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The perils of rail transit and democracy

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | March 24, 2014

Americans seem to love democracy but hate many of the results. We want governmental power to be decentralized, whether it’s across three federal branches or with local control over sometimes regionally oriented land use decisions. But when the inevitable compromise that is required to get majority approval means a less-than-perfect result, from Obamacare to budget … Continue reading »

Can Los Angeles reinvent itself around rail?

Jayni Foley Hein, former director, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment | January 30, 2014

A city famous for its car culture now has three new rail transit projects under construction. Can Los Angeles reinvent itself around rail-oriented development? Passenger vehicle transportation plays a major role in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. But building more rail, alone, is not enough to get folks off the road and onto public transit. Unfortunately, … Continue reading »

How the Democrats’ supermajority can improve California’s downtowns

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | December 6, 2012

Now that Democrats in California have achieved the Pete Wilson Supermajorityin the legislature, they should focus on two key reforms to revitalize the state’s downtowns and ensure more efficient land use. First, the supermajority should put on the ballot a constitutional initiative to lower the threshold for passing local tax measures to fund transit. The … Continue reading »

BART turns 40: Some history lessons

Ethan Elkind, director, Climate Program at Berkeley Law | September 12, 2012

BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, turns 40-years-old on the unfortunate anniversary of 9/11.  Some historical and financial tidbits: — The original system was supposed to serve Marin and San Mateo Counties, along with San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties.  According to Stephen Zwerling, San Mateo dropped out due to concern that neighboring … Continue reading »