This year, my friends and I decided that it’s time to change things around and go snowboarding somewhere else instead of our usual Tahoe location. We managed to get our hands on cheap tickets via Southwest Airlines to go to Salt Lake City, Utah.
When you think of Utah, what do you imagine. Probably a place filled with a bunch of mormons and strict alcohol limitations. That is probably true to some extent. However, a 30 minute bus ride away, there exists a destination that is what I believe to be the best managed small city in the United States.
Famed for it’s central location between three ski resorts, Park City is the place to go if you’re itching to go down slopes lightning fast, with just you and the mountain alone. It is home to Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons, and Deer Valley Ski Resort. All three of which are conveniently accessible through it’s famous free public transportation.
Basically, from anywhere in the city, one can get around to everywhere in the city by just riding the bus. Whether you would like to something to eat, go barhopping, and even skiing or snowboarding, all you gotta do is hop on the bus and ride away, all free at no charge, freeing the need of renting a car for the average budget tourist.
Park City receives most of it’s revenue through visitors from all over the world, and because of that the city treats visitors with amazing hospitality. Majority of the locals are accommodating and helpful. It’s not an unlikely occurrence that one will go out of their way to help you out if you are in need.
The locals are used to people visiting their city because there are a number of events that take place each month.
Every year the Sundance Film Festival is held in Park City as well as other cities in Utah. Through years of hosting events like this, Park City has learned to accomodate a huge influx of visitors for a short period of time, and then clean up quickly like nothing happened the next week. I visited Park City a week after the festival, and I couldn’t even notice such a big event took place.
Park City is also home to the Utah Olympic Park. Constructed in preparations for the 2002 Winter Olympics, it is one of the most kept up to date olympic facilities in the whole world. The main reason for this is because Utah actually made a tremendous profit from the olympics, enough to upkeep this facility for 20 years after the event. Olympians from all over the world train at this facility each month. In fact, the Luge World Cup was held here while I was visiting. It is also one of the few olympic centers where a normal average joe can train or take lessons among gold medal bearing olympians.
I believe everyone should make time to visit this wonderful city at least once in their lives. Whether it’s just going to a comedy club on main street, snowboarding in the winter, mountain biking in the summer, or simply just escaping from the dense smog of urban cities, Park City is the place to go.
Construction on the 10 freeway for the past several months has led to alternate closing of arbitrary exits and entrances, much to the dismay of San Gabriel Valley residents.
Here is something a friend of mine had to say about it: “What are they really fixing? They’re just making it look better. We’re in a recession. They should be spending the money on more important things like education.”
Given Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to cut education and the nearly nonexistent difference felt driving on the 10, I can’t help but agree with my friend.
Catchy title for a new tv reality show? Maybe, but the concept has merit. Just as houses on Home Makeover are in dire need of remodeling, cities in the United States are in dire need of better health. Healthcare in this country already accounts for 17.3% of GDP and is expected to nearly double to 4.5 trillion dollars -19.3% of GDP- by 2019. The question is, how do we make cities healthier?
Dan Buettner -a well known speaker on the subjects of life and happiness – appeared on CNN to talk about his new project to give health makeovers to three California cities – Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and Manhattan Beach. The Blue Zones Vitality Projects will follow Huettner’s previous work in Albert Lea, Minnesota. That town saw a significant drop in healthcare cost and sick-days – 50% drop in healthcare cost, 20% drop in employee absenteeism after just one year.
Blue Zones Vitality Program (via wikipedia)
The AARP/Blue Zones Vitality Project is divided into several different initiatives. The categories for the initiatives were habitat, social networking, community, and purpose. Some initiatives proved to be specific to one category while others spanned several categories.
- Walking Moai Program: Over 500 participants joined approximately 70 “walking moais,” which were groups of 4-10 walkers who agreed to meet once a week and walk to a set destination and back. They collectively walked over 75 million steps and approximately 32,000 miles. In addition, Walking Moai participants did over 2,200 hours of volunteer work. Both steps and volunteer hours were compiled for each group as part of an overall Walking Moai competition.
- Walking School Bus: The Walking School Bus Program found parents and volunteers to walk with groups of children to their respective elementary schools. A walking bus is said to encourage children to walk more, help build social networks, and assist in keeping kids safe on their way to school.
- Vitality Compass: The Vitality Compass is an online tool which is now available nationwide. It asks participants questions about their eating habits, sleeping habits, levels of stress, and amount of daily activity. At the end of the online survey, participants are given an age which is their approximate life expectancy. For the purposes of determining the efficacy of certain aspects of the Vitality Project participants were asked to take the Vitality Compass twice; once at the beginning of the program and again at the end. The average life expectancy for those who took the Vitality Compass at the beginning and at the end of the program increased by three years.
- Volunteering: Vitality Project organizers encouraged participants to volunteer in their community.
- Employers: Employers were encouraged to make their work environments more amenable to practices leading to good health. For example, some employers added healthy alternatives to vending machines.
- Grocery Stores: Vitality Project organizers encouraged grocery stores to feature those foods which are thought to engender better health and increased life expectancy.
- Neighborhood Picnics: To encourage community building and social networking, several neighborhood picnics were held and all people in a given neighborhood were invited to attend.
- Community Gardens: The City of Albert Lea in cooperation with the Vitality Project made space available for citizens of Albert Lea to plant vegetables and flowers.
So what does it take for a city to receive a health makeover? Cities need to have leadership committed to promoting health. The California beach communities that signed up for Huettner’s three year plan all have the support of their local elected officials – mayors, city council members, county departments.
Health and activity are synonymous. Healthy cities are active cities. Cities can alter their built environment’s to support a more active lifestyle for their residents. These alterations include:
- widening and connecting sidewalks
- creating bicycle lanes
- bringing in farmers markets
Cities must be built for people, rather than for cars. According to Huettner, when cities become more bike/pedestrian oriented, activity levels go up by about 40%. As a result, people can ditch those expensive gym memberships along with their sedentary lifestyles. Potential benefits include decreased stress and obesity resulting in a happier you.
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Pedestrians benefit when cars are forced to slow down. The San Bruno BART Station elicits the help of STOP signs, speed bumps, concrete islands, barriers, and road markings to help slow down cars.
The mall removed parking spaces to allow for a marked pedestrian path. This path connects the San Bruno BART Station with Target, JC Penny, the Food Court, and Movie Theater.
“Safe Dispersal Area” road markings tell motorists that they are sharing the road with pedestrians. Visuals such as these let pedestrians know that they belong in this area as well.
This concrete isthmus between a sea of parking is a welcome relief for pedestrians who walk to the mall. Rather than traversing a large parking lot, walkways such as these enhance pedestrian safety, which makes walking a more viable option.
It goes to show that with minor modifications, pedestrians can be accommodated in a world where cars have come to dominate.
It’s a situation that many Angelenos have faced: You’re trying to park. It’s your own residential street. Home turf. But there are too many cars, so you end up half-blocking your own driveway. Then you get a ticket.
Does Los Angeles have a parking problem or does it have a car problem?
It seems to me that “too many cars” would imply that we have a car problem. Neighborhoods with limited parking availability should charge a premium price to park. Cities like Alhambra already require residents to have a permit for overnight parking. This ensures that street parking is reserved for residents.
City of Alhambra Example:
TEMPORARY OVERNIGHT PARKING PERMITS – Permits for temporary parking can be purchased ONLINE OR in the lobby of the Police Department through a 24-hour per day self-service machine. The cost per night for a temporary overnight parking permit is $3.
ANNUAL OVERNIGHT PARKING PERMITS – The Finance Department issues Annual Overnight Parking Permits for $60 per year. Each permit issued is per one vehicle and registered owner of said vehicle. Permits may be purchased at City Hall in the Finance Department during normal business hours (Mon.-Thurs., 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
According to the Times, Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl is planning to bring a motion before the Transportation Committee meeting to investigate the viability of allowing residents to park in front of their own driveways. I feel that this is a quick fix solution to the greater overarching issue that there are too many cars in LA. Rather than accommodating more cars, L.A. should start charging for the right to park on its streets. After all, just because its “your residential neighborhood” doesn’t mean you own the street.
San Franciscans know very well the value of a parking spot. Spots outside the house are prized possessions, but when taken by a neighbor, San Franciscans go a block or two over to find another place to park. I suggest Angelenos do the same.
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