Hello everyone! Here's what's going on:
COSTA MAKERS BOOTH. On Saturday, September 28th we hosted a booth at the second annual Costa Makers Block Party. When you think of a block party, you imagine it happening in a street that has been closed to cars (open to people). But unfortunately it was determined that the street couldn’t be used for anything other than incessant auto traffic for those four hours that Saturday. The event still happened - it was just noisier and dirtier than it could have been, and it straddled the behemoth of W. 19th Street. A few booths dotted the second floor of Triangle Square, but the majority of them clustered in the parking lot of the United Methodist church. We were situated on the windswept corner of Harbor and 19th adjacent to the permanently shut door to 24 Hour Fitness. We witnessed at least one car crash (a fender bender), and an endless stream of cars turning right onto W. 19th. But seldom were we on our own. Our proximity to the crosswalk allowed us to capture much of the event’s foot traffic, and many stopped to chat with us. Besides discussing how our streets might be made better, we collected signatures for a petition to deliver to City Council (described below).
NEWPORT BLVD. PETITION DELIVERY. In response to the City’s unsettling discussion on whether and how to make more room for more cars on Newport Blvd, the CMABS team wanted to shift the focus of the conversation. At our booth at the Costa Makers Block Party, we collected over 60 signatures from the public to urge the City Council to think outside the car-shaped box and consider improvements to Newport Blvd. that make it better for everyone (not just drivers). Specifically the request was that the City Council:
...work toward giving us our downtown back, by making Newport Blvd. safe, comfortable, and pleasant for everyone. Rather than dedicating more public right of way to car traffic, we request that City Council direct staff to look into improvements that will help build a sense of place, enhance local businesses, foster a healthy community, and make our city more walkable, bikeable, and livable.
CMABS presented this petition to the City Council at the Tuesday October 1st Council meeting during public comments.
SENATE BILL 127 - COMPLETE STREETS. In the last newsletter we reported that Council Member Arlis Reynolds had placed this bill on the agenda for the October 1st Council meeting:
“Staff requests that the City Council provide direction to staff on a position to take on Senate Bill 127, currently pending before Governor Newsom. Such a position would be communicated by sending a letter [with the City letterhead and signed by the Mayor] requesting the Governor either sign or veto Senate Bill 127.”
Two of our members stayed at the meeting until the wee hours of the morning to voice support for Council Member Reynolds’s proposal, which passed 6-1, becoming one of very few municipalities to do so. Governor Newsom has until this Sunday, October 13th to sign or veto this important bill.
THE FIGHT FOR BETTER STREETS IN NEWPORT. Two of our members attended the October 8th Newport Beach City Council meeting to stand alongside Murphy McCann, the father of a young boy who was struck and killed while riding his bike in Newport Heights three years ago. He has been requesting that the City make needed safety improvements in his neighborhood (which has three schools), but has faced resistance by those Council Members who claim to have not heard enough requests in person to justify any action. Over ten people spoke during public comments, who voiced support for the petition he was there to deliver, and testified to the daily danger that kids (and adults) face while trying to navigate on foot or bike in and around Newport Heights.
TRUCK DRIVER HIT A 9 YEAR-OLD. CM Fire & Rescue reports that on Tuesday, October 8th “a 9-year-old boy...was struck by a truck while riding his bike home from school.” Fortunately, the boy is okay and the Dept. replaced his destroyed bike. Unfortunately, they ended their Facebook post with:
CMFR emphasizes the importance and need to always remember bicycle safety and strongly supports and encourages you to always wear your helmet when bicycling!
There is no reminder to those operating trucks through our streets that they should drive slowly and watch out for kids. Rather, the burden of safety is placed wholly on the most vulnerable users of the street, while those who pose the danger are tacitly treated as if part of the natural environment. The fact that none of the Facebook commenters picked up on this omission shows how deeply car culture is ingrained in us. There are large, heavy, fast machines zipping through the public space of our streets at all times, and people are regularly struck by them. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can #SlowTheCars.
In Case You Missed It
THE GUARDIAN. No surprise here. The Guardian reports that “Global carmakers are among the leading opponents of action on the climate crisis, according to exclusive analysis of the way major corporations frustrate or undermine initiatives to cut greenhouse gases.” Pair this with the also-recent Wall Street Journal piece on how the middle class is kept in perpetual debt through auto loans, it almost seems as if our alleged “love affair with cars” is actually something much darker.
SIGHTLINE INST. If you don’t see the connection between safe, comfortable streets and parking minimums imposed by cities, first read this excellent briefer by parking guru Donald Shoup. A case study out of a mid-density zone in Portland makes the problem tangible. According to the City’s own contracted analysts, the most profitable path for a landowner of a certain parcel with conventional parking requirements would be to build 10 townhomes that would be valued at $733K each, while the most profitable path for the landowner of this same parcel without parking requirements would be to build 28 market-rate condos valued at $280K and 4 affordable units. Do we wonder why housing has gotten so expensive around here? Parking minimums are a big part of the problem. For an example on the commercial side, here is an informative one-page excerpt from Donald Shoup on what the provision of parking did and does for the Disney Concert Hall in L.A.
THE GUARDIAN. Here is a 5,000+ word article on the global pedestrian safety crisis, and a survey of the solutions being proposed. “Cars kill a 737’s worth of American pedestrians every couple of weeks,” Peter C. Baker writes. “Internationally, it is more than three 737s per day.” Are smarter cars the solution, or is this false hope of redemption-by-technology only delaying the low-tech solutions right in front of us?
STRONGTOWNS. Frequent StrongTowns contributor Andrew Price always thinks outside the box when it comes to how do do our cities, and this time turns his attention to streets. After a trip to Tokyo (where they do things differently), he shares his observations: “We build streets with skinny little sidewalks (sometimes with tree trunks in the way) because we believe the asphalt in the middle is for cars and the way to accommodate people is to build sidewalks.” Can we learn anything from Japan?
NEW YORK TIMES. Allison Arieff avoids any sugar-coating in her blunt op-ed: “Cars Are Death Machines.” We need to occasionally read the stories of those who’ve been affected by the horrible loss that cars daily cause.
CITYLAB. Peter Norton, author of the hugely important book (required reading) Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City, has written a piece on the buried history of the anti-car movement in America. This is a well-written, thorough, and eye-opening article well-worth your time.
TACTICAL URBANISM. Our first project (of many) will be adding temporary bulbouts at Lil’ Lighthouse Preschool on Magnolia St. and Santa Ana Ave. on the Eastside. We’ve met with City staff once, and will keep pushing this project forward. If you missed this article from above about how most interactions with city engineers go when trying to get safe and comfortable streets, see here. It is uncannily accurate. But stay tuned - we’re hoping to do on a Saturday morning sometime this fall, and will welcome your help. In the meantime, flip through the Tactical Urbanism Guide to Material to get inspired (or just Google “Tactical Urbanism”), and send us your ideas.
NONPROFIT STATUS. We are looking into becoming a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit; if you know of anyone who might be willing to help us navigate this process, we’d appreciate any Assistance that could be provided. Contact Marc at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOCIAL MEDIA. We now have an account on each of the following platforms:
Twitter @CMBetterStreets Facebook @CostaMesaAllianceForBetterStreets Instagram @CMBetterStreets
OCTOBER COMMUNITY BIKE RIDE. On Sunday 10/20, join Costa Mesa City Council Member Arlis Reynolds and your neighbors to explore the parks and sights of north Costa Mesa, during a relaxed, flat bike ride of about 7 miles. Meet up at the SOCO Farmers Market area (in the central parking lot) at 2 pm; the ride will depart at 2:30.
GENERAL MEETING 10/21. Two Mondays from now, we’ll be hosting another general meeting where we can chat and brainstorm about how we might make the streets around schools safer and more comfortable for kids. We need to think about short- and long-term design solutions and how they might be achieved. As always, we’ll meet at 7pm in the Ronnenberg Center at Orange Coast College. Email us if you’d like to confirm.
COFFEENEURING. This fall, the Costa Mesa Alliance for Better Streets invites you to take advantage of our lovely weather to join us in a casual challenge to explore Costa Mesa by bike with Coffeeneuring 2019. Coffeeneuring is the brainchild of Chasing Mailboxes, who has a full post with all the details, including the (very casual) rules. The basic idea is: over the course of the next 7 weeks, ride your bike at least 2 miles round trip each time to 7 different coffee shops, drink a cup of coffee (or similar), and post a picture of your bike at each place as documentation. Many of us here at CMABS will be participating in the challenge, and we wanted to share this event with the community. After all, what better way to celebrate fall than with a short ride to one of our many great local coffee (or tea, or hot chocolate) shops with a friend? Or even better, seven rides to seven different coffee shops? And since we're all about better streets for everyone, not just people on bikes, we'd encourage you to walk, skate, or scoot the challenge if you want. The challenge runs from Friday, October 11 through Monday, November 25, 2019. Share your adventures with us: Tag us on social media when you post your photos (#cmbetterstreets, #cmcoffeeneuring) or send us celebratory e-mails. Tell us if you come across any great shops!
MEET ON BEACH. Go Human invites us to reimagine Beach Boulevard at a semi-open-streets event on Sunday, November 17th, 2019: “Meet us on Beach Boulevard for a day filled with free fun for the whole family and experience seven Orange County cities like never before. From the hills of La Habra, down to the ocean at Huntington Beach, enjoy 1.5 miles of open streets, bike and pedestrian friendly activities, live performances, food, giveaways and much more at seven pop-up sites along or nearby Beach Boulevard.” Cities participating include Huntington Beach, Westminster, Garden Grove, Anaheim, Stanton, Buena Park, and La Habra. This is an especially important opportunity for some eye-opening about how we use our public space: OCTA is currently studying the entire 21-mile stretch of Beach Blvd. (largely a bleak, car-dominated wasteland in its current form) through Orange County and - via public input - forming its vision that is likely to guide decisions for the next few decades.
ARROYO SECO CLOSURE. The tireless event organizers at Active San Gabriel Valley (“Active SGV”) have planned at single day 2020 closure of the Arroyo Seco section of the 110 freeway. As you may remember, this same event originally happened in 2003 and was enormously popular. After 17 years of incessantly flowing cars, the public space will briefly be open to the public once again. Bianca Barragan of CurbedLA writes that “by closing the historic stretch to cars and inviting people onto it, Angelenos will be free to look around, enjoy the scenery, and generally see this roadway in a different light. Active SGV wants that new point of view to get people interested in and excited about moving around the city without a car.”
OPEN STREETS IN CM. We want to do our own little event in the same spirit. When we talked about possible locations for an Open Streets event in Costa Mesa two months ago, 19th Street kept coming up again and again. We’d love to help make an event like this happen, but need a person or three who’d be willing to take the lead on encouraging the City to run such an event; we’ll even hook you up with a supportive City Council member. Contact Marc at email@example.com if you’re interested.
CALIFORNIA BICYCLE SUMMIT. Every two years, CalBike hosts this three-day gathering of planners, government officials, agency staff, and bicycle advocates from around the state to work for “more equitable, inclusive and prosperous communities where bicycling enables more people to live joyful and healthy lives.” This year’s is just around the corner right in our backyard (Oct 15-17 in LA). We need to get our City staff to participate in such activities. Send a note to the City Council, urging them to go themselves and to push for more staff exposure to these sorts of events. Similarly, the annual NACTO Designing Cities Conference was this month, and the CNU Transportation Summit is next month. Is anyone from Costa Mesa soaking up any 21st century wisdom with other city transportation officials, or even aware of these conferences?