Saturday, February 28, 2015

Re: [pjpbac-public forum listserv] Agenda For Regular PBAC Meeting, Feb 26

I'd reply with 2 related thoughts.

The first is related to Steve H's point #1, "Houses along busy streets appraise lower". Really ? 
This seems fairly debatable. A more accurate assertion might be "Houses along busy
streets appraise lower, or possibly higher, depending on (a) the town where you live 
(b) the attitude/affiliation of the appraiser (c) your definition of "busy". Search through
some of the links below, and you'll no doubt find data/arguments both for and against #1.
In any case, Steve's argument about house valuations and property taxes might only be valid
from the point of view of a potential buyer (not actual owner) of particular house. Or might not.

My second point is that Town Council meetings are not debates: one may or may not have
a chance to rebut or demolish a specious, unsupported, or half-baked assertion. One will
not have recourse to frantic real-time Google fact checking. There are rules of engagement.
One needs to be civil and polite, not raucous like this Parliamentary session. The public stands
up, gets their statement heard and recorded for posterity on TV30. Then Council gets the last word.
Then everybody can hop on their bikes (or not) and go home, blinking red beacons in the darkness.
regardless of the scrambling among the statement makers to be either first, or last. Or both.

On Saturday, February 28, 2015 11:13 AM, David Cohen <> wrote:

Thanks for your thoughts, Steve. At the NJ bike-ped summit last weekend, it was mentioned that easy access to bike friendly facilities actually raises house values appreciably. I think that should be a more compelling argument than your #1 point.

Re #2, Keep in mind that a right if way is not an easement. I think it important to try to frame the issue that the land within the right of way is not "their land" in any sense, and that obstructions (read "parking") within the right of way should only be permitted if it does not impede other valid priorities.

Point #3 is a good which no one has yet made to my knowledge.

Point #4 also good, but this one was shared at the council meeting.

Point #5 is also a good one, and toward that end we are planning to work toward developing some consensus on a network that Steve Kruse has already identified.

Thanks again for your thoughts and support.

David C.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE DROID

Stephen Hiltner <> wrote:

I had some additional thoughts about the Hamilton Ave. bike lane issue that I'm not sure have been considered, and wanted to try them out on this group. 
  • Houses along busy streets appraise lower, so that there is some built-in compensation for those living along busy streets in the form of somewhat lower property taxes. Home appraisers would be able to tell us how much busy street location is factored in. This is an argument that could potentially be used to rationalize asking those along busy streets to sacrifice their on-street parking privileges. 
  • The public right of way along Hamilton Ave is sixty feet wide, only half of which is being used for the road. Sidewalks would need to be added to that, but it could be said that the public is actually utilizing far less of the homeowners' land than it could if it wanted, i.e. the public is actually being generous in not utilizing land it has a right to use for public purposes.
  • If bike lanes are likely to be put along Hamilton Ave at some point in the future, are Hamilton residents actually doing themselves a disservice by resisting them now? Road resurfacing is when the residents presumably have the option to request extra curb cuts to allow a small space for off-street parking. The woman living at the corner of Harriet and Hamilton, who spoke at the council meeting, could solve the need for parking in front of her house by having a curb cut and putting in a driveway stub long enough to fit a car in front. (I have a photo and post about a similar stub in front of my house on Harrison St.)
  • Complaints by residents about the dangers of crossing the street, given the speed of traffic, raise several questions. Since only two or three cars are parked along that stretch at any one time, they do little to calm traffic. Hamilton Ave, in its current broad, unmarked condition, promotes speeding. Might the visual constriction of bike lanes calm traffic, making the street safer? And might there be a case also for crosswalks that would provide additional visual cues to slow down, even if side streets lack sidewalks? The arguments residents used against bike lanes may actually work in favor of putting bike lanes in sooner rather than later.
  • Might the long wait to get a master plan put together be avoided by at least planning several main arteries that everyone agrees are important? If plans for making Hamilton/Wiggins/Robeson bike-friendly along its full length were settled, then homeowners along any one stretch would not feel they were being forced to sacrifice more than others. 
Lastly, I want to say that I wish I could give more time to this issue. Because I'm focused more on open space, shade tree, and yardwaste issues, I appreciate all the more the work all of you are doing.


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