Problem, it is not logical. We need to work for financial independence from the state. I plan on voting no on every state bond forever, be it levees, trans, water, pension bonds, etc. But in OC, where I can vote for my own destiny, I will take it.

Is Measure M extension perfect? Maybe not, it is made by people.

But it is to our peril to make the "perfect" the enemy of the "good".

Tim Whitacre

Mr. Spock:

Haven't you heard of "Oldies but goodies?"
Just because an argument is "old" doesn't mean it's not correct - or good for that matter.

I agree with you that with the current make up of State Representatives, anything that calls for accountability in the budget (translated, proper use of OUR tax dollars) will be difficult to accomplish, but don't we have an obligation to try?

Timing is everything. I think with the way gas prices having been going up to record levels, any group of lawmakers - even one, would have the ear of the people if an aggresive campaign was waged to fully educate the public on the breakdown of the price of one gallon of gas.

Since taxes are colorblind, they affect everyone across the political/ethnic/economic spectrum. I personally believe that an aggressive educational campaign on the over taxation of gas, would be able to outrage enough voters, that they would call for accountability from Sacramento, forcing lawmakers to reduce and/or apply gas taxes towards transportation infastructure.

Making "right" is the responsibility of the "good."

Semper Fi,

Tim

Jubal

In regards to transit, it takes over 100,000 people off the road a day.

Is that hard data? Are you talking about bus riders, rail riders or both? Or are you taking the number of people who ride trains and/or buses and just assuming they'd otherwise be driving?

That'll show 'em!

If we can vote down Measure M then traffic here will get REALLY bad... then the politicians in Sacramento will see how terrible our commute is in Orange County and they'll have to give us money to fix our roads.

That should work!

Measure M = local control

Freeway miles are great, however blindly adding miles, without optimizing the ones we have is a foolish policy.

We should explore new uses & applications for the carpool lanes, which OCTA will be doing on the 22.

We should synchronize lights for better traffic flow, which is provided for in renewing Measure M.

We should allow the bus transit to become even more efficient, which is part of OCTA's plan and funded through Measure M.

We should enable cities to establish economically viable transportation options, which renewing Measure M would allow.

OCTA may not be perfect, and no one will ever agree 100% with the way money is spent. However if you look at where we are today, compare it to where we were 20 years ago, and look at what we face for the next 20 years... not renewing Measure M is irresponsible for the needs of our citizens, and our business community.

Expecting Sacramento and Washington D.C. to solve our traffic problems is about as stupid a policy as you can have. Why would we be so dumb as to allow State Senators from Otay-Mesa and congressman from Butte Montana veto authority over OUR transportation system?

Hell our neighboring counties can't even get it right, why would we rely on people even further removed?

Tim Whitacre

Measure M = local control = paid consultant for yes on Measure M.

Oh, so we should just blindly pass another local tax because you're getting paid to sell it to us?

I don't think so...

We can accomplish all of what you mentioned with the current over-payment of taxes we already contribute.

It's called holding your elected representatives accountable and telling them to fight for you - not make deals that pad the pockets of paid consultants - like you for example.

Educate the public about the excessive gas taxes; encourage them to voice their opinions to their State Reps. to fix the problem or be voted out; write a Proposition that addresses the same issue and force Sacramento to deal with it!

Semper Fi,

Tim Whitacre

redperegrine

Actually, Measure M opposes local control. It collects sales tax revuenue generated in the cities, and after OCTA purifies it, some of it is redistributed back to the cities for local street "improvements." Naturally the cities are only too happy to get anything back and become the biggest cheerleaders for M (apart from the big developers, of course).

Conservatives are alway complaining about sending tax dollars off to distant bureucracies in Washington and Sacramento only to get a portion of it back, and always with strings attached. Why do we need the OCTA to redistribute municipal sales tax revenue?

Bladerunner

OCTA has more then its fair share of pencil pushing planners. This plan would make more sense if they'd use some of the money to lower bus fares, especially for full and part time students. Combined with the market forces(high gas prices)this would decrease congestion more then anything else proposed.

But, one of the posters had a good point. At least with M, we keep the money here. Tim, its not only an old song but a broken record about getting out fair share. of course our legislators should fight to get more money here but OC will never gets its fair share. We're always going to fact the problem thatwe don't have prisons, major water projects and we're better off financially then many other counties. But more to point, we send legislators to Sacramento who vote against the budget. What clout will they ever have in budgetary matters? As for redperegrine's idea, the problem is that most transportation problems are regional- the economies of scale and the planning decisions for major transportation projects needs a county approach. Even with the county approach you get glitches(as anyone who drives to LA realizes when the cross the County line) but its the best we've got. Otherwise I can see the I-5 improvements--it would go thru Buena Park, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Tustin and then when it got to Irvine, they'd block any expansion without an HOV lane in the middle, then when it got going again and hit one of the South County cities, they'd want their own changes. Or if a no-growth group got on the Council, no changes.

I'm still wondering about whether I am going to vote for it but I'm starting from the assumption that God helps those who help themselves and then trying to decide whether this PARTICULAR plan makes sense or whether we should try again with a different pacage in 2008.

redperegrine

BR, it's true that many transportation related problems are county-wide and even regional. My point was that a substantial amount of M revenue is turned back to the cities for local street projects. This money should never leave the cities in the first place as long as we're going to have M. There's no reason those portions of M revenue can't be allocated back to the cities right along with the rest of the sales tax revenue and leave the OCTA out of it. Each city can create an M fund to pay for transportation capital projects.

The effect of M has been to create a loud pro-M cheerleading squad among the various city council chambers in OC.

Bladerunner

Red--Good point. Maybe an OCTA flak(no ill will intended) can make the case why they need the money. Perhaps there is a suspicion that some of the cities won't spend it on local roads(which often have significant regional impact) and will instead spend it on Taj majals, art work, printing of thousands of little black books of Atlas Shrugged in South County and It aTakes a Village in Central OC, or other choices.
Anyway, thats speculation so lets see if OCTA can belly up to the bar and tell us the real story.

Jeff Flint

BR:

As you well know, a portion of the city share goes straight back to the cities for local road maintenance/repair, and a portion is awarded on a competitive basis for projects of greater need, regional impact, etc.

The whole thread started based on posting an op-ed from a guy who opposed Measure M in 1990, but now calls it a "heroic" plan, and says the new M doesn't live up to those standards. His facts to support that are manipulated at best and flat out wrong in many cases:

1. His study of congestion is from a study that lumps LA and OC into the same traffic region, so that means we suffer the ills of being lumped into MTA's mismanagement of funds. Anyone driving in LA and OC knows the difference between how Orange County spent its 1/2 cent and how LA spends their permanent, one cent transportation sales tax.

2. There are ZERO, that's right, ZERO, mandated carpool lanes in the Renewed Measure M plan. There is only one small portion of Far South I-5 that a carpool lane is even contemplated. And we all know that Orange County under Bill Campbell is leading the charge to relax carpool lanes here so that they are at least like they are in Northern California...open to all in non-peak, no entry/exit zones, etc.

3. It is impossible to build a centerline or anything like it with the transit dollars in the renewed Measure M plan. If you don't believe OCTA on that, ask Reed Royalty. He helped draft and approve the transit portion to ensure it could not be used for a Centerline-like project.

4. Jack bemoans that there is not multi-lane widenings on the 405 and 55. Well, the lane additions in the Renewed Measure M is the maximum that can be done within existing Right of Way. To go beyond that would results in hundreds if not thousands of eminent domain takings, adding billions of dollars to the costs in land acquisition costs before a drop of cement is poured. There is rarely a "good" eminent domain use. There are bad (build a road) and really bad (Kelo-ype) eminent domain actions. Renewed Measure M does the most that can be done while minimizing eminent domain use.

Again, we can have a healthy debate over whether you like this plan or not, and whether we get our fair share from the state or the feds or should be self-sufficient (although when other legislators do a "good" job getting money for their districts, the same folks in here who says our legislators should do better complain about that the other districts projects are just "pork.")

But let's at least debate the facts.

Bladerunner

Nice belly up jeff. Nice touch on the eminent domain. And a nice smart bomb on the "pork" issue.

But my question is about the bus portion of Measure M--possibly not a topic of interest to the "just add a lane" crowd but something some of us think important. What are OCTA's projections on how Measure M/N will affect ridership levels? Was a fare subsidy considered and the rationale for whatever decision was made? Were students considered(OC Weekly did an article some months ago about how poor part-time students weren't able to get student bus discounts)? With the market forcing many to rethink the way they get around(for some its a better gas mileage car, for others, its the bus)will reduced fares reduce congestion or is the answer providing more efficient and frequent buses and what does M/N do about it? While you're at it, what's Curt's take on this?

The Omega Man

Hmmm, Jeff. All hail the OCTA. But really, your enumeration of all the things that Measure M can't do makes me wonder why we really even need it.

Jeff, tell us again how much you're making on the M renewal campaign. Objective observers might conclude it's clouding the clarity of your conservative principles. Only their consultant for a few weeks and you're starting to sound like them!

Jack Mallinckrodt

Meg Waters, paid consultant for measure M is badly confused. She says:
1. "There are no funds designated for carpool lanes."
Wrong. Projects E, K, L, M, and N include terribly expensive freeway-to-freeway carpool flyover lanes.

2. "There is not much land left to widen freeways".
Wrong. and nonsense. Land is available anywhere for a price. The only meaningful question is, ‘is the price for ROW less than the congestion time-saving value of the freeway lanes it would support. That value for Orange County is derived at That means that wherever adjacent property has a value less $45 million per acre, (almost everywhere) OC home owners and drivers, would be better off by the difference ($45 million - price) to purchase the land and use it in its highest and best use, to reduce congestion by building freeway lanes. (No, not paving over all of OC since as the congestion would come down, so would the freeway value of land see the reference.)
3. "Project S Funds cannot be used for CenterLine".
Wrong. In response to comments of concern on this very point, OCTA could have simply included the words “none of these funds may be used for light rail. They did not do so. The only response was to add the words “.. no single (city) project may be awarded all the funds under this (project) .”
Ever heard of two cities cooperating on a transportation project?
4. "Mass transit projects are … -the equivalent of a freeway lane."
Nonsense. The average OC freeway lane carries 23,757 persons per day (2003). US Average Light rail track, 1010 ps/day, OC Bus Route, 2569 ps/day (National Transit Database, 2003).
5. “.. he (Mallinckrodt) was staunchly opposed to (the original measure M) “
Wrong. I supported and voted for it.

Well five out of five wrong is at least consistent.

Jack Mallinckrodt

Tim sez "no one has ever shown me any data to that (carpool lanes) do not work in Orange County. I don’t want some study done somewhere else. "
To my knowledge, there have been only ten instances nationally of studies that addressed the question of relative overall freeway performance with one lane operated HOV vs unrestricted, using comprehensive modeling analysis (the only way it can be done for reasons explained there). Four of those are for Orange County. With only one technical exception, every one of the ten found unrestricted lane performance superior to HOV. Details are at http://www.urbantransport.org/bestev.pdf . Probably the single most significant finding was that of the 1997 OCTA Major Investment study which found that adding new unrestricted lanes would provide 8 times as much travel time saving as adding new lanes and operating them HOV.

“ In regards to transit, it takes over 100,000 people off the road for a day.” That number is about right, but to the extent that may seem a lot, it’s illusory. Compared to the total people on the road that’s a tiny fraction.
To properly take into account the effect of differing trip lengths on the congestive load relieved from the roads, you have to compare in terms of not just persons/day but person-miles/day. In those terms, based on latest available data
OC Transit: 841,000 ps-mi/day
OC Roads: 107,126,000 ps-mi/day
Transit/Roads 0.78%

Chuck DeVore

Great points, Jack.

Anyone care to counter them with data? I'm not a fan of adjectives and spin. Give me information I can put into a spreadsheet.

All the best,

Chuck DeVore
State Assemblyman, 70th District
www.ChuckDeVore.com

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