Friday, June 26, 2015

Big Reader response to the sbX Ridership Analysis

Plus a positive dream idea for San Bernardino's Children & Youth...


By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
riversidetransit@gmail.com


Earlier this week, I posted a Transit Talking Points blog analysis of the Omnitrans sbX Green Line ridership situation in response to a Press Enterprise article that had a negative headline towards the BRT line. If you missed it, be sure to check it out via the blog archive links.

The post attracted many readers and triggered some robust and productive discussion. Here's a run-down of some of your views:

People keep forgetting that sbX was supposed to be opened in conjunction with or AFTER the Transit Center. The latter project got delayed by the Metrolink Extension, which in turn got delayed by Redlands Rail. All good ideas that will ultimately create a stronger, more logical transit system in the end, but those delays caused Omnitrans to move forward with sbX prematurely to avoid losing grant funds for it.

Also, I agree on the point about the overbuilt roads that are "under utilized". However, calling anything being built with the only bike provisions being painted bike lanes on the paved shoulder next to wide, fast lanes a "complete street" is unacceptable. With protected bikeways expanding everywhere and standards also quickly propagating, there is no excuse for not using them, especially in situations like this where traditional constraints such as driveways and side streets are minimized.

-marven/IE Transit Talking Points Blog

That's why the state now has a 3-foot and "share the road" laws to protect cyclists along such 55 MPH transportation corridors and two-lane country roads that are less than complete. There is no universal definition to "complete streets"--I define them as corridors that can move pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and transit--and thus there will be ongoing disagreement and debate on this topic; however, I do agree that dedicated non-vehicle multi-use pathways need to be expanded between high speed arterial streets. Privately funded economic development investments with open space corridors can achieve that.

(Downtown San Bernardino's) carousel mall needs to be turned in a promenade like Victoria garden, Santa Monica, or the grove sorta thing. Hector Perez/Facebook.

^^ patience my friend. It's coming -Jesus Navidad/Facebook. 

My idea for the Carousel Mall property: 




Work with the owner and zone the property as a specific plan so the private sector can transform this near-dead mall into a robust youth district.

Commercial, non-profit and religious organizations would all team up and provide a positive, safe and non-destructive hub point for San Bernardino's youth to hang out and make friends in order to keep them out of the criminal gang culture and to teach them to honor righteous authority.

The commercial investing businesses can provide the entertainment, food, and the other latest retail trends and would also be the primary funding source of the hub. In return for big tax and local fee breaks, these businesses would provide for free or fund the meeting space and resources for the non-profit and church groups to operate within the rest of the mall property. In addition, an outlet to President Obama's My Brother's Keeper program would be established here too together with a first-rate youth public library.

  • Students would have the option to go here to get homework done, receive free peer tutoring, and use first-rate computers donated by the tech industry. 
  • Troubled youth would be strongly encouraged to go here and network with caring mentors. 
  • Young job-seekers would network with hiring businesses which would include explorer and reserve deputy programs offered by a fully-funded police department. 
  • High school youth wanting to go to college but can't afford the tuition would also go here and apply for scholarships, funded again by the private sector. The scholarship requirements could range anywhere from academic achievements to community service.
  • Restorative justice programs would be offered here too for any recently released youth inmates who really want to turn away from gang crime on top of those programs already offered at jails and prisons. 
  • Youth of faith can break open the Word of God with others and join in praise and worship programs. Youth Masses would be offered for the region's Catholic population. Also, like most at most hospitals, a silent inter-faith prayer space would be on site too.
  • Special youth events would be hosted here. Concerts with bands promoting a positive lifestyle would be staged here. In addition, youth conventions and speakers would come in and dynamically teach the youth to honor righteous authority. The convention center property next door to the mall could also be utilized for larger youth events.
  • ...Or the kids can simply come here to have fun and attain their best states in life.
  • Plus, businesses would invest here and grow the retail job market because the zoning rules would allow for big local tax and fee breaks in return for providing infrastructure or resources to the non-profit groups.

Meanwhile, a robust and funded law enforcement network comprised of the city's paid police department officers and unpaid volunteers, reserve deputies, youth explorer, community action patrol, and neighborhood watchdog groups would be the short-range solution to rid San Bernardino of its awful crime. A public-private partnership between the youth district hub and the police department can ensure healthy funding as the city continues its bankruptcy situation.

The opportunities would be endless for San Bernardino's next generation. Plus, getting there would be no problem thanks to the sbX.

I know this idea is a mere dream, not as simple as it looks and will require a lot of discussion to launch correctly. The youth who all use the facility would have to be protected and educated, especially protection from existing gang leaders who may be looking to "jump" troubled youth. Plus the mall's property owner may have absolutely no plans to implement this. But we are long overdue to take better care of San Bernardino's children and youth. That is the truth. So, we have to get some ideas flowing around.

More on this at a later time.

this kind of (sbX) positivity is poisonous to many people in this group. -Matthew Amori/Facebook

This "kind of positivity" is fact-based. How is establishing a centralized transit hub point plus a direct connection to/from the busiest line on the Metrolink train system poisonous? What I see is improved inter-modal hub-and-spoke transit connectivity and thus more riders for not only the sbX, but for the connecting Omnitrans local routes and Metrolink.

sbX has already attracted billions of dollars in new development and other investment that have been committed to the E Street Corridor. The (Press Enterprise) reporter should have spoken with the property owners (Macerich, Lewis, Rancon, C.S.U.S.B., L.L.U., etc.) along the line that have seen their values increase on a relative basis after the project was announced and after it was completed. He should have spoken with Hines that acquired the Tri-City Corporate Centre after sbX was installed in the largest real-estate deal in Inland Empire history. He should have also spoken with the owners and operators of all the businesses that have opened in the station areas over the last several months and more and that have filled vacancies that had existed for years and, sometimes, decades before. All the development and investment, frankly, taking place in San Bernardino and Loma Linda since the former City declared bankruptcy has occurred, and is occurring, within the sbX station areas, so this article suffers from a skewed perspective offered by (San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce CEO) Judi Penman and her friends. -Matt Korner/Facebook.

For the record, Penman criticized the sbX citing the short-term construction and parking impacts on businesses along the route. To be fair, the city perhaps could have networked better with the impacted businesses during this transition period, but I really cannot judge this from the outside. However, Penman's argument is no excuse for Omnitrans to just scrap the project.

That is pure NIMBY opposition and the transit agency was correct in not caving into Penman's argument. For any major infrastructure project, there's going to be short-term disruptions and potential displacements in the area during construction, no question.

Regarding parking, yeah...there may have been some inconveniences here and there, but generally speaking, surface customer parking lots are abundant south of the downtown area. Plus, downtown itself offers giant free parking garages in the Civic Center and Carousel Mall blocks, a separate surface lot in the Civic Center block along the Court Street retail promenade area, plus plenty of street parking just east of the the sbX Green line.

Anyway I appreciate the very good debate. I will talk to you all again after the Independence Day weekend.

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