City Council removes parking requirement for developers
San Diego City Council has voted to scrap parking requirements for developers building residential housing within areas that have been marked as “Transit Priority Areas” (TPAs) with the aim of reducing development cost and encouraging public transportation use. Introduced two years ago by then-councilmember David Alvarez and councilmember Scott Sherman, the measure is part of larger 20-point plant targeting San Diego’s ongoing housing crisis.
Requirements for multifamily residential developments within TPAs have been reduced to zero and developers are now required to provide a level of transportation access relative to the area’s transportation amenity score.
“While it took way too long to get this ordinance approved, I praise my colleagues for finally getting it across the finish line,” Councilmember Sherman said. “This is good news, but our work to fix San Diego’s housing crisis is nowhere near complete. We must continue pushing innovative strategies to improve housing affordability and we can’t wait two years for approval.”
For years San Diego has seen its mounting housing shortage drive house and rent prices high. Many middle- and working-class families are forced to budget upwards of 50 percent or more on housing or leave the region altogether, according to a press release. With these changes the city council hopes to spur developers into proposing new projects in a time where the state government is cracking down on cities for their lack of affordable housing.
Ridership climbs on MTS for first seven months of FY19
Ridership on the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus and trolley network has climbed by more than 200,000 trips in the first seven months of fiscal year 2019, which began on July 1, 2018. The gains have been led by the trolley, which has posted six straight months of year-over-year gains.
“This is great news for the goals of the region’s various climate action plans and for riders. This shows there is a real mandate to invest in improving transit,” said Georgette Gómez, MTS chair and Council President of the city of San Diego in a press release.
Public transit ridership has dropped in most systems in the United States over the past several years. MTS was one of the last systems to experience a drop and it may, if trends continue, be one of the first to reverse the trend.
For the first seven months of FY19, Trolley ridership is up 1 percent from 21,810,915 trips to 22,037,351 trips. Bus ridership is virtually unchanged, dropping just 23,247 trips to 27,941,344 trips for the fiscal year to date.
“These numbers are highly encouraging,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “In January of last year, MTS began implementing many route changes that increased frequency on our high-demand routes. We completed making changes in January of this year and we’ve already begun to see the results.”
While Trolley ridership has led the resurgence, bus ridership has held steady and two major developments may put its ridership into the plus column soon.
In late January, the South Bay Rapid opened and average weekday ridership on that line is about 1,500 and climbing. The addition of this service from Otay Mesa to Downtown, as well as the opening of a modern transit center just north of the Otay Mesa border crossing, has caused other routes serving the area to increase as well.
Additionally, MTS replaced shuttles operated by UC San Diego by adding service to Rapid Superloop routes at the end of January. These routes, serving the University City area, are showing weekday ridership gains of more than 3,000 trips per day.
February will be the first complete month in which these substantial gains will be recorded to bus ridership.
For more information, visit sdmts.com.
Gloria takes aim at weapons sales at Del Mar fairgrounds
Assembly member Todd Gloria has introduced legislation that would bar the sale of weapons and ammunition at the Del Mar fairgrounds. Titled Assembly Bill 893, the legislation is a response to last year’s decision to postpone gun related events, made by the 22nd District Agricultural Association who manages the fairgrounds. The board voted to do so just days after an individual brandished and fired a weapon while on the premises.
“This legislation is about making our communities safer,” Assembly member Gloria said. “There is an ever-apparent link between the gun violence we see virtually every week and the number of guns in our communities. Additionally, the State of California should not be profiting or benefitting from the sale of firearms. This bill demonstrates that we value people over guns and public safety above all.”
The bill is pending approval by the appropriate assembly committees and could reach the Governor’s desk by fall 2019, just before the timeline for postponing gun-shows lapses.
Burn Institute offers free smoke detectors
National safety statistics show that adults age 65 and older are two times more likely to die in a home fire than any other segment of the population; for those over age 75, that risk nearly quadruples. Despite these alarming statistics, thousands of seniors throughout San Diego and Imperial counties are currently living in homes without a working smoke alarm.
One of the best ways seniors can improve their chances of escaping a residential fire is by making sure their home is equipped with an operating smoke alarm. The Burn Institute is working towards ensuring that every senior’s home has just that. Their Senior Smoke Alarm Program provides seniors with free smoke alarms and instillations. Screened and trained community partners and volunteers assist the Burn Institute year-round in installing the free alarms.
To qualify for this lifesaving program, you must be 62 years or older and own your own home. To sign up for this program or see if you are eligible, call the Burn Institute at 858-541-2277 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Smoke alarms save lives. Having a working smoke alarm in your home reduces your chances of perishing in a house fire by 50 percent. Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every floor of your home. “In a fire, seconds count,” said Susan Day, Burn Institute executive director in a press release. “Roughly half of home fire deaths result from fires reported at night between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are asleep. Home smoke alarms can alert people to a fire before it spreads, giving seniors enough time to get out.”
Another invaluable fire safety tool each household should have is a fire escape plan. It can take less than two minutes for toxic fumes to overcome a child or an adult and knowing the most direct route out of your home can help save your life. To create your escape plan, identify two ways out of every room in your home and know the most direct route to outside. Set a designated meeting place that is a safe distance from your residence and is stationary, such as the light-pole or mailbox. Once you get out of the house, stay out! After you have created your escape plan, it should be practiced with all members of your family at least once a year. The Burn Institute offers free fire escape planning guidelines and grids at burninstitute.org.
—Compiled by Jules Shane and Jeff Clemetson.