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Origin of "Minton's project would decrease traffic" perception

Original post made by Max Hauser, Old Mountain View, on Jan 28, 2010

Here is the specific language in the recent independent Draft MND report predicting that a proposed redevelopment of the site would reduce traffic there, and why. (A Voice story mentioned this in the Jan. 22 print edition.) The full document is on the City website.

Read the key Traffic Analysis language below. It compares "trips from the existing uses" to "those expected to be generated by the redevelopment project." If you examine the relevant section closely, you find that the traffic counts for "existing uses" -- stated as Minton's and two other modest current tenants -- are explicitly theoretical (taking standard reference data for a "Building Material & Lumber Store" of Minton's floor area). After those numbers are generated, upshots and summaries use them as if they were actual current traffic (just like other "existing" data in the report -- explicitly explained as measured, Sec. 1.3 below) without explaining the discrepancy. It reads as if one person generated the numbers and another wrote the conclusions, unaware the current data were artificial. Conclusions therefore appear to compare _actual_ current trip count to that projected for the redevelopment, finding a traffic decrease That is obviously misleading, and has caused confusion.

This situation carries over into the report's main body. It argues that the basic finding in Sec. XV(a), predicting no "substantial increase in the number of vehicle trips," is wrong in substance, and that the authors should have known that.

Projected trip data for the _redevelopment_ are unavoidably, like the redevelopment itself, theoretical. Only the "existing uses" trip counts lead to misleading language, and they're also the only conspicuously unrealistic "existing" data I noticed in the report. (Minton's -- see recent weekday midday photo -- doesn't serve three customers every minute it's open, as its traffic number implies.) I also found no clear explanation of _why_ this study employed theoretical data solely for the existing site, while the rest of the report's considerable car-related data came from teams counting cars laboriously for hours and days at many locations less central to the story.

Appendix D: Traffic Impact Analysis [EXTRACTS]

1.0 INTRODUCTION ......................................1-1
1.3 Analysis Scenarios ..................................1-5
1. Existing Conditions (2009) – existing intersection condition based on traffic counts collected between 2007 ...and 2009.

2.0 EXISTING CONDITIONS ............................2-1
2.2 Existing Traffic Operations .........................2-2
Traffic counts were conducted at the 10 study intersections...

3.1 Background Conditions .............................3-1
3.2 Trip Generation / Distribution ....................3-2
This chapter looks at the number of trips generated by this proposed project and the existing land uses on the site. ... The number of trips from the existing uses and those expected to be generated by the redevelopment project are presented in Tables 3-3a/b below. ...The net number of trips generated by the project is calculated by subtracting the existing land use trips from the proposed land use trips.

3.5.1 On-Street License Plate Survey .................3-14
For this survey, hourly license plate data was collected ...

3.5.2 Residential Complex Occupancy Survey ...3-20
...a study was performed at six developments similar to the proposed project.

...The proposed project would redevelop an area bounded by Evelyn Avenue, Bush Street and Villa Street in the City of Mountain View, from the existing hardware store and office uses, to a 213-unit residential complex. ... The proposed project would generate 19 fewer trips during the AM peak hour and 59 fewer trips during the PM peak hour.


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