Petaluma becomes first US city to ban construction of new gas stations

March 9, 2021 by  
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Petaluma, California has passed a law restricting the construction of new gasoline stations. Located 40 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, the small city is home to around 60,000 people and has 16 gas stations. In recent legislation, the city council has banned any further gas stations from being built here. “Prohibiting new gas stations serves the public interest by preventing new sources of pollution that adversely impact environmental and human health ,” the law states. Related: Chevron spills 600 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay The law solidifies a ban that had been temporarily implemented in 2019. Following the enactment of the law, Petaluma has been receiving attention both nationally and internationally. The law now makes the city the first in the U.S. to prohibit the construction of new gas stations. “We didn’t know we would be the first, and I keep saying that we didn’t do this to be the first,” said Mayor Teresa Barret. “We’re taking one step at a time here because that’s how change is made. To me, it’s really important we’re not just ticking off boxes. If we want to be carbon neutral by 2030, we have to make these changes.” A recent study carried out by the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority places the transport sector at the center of air pollution . According to the study, 60% of greenhouse gas emissions in the region are caused by vehicles. Although the news has been well-received by many, those in the fuel industry are opposed to the move. The California Fuels & Convenience Alliance said, “Various localities throughout the state have started down a misguided direction, banning new gas stations within city and county limits, through ordinance or moratorium. This single-minded approach will ultimately cause greater harm for communities than any potential benefit.” Even with such opposition, the city council maintains its stand. If the world is to successfully fight against pollution, and ultimately climate change , it is necessary for officials to start taking such actions. Via CleanTechnica Image via U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Digital Visual Library

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Petaluma becomes first US city to ban construction of new gas stations

San Antonio unveils new wildlife land bridge

December 16, 2020 by  
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The newly built Robert L.B. Tobin Land Bridge now connects two sections of a San Antonio park that were previously separated by a highway. The bridge, which is aimed at serving both humans and animals, was developed to reduce human-wildlife conflicts along the busy highway. According to the  City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department , the bridge is the biggest of its kind in the U.S. The six-lane highway crossing the Phil Hardberger Park makes it difficult for animals to get from one side to the other. Even though there are barriers restricting the animals from crossing the highway, there are those that still break through. This has led to various accidents on this highway. Related: $87M wildlife bridge in California will be a haven for mountain lions Former Mayor of San Antonio Phil Hardberger, who shares his name with the park, said in an interview that the animals within the park have always been threatened by the highway. “Even though you do put up barriers, they’ll get across or start to get across,” Hardberger said. “Right now, it’s six lanes. [The Texas Department of Transportation] says it will eventually be eight lanes. We’ve had some accidents between cars and deer especially and some of the smaller animals as well.” The bridge, which opened on Friday, has already be used by local wildlife, as seen by construction workers. The new structure is 150 feet long and about 150 feet wide. It is also designed to feature walking trails for humans and natural vegetation for the animals. Once the vegetation is fully developed, the bridge is expected to resemble the look of the park . San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has applauded the project, expressing his expectations for the park once the landscape is fully developed. Nirenberg said , “I look forward to watching the landscape grow and mature with native trees and plants and observing wildlife through viewing blinds designed by local artists.” For years, measures intended to help wildlife cross busy roads and other human-made impediments have been implemented. According to  National Geographic , such structures originated in France in the 1950s. Today, there are plenty of these structures around the world, including in the United States. Currently, there are similar projects underway in Houston and San Francisco. + San Antonio Parks and Recreation Via Huffington Post Photography by Justin Moore; rendering via San Antonio Parks and Recreation

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San Antonio unveils new wildlife land bridge

Winning design for Museum of Architecture and Urbanism announced

December 16, 2020 by  
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A recent competition sponsored by the National Agency for Administrative City Construction aimed to find a comprehensive design for the new Korean Museum of Architecture and Urbanism (KMUA) in Sejong, South Korea . The winning team was recently announced, along with plans for the project. The final design came from a team made up of Alejandro Zaera-Polo, Maider Llaguno Munitxa, Ivaylo Nachev, Carlota Mendez, Claudia Baquedano and Claudia Zucca of AZPML, in collaboration with Yukyung Kim from UKST. Their  green design  focuses squarely on illuminating architecture as a science and art, while respecting Korean history and the environment.  Related: Academy Museum of Motion Pictures achieves LEED Gold certification The team sought to address the  environmental issues  caused by urbanization with the understanding that cities are responsible for an estimated 70% of global carbon emissions and 66% of energy consumption. What better way to highlight the issue than to design the KMUA as an example of environmentally responsible architecture? With this idea at the core, the team worked with a foundation of four primary goals. The first goal was to exemplify the best practices in construction, including urban mining, the preservation of resources and the reduction of embodied energy, carbon emissions, construction waste and  pollution . Putting this into practice, the team designed oversized scaffolding using reused steel from decommissioned buildings. This framework will house examples of real architecture. Additionally, natural lighting pairs with tiered outdoor spaces and indoor skylights. The second goal was to honor Korean architecture with traditional Hanok roofs. Considering the building’s location and purpose, the team prioritized creating a structure that fits into the landscape . Also, the team aimed to pay tribute to a time in Korean development that saw a destroyed national economy blossom into an example for the world. Much of this happened through urban transformation, and the KMUA will stand as a tribute to that growth. The fourth design goal was to create a space that will not only function as a museum but also provide educational, multimedia and workshop facilities. Primarily an exhibition space, the structure will house both permanent and revolving exhibitions of architectural features. In short, the museum will feature examples of architecture in both the displays and the building itself. To achieve  energy efficiency , the building will use glass and natural ventilation. Additionally, the building enclosure is designed as a high-performance floor-to-ceiling glazed membrane, with embedded heat recovery vents. Demonstrating a dedication to sustainable building, the entire structure will abide by the Design for Disassembly doctrine. This means the materials used in construction can be disassembled and reused at the end of their usable life as part of KMUA. + AZPML Via ArchDaily   Images via AZPML

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Winning design for Museum of Architecture and Urbanism announced

How Stockton and California are building resilience from the ground up

November 2, 2020 by  
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How Stockton and California are building resilience from the ground up Deonna Anderson Mon, 11/02/2020 – 00:05 California — as well as the rest of the United States and, in some cases, the rest of the world — is facing three major crises right now: the COVID-19 pandemic; the climate emergency; and racial injustice.  “We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system, in our economy,” Kate Gordon, director at the California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, said during a keynote panel last week at the VERGE 20 conference. “A priority for us at the state is to get a handle on the pandemic because, honestly, without getting a handle on the pandemic and the current fires, we can’t move forward as a state.” So, how is California building resilience in both its rural and urban communities? Let’s start with a local approach. Laying the groundwork for an equitable future Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was part of the conversation with Gordon during VERGE 20. “As mayor of Stockton, the focus is really on equity and understanding that everything we’re talking about from the pandemic of COVID-19 to the issues with climate change and wildfires in this state … [is] really about people,” Tubbs said, adding that inequality and racism in the U.S. are not abstract notions. We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system in our economy. It’s necessary, he said, to “understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity.” Stockton is an inland city in California’s Central Valley, where the median income is $51,318, according to the U.S. Census . Of the estimated 312,000 residents, about 20 percent live below the poverty line. Before the pandemic, Stockton had been running an 18-month pilot universal basic income program , which gave 125 residents who live at or below the median income line (around $46,000) $500 per month, with no strings attached , meaning they could spend it however they want. At the end of May, Tubbs announced that it would be extended until January . “[And we] now have 30 other mayors throughout this country who are saying a guaranteed income or basic income is a part of a strategy for COVID-19 response, part of a strategy that’s responsive to inequality and also a part of a strategy that’s responsive to climate change,” Tubbs said.  Gordon also pointed to the need for a just transition, which she defined as the same thing as high-road economic development, which typically prioritizes well-paying jobs and environmental sustainability. “We’re talking about a transition to a more sustainable, resilient and equitable economy that provides pathways into that economy, for underserved communities. And for folks who have been left out, frankly, of the current economy,” she said. Greening the entire economy Gordon noted that instead of embracing strategies that replace or displace jobs in the current economy with green jobs, there needs to be a more explicit focus on greening the entire economy. “The entire economy needs to be powered by cleaner energy and cleaner technologies,” she said. “That is a major opportunity across every sector and every region, of the state, of the country, of the world.” And as the economy goes green, people who make decisions need to engage communities in being part of the solutions because the needs of each community will vary, said Tubbs and Gordon. It’s necessary to understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity. “I really see this conversation about just transition, honestly, as an opening to a more bottom-up community-driven economic development approach here in California and everywhere, frankly,” Gordon said. California has a program called Transformative Climate Communities (TCC), in which communities most affected by pollution are able to choose their own goals, strategies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address local air pollution. Tubbs said that during Stockton’s TCC planning process, one of the main issues that came up was the high cost of utility bills and the challenge of converting to solar. Renters can’t arbitrarily install solar panels on properties that they don’t own. And if residents did own a home, they might not be able to afford it. He said Stockton is looking forward to working with the state to figure out what it can do to provide more community solar opportunities as an option. Just like rooftop solar doesn’t work for everybody, plugging in an electric vehicle in a home garage doesn’t work for everybody. Gordon said that Kern County, California’s third largest county with about 900,000 residents , is a great example of a place struggling with EV infrastructure financing. Like Stockton, Kern County, known for agriculture and crude oil production, is inland and part of California’s Central Valley. Banks don’t think the county is a place where people will want EVs. But California is banning the sale of gas cars over the next 15 years, so every county needs a strategy. “That’s a place where we in government can step in and say, ‘Hey, can we derisk that? Can we provide some loan guarantees? Can we help you out there, because we need to expand these options throughout California?’” Gordon said. “These are not just options for our big coastal cities.” Pull Quote We’ve had this shock to our system from the pandemic that has exposed these fault lines and the basic lack of resilience in our system in our economy. It’s necessary to understand that the most important investment we can make is an investment in all of our people to be able to live with dignity. Topics Community Resilience Policy & Politics California Equity & Inclusion VERGE 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Photo by  Sundry Photography  on Shutterstoc.

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Middelkerke Casino blends into the surrounding Belgian sand dunes

October 22, 2020 by  
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Great architectural design provides function for indoor spaces but also considers the effect on the surrounding outdoor space. This is especially true in a sensitive habitat, like that along the coastline of Belgium, where a massive casino will meld into the curving landscape while bringing an economic boost to the region. As winner of a recent Design & Build Competition, Nautilus consortium plans to honor both the history and the landscape with the new building, which will be located in the municipality of Middelkerke. Related: Massive eco-resort with a theme park to rise on Vietnam’s beaches The primary design goal was to create visual appeal that blends into the seascape rather than standing out against it, with a focus on building placement and integration. For example, the event hall, restaurant and casino will be situated behind transparent facades that offer views of the beach, sea and horizon beyond. From the outside, the wood structure of the ‘boulder’-shaped hotel is striking, with a light, natural appeal that contrasts the surrounding glass- and concrete-clad buildings and merges seamlessly into the surrounding flora. Energy savings are incorporated into every phase of the design, including the cantilevered dune on top of the ground floor and the terraces of the hotel tower, which protrude over the facade, creating shade during hot summer months. In addition, the layout takes advantage of the cooling sea breezes. Material waste is avoided wherever possible, and recycled materials are incorporated throughout construction. Structurally, the campus addresses flood risk through dike reinforcement while also providing a public space that is pedestrian-friendly . The upper seawall area is a car-free zone focused on bicyclists and foot traffic; an underground parking garage offers convenience and keeps cars out of sight. “With this project our coast will be enriched with a new architectural anchor, that accurately represents the character of Middelkerke,” said Mayor Jean-Marie Dedecker. “It transmits strength and soberness as well as sophistication, with a lot of love for the sea and the dunes. In addition, this project may mean the beginning of the renewal of Middelkerke’s town centre as an appealing place to live and visit.” Nautilus consortium is a collaboration between developer Ciril, chief designers ZJA (architecture) and DELVA ( landscape architecture ), OZ (casino and hotel design), executive architect Bureau Bouwtechniek and contractors Furnibo and Democo. They are assisted by experts from COBE, VK Engineering, Beersnielsen, Witteveen+Bos, Plantec, MINT and Sertius. + ZJA Images via Nautilus Consortium

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Middelkerke Casino blends into the surrounding Belgian sand dunes

San José’s bold new plan for climate-friendly transit

October 13, 2020 by  
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San José’s bold new plan for climate-friendly transit Elizabeth Stampe Tue, 10/13/2020 – 00:22 San José is rolling out the green carpet for biking, thanks to the city council’s unanimous passage of the Better Bike Plan 2025 . With the plan’s adoption, the city commits to building a 550-mile network of bike lanes, boulevards and trails to help thousands more people ride safely. The plan is realistic about the past, acknowledging San José’s sprawling 180-square-mile spread, its car-oriented layout and its inequitable history of transportation decisions, which continue to shape people’s lives. But the plan also looks ahead, aiming to create a city where anyone can comfortably bike to any neighborhood.  The planned network includes 350-plus miles of protected bike lanes, 100 miles of bike boulevards and 100 miles of off-street trails. Already, the city has built over 390 miles total.  First, make it safe The numbers are impressive. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  With this plan and its creation, the city lays out a thoughtful approach to who feels comfortable biking, who doesn’t and how to invite more people out onto bikes. Many cities have been finding creative ways to help their residents get around safely, healthily and affordably. For too long, bike lanes — not just in San José but nationally — have been created for the few people who feel fine biking on a street full of fast traffic, protected by only a line of white paint. The new plan acknowledges that’s often not enough for people to feel comfortable, instead offering “the evolution of a bike lane,” first by just widening that painted lane into buffer to create more separation from traffic, then putting parked cars between bikes and traffic when possible, and then building a whole raised curb between cars and the bike lane. Sometimes, instead of adding miles, it’s important to go back to make existing miles of bike lanes better and safer. The plan emphasizes that many of San José’s quiet residential streets can connect to create a “low-stress” network of “bike boulevards,” along with safe ways to get across the big busy streets. To create the plan, city staff talked with residents. They also partnered with community-based organizations such as Veggielution , Latinos United for a New America (LUNA) and Vietnamese Voluntary Foundation (VIVO). At meetings and focus groups in Spanish and Vietnamese as well as English, city staff and partners asked residents: What would help make them more likely to bike?  Paramount across communities was concern for safety.  Build quick, aim high  The city already has shown that it can move quickly. With its Better Bikeways project and with the assistance of the Bloomberg Philanthropies American Cities Climate Challenge, San José will have built 15 miles of protected bike lanes between 2018 and 2020.  The “quick-build” model is impressive. A few of us from the Climate Challenge got to tour San José’s downtown by bike last year with Mayor Sam Liccardo and the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). We pedaled along new green lanes, protected by sturdy green posts and complete with ingenious bus islands that are wheelchair-accessible and allow bus riders to cross bike lanes safely. The green posts that protect bikers look reassuringly solid but they’re actually plastic, making them low-cost, easy to install yet imposing enough to form a kind of low wall between bikes and car traffic. It felt safe. Now the trick is to build out from downtown, connect to neighborhoods and get more people using them.  The city has set ambitious goals for “bike mode share,” which means the percentage of all trips people take in the city by bicycle. San José’s current General Plan aims for 15 percent bike commute mode share by 2040, and its Climate Smart plan seeks to reach 20 percent by 2050.  These are tall orders. Today, just 1 percent of commute trips in the city are made by bike, although a city survey found that 3 percent of people reported biking as their primary way of getting to work and even more residents using a bike as a backup mode of transportation. Of commute trips to downtown, 4 percent are by bike. These numbers might sound small, but it’s important to consider that bike commuting is on the rise: Between 1990 and 2017, San José saw a 28 percent increase in commute trips made by bike. But not all trips are commute trips; in fact, in San José, only one in five trips are to and from work. That’s especially true in these teleworking times. Encouragingly, the plan notes that 60 percent of all trips people make in the city are less than 3 miles long. Those short trips, combined with the city’s mild climate and flat terrain, make biking a good option, creating the opportunity for the city to achieve its bold goals. The Better Bike Plan 2025 includes a five-year action plan of prioritized projects to implement and coordinates with the city’s paving program to save money. It offers a range of costs to make these changes, from quick and temporary to more permanent, that total roughly $300 million.  The prioritized projects listed in the plan — the list of streets where bike improvements will go — were chosen with three aims: Increase biking mode share: Areas where bicycle trips are most likely, based on factors such as population, employment and connections to transit, downtown and the existing bike lane network. Increase safety: Projects that will fix “high-injury” streets where collisions are most serious and frequent. Increase equity: Low-income and historically underserved neighborhoods, also called “Communities of Concern,” especially just to the south, east and north of downtown. People living in these neighborhoods are likely to have fewer transportation options, less access to a private car and may be essential workers, required to show up at a job in person every day. More safe, healthy, affordable transportation options are needed, and soon. What comes next: A time for action In this difficult year, many cities have been finding creative ways to help their residents get around safely, healthily and affordably. Biking nationally has boomed . San José has launched an Al Fresco program that repurposes streets for outdoor dining. In March, nearby Oakland launched the nation’s first and most ambitious “Open Streets” program along its planned bike network, acting quickly to make those streets safer by discouraging most car traffic. Oakland’s Open Streets program also creates more safe outdoor areas for people in neighborhoods with less access to open space, reduces crowding at Lake Merritt and other parks and frees up more space for social distancing than sidewalks typically offer. Oakland recently released a report to help cities in the Bay Area and beyond learn from its example.  San José has a less dense footprint than Oakland, but its residents still have a great need for safe, affordable transportation in these times. The city can take its thoughtful Better Bike Plan as a starting point to act quickly, and rebuild its streets to bring safe biking to all. Pull Quote Many cities have been finding creative ways to help their residents get around safely, healthily and affordably. A city survey found that 3 percent of people reported biking as their primary way of getting to work. Topics Cities Transportation & Mobility NRDC Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off A shark appears in a San Jose bike lane, a nod to the local ice hockey team. Shutterstock Anna MacKinnon Close Authorship

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Centering Equity and Justice in a Circular Economy

September 9, 2020 by  
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Centering Equity and Justice in a Circular Economy High-quality jobs, affordable places to live, a thriving urban culture, and a healthy human and natural environment can all be part of circular cities. This conversation between public and private practitioners discusses how. Speakers José Manuel Moller Dominguez, CEO & Founder, Algramo Mark Chambers, Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group Holly Secon Tue, 09/08/2020 – 22:44 Featured Off

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Centering Equity and Justice in a Circular Economy

Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of street

May 18, 2020 by  
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Seattle recently made bold moves to put pedestrians and cyclists first as the pandemic-induced stay-at-home order creates a new normal. Up to 20 miles of roadways in the “Stay Healthy Streets” program shall remain permanently closed to nonessential through traffic to encourage people to exercise safely while social distancing.  Environmentalists  are praising the move because curtailing vehicular traffic means a reduction in  carbon emissions . “Our rapid response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 have been transformative in a number of places across the city,” Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director, told  The   Seattle Times . “Some of the responses are going to be long lasting, and we need to continue to build out a transportation system that enables people of all ages and abilities to bike and walk across the city.” Related:  COVID-19 and its effects on the environment Quarantine fatigue has been a major motivation towards more citizen safety measures to sustain  public health  through exercise. Not only were 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets permanently closed to encourage walking, jogging, skateboarding, scootering and cycling, but  Seattle’s Office of the Mayor  also announced plans for enhanced bike infrastructure and additional protected bike lanes. The news has garnered praise from the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board. Mayor Jenny Durkan further explained, “We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy  sustainable  for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods.” According to SDOT, the streets that have become pedestrianized were selected because they have few open spaces, lower rates of car ownership and are located in routes open to essential services as well as takeout meals. Of course, postal services, deliveries, garbage and recycling trucks, plus emergency vehicles are still permitted on these “closed” streets. SDOT will also be reprogramming traffic signals to reduce pedestrian wait-times at crosswalks so that crowd formations at intersections can be avoided. Pushing buttons to request walk signals will no longer be needed for 75% of Seattle’s densest regions as walk signals there will become automated to minimize the touching of surfaces. An estimated $100,000 to $200,000 will be used for these safety measures, which include helpful new signs and barriers. The  SDOT blog  has documented that ever since Washington state’s Governor Jay Inslee issued stay-at-home orders, vehicular traffic has dropped by 57% in Seattle. It is hoped that permanently closing almost 20 miles of street will lead to fewer idling cars and limit traffic even after the lockdown lifts. In so doing, reductions in  air pollution  will continue for the Evergreen State’s Emerald City long after the lockdown lifts. + City of Seattle Office of the Mayor + Seattle Department of Transportation Images via Pexels

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Seattle permanently closes 20 miles of street

City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego: Building a thriving city

March 9, 2020 by  
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City of Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego discusses her efforts to make Phoenix a leading city for its businesses and residents. With a focus on job creation, public safety, medical care, transportation planning and sustainability, Mayor Gallego is passionate about building a Phoenix that works for everyone. From GreenBiz 20.

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City of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego: Building a thriving city

ASU’s Mark Bernstein on desert urban living in a hotter world

March 9, 2020 by  
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As the planet warms, our cities are heating up even faster, and it is especially true for desert cities. Solving heat, pollution and water problems will be key to the future of our growing cities. What is the role of technology, data and community involvement in solving these problems? Arizona State University has been a leader in looking for these solutions and Dr. Mark Bernstein highlights some of the opportunities. He is joined on stage by a team of middle-school students who are working to solving water problems. From GreenBiz 20.

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