Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Healthy Spaces

Here, courtesy of MSNBC, is another testament to the intimate link between good urban planning and public health... and another reason to leave your car at home if you can:

A new study found that the year your neighborhood was built may be just as important as diet and exercise for shedding pounds. Those who live in neighborhoods built before 1950 are trimmer than their counterparts who reside in more modern communities, the study reported.

“The older neighborhoods had a reduced level of obesity because they were generally built with the pedestrian in mind and not cars,” said Ken Smith, a co-author of the study and professor in the department of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. “This means they have trees, sidewalks and offer a pleasant environment in which to walk.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Court Stops Highway 50 Expansion

Judge Frawley today released his order in the NAST/ECOS lawsuit challenging the adequacy of Caltrans' environmental review of the proposed Highway 50 expansion. The short story is that we won. Here's a quote from the soon-to-be-distributed press release:

Judge Timothy M. Frawley of the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, issued a ruling halting the progress of CalTrans’ plan to widen Highway 50 between Sunrise and Watt Avenues. Neighbors Advocating Sustainable Transportation (NAST) and the Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) filed the suit because CalTrans’ analysis of the project’s air pollution and climate change impacts was inadequate, and the project did not consider options that did not involve widening the freeway. The ruling was issued on July 15th. The lawsuit was originally filed in June of 2007.

Among other findings, Judge Frawley found that CalTrans failed to:

  • Complete an analysis of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and disclose the air quality impacts associated with the traffic increase.

  • Consider a reasonable range of potential alternatives, including the feasibility of a transit only alternative as way of meeting the project objectives.

  • Adequately address the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project.

  • The entire text of the judge's order is available here. I'll post the press release as soon as it is ready.

    Thanks to everyone who provided logistical, financial, and moral support over the past year. This victory is a triumph for the transparent and thorough public process that CEQA demands. We look forward to a more thorough and honest debate about the value of more freeway lanes in the Sacramento region. Given what's happened to gas prices in the past year, that debate should be very interesting!

    Update: Here is the press release.