Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Transit Alliance for a Better North County + thoughts after a recent long transit trip, some of which are about air quality

@ Deer Park Monastery, ~7 mi from the Escondido Transit Center

[This began as a post to carfreesd.]

Yesterday I walked and took public transit from Deer Park Monastery to Point Loma. Here are some discoveries and impressions:


The Transit Alliance for a Better North County was advertised in one of the buses I rode:
My memory of the ad: "Stay informed about local, state, and national funding decisions affecting transit." A bunch of funny fish-eye-lens photos of (only white) people with thought bubbles wondering why transit is so poor / is having funding cut / etc.


North County Transit District gave me the impression of being more caring and progressive than south county's MTS.

Some reasons transit has a nice feel up there:
  • More helpful documentation in buses: a full book of schedules and maps; a sympathetic letter from the transit director about budget issues; a nice newsletter (Compass Cards delayed until March!). All bilingual.
  • Specially-designed shirts--a sort of Hawaiian floral+bus motif, as well as other branding.

However, I did get on the wrong bus for a fast arrival to the Escondido Transit Center (leaving from near Escondido High School, "Cougar Country")--the routes and where to catch the bus going the right way can be confusing. . .


I used on my cellphone to help plan my trip. Too bad they don't have a mobile version of the site ( doesn't work--at least for North County?). I also just suggested (at the MTS web site) that they let us text from a bus stop to get the next bus arrival time. . . but most people use their cell phones to talk and could call 511 somehow? I use mine mainly for data.


Even though there is a ban on cigarette smoking at stops, people still do it--everywhere: Oceanside TC: many smokers; VA Hospital (1); Old Town TC (1); and other bus stops I walked by. This is something that bothers me. Sometimes I mention the ban to the smokers, other times I just try to get to windward.

The clouds of smoke near bus stops and transit centers (even after smoking has been banned there) make me feel we need to ban cigarette smoking entirely/help everyone quit/make burning cigarettes illegal in any public place (and enforce the ban) in order to get more people to use public transit!


I also notice so many of the new vehicles (The Sprinter, the new MTS buses on the 7 route) are floored/walled with vinyl that offgasses. So, I walk on the new bus (advertised with a billboard: "New, Sleek!" -- also, they somewhere advertised a contest [ending 1/31] encouraging people to send in photos of these new buses), and the first thing I notice is the strong headache-inducing smell of (what I think is) vinyl. At least they smell better from the outside: they are natural gas-powered.


Perhaps MTS uses its budget more effectively than NCTD---I can't really say.


I also saw a wraparound trolley farebox ad for Hazard Center listing the many things one can do there. Getting one's car washed was right in the middle. But then many trolley/bus riders may have cars? At least they're funding transit with their ad? (auto spa).


It took a long time (~11am - 530pm) but I got from Deer Park Monastery, Escondido to Point Loma for $5, with good long walks at either end. It was an interesting ride, going through varying communities (Escondido High students; Palomar/San Marcos students; two young hookie skateboarders who liked to laugh at my odd costume, it seemed; VA Hospital vets; UCSD students; on and on--the public space of public transit.). Instead of paying $4.50 more for the Coaster ride, I took the 101 (a scenic ride!) and the 150 (this bus actually went on a highway!! a first-of-a-kind experience for me in an MTS bus).

If I had started my journey really early, I could have taken an express commuter bus from the Escondido TC, down the 15, to near City College.


At the end of the journey I left the car- and somewhat-smoker-infested area near the Old Town TC/Rosecrans & Midway, and walked through a canyon.
But as I approached my destination (Zola and Locust), I was overpowered by fumes from an old Landrover leaving from a fancy house. It had been warming up for some time and had filled the air--even 80+ feet away and uphill-- with devastating, breath-stopping exhaust. This is not an uncommon experience. How is it that to do that is legal? Portable gas chambers---

Two jetplanes, one immediately after the other, ripped the air overhead.


I'd like to end on a more positive note. I know now that I can get to a great 80 acres near Deer Park Monastery via public transit and about a three-mile walk--80 acres where I can (with permission) camp and enjoy peace, the view, good water, avocados, oaks, nopales, and cleaner air. If you'd like to go there with me some time, let me know!


Peace & a smile,

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Photo of Wednesday, December 18: Water Shortage?

San Diego roofs and streets are rainwater collection devices, and currently most of that water is drained away rather than stored for later use. That need not be. By improving the design of our streets, houses, lives, etc--we'd probably not need desal or piped water from NorCal.

Back in September Brad Lancaster gave a presentation on rainwater harvesting right here in San Diego!

I encourage you to share your own photos here about how San Diego or Tijuana urban design could be improved. Ask me how.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SD Sunday Streets LinkedIn group

[Car-free events] are good for surrounding shops and eateries that might otherwise be slow on Sundays. They are also a creative use of public space, helping residents and visitors to imagine uses for the streetscape beyond simply moving traffic through.

Please join the new LinkedIn Group called "San Diego Sunday Streets." We are trying to gather local support for this exciting movement going on in cities across the US.

Car-free events have been very successful in several cities, from Bogota's Ciclovía, to New York's Summer Streets 2008, to San Francisco's Sunday Streets. The events are good for surrounding shops and eateries that might otherwise be slow on Sundays. They are also a creative use of public space, helping residents and visitors to imagine uses for the streetscape beyond simply moving traffic through. A Sunday Streets program in San Diego would benefit the city in a variety of ways.

Here's the URL to join:

We hope that LinkedIn will provide enough contacts in the business and government communities that we can begin to connect with them, so feel free to invite others!

Friday, October 17, 2008

rough SD Permaculture update

Mike T. is planning to visit in December and will be presenting on permaculture to his brother's high school class. He asked if I knew of any great pc demo sites in the area. Besides the wonderful new farm at city college, I don't--but tried to answer any way. Posting from my phone. [bad links fixed with computer]


The only new sites I've become aware of since you left: the city college urban farm: a must-see: , and [] (? Look up giro sol. I tried contacting them, got no reply. The workshop leaders were from Portland, if it happened). Missed the (socal ? See links from quailsprings if that's wrong), but heard there are now efforts to organize an sd-tj permaculture gathering this year. Marcia Boruta may be more in the know. She got Brad Lancaster here. . .

Deer park monastery would be another site, progressing fast: monks were at Brad's talk--brother stream and brother vu(?) (rain).

Then there are the other pieces: edible sd mag (haven't seen it, ), the new city heights farmers market, chollas & 54th garden (groundbreaking 10/21).

Alias b's house is in a wonderful spot, nicest I've experienced in sd in fact (camped there), and a very good example of cobbling things together and figuring out problems: grey water, chickens, compost tea bubbler, banana basin (whatever it's called). Showing a great return on 3-4 months effort (~same time as city college farm).

AB's also had to deal with social challenges of pc. . . partner not as into all the experimentation and change. . .but that may be having a happier resolution.

and the restaurant side: the linkery, the local food plate I heard one was putting together.

and you may have seen it: looks like Ellee's getting FNL in gear for another conference.

Julie O's work on the 6th and Quince garden, balboa park.

and who knows what all's been going on with "north coastal food not lawns"--check with rachel of the solana center.

and I just heard of (searching for volunteer ops on a socal city repair variant:

it's great you'll be here to shake things up. Josh R ( ) is another permie who returns here in december.

may post parts of this to various of the blogs I started. . .



Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bicycle Advocacy Lecture

Got this link to a Bicycle Advocacy lecture from the Xtracycle Yahoo group (who are pretty militantly carfree folks from all over the country who ride Xtracycles, longtail bikes with serious cargo capacity).

It features "Carfree John" Pucher, professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers, speaking to a group in Vancouver B.C. He is an entertaining speaker, and he covers the things that Europe does right to encourage cycling. (Interesting point: Europeans haven't always been into cycling. From 1950 to 1970 they went heavily toward the car, then realized their mistake, and many countries have gone heavily toward the bike since 1970. They had to create a bike culture -- it didn't just always exist.)

(Hope the link works -- it was loading slow just now. Maybe it's overloaded with bike advocates!)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Future visioning for San Diego: some local examples -- know of any others?

We got to re-introducing ourselves on the sdishmael list, and Chet Fagin shared the following.

"future" (photo: carf)

[. . .] I live in San Diego with my wife and 2 year old daughter.
I joined the list mainly because I am concerned about where humanity is headed and about its long term survival. I wrote a piece earlier this year (inspired by Ishmael of course) called "Four Generations" which theorizes where we'll be 4 generations from now. I've referred to it as a "thinly veiled manifesto wrapped in a science fiction story". I consider it a work in progress so I'll be starting a blog soon to continue the conversation.
Meanwhile, if you're interested to read, you can download it here. I certainly welcome your feedback.

- Chet

My response (which began a short email and led to this post!):

Thank you for sharing this!

"The more you do, the more your mind will shift, and the more you’ll discover."

That is a beautiful view. I've been following a general feeling of beauty / aesthetic sense / sense of what is right (sort of summed up by "carfreeness") where it leads me for many years now, and my mind shift continues to take me more interesting places.

I don't want to get wrapped up in commenting on your presentation--

I think it is more important to encourage everyone who can take it on to practice the kind of long visioning you model here (following the lead of The Long Now Foundation & Stephen Covey's 8th habit).

"Some things don't change at all" was my last attempt at the theme.

The breadth of your manifesto reminded me of Arth's The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems.

It is also nice for us to celebrate ourselves as local authors, enlivening and visioning our local future, instead of, say, always looking to the Bay Area, Cascadia, etc.

A local example of a well-published author practicing future visioning is Vernor Vinge's SD County-set Rainbows End, the entire text of which is online. (What a sentence! but I don't want to spend all night revising). I found his vision both life-changing--in how it affected my view of personal use of technology--and, regarding future transit and industry, conservative.

Hmm. And my two cents on your presentation (only since you wrote, "I certainly welcome your feedback."):
  1. You give us an odd, unexplainable scenario right off the bat (a good device for encouraging us to read on), but, as far as I can tell in my quick read, it is never resolved or elaborated on!
  2. Maybe differentiate the voices more--perhaps with more description interspersed with the dialog, since, for me, sometimes the voices ran together.
So, do any of you have more local future visioning projects to share? Literary, visual, or otherwise?

And, Larry, I love that you're helping keep this blog alive, and that you're finding pictures for your posts! So I scrounged up a photo for this post too.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wild Salad Bowl

Saw this article on Grist, about using weeds and invasive species for food. Wondering if the same thing could work for our local California wild mustard?

Anyone have any good recipes?
Photo by Lars Jensen, who also has stunning photos of other San Diego locations, including Anza-Borrego.