Chuck Marohn, President of the Strong Towns organization, will be in the Sacramento area this Thursday (June 16). He is speaking in Citrus Heights, 6:00PM to 7:30PM, and it appears he is also presenting to the SACOG Board at a workshop, item 14 (immediately following consideration of the proposed transportation sales tax measure side agreement).
This conjunction seems appropriate, since Strong Towns has just released its five campaigns that are the core of its new strategic plan:
- We’re Advocating for Safe and Productive Streets
- America *Must* End Highway Expansions
- Your City’s Accounting Is Unnecessarily Obscure. It’s Time To Pull Back the Veil
- Legalizing Incremental Change—Everywhere—To Meet America’s Housing Needs
- End the Parking Mandates and Subsidies That Are Hurting Our Cities
So, how does the transportation sales tax measure measure up?
- It does almost nothing for safe and productive streets. It at least give lip service to complete streets, but since it does not define what that means, the transportation agencies will create arterials that look a little nicer, but do little to slow traffic or increase the number of safe crossings. In fact, it is the unwritten policy of each of the agencies that speed limits will NOT be reduced when a roadway is reconstructed.
- It is all about highway expansions. More freeways, more interchanges! More construction jobs dedicated to making our cities worse rather than better.
- Accounting. The Existing Measure A has an Independent Taxpayer Oversight Committee (ITOC), which ensures that no one is absconding with funds, but does not address whether the projects actually contribute to economic stability, nor whether bonding almost all projects was a good idea. Measure A income is going largely to pay off bond debt, which is why SacTA and other advocates are so wanting to pass another measure, so Measure A can be bailed out.
- The measure says nothing about the connection between land use and transportation. It just makes the assumption that more transportation infrastructure is good, and more sprawl (technically, low density exurban development) is also good.
- Parking is hardly mentioned. Yes, this is primarily the purview of local agencies (cities and the county), but it is interesting that none of the projects in the Transportation Expenditure Plan address management of parking. Isleton wants to rehabilitate a parking lot, and the City of Sacramento wants parking facilities (not defined).
I am a founding member of Strong Towns, and the organization has influenced my thinking about transportation and housing more than any other source. I don’t agree with everything, but I do agree with most, and it is these goals that I work to implement in the city, county, and region.
So – go see Chuck!