It’s no secret that California has a traffic problem too. Let’s face it, the L.A. traffic reporters even have their own terms (“running a break”, “sigalert” etc.) to describe the unholy mess because it is that much worse than in other parts of the country. It’s also worth noting, of course, that we have a lot more people packed into a lot more space which probably has quite a lot to do with all that.

Traffic problem, meet stupid mandate, id est SB 375.

The oh-so-(un)wise heads in Sacto have decided that a Mandate is necessary to cut carbon emissions (don’t get me started on the science of that statement!) and traffic congestion. They want all the cities involved as metropolitan planning districts to come up with plans to reduce traffic (supposedly therefore reducing CO2 emissions) by targeted dates. They basically are requiring that cities come up with high-density housing near transit corridors and other plans to move the people around in the most efficient manner possible.

Pardon me.. Buahahahahaha. Oh, that felt good.

You see, my husband is an extreme commuter (okay so most of you know this already but hey, one never knows, I might pick up a new reader) and he commutes from Riverside to the beach Cities 4 days a week. Aside from the long days and other disruptions this causes it then becomes a case of seeing traffic congestion at close view. You actually learn quite a lot doing this over time, and boy, does hubby have stories to tell.

First of all, a word to any random readers from Sacramento– have you EVER tried to use mass transit to get somewhere especially with an alternative work schedule? Try setting up a mass transit schedule that would enable my husband to get on the train at downtown Riverside and get to work, work ten hours, and come home again. It’s literally not possible. Even if he only works eight hours it’s rather dependent on the trains being perfectly on schedule so he can catch a shuttle between the metro-line and the metrolink near Santa Fe Springs. If you’ve ever lived in Rivco you know that just ain’t the case. I live near the tracks that the trains use, I hear it all the time. I know. Long story short. Don’t ever assume that mass transit will meet everyone’s transportation needs.

Mass transit also works against alternative scheduling, which is the better answer anyhow. When you define a rush hour(s) you guarantee congestion. When your mass transit runs only between certain hours, you guarantee that employers will have to take that into account in work scheduling. It feeds on itself and you can’t break free,

The thing is, mandating high-density housing, mass transit and other “wonders of efficiency” just doesn’t work unless you’re a Cliff Swallow. And they only use their homes for 60 days a year. The reality is, when you bunch people up tightly to “reduce sprawl” and make transportation less gas-dependent, mostly what you do is increase crime rates, which is not at all desirable. Some people really need to have space around them to feel healthy. I don’t care HOW close together the homes are, it doesn’t change the fact that Mike’s position is 60 miles away, and there just aren’t any good aerospace openings closer than that. All those companies are within a few miles of each other over in the Beaches.

The real solution, as I said, is to encourage more alternate schedules. My husband’s employer does this and boy does it help. We try and jump the back end of the morning rush and because he works 10 hours, by the time he heads home it cuts the commute significantly. If he gets caught in the morning rush his commute is 2 hours long. By contrast his evening commute can be as little as 70 minutes. There are still plenty of cars out and about at that hour, but there aren’t enough to create large-scale congestion. If most companies (and I recognize that there are exceptions) had people flexing their work hours around a core set of hours (say 10 AM to 2 PM) then you could have workers working from 6 AM to 2:30 PM or from 10 AM to 6:30 PM or from 9 AM to 7 PM or whatever. If you spread out the congestion, there will be a better chance that the cars will be able to move near speed. That WILL cut carbon emissions and gas usage. I know. Our statistics over 5 years prove it.

Bunching up people like a mess of Cliff Swallows won’t do a thing.

SB 375 is currently at Ahnold’s desk.