Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Sunnyvale's Climate Action Plan Progress Report

PermaLink: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/07/sunnyvales-climate-action-plan-progress.html

Climate Action Plan - Sunnyvale

On the agenda of the Sunnyvale City Council for July 17th, 2018 is the "Climate Action Plan Biennial Progress Report 2018" (CAPPR).  That report is available here:

The report is supposed to show what Sunnyvale has done, is doing now, and plans to do in the future in reducing Green House Gases (GHGs).

The chart of GHG emissions is on page 2 of the report: (click chart ot enlarge)

"Emissions Sources and Trends"
GHGs from Commercial and Residential Electricity Significantly Down
GHGs from Transport & Natural Gas Use the Same or Higher
Transportation excludes CalTrain which is less than 2% of emissions.  Regrettably, transportation is not separated into commercial (trucking, delivery vans) and personal (buses, trains, and cars).

The big improvements have been in electricity generation, and that can "...be attributed to significantly cleaner electricity supplied by PG&E, more energy efficient buildings, and increased energy conservation efforts." (page 3 of CAPPR).

Basically, this says that in terms of GHG reduction, the city of Sunnyvale has on its own accomplished nothing at all.  All the main sources of GHG emissions except electricity are essentially unchanged with no plans to do anything significant about any of them.

The CAPPR states that demographics has driven most of the growth in GHG emissions.  Increase in population generated increased car use, more trucking of goods into Sunnyvale, and more homes and offices using natural gas to heat rooms and hot water.

The amount of commercial space has grown overall as has housing but that does not tell the entire story.  A lot of both commercial space and housing has been torn down and replaced with new buildings.  That provides a lot of opportunity to require the elimination of natural gas in favor of electrically powered heat pumps. (c.f., http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/01/home-energy-use-1.html ).  Since the electric grid seems to be quickly going to zero GHG emissions, electrically powered heating for rooms and water would eliminate that source of GHG emissions.  The CAPPR mentions a study on heat pumps to be completed soon.

It is a little hard to tell what the total GHG emissions from natural gas are in Sunnyvale since there are no numbers given in the text or on the charts in the CAPPR.  Reading the bar chart at the beginning, it appears that about 200,000 MTCO2e (Mega Tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent) gases were from natural gas.  About 375,000 MTCO2e appears to be the number from transportation emissions.  So natural gas GHG emissions are about 53% of the GHG emissions from transport.  Taken as a combined number of 575,000 MTCO2e, natural gas is 35% of the combined total.  See pie chart below (click image to enlarge).

Sunnyvale GHG Emissions from Natural Gas + Transport
35% Natural Gas, 65% Transport


Transport is the largest single generator of GHGs but since it is not broken out for Sunnyvale by commercial and personal we use the following chart as an approximate guide: (click chart to enlarge)

Global Transportation Sector GHG Emissions
54% Light Duty Vehicle, 46% Heavy Duty
The chart shows slightly more GHG emissions from light duty vehicles  (LDVs) like cars and pick-up trucks with the reminder from freight trucks and buses (heavy duty vehicles - HDVs).  But some HDVs like buses are used for personal transport and many LDVs are used by workers such as electricians and plumbers that need to carry around a lot of tools.  So let's approximate it all by estimating about a 50-50 split between commercial and personal.

That means that of the roughly 375,000 MTCO2e, only about 190,000 MTCO2e is due to personal transport such as commuting or shopping.  We have data below showing that only 19% of the person-miles per house hold (average 2 cars per household) is spent commuting.  Add in an additional 6% that is "Work Related" to get 25% of person-miles is commuting.

Person-Miles Traveled by Purpose
Work = 19.0%, Work-related = 6.3%
Combined work = 25%
So of the 190,000 MTCO2e transport for personal use, 25% of that = 48,000 MTCO2e is for commuting to work.

The "Mobility" section of the CAPPR highlights things such as how many bike to work (1.6%) as seen below:

How much impact does biking to work have on GHG emissions in Sunnyvale?  From the US Census tool, "OnTheMap" we have the following breakdown for Sunnyvale of commute distances: (Click map to enlarge)
More on how to use the US Census too here:
We see that:
69% commute less than 10 miles,
15% commute 10 to 24 miles,
10% commute 25 to 50 miles, and
  7% commute over 50 miles.

Computing person miles traveled, we use the mid-point of each commute range (5, 17, 38) and 60 for "Greater than 50" and get that out of every 100 residents,
69 persons x 5 miles   = 345 PMT
15 persons x 17 miles = 255 PMT
10 persons x 38 miles = 380 PMT
  7 persons x 60 miles = 420 PMT
Total = 1400 PMT (person miles traveled)

A typical biker averages 10 MPH so 5 miles is about a 30-minute bike ride.  The average commute in the US is under 30 minutes so we can estimate 5 miles as the maximum distance we can ask anyone to bike.  That is roughly half the 69% or equivalently that is half the 345 PMT so about 175 PMT.  Out of the total 1400 PMT per hundred resident workers, that is only 12.5% of the total GHG from commuting if everyone who reasonably can bikes to work.

We found earlier that only 48,000 MTCO2e was due to commuting, so 12.5% of that is 6,000 MTCO2e eliminated if the current 1.6% bike-to-work number becomes 35%. 

In conclusion, we can say that of the 375,000 MTCO2e due to transport, 6,000 can be reduced by getting everyone who can bike to work does so.  A reduction of 6,000 out of 375,000 = 1.6% of transport GHG emissions eliminated in the extreme case of everyone who could bike to work were to do so.

In comparison, natural gas is 200,000 MTCO2e, or 33 times more than can be eliminated by biking to work.

I covered "bike to work" in more detail here:

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Green House Gases from Food Waste

Link for this post: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/07/green-house-gases-from-food-waste.htm

Sunnyvale "Food Cycle" Program


Of all the options potentially available the Sunnyvale Food Recycling program is one of the least effective ways to reduce Green House gas emissions due to food waste.  This to some extent because of the processing energy and transportation of the food waste.  That is not to say other potential options were available at the time the Food Cycle program was chosen, but it does say we need to re-examine the issue when possible.


In an earlier post I put what I could find on Sunnyvale's Food Recycling program.  That post is here:

I decided to revisit the issue because of all the discussion on Sunnyvale's Food Recycle program.  I looked at what percentage of Green House Gases come from food waste at the home and how much of a difference the "FoodCycle" program might make.

The non-profit organization ReFED has calculated the impact of different ways to reduce food waste in terms of environment and GHG reduction.  They have a number of options to look at the issues of food waste.  One of them is GHG emissions which you select from a box-tab on their web site at:
https://www.refed.com/solutions?sort=emissions-reduced as seen below:

This will produce a number of solutions to the problem such as the example for Composting seen below: (click image to enlarge)

Their calculations cover a lot of options.  I selected those that the city could implement (at least in theory) and plotted the numbers they gave:

The last bar (in the red box) - "Animal Feed" - is the "FoodCycle" program.  It is the least effective of all the alternatives mentioned by ReFED saving 34 tons of CO2 equivalent (t CO2e) GHGs.  The top one, "Community Composting", was rated at 2,605 tCO2e or 77 times more GHGs removed.  The next one, "Anaerobic Digestion", was rated at 1,179 tCO2e or 35 times more GHGs removed.

This to some extent because of the processing energy and transportation of the food waste as mentioned below from https://www.refed.com/solutions/animal-feed

That doesn't mean that the other options are available to Sunnyvale right now, but it does suggest we should re-examine the issue when possible, and look for better ways of addressing GHG reduction.

The University of California notes that food waste contributes 6.7% of global GHG emissions.

This 6.7% is not all just due to the actual food spoiling and being thrown out.  The transport, processing, refrigeration, etc. of food emits GHGs.

If the food that went through that processing, transport , etc. is wasted, then those GHG emissions from the tractors, trucks, refrigerators, etc. are wasted GHG emissions as well.

Worldwide, about one third of all food is wasted in the shipping or processing before it even reaches the consumer.  (From the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, http://www.fao.org/3/a-bb144e.pdf ).  So of that 6.7%, 2.2% is wasted before you or I even see it.  Now we're down to 4.4% of CO2 emissions from food waste directly due to the average consumer.

If tractors, trucks, food processing, etc., all run off of electricity from 100% non-GHG emitting sources like solar panels and wind turbines, then much of that 6.7% of GHG emissions attributed to food waste could be eliminated.  That 4.4% would shrink even further to perhaps 3%.

Cutting Food GHG Emissions

The main sources for GHGs world-wide are actually grains as noted in the UC web site above:
"Overall, because of the scale of their production, grains produce both the most waste and the most greenhouse gas emissions. Relatively little meat is wasted worldwide, but even small amounts of meat waste produce large amounts of greenhouse gases. Even among meats and dairy products, there is quite a bit of variation in levels of impact: Emissions are highest for beef and lamb, but much lower for pork, chicken, eggs and dairy."
We can see the impact of different diets.  Beef and lamb are the big GHG emitting food animals as seen below.  At 15.8 pounds of CO2e per day, eating a lot of meat emits about 250% of the CO2e compared to a vegan diet and over 180% of a "pescatarian" diet (vegetarian plus fish) - which latter is almost the same as the pure vegetarian diet.

46% lower CO2 emissions from switching from meat to fish. Almost the same as pure vegetarian
60% lower CO2 footprint by going all out vegan.
Another way of looking at the same thing below with a little more detail. Vegans and vegetarians need to substitute more of other foods to get the necessary protein.

So if the average diet comprises no beef (or lamb) then we have cut our CO2 footprint by nearly half and along with it the CO2 emissions due to our own food waste - from the 3% we got to earlier to about half of 3% or 1.5% (we can round up to 2%) of GHG emissions due to our wastage of food.

The next question is how serious about cutting GHG emissions is the government that wants us to recycle food?  The Sunnyvale Climate Action Plan tells us that most of our GHG emissions come from commercial buildings (39%), followed by transport (35%), then residential (16%) as seen below.
From Sunnyvale "Climate Action Plan", page 15 of the PDF
So what about the industrial or residential sector which combined come to 55% of Sunnyvale's GHG emissions?  Solar panels are now a cheaper way to generate electricity than coal.  Has California, Santa Clara County, or the City of Sunnyvale mandated that new construction have solar panels as San Francisco did?


About 52% of GHG emissions from residences in California come from natural gas to heat living spaces and hot water for bathing.  Natural gas is a huge source of methane which is about 24 times more potent a GHG than CO2.  Electric heat pumps can substitute for other forms of heating at less cost overall.  C.f. http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/01/home-energy-use-1.html  (see diagram below) 
Space Heating + Water Heating = 52% of CA Home Energy Use
Has California, Santa Clara County, or the City of Sunnyvale mandated that no new construction have natural gas to heat water or living spaces?


One has to ask why these governments which all claim to be on the side of the environment have not addressed the areas where they can have the most impact.  It would make many people feel a little better about the inconvenience of Food Recycling if they knew that all the billionaire developers putting up office buildings and apartments were being asked to do their part.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Town Hall July 21, 2018 Ortega Park Building

PermaLink: https://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/07/town-hall-july-21-2018-ortega-park.html

Town Hall Forum
July 21, 2018 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Ortega Park Building
636 Harrow Way
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
Starring Moi!
Michael S. Goldman 
Sunnyvale City Council, Seat 7

I will present some of what I have published on my blog on growth, housing, traffic, and various other things.  

Anyone can ask me questions on whatever they like and I will answer to the best of my ability. 

A slide presentation may occur.

Not an official Sunnyvale event.  Not publicized on the Sunnyvale City Web Site.

No public funds are being spent on this by any government entity.

Part of the flyer I will be distributing can be seen below (click image to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

50 Story Office Building in Santa Clara, CA (?!)

PermaLink: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/06/50-story-office-building-in-santa-clara.html

Summary:  A redevelopment of almost 50 acres in Santa Clara at the corner of Tasman Way and Great America Parkway is proposed.  Multiple tall buildings including at least one 50 story office building (estimate 650-700 feet tall) and at least one 35-story residential apartment building are "envisioned".  Space for up to 17,000 workers along with 6,000 residential units, 600,000 sq. ft. retail space, 400,000 SF hotel space.

This is what a 50-story office building looks like:
CitiCorps Building, Queens Borough, NYC
from: http://www.skyscrapercenter.com/building/one-court-square/1651
More on above building here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Court_Square

A 35 story apartment building in Houston (click image to enlarge):
35 story Apt. Building, Houston TX
2 BR Apts $3,834 to $5,098
Area in Santa Clara for Proposed Development:
Yellow Boxed Area Below (click image to enlarge)

From invitation received:

"Community Meeting
When: Saturday, June 9, 10am - 12pm

"How to Help
Attend this CSV-led community meeting to share your vision for what this site and greater-neighborhood could become.

If you looked at the invitation (no longer up) you find the following phrase: "Office buildings may reach 50 stories, and residential up to 35 stories"See following "screen grab" (click to enlarge)

The tallest building in San Jose is 22 floors.  C.f., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tallest_buildings_in_San_Jose,_California

Area To Be Developed
3005 Democracy Way, Santa Clara, CA

"Kylli intends to retain the plans for the 3.06 million square feet of offices, but now wants to add 3,500 residential units and an unspecified amount of retail space to the property, according to the proposal" with more details on project here

The above estimate of 3M SF office space and 3,500 residential units has been increased to 3.5M SF office space and 6,000 residential units (see below).

A video of the Santa Clara June 2, 2018 "State of the City" meeting has a resident asking about this development at approx. 42:30 on the video.  The resident notes the original proposal from the developer was for 60 stories and seems to have been scaled down to 40 stories.  He expresses concern for traffic and schools.  The answer from Mayor Lisa Gilmor continues to 46:30 and mentions schools with very limited space for play.  The video is here:

10.5M Sq. Ft. of Floor Space
3.5M Office Space, 6M Residential space, 1M Retail and Hotel
From Developer's presentation to Santa Clara City Council
Santa Clara City documents (very favorable to plan amendment):

Staff slide presentation: http://santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=56151
Text: http://santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=56153 ,


The above documents do not specifically mention the height of the proposed buildings.


The Apple "spaceship" headquarters is 2.8M sq. ft and was intended originally to hold 13,000 office workers.  Generally one estimates around 200 sq. ft. to 250 sq. ft. per office worker, so 3.5M sq. ft = 14,400 to 17,500 workers (average 16,000).  Nothing indicates how the additional workers (16,000 - 6,000 = 10,000) will be getting to the proposed office building.  Presumably they will be added to existing transportation systems.

The 6,000 housing units in 6,000,000 sq. ft. works out to 1,000 sq. ft. per apt. or condo.  That is a 2 or 3 bedroom apt.  If each bedroom has one person, that is 12,000 to 18,000 (average 15,000) residents.  If everyone who lived there was a worker (no children or seniors) who also worked there, everyone could walk to work.  However, census data indicates only about 10% to 15% of residents of a city in Silicon Valley work in the city they live in.  For example, in Cupertino only 9% of those who live there work in Cupertino.  Cf., http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/07/cupertino-work-live-commute.html .  Similar ratios are seen in Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Palo Alto:
Snyvl:  http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2016/12/live-work-commute-1.html
Mtn Vu: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/07/mountain-view-work-live-commute.html
P.A. http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/01/palo-alto-work-live-commute.html

There is the additional issue of employment multipliers.  If 15,000 new residents move in, they will require teachers for their kids, mechanics for their cars, doctors and nurses, firemen, police, plumbers, waiters, etc., etc.  This has been studied and found to be about 4 additional jobs for every primary worker.  MIT's Sloan Review summarizes it here: https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-multiplier-effect-of-innovation-jobs/  This means the 15,000 new residents will generate an additional 60,000 jobs for a total of 75,000 workers.  For every worker there is at least one non-worker (child, senior, etc.) so we are looking at a total of 150,000 new residents somewhere within commute distance.

FAA Regulations on Height:  There was some thought that the FAA would limit building heights in the development but apparently not.  A member of the public noted that FAA regulations limit the height of buildings within certain distances of an airplane runway:

"This plan puts it right in SJC 12R approach / 30L takeoff zones where heights above 200ft are obstructions.  Federal Aviation Regulations, FAR 77.23(a)(2), Obstruction Standards, Criteria:"

"An object would be an obstruction to air navigation if the object has a height greater than 200 feet above ground at the site, or above the established airport elevation, which ever is higher
(a) within 3 nautical miles of the established reference point of an airport with its longest runway more than 3,200 feet in actual length and
(b) that height increases in proportion of 100 feet for each additional nautical miles from the airport reference point up to a maximum of a 500 feet"

However, upon further investigation the same individual found that:
"The FAA allows obstructions to be built but they must be lighted for aircraft warning. Another part of the regulation defines an approach surface that the FAA does not want intruded on. I worked this out and it looks like a 600 ft building at that location would not intrude."

As the following picture shows,. the proposed site is 3 miles to San Jose's Mineta Airport's runways.  (Click image to enlarge).
Three miles from proposed site to runways

Flooding Due to Sea Level Rise 
The area is projected by scientists to be abandoned between 2045 and 2100 due to frequent inundation (flooding) caused by sea level rise which in turn is caused by global warming.  See map below:
A possible 3 ft rise by 2050 and a 6 ft. rise by 2070 is projected by a State of California commissioned scientific study.  This is if the Antarctic Ice Sheets start melting, which they appear to be doing.  The US Govt. NOAA "Sea Level Rise Viewer" projects this would look like the following maps below:

2050 Sea Level Rise = 3 Feet
light blue areas are completely flooded at high tide.  Green areas only partly flooded.

2070 Sea Level Rise = 6 Feet
Produced by California Ocean Protection Council and the California Natural Resources Agency, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the California Energy Commission, and the California Ocean Science Trust

More on this here: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/02/mother-nature-bats-last.html
and here: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/04/bye-bye-shanghai.html

More about Catalyze here:

Text of email from "Catalyze" follows:
--------------------------------  included text begins ----------------- 
Alert Summary
Catalyze SV (CSV) is facilitating our first visioning workshop, focusing on a general plan amendment at 3005 Democracy Way - with 10.5 million-square-feet of mixed use proposed on a 49 acre site. Located along light rail, near Great American Parkway at Tasman, the Kylli project could also include 8 acres of ground-level open space (additional public spaces above ground level) and multiple tall buildings, some as high as 50 stories.

Community Meeting
When: Saturday, June 9, 10am - 12pm
Where: Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway, Room 203, Santa Clara, CA

Who is overseeing the project?
No proposal yet submitted to City of Santa Clara Planning.
The project contact is:  info@3005democracyway.com
Catalyze SV contact for meeting: engagement@CatalyzeSV.org 

The mostly vacant 49 acre site’s current entitlement allows for 3 million square feet of office. The proposed feasibility study underway looks at a site use of: 3.5 million square feet of office, 6 million square feet of residential (6,000 units), 600,000 square feet of retail/community amenities, 400,000 square feet of hotel, [ emphasis added, MG] 8 acres of ground-level green space/open space, and an additional 12 acres of green space/open space above ground-level. Office buildings may reach 50 stories, and residential up to 35 stories.

This project is in its early stages, still undergoing programming with only preliminary massing and schematic square footages. The developer, Kylli, has expressed interest in conducting a robust outreach effort for their precedent-setting proposal and Kylli has been receptive to CSV efforts to conduct our own independent outreach regarding this project. 

The project received unanimous approval to begin the General Plan Amendment process to allow for changing the use from all commercial to other uses. We expect the General Plan Amendment to be heard later this year. After that, the project will go through the standard application and entitlement process. [emphasis added, mg]

This Visioning Workshop on June 9th will be the first community meeting Catalyze SV has led. Applying formatting the Community Engagement Committee formulated last year, the workshop seeks to re-envision the “when” and “how” of community engagement - occurring early, and facilitating phase-appropriate discussions. This first step of the outreach process functions as a listening campaign starting off with a sharing of background information (site analysis, existing entitlements, site history, etc.), before having attendees visit the site together to explore and discuss the possibilities that could be discovered through the combination of those current realities and the site’s future opportunities.

...[deleted inconsequentials]

Yours in community,

Catalyze SV Board

---------------------  end included text from Catalyze -----------------

Friday, June 1, 2018

Commute Distance in US Metro Areas

PermaLink: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/06/commute-distance-in-us-metro-areas.html

In the San Francisco Bay area, when the subject turns to traffic, you always hear someone say "I know someone who commutes from Livermore!"

Livermore is at the end of the earth so if anyone at all is commuting from Livermore it means there is a "crisis" of some sort and we should all start panicking and seek immediate action, now, NowNOW!  

Truly urgent! and immediate! action must be taken - most likely involving big construction companies and large campaign contributions.

Where the heck is Livermore?
Google maps to the rescue!
"Livermore" is in the upper left.
I was looking into the reasons why San Francisco has such extreme commutes when I found, to my surprise, that it (mostly) doesn't (maybe a little, but not really huge).  I guess I fell for that "..from Livermore!" urgency like many others.  I expected to find that other metro areas have far fewer people making long commutes and found instead that other areas are (literally) 'all over the map'.

I looked at the commutes for the 20 largest metro areas and 6 others that are growing really fast.  The data set includes 44 million workers.  Including non-workers (kids, seniors, etc.) this is over 100 million residents.  I always included the main centers of employment and I only looked at how many commuted in, regardless of where they lived.

Commute Distance Categories Average
How far people commute to work

The four categories that the US Census bureau uses to report commute distances are less than 10 miles, "< 10 Miles", between 10 and 25 miles, "10 - 25 Miles", between 25 and 50 miles, "25 - 50 Miles", and more than 50 miles, "> 50".

The averages for the 26 US metro areas are shown below: (click graph to enlarge)
Almost 50% of workers commute less than 10 miles.
Another 31% commute between 10 and 25 miles,
10% commute between 25 to 50 miles,
10% commute more than 50 miles.
I used the US Census visualization tool "OnTheMap" to show the distribution of commute distances and locations.  One of the reports it generates shows the numbers and percentages of workers in each category as seen in the right half of the sample output (for Contra Costa County, CA) below:

More on how to use the tool here: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2016/12/how-to-use-onthemap.html

Below is the summary graph for 21 of those metro areas.  They are sorted by what percentage in each metro area fall into "commute less than 10 miles" ("< 10").  I have highlighted San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the entire 9-county SF Bay Area (including San Francisco) with arrows and special 'bars' so you can see to what extent they differ from other metro areas and from the 26 city averages.  What is clear is that they aren't much different from the others. (click on graph to enlarge)

21 Metro Areas
Percentage of Each Metro Area by Commute Distance

One big surprise.  Notice where LA (pink bar) is in the four categories.  The city most famous for bad traffic seems to be about as close to average as one could reasonably expect.

"Hey, LA Dudes!!
We're Like, Totally Average!"

The second surprise was that I could see no numerical pattern at all.  I expected to see some correlation with population.  We saw in an earlier post that as the SF Bay Metro area grew it's commute boundaries expanded.  We saw a significant increase in long commutes over time as population increased.  That exploration is here: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/03/sf-bay-area-2-live-work-commute.html  The graph for that is reproduced below:

Given this data I supposed that there would be a correlation between metro area population and commute times.  If so, it doesn't show in this data.  I calculated statistical "correlation coefficients" for population vs. each of the four commute categories.  No coefficient was greater than 0.29 and two were essentially zero.  Any correlation below 0.6 is too low to be meaningful.

In other words, each metro area's four commute-distance categories are not related to population but to local factors of culture, geography, and economics.

The third surprise was that in many aspects Los Angeles' commute patterns are "better" than those of San Francisco and the 9-county SF Bay Area.  In fact, Los Angeles' commute patterns are remarkable for being unremarkable.  The following graph show how those areas stack up in terms of commute distances.

SF Bay Area's Commutes Worse Than LA's
SF Bay Area has more super-commuters than LA

What you see in the above graph is that in the two less desirable categories, those commuting more than 25 miles and more than 50 miles, the SF Bay Area is worse (has more super-commuters) than the 26 metro area average.  In the more desirable categories of less than 25 miles and less than 10 miles, the SF Bay area is worse (fewer commuters) than Los Angeles.

We can see this by looking at total Vehicle Miles Traveled per person below (click chart to enlarge):

We see above that the (one-way) avererage commute in LA of 18.3 miles is actually less than the average 18.8 miles of the 26 Metro areas.  That 0.5 miles isn't much (only 2.5%) though it is enlightening that LA is actually "better" than the average of the 26 metro areas looked at.  More interesting is the difference between the 20.3 miles average commute in the SF Bay Area and the 18.3 miles in LA.  That is an 11% difference - not huge but worth looking at.

LA and the SF Bay Area (image below) are equal in VMT for the three shorter commutes, "< 10", "10 - 25", and "25 - 50".  Where they differ, and what makes LA 'better' than the SF Bay Area, is the "> 50" mile commutes - the "super commuters".  (click image to enlarge)
More VMT due to Purple bar "greater than 50 mile" commutes.
Super-commuters are more common in the SF Bay Area.
Looking at the aerial views of the two cities, we can see why a geographer said "God meant San Francisco to be expensive".  First, Los Angeles, with a 50-mile radius circle (click image to enlarge):

Los Angeles with a 50 mile radius circle
The 50-mile circle encompasses a lot of land, a fair bit of water, and quite a few mountains.  The mountains are protected from development in many cases and serve as a barrier to commuting, though there are roads through those lands.  The key point to recall is that there are substantial amounts of flat, easily-built-on land near employment centers.

Now the SF Bay Area:
San Francisco with a 50 mile radius circle
The difference is obvious.  A LOT more ocean than LA, that big bay in the middle, and many more (mostly protected) mountains than in LA - and those mountains are closer to employment centers.  Within that circle, there is some flat, easily-built-on land in San Jose and just over the East Bay hills around Pleasanton.  The big flat lands to the east are mostly outside the 50 mile circle.  Competition for land close to employment centers is more intense because there is less land to compete for.  This drives up the price of land and the housing built on it.

In short, less buildable land within 50 miles of employment centers = more super-commuters in the SF Bay area than in LA.  As the earlier bar graph with those 21 cities showed, there are other metro areas with even more super-commuters - San Antonio, San Diego, Austin, Riverside County, and Houston.  Still, the SF Bay Area is well above average.

Summary:  So now you know.  The next time you hear "...commutes from Livermore!"

the proper response is a shrug and maybe a casual reply indicating your worldly sophistication such as...
"That's life in the big city, kiddo!" (shrug)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Cell Phone Tower - Neighborhood Placement

PermaLink: http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2018/05/cell-phone-tower-neighborhood-placement.html

Sunnyvale resident Helen Liang presented to the Sunnyvale Planning Commission an appeal to a siting of a cell phone tower adjacent to her house.  Her presentation is below (after the "My Take" section).

You may share your thoughts on this with the City Council or Planning Commission, by emailing to:

City Council: Council@sunnyvale.ca.gov

Panning Commission: PlanningCommission@sunnyvale.ca.gov

A summary with some thoughts of my own:

My Take:

Summary: The Sunnyvale City Council should consider modifying our rules so that cell phone towers are not visibly intrusive and/or ugly and change the financial incentives to keep them away from houses.

Financial Incentives to "Uglification":

The cost to file an application to place a cell phone tower in a neighborhood is over seven times the cost to put a new pole in an out of the way location.  This provides an incentive to a cell phone co. to put their towers in neighborhoods.  If, like some other cities, Sunnyvale required that towers be disguised that could reverse the financial incentive to "uglify" our streets.

From Sunnyvale City staff:

"The Carlisle application is defined as a “Telecommunication Facility: New- MPP, no Public Hearing” in the Fee Schedule, and the fee required (and paid by Verizon) was $475.50. The fee for a “Telecommunication Facility: New- Planning Commission Hearing” would be $3,653.50."

Health Effects:
There is some controversy surrounding the electromagnetic effects on humans of cell phone radiation.  Scientific American reported on a study indicating long term exposure is harmful:

"The findings ... present some of the strongest evidence to date that such exposure is associated with the formation of rare cancers in ... brains and hearts of rats."
"This is by far...the most carefully done cell phone bioassay... for trying to understand cancers in humans,” says Christopher Portier, ... who helped launch the study... “There will have to be a lot of work ... to assess if it causes problems in humans, but the fact that you can do it in rats will be a big issue. It actually has me concerned, and I’m an expert."

Above from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/major-cell-phone-radiation-study-reignites-cancer-questions/

More here: http://it-takes-time.com/2015/09/22/health-effects-of-cell-towers/ 
and: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/cellular-phone-towers.html

Neighborhood Appearance:

While the 1996 Telecommunications act prohibits local govt. from interfering with cell phone construction on the basis of fears of electromagnetic radiation, govt. can do so on the basis of looks.

As the photos below show, these things can be ugly with a capital "Ugh!"

There are companies dedicated to hiding cell phone towers so they do not visually intrude.  They exist because many local governments require cell phone towers not make their communities ugly and hurt property values.  Here are a few examples - the links have others.

A company dedicated to disguising cell towers: http://utilitycamo.com/homepage/

From: http://utilitycamo.com/products/
From NY Times:
"Property values play a big role, too. ... In a case in Hohokus, N.J., he said, a tax assessor determined that the aggregated value of property near a cell phone tower would drop as much as $660,000."

---- end of "My Take" ------------

Ms. Liang's Presentation:

Slide 1 -----------------  presentation begins (lightly edited for readability) ------------

Carlisle Way Antenna Appeal
On behalf of Sunnyvale Neighborhood

Slide 2 --------------
Purpose of Design Review:
Sunnyvale Municipal Code
The purpose of this chapter is to promote the health, safety and general welfare by establishing a site and architectural design review process to improve the design quality of developments; enhance and protect existing neighborhoods; promote economic development; create a strong and positive image for the city; improve property values; and enhance the economic well-being of the city by promoting an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community.
 3 ------------

Violation 1:
Improve property values

The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of to improve property values.

a number of organizations and studies have documented the detrimental effects of cell towers on property values.
Peer-reviewed studies find that property values decline by up to 20% near cell towers. See
press coverage: 

4 ------------

Violation 2:
Creating a strong and positive image for the city
•The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of creating a strong and positive image for the city.
The proposed facility introduced a significant adverse aesthetic impact to the neighborhood and Sunnyvale city image

There are several violations of Sunnyvale Municipal Code and Design Criteria (discussed more in detail later.

5, 6, 7, & 8 --------------

Violation 3:
Promote an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community

The proposed facility is a violation against the purpose of protecting existing neighborhoods and promoting an orderly, attractive, safe and efficient community.

Influx of construction workers for the installation
Maintenance, repair, routine checks to such facilities brings more personnel, and trucks
Increased traffic is dangerous for children playing and biking nearby
The proposed cell tower puts unnecessary additional fire, flood and earthquake hazards
This wireless facility poses unnecessary risk of falling debris - a serious safety hazard for people on the ground, especially for kids.

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Co-location Requirement
Sunnyvale Municipal Code 19.54.140. a)
Wherever technically feasible, wireless telecommunication service providers are encouraged to co-locate telecommunication facilities in order to reduce adverse visual impacts;
Sunnyvale Municipal Code 19.54.140. b)

Facilities which are not proposed to be co-located shall provide a written explanation why the subject facility is not a candidate for co-location.

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Our Neighborhood  Clean & Aligned Posts

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Santa Rosa

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San Jose

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Proposed Post

No adequate screening in the vicinity of this location
Significant adverse aesthetic impact 

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Co-location Option 1

•In Panama Park, less than 800 feet to the proposed site on Carlisle Way.
•An existing pole for antennas. It is disguised as a tree, so it blends in well with the surroundings

Nowhere near any residential home

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Co-location Option 2
•In Panama Park, less than 800 feet to the proposed site on Carlisle Way.
•A pole left from WWII (circled in red) , could be another option to locate the antenna.
•Nowhere near any residential home.

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Design Criteria - Telecom Facilities in Public Right of Way
resolution No. 626-13
Pole selection in residential zones should minimize aesthetic impacts through selection of poles adjacent to trees and foliage that provide screening, placement away from primary views, placement on poles between parcel lines or adjacent to driveways and avoiding corner locations that can be viewed from multiple directions

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Violation 1:  

5 feet from driveway

Not a secondary driveway for our family, because we use both driveways every day.

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Violation 2:  No Screening

•The new facilities will be visible from multiple directions in Carlisle Way and Falcon Ave.

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Violation 3:  One House away from T-Intersection

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Violation 4: Impact on primary view 
This post is right outside my master bedroom
Significant impact to the primary view from the bedroom window

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Violation 4 (cont): Impact on primary view 
This post is directly outside my baby’s bedroom
•Significant impact to the primary view from the bedroom window

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Infringe Public Safety: 
•We see children walking and biking under this post every day, because this is a main street that leads to parks and the elementary school
•This is visually very intrusive
•Poses potential hazards:
•Influx of installation and maintenance traffic
•Fire and earthquake hazards

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Limits Play Area
Due to the Telecom Act of 1996, we can not argue about health concerns regarding RF radiation, despite the abundance of recent studies that are proving otherwise.
Absence of proof does not equal proof of absence
•We will not let our children play in the back yard due to this installation

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Design Criteria - Telecom Facilities in Public Right of Way
(Click image to enlarge)

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Thank you for your attention!

What would you recommend if this was next to your home?