Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Residential parking?

Biking home in Sunnyvale down Astoria, past Wright, I noticed a number of signs stating "resident parking only". This is in an area where most houses have two and three car garages (with space for at least 2 or 3 more cars on the driveway.) The city requires houses to have 4 parking spots, and many of the houses exceed this.

If the city is willing to spend the money to post signs giving these residents semi-private use of previous public parking, why is it also requiring them to have devote much of their lot to providing additional parking for cars? And furthermore, if street parking is so important, why does it let developers rip out street parking to add multiple private driveways (often leading to private roads with no street parking.)

It probably just comes down to a hidden method of discrimination. Require excessive space devoted to non-living areas, thus keeping property values high. Then donate those 'public' resources in the area to the local residents. In order to not appear too callous, funds can be allocated to subsidized housing. However, these are often kept away from the monolithic single family areas (often in isolated new developments disconnected from most public amenities.) The city also gets to serve as a gatekeeper, allowing it to enforce some restriction of access.

Removing parking requirements and regulations would be the free market solution to obtaining the proper allocation of parking space. However, that would hurt some of the 'sinister' motives in parking policy. Thus we are left with pockets of parking shortages, even while having a huge glut of parking spaces in the city.

keyboard shortcuts

Macs have some handy keys for switching between programs:

Apple-tab switches between programs
Apple-tilde switches between windows of the same program
Apple-Q closes a program
Apple-W closes one window (or tab) of a program

If you take a look at the keyboard, you'll notice that they are all
right next together. A slight slip of the finger, and instead of
switching between programs, you'll be closing them. (But at least when
the old when is closed, you'll be 'switched' to the other program...)

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bus ride to Monterey

My son and I took a bus trip to Monterey. Due to the bus schedules, it required getting up rather early in the morning to catch the bus near our house. We had a little gap to get donuts before catching the El Camino bus. We apparently spent a little too long eating the donuts, because we just missed the 522 bus. But we got there in time to catch the 22 to San Jose. When we arrived at Diridon station, we saw the MST 55 bus, the Santa Cruz 17 bus as well as Caltrain all waiting, ready to leave within a few minutes.

How tempting. We could easily get to Santa Cruz, San Francisco or Monterey - all free with the Ecopass and Go pass. We stuck with our original plans of going down to the Aquarium. We had just enough time to hit the restroom, and then head back out to the bus.

The bus was surprising empty. There were also very few people that got on at any of the other stops. (I think there were a couple of people getting on at another stop in San Jose, and not much more than that.) It seems we got to each intermediate stop (Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Prunedale) well ahead of schedule, and had a lot of time to wait there. However, by the time we got closer to Monterey we were closer to schedule. (Perhaps the driver was just putting the pedal to the metal in order to get some quick breaks.)

The Monterey "transit center" is a simple plaza, near a Trader Joe's and a used book store. According to the MST website, the eco pass is good for local fare on all MST buses, so we tried to catch the next bus that came through, a little 1X bus. The bus driver had never seen it before, but let us on. The bus had a window in the back, and it was a quick trip to the aquarium.

The Aquarium was somewhat of a disappointment. It seemed half the displays were video monitors or other sorts of 'interactive' displays. No need to go to an aquarium for that. We had some guest passes to get in free, but otherwise, the admission price of about $30 is rather steep.

We were in time for the feeding of the penguins. I was expecting to see a punch of penguins diving in to the water to catch fish, but instead, we saw a few employees giving them some little fish. We did get to see some of the penguins 'greedy' behavior as they looked for the food, but we almost felt sorry for him.

There were a number of other sea creature exhibits. The most surprising for me was the seahorses exhibit - I thought they were much larger than the small creatures that they had on display. (Unfortunately, a lot of the exhibit was made up of video monitors.)

After going to the museum, we walked down Cannery Row. It is now a trendy yuppified shopping and dining area. However, it is ironically filled with banners containing quotes from Steinbeck's novel. (The same novel that centers around the lives of some homeless guys in a run down cannery row.)

After walking a bit, we found a falafel and hot dog vendor to grab some lunch, and then caught the "brown bus" back. The walk from the aquarium to downtown is around two miles, and it looks like it can be done mostly along the beach. However, we were intrigued by the free trolleys that run every 10 minutes during the summer. They make a loop from downtown to cannery row, stopping at all the tourist traps on the way.

We get off at Fisherman's Warf (which the automated announcement informed us was some good place to part with our money.) There was a plaza that was also some historical park (first capitol?) From there it was a short pleasant walk to the downtown bus station. We had some time to kill before the bus came, so we checked out the bookstore, Trader Joe's and pharmacy that were all right there.

The return bus actually originates at a different point downtown, and just stops at the transit center, so we had a little wait for it. MST also has a '22' bus that goes out to Big Sur. It would be an interesting trip to take the 55 from De Anza College to the the 22 down El Camino to the 55 to Monterey to the 22 to Big Sur... One long trip with the same bus numbers over and over.

The return bus was also fairly empty, though there were a few more people than the way out. MST has actually started a new bus primarily to serve the Presidio that also stop s downtown and provides a later trip back. (Around 5pm instead of the 3pm 55). It tends to be a little more direct, and comping the two, you could get to Monterey by around 10 and return at 5, allowing for a day trip. (Or if you are into early trips you can take the early trip in.)

The 55 buses may have been "dead head" buses. The bus we took to Monterey originated as the one bringing commuters from Monterey to San Jose, and the one we took back was getting ready to take them back home. Perhaps these buses are more popular than the ones we took.

The way home seemed to be better timed. There were no long waits at the intermediate stops. We got to San Jose in enough time to hit the restrooms and then catch the caltrain back home. Then we arrived just in time to catch the final bus home.