Fehr & Peers’ Principal Matt Goyne and Transportation Engineer Nina Price presented about the intersection of transportation, housing, and the climate crisis. Their presentation focused on how higher density housing goes hand-in-hand with more public transportation access, less parking, and less vehicle miles traveled (VMT). They also created a helpful tool to visualize average VMT throughout the state, which you can check out here. The Fehr and Peers team discussed impacts from the recently passed Assembly Bill 2097 (Friedman) which eliminated parking minimums in the state. AB 2097’s impact is already being seen in San Mateo, with a boom in housing and mixed-use project applications since the bill was signed into law last year. The impacts in San Mateo provide some climate optimism, as transportation and housing policies play a crucial role in meeting the state’s ambitious goal to decrease VMT 30% (from 2019 levels) over the next 12 years. As progress continues in lessening car dependency, local policies must prioritize adjacent issues such as biking infrastructure and city parking codes.
Matt and Nina also highlighted these policies’ relationship to socioeconomic equity. Using data and visualizations, they demonstrated how Equity Priority Communities often have the least access to jobs, shopping and other resources within city limits. Through past transportation policies, Priority Equity Communities are also the most impacted by cars’ emissions, and face the highest injury rates in transit networks. As we aim to improve our transportation networks, Fehr and Peers emphasized the need to account for–and prioritize–the unique equity concerns. If you’d like to learn more, you can reach out Matt and Nina here.
Warren Logan of Progress Public Affairs presented on Oakland Undivided’s mission to increase internet connectivity throughout Oakland. A problem that was highlighted during the working from home boom was that 36,000 people in Oakland are not connected to high speed networks–-or even any network at all. Oakland Undivided aims to resolve this issue. One part of this problem that Warren pointed out is that Oakland has a definition for internet infrastructure, but not one for internet speeds. Not having this crucial definition can lead to citizens having awful connectivity that makes it impossible for them to work from home or use the internet at the same time as others in their housing unit.
Additionally, Oakland officially requires buildings to have competitive access to the internet, which means that buildings cannot be ‘locked in’ to a specific company. Most buildings have established ‘non-compete’ agreements with companies, meaning they only have wiring from a specific company. These agreements drive up prices for tenants, who have no choice but to continue paying for services from a company that has a monopoly on their building. Oakland Undivided aims to point out this inconsistency and rewire buildings in order to fix the problem. Warren detailed how using neutral wiring could be more cost-effective for citizens, potentially help widen profit margins for internet-suppliers, and help align with Oakland’s official policy. If you are an architect or homebuilder with first-hand experiences with these policies, you can reach out to Warren here.