Tuesday, June 30, 2009

People, Fish, & Farming

In this editorial by the Sacramento Bee, the apparent discounting that farm raised animals—including hatchery raised fish—can sustain a species for the future is discounting something that has been well established in the history of husbandry, and is a technology that should always be encouraged rather than discouraged.

We posted on the hatchery system previously.

And while the restoration of creeks to restore once prolific salmon runs sounds good—it does—the problem of carcasses rotting on the banks may dissuade some who live along those same banks from enticing too many spawning salmon to their neighborhood creek.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“The National Marine Fisheries Service has issued a wake-up call on the dangers facing the Central Valley's salmon and, ultimately, the water system they depend on. It should be mulled and acted upon.

“The wake-up call came in the form of a "biological opinion" that the fisheries service filed earlier this month. Prompted by a federal court ruling on a lawsuit by environmentalists and fishermen, it found that the ways the state and federal water projects operate threaten the survival of endangered chinook salmon and steelhead, and it required that they change their policies.

“The changes the agency envisions include finding ways to get the fish around the dams and other barriers that currently stop them as they migrate upstream to spawn. With immense structures like Shasta Dam spanning the Sacramento River, and Folsom Dam the American, this will not be a simple task. It will require the construction of fish ladders, or elevators, or perhaps truck-and-haul operations. Experts aren't sure if any are feasible. The estimated price tag starts at $1 billion.

“The price of not acting, however, will likely be steeper.

“To begin with, the winter- and spring-run chinook salmon of the Sacramento River and the steelhead of the American are almost certainly doomed if their journeys to spawning habitat continue to be blocked.

“That probably won't take salmon off diners' plates, although there are persistent questions about the taste, healthfulness and environmental impact of what's produced on fish farms.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

Oil & the World

This is a good article from New Geography about the changing world’s appetitive for the fuel that runs its automobiles, with a nod to the soon to be built major interstate highway system in India that will probably do for their love of automobiles what it did for ours.

An excerpt.

“The world demand for oil averages 85 mbd (million barrels per day). In the darkest days of the global financial crisis during the spring, when we stood at the abyss of The Great Depression, demand dropped to just 82.3 mbd. Conversely, world oil supply peaked at 87 mbd in 2007. This relative parity between supply and demand eliminates the elasticity that puts some control on prices. With literally no elasticity, speculators know that buyers will purchase every barrel of oil and prices rise. The proof of this market force is visible at the pump where gasoline has crested $3.00 per gallon in California and more than $2.66 per gallon nationwide. The United States consumes 20,000,000 barrels of oil per day or 24% of the world’s supply. In previous decades this was not a problem because the United States was a major producer of oil. But our peak production was reached in the 1970s when the US imported just 35% of its oil. Today we import more than 66% and no longer can influence the price of black gold. That price is now determined by despots in the Persian Gulf, Russia and Venezuela.

“This problem is not going away soon. According to the Energy Information Agency of the U.S. Government, the world demand for oil will require an additional 44 million barrels of oil every day to meet projected demand. The increase of demand is not going to come from the American or European markets. The developed nations through conservation, fuel standards, a reinvigorated nuclear power industry and, over time, the push for alternative fuels will actually reduce their consumption over the next twenty years. The push will come from India, Russia, Brazil, and of course China.

“India, with a population over one billion, has announced its version of the Interstate Highway System that opened America to its great Middle Class. After the acquisition of Jaguar and Land Rover, Tata Industries has begun production of the Nano, a car that sells for $2,000 in India. The demand for oil to power the cars for an educated and increasingly affluent Indian society will keep pressure on oil prices for years to come. India uses just 2.7 mbd today but expects that demand to grow to 4.5 mbd by 2030.

“There are now more than a billion Chinese. China consumed just 2 mbd of oil in 1990. Oil consumption jumped to 7.6 mbd in 2007 and is projected to grow to 15 mbd in 2030. The Chinese automobile industry grew at 21% last year while the US auto industry contracted by 40%. China displaced Germany as the third largest auto producer and will soon eclipse the damaged US auto industry which is contracting to a mere shadow of its former self. Chinese brands such as Chery and Geely, unknown to American consumers, may soon become as well known in America as Nissan or Hyundai.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bike Sharing Programs

This idea, like its cousin car sharing, that seems at first glance to be a really good transportation innovation, doesn’t look so good—though the promise is there—as the details emerge in this article from Fast Company.

An excerpt.

“On the surface, nearly all of the world's 100 or so bike-share programs look strikingly similar. Most systems rely on unmanned rental kiosks that are managed by automated computers, and bicycles are equipped with advanced locking mechanisms. Many of the the bikes use customized parts to stave off thieves who are looking for spares.

“The differentiating factor in these programs is how they pay for themselves. Most systems, particularly those with more than 500 bicycles, rely on advertising--and the lucrative deals the agencies strike with host cities--to stay afloat. Other programs depend on money from local communities, like Montreal's Bixi. Still others are funded by private investors (London's OYBike). Many of the private programs have disappeared, and the handful that remain tend to be limited to college campuses, business parks or specific neighborhoods. "Bike sharing just isn't profitable by itself," Ericson says.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Global Warming Consensus Shrinking?

In what appears to be a belated reaction to the recent scientific reality of non-warming global temperatures that have been rebutting the fervor of the human-caused global warming debate, the world community of public leadership stakeholders in the outcome of the debate are slowly coming around to the realization that perhaps what has been presented as a the-sky-is-falling calamity which we must act upon yesterday to stop, is not; but rather something to be thought about more reasonably, and certainly with the impact it might have on the global economy as a point of some reference.

But we will soon see if the U.S. Senate has caught up to this knowledge as they ponder voting for the climate change bill that just passed the U.S. House.

An excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article.

“In April, the Polish Academy of Sciences published a document challenging man-made global warming. In the Czech Republic, where President Vaclav Klaus remains a leading skeptic, today only 11% of the population believes humans play a role. In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to tap Claude Allegre to lead the country's new ministry of industry and innovation. Twenty years ago Mr. Allegre was among the first to trill about man-made global warming, but the geochemist has since recanted. New Zealand last year elected a new government, which immediately suspended the country's weeks-old cap-and-trade program.

“The number of skeptics, far from shrinking, is swelling. Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe now counts more than 700 scientists who disagree with the U.N. -- 13 times the number who authored the U.N.'s 2007 climate summary for policymakers. Joanne Simpson, the world's first woman to receive a Ph.D. in meteorology, expressed relief upon her retirement last year that she was finally free to speak "frankly" of her nonbelief. Dr. Kiminori Itoh, a Japanese environmental physical chemist who contributed to a U.N. climate report, dubs man-made warming "the worst scientific scandal in history." Norway's Ivar Giaever, Nobel Prize winner for physics, decries it as the "new religion." A group of 54 noted physicists, led by Princeton's Will Happer, is demanding the American Physical Society revise its position that the science is settled. (Both Nature and Science magazines have refused to run the physicists' open letter.)

“The collapse of the "consensus" has been driven by reality. The inconvenient truth is that the earth's temperatures have flat-lined since 2001, despite growing concentrations of C02. Peer-reviewed research has debunked doomsday scenarios about the polar ice caps, hurricanes, malaria, extinctions, rising oceans. A global financial crisis has politicians taking a harder look at the science that would require them to hamstring their economies to rein in carbon.”

Friday, June 26, 2009

Public Safety

We could not agree more with this opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee that public safety funding should be the first public good protected and the last public good reduced, when funding decisions are being made.

As a former resident of Gold River, and now Sierra Oaks, the ability of both neighborhoods to hire private security only makes it more important that for the larger community of public neighborhoods who do not have this option, that they be protected by the existing public safety institutions, whose funding should remain sustainable to achieve that public end.

Public safety is also an important issue for the American River Parkway, which is seeing increased use while the possibility of ranger patrols being reduced is very real.

Public safety should be the priority, in neighborhoods and in the Parkway.

An excerpt.

“You know you are losing all sense of local public governance when the ground zero core of service – law enforcement, our courts and district attorney – become decimated in counties and cities.

“Regardless of how one feels about the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department or the district attorney, they are the first responders when it comes to social stability.

“As a Gold River resident, I feel every bit as strongly about the devastating cuts to our health care clinics, parks and recreation, and social welfare programs. These are reductions that in the long term will eat at the social fabric of our diverse communities.

“But at the heart of Sacramento County's social compact are the immediate services communities need to prevent street chaos.

“I recently joined with key community leaders to meet with all five members of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. They recognize that public safety is primary in the providing of county public services.

“Yet what is paradoxical is that few people come out in support for public safety. Part of the reason is that people expect those services will always be there. A more significant explanation is a political climate that for too long has denied the imperative of responsive governance.

“For the affluent among us, mandated social services are not relevant and we have found some degree of safety in suburban havens, such as Gold River, with privatized law enforcement or gated communities away from Sacramento's impoverished urban decay.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Suburbs Growing

A new report from the Census Bureau, from a story at New Geography, confirms what anyone who is paying attention already knows; the best way of life—particularly for families— in America in the 21st Century is in the suburbs, and people continue to move there.

The reasons are simple: more room, easier to get around, safer, and generally much more beautiful surroundings compared to most downtown city cores—Sacramento for example—who are still struggling to find their way.

An excerpt.

“The US Bureau of the Census has just released an analysis of suburbanization showing that the nation continues to suburbanize, despite the consistent media “spin” that people are leaving the suburbs to move to core cities.

“The report, Population Change in Central and Outlying Counties of Metropolitan Statistical Areas: 2000 to 2007, goes further than our previous 2000 to 2008 analysis that showed strong domestic outmigration from central counties to suburban counties and beyond.

“Our report compared trends between the core county (such as the 5 county New York City core) of each major metropolitan area. The new report compares population trends between what it terms “central counties” and outlying counties. The Bureau of the Census considers any county in the metropolitan area that is generally beyond the urban area (urban footprint) to be outlying. Thus, in Chicago, the report considers not only the core county of Cook, but also 9 additional counties as around it as central (Figure 1). Not surprisingly this means the bulk of the metropolitan area population is in the central counties (92%), however there is rapid movement even further out to the outlying counties.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Microgrid

A great article from Fast Company about getting your house off the power grid and on your own microgrid, by generating your own power and still being able to enjoy all of the technology we take for granted in 21st Century suburban California.

An excerpt.

Small-scale, local power--the microgrid--is a big part of the path to sustainable energy (for more detail, read Why the Microgrid Could Be the Answer to Our Energy Crisis in the July/August issue). With today's rates and rebates, typical systems pay for themselves in just a few years, and in 43 states you can even sell excess power back to the utility when you're not using it. The only barrier now is figuring out how to plug in your house. Here are the steps you need to take to get in on the microgrid action in your own home.

1) Find the Money

First, find what tax incentives your state, locality, or utility offers for renewables and efficiency at the DSIRE database.

Home Power magazine has comprehensive resources for the do-it-yourselfer; they've been covering the microgrid for over 20 years.

2) Cut Your Use

The microgrid dream house starts with cutting energy use through efficiency and conservation with highly-rated insulation, sealed doors and windows, and better-performing appliances like refrigerators, boilers, and air-conditioners. The federal government's Energy Star Web site provides the information you need to do a home energy audit yourself or find a professional to do one for you. More resources are at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

You might also want to look into a smart meter-like appliance like the Wattson to monitor energy use.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dams are the Solution

The current global crisis in fresh potable water (and enough cold water in the American and Sacramento Rivers to help the salmon whose plight is noted in yesterday’s post) is more a crisis of storage than of a lack of water as the rain is still falling in great gushers; but—in America anyway—we have stopped building dams to capture and store the fresh water from the sky that will, if captured and stored, provide us with plenty of water.

Along with the obvious solution for our area, the building of Auburn Dam, which would double our storage capacity—now appears to be off the table though congressional action can restore it—there is another that would solve the water problems for the larger region and that is the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height of 200 feet higher than it now is, tripling its water supply, which an article from the Los Angeles Times describes:

“From an engineering standpoint, it's a piece of cake. The dam, built between 1938 and 1945, was originally planned to be 200 feet taller. At 800 feet, it would have been the highest and biggest in the world.

“Sheri Harral, public affairs officer at the dam, said World War II and materials shortages associated with the war effort led to a decision to stop construction at 602 feet.

"The thinking was to come back and add on to it if ever there was a need to," Harral said. "They started looking at raising it in 1978."

“If Shasta Dam had been built up to its engineering limit in 1945, it is arguable that Northern and Central California would not be facing a critical water shortage now.

“According to a 1999 Bureau of Reclamation study, a dam 200 feet taller would be able to triple storage to 13.89 million acre-feet of water.”

A recent review of a new book about water is posted on the PERC website.

An excerpt.

“The United States must come to terms with its lavish use of water and, at the same time, figure out serious solutions to the immediate problem related to access to water.

“University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law professor Robert Glennon details the nationwide issue in his new book, Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What We Can Do About It. The book was published in April by Island Press.

“The 400-page book delves into issues related to wealth, privatization, farming, water consumption, "water alchemists," water harvesting, and other topics.

“The solution to the "water crisis," according to Glennon, is not in towing icebergs from Alaska or in having citywide mandates to only allow for lawn watering twice a week, as was recently suggested in Los Angeles.

"Americans are spoiled. We turn on the tap and out comes a limitless amount of high quality water for less money than we pay for cell phone service or cable television," said Glennon.

"Because water is so cheap, people don't value it," he added.

“Yes, conservation must be a major part of the solution, but controlling population growth and using price signals and market forces to allocate water are also critical, he said. One suggestion would be to shift use rights to allow water rights to be transferred from farmers to buyers. That way, farmers could sell land that has the lowest crop yields, reducing their reliance on the water source.”

Monday, June 22, 2009

Salmon Runs in the American

Human technology has been able to sustain animal species throughout history through managed farming, and the fish hatchery system is well capable of providing the ongoing sustainability of salmon, as noted in a previous post.

Expending additional money on waterways to increase the salmon runs while a major flood risk still has not been addressed is foolish public policy and one hopes that public leadership realizes that.

Sacramento is still the most at-risk for a major flood of any large river city in the country.

This Bee article looks at salmon restoration.

An excerpt.

“The American River once hosted thousands of steelhead migrating upstream from the ocean in three separate runs. Today it's down to just two runs of a few hundred fish.

“The Sacramento was the only river in western North America with four salmon runs. They numbered in the millions – so numerous that American Indians and settlers could catch a salmon dinner with their bare hands. Now one run is gone, and two are endangered. The fourth could join them soon.

“Restoring a fragment of that spectacle to the Central Valley is the goal of rules proposed by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The service wants, among other things, restoration of winter- and spring-run salmon above Shasta Dam on the Sacramento River, and steelhead above Folsom Dam on the American River.

“Combined, the fish transit order is considered the biggest of its kind in U.S. history.

“Making it happen presents huge financial and engineering challenges. Costs could exceed $1 billion at a minimum – more than 10 times the original construction cost of both dams.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bulldozing Decaying Cities?

This against-the-grain idea has some merit, and is built on the assumption that the urban decay that has struck mostly Midwest and Northeastern cities formerly driven by a manufacturing base that has largely moved to other countries.

An article from the New York Times examines it.

An excerpt.

“On Friday, a British newspaper, The Telegraph, ran an article titled “U.S. Cities May Have to Be Bulldozed to Survive.”

“This idea is hardly new. Youngstown, Ohio, and its mayor, Jay Williams, have long aimed at transforming that declining Rust Belt polis into “a sustainable mid-sized city.” Detroit’s last mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, was elected in 2002 on a promise to raze 5,000 houses. The Telegraph article’s novelty was the suggestion that the Obama administration is interested in supporting bulldozing, which prompted the Drudge Report headline: “Obama Era: Bulldoze Shrinking Cities?”

“Despite the headlines, the Telegraph article does not actually describe a massive new government policy aimed at helping cities shrink to greatness. The text described the pro-shrinkage ideas of the treasurer of Genesee County, Mich., who “outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the campaign,” and has been “approached by the U.S. government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country.” Thousands of people have outlined their strategies to the president over the last 48 months, and if a junior staff member at the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis asks you for a few ideas about branch banking, then you too can truthfully say that you have been “approached” by the American government.

“But while there is no evidence that the Obama administration is committed to razing homes, it probably should be.

“For too long, America’s declining cities have tried to find magic bullets that would bring them back to their former glory. Eighteen months ago, I suggested that Buffalo wasn’t about to come back any time soon. I argued that would be far wiser to accept the reality of decline and focus on investing in human capital that can move out, not fixed physical capital.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fishery Easements

The often destructive nature of ocean trawling has led to innovations by The Nature Conservancy and some California fisheries that promise benefit to all, reported by PERC Reports.

Some Excerpts.

“Morro Bay is a picturesque coastal community in central California. The town’s most prominent physical feature is Morro Rock, the remnant of an ancient volcano, which stands at the entrance to the bay that gives the town its name. This small bay is home to a fleet of trawlers that target petrale sole, sand dabs, sablefish, and other groundfish. With an overcapitalized fleet and declining fish stocks, Morro Bay’s commercial fishing industry has suffered economically over the past two decades. This is a part of a widespread trend—between 1987 and 2003 gross revenues from Pacific groundfish trawling fell by two-thirds.

“Worsening the situation, commercial trawling has come under increasing criticism for its negative environmental effects. Bottom trawling involves dragging large, weighted nets across the seafloor, which can harm corals and rocky bottom structures. Avoiding sensitive habitats or using different gear can minimize these damages, but existing regulations provide no incentives to practice such safeguards…

“The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) conservation goals for the central California ground fishery were to change the method of fishing from bottom trawling to less damaging trap and hook and line gear and to exclude commercial trawling from sensitive habitats. Existing regulations made it impossible to negotiate easements that would stipulate these conditions on the trawl permit directly, necessitating the use of a less direct strategy. Working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), TNC entered into discussions with the 22-member trawl fleet on California’s central coast with the objective of improving the ecological and economic performance of this fishery. Over time, TNC succeeded in acquiring 13 permits and 7 trawl vessels. Some of the vessels purchased were retired; other vessels were leased, with permits, to commercial fishers with restrictions on the kind of gear used. Thus, while the permits could not be encumbered directly, the desired objectives were met with lease restrictions. …

“Early signs of success from Morro Bay led TNC to try a similar experiment in Half Moon Bay, a coastal community to the north. One permit holder based there had long used Scottish seine gear instead of bottom trawl nets to harvest sand dabs and petrale sole. This alternative method catches bottom fish in a more environmentally friendly manner than traditional trawling— making the catch particularly attractive to buyers in the San Francisco Bay area. Scottish seining does not require the heavy doors and cables used with traditional trawling and the lighter gear and gentle retrieval process dramatically reduce sea floor degradation. This method has also been shown to result in low bycatch rates. To ensure that this practice continues, TNC negotiated with the individual to purchase the permit and then leased it back with the stipulation that the use of Scottish seine gear continue and with some geographic restrictions on areas fished.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wallace Stegner

He was one of the great writers of the West and in this article from the Property Environment Research Center’s magazine, some of his more well-known quotes are reflected upon.

An excerpt.

“Editor's note: The following is extracted from a talk by Patty Limerick (author of The Legacy of Conquest) delivered at a recent symposium celebrating the centennial of Wallace Stegner’s birth. Stegner, an American novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, is often called the “Dean of Western Writers.” His works include The Big Rocky Candy Mountain, Angle of Repose, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian: John Wesley Powell and the Second Opening of the West, and The American West as Living Space.

“Through the vitality and wisdom of his written words, Wallace Stegner remains an influential presence in the American West. When it comes to the consequences of aridity or the Western myth’s power to shape the behavior of its believers, no one is Stegner’s equal in expression. His fans and followers could take equal inspiration from his contradictions.


“On the West’s lower rates of precipitation and higher rates of evaporation, Stegner’s quotable remarks are apt, forceful, and everywhere. In Marking the Sparrow’s Fall, describing life beyond the hundredth meridian, Stegner portrays a geographical line beyond which

. . . unassisted agriculture is dubious or foolhardy and beyond it one knows the characteristic western feel—a dryness in the nostrils, a cracking of the lips, a transparent crystalline quality of the light, a new palette of gray and sage green and sulphur-yellow and buff and toned white and rust-red, a new flora and a new fauna, a new ecology.

“Stegner’s reflections on the color green carry particular punch. In his words, “You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns.” Contemplate that remark, and then think about the irony built in to a common habit of expression. The environmental movement uses the word “green” as a synonym for “environmentally friendly” or “compatible with and adapted to nature.” And yet, ladies and gentlemen, in the American West, green is the color of the Bureau of Reclamation. Green is the color of disturbed ground; it is the color of places where you have utilized water you have diverted from other places. Bright green, in other words, is the color of disturbance….

“…the spirit in this passage is pretty close to what I myself felt in September of 2007, the last time that I was at Hoover Dam (called Boulder Dam at the time of Stegner’s visit).

Two days on Lake Mead and an afternoon and evening going through the Dam and the powerhouses have made boosters of us. Nobody can visit Boulder Dam itself without getting that World’s Fair feeling. It is certainly one of the world’s wonders: that sweeping cliff of concrete, those impetuous elevations, the labyrinths of tunnels, the huge power stations. Everything about the dam is marked by the immense, smooth, efficient beauty that seems peculiarly American. Though no architect designed it and no one mind planned its massive details, it has the effect of great art.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Urban Infill

The densification of metropolitan areas has been going on for some time and Sacramento is rated twelfth in infill of thirty-seven metro areas (rankings are about halfway down at the jump), with an infill rate of 6.8%, in this article reporting on US Census figures from New Geography,

An excerpt.

“The Process of Infill

“Although embraced with often religious passion within the urban planning community, infill is neither good nor bad in terms of social or environmental impact. Infill always increases population densities and that means more traffic. If road capacity is increased sufficiently, traffic congestion can be kept at previous levels. If on the other hand, nothing is done, traffic congestion is likely to increase along with population. This means slower traffic and more stop and go operations, which inevitably increases the intensity of air pollution with the potential to cancel out any reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that might occur if average car trip lengths decline. Similar difficulties can occur with respect to other infrastructure systems, such as sewer and water. Expanding roads, sewer and water systems in already developed areas can be far more expensive than new systems on greenfield sites. Regrettably, boosters of infill routinely ignore these issues.

“But infill has been going on for years, along with suburbanization, both in the United States and in other first world nations. This is indicated by the general densification trend that occurred in US urban areas between 1990 and 2000 and the longer term densification trends that occurred in a number of southwestern urban areas, such as Los Angeles, San Jose, Riverside-San Bernardino, Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth and Las Vegas. All these traditionally “sprawling” areas have, in fact, been densifying since 1960 or before. Since 2000, 33 of the nation’s 37 urban areas with a population exceeding 1,000,000 population experienced population infill to their 2000 urban footprints.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Voluntary Fees for Parks

We agree with one aspect of the editorial by the Sacramento Bee concerning paying for parks; that idea which allows for a voluntary paying of additional car registration fees that could go for the upkeep of parks.

Voluntarism is the cornerstone of philanthropy, and it plays a major role in protecting and enhancing public resources.

In most cases, it is preferable to taxing, and, during economic uncertainty, more effective.

An excerpt from the Bee Editorial.

“We'd like to see legislators revive the idea of former Assemblyman John Laird of Santa Cruz to increase the vehicle license fee by $10. In return, any car with California license plates would get free entrance to all state parks.

“If Republicans who signed a "no new taxes" pledge could not stomach a mandatory fee, make it a voluntary check-off every time motorists register a vehicle. A similar proposal in Montana passed a Republican legislature and was signed by a Republican governor. About 75 percent of Montana motorists voluntarily pay.

“If 75 percent of California's 28 million motorists voluntarily signed on, that would raise about $210 million for state parks. That would entirely replace the state's general fund contribution of $140 million, plus allow state parks to catch up on a big backlog of repairs.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

K Street Party

This editorial from the Sacramento Bee supporting keeping the New Year Eve’s party on K Street is welcome support and one hopes city leadership acts on it.

It is one of the few good activities that an essentially closed—but outdoor—mall can provide, and with proper security it can become a major party drawing people from all over.

An excerpt.

“The downtown folks who sponsored Sacramento's first New Year's Eve ball drop last year have posed a challenge for New Year's 2010.

“They want a "bigger, better, safer" event on K Street – with barricaded streets, two live stages between Seventh and 13th streets, sectioned areas for food and drink consumption, vendors and more portable toilets. They hope to double last year's attendance from 25,000 to 50,000.

“To achieve this more ambitious goal, they have issued a $100,000 challenge. Edaddywarbucks Inc., an electronic advertising firm, and the Paragary Restaurant Group have pledged to raise one-third of the amount – $33,333 – if the Downtown Partnership and the city will each match it.

“Norm Alvis, president of Edaddywarbucks, has said the challenge must be accepted by July 30 to allow time for planning and fundraising. Last year, the organizers had only three weeks to prepare for the New Year's Eve event. That should not happen ever again.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

California’s Water Policy

The Sacramento Bee presented a good discussion about our water policy with two experts, one essentially taking the position that humans and their welfare is more important than that of any and all animal species; the other essentially taking an opposite position.

Though we agree with the former, who writes:

“Even though the state has dealt with drought conditions for three years running, Californians are experiencing a water shortage created in large part by a powerful federal statute known as the Endangered Species Act.

“For more than 30 years, the federal Central Valley Project and California's State Water Project have transported water from Northern California through the Delta to water users west and south of the Delta. At the south end of the Delta, near the community of Tracy, these projects operate large pumping stations that propel the water on its long journey.

“More than 23 million Californians – two-thirds of the state's population – and tens of thousands of industrial and business users consume 70 percent of the transported water, while 30 percent goes to irrigate more than a million acres of farmland that make California the No. 1 food producer in the country. The projects – the world's largest water storage and delivery system – also generate hydroelectric power, improve water quality in the Delta, control flood waters, provide recreation and enhance fish and wildlife.”

the latter makes some good points, though not about status, but perhaps in the choice of water wasteful crops grown by the Valley farmers, where he writes:

“Namely, a recognition that fish are long overdue to be placed on equal footing with agriculture. And they certainly should be given a higher status than the thousands of acres of the San Joaquin Valley now devoted to tax-supported cotton, water-wasting alfalfa, speculative wine grapes and almonds for export. More than two-thirds of almonds grown here are sent overseas.

“The dirty but not-so-little secret of San Joaquin Valley agriculture is that a great deal of it has nothing to do with putting food on the tables of Americans and more to do with propping up water-wasteful, welfare-farming operations that would not exist except for direct and indirect taxpayer support.

“The collapse of the salmon run correlates perfectly with an increase in Delta diversions to record levels to water those crops. Drivers heading south on Interstate 5 pass field after field of newly planted grape vines, fruit and nut trees stretching to the horizon. Nine hundred thousand acres of the San Joaquin Valley was devoted to cotton in 2008, an increase over 2007 acreage even though California was in a drought. But fewer than 70,000 salmon returned to the Sacramento-San Joaquin river system last fall, more than a 90 percent decline from the peak of 800,000 recorded since records started being kept in 1967.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Humanity a Cancer on Planet?

This is essentially the message that arises from the logical progression of the environmental movement in its most pernicious form—we wrote about environmentalism as religion in our 2006 report (pp. 19-32)—and is the subject of this article from the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

“The new environmentalist thinking occupies that treacherous terrain between rationality and romanticism. It's highly logical, too, an all-encompassing equation where everything is equivalent to everything else -- communism at a cellular level.

“The premise glows with the innocence we forsook when Adam larcenously appropriated an apple from its rightful owner, the tree.

“This dangerous new unnatural naturalism sees the planet as a realm of halcyon purity. Conversely, mankind is portrayed as a cancer on the planet. Welcome to secular subhumanism.

“The Earth-Firsters are not fools. There are choice elements in their deranged philosophy that merit consideration; such is the essence of temptation. However, their failure is that they undermine their cause with acts of brutality. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, a Ph.D. with kindred neo-Luddite views, was one such activist run amok, responsible for dozens of injuries and four deaths. He is a case study of how, contaminated with extreme emotion, logic becomes toxic.

“Self-described "evo-lutionaries" and animal-rights activists feel justified in spiking trees, burning down housing developments, vandalizing laboratories and threatening the lives of researchers and their families. By all means save the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, but not at the cost of human lives, no matter how few. That way lies madness.”

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Township 9

This creative mixed-use project gets underway next to the American River Parkway in the Richards Blvd area, which will have 2,900 housing units eventually, doing wonders for that currently blighted area, and that is a very good thing.

The impact it will have, over time, on the long term degradation of that part of the Parkway due to illegal camping and the crime and habitat destruction connected to it, will be wonderful.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee.

“It was the oddest groundbreaking you've ever seen. Before 300 invited guests, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and officials of Township 9 counted down from 10 and let the wall fly, as you'll see in this video.

“The groundbreaking kicks off construction of Township 9, expected to place 2,900 new residences, as well as stores, offices and entertainment on 65 acres north of downtown Sacramento. It's near another big project that broke ground in April: the 240-acre Railyards project that will be home eventually to 12,000 new downtown residences.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

High Line Park

A very creative reuse of an abandoned elevated rail line in Manhattan turns it into a beautiful little park, reported by Fast Company.

Great pictures at the jump.

An excerpt.

“Great news for New Yorkers and design fans alike: After years of wrangling, delays, and uncertainties, the High Line, an astonishing urban park built upon the remnants of an abandoned stretch of elevated railway, is opening tomorrow. Fast Company was at the preview, and here, we bring you the first images of the completed park.

“It was a long shot from the outset: In 1999, two locals--Joshua David, a writer, and Robert Hammond, a painter--quailed at the prospect of the massive old railway structure being torn down by hungry developers. They lobbied the city to instead turn its surface into a park along the western fringe of the Chelsea neighborhood, some two stories above the street. Ultimately, they succeeded: The park itself is remarkably designed, a work led by landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, with architecture by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. But it's still a work in progress: So far, only a 2.8 acre stretch of the park has been completed, corresponding with the blocks between Gansevoort and 20th street. A second phase, between 20th street and 30th street, will begin construction in a few weeks, with completion slated for 2010. Together, those two sections will cost $152 million. A third, final section has yet to be developed. And the Whitney Museum is slated to open a new downtown branch below the first portion as well.

“So what was the most difficult part of pulling off such a bold reinvention? According to Matthew Johnson, the architect at DS+R who managed the project, it was figuring out exactly the balance of concrete and landscape. "Basically, the balance between people and plants," he says. "At some portions the landscape takes over. At others, like the downtown entrance, it recedes to make way for public space."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

White Houses and 250 Miles per Gallon Cars

The technology to address climate change is becoming very advanced, from the simple idea of white houses…think Greece…to the very advanced cars that get 250 miles per gallon; and much of this is pulled together in this article from New Geography.

An excerpt.

“Paint the world white to fight global warming” was the astonishing headline from The Times of London. The paper was referring to a presentation made by United States Secretary of Energy, Dr. Stephen Chu at the St. James Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium last week. Chu was reported as saying that that this approach could have a vast impact. By lightening paved surfaces and roofs to the color of cement, it would be possible to cut carbon emissions by as much as taking all the world’s cars off the roads for 11 years. That would be no small accomplishment.

“Chu makes considerable sense and his underlying approach is wise: emphasizing inexpensive, simple and unobtrusive ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This is at the same time that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has suggested “coercing” people out of cars and a bill by Senators Jay Rockefeller and Frank Lautenberg would require annual reductions in per capita driving. Strategies such as these are not inexpensive, they are not simple and they are not unobtrusive. Indeed, given the close association between personal mobility, employment and economic growth, such policies could have serious negative effects.

“The biggest problem with coercive strategies is that they are simply unnecessary. As Secretary Chu has indicated, huge reductions can be achieved in GHG emissions, without interfering in people’s lives or threatening the economy. There’s more to this story than paint.

“The Cascade of Technology

“There is a virtual cascade of technological advances that have been spurred by the widely accepted public policy imperative to reduce GHG emissions. Here are just a few.

“Vehicle Technology

“Some of the most impressive advances are in vehicle technology. GHG emissions from cars are directly related to fuel consumption. Thus, as cars require less fuel, GHG emissions go down at the same rate.

“By now, everyone is aware that the Administration has advanced the 2020 vehicle fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards to 2016, matching the California requirements. These requirements apply to the overall fleet, both cars and light trucks (which are predominantly sport-utility vehicles). Recently published research by Robert Puentes of the Brookings Institution finds that per capita automobile use had fallen off even before gasoline prices exploded, so it seems reasonable to suggest that future vehicle travel will rise at approximately the population growth rate, rather than the robust growth rates previously forecast. At the new 35.5 miles per gallon, the nation could be on a course to reduce GHG emissions from cars and light trucks by more than 20 percent by 2030, despite the increase in driving as population increases.

“This is just the beginning. There are advances well beyond the 35.5 mile per gallon standard. The most efficient hybrid cars now achieve 50 miles per gallon. The European parliament has adopted a nearly 70 mile per gallon standard for 2020. The President has often spoke of his commitment for the nation to develop 150 mile per gallon cars, while Volkswagen has already developed a 235 mile per gallon car.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Global Warming Debate?

In a proper debate about public policy one expects all sides to refrain from the kind of rhetoric that clouds rather than reveals the truth of the issue under discussion; but, as we all know too well, that rarely happens.

The Wall Street Journal comments on another case of obfuscation.

An excerpt.

“Global warming alarmists are fond of invoking the authority of experts against the skepticism of supposedly amateur detractors -- a.k.a. "deniers." So when one of those experts says that a recent report on the effects of climate change is "worse than fiction, it is a lie," the alarmists should, well, be alarmed.

“The latest contretemps pits former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, now president of the Geneva-based Global Humanitarian Forum, against Roger Pielke, Jr., an expert in disaster trends at the University of Colorado. Mr. Annan's outfit issued a lengthy report late last month warning that climate change-induced disasters, such as droughts and floods, kill 315,000 each year and cost $125 billion, numbers it says will rise to 500,000 dead and $340 billion by 2030. Adding to the gloom, Mr. Annan predicts "mass starvation, mass migration, and mass sickness" unless countries agree to "the most ambitious international agreement ever negotiated" at a meeting this year in Copenhagen.

“Even on its own terms, the numbers here are a lot less scary when put into context. Malaria kills an estimated one million people a year, while AIDS claims an estimated two million. As for the economic costs, $125 billion is slightly less than the GDP of New Zealand. Question: Are targeted campaigns using proven methods to spare the world three million AIDS and malaria deaths a year a better use of scarce resources than a multitrillion-dollar attempt to re-engineer the global economy and save, at most, a tenth that number? We'd say yes.”

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Water, Salmon, & Humans

One of our guiding principles is that “What’s good for the salmon is good for the river”, but it has always been understood by our organization that humans come first, and in any allocation of water the good of human beings must always assume priority.

This assumption is implicit in all of our guiding principles, that whatever we do to preserve, protect, and strengthen the Parkway should be, ultimately, for the benefit of the human beings who enjoy it.

Consequently, we are pleased to see, in the oppositional response to this ruling, reported by the Sacramento Bee, about what water agencies must do to allow salmon to access upstream spawning sites, that human beings well-being is also being presented as worthy of consideration, a consideration all-too-rare in many previous legal cases involving the salmon.

An excerpt.

"They've addressed the big issues," said Kate Poole, attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "There's no question any more about the fact that the Bay-Delta ecosystem is in dire need of significant changes and fixes. This is one big step to do that."…

“NRDC and other environmental and fishing groups sued the government to overturn prior federal rules protecting Central Valley salmon and steelhead. Subsequent investigations showed those rules, adopted during the Bush administration, were influenced by politics and lacked scientific rigor.

“Thursday's new rules went through two independent reviews, but that didn't stop politicians and interest groups from pushing back.

"This federal biological opinion puts fish above the needs of millions of Californians and the health and security of the world's eighth largest economy," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said.

“Western Growers, a farm group, said the rules would cause "real and very serious harms to the human species."

Monday, June 08, 2009

Parkway Funding

As funding cuts to the Parkway increase this year, after years of funding below what is even needed for basic maintenance, it is a good time to consider establishing another governance structure for the Parkway that could also result in supplemental funding.

While the several thousands of dollars the Parkway fundraising event reported on by the Bee today will certainly help, the millions more needed require a much more elaborate solution.

The solution we have proposed for stabilizing funding for the American River Parkway is to establish a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) of local government entities to govern the Parkway and creating a nonprofit American River Parkway conservancy (which would contract with the JPA) to provide management and a supplemental fund raising capability through philanthropy, which you can read more about on our website’s news page in our press release from January 20, 2009.

This is the model being used by the Central Park Conservancy to manage Central Park in New York—and the Conservancy raise’s 85% of funding needed by Central Park.

An excerpt from today’s article in the Sacramento Bee.

“Facing a substantial general fund shortfall, Sacramento County's spending plan for fiscal 2009-10 proposes modest cuts for the staffing and upkeep of the American River Parkway. The cuts are nowhere near those recommended in another tight budget year.

“In 2003, county money woes threatened to close the 23-mile gem linking Discovery Park next to Interstate 5 to Nimbus Dam near Folsom.

“Advocates of the recreational area for cyclists, joggers, walkers, picnickers, rafters, kayakers and fishermen say public support for the parkway remains a vital need.”

Sunday, June 07, 2009

North American Technology & Sacramento

The Milken Institute has released a report noting the technological attributes—jobs, wages, etc, of the different technological arenas within the metro areas of North America, and Sacramento ranks 54th—up from 55th last year—of the 393 areas profiled.

An excerpt.

“The study includes benchmarking for 2003 for metros in the United States and Canada and states in Mexico. (This was the latest available data for Mexico and the best way to ensure an accurate analysis. Mexico does not have data available at the metro level.) The 2007 benchmarking data is the latest available data for U.S. and Canadian metros.

“Like most of the economy, the high-tech sector has taken a beating in the last six months, but recent numbers shows that these cuts may be leveling off and the sector could be primed to once again be an engine of sustainable growth when recovery begins to take root.

“Cities with strong high-tech bases will perform best as the economy recovers because the jobs generated by these fields pay so well. That’s why so many regions have worked tirelessly – with tax breaks and other incentives – to attract high-tech industries, whether computer manufacturing, medical devices development or life sciences research.”

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Capital Campaigns

Bob Shallit, in his column today, wrote about the significant donation received by the capital campaign for the Sacramento Society for the Blind building fund, and it reminded me of the great impact a well-run capital campaign can have on the health and growth of a nonprofit organization.

A central aspect of our call for local leaders to form a Joint Power Authority to govern the Parkway is the further suggestion for the JPA to form a nonprofit organization for supplemental fund raising, and a key part of this would be a capital campaign to build a fund to provide the kind of enhancements so desperately needed by the Parkway—such as a pedestrian-dedicated trail to relieve the current trail of its burden of trying to support bikers and walkers.

A capital campaign, run by a capital campaign professional—usually called fund raising counsel—is the major way a local organization can move to the kind of sustainability that will ensure their work remains viable for many generations.

An excerpt from the Shallit column.

“The Sacramento Society for the Blind has obtained financial support from a very high-profile donor: Financial titan Charles Schwab.

“Schwab, a Sacramento-area native, recently heard about the society's drive to raise $5 million for a new headquarters in downtown Sacramento and offered to personally match up to $100,000 in donated funds.

"Now if people contribute, they know (their money) will be immediately doubled," says Heather Frank, the group's executive director.

“The organization has already raised $3.7 million to buy and renovate the building at 13th and S streets. New framing and sheetrock in the 20,000-square-foot building is completed.

“Frank says she's hopeful the Schwab gift will provide the momentum to finish construction.

“How soon will the capital campaign wrap up?

"That's the $1.3 million question," says Frank, who's hopeful the organization can move from its cramped quarters in Curtis Park "within a year."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Object Lesson From Chile

As California looks to discover how it went from being among the national leaders in its governing wizardry (been awhile that) to a national laughing stock, one could learn from the heroic actions of this finance minister in Chile, who through thick and thin, made sure his country maintained a rainy day fund when everyone around him said to spend it.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, an excerpt.

“SANTIAGO, Chile -- During the emerging economies' commodities boom a few years back, Chilean Finance Minister AndrĂ©s Velasco was a wet blanket at the fiesta. Chile, the world's largest copper producer, was reaping a bonanza from the quadrupling in the metal's price. Mr. Velasco insisted on squirreling away a large chunk in a rainy-day fund.

“As the savings swelled above $20 billion -- more than 15% of Chile's economic output -- Mr. Velasco faced growing pressure to break open the piggy bank. In September, protesters barged into a presentation by Mr. Velasco, carrying an effigy of him and shouting, "The copper money is for the poor people."

“The 48-year-old Mr. Velasco, wary that a flood of copper income could generate lending and consumption bubbles, stood his ground, even as the popularity of the center-left government withered. Latin American history, he cautioned, was full of "booms that had been mismanaged and ended badly."

“Today Mr. Velasco looks like a prophet. Since the onset of the global economic crisis, copper prices have fallen by 50%, in line with the sharp decline in other commodities. Emerging economies that got too giddy in the good years are now coping with nasty hangovers. Soybean-dependent Argentina is facing a possible debt default while oil-rich Russia has been stuck bailing out banks and companies that got in over their heads in debt.

“Thanks to Mr. Velasco's caution, Chile is now in a position to try to bootstrap its own recovery from the global recession. Mr. Velasco's preemptive moves have kept Chile's government from having to spend a single peso on bank bailouts. Having paid down foreign debt during the fat years, Chile is now a net creditor nation, with a debt rating that was upgraded by Moody's Investors Service in March.”

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lake Natoma Races

There will be national college varsity shell races at the Lake over the next three days, as a story from the Sacramento Bee notes, and it is the first time that they are being held on the West Coast, further solidifying the reputation of Lake Natoma—already stellar and world class—even more broadly.

A great venue for the next few days for locals who enjoy watching the elegant, fast, and beautiful art of shell racing, though the weather promises to be interesting.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Parks, Neighborhoods, and Change

Time was, as this story from the Rancho Cordova Post notes, when neighborhood parks were well taken care of.

But today, for many reasons, parks—as they occupy almost the last spot in the queues for public funding—are not being taken care of very well and in our regional communities, it promises to get worse before it gets better.

However, the alternative that many parks are taking is to develop a nonprofit organization—to which tax deductible contributions can be made—to provide supplemental funding for parks when needed.

Here is an excellent excerpt from a book Public Parks, Private Partners, how a nonprofit can help a park with fundraising.

“1. Fundraising

“Fundraising is one of the most common activities that nonprofit organizations get involved in, not only because their tax-exempt status makes them eligible for funds from foundations and more attractive to individual donors, but also because it allows them to articulate concrete, visible park needs and goals. A nonprofit's ability to dedicate funds directly to a park project is particularly attractive to a city with a big vision but lack of funds to implement it. Fundraising also can serve as a park advocacy tool and raise awareness of the work of the nonprofit organization. It generally centers around three types of park needs: to supplement annual operating budgets, to implement capital projects, and to establish an endowment to ensure ongoing park maintenance, restoration, and management.

“Fundraising for annual operating funds to supplement existing public operating budgets often involves membership drives and frequent low cost events, which have the added benefit of exposing infrequent or non-park users to the park and stimulating and encouraging longer-term involvement. Though donations are typically small, park outreach is great. Concession sales and educational programming fees are other sources for raising money that are often channeled into annual operating funds. Because they do not translate into visible projects in the park, and because some philanthropies will not give for this purpose, many nonprofits consider operating funds to be the most difficult kind of funds to raise.

“Fundraising for capital campaigns tends to rely more on personal solicitations to individual and corporate donors than on events. Once the capital money is raised, design and construction is often carried out by the parks department or contracted out to private firms. Fundraising for endowment campaigns, like capital campaigns, tends to focus on larger donations from private individuals and corporations as well as matching grants from foundations. Of course, public partners can provide fundraising help as well, acting as agents to receive federal, state, and local grants and opportunities, and pursuing grants from government sources.”

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Delta Plan

As one of the nexus points in the water system in California, what happens with the Sacramento Delta impacts the entire state, and the plan put together by the Delta Vision Foundation—soundly based on increasing supply with dams and enhancing conveyance—is the best out there right now and worth keeping tabs on its implementation.

They have issued a report card on how it is going so far.

News Release.

For Immediate Release:
Monday, June 1, 2009

Julie Dixon, Resource Media / 415-302-6089

Delta Vision Foundation Says State Efforts to Fix Delta Don't Make the Grade
Report Card shows little progress on implementation of Delta Vision Strategic Plan

Sacramento - Today, members of the Delta Vision Foundation (formerly the Governor's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force) released a mid-term "Report Card" to determine the State's progress in shaping policy to restore the beleaguered Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta and ensure a reliable water supply for California.

"The urgency of our water supply problems and the crisis of the Delta ecosystem dictate a more aggressive, cohesive, and integrated approach by the Governor and the Legislature," said Phil Isenberg, former Chair of the Delta Vision Task Force. "We need the Administration to issue a clear position on the Strategic Plan's recommendations, and state lawmakers to take immediate action to adopt the comprehensive package."

The Delta Vision Foundation analysis charges that in the six months since its release, the Governor has not responded to the recommendations and strategies documented in the Delta Vision Strategic Plan, which his Cabinet Committee reviewed and largely supported. In addition, although the Foundation gave the State Legislature credit for devoting an impressive amount of time and thought to state water policy, they say the current roster of water bills is inconsistent.

According to William K. Reilly, a member of the Governor's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force and former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Time is running out both on prospects for a sustainable Delta ecosystem and on legislative opportunities to act to protect it this session. I very much hope that the Governor, who signaled his priority by establishing and appointing the Delta Vision Task Force, gets the chance to act on its recommendations as part of his legacy."

Stakeholders' testimony at today's public meeting confirmed that time is running out on the Delta, and that the State must act soon.

The Delta Vision Strategic Plan was released in October 2008. The plan included a set of integrated recommendations by which the fundamental and co-equal goals of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration could be met by adopting the package in full.

"The State Legislature and Governor made a major investment in and helped facilitate the Delta Vision, but so far have failed to take action on our recommendations," said Isenberg. "The Report Card we issued today gave lawmakers a grade of incomplete."

The recommendations as stated in the Delta Vision Strategic Plan are:
• Make the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration the legal foundation of Delta and water policy
• Recognize and enhance the unique cultural, recreational and agricultural values of the California Delta as an evolving place
• Restore the Delta ecosystem as the heart of a healthy estuary
• Promote statewide water conservation, efficiency and sustainable use
• Build facilities to improve the existing water conveyance system and expand statewide storage; operate both to achieve the co-equal goals
• Reduce risks to people, property and state interests in the Delta by effective emergency preparedness, appropriate land uses and strategic levee investments
• Establish a new governance structure with the authority, responsibility, accountability, science support and secure funding to achieve these goals

View the full Report Card

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cars On K Street?

As one who remembers cruising K Street back in the day when it was the cruise street, the idea of returning cars to K Street is probably a good idea, if for nothing else than to get people on K Street—even if just driving through—who won’t go down there now for any reason other than absolute necessity…yours truly being one.

And as Sacramento considers returning cars to the main street of downtown, New York is restricting them on Times Square, and the results have been interesting, as reported by the New York Times.

An excerpt.

“The difference between the old, frenetic Times Square and the newly reconfigured, still frenetic Times Square became clear on Tuesday: now you can pull up a chair to watch the show.

“Traffic still flowed on Seventh Avenue, without any obvious bottlenecks, two days after the city shut Broadway to traffic between 47th and 42nd Streets.

“The electronic billboards still flashed, the news zippers zipped and the giant video screens played on.

“And thousands of people bustled by, as always, on what was the first workday test of the city’s new Times Square configuration.

“But hundreds of people also took the opportunity to pause, linger or even take up temporary residence at the Crossroads of the World — a previously inconceivable idea.

“This is like a sanctuary,” said Yesim Bilgic, 36, a Swedish novelist who was sitting in one of hundreds of lawn chairs set out in the center of Broadway, where vehicular traffic is no longer allowed. She had her laptop open and was trying to find a free Wi-Fi connection. “It is chaos and you have your oasis in the middle of it,” she said. “I love it.”

“On Sunday, the city sealed off Broadway to traffic at Times Square and at Herald Square, from 35th to 33rd Streets, where it intersects with the Avenue of Americas. On Monday, which was Memorial Day, the Times Square Alliance, a group that represents local businesses, set out 350 lawn chairs and 26 chaise longues where cars had previously held sway.”