Because of our interests here, maybe you will say this is cherry-picking, but it is interesting to note that the updates that involve transportation and Public Works are among the least detailed.
|This is an empty update!|
So is this an indirect result of continuing work on the SRC? Hard to say, but it's certainly possible.
At any rate, when things are finally presented, we will know how serious they are by the amount of attention given to our mania for subsidized, free parking everywhere. One of the biggest ways the City can support public transit is by having a robust and critical conversation about our subsidized parking policy - free curbside parking and off-street parking minimums. When we incent drive-alone trips so strongly with subsidized free parking, it is no surprise that our transit suffers.
The Critical Infrastructure update isn't very informative either, and in its discussion of prioritizing, it does not make explicit reference to incorporating or coordinating with the Priority-Based Budgeting proposal under the Sustainable Services update. Does that mean Public Works envisions a separate, siloed priority list or process? Maybe it's not necessary that they be linked, but it is at least worth noting that they are not explicitly linked right now.
Maybe this is all just a coincidence, but you have to ask: If we just shifted staffing from the SRC to these other two projects, how much better would they be?
By contrast, the Environmental Action/Greenhouse Gas update contains a fleshed out proposal with many details and discussion. It recommends starting with a Greenhouse Gas Inventory. On the other hand, it's ambitious and appears to require new City Staff and a Consultant, so where it falls in the total budget priorities is an open question. Maybe it's a kind of straw man that will be knocked down when the budget to actually do it "can't be found" or deemed "too expensive."
The Vision for Growth and Development update is vague.
The Child-friendly update has lots of talk about walking and biking. However, it pulls back, saying:
No additional action is recommended at this time. Staff will continue existing City polices, programs and practices, which meet the broad intent of the UNICEF framework. If more activity or collaboration with partners in this arena is desired, a shift in responsibilities of existing staff from current priorities would be required, reducing available staff time and resources for other initiatives.The December 2017 Survey
One of the supporting reports is a survey that parallels one done a year ago. It is written fully by an outside consultant.
Most Important Issue
These surveys are difficult to assess for many reasons. Here are the charts from 2017 and 2016 on the "most important issue."
|"Most Important" in 2017|
|"Most Important" in 2016|
It is difficult to be very confident that there is any meaningful change in aggregate sentiment here.
How Difficult is Walking and Biking?
|Difficulty in 2017|
|Difficulty in 2016|
There's also a fascinating internal swing: In 2016 40% said it was "very easy" to walk or bike, and in 2017 only 34% said this; in 2016 33% said it was "somewhat easy," and in 2017 44% said this. That's a 6% decline in "very easy" and a 11% increase in "somewhat easy." That change is difficult to explain by any infrastructure or policy change. A shift from "very easy" to "somewhat easy" could be related to the uptick in traffic, however.
But, again, this may actually be more of an index for margin of error and normal vicissitudes from sample size than any expression of a structural change in sentiment.
The terms for locating apartments were not carried over from 2016, and so it is difficult to make a comparison.
|Apartment location in 2017|
|Apartment location in 2016|
Similarly, there's an interesting but also over-simplified discussion of "user pays" concepts for financing City services.
Instead we should ask, which things are overused and need more pricing signals; and which things are public goods that are not yet overused, are maybe even underused, and which therefore do not need pricing and instead might need more support? What are our policy goals, and is pricing a useful tool to accomplish one or more of them? If we are serious about those policy goals, the proper criteria will not always be popular/unpopular, and leaning into a popularity contest as the primary way to structure the Strategic Plan will distort it mightily, and likely cause it to fail. (Things that are valuable aren't always easy or convenient!)