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-   -   SAN DIEGO | Boom Rundown, Vol. 2 (https://skyscraperpage.com/forum//showthread.php?t=126473)

HurricaneHugo Aug 10, 2020 5:38 AM

What exactly is the issue with 101 Ash?

Seems like that's the only chance Barbara Bry has

Will O' Wisp Aug 10, 2020 6:06 AM

Well, lucky you because we all have a chance to relive the 1970s San Diego transit experience.

Quote:


Can Hasan Ikhrata sell San Diego on a $177 billion transit revolution in a pandemic?



By Joshua Emerson Smith
Aug. 8, 2020
8 PM

Only the security guards were there to greet Hasan Ikhrata on Thursday morning in the lobby of Wells Fargo Plaza downtown, where San Diego’s premiere regional transportation planning agency is headquartered.

Several flights up, Ikhrata walked into an empty room, labeled Vision Lab, wearing a surgical mask and his signature pinstripe suit. Five months ago, he would’ve been greeted by dozens of planners and data experts, feverishly pouring over maps and computer models.

Today, Ikhrata’s nearly two-year-old campaign to revolutionize San Diego with a multibillion-dollar expansion of public transit has run headlong into the worst pandemic in a century.

Trolley and bus ridership have been more than cut in half. Unemployment is at record levels. Many people are working from home, including most of Ikhrata’s 385 employees at the San Diego Association of Governments, better known as SANDAG.

Still, the agency’s leader comes into the office nearly every day, joined by a small cadre of top lieutenants. He said he’s determined to push forward with his vision — which would cost roughly $177 billion over the next 30 years.

In the lab, Ikhrata pressed several buttons on a large topographic model of San Diego County.

Dotted purple lines lit up across the region’s major urban areas, representing hundreds of miles of new high-speed rail. Green lines appeared over much of the region’s existing highway system, revealing a network of express toll lanes that would also serve buses and carpooling.

“This will resemble Barcelona, Madrid, Paris,” Ikhrata said in his Jordanian accent.

“It will be a much better drive for you, but it will cost a bit more,” he added, acknowledging perhaps the most controversial aspect of his plan. “Every lane should be a toll lane, at some point, if we want this to work.”

He then pointed to a model of his envisioned San Diego Grand Central in the Midway District, which, after years of discussion, would finally connect transit riders to the airport. The massive transportation hub, he explained, would also include lots of new housing, office space and retail, and would spur dense urban growth all around it.

“It will be like another downtown right next to downtown,” he said excitedly.

Ikhrata left the Southern California Association of Governments in Los Angeles to lead SANDAG in December 2018. His main message to the elected leaders who hired him, as well as average residents, has been consistent: Don’t become L.A.

He’s repeatedly argued that without his progressive revolution — which includes not only charging people to drive on freeways but foregoing new parking expansions — San Diego will in time be dogged by the same mind-numbing gridlock.

Ikhrata plans to officially unveil his vision before SANDAG’s board of 21-elected officials from around the region on Friday, Aug. 14. The agency has painstakingly analyzed commuter patterns using computer modeling to determine where roughly 350 miles of new rail track should be constructed.

It’s not clear how well the plan will be received. Conservative leaders who favor freeway expansions over public transit have attacked Ikhrata’s ideas as a doomed attempt at social engineering. They argue few will ride the costly system if it ever gets built.

Some have said that the pandemic, coupled with future technological innovations, will so radically change commuter patterns as to render the plan obsolete by the time it’s under way. They argue that the major job centers of today, for which San Diego has about 15, will likely change over time.

The criticism caries extra punch at time when getting on a packed train or bus currently seems a risky alternative to driving alone, and when the allure of city living has dulled with the closing of restaurants and bars.

“These are mausoleums to an era gone by, getting on a fixed train to a fixed job site,” said Tony Krvaric, the outgoing chair of The Republican Party of San Diego County. “Things are going to change. If anything, have buses and have autonomous driving.”

There’s no shortage of speculation about the extent to which work-from-home policies will become the norm and the impact such a shift could have on commuter patterns.

Still, there’s strong evidence the pandemic’s impact will be largely temporary. While traffic on San Diego’s busiest freeways was down 50 percent in early March, today, traffic has come roaring back to more than 80 percent of normal.

“Right now most of the economy’s still closed and you’ve got jammed roads,” said Michael Manville, a professor of urban planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. “It seems hard to believe that in 20 years there will be no point to having mass transit to San Diego’s job centers.”

Ikhrata argues that his high-speed rail system will help ensure that those employment centers thrive for decades to come. “This is the perfect time for San Diego to do this,” he said. “All future growth is expected to happen in the urban area, and that’s why this system will make a lot more sense.”

However, if Ikhrata’s vision is to prove relevant over time, it will first need a major injection of public money. Paying for the multibillion-dollar system will likely require a full-cent sales tax increase approved by a two-thirds vote of the public. Ikhrata was hoping to float a ballot measure in the fall of 2022, but that’s uncertain now, with the economy currently on life support.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit system, which operates much of the region’s transit system, iced its own plans for a sales-tax hike early this year, citing the pandemic. The agency’s proposal was aimed at the November election and would have roughly doubled its $300 million annual budget in order to dramatically expand the region’s bus network, among other upgrades.

Some have argued that SANDAG should embrace a similar strategy, beefing up the region’s existing transit system rather than pursuing grander long-term visions.

“They’re spending the bulk of their planning resources on expensive rail projects that aren’t going to be built for decades in the best-case scenario,” said Colin Parent, executive director of the nonprofit Circulate San Diego. “What they should be spending their attention on are transit improvements that can happen in the more immediate term and that are going to benefit people who are most likely to use transit.”

MTS is now relying on federal emergency funding, as revenue from ticket sales has plummeted. Transit agencies all around the country are in similar straits, pleading with Congress for continued cash infusions.

Despite dips in ridership, fears that public transit could be a hotbed for the virus haven’t materialized so far in San Diego.

Of MTS’ roughly 2,700 employees and contractors, only about 50 have tested positive for the virus and most have returned to work, according to officials. No workers have died, and no community outbreaks have been traced back to public transit.

There’s little evidence to suggest that riding public transit is particularly dangerous compared with other activities, said Melissa Perry, a leading epidemiologist and chair of the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.

“Practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, not touching surfaces, washing before and after riding public transportation, that really is a safe way to travel,” Perry said. “The extent to which you can adhere to those practices is the indicator of risk far more than the actual setting.”

Many community and environmental activists backed the now-withdrawn MTS plan while also pushing for Ikhrata’s grander vision. They argued that a massive expansion of rail service is badly needed to rein in greenhouse gases, encouraging new urban development without further clogging busy surface streets and freeways.

Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego-based Climate Action Campaign, said the region needs to start “playing the long game.”

“No matter what, there’s always going to be a circumstance that makes it seem insurmountable,” she said. “We’ve been postponing this idea of world-class transit for decades. Nothing’s going to be in the ground for decades, so now is the right time to get started.”

Before Ikhrata showed up, groups like the Cleveland National Forest Foundation, Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity spent years battling SANDAG in court over its approach to transportation.

Under the previous executive director, Gary Gallegos, the agency secured roughly $2 billion to build the Mid-Coast Trolley extension from downtown University City. However, much of agency approach centered on expanding freeways, using new bus and carpool lanes. Gallegos and his team regularly dismissed calls by advocates to pursue the type of transit expansion Ikhrata has proposed.

Today, San Diego’s transit system is often sluggish compared with driving and primarily serves low-income residents without cars. Those with a vehicle have little incentive to ride a bus or trolley to work, as it can add hours to a daily commute.

Ikhrata has said his goal is to make taking transit at least as fast as driving. That parity is important, he argues, if the region is serious about meeting state-mandated climate targets aimed at limiting tailpipe pollution.

However, he acknowledged that getting people to switch from driving to riding transit won’t be easy. Los Angeles has spend billions building out its rail system over the last few decades, only to see ridership decline.

A major issue is the region’s longstanding hesitation to discourage people from using the freeway system. Nearly all transportation experts agree that instituting some form of congestion pricing, where tolls increase during gridlock traffic, is the lynchpin for a system like Ikhrata’s.

Ikhrata said that during his time in Los Angeles, he oversaw major investments in public transit but often sidestepped tough conversations about pricing the freeway system.

“I catered to the politician who said, ‘This is great, but don’t talk about pricing,’” Ikhrata said regretfully about his time at SCAG. “Here we’re saying, ‘Let’s talk about it up front.’”

Selling this idea promises to be a daunting political challenge. Perhaps more than anything, San Diego’s mayoral election in November will play a pivotal role in its success or failure.

Ikhrata could have a difficult time selling his vision and congestion pricing if City Councilwoman Barbara Bry prevails.

“This is another rush deal during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bry said of Ikhrata’s vision. “After the pandemic ends, we should step back to see how remote working and commute patterns change and what this will mean for future transit needs.”

However, plans for a new high-speed rail system in San Diego could receive a significant boost if Assemblyman and former San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria becomes the city’s next mayor.

“This is the time to move forward with big plans for our regional transportation system,” Gloria said. “Making strategic investments in public infrastructure is a sound and proven form of economic stimulus that I believe we need in order to get out of this recession.”
Personally, I think this one is just going to be a bridge too far. $177 billion over thirty years is nearly one and a half times what LA county's 2016 Measure M, and that was in a county with three times our population. Given Measure M used a 1% sales tax to fund itself, that would imply a 4.5% sales tax for this plan. No city in America funds transit at that anything close to that level.

sanatty Aug 10, 2020 6:07 PM

What a waste of money hiring Ikhrata was... Given the experience with HSR in California, the last attempt at a regional sales tax by SANDAG, SANDAG's history of bad estimates and broken promises... this has a near-zero chance of passing.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9005919)
Well, lucky you because we all have a chance to relive the 1970s San Diego transit experience.



Personally, I think this one is just going to be a bridge too far. $177 billion over thirty years is nearly one and a half times what LA county's 2016 Measure M, and that was in a county with three times our population. Given Measure M used a 1% sales tax to fund itself, that would imply a 4.5% sales tax for this plan. No city in America funds transit at that anything close to that level.


Will O' Wisp Aug 10, 2020 10:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HurricaneHugo (Post 9005914)
What exactly is the issue with 101 Ash?

Seems like that's the only chance Barbara Bry has

-City is renting a half dozen places across downtown to house employees
-Office rents are rising, City realizes it would be good idea to buy a building rather than pay all this rent
-City notices a building just across the street from City Hall has become vacant
-Building owner offers building to City, says building has some asbestos on the support beams above the ceiling but it hasn't been a problem in the past
-City buys building
-City decides it wants to renovate the building, tears out all the nonstructural walls, ceiling panels, etc
-Vibrations cause all the asbestos to crack and fall off the support beams into all sorts of nooks and crannies
-County of San Diego rates the building as uninhabitable
-City commissions third-party evaluation of this massive screw up, finds that no quality inspections were made of the asbestos prior to buying the building and no considerations were given to if the renovations could cause it to crack and fall
-Third-party evaluation finds that it would cost more than the building is worth to fix it and make it habitable for city workers
-City is very, very unhappy

Bry wants to use this against Gloria because he (as a member of city council at the time) made the motion to approve buying the building. Gloria has responded that Bry made the motion to approve the renovations. Everyone else is unhappy with the city staff, who made the recommendation to the city council that they buy the building without checking to see if the city could properly use it, and their boss Mayor Falconer. It turns out the guy who sold it to the City was Papa Doug Manchester, the biggest donator to Mayor Falconer's political campaigns, and this was not presented to the city council. Not telling council this was a violation of the city charter, and some members of the council say this makes the whole deal illegal and void.

Northparkwizard Aug 11, 2020 7:00 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9006691)
-City is renting a half dozen places across downtown to house employees
-Office rents are rising, City realizes it would be good idea to buy a building rather than pay all this rent
-City notices a building just across the street from City Hall has become vacant
-Building owner offers building to City, says building has some asbestos on the support beams above the ceiling but it hasn't been a problem in the past
-City buys building
-City decides it wants to renovate the building, tears out all the nonstructural walls, ceiling panels, etc
-Vibrations cause all the asbestos to crack and fall off the support beams into all sorts of nooks and crannies
-County of San Diego rates the building as uninhabitable
-City commissions third-party evaluation of this massive screw up, finds that no quality inspections were made of the asbestos prior to buying the building and no considerations were given to if the renovations could cause it to crack and fall
-Third-party evaluation finds that it would cost more than the building is worth to fix it and make it habitable for city workers
-City is very, very unhappy

Bry wants to use this against Gloria because he (as a member of city council at the time) made the motion to approve buying the building. Gloria has responded that Bry made the motion to approve the renovations. Everyone else is unhappy with the city staff, who made the recommendation to the city council that they buy the building without checking to see if the city could properly use it, and their boss Mayor Falconer. It turns out the guy who sold it to the City was Papa Doug Manchester, the biggest donator to Mayor Falconer's political campaigns, and this was not presented to the city council. Not telling council this was a violation of the city charter, and some members of the council say this makes the whole deal illegal and void.

I think this is funny.

I get to talk shit to the same city inspectors that failed to properly inspect the high-rise building they were supposed to move into across the street from where they work.

Streamliner Aug 11, 2020 3:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9006691)
-City is renting a half dozen places across downtown to house employees
-Office rents are rising, City realizes it would be good idea to buy a building rather than pay all this rent
-City notices a building just across the street from City Hall has become vacant
-Building owner offers building to City, says building has some asbestos on the support beams above the ceiling but it hasn't been a problem in the past
-City buys building
-City decides it wants to renovate the building, tears out all the nonstructural walls, ceiling panels, etc
-Vibrations cause all the asbestos to crack and fall off the support beams into all sorts of nooks and crannies
-County of San Diego rates the building as uninhabitable
-City commissions third-party evaluation of this massive screw up, finds that no quality inspections were made of the asbestos prior to buying the building and no considerations were given to if the renovations could cause it to crack and fall
-Third-party evaluation finds that it would cost more than the building is worth to fix it and make it habitable for city workers
-City is very, very unhappy

Bry wants to use this against Gloria because he (as a member of city council at the time) made the motion to approve buying the building. Gloria has responded that Bry made the motion to approve the renovations. Everyone else is unhappy with the city staff, who made the recommendation to the city council that they buy the building without checking to see if the city could properly use it, and their boss Mayor Falconer. It turns out the guy who sold it to the City was Papa Doug Manchester, the biggest donator to Mayor Falconer's political campaigns, and this was not presented to the city council. Not telling council this was a violation of the city charter, and some members of the council say this makes the whole deal illegal and void.

Wow, thanks for the quick rundown. Sounds like everyone screwed up on this one. Also, how did City Council not know that Manchester was the one selling the property? Isn't that like one of the first pieces of information you know when buying something? Was it some sort of shell corporation that nobody looked into?

Will O' Wisp Aug 11, 2020 7:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Northparkwizard (Post 9006998)
I think this is funny.

I get to talk shit to the same city inspectors that failed to properly inspect the high-rise building they were supposed to move into across the street from where they work.

To be fair to those city inspectors, the problem wasn't that they did a bad inspection. The problem was that no proper inspection was done at all. The City's executive management essentially took the seller's word for it that everything was fine.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Streamliner (Post 9007255)
Wow, thanks for the quick rundown. Sounds like everyone screwed up on this one. Also, how did City Council not know that Manchester was the one selling the property? Isn't that like one of the first pieces of information you know when buying something? Was it some sort of shell corporation that nobody looked into?

-The city council was only told about the shell company for reasons that are still unclear.
-Yes, it's even written in the city charter that city staff are required to tell these things to the city council.
-Essentially, but some have alleged that looking into the shell company might have been discouraged by Mayor Falconer.

The whole thing has become extremely political. At this point we don't really know for sure whether the actions of the City's executive management were incompetent, or fraudulent.

mello Aug 12, 2020 7:36 PM

Has anyone heard any update on the massive 1200 to 1600 room hotel and almost 400k sq. foot convention center with Vegas style pool on Chula Vista Bayfront? I was at the Marina 2 weeks ago and some earth has been moved around a bit but no digging and no heavy equipment is on site.

Nv_2897 Aug 14, 2020 6:36 PM

Broadway Block standing tall
https://i.imgur.com/Vs4iicO.jpg?1
https://i.imgur.com/LePN1Af.jpg?1
Pinnacles twin tower project on broadway is making its presence
https://i.imgur.com/uL6tUGT.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/IO3o3DY.jpg
The little italy office on kettner building is also pretty much topped out
https://i.imgur.com/hvtKqAH.jpg
The crane for the affordable housing tower by father joes villages is up
https://i.imgur.com/kqoyZeb.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/wqUGC7r.jpg

Nv_2897 Aug 14, 2020 7:01 PM

The campus at horton renders
https://i.imgur.com/fPvWXnl.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/h8v4IQl.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/gWXAM4Z.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/f6RcnBr.jpghttps://i.imgur.com/hDDwrJf.jpg

SDCAL Aug 14, 2020 11:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sanatty (Post 9006342)
What a waste of money hiring Ikhrata was... Given the experience with HSR in California, the last attempt at a regional sales tax by SANDAG, SANDAG's history of bad estimates and broken promises... this has a near-zero chance of passing.

Ikhrata was brought in after those failures you mention.

He’s doing the right thing. I applaud him. If San Diego’s short-sighted NIMBY voters vote this down as they probably will, so be it. But that’s not Ikhrata’s fault. He was hired to give an honest evaluation of what SD needs to improve our infrastructure for the coming decades and that’s what he did. What’s he supposed to do, give some half-assed plan because the voters here are NIMBYs?

Will O' Wisp Aug 15, 2020 1:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SDCAL (Post 9011135)
Ikhrata was brought in after those failures you mention.

He’s doing the right thing. I applaud him. If San Diego’s short-sighted NIMBY voters vote this down as they probably will, so be it. But that’s not Ikhrata’s fault. He was hired to give an honest evaluation of what SD needs to improve our infrastructure for the coming decades and that’s what he did. What’s he supposed to do, give some half-assed plan because the voters here are NIMBYs?

Welcome to politics, check your ideals at the door.

I would personally argue Ikhrata is right, this is the level of infrastructure spending needed to get people out of their cars. It's spending on a level not seen in the county since the 1950-60s, when we build freeways in the first place. It's also an investment we haven't seen since the federal government started getting out mass funding of local infrastructure projects. And that's why no other region in the US is even trying for something remotely like this proposal.

And so if this plan is shot down by the voters, as it provably will because every business in the San Diego region will shout and scream about raising taxes higher than almost everywhere else in the nation, where does that leave us? Starting all over again, two years later, and perhaps with Sacramento being far less willing to grant us another extension on our old, car-centric 2015 regional plan.

Or we could do what LA, SF, Portland, and Seattle are doing: construct a more moderate regional plan that focuses primarily on capturing new growth with transit and doesn't attempt to shift everything from autos to trains. Which I'm sure Ikhrata would argue is disingenuous and deceitful and will never lead to anything really changing, but in the end the the CA, OR, and WA state governments aren't prepared to fund that level of spending either so they'll keep greenlighting plans like that until the Green New Deal passes... if the Green New Deal passes.

HurricaneHugo Aug 15, 2020 6:52 AM

Talking about regional plan's....

SANDAG released a new one:

https://i.redd.it/22bhuhvsc2h51.png

Source:
https://sdforward.com/docs/default-s...rsn=52d3f865_2

Will O' Wisp Aug 16, 2020 5:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HurricaneHugo (Post 9011375)
Talking about regional plan's....

That's the regional plan we've all been talking about.

Really interested to see how more specifics on how the routing for the heavy rail component works. By my reckoning the E/W corridor through Mission Valley will stretch about ~14 miles to El Cajon, with a ~3 mile spur tunnel under Hillcrest to the Santa Fe Depot. The "Purple Line" from the 5/15 interchange to the 15/805 merge and then on to Sorrento Valley is ~16 miles. Unless they can be really creative with some of the freeway ROWs that is a ton of tunneling.

dirt patch Aug 16, 2020 4:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Will O' Wisp (Post 9011182)
Welcome to politics, check your ideals at the door.

I would personally argue Ikhrata is right, this is the level of infrastructure spending needed to get people out of their cars. It's spending on a level not seen in the county since the 1950-60s, when we build freeways in the first place. It's also an investment we haven't seen since the federal government started getting out mass funding of local infrastructure projects. And that's why no other region in the US is even trying for something remotely like this proposal.

And so if this plan is shot down by the voters, as it provably will because every business in the San Diego region will shout and scream about raising taxes higher than almost everywhere else in the nation, where does that leave us? Starting all over again, two years later, and perhaps with Sacramento being far less willing to grant us another extension on our old, car-centric 2015 regional plan.

Or we could do what LA, SF, Portland, and Seattle are doing: construct a more moderate regional plan that focuses primarily on capturing new growth with transit and doesn't attempt to shift everything from autos to trains. Which I'm sure Ikhrata would argue is disingenuous and deceitful and will never lead to anything really changing, but in the end the the CA, OR, and WA state governments aren't prepared to fund that level of spending either so they'll keep greenlighting plans like that until the Green New Deal passes... if the Green New Deal passes.

Note* SF isn't really all that and a mid sized city. San Jose is not part of SF when discussing regional growth plan. If SJ wasn't included: why?

Will O' Wisp Aug 16, 2020 10:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dirt patch (Post 9012232)
Note* SF isn't really all that and a mid sized city. San Jose is not part of SF when discussing regional growth plan. If SJ wasn't included: why?

I use SF to mean "Bay Area" because everything from Marin County to San Jose is SF to my SoCal brain.

That said, bay area regional planning is f'd up on so many levels. Regional planning agencies that cross multiple county lines, like ABAG or SCAG, are a joke. The regional agency has no authority to collect taxes itself, so each individual county has to opt into paying additional taxes for new infrastructure. How are you supposed to make a regionwide transit plan when the decision to pay for it is optional?

For SCAG (Hassan's old job), the agency functions more like a think tank. They mainly publish white papers for the intra-county agencies that can actually build things, like LA Metro, to use in their own planning. That works in SoCal because you have massive counties like LA that hold a significant portion of the total metro pop within their own borders.

For the bay area and ABAG though that's not an option, so they had to make an inter-county transit agency (MTC). And then half the bay area promptly opted out of paying for it. That's why progress on BART dried up from the mid-70s when federal funding for major infrastructure projects dried up until a period in the 90s when the dotcom boom made the bay so ridiculously rich adding a few miles of subway line became feasible for SF and SJ to fund by themselves, than then again starting in the 10s with the app boom. But it's so scattershot and wimpy compared to what a rich metro like the bay area could be doing.

Nv_2897 Aug 17, 2020 4:30 PM

New design for Park and Broadway
https://i.imgur.com/peQwWBp.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/kd0Sytc.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/aCtQLrU.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/icJZAHC.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/cIFlpIC.jpg
credit to realportfolio on instagram https://www.instagram.com/realportfolio/

HurricaneHugo Aug 17, 2020 8:53 PM

I like it!

Will O' Wisp Aug 17, 2020 8:56 PM

Any word on if that awesome rooftop deck will be publicly accessible??

JerellO Aug 18, 2020 8:13 AM

Ooooo me likey :D when does it break ground?


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