Anaheim gets it.
Tonight the City of Anaheim hosted a Connectivity Planning Workshop; a way to solicit input on new city-wide designs that emphasize bicycles and improved pedestrian walkways.
Well attended with about 60 in the audience; the session was led by Pamela Galera, Principal Project Planner for the City and MIG‘s Rick Barrett.
Where were the electeds? They were noticeably absent. We were told we can assume their support.
What’s Anaheim out to do?
- To reduce reliance on the automobile
- To enhance mobility
- To connect people, to promote human interaction
- To enhance areas adjacent to the river
- To create inviting pedestrian walkways
- To get kids riding bikes to school
- To improve health and reduce childhood obesity
Basically, a cycling advocate’s dream scenario.
There were 15 large easels arranged in different corners of the conference room; each showed a section of the city with existing bike lanes in orange and proposed ones in green. There were a lot of green lines.
They look to Boston and its Emerald Necklace for inspiration; San Antonio, Long Beach, Portland and Boulder were also mentioned as role models.
They’re out to create 100 new acres of park; not one big park, but lots of little green spaces. Places for humans to congregate, but for other reasons, too. Anaheim has flood control issues — storm water management or too much run-off. It’s easy to imagine; picture those giant parking lots at Disneyland and Angel Stadium; when it rains the water has no where to go, so it travels to the lowest point, flooding as it goes. Creating bio-swales, planting trees and grassy pedestrian paths from the parking lots to the entrances of these amusements would give the water somewhere to go, replenishing the local water table. Planting more trees would reduce Anaheim’s heat-island effect which raises the local temperature, as anyone at Downtown Disney can attest.
As usual, there were some tough questions from the audience. “Can you define sustainable?” and “What about financial sustainability?” Grants were quickly categorized as one-time infusions. “Where would the funding for maintenance come from?” But the one thing I didn’t hear, and I didn’t realize it until I was walking out, no one screeched about ‘bad bicyclist behavior’. Based on the sentiment in the room tonight, it looks like Anaheim is out to transform itself into a sustainable community with more emphasis on people and less on the automobile.
Comparisons to Newport Beach and its revitalization efforts are obvious. Those in attendance at the recent City Council meeting saw the Planning Commission’s unanimous disapproval of Mariner’s Pointe get over turned. Revitalization here is code for ‘business as usual’, in this case giving concessions to developers who have little regard for transportation alternatives. Mariner’s Pointe will create massive congestion at a critical pinch point on Coast Hwy. Sustainable? No. Increase human interaction? Only after you toss the keys to the valet. Emphasize walking and exercising? You’d get run over. Lead to a healthier Newport Beach? No, it will increase our reliance on the automobile. Revitalization in Anaheim means something different.