Urban Life and Reduced Carbon Consumption: Go Big or Stay Home

Gas is constantly flirting with $4 a gallon, and like any good rational economic actors, many of us are trying to come up with solutions to lessen our dependence on cars.

In the case of myself and Tori, the focal point of our low-car crusade is our relocation from car-dependent ‘burbs (Birdland and Oceanside, respectively) to North Park, which is described by the website walkscore.com as a “Walker’s Paradise“.  Intuitively speaking, this seems like a good idea.  We now use a combination of walking and biking to get just about everywhere in the uptown area, and have even ridden our bikes as far as Petco Park and the museums on El Prado.  Groceries, bars, Padres games, and all sorts of good cultural nonsense are available without the use of a car.

I’m proud of myself for getting this far, but apparently fine people at grist.org think people like us have our heart in the right place but are not doing enough.  Why?  Because the lessened amount of vehicle miles travelled only materialize in areas with extremely high densities:

The inflexibility of our automobile usage boils down to a few factors, with work being the most important. The more workers in a household, the more drivers, and the more drivers, the more miles. A one-driver household, as noted above, tallies 10,100 miles per year; a two-driver household racks up 18,800 miles; three drivers, 33,900; four drivers, 47,700.[1] We are, by and large, beholden to our cars because we are beholden to our jobs.

Here’s the kicker: while moving to medium-density does not seem to have much effect on the amount of miles we travel in vehicles, it does seem to affect per-capita fuel usage.  How does that work, you ask?  It seems like there would be quite a bit of work required to sort out the causal factors there, but here’s a couple of thoughts:

  1. The author’s conclusion that “People with the space to use pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans tend to buy them more than people who live and drive on tighter city streets — they typically drive smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.” This is true, but does that really create the entire efficiency gain?
  2. My own personal experience of carpooling.  Living in a dense neighborhood means that you are much more likely to live close to coworkers.  In my case, I’m carpooling quite often with a coworker in the neighborhood to our jobs in North Park.  I’m still travelling the same number of vehicle miles, but we split the gas burden.
  3. Is bus/taxi/etc. usage factored into these per capita stats?  While riding a bus will not affect your vehicle-miles, it would certainly affect your share of the gas burden.

Based on this data, the draws the conclusion that increased fuel efficiency beats moving into the city for short-term reduction in fuel consumption.  Can we be so sure on that, though?  What’s his definition of ‘high-density’ in the first place?  It appears to be any number greater than 5,000 people per square mile.

So where does not-too-dense-but-still-urban area like North Park fit into this? Apparently we come in at a whopping 11,000 residents per square mile.  Really?  We could live somewhere half as dense and still show large reductions in our fuel usage?  I must have a different idea of “high-density” than grist.org’s Tim De Chant.

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Despite restrictions, San Diego gets first approved dispensary

In an unincorporated part of El Cajon, San Diego just got its first approved medical marijuana dispensary. Apparently, for the exorbitant fee of $11,000, Mother Nature Healing Alternative Cooperative can open up shop. If you have a card and want to visit, expect to see cameras, metal detectors, and a guard. Essentially, all the stuff a good dispensary should have anyway… KUSI (of all places) has more.

At the same time, a measure to overturn the restrictions to dispensaries got enough votes to go on the ballot, according to an article from the North County Times.

The results mean that the City Council will have to decide whether to repeal the law, approved in April, or put the issue to a public vote — most likely on the June 5, 2012 ballot. Council members also have the option to call a special election, but the cost makes it less likely.

I’m curious what the outcome of a city wide vote would/will be. I’m sure it both sides of the issue are willing to put forth some serious man-hours to fight for their point of view. I can’t wait for hours of debate about how marijuana is a gateway drug that ruins people’s lives. I think Justin Timberlake is doing just fine.

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Nimrod on Local News Does Something Stupid and Hilarious

I’ve always wanted a jetpack – once I get one, I’ll know I’ve truly arrived in a future of magic and wonder.

But perhaps the future isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

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The Belgians Are Coming! Anheuser-Busch Attempts to Hijack Local Brew Scene

Reggie Bush and Rey Misterio Jr are no longer the only people attempting to make money while sporting a 619.

Booyaka Booyaka

Anheuser Busch, a subsidiary of Belgian-owned AB InBev, is getting used to pretending it’s American even though it’s owned by some tiny European country without a government or national identity.  The next step?  Pretending they’re making local craft brews for several different markets.

This all started with their acquisition of Chicago microbrewing powerhouse Goose Island, whose signature beer was 312 Urban Wheat Ale.  312 is, of course, the area code for the local Chicago region.

AB InBev and the other big multinationals are getting wise to the growing craft brew scene, and want to steal a piece of the pie.  Some of their more popular ‘craft’ beers, such as Blue Moon and Shock Top already have the parent company deliberately concealed, as they understand the hipster cred that comes with a good craft brew.  Never one to shy away from stealing a good idea, they are pilfering the 312 Urban Wheat Ale idea and are trademarking various area codes nationwide.  Cities affected include Charlotte, Washington, and of course San Diego.

No official announcement has been made, and nobody’s quite sure when “619 Urban IPA” will start appearing in your local AM/PM locations.

The hilarious irony, of course, is that any local knows that most of our good beer is made in 760 anyway.

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Are sales signs going up for the Union-Tribune?

The San Diego Union-Tribune may be on the market soon. According to a recent LA Times article, Platinum Equity, the Beverly Hills equity firm that bought the UT from the Copley family two years ago, has hired a New York investment bank to “evaluate strategic alternatives.” Essentially, they’re putting it up on eBay.

It saddens me to see this happen to the UT. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a UT fan. But San Diego does need at least one major newspaper. I get that industrywide, ad revenue is way down. I actually chose not to major in Journalism, specifically newspaper layout and design, because even at 17 I knew it was a dying art.

Likely bidders are the company that owns the LA Times and a company that owns several other SoCal papers.

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San Diegans don’t care if backyard chickens ruffle city’s feathers

Local food trend is all over San Diego. It is obvious from the Farmer’s Markets are popping up all over the county. It’s not so strange considering the rising prices of food that some people are looking to get their protein a little bit closer.

We’ve already discussed how San Diegans are raising chickens in their backyards and the city isn’t too happy about it. But it seems like a lot of chicken owners, just don’t care.

For those of us that either do have a chunk of yard that lets them legally raise chickens or who don’t and just don’t care, there is a website specifically for San Diegans who raise chickens (I’m sure you can get some amazing egg salad at their potlucks). For a more comprehensive look at chicken rearing, not surprisingly, the Internet has you covered.

In the mean time, the city needs to change its archaic law. Looking at recent trends, the number of chickens in San Diego will only go up. The city ought to be actively supporting these efforts instead of hampering them. I, for one, intend to raise chickens (as soon as I move out of my tiny apartment) no matter what the law.

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Bloodbath at FM 94/9? Multiple DJs Laid Off

Rumor has it that a new set of major staffing cuts has affected San Diego’s once-great FM 94/9 (it’s about the Mikey).

Tommy Hough has reported via his facebook that “while I will continue to produce and host Treehuggers International, Brunch With Bob, and my public affairs program in conjunction with FM 94/9, I’m pursuing full-time options again.”  Programming Director Garrett Michaels has taken Tommy’s old slot.

This has allegedly been part of at least a dozen cuts to the station, which has been in gradual decline since the economic constraints brought on by the 2008 economic crash forced the station to let go of local legend Mike Halloran and hire local dimwit Mikey to piss me off on my commute to work.

Big Sonic Chill host Amanda has also been let go, though the show will continue.

This station, for a brief shining moment mid-decade, was an amazing piece of an otherwise horrendous local radio landscape.  It’s sad to see it fall so far.

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