(April 1, 2013) – Traditional "Large Lot Zoning" is "Greener" than "Smart Growth" within Urban Growth Boundaries . . . Copyright 2009 – 2013 . . . Tom Lane . . . Photographing California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington
“If You Drive, Vote Yes on Initiative I-1125″
(Tom Lane, updated December 8, 2011) Election Day was November 8, 2011. Sadly, I-1125 was defeated in Washington State.
Tom Lane’s Other Posts on I-1125, Light Rail, and Kemper Freeman
Before proceeding, click the following link for a list of all of my posts. (Posts and Photos Copyright 2010-2011, Tom Lane, except the Video screenshots from Firefox, with appropriate credit provided.)
Second, please click this link, for my I-1125 You Tube Video page.
Third, for my letter to public officials advocating a yes vote on 1125, click this final link. Note: Neither the 2nd or 3rd link appears in the first link above.
* SEATTLE – VOTE YES on Kemper Freeman’s Initiative I-1125 –
* Protect Your Gas Taxes and Tolls – * Stop Illegal East Link I-90 Light Rail – *Stop Expensive Peak Time Tolls During Your Precious Commute Hours – *Stop the Destruction of Historic Bellevue with an Ugly Transit Oriented i.e. another Smart Growth Development – *If You Drive Vote Yes on I-1125*
“If You Drive, VOTE YES on I-1125″
* Oct. 10, 2011 – * THE NEWEST VIDEO * – Seattle Times Editorial Board Meeting, with 1125 Proponents Kemper Freeman and Tim Eyman, and 1125 Opponents Doug MacDonald and John Stanton
* Oct. 8, 2011 – * SECOND NEWEST VIDEO * – Kemper Freeman debates Doug MacDonald on I-1125, TV-W, with Host Austin Jenkins – CLICK IMAGE -
IMPORTANT – FAST FORWARD – to 28min : 50seconds,
to START I-1125 Debate -
* TVW’s Video Voter’s Guide with Tim Eyman (for 1125) and Doug MacDonald (against 1125) -
* CLICK IMAGE for TVW’s Video Voter’s Guide with Tim Eyman (for 1125) and Doug MacDonald (against 1125) -
* CLICK IMAGE below, for the Official YES ON 1125 Web Page -
* Washington State’s Sound Transit agency plans to illegally use gas tax revenues to fund light rail on the I-90 bridge across Lake Washington.
*This violates the State Constitution, and Tim Eyman has launched initiative I-1125 for the people to reaffirm the 18th Amendment to the State Constitution. Eyman has the backing of Kemper Freeman, who donated $500,000 to the signature gathering process.
Not only Unconstitutional, but Not Green -
Smart growth proponents and light rail advocates need to face the truth about traffic and air pollution. As you’ll see in chart below, gridlock causes significantly more air pollution – including CO2 – and therefore isn’t green. VOTE YES on Initiative I-1125!
Light rail will only take 5% of all vehicle trips by 2040. Yet the Seattle region will grow by well over a million people in the next three decades. More freeway lanes are required to prevent more air pollution, and keep Seattle’s legendary clean air quality close to historic norms.
Without a science based transportation plan including more freeway lanes, the smart growth and mass transit proponents will inevitably increase Seattle’s congestion and air pollution to intolerable levels by 2040. Furthermore, the State of Washington’s agency “Sound Transit” has illegal plans to use gas tax revenues for light rail on I-90 into Bellevue. This violates the State Constitution’s 18th Amendment, that prohibits such uses for non-highway purposes such as light rail.
The Purpose of Tim Eyman / Kemper Freeman’s I-1125
The purpose of I-1125 is for the people to reaffirm their faith in the 18th Amendment of the State Constitution. Kemper Freeman has donated $500,000 to the I-1125 petition drive. Although Freeman and Eyman are traditionally known to support Republican causes, this is an instance where those of us “tree huggers” of many political persuasions – and who value clean air – will vote yes on I-1125 to decrease air pollution. Kemper Freeman is also suing the State, in a series of lawsuits, over the unconstitutional actions of Sound Transit.
Here, you can read my letter to Sound Transit and the Puget Sound Regional Council, explaining why light rail violates the 18th Amendment. You can also read the 18th Amendment in my letter:
Air pollution: Imagine rolling down the windows along this stretch of northbound I-405 in Kirkland and breathing the accumulated smog. Yuck! Light rail is not the solution to this. We need more freeway lanes.
Indeed, as traffic engineer James MacIsaac, with Seattle’s transportation advocacy organizations CETA and the ETA, says in the F.A.Q. section in his report, “Why Congestion Matters:” http://www.eastsideta.com/congestion.htm
“Congested traffic generates more air pollution per vehicle mile than smoothly flowing traffic. Stop-and-go traffic burns extra fuel and causes engines to operate less efficiently. Large diesel trucks and buses produce conspicuously more emissions in congested conditions than when operating in a smooth flow.”
Ballot Measure Summary -
“This measure would prohibit motor vehicle fund revenue and vehicle toll revenue from being used for non-transportation purposes (Tom: i.e. light rail on I-90). It would prohibit non-highway use of state highway lanes funded by gas taxes or vehicle tolls. It would require the legislature to set tolls, and would provide that a toll on a particular road or bridge, including the Interstate 90 floating bridge, could be used only for construction, operation, or maintenance of that particular road or bridge.”
Initiative petition for submission to the People -
“To the Honorable Sam Reed, Secretary of State of the State of Washington -
We, the undersigned citizens and legal voters of the State of Washington, respectfully direct that the proposed measure known as Initiative Measure No. 1125, and entitled, “Statement of the Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1125 concerns state expenditures on transportation. Concise Description: This measure would prohibit the use of motor vehicle fund revenue and vehicle toll revenue for non-transportation purposes, and require that road and bridge tolls be set by the legislature and be project-specific. Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes or No”
Complete Text of I-1125:
The complete text is also on the Washington Secretary of State’s Web Site:
For the original signature gathering petition, refer to Tim Eyman’s web site, Click here: http://www.voterswantmorechoices.com/pdf/1125petition.pdf
Eyman’s web site is: http://VotersWantMoreChoices.com
Below, I have annotated selections from I-1125:
AN ACT Relating to transportation; amending RCW 47.56.030,
47.56.810, 47.56.820, 47.56.830, and 47.56.790; adding new sections
to chapter 46.68 RCW; and creating new sections.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF
WASHINGTON: POLICIES AND PURPOSES:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The 18th Amendment to the Washington
Constitution protects gas taxes and toll revenues. But politicians and special interest groups have been working for years to sidestep the 18th Amendment’s protections and divert those revenues to non-transportation purposes. (Tom adds: such as Light Rail.)
This measure protects our gas taxes and toll revenues from a legislative raid by giving voters the chance to reaffirm their support for the 18th Amendment to the Washington Constitution.
(Tom adds: Sound Transit plans to illegally violated the 18th Amendment, by using gas taxes for light rail (which is a non-highway purpose) on Interstate 90.)
This measure would:
(1) Prohibit state government from diverting gas taxes and toll revenues in the motor vehicle fund or other funds to the general fund or other funds and used for non-transportation purposes;
NEW SECTION. Sec. 2. State government, the department of
transportation, and other agencies may not transfer revenues in the motor vehicle fund or any toll fund to the general fund or other funds and used for non-transportation purposes.
False Information about Light Rail as the Only Solution to Air Pollution, Greenhouse Gases, and Traffic Congestion
The suburbs are not going away, and commuting with the personal automobile will never cease. Long commutes in large metro areas will continue indefinitely. Light rail will not serve more than 5% of all trips by 2040, according to Kemper Freeman and his traffic engineers. Meanwhile, nearly 2 million people will move to the area by 2040, according to Vision 2040, the regional plan for the Seattle Metro from the Puget Sound Regional Council.
In contrast, Kemper and his engineers, including Dr. William Eager, found in their own study that building more freeway lanes will decrease congestion by 36%, by increasing vehicle speeds. This will decrease auto emissions, and increase gas mileage and increase foreign oil imports, whereas light rail will not.
There is a lot of false information from urban planners and proponents of “smart growth” (new urbanism) that light rail is the only answer to more population and greenhouse gases. However, light rail will only carry 5% of all trips by 2040, yet the population will increase by nearly 2 million. And, other forms of transit are significantly more cost effective, such as bus rapid transit (see below). Furthermore, as we approach peak oil, our use of alternative automobile fuels will increase, such as natural gas and electric cars. Kemper Freeman already solved this problem, as he installed electric car charging stations at Bellevue Square in 2011, see my photos at this post: http://tiny.cc/7djp6
Click here to download Dr. William Eager’s “End Gridlock Now” study on adding more freeway lanes: http://www.tdanet.com/tda_inc_downloads_page.html
Kemper Freeman discusses “End Gridlock Now” in this 10 minute video:
For Mass Transit to Work, Seattle would have to turn into Manhattan and Air Pollution would Double
Population density must be very high for light rail to work. Wendell Cox and Kemper Freeman explain this at my other post on Seattle light rail. In addition, traffic engineer James MacIsaac has prepared this density graph and explanatory text in the aforementioned F.A.Q. Link, Question 8: http://www.eastsideta.com/docs/FAQ8-2008.pdf
“For each density category (…), transit ridership is relatively insensitive to density increases until densities above 10,000 persons per square mile are reached. For perspective, the average density of the Seattle urbanized area is about 2,200 persons per square mile (there are, of course, some census tracts of higher density). For a given area, doubling of density would double transit ridership but would also double travel by cars, trucks and vans.”
That’s the problem with Smart Growth and Towering Condos – Everyone still drives a car, and air pollution increases as engines run slower and less efficiently, producing more pollution – including CO2 – per mile of driving. As MacIsaac says, Seattle density would need to increase by over 20 times, just to get 20% to ride light rail, like in Manhattan.
Clearly Seattle does not want to turn into Manhattan. Therefore, we need to vote YES on Initiative I-1125, and send a message to Olympia that we don’t want light rail because we don’t want Seattle to turn into Manhattan with high pollution. We want freeway lanes, bike lanes, bike trails, and MacIsaac’s very own specialty – Bus Rapid Transit – see my new page on BRT. Also refer to John Niles on BRT at his CETA web site.
CO2 Increases at Gridlock Speeds
As density increases to accommodate smart growth and transit oriented developments, air pollution increases as gridlock progresses. Conditions become unhealthful for runners and cyclists. When I was in the smart growth havens of Boulder and Eugene, I had horrible sinusitis.
Even CO2 increases when cars are stuck in traffic. Dr. William Barth of UC-Riverside found that CO2 emissions increase dramatically at speeds less than 30mphIn fact, if you are idling in traffic, you are producing 10 times as much CO2 than if you’re traveling at 50mph (2000 g/mi vs. 200 g/mi. on the chart below). This graph is from Dr. Barth’s power point/PDF presentation:
If you want to vote green, then vote for better gas mileage, and less air pollution, and vote YES on I-1125. This will stop light rail to the Eastside, and will force transportation planners to consider other alternatives such as more lanes.
How Bad is Seattle-Bellevue Smog?
Pictures tell the story. We need to build lanes, eliminate gridlock, and reduce smog, for our childrens’ future.
Remember, in the Seattle area, air pollution is the major contributor to smog, since emissions have been cut from industry, and outdoor burning is banned within much of the metro area. Much of this air pollution is generated during gridlock conditions, when cars are stuck generating excessive CO2 and other pollutants between zero mph and 30 mph. Here are photos on clear smoggy days, and also clear very windy days, in January and February, 2011. These were taken on several clear days meeting one or the other of these two criteria:
1) Under weak surficial high pressure with a limited pressure gradient; ESE winds at 5mph.
2) Under surficial high pressure (centered over Southern BC) along with the 500mb jet out of the NNE; with NE winds at 20mph to 40mph (and higher gusts).
Given modern technology and our ability to build efficient freeway systems, there is no excuse for gridlock conditions contributing to unsightly views:
Air Pollution in Small Town Smart Growth America
Smart growth principles, with increased density and towering condos, has been implemented to varying degrees in various smart growth college and destination towns. As you can see below, places with a long history of densification – such as Eugene – have significant air pollution. However, you’ll also see that places who have just begun the densification process – Flagstaff, Ashland, and Bend, still have relatively clean air. Hopefully, their City Councils will read this web site and many others like it, and stop their smart growth before it is too late and everyone gets sinusitis.
Air Pollution in Large Cities with Large Lot Zoning and No Light Rail
While I am not aware of any large city (i.e. pop. 500,000+) where all properties are a quarter acre or more – and also with no apartments – certainly there are some big cities that have a greater percentage of large lots. For example, Scottsdale, AZ east of Phoenix has lot sizes of 1 to 10 acres, in what is called “North Scottsdale” (see below). In contrast, the southern part of town is much denser. In neighboring Fountain Hills, AZ, the average density is very low at 1.6 dU / acre (1.6 dwelling units per acre). And, in Cave Creek, AZ, the minimum lot size is half an acre.
Air pollution tends to be less in all three of these northeastern Phoenix area suburbs, although the entire valley is generally within a brown cloud much of the time. Nevertheless, lower density, and a focus on wide 4 to 8 lane boulevards traveling at 55mph, such as Cave Creek and Carefree Boulevards, results in improved emissions, fuel economy, and less air pollution than Seattle. Overall, Phoenix has very few smart growth projects (similar to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, NM).
Albuquerque, New Mexico (metro pop. – 700,000) does not feature widespread large lot zoning, except within the traditional suburbs such as Placitas, Corrales, Edgewood, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, and the South Valley. However, the presence of open Chihuahean desert scrub on all sides of the town, including on Native American Reservations and the Petroglyths outside of the City limits, provides clear air from any direction, no matter what way the wind is blowing.
Albuquerque’s highest ozone readings are probably achieved in the distant NE heights, along the Central Avenue corridor, and in the northern part of the South Valley. While Albuquerque features a growth management act, impact fees, and a redevelopment agency for infill projects, the City has very limited centralized planning and a very limited light rail system.
Street Widths, Air Pollution, and Light Rail
A light rail line down a boulevard, such as NE 112th in Bellevue in front of the City Hall, may eliminate the existing street width, condemning street lanes, along with the widths of bike lanes and sidewalks.
Therefore, light rail may actually increase air pollution by lowering vehicle speeds. The trains may also increase hazards for pedestrians and cyclists, who are left without a bike lane on a dangerous, narrow sidewalk.
Furthermore, tracks for trains, including streetcars, are very dangerous and have seriously injured many cyclists in Seattle. I do not know if any have died, although many Seattle cyclists have died due to heavy traffic from high density, due to the explosion in Smart Growth Condos.
Given that Bellevue already has wide 6 lane boulevards and 20′ wide sidewalks, and very low traffic compared to Seattle, then light rail would destroy the very safe atmosphere for pedestrians and cyclists in Bellevue, and also increase pollution.
Therefore, vote YES on Initiative I-1125, if you favor a progressive approach towards keeping our streets wide and safe, and preserving our bike lanes, and our sidewalks for pedestrians and the disabled. Phoenix, as I show below, has the safest streets, since they are very wide, and they also incorporate traffic calming. Light rail may eliminate traffic calming, and bike lanes and sidewalks are narrowed.
Wide Streets and Traffic Calming – Both are Great Things, Only in Moderation!
Since air pollution increases below 30mph, then methods of traffic calming (i.e. curb extensions, roundabouts, narrow streets, and reducing speed limits) will slow traffic, increasing congestion on surface streets and boulevards. Congestion and air pollution may increase to levels where cyclists and pedestrians will not wish to breath the fumes, and will drive instead.
In contrast, 4 to 8 lane boulevards have less air pollution, with traffic at 55mph, are dangerous for cyclists, pedestrians, and the disabled.
Nevertheless, a compromise is the obvious positive solution – provide wide streets COMBINED with traffic calming methods.
Phoenix, Arizona has the best examples of wide 4 to 8 lane boulevards combined with traffic calming, and exceptionally wide bike lanes and very nice 10′ sidewalks.
Do Urban Planners ever visit Used Car Lots?
Light rail proponents believe that peak oil will be such a crisis that we need to reduce the use of nearly all cars. However, as Jim MacIsaac showed above, this is impossible, since even with over 20,000 persons per square mile (20 times Seattle’s current density!), people still drive their cars.
Therefore, solutions to peak oil will come from hybrid and natural gas cars, and electric cars. Recently, I’ve been on dozens of used car lots. I was very impressed with the Federal Government’s role in decreasing emissions. For example, many cars such as this Smart Car had this sticker:
Clearly, the US Government is helping with peak oil. However, we need to do more, including building more freeway lanes. Imagine what happens when this Chevy Silverado gets stuck in traffic – it gets 14mpg instead of 20mpg. That’s a third less gas mileage, and several times more CO2 if its traveling at gridlock velocity.
Even this used “smart car” was relatively inexpensive. If we build more freeway lanes, and give tax credits for electric cars, natural gas cars, and smart cars, we could decrease our foreign oil dependence by well over 50% in 10 years:
Salt Lake City Builds a New Freeway and Reduces Congestion 20%
Many smart growth planners believe that building more freeways will increase congestion, since they erroneously think that roads lead to more sprawl. However, this is faulty logic, since in the Seattle metro, we are talking about existing sprawl that exists in a network of not enough lanes.
The new 2008 Legacy parkway (SR-67) near Salt Lake City was built parallel to US-15 to reduce congestion. The project was a success, and congestion was reduced by 20% on US-15. The freeway even includes a bike trail, nature preserve, and nature center. This project represents a parallel arterial, or a relief route, for the primary arterial, US-15.
Local traffic engineers advocate similar ideas. Seattle civil engineer Dr. Bill Eager advocates 6% more freeway lanes in the Seattle metro, to reduce congestion by 36%. This would include several parallel arterials, and also widen existing parallel routes such as I-405 and SR-167.
Dr. James MacIsaac – Bus Rapid Transit 80% Cheaper than Light Rail
As stated above, much false information exists that light rail is the only viable solution to growth, transportation, and greenhouse gases. Another viable solution is bus rapid transit. Civil engineer Dr. James MacIsaac, who opposes light rail, demonstrates that a network of bus rapid transit lines is 80% cheaper than a single line of mass transit. Note that his plan includes rapid transit routes outside of the urban growth boundary. The bus rapid transit lines travel on frequently congested state and federal highways, including SR-516, SR-169, SR-900, SR-164, SR-164, SR-410, SR-202, US-2, I-405, I-90, and others.
Eastside Transportation Association: Additional Reports Demonstrate that Light Rail will Not Reduce Congestion
Again, The Suburbs and Carbon Dioxide are Not Going Away. To be green, we must clean up our emissions.
We must clean up emissions or global warming and conserve oil as peak oil approaches. Therefore, expensive solutions such as light rail that take only a few percent of all trips, are an outrage. We need to use our money wisely, spending it on methods that will work, such as more freeway lanes, and bus rapid transit. The suburbs, such as the photo below in Kirkland just north of Bellevue, are not going away.
And, I also speak from personal experience. I’ve been to places that invest a huge amount in public transit, such as Boulder, Colorado and Eugene, Oregon. Their traffic is just as bad as the Seattle metro, and air pollution is actually WORSE, due to local inversion conditions.
Just like Seattle, neither Boulder or Eugene have invested in sufficient freeway lanes and boulevards. Seattle will ultimately turn into another Boulder, if local planners continue taking us back to the 1800’s with light rail and streetcars.
Kemper Freeman Installs Electric Car Charging Stations at Bellevue Square
Kemper Freeman, owner of the Internationally recognized Bellevue Square near Seattle, knows that the public will demand alternatives as gas prices increase. He has just installed Electric Car Charging stations in his free parking garages at Bellevue Square Mall. Kemper is the first private individual to install charging stations in the entire Pacific NW (compared to federally funded stations along Interstate 5). Watch this You-Tube Video for more:
Also, watch this September 7, 2011 TV-W video with opponents of I-1125 and proponents, including Bruce Nurse of Kemper Development Co. and Tim Eyman:
And, finally, this photo summarizes EVERYTHING that we all require to pursue The American Dream, including freeways, used cars, used car salesmen, and US Flags on the cars for sale that we buy and drive home to the suburbs !
We need to keep the freeways green by voting YES on Initiative I-1125, that will stop the illegal use of the gas tax to build light rail, that will do absolutely nothing to reduce emissions.
As you can see from the examples above, the facts clearly show that efficient fast moving freeways are greener and produce less air pollution. And, bus rapid transit is much cheaper than light rail, accommodating commuters in the distant suburbs that are not served by light rail. Cycling – especially off road gravel bike paths in forests away from polluted city streets – and build by philanthropic organizations, is another great alternative (discussed elsewhere on this web site).
Traffic Bottlenecks in the Seattle Area
Interstate 5 runs north to south through the Seattle area, and is the region’s major north-south traffic corridor. It has been neglected for decades, and is clogged every weekday morning and afternoon in predictable locations. Below are a few photographs of the “exit only” signs that plague this narrow, unsightly corridor through downtown Seattle.
These “exit only” lanes narrow the freeway to two and three lanes in a few bottlenecks. Dr. Eager in his report recommends adding two lanes in each direction on I-5, from just south of Tacoma to well north of Seattle. Due to gridlock speeds of 0mph to 30mph, downtown Seattle is known for its aroma by “suburbanites,” whenever we venture into downtown for appointments.
Also, whether or not to replace the earthquake-prone Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR-99, parallel to I-5), remains the subject of serious controversy. If I-5 was widened by four lanes, then most people would not even bother to take the Viaduct (which involves extra time, due to stop lights on surface streets leading to both ends of the elevated Viaduct). Indeed, the dangerous, elevated highway would not need to be replaced, if I-5 was widened instead.