Today’s installment of News and Notes discusses the San Joaquin Council of Government’s (SJCOG) Sustainable Communities Strategy, the Hyperloop, and SCL’s appearance on Podcast Stockton!
Help decide how the Central Valley should grow
Until 10:00am tomorrow (Thursday), residents of the Stockton metro area have the opportunity to weigh in on an important initiative that will help shape the future of the region’s growth. As part of SB 375– California’s 2008 law to curb greenhouse gas emissions– SJCOG is developing a Sustainable Communities Strategy to guide transportation and land use decisions through 2040 (if you are unfamiliar with this law, here’s a quick primer). Part of this process includes gauging public attitudes towards various approaches to meet emission reduction goals (5% by 2020 and 10% by 2035). In addition to public meetings, SJCOG is also soliciting input through an online survey which guides participants through several questions to measure support for different transportation options and growth policies. Whether you love smart growth or love sprawl, this is a chance to weigh in on what you think our region should look like in the decades to come. Take a few minutes to fill out the survey!
The Hyperloop Hype
As you may have seen, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk unveiled his design for what he feels is the future of transportation in America. Known as the “Hyperloop,” this latest innovation from Musk— who was also behind Pay Pal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX- promises to whisk passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a little over 30 minutes, reaching speeds of 760 miles per hour. Similar to a pneumatic tube, the Hyperloop would push a pod of 28 passengers through a tube using air pressure and magnetic levitation. Since Musk’s announcement, media outlets have given the Hyperloop plenty of air time. But is it really worth the attention?
I am all for innovation and I think the science behind the Hyperloop is fascinating. But as Musk has presented it, the Hyperloop will never actually come to fruition. It is unfortunate that some are using Musk’s plans to knock the admittedly setback-prone California High Speed Rail (CAHSR) Project. Simply put, the Hyperloop is a back of the envelope, pie in the sky fantasy which would be immediately dismissed if it were proposed by anyone other than Musk. As many have pointed out, there are several flaws to the Hyperloop, from questions about its engineering to its unrealistic $6 billion price tag (the most ardent criticism can be found here). Even if it were a real plan, the loop’s route cuts out the Central Valley in favor of a route up Interstate 5. Part of the reason CAHSR is so important is that it will connect the Central Valley—the state’s only region where significant growth will actually occur—to the metropolises to the North and South. For getting from SF to LA, the Hyperloop would be wonderful (if we ignore the fact that Musk’s route does not begin or end near the centers of either city), but transportation projects are about more than just getting from point A to Point B—they are about economic development. To be sure, the Hyperloop is certainly a fascinating concept, but only a concept, nonetheless.
SCL featured on Podcast Stockton
Lastly, a big thank you to Matt, Susan and Greg over at Podcast Stockton for having me on the show last week. We covered a range of topics on Stockton from diversity to downtown development. If you haven’t had a chance, take a listen here. Podcast Stockton does a great job of highlighting the people in Stockton who are making a difference.