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It aint easy loving a City.

As a “civic volunteer” over the years in many capacities (Waste Management Advisory Board, Earth Day organizer, Planning Commissioner), I’ve volunteered or interacted in one capacity or another with just about every city department. That’s part of why I’ve followed the various investigations pretty closely over the years. But I know better than to rely on the government to achieve progress (politics being a trailing indicator and not a leading one), so I’ve always got a couple of private-sector projects that I’m trying to help along. Amongst the civic ashes, there are still worthy efforts trying to improve performance.

So here are couple of shameless plugs:

Coming up on September 16/17 is the 5th annual GreenBuilt Tour presented by REC Solar and hosted by the volunteers of San Diego EarthWorks, the organizers of the annual Earth Day, EarthFair in Balboa Park. Each day, you can visit sites demonstrating the latest in green building approaches. Beyond solar power, you can find out about more environmentally sound approaches to everything that goes into a building project (and we mean everything!).

This year’s tour also features expert presentations.

Learn directly from experts on how to invest and green building projects, what the latest in state initiatives are, and what the realities are of working with and making greener building choices.

My other little point of light relates to smart growth. I serve on the Board of another small 501(c) non-profit called Move San Diego. Their mission is to bring global best practices to bear on our regional traffic problems. A major premise of smart growth is that we can add “infill” development in existing communities and take advantage of existing infrastructure. This means planning that more people will actually take transit “some day.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone without an ego-investment in our current approaches that the San Diego region does not have the “DNA” for global best transit planning. It’s simply not been a part of our culture. We’re cartopia! So we looked worldwide to identify the best transit experts and brought them here to study our transportation network and make recommendations on how to improve our transit infrastructure and services.

The results – recommendations for an improved transit plan – called “FAST Plan” – (Financially Achievable, Saves Time) shows:

  • We can specify a better core infrastructure to directly target major regional job zones and improve access for all.
  • We can better target and serve areas of high market demand and traffic & parking impacts. We better support transit-oriented development.
  • We can improve the cost-efficiency of transit investments and transit operations.

Improved transit is a cornerstone of “smart growth” – and with rising transportation costs – it is vital that our investments in transit are the most effective possible.

We presented our preliminary findings to the SANDAG Peer Review Panel that was established by Prop A (TransNet 2) to specifically consider how our transit planning could be improved – and they praised the study.

We are now scheduling presentations for interested groups. This study is the purest thing we’ll ever get when it comes to real independent review based upon the facts. The “only” thing in the way of it progressing appears to be political inertia. After all, who would want, slower and more expensive? But as we know, facts don’t always carry the day around here. But I always feel we should try. Please let me know of your interest and I’ll see what we can schedule.

While it’s fascinating to watch the City’s financial train wreck in order to understand how to fix it for the future, there’s still plenty of good works to be done. Volunteer and help!

CAROLYN CHASE

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