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Mayoral Candidate Jorge Elorza statement on Providence Public School’s busing policies

Following an article posted yesterday on Rhode Island’s Future, Candidate for Providence Mayor, Jorge Elorza released the following statement on the matter.

Jorge Elorza, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, issued the following statement on Providence Public School Department’s busing policy.

jorge-elorza-002Our city’s public high school students are not eligible for bus passes unless they live more than three miles from school. Students that fall into the far end of that range could be walking for as long as 45 minutes to an hour just to make it to their first period classes.

As a community, we have to do everything in our power to make sure our students are in their classrooms and learning. Our students face too many challenges for us to be creating additional institutional barriers for them. Denying students who live between 2-3 miles away from school bus passes impacts learning, impacts health, and impacts safety, and our low-income communities are disproportionately affected.

When I was a child growing up on Cranston Street, my Mother acted as the school bus for many kids in the neighborhood. Although we were lucky to have her there to bring us to school, not every student is as lucky as we were.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – January 28, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the December 17th meeting – for action
  • Election of officers for the 2014 calendar year – for action
  • Director’s Report

City Council Referral

1. City Council Referral: Petition to amend the Providence Zoning Ordinance The petitioner is requesting that Article 3 and appendix A of the zoning ordinance – pertaining to certain dimensional and use regulations in W-3 and M-2 zones – be amended – for action

Major Land Development Project

2. Case No. 13-039MA – 48-54 Plainfield Street and 4-14 The applicant is seeking master plan approval to construct a free standing fast food restaurant with a drive through and a free standing retail department store on a vacant commercial lot. The applicant is seeking dimensional relief for front yard setbacks and a special use permit for a drive through use. A total of 56 parking spaces are proposed for the development, which measures approximately 64,295 SF – for action (AP 105 Lots
46, 47, 66, 98, 99, 100, Olneyville)

Re: Zoning Providence

3. Update on Re: Zoning Providence Presentation detailing progress on the zoning ordinance revision process and proposed zoning changes developed by the project consultants – for discussion

Adjournment


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The suburbanization of Olneyville

mcdonalds-rendering

Rendering of proposed McDonald’s and Family Dollar store on Plainfield Street in Olneyville.

The City Plan Commission meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to the impending storm. It is scheduled to take place now on January 28th.

After learning of plans for a drive-thru McDonald’s proposed on Plainfield Street in Olneyville, I requested plans for the proposal from the Planning Department.

The developer is seeking master plan approval from the City Plan Commission for the construction of a McDonald’s and Family Dollar store in a separate building on a site which was cleared of existing structures last year.

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News & Notes

→ Streetsblog: The Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America, and Why It Barely Registers

In 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and another 70,000 were injured. That’s one death every two hours.

It’s impossible to quantify the human toll of traffic fatalities, but as David Nelson at Project for Public Spaces points out, AAA estimates that traffic crashes cost America $300 billion annually in the form of medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other factors. That works out to three times the annual cost of congestion reported by the Texas Transportation Institute. But while we’re spending billions “fighting congestion” with expensive new roads, getting a handle on pedestrian deaths and injuries is almost a non-issue at your average state DOT.


→ The New York Times: Where ‘Share the Road’ Is Taken Literally

“Woonerf” is what the Dutch call a special kind of street or group of streets that functions as shared public space — for pedestrians, cyclists, children and, in some cases, for slow-moving, cautiously driven cars as well.

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News & Notes

→ USA Today: New tax hikes eyed for roads, transit

States are scrambling to find taxes to pay for highway repairs and their public transit systems, including payroll and sales taxes, and raising taxes paid by gasoline stations.

The proposals, being kicked around in at least 13 states as governors lay out their legislative agendas for the year, come as states find revenue from stagnant federal and state gasoline taxes isn’t keeping up with highways, bridges and urban transit systems that increasingly are falling into disrepair.


→ Next City: For Obama, A Renewed Focus on Urbancentric Topics

One should never expect to glean much policy insight from inauguration speeches, but President Obama indicated today that his administration will seek to take action on climate change and immigration as it moves into its second term. And as always, cities will be the proving grounds for how future policies affecting these issues play out.

During this morning’s inauguration ceremony, Obama touched upon several domestic topics — including investments into sustainable industries — that should have urbanists and urban dwellers perking up their ears.

Though light on specifics, the issues spotlighted today will likely set at least part of the executive agenda for the next four years.


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News & Notes

→ ecoRI News: Parking Lots Proliferate at Twin River

Getting a parking lot built in Rhode Island typically requires permits and review by state agencies and local officials. But in one case a large lot at Twin River Casino inexplicably appeared next to a wetland.


→ Urbanophile: Milwaukee’s Relationship with the Chicago Mega-City Revisited by David Holmes

I was intrigued by Aaron’s recent post “Don’t Fly Too Close to the Sun Piece” which focused on the relationship between Milwaukee and Chicago and the notion of whether “proximity to Chicago or another mega-city represents an unambiguous good,” or – as posited by Aaron – may actually be more of a curse than a blessing, and something that drains vitality instead of increasing it. This is a topic that interests me both from the perspective of a long-time resident of Milwaukee and as a long-time fan of the City of Chicago. There are likely unique combinations of factors to consider in this type of evaluation for every city pair – including the distance between the cities, the presence or absence of high speed and/or low cost transit options between the cities, and the relative size. Although I did not comment on Aaron’s post at the time of publication, I thought it would be useful to consider some specific examples of ways in which Chicago enhances or decreases Milwaukee’s economic vitality as both the article and many of the comments on Milwaukee-Chicago and other city pairs, seemed to lack specific examples of both positive and negative impacts.

Some Providence-Boston talk made its way into the comments.


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News & Notes

→ DC Streetsblog: Obama Takes Another Swing at $50 Billion in Infrastructure Spending

President Obama is pressing for infrastructure investment again as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations. The president kicked off talks calling for an end to the debt ceiling, the extension of middle-class tax cuts, and $50 billion in infrastructure spending — a proposal that first arose last year as part of his ultimately unsuccessful American Jobs Act.

The Wall Street Journal called the President’s proposals “a particularly expansive version of the White House’s wish list” and “a potential starting point for negotiations.”

See also: Our favorite Obama quote from 2009


→ The Atlantic Cities: 10 Techniques for Making Cities More Walkable

In Jeff Speck’s excellent new book, Walkable City, he suggests that there are ten keys to creating walkability. Most of them also have something to do with redressing the deleterious effects caused by our allowing cars to dominate urban spaces for decades. I don’t necessarily agree with every detail, and my own list might differ in some ways that reflect my own experience and values. But it’s a heck of a good menu to get city leaders and thinkers started in making their communities more hospitable to walkers.


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News & Notes

TriMet: MAX and Bus on Portland Mall

MAX train and bus in Portland, OR. Photo (cc) TriMet.

→ The Atlantic Cities: Can Light Rail Carry a City’s Transit System?

We often think of light rail as a single component of a larger transit system, but if it’s done right it can just as soon serve as the foundation. Since 1981 a dozen American cities have built light rail lines atop bus-only systems. In five of them — Dallas, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and San Diego — light rail now accounts for at least 30 percent of all transit ridership in the metropolitan area, even as it covers less than that much service space in the region.

Thompson and Brown settled on three key factors in the success of these systems. First, a great light rail system anchors a transit network that’s dispersed throughout a metro area. Second, it acts as an express regional alternative to the local bus network. And third, it promotes transfers between the bus and rail systems. The researchers believe these traits can serve as guides for future light rail planners “by setting forth attributes that these services need to possess in order to attract substantial ridership.”


→ Boston.com: Car-free commuting push pays off in Kendall Square

Doug Taylor used to get to work the way most Americans do, driving alone. Then he switched jobs to one of the many Kendall Square companies that offer financial incentives for employees to leave their cars at home. After trying the commuter rail, the 48-year-old Medford resident soon discovered he could pocket even more by biking.

Taylor is part of a set of statistics so surprising it looks like a mistake. ­Despite the rapid expansion in and around Kendall Square in the last ­decade — the neighborhood absorbed a 40 percent increase in commercial and institutional space, adding 4.6 million square feet of development — automobile traffic actually dropped on major streets, with vehicle counts falling as much as 14 percent.

Not for nothing but, modern day Kendall Square is a model City and State leaders are looking toward in regards to the (so-called) Knowledge District. Though leaders have not been looking enough at the transportation aspects of the area.


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News & Notes

McMansion #2

McMansion outside Chicago. Photo (cc) ChicagoGeek

→ The Atlantic Cities: Have Americans Given Up On McMansions?

After many years of dramatically increasing home size in America – from an average of 983 square feet in the 1950s up to 2300 square feet in the 2000s, despite declining household sizes – the trend appears finally to be going in the other direction. The real estate research firm Trulia found in 2010, for example, that the median “ideal home size” for Americans had declined to around 2100 square feet. More than one-third of survey respondents reported that their ideal preference was lower than 2000 square feet.


→ The Boston Phoenix: The Fight Against MBTA Service Cuts and Fare Hikes Gets Ugly

The latest theater in the war against MBTA fare hikes and service cuts opened Monday with a bang on every corner of the train map. Occupy Somerville forces rallied in Davis Square. Their Jamaica Plain and Dorchester counterparts gathered at Forest Hills and Fields Corner, respectively, to sound alarms about troubling proposals. Leading the pack, a group of loud and determined teens with the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition joined hundreds from the T Riders Union (TRU) and other activist outfits for a mass rally on Copley Square outside the Boston Public Library, where the MBTA planned a bombshell public meeting for 6pm on Monday night.


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News & Notes

Trujillo Streetlife

Trujillo, Honduras’ future Hong Kong? Photo (cc) Wanaku.

→ The Economist: Hong Kong in Honduras

Trujillo is a sleepy backwater, but one with a lot of history. The beautiful bay surrounded by lagoons and mountains on the northern coast of Honduras was where Christopher Columbus set foot on the American continent during his fourth voyage in 1502. But in a few decades, it might be known for something entirely different: being the Hong Kong of the West. Scores of skyscrapers and millions of people could one day surround the natural harbour. The new city could dominate Honduras, today one of the poorest and most crime-ridden countries in Central America, becoming a magnet for most of the region’s migrants.

The prospect may sound fantastic, but this is the goal of an ambitious development project that Honduras is about to embark upon. In a nutshell, the Honduran government wants to create what amounts to internal start-ups-quasi-independent city-states that begin with a clean slate and are then overseen by outside experts. They will have their own government, write their own laws, manage their own currency and, eventually, hold their own elections.


→ The New York Times: In Madrid’s Heart, Park Blooms Where a Freeway Once Blighted

The park here, called Madrid Río, has largely been finished. More than six miles long, it transforms a formerly neglected area in the middle of Spain’s capital. Its creation, in four years, atop a complex network of tunnels dug to bury an intrusive highway, also rejuvenates a long-lost stretch of the Manzanares River, and in so doing knits together neighborhoods that the highway had cut off from the city center.


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