Wednesday, September 29, 2010

UTA Ogden-Weber State Transit Corridor Study Open House Reminder UPDATED

Some excellent new informational material furnished to us yesterday by Dan Schroeder

At risk of coming off as a dunning nag, your blogmeister will once again remind you of tomorrow afternoon's UTA Ogden-Weber State Transit Corridor Study Open House, during which Emerald City Lumpencitizens will be afforded the opportunity to blow off steam regarding the Ogden Weber Transit Corridor Analysis, which was mendaciously and craftily rigged behind closed doors to recommend an east-west corridor leg to connect Washington and Harrison Boulevards along 36th Street.

In the interest of adding a little more "grist" to the discussion mill, we're pleased to feature some excellent new material furnished to us yesterday by Dan Schroeder, in the form of a letter, which was transmitted to the Ogden Transit Corridor Stakeholders on September 20, 2010. Within that letter, Dan identifies the following main evidentiary and methodological flaws in the Economic Development Opportunities Analysis conducted by Wikstrom Economic Planning Consultants for the Ogden/WSU Transit Corridor Project, which errors we'll enumerate and set forth here in brief:

1) UTA and Wikstrom have been unable (or unwilling) to produce the raw data that was used to obtain these results;
2) Although the Analysis apparently used objective data from current property assessments, it also used completely subjective guesses of which properties are likely to be redeveloped by 2015;
3) With respect to the Analysis, all the estimated investments are too low;
4) The Analysis assumed that all land values along the corridor will remain unchanged, even after the project is completed.
Read the full text of Dan's most excellent letter, in which he goes on to urge Ogden Transit Corridor Stakeholders to "ignore the Economic Development Opportunities Analysis until such time as these [above-identied] serious issues can be fully resolved" :
Dan Schroeder 9/20/10 Letter
Just "a little more material added to the discussion mill," as we said. Hopefully Dan's submitted material will help get the juices flowing, in advance of tomorrow afternoon's UTA Ogden-Weber State Transit Corridor Study Open House shindig.

We hope to see you all at the Union Station Browning Theater tomorrow @ 4:00 p.m.

Torches and pitchforks will be
de rigueur. Steely-eyed lumpencitizens stares are optional (although recommended), of course.

Enraged Emerald City Citizens plan to gather again
to give mindless Utah bureaucrats a serious "hotfoot"

Savvy reader comments are invited, as always. Don't let the cat get yer tongues!

Can we see by a show of hands how many of our regular readers plan to attend this boffo UTA public bitch session?

Update 10/1/10 10:00 a.m.: The Standard-Examiner carries the post-Open House story this morning. For a glaring example of arrogant Utah bureaucracy which is completely out of touch with the will of the people, check out the link below:
Transit corridor open house draws concerned crowd

34 comments:

I don't take wooden nickles said...

I'd like to have a full list of the names of the entities on the so-called "Ogden Transit Corridor Stakeholders Committee."

I'm dumbfounded that this committee would recommend building an Ogden Streetcar system on the border of South Ogden, rather than within Ogden's Central City, where such a public facility is obviously needed.

How many South Ogden property owners are on this highly suspect committee, exactly?

Which members of this "committee" will financially benfit from the mislocation of this crazy South Ogden-oriented east=west corridor?

Does anybody have a list of these "Ogden Transit Corridor Stakeholders?"

I'd like to see the list.

A little to the left said...

Who's the biggest whore in this public transit brouhaha? McKay Dee, of course. These bastards now own a multimillion dollar property with their new Euro-style hospital.

They're excessively greedy bastards, of course.

One more reason for folks who have crappy insurance, or none at all, to vote Democrat.

Stanley said...

This seems to be the modus operandi of UTA. None of the decisions they make make much sense to me. They act like a wily developer, maybe that is what they have merely become.

Monotreme said...

I have to work late Thursdays and so will be unable to attend. Sorry.

Dan S. said...

Update: Only one member of the Stakeholder's Committee (the representative from McKay-Dee Hospital) responded to my letter. No government officials responded--including UTA officials.

But the guy at UTA (Mick Crandall) who had promised me the data was on vacation at that time. He returned yesterday (Tuesday) and answered the email I had left him. Said I had "stirred up a hornet's nest" there.

A few hours later Crandall called again and informed me that I will never get the data because their consultant apparently obtained some of it from the Utah Tax Commission under a nondisclosure agreement--meaning the consultant can't even show the data to UTA. This means that there is absolutely no way for anybody--even UTA--to check the calculations.

The nondisclosure excuse, however, is bogus. I can see how that would apply to sales tax data, and the consultant did make some sales tax projections. But I didn't ask for sales tax data--I merely asked for the investment projections, which are based on property assessments, which are public information.

In principle, I could look up the assessments one by one on the county's web site, and try to reproduce the calculation from scratch. But this would take a long time, and there would be all sorts of guess-work involved.

Crandall has agreed to meet with me for an hour tomorrow before the open house. Perhaps I'll learn more then about how the economic analysis was done. Meanwhile, as far as I know, all of the objections raised in my letter are still valid.

I Want a Refund said...

I'll tell you how the economic analysis was done:

1. Uta Tells Wilbur Smith - "we need to show that 36th street is the best alignment"

2. Wilbur Smith makes up an economic memo stating that "36th Street is the best alignment economically"

3. Citizens question the assertions in said memo and ask for a legitimate study to be done.

4. Wilbur Smith takes memo and pre-determined findings to an economic analysis consultant and asks them to rubber stamp their findings.

Actually this is sort of how the whole "study" has been done - can we get our $800,000 back? I want a refund!

Curmudgeon said...

Interesting UDOT story running in the Trib. [Link here. Here's the lede:

A principal for one of the construction companies in the consortium that won the bid for the $1.1 billion I-15 CORE project in Utah County was engaged in an “improper relationship” with a female senior staffer for the Utah Department of Transportation, which awarded the bid.

So, maybe the question we ought to be asking at this afternoon's meeting is "Who at UDOT do we need to arrange an 'inappropriate relation' for to get UDOT to drop its opposition to the 25th Street/Harrison trolley route?"

OK, OK, snarky and sarcastic. But the ethical standards [politely so called] in use at UDOT these days seem to leave much to be desired. Scandal after scandal hitting the news.

And then there's UTA's continuing preference for "stealth" tactics in making it decisions. We saw how that works when UTA secretly decided to move its buses off Historic 25th Street without bothering to ask any of the riders of those buses what they thought of the idea, and without bothering to let the public or even the Ogden City Council know it was contemplating such a change. And now we see it again as UTA embraces a "stealth" study that recommends the 36th Street trolley route, while stonewalling requests to make the assumptions and data on which that recommendations is allegedly based available for scrutiny.

Conclusions based on [alleged] data which no one outside the organization is permitted to see, and which therefor cannot be checked: It's the UTA way!

Dan S. said...

Just arrived at Union Station. Consultant who did economic analysis shook my hand and said to get my letter off this blog or I'll be hearing from her attorney.

RudiZink said...

Yikes! Looks like we've struck a nerve... which is ALL GOOD! Legal threats so early in the game? Oh my. Here's hoping her lawyer's malpractice insurance is paid up. Looks like it'll be a really fun night!

Swan said...

Nice to see even those who hide behind attorneys read the WCF!

Note: any letter written to any person at any time can be posted in any forum, read aloud on national TV, shared with with my gals at Relief Society, or destroyed/ignored.

Once you write it and send it, you do not own the the material inside.

Lawyers; sheesh, wadda ya gunna do? ;>

RudiZink said...

"Once you write it and send it, you do not own the the material inside."

Exactly right, Swan.

Dang! Do we have the all-time smartest posters on WCF, or what?

But for now, let's sit back now and watch the main event through Dan S's high IQ looking glass, no....?

What will it cost us. said...

Since UTA is subsidized by tax funds why can't the taxpayers have a say in their enormous salaries for their executives. They do seem to work in a political vacumn.

ozboy said...

The "arrogance of power" thing sure is shining through with this whole trolley/UTA/UDOT thing we are seeing these days.

Jeeze, I thought our very own 'lil lord Godfrey was the onliest one with such chutzpah!

RudiZink said...

"Consultant who did economic analysis shook my hand and said to get my letter off this blog or I'll be hearing from her attorney."

Please pass the message on to this little twit that Rudi would be happy to see her dumbass In Court.

Curmudgeon said...

Nice to know they consider your blog such an effective way to reach people in Ogden, Rudi. And that they consider Dan such an effective raiser of questions. Validation of a sort, que no?

I wonder if Ogden's very own main stream media outlet -- the Standard Examiner --- will find this attempt to suppress questions being raised about UTA's Don't Ask Don't Tell Economic Analysis newsworthy?

The news editor of Curmudgeon's Daily Post Intelligencer & Price Current for damn sure would.

RudiZink said...

Validation of a sort, que no?

Validation que si, I believe.

As if Weber County Forum needs any kind of validation anyway.

I swear these lame Utah Transportation bureuacrats still believe they're dealing with a pack of ignorant Rubes in Ogden. Little do they know that Ogden activists have developed a keen edge in their politics, after dealing with the miscreant BOSS GODFREY over the past ten years.

Nicely Done said...

Does Scottie B work for Wiki now? What with underestimating costs and overestimating revs? Nice job dan...

Curmudgeon said...

Have to wonder what it is about the economic analysis and the way it was done that is so sensitive that the author is threatening legal action to prevent questions being asked about it.

What is it UTA and the consultant don't want the public, and the stakeholders' committee, to know? And why?

If I hadn't had questions about the data, assumptions and procedures used to produce UTA's Don't Ask Don't Tell Economic Analysis, I'd sure as hell have 'em now.

What is it they're so determined to hide from public scrutiny?

Anonymous said...

I'm so damn tired of crap like this from UTA.

It doesn't take someone with a degree in urban planning to see that 36th Street doesn't make sense for a street car. If you're worried about the street being wide enough, 36th St. is narrower than 25th, Monroe and Harrison. 36th St. definitely isn't pedestrian friendly, large stretches of it don't even have sidewalks. And as has been mentioned before, there's not even much possibility for commercial development.

Hey UTA, instead of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, how about you put a street car through a neighborhood that historically was designed for a streetcar?

As some of our urban planner friends would say, inner city Ogden is designed in a "TND" or traditional neighborhood development style. It's a place where the buildings are closer to the sidewalk and there are trees between the sidewalk and the road, actually making it comfortable for pedestrians that would ride a trolley. You can't tell me with a straight face that the neighborhoods around 36th St. have a higher population density than neighborhoods around 25th St.

Things that are obvious to rank and file citizens of Ogden aren't obvious to over paid, aloof UTA bureaucrats. Dan, I hope you stand your ground against these morons.

Dan S. said...

First of all, I apologize if my earlier comment gave the impression that I would be live-blogging the event. Because it was an open-house format, I was busy talking with various individuals for a full four hours. No time to blog.

Mick Crandall of UTA gave me quite a bit of his time, and promised to do his best to get some of the information I've requested. He also said he wasn't especially happy with the economic analysis himself. But I pointed out that UTA has been waving the analysis in everyone's face, and the report is even posted on their public web site, so the impression is that they're happy with it. Crandall has lots of subjective reasons why he doesn't think the streetcar is feasible on Harrison. I said we need to quantify those reasons (in dollars) and then discuss them, rather than focusing on the fabricated rationales.

Toward the end of the meeting, I finally got a chance to have a civil discussion with Wikstrom (the consultant who did the economic analysis). She was happy to explain the methodology to me, although she had already done so, briefly, six weeks ago. After the refresher course, I still stand by the objections raised in my letter. But she sounded open to providing the data that I'm requesting, though not directly; I need to work through UTA.

So at this point it seems that my letter has gotten their attention and they will try to provide some sort of response. We'll see if they follow through.

The open house drew a pretty good crowd but not nearly enough to fill the large room. The PowerPoint presentations were mercifully short. UTA is still recommending that the 25th Street alignment be dropped from further consideration, but we already knew that.

One refreshing element was that the Trolley District group was allowed to set up a table in the lobby, outside the main meeting room, where they had a couple of big computer displays showing their proposal and especially showing how a streetcar can (according to them) fit on Harrison with little difficulty. I haven't checked any of their work but it's obviously worth a closer look. I believe they'll be making a presentation at an upcoming City Council work session, perhaps as soon as Tuesday.

The attendees included many of the usual suspects, and also quite a few folks I didn't recognize. I was delighted to see former council member Dorrene Jeske, as well as current council members Gochnour and Stephens. I heard that Wicks also put in an appearance. No sign of the mayor, who was apparently doing his monthly call-in show. Nor did I see any other elected officials. UTA Board member Bob Hunter was there, as was head honcho Mike Allegra.

Dan S. said...

Oops, almost forgot that council member Garner was also there.

36th Street is a joke said...

Gondola boy/hillside slasher/owner of much fencing at the top of 29th Street Christian Peterson was in attendance as well. I asked UTA staff for an email address to send input instead of using the archaic and time consuming forms provided. Not a clue, they just directed me to the general UTA website. It seems they don't care for public input.

Dan S. said...

You can email comments to lscanlon@rideuta.com (Liz Scanlon). Just be sure to say explicitly that you're commenting on the Ogden-WSU Transit Corridor Project.

Bethany said...

I couldn't make it to the meeting last night. As such, and as I am trying to understand this project, I was wondering if anyone can tell me why so much property would have to be taken on the 25th St. route while virtually none from the 36th St. route. Doesn't seem to be logical to me and I haven't heard an explanation from UTA. Thanks!

Dorrene Jeske said...

In response to Anonymous’ comment “It doesn't take someone with a degree in urban planning to see that 36th Street doesn't make sense for a street car. If you're worried about the street being wide enough, 36th St. is narrower than 25th, Monroe and Harrison. 36th St. definitely isn't pedestrian friendly, large stretches of it don't even have sidewalks. And as has been mentioned before, there's not even much possibility for commercial development,” and Bethany who is baffled by the 36th St. corridor I’ll try to answer your concerns.
I spoke to Barry Banks who is the consultant for Wilbur Smith Associates on the street car project last night. He said that the reason 36th Street was chosen was because Ogden City owned most of the right of ways, so that beautification and sidewalks can be set in place along the route of the streetcar. I questioned him how a streetcar route could be used at 36th St. because it is already too narrow for a major east-west corridor for cars. He told me that the street car will use the same lanes as the cars. When I expressed my doubt that this proposal would work, he answered, “Oh, it will. Believe me, it will work.” No other explanation! Believe him when he has done such a poor job as the consultant on this project?!! Excuse me! I don’t think so! He said that was going to be the corridor even if there were objections by the public. He acknowledged that my assessment that public input had been completely ignored was correct. He went on to justify the Washington corridor because zoning was already in place for redevelopment and several RDA projects already existed. Maybe others buy that argument, but I know that the City is constantly changing the zoning of different areas, and it really isn’t the big deal that he is making out to be. He seemed dumbfounded, and had no comment to that.
Ogden does need to pursue a mass transit system, but where the cost will be well over $100 million dollars, the right mode and corridor needs to be chosen. The residents and riders need not settle for something that has totally ignored their input. They are an important stakeholder in this project and they are the ones who will provide the ridership for a successful system – that the Mayor, UTA and the consultant have overlooked (ignored)!
I was told that there would be no economic development allowed on 36th St, that it would all be on Washington where it was needed. A gentleman asked Mr. Banks what would happen then to the current businesses already on Washington. Mr. Banks hummed and hawed around and finally said that they would be allowed to stay if they wanted to. I have attended two conferences on developing streetcar corridors and planning the economic development in San Francisco and Boston where successful mass transit systems exist. I know Mr. Banks and UTA representatives have also attended these events, and I suggest that the Mayor and some of his staff also attend so that our mass transit system isn’t sabotaged. Ogden will miss out on a great opportunity for economic development if they follow this plan. I challenge Mr. Banks and UTA to have the guts to adhere to the good economic development and street car systems principles that they know. Ogden deserves the same first-rate consideration and service that Salt Lake, Bountiful and other Utah cities are receiving.
What is interesting is UTA has developed a streetcar corridor plan for Bountiful that is the same as what is needed for 25th Street. An overlay of 25th St. has been done using the Bountiful plan and it fits perfectly. If Ogden were minus the Godfrey factor, such a plan could have been developed for Ogden.

Curmudgeon said...

Dorrene:

Thanks for the posting and information. What I found most interesting in it --- among a number of very interesting things --- was this: "Banks hummed and hawed around and finally said that they would be allowed to stay if they wanted to [referring to existing businesses along the UTA favored trolley route on Washington.]"

Would be allowed to stay? How gracious of him and UTA! His comment seems to imply that UTA and Hizzonah envision some kind of allied RDA project along the route that will have the authority --- eminent domain authority? --- to tell businesses already there that they may, as a matter of courtesy, not right, be allowed to stay. Probably.

It would be better I think not to have a very expensive rail transit line built at all in Ogden than have it built in the wrong place. And Washington/36th Street is the wrong place.

Can't say I was surprised --- wish I could say I was --- at UTA's "our riders be damned, who cares what they think?" attitude. But we've seen that before, moste recently when UTA routed its buses off Historic 25th Street without bothering to ask the riders of the heaviest traveled bus route in the city, the 603, what they thought of the move.

Time for new management at UTA, I think.

Dan S. said...

New short blog entry from Doug Gibson, with linked press release:

Local blogger Schroeder, transit project consultant, wrangle over letter

Dan S. said...

Meanwhile, the Trolley District folks will be presenting their vision and analysis at the City Council work session this coming Tuesday, after the regular 6:00 meeting ends. This should be a presentation worth hearing!

Dorrene Jeske said...

Curm,

There were a lot of people who shared your sentiments that it would be better not to have a mass transit system than to have it in the wrong place and as you said, "Washington and 36th St. is the wrong place."

It looks like Godfrey has botched it for Ogden again.

sue said...

Leave Dan's letter on the site. After talking to Wikstrom last night, I point blank asked her if she had driven the routes, looked with her eyes, and seen these lots. Just in the potential Wheelwright/IGA property there is FAR MORE potential than 1.5 million. I can only hope that the city council gets behind this movement. Alas, I am not holding out much hope for the administration at this point. Yes, I know you're shocked (;

I think we gave UTA a run for their money - it would have been nice if the PUBLIC PROCESS included PUBLIC QUESTIONS. wtf? We will keep pushing the 25/H route... and opposing W/36.

Monotreme said...

Sue, I for one am happy that you feel this way.

Dan S. said...

New article in Trib:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/50396362-76/schroeder-wikstrom-analysis-ogden.html.csp

RudiZink said...

Sue: Let me add to monotreme's comment.

I'm happy to see you freed from your seemingly blind adherence to Godfrey politics.

Ozboy said...

Rudi

Does this mean that some of the Godfreyites finally realized that the "G" train ran off the rails and crashed?

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