Friday, June 30, 2017

Transit Oriented Development will it solve the public transportation problem? – Part 2

Transit oriented redevelopment, rarely achieves its promises, always results in a heavy public debt load and large on going public subsidies.

St. Petersburg, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

It is frequently used to destroy old and often poor neighborhoods in the name of progress as the current TBX project in Tampa shows.

Here is the real disaster of transit oriented development.

If you own a small or medium sized business in the Tampa Bay area pick up the paper one morning and notice the map of the proposed Tampa Bay super rail project runs a couple of miles from your business and the nearest station is about 3 miles away, you have a problem.

When you start looking for a location closer to the line and/or the station you suddenly find out all the available property has already been quietly picked up by “developers” and “investors” some of whom you may have voted for in the past and the prices are astronomical.

So why does it have to be trains? One of those definitions in Part 1 said “bus routes.”

It has to be trains so there can be a “taking” of private property through eminent domain so developers, investors and speculators can carve up the tracts of land created by the local politicians that the train tracks run through.

How do the politicians benefit? Follow the campaign contributions.

In a densely populated area like Tampa Bay an overlay of light rail will be an expensive, inefficient experiment that will end up a financial and practical disaster. Yet you can be sure that left unchecked the new TBARTA will be riding the rails as soon as possible.

In both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties voters have shown their wisdom and voted down light rail driven initiatives. You would think the politicians would get it, but they prefer to believe they know what is best.

Next step in the new TBARTA effort is to get taxing authority and unless the Legislature puts a stop to the taxing authority or makes it contingent on a public referendum it will be game on for light rail and commuter rail.

The mainstream media and many local and regional politicians have been openly critical of those of us who take a counter position to rail as the end all be all solution to local and regional public transit problems.

The problem is they attack us as messengers, not with facts that legitimately refute our positions.

So, the next time you see Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Senator Jack Latvala, or County Commissioner Janet Long blowing off steam about those internet trolls who hate light rail, remember this; we don’t hate light rail, we just don’t want you to have to pay for ever for the mistakes of an uniformed few.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY .

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign  

Please comment below.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Transit Oriented Development will it solve public the transportation problem? – Part 1

In addition to paying an outlandish price for these “more efficient transit systems” who picks up the tab when ridership drops?

In a recent editorial, the Tampa Bay Times laments Hillsborough County’s taxpayer’s unwillingness to support “more efficient transit options for the future.” See Tampa Bay Times Editorial: Failure to invest in transit means fewer HART routes.

You can read that as disappointment that the last two major light rail driven transit initiatives that bombed in the Bay area are somehow responsible for the current funding crisis that is causing Hillsborough County’s HART and quite likely Pinellas County’s PSTA to reorganize and cut some routes.

What the editorial does not address is that public transportation usage in the Bay area has dropped dramatically as the economy improved giving people the option to use more convenient methods of moving about the area.

Light rail systems cannot be restructured, routes eliminated, track picked up and costs lowered when the ridership drops, likewise they cannot be quickly expanded when ridership suddenly increases.

Bus systems can as we see.

In addition to paying an outlandish price for these “more efficient transit systems” who picks up the tab when ridership drops?

The taxpayers.

A good public transit system should be driven by market pressures and be required to adjust service and budgets as their market and usage changes.

What the editorial is really saying is Hillsborough County Taxpayers should have funded the Go Hillsborough transit boondoggle so we would now have a very fat HART with fewer riders but no doubt a growing budget.

Why are all the politicians, big money players and developers all about rail?


Here is a phrase you will see repeatedly as the “New TBARTA” lobbied into existence purely to eliminate voter referendum control of public transit rolls out Transit Oriented Development.

Some definitions:
Transit-oriented development, or TOD, is a type of community development that includes a mixture of housing, office, retail and/or other amenities integrated into a walkable neighborhood and located within a half-mile of quality public transportation.
Transit Oriented Development is the exciting fast-growing trend in creating vibrant, livable, sustainable communities. Also known as TOD, it's the creation of compact, walkable, pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use communities centered around high-quality train systems.

In urban planning, a transit-oriented development (TOD) is a type of urban development that maximizes the amount of residential, business and leisure space within walking distance of public transport.

A TOD typically includes a central transit stop (such as a train station, or light rail or bus stop) surrounded by a high-density mixed-use area, with lower-density areas spreading out from this center. A TOD is also typically designed to be more walkable than other built-up areas, through using smaller block sizes and reducing the land area dedicated to automobiles.[1][2]

In Part 2 of this post I take a look at Transit oriented development, how it works who pays and who benefits.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY .

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 

Please comment below.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Buckhorn Inaction Jeopardizes Tampa’s Future

Tampa, Fl Posted From: Tampa Bay Beat
Author: Jim Bleyer 

By Jim Bleyer  

On Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn not only blew off two prominent environmentally-conscious organizations, but thousands of residents and businesses as well as his city’s future.
Buckhorn chose to remain out of step with his party, modern science, large cities, and most Floridians when he rejected pleas from the Sierra Club and Organize Florida to sign a pledge that would steer the city on a 100 percent clean energy course.
Activists  called on Buckhorn to join 15 other Florida mayors and hundreds more nationwide in taking action that would help mitigate rising sea levels.
Instead, the environmentalists received an innocuous statement from Buckhorn’s office and his spokesperson Ashley Bauman.  “We do a lot in this city on sustainability,” she said, adding “we really appreciate the work you’re doing.”
Buckhorn’s office frequently reminds the local press that he doesn’t sign pledges but he signed this one: 
Political priorities override official ones for the faux Democrat who has his party’s local officialdom gnashing their teeth.
The conspicuous irony is that Tampa is one of ten cities in the world  most vulnerable to higher sea levels with Davis Island, where Buckhorn resides, as one of the three or four most flood prone areas in the city, according to Kent Bailey, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Tampa chapter.
Dr. Margaret Davidson of NOAA says sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters or 9 feet by 2050-2060 in the Insurance Journal.  In that article, Dr. Davidson explains the contradictions of recent data with published reports saying “By the time we get out the report, it’s actually synthesizing data from about a decade ago.”
This is why the City of Tampa Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment includes “projections” that are, below current water levels. Like Buckhorn, these statistics are out of step.
Leading up to Monday’s city hall drama, Organize Florida asserted that Buckhorn’s recent pledge to uphold the Paris Climate Accord is “more symbolic than actionable.” Fortunately for residents in other cities within a conch’s toss from the Florida coastline, other local governments are being pro-active.
On Monday night, the Sarasota County Commission, representing a slight Republican majority, voted unanimously to setting a community-wide goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The effort was spearheaded by the Sarasota Climate Justice Coalition, whose petition received more than 2,000 signatures in favor of the initiative, according to organizers. The resolution set an additional target of transitioning municipal operations to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.
We are a peninsula with rising oceans around us, but with renewable energy, we can minimize those rises,” Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said during the meeting. “This is certainly in our best interest and certainly helps preserve our quality of life, so everyone can contribute.”
Last week, John Holic, mayor of heavily Republican Venice, signed the agreement.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, in a Father’s Day-oriented column in St. Petersblog, stated, “I’ll also be reflecting on my obligation as a father to protect my children from growing threats like climate change.”. Kriseman was the first Florida mayor to sign the 100 percent Clean Energy Pledge.
Tampa Bay Beat last week suggested Buckhorn sign the pledge for the sake of his two young daughters and their contemporaries. The mayor not only refused to sign the pledge, but sent out his city-paid flak to face the environmental organizers and spew swill
(The author is a member of the Sierra Club)  
Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tear Down this Interstate!

Tampa, Fl
Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert 

Tearing down the interstate, or "urban freeway removal", as it's proponents call it, is a rallying cry from the Stop TBXers.

Removing parts of I-275 is regularly raised at the FDOT Tampa Bay Next and other outreach meetings.

From the Tampa Bay Times:
If some Seminole Heights and Tampa Heights residents had their druthers, the state would simply demolish Interstate 275, which now severs their neighborhoods. 
Loud, sustained applause and shouts of "Yeah," from nearly 100 people greeted just such a proposal Tuesday. 
"Tear it down!" said Joshua Frank, an urban planner who wrote his Master's degree thesis on an alternative to the controversial highway expansion program called TBX (short for Tampa Bay Expressway).
His presentation, "Bifurcation to Boulevard", showed how transforming the Interstate into a wide, landscaped boulevard, featuring bike and pedestrian paths and even light commuter rail, would transform the area north of Tampa's downtown core.
Similarly, WTSP reported on it:
The highway has wreaked havoc on neighborhoods, Frank said. He pointed to air pollution, noise levels and lower property values, the Times reports. He called for “reintegrating” six neighborhoods split by 275. That would improve residents’ quality of life and promote economic activity, he argued.

A neighborhood group held a meeting Tuesday and asked FDOT to consider Frank’s proposal, the Times reports. "They had at least 10 people here," said Kimberly Overman, president of the Heights Urban Core Chamber. "They are very interested. What boulevards do is open up opportunities."
Likewise, tearing down the interstate was highlighted in the May 24 Tampa Bay Next working group [PDF], where it was met with loud applause:

Screen capture from TB Next Community Working Group, May 24, page 18
When we spoke to FDOT about the possibility of the interstate removal, while skeptical, they stated they would have to study it, as if it is something "the community" wants to consider. Especially given FDOT's new kinder, gentler community outreach program.

Just how feasible is removing I-275? It is a rather highly utilized stretch of road in Hillsborough county.

Let's look at some data, and apply some 4th Grade Math.

Start with some 2015 (most recent) traffic counts:

Hillsborough County Traffic Counts Map

Road SegmentAADT
I-275: FLORIBRASKA AVE - to - M L KING BLVD143,500
I-275: ASHLEY ST - to - JEFFERSON ST NB189,500
I-275: ARMENIA AVE - to - ASHLEY ST203,000

Over 200,000 vehicles per day drive in some segments of I-275 today. FDOT expects substantial increase in traffic on I-275 by 2040, to nearly 300,000 vehicles per day:

FDOT Forecasted I-275 Traffic Increases
Which begs the question, How many lanes of a tree-lined boulevard will be needed to handle 300,000 vehicles per day?

For that, again, we can use traffic counts and the 2014 (latest) Level of Service [PDF] report, which also identifies the number of lanes and the the Level of Service, where A is good, and F is a failed road. We can check against some other Hillsborough County's busy roads.

Road SegmentLanesAADTLOS

Taking a look at some of our busier road segments in Hillsborough County, and maintaining some semblance of the lanes required to maintain the current Level of Service, which is poor at best for the roads selected above, we can conclude that replacing I-275 with a tree lined boulevard will require 30 lanes of traffic.

That's right. 30 lanes of traffic.

Why is that? These "tree lined boulevards" also have traffic lights. Vehicles will stop. And wait. Stop. And wait. The vehicles will need lots of room to stop and maintain some decent traffic flow.

Replacing 12 - 14 lanes of the interstate with 30 lanes of of surface street traffic hardly seems like a neighborhood improvement program.

Destroying neighborhoods? Check.

Bulldozing more neighborhoods than Tampa Bay Next? Check.

Noisier surface streets? Check.

Cars mixing with pedestrians and children? Check.

Views blocked by semis and trucks? Check.

Massive congestion? Check.

Consuming more gas, cars and trucks idling away?

Spewing more pollution into nearby homes? Check.

When the traffic jams up, on the tree line boulevard, what will happen?

Drivers will find a way. They will use Google Maps or Waze and divert around the traffic. Into the neighborhood streets. Not just Florida Ave or Nebraska Ave, but onto the residential streets. Google Maps often navigates off the interstate during rush hour today.

That will not be a safety improvement for those neighborhoods where drivers are cutting through. Trust me, I know, as drivers used to regularly cut through our neighborhood when traffic backed up nearby. When our neighborhood approached the county, they were not moved. They had no reported incidents. I guess one of our kids needed to get hit or something. Our neighborhood was able to resolve the situation. We took control and closed off one end of the road cutting through our neighborhood. We paid for it, and it took 15 years.

Recall that FDOT stated they have to study removing the interstate in all the glory that it requires. That will include alternative analysis, environmental impacts, initial designs, feasibility assessments, surveys, etc.

Recall, as we reported, FDOT has made a unique outreach to those transit advocates that the rest of us were not afforded. They are not representing the rest of us.

In other words, a big waste of money. Your money.

When the urban extremists, a vocal minority enamored with all things urban, are trying to dominate the discussion around Tampa Bay Next. Shouting "tear down the interstate", they can't be taken seriously. They don't represent the nearly half a million of us in Tampa Bay that regularly use the interstates nearly every day.  

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

Monday, June 26, 2017

Limiting the debate in St. Pete’s Mayoral election

I want to hear what T. Lassiter and Jesse Nevel have to say to Kriseman, Baker, and to each other.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

As we move into the early primary portion of the St. Pete, Mayoral election debate participation is being limited by debate sponsors.

Along with former Mayor Rick Baker, and current Mayor Rick Kriseman, Anthony Cates III, Paul Congemi, Ernisa Barnwell, Theresa “Momma Tee” Lassiter, and Jesse Nevel have qualified for the primary.

The Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church will host the first debate Tuesday June 27 at 6:00 p.m. To participate in the debate candidates must be poling 10% or higher. No indication as to whose poll they will use.

The Tampa Bay Times along with Bay News 9 will be hosting their primary debate with just Baker and Kriseman on July 25 at the Palladium Theater. They are basing their debate participation on fund raising. Baker and Kriseman have each raised over half-million dollars leaving the other candidates far behind.

It just does not seem right to me to limit primary debate participation with arbitrary conditions designed to eliminate specific candidates.

I get the argument we want to focus on who has the best chance to win, but that’s what the general election is all about. I seriously doubt Baker or Kriseman will say anything any different in their primary debates than they will in the general election debates, unless they are forced to do so by one of these competing minor candidates.

I can understand the elitist attitude at the Times saying money talks and passion walks. Let’s just let these nice, white, normal politicians have a stage to tap dance their political stump lines. No one will get challenged, and nothing will get out of control.

All very civil and mostly pointless.

The position of the Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church surprises me a little. Captured in these non-money raising, low poling candidates are the burning issues that St. Petersburg needs to solve. Voices that need to be heard, and given the opportunity to respond to the debate questions asked.

The folks at Mt. Zion should know that better than anyone.

I want to hear what T. Lassiter and Jesse Nevel have to say to Kriseman and Baker and to each other.

Let’s do it like the Republicans did in the Presidential election, get them all on the stage let them answer and ask questions, slug it out and see if everybody can’t learn something.  

If Kriseman wants to help the south side, here is his chance to get some ideas that may be hard to swallow.

Baker wants a seamless City, here is a chance to see some seams that need mending.

If these high poling, big money raising candidates really “love their City” and “want to do their best for St. Pete” they would tell these primary debate sponsors: “Either everyone is in or I am out.”

All, and I mean all, the voices deserve their chance to participate in the primary process.

Uncomfortable? Sure.

Long and drawn out? You bet.

Not easily shoved into a preset TV time slot? Yep.

In the end, whoever wins will be better off for the effort. 

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY 

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign  

Please comment below.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

St. Pete Pride – A look back

I really love the St. Pete Pride parade.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

I have managed to attend the event most years and shot hundreds of pictures.

This year since the event is moving to downtown I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at past Pride parades.

These photo galleries are all originals most not edited or retouched. They are in their raw form and so almost all exceeded 2.5 MB. So, before you click download for a whole Gallery make sure you have the storage room and some time.
I have chosen 2013 and 2014 these were both exciting years and great events.

2013 was especially exciting as it rained, and you can see the rain effects in many of the photos near the end of this gallery.

There are over  675 photos in this Gallery, and you can see them by clicking here St. Pete Pride 2013.

If you were at this Pride event, you just may be in one of these photographs. Check them out.

2014 was a special year for Pride. With a new administration in City Hall, and a new view of the Pride event.

There was a proclamation signed by the new Mayor and Pride Flag was raised over City Hall for the first time.

This Gallery contains a group of photos from that first flag flying, and they are among my most favorites of the thousands of photos I have in my library.

There are over 300 photos in this gallery you see them by clicking 2014 Pride Flag Flying

What I like most about the Pride Parade is the faces. Everyone seems to be so totally in tune with one another.

For a few hours, people from the LGBT community can put away their fears and concerns meet old friends, make some new ones, share some remembrances, laugh and have a good time in a place that welcomes them.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos

Please comment below.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Global Climate change - Is it really the question in the St. Pete Mayoral election?

Rick Baker is focused where a Mayor should be - on his City.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog

Current St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman is trying to make global Climate Change a decisive issue in the upcoming St. Petersburg Mayoral election. You can get more info in Charlie Frago, Tampa Bay Times, Next big fight in St. Petersburg's mayoral race: the science and politics of climate change.

From the Frago article, Rick Kriseman is quoted, “Mayors are the elected officials closest to the people."

Truer words were never spoken.

But President Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Accord is not a local issue. If Kriseman is focused on the global issue of climate change, he should more appropriately run for the US House or Senate.

Therein lies the problem with the current St. Pete Mayor.

Captivated by the need for attention and bedazzled by the bright and shiny, like water ferries, expensive water parks, eclectic Pier designs and accompanying outlandish art Kriseman has a hard time staying focused on and managing serious local issues.

Issues like waste water and storm water infrastructure, crime, deteriorating streets and sidewalks, the infrastructure stresses of major downtown redevelopment, the concerns of St. Petersburg’s midtown and Southside problems.

Kriseman wants to play on a grander stage using St. Pete merely as a backdrop while sewage is dumped in the bay, local schools fail; neighborhoods deteriorate and project cost's spiral out of control.

Issues like St. Pete’s failing schools, and crime are often in Mayor Kriseman’s speeches but rarely on his to-do list.

In his three-plus years of leading St. Petersburg, every major project is over budget.

 Rick Baker, on the other hand, is focused where a Mayor should be on his City.

On schools, rather than wring his hands and wine a mayor can’t have an impact on schools; Baker has proven that involvement of the top City official can have a dramatic impact on schools, quality of education and teachers.

On crime, Baker has already indicated he will look at reinstating the St. Pete PD Street Crimes and Auto theft units. Maybe why Kriseman’s crime numbers look so good is his police chief is not pursuing the criminals.

The Pier, Pier Park and the new Police station are already way over budget. Baker will manage these projects to restrain any more scope and budget creep.

One of the reasons the Rays issue is at a standstill is simply because Rick Kriseman could not negotiate his way out of a wet paper bag. Rick Baker’s whole career has been about negotiating. You can rest assured that any deal with the Rays will not leave the City holding the bag.

And then there is climate change.

It is hard to appreciate the current Mayor’s passion for climate change and rising sea levels while he trumpets spending 10’s of millions of dollars on a water park that is just barely above sea level.

Kriseman’s climate-change argument is just a way to deflect your attention from the sewage in the Bay, the project cost over runs, an administration filled with political cronies, a failing midtown, a Pier that the people did not want and a proper respect for the office of the Mayor.

I spent over 28 years working for and with the people of St. Petersburg, and I don’t think they will buy any of Kriseman’s shallow comments and hollow promises.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Contributor to  Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 

Please comment below.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Bigger Mess with Tampa Bay Next?

It's another taxpayer funded public outreach free for all AGAIN.

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

Tampa Bay taxpayers keep funding more transportation initiatives. The consultants love us…

FDOT has recently launched another two year transportation initiative Tampa Bay Next. This is a FOUR County (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk) TBX replacement initiative on steroids - complete with new graphics! We know they're really serious this time!
It's another taxpayer funded public outreach free for all AGAIN.

This latest transportation public relations endeavor is underway at the same time as the $1.6 million Streetcar study, the $1.5 million Regional Premium Transit Campaign, HART's TDP update and an effort to regionalize our MPO's. They all have taxpayer funded public outreach creating confusion, chaos and public fatigue on the transportation issue. Maybe all that is intentional…

But logic defies how FDOT would dole out $1.5 million for a THREE county (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco) regional transit campaign BEFORE this latest FOUR county initiative - cart before the horse.

Governor Scott just signed Latvala's egregious TBARTA bill creating an unnecessary new FIVE county (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee) transit agency. But Scott also veto'd all of TBARTA's funding that got appropriated this session.

What a mess!

But here we are…

FDOT states the obvious on their new web site: "Tampa Bay has a traffic problem".

We agree. Probably everyone agrees.

But Tampa Bay has wasted too much time, too much taxpayer money and too much energy on FAILED proposals at the detriment of getting other things done to actually help relieve congestion.

This new initiative is not just an update to the 1997 Environmental Impact Study (EIS) done the Federal Highway Administration requires for interstate expansion projects. FDOT says TampaBayNext initiative is a new program to modernize Tampa Bay's infrastructure and prepare for the future but leaves out Interstate expansion that must be done if we don't want gridlock in our future.
  • Interstate Modernization
  • Transit
  • Bicycle/Pedestrian Facilities
  • Complete Streets (most expensive street built)
  • Transportation Innovation
  • Freight Mobility
This is what our federally mandated/funded MPO's do. MPO's already do extensive public outreach for long range planning paid for by taxpayers. We have an MPO Board who approves the MPO's five year Transportation Improvement Plan. Why is FDOT stepping