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Comments for the Natural Resources Commission review of DiSC 2022

TrafficThe following comments were shared with the Natural Resources Commission at its meeting last night and are reposted here with permission of the author.

This is Alan Pryor speaking as a former 12-year NRC Commissioner. I think it's telling to review a comment made by a Planning Commissioner at a hearing on this project last year.

"You want this to be the most sustainable, innovative tech campus in the United States. But you have come to us with a car-dominated, auto-centric proposal on the edge of town, far from the capitol corridor station, not linked to good transit, with huge parking lots and parking structures. Widening Mace to accommodate more traffic is not the answer. It's going to induce more traffic."

Nothing has functionally changed with this project since then except its size is been reduced by less than half but the applicant is now proposing transportation features that are even less conducive to non- automotive forms of transportation.

For instance the applicant is now refusing to construct the previously agreed upon off-grade crossing to allow arriving pedestrians and bicyclists to safely cross six lanes of Mace Boulevard during rush-hour traffic. How is that possibly welcoming to bicyclists and pedestrian employees arriving on the west side of the street or to school kids living at the project trying to get to school and back each day without a parent driving them.

Also, the original proposal was an environmental nightmare in that it projected over 83,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent emitted each year. The new estimate is about  45,000,000 lbs of CO2 equivalent per year - or about 4.5% of the City's current carbon footprint for this one project alone. All of these emissions would have to be later eliminated for the City to reach carbon neutrality by 2040 but the developer has not proposed how they will do this.

Almost all of the GHG emissions result from automobile traffic to and from the site each day. The applicants only proposed solution is to develop a "Transportation Demand Management Plan" which will not have any firm commitments to meet quantifiable emission targets. And if not met, then the developers propose only to buy carbon offsets at $15/ton. What a joke! This means the applicant could skirt all of their environmental obligations for their polluting impacts for only a little over $300,000 per year. That is a rounding error for a multi-billion dollar project of this size. 

In light of the recent UN report stating that the world is facing an existential crisis if omissions are not reduced by at least 50% in the next decade and the difficulties you are now seeing first hand in reducing the city's carbon footprint through the CAAP process, proceeding with this project as proposed is absolute madness.

If the applicant and the City do not give you more time to develop refinements to your previous recommendations, I recommend that you just resubmit all of your previous recommendations as proposed baseline features. Thank you


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