Coastal Post October 22, 1990
Joe Sixpack On The Measure A Wagon
BY DWAYNE HUNN
Returning from a long, bleary eyed weekend of field study at New George’s, Joe Sixpack slumped into his chair in the air-conditioned office of California’s OLTP (Office of Long Term Paining). Next to his computer was a note from his boss, Mr. Ulysses Stephen Shirkit. “Joe, give me an analysis of the Measure A and L Campaigns in Marin County.”
Joe was starting to enjoy the increased field work he was doing in the Capitol of NIMBYism. In fact, as tiring as the weekend research he had been doing at centers of learning such as Marin’s New George’s, Smiley’s Schooner, etc., he often found work before his computer more difficult and sobering.
After opening a file containing news coverage and mailings on the campaign, Joe flipped on his brainy, 486 powered Oasis computer and input his first. question. “Opponents of Measure A refer. to a federal study to state that ridership projections for the train are inflated. Is this true?”
The computer flashed back. “Good morning, Joe. Looks like you had a tough weekend and received some bad information. Opponents rely on the Pickrell study to claim train ridership is inflated. Mr. Pickrell was an anti-rail, Reagan appointee. If you were sober during the Reagan era, you might recall that Reagan was not very concerned about reducing pollution, tried to close down Amtrak and did not believe in supporting intra or inter-city rail networks. Mr. Pickrell often used early draft studies from which to draw his ridership conclusions even when more recent actual ridership numbers presented a supportive case for rail.”
“But Reagan was a good president for letting the private sector work. So maybe he was right in opposing rail development,” Joe responded.
“In that case, the system is proving Reagan and the opponents of Measure A wrong. Amtrak has been at its ridership capacity of 21 million for a number of years and could increase its system by four times and still fill it. Thirty seven cities are expanding or developing rail lines, many even without federal assistance. Rail ridership is up to 214 percent. while diesel bus ridership is down 1 percent from 1979—1986.”
“Well, the environmental opponents of Measure A say we should pave over the tracks and make it a busway or toll road. Wouldn’t that be better for serving suburbia, then later on we could put a train in?”
“Joe, you’ve studied in Los Angeles. They arc spending about $1 billion dollars per mile to put the train back on land they covered with freeways years ago. Joe, go see the movie “Roger Rabbit,” maybe that will be understandable to you. Read the newspapers about Sadham Pastrami Whosesane, and ask yourself whether trains or buses/toll roads are more resource efficient.”
“But some of tue environmentalists say the train will cause beautiful Marin to be overrun with development.”
“Come on, Joe. We have done these numbers before. Eighty-eight percent of Marin can not be developed. Only 4 percent remains to be developed. Two of that 4 percent lies along the rail line where clustered developments which leave lots of surrounding open space could provide affordable housing from which people could walk to ride the train. Even if all the units projected as needed to be built in Marin were built over the next 15 years, Marin’s population growth rate would be a whopping 1/2 of 1 percent per year. After housing build-out, Marin’s average housing density would jump from .29 units per acre to .32 units per acre.”
Suddenly Joe’s thoughts were interrupted by the intercom, “Joe, Mr. Shirkit would like you to bring the information he wanted to his office. Some Sonoma, Solano and Napa elected representatives are meeting with him to discuss their disgust about having to put more of their farm and wine land into development to satisfy Marin’s affordable housing needs.”
“Yeah, so what’s new...Tell U.S. I’ll be right there.”
(Dwayne Hunn worked in Sacramento, likes and rides trains, spends time doing a few arm curls with Joe Sixpack and will vote Yes on Measure A and No on Measure L)