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Thread: The Cyburbia.org urban issues plank

  1. #1

    The Cyburbia.org urban issues plank

    With the conventions starting up shortly, folks will be talking about the national parties' platforms. I've generally found these wanting especially from an urban issues, urban planning standpoint and I suspect that I am not alone in this regard.

    So here's your chance to craft the Cyburbia.org urban issues plank. What urban issues do you think the federal goernment needs to step up (or, conversely, step away from) in light of the situation we find ourselves in? Infrastructure investment/reinvestment? Housing/mortgage assistance? Transit? Economic development? Clean water/clean air? Social services? Education? Crime/police protection? What would you have the federal government do to improve these urban issues and make our cities more livable/sustainable?

    We can offer the plank up free of charge to any candidate that wishes to accept it and that will work to implement it, though we wouldn't look away from a bidding war, either.

    I'll post a few of my ideas, starting with improved transit options in smaller cities (<50,000 pop.) after y'all have a chance to chime in. (And because work is getting in the way of slacking, presently)

    Moderator note:
    (Dan) Disclaimer: this thread will reflect the opinions of the posters or the larger community of Cyburbia Forums users, but not Cyburbia itself.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    A change is needed in how we fund transportation. Gasoline taxes will not keep up with inflation as these are a set amount, with a federal tax of 18.3 cents and state taxes ranging from 15 to 25 cents per gallon. This was true whan gas was $1.25 a gallon as it is today. With increased costs for gasoline most folks will do what they can to conserve fuel, be that taking less trips or driving higher milage cars. Indeed some of the newer cars pay virtually nothing in taxes to support the transportation system. With more hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles, we will be in quite the pickle. The original intent of the gasoline tax was a user fee, with those who use the system the most pay the most. It also rewarded those who drove higher milage cars by them paying slightly less per mile than someone who opted to drive a larger vehicle/gas guzzler. Transit recieves a huge chunk of their revenues from gasoline taxes. For example the transit new starts program is funded through dollars collected at the pump.

    Agencies are already seeing the effects of decreased revenues. Road agencies are laying off employees because of lack of funds. This will lead to rougher road pavements and decreased gas milage and increased in damage vehicles (tires will wear out faster, tie rods and shocks will need replacement quicker). It is important to remember that buses and the trucks that provide us with economic activity also use the road network.

    Transit agencies are seeing a triple-whammy of decreased revenues but increases in fuel costs. Transit agencies are also being forced to put more service on the system as users are demanding transit in record numbers when compared to recent history. More service increases the cost to the transit provider. These costs need to be offset somehow.

    I would recommend some pretty radical changes to the system. For example, get rid of the gasoline tax as we know it and replace it with a tiered use tax based upon miles driven. Require that folks have their odometers checked at regular intervalsor face huge penalties. Cars getting above a combined mpg of about 25 would pay a lower rate than those that operate below. Yes I realize that this system is frought with problems (nanny state, those who may have a 24 mpg car but drive it so it gets 26 mpg), but so is the current one.

    Transit providers need to increase the cost paid by the individual rider so that is is better aligned with the true cost of providing that service. This would not mean that the replacement to the gas tax would no longer have large amounts of it dedicated for transit and nonmotorized facilities, as capital costs for transit can be huge.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    A change is needed in how we fund transportation.
    Hear, hear!

    This is exactly the issue that I was going to stress but I don't think I have the ability to do so as eloquently as you just have.

    While I don't know if these bills really cover everything that I would like to see done, I think the Complete Streets legislation currently in consideration in the House and the Senate are a start.

    I know it may be entirely too soon to get hopes up or you may not agree with his stand on many of the issues on a personal level, but as urban planners I think that we may see an actual urban policy as never before from an Obama presidency just based upon his youth and his roots working as a community organizer in an actual urban environment.

    When was the last time we had a President who so recently before coming to the White House, worked in these types of neighborhoods or with these demographics?
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
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    Fat Cat

    How will the vehicles that pass through the US through NAFTA be treated?

    I think that you are right, we have a chance for a well thought out policy for urban planning,

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Fat Cat View post
    How will the vehicles that pass through the US through NAFTA be treated?
    Like I said it has its problems, maybe we can get Canada and Mexico to agree to this as well? Hmmm then again all the US Trucks will be in Canada, the Mexican trucks in the US and Canadian trucks in Mexico.

    Perhaps we can have a border tax or something similar? Hmmm then again, Detroit industry trades a LOT with Canada and Mexico....
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Jumping on the bandwagon.

    Transportation policy is what created our current urban development situations. It can be modified to have significant effects throughout the urban development systems.

    I also believe that the federal government should encourage, and state government should mandate intelligent growth models. Models that will ensure decreased response times, redundancy in transportation routes and methods.

    I almost added government oversight which requires economic impact/needs assessments for the construction of new buildings on undeveloped property for commercial/office/industrial development. But that might be a little big-brother. But then again, environmental impact statements are required in some situations..
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    I'm not really in favor of a tax based on miles driven, at least not anytime in the near future. I am in favor of a substantial and drastically increased investment in public transit that is based mainly on the use of alternative fuels or can easily be converted to alternative fuels when they become more widley available. I propose an elimination of all subsidies and government assistance to the oil industry as a starting point for helping to fund this. Gasoline taxes could perhaps be shifted to be based on the dollar as opposed to the gallon to help continue to pay for maintenence of the current road infrastructure, but I am not particularly in favor of very many expanded roads. Where necessary tolls can be used to help with maintenance of current roads.

    I am also in favor of trying to figure out how to teleport people like in star trek.

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