To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ExpressLanes, Santa Monica Bikes, WeHo Parking, Measure J, Omnitrans BRT, NY Subways & More 



 2012 Election: Presidential Race, Transportation & The States -- A Reading Guide ("Transportation has been a mostly neglected issue on the presidential campaign trail this year. That has left media organizations and political and transportation analysts to try to fill the void in differentiating where President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney stand on transportation issues and what the election of one or the other might mean for state governments. With a week to go before the nation chooses a chief executive who may determine the future of transportation for decades to come, here’s a reading guide on the candidates.")
The Council Of State Governments

The Article That Predicted The New York Subway Storm Surge Problem
The Atlantic
New York Is Lagging As Seas And Risks Rise, Critics Warn (September 10, 2012 : "The most vulnerable systems, like the subway tunnels under the Harlem and East Rivers, would have been unusable for nearly a month, or longer, at an economic loss of about $55 billion.")
New York Times

BH Chamber Of Commerce Announces Local Endorsements (Measure J)
Beverly Hills Patch

Bus Riders Union: Transit Justice, Not Corporate Welfare -- No On Measure J
StreetsBlog LA

Crippled New York Subways Could Hamper Storm Recovery
Associated Press

First sbX Vehicle Arrives For Testing At Omnitrans Headquarters
Omnitrans sbX Bus Rapid Transit Project via Facebook

For Streetcar, It's The $62.5 Million -- Make That The $85 Million Question: Ballot Measure Will Ask For $22.5 Million More In Taxes Than Is Generally Discussed
Los Angeles Downtown News

Green Lane Project (webinar : today)
Association Of Pedestrian And Bicycle Professionals

Harbor (110) Freeway ExpressLanes Opening Date Nears ("The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has issued more than 20,000 transponders ahead of the Nov. 10 debut of the ExpressLanes on the Harbor (110) Freeway, officials announced Tuesday.")
Daily Breeze

Ignoring Port, Councilmember Johnson To Hold Own Hearing Regarding SCIG Railyard
StreetsBlog LA

Intermodal Passenger Connectivity Database Released
Metro Magazine

Keeping The Trains Running: A Leadership Interview With The Head Of The Surface Transportation Board
Washington Post

A Market-Oriented Approach To Aviation ("What are the advantages of tailoring aviation investment to the areas with the highest traffic? What are the disadvantages? Can the ideas for aviation be replicated in surface transportation? What protections need to be in place for underserved? How do these ideas impact the notion that all citizens should have access to public transportation?")
National Journal Transportation Experts Blog

Measure J: Moving Today For Tomorrow
Jewish Journal

New York Restores Partial "Fare-Free" Bus Service
The Hill

NJTransit Service Suspended, With Major Storm Damage
Wall Street Journal

NY MTA: Some, Not All Buses Back, No Timetable For Subways (Includes interview with MTA Chair Joe Lhota about the challenges ahead)
Transportation Nation

OCTA CEO: Local Control Key To Rail Service Integration
Metro Magazine

Opinion: Measure J Equals Gentrification, Racism, And Pollution With Public Funds
Los Angeles Daily News

Santa Monica Bike Center in The LA Times & Could Be A Model For Region
StreetsBlog LA

Smarter Traffic Signals Could Make Commuting Easier

Temple City Awarded $1 Million In Grants For Signal Improvements, Bike Lanes
Pasadena Star-News

Transit Center Looking For A Home
Riverside Press-Enterprise

West Hollywood May Extend Some Parking Meter Hours To Midnight
Los Angeles Times

Westside Subway Construction Faces Years-Long Delay
Los Angeles Daily News

Who Should Foot The Bill For Sandy's Damage To Tracks And Train Tunnels?
StreetsBlog DC

What are transportation community leaders around the nation tweeting about today? Check out the Metro Library Twitter Dailyour online digest in newspaper format updated every day.

We invite you to visit Metro's The Sourceyour window to what's happening with agency news, funding and policy issues, and how to get the most out of transit and Los Angeles.

Measure J and the future of [transit in] L.A.

I am writing this quickly as I pack for a return trip to the land of aggressive public transportation planning and construction.  By Sunday I will be back in Shanghai, a public transit mecca, where the sheer number of residents demands a world-class rail and bus network.  You know what?  So does LA.  And in a little more than a week we have the chance to help make that a reality.  Without the centralized planning that is the hallmark of infrastructure construction in China, it is up to the voters to authorize the building of the rail and bus projects LA needs to make life in Los Angeles more livable.
He voted.

This November there are at least 2 softball questions on the ballot.  The first of course is Obama for president.  There are a million reasons to vote for Barack.  But for my purposes I’ll keep the focus narrow.  If you care about life in the city there has never been a clearer choice for the White House.  Obama believes in the vitality of cities. Only Mitt knows what Mitt really believes and even then it’s subject to change.

The other thing you can do for yourself and your neighbors in November is to vote yes on Measure J.

Do you want a mass transit alternative to driving in perpetual gridlock on LA’s freeways and along its main arteries like Wilshire and Crenshaw?  Do you like the idea that our city may one day have a transit system that efficiently and cost-effectively moves the millions of us who commute daily from home to work.  Measure J does that within our lifetime.

When approved, Measure J will extend for 30 years, Measure R, the existing one-half cent sales tax that was approved in 2008 and is currently set to expire in 2039. The added funds will be used to secure bonds, which will allow Metro to accelerate construction of its needed transit projects.

According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, the projects accelerated by Measure J will speed the start of construction on seven rail and rapid transit projects.  Measure J also provides an extra thirty years of continued funding for local city transportation improvements, including countywide bus and rail operations, Metrolink, and Metro Rail capital improvements.

As has been written on Streetsblog and in less august publications, Measure J isn’t perfect.  It glosses over the needs of walkers and biker and pays too much attention to freeways and other obsolete transportation solutions.  Still, it makes more sense to take this half a loaf than to hold our breath waiting, perhaps forever, for the transformative revolution that brings us complete streets, endless greenways, perfectly conceived transit-oriented development, and 10,000 kilometers of protected bike ways.

Measure J and the expansion of public transit in Los Angeles is also critical to the region’s economic development. The passage of Measure J will help ensure that Angelenos have the cost-effective and green alternative to the freeways that they need today, and deserve, to get to their jobs and schools, and the region’s countless cultural attractions.  Measure J will help LA become the world-class transit-oriented city it is on the road to becoming.

I voted yes on Measure J by absentee ballot.  On Election Day you should too.  Xie Xie.

Los Angeles Walks supports Measure J








 Crossing the street to the Metro Red Line in No Ho

Los Angeles Walks supports Measure J as an important step towards accelerating expansion of transit in Los Angeles County. More transit will make transportation in LA County more healthy, equitable and sustainable, and, in particular, will make the County a more walkable and accessible place.

Los Angeles Walks also supports Measure J because transit is a “walk extender.” Expanding Metro’s rail system and ensuring that bus and rail services are user-friendly, affordable and will allow more people to move around Los Angeles County on foot, through a mix of walking and transit trips. Transit can also help catalyze land use changes that make neighborhoods more walkable. According to Metro surveys from Spring 2012, 84% of bus riders walked to catch their bus and 66% of train riders walked to their station.  Only 25% of bus riders and 45% of train riders had a car available.
WalkLAvia October 2012

These statistics are evidence that expanding transit will also benefit walking—and that Metro’s transit system depends upon pedestrian access. Walking is a healthy and sustainable form of mobility that promotes social interactions and builds economically and culturally vibrant communities. It is also the foundation of Los Angeles County’s transportation system since all modes of trips start or end with a walk.
For all these reasons Los Angeles Walks believes that County-wide transportation funding measures
like Measures R and J should include dedicated funding for active transportation. While walking and cycling represent more than 19% of trips in Los Angeles County, just 1%  of county transportation spending goes to pedestrian or bicycling infrastructure like sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, or safer crosswalks.

70% of Los Angeles County transportation funding is from local sales tax measures, Prop A, C and Measure R/J—yet none of these sales tax dedicate funds for walk/bike investments at the County level. We look forward to working closely with Move LA and our many local partners to allocate 10% of our county transportation funding through Metro’s 2013 Short Range Transportation Plan to walking and bicycling investments.
Still life at a bus stop

Los Angeles Walks encourages everyone who walks in Los Angeles County to support Measure J and to expect and demand more funding for pedestrian improvements from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). And we need your voices to help us ensure our transportation network is complete.

Los Angeles Walks is a volunteer-supported organization dedicated to promoting walking and pedestrian infrastructure in Los Angeles, educating Angelenos and local policymakers concerning the rights and needs of pedestrians of all abilities, and fostering the development of safe and vibrant environments for all pedestrians.

Religious leaders and people’s street theater denounce Measure J’s “Legion of Doom”
 Posted by Sunyoung Yang on No on Measure J Facebook page
Sales tax measure on ballot threatens to devastate working class Black, Latino, and Asian communities

What: Press conference and street theater in English, Spanish and Korean highlighting and speaking out against Measure J because of the devastating impacts the sales tax proposal will have for Blacks, Latinos, Asian Pacific Islanders, and immigrant communities in Los Angeles.

When/where: Today, Wednesday, October 31, 2:30PM @ the intersection of Vermont & Wilshire, Los Angeles.

Who: Father Bill Delaney of St. Agnes Catholic Church, Father David Nations of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, community organizations including the Bus Riders Union. The street theater piece Measure J’s Legion of Doom will feature the epic battle between Rail Dracula, the Highway Hurricane, and the Measure J Monster versus the superhero Superpasajera (Super Passenger).

Why: Measure J, an LA County ballot measure in next week’s election, threatens to wreak havoc on working class Black, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, immigrant, and working class communities throughout the region. Billed as a jobs and traffic relief measure, Measure J will accelerate a long list of construction projects that will benefit the major corporations that are financing the campaign for Measure J. At the same time, it will provoke more cuts to the existing transit system and increases in fares, displacing working class residents from their neighborhoods through MTA-orchestrated real estate development deals.

The potentially devastating impacts of Measure J -- combined with the MTA’s record of shamelessly ignoring the needs and concerns of working class Latinos and Blacks as it advances a corporate-driven agenda -- has moved leaders of major churches to speak out against it.

Chris Holden plays 'possum' as he ignores constituents questions on 710 freeway expansion



LOS ANGELES, October 31, 2012 – City Councilman Chris Holden is playing "the possum game" on the residents of Pasadena, San Rafael and in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California. As we all know, possums have limited defenses against their predators. Their best and most prominent type of defense mechanism is to act as if they are dead., hoping that whatever is attacking them will simply go away and leave them alone.

Pasadena City Council Chris Holden, a Democrat candidate who is running for the new 41st district Assembly race, is indeed playing possum in regards to his neglected constituents, especially regarding the matter of the expansion of the 710 Freeway.

Those most affected by the potential expansion of the freeway—the residents of Pasadena, San Rafael, and in the San Gabriel valley—are both frustrated at the soaring potential costs of construction and over the safety measures taken to both create and to operate said expansion. The frustrations have gone unheard. As the questions have come forth, questions that include concerns about the cost to the cities and the costs to the state to build and operate the freeway, councilman Holden has adopted the possum defense, refusing to give clear answers or to take a stance one way or the other—until after the upcoming election.

This is a poor strategy to take in these disenchanted times. Many loyal Democrats and decline-to-state voters in Southern California are beginning to cross party lines on matters that impact their lives, including this issue regarding a potential freeway—or in some scenarios, a long extended tunnel—through their neighborhoods. Holden’s actions have led many to form the NO 710 Action Committee, with growing membership from the afore-mentioned areas. His actions are also causing him to lose ground to his rival for the new 41st District, Republican candidate Donna Lowe. Republican candidate for Congress’ 27th District, Jack Orswell, has also declared his support for the Committee.

The No 710 Committee wants openness and transparency regarding building within their communities. They seek to promote solutions that are environmentally and fiscally sound, to reduce health risks associated with the proposed expansion, to reduce congestion and to eliminate public dependence on fossil fuels. Ironically, these were once solutions that were proposed solely by Democrats. With Holden too busy playing possum, and with people tired of partisan politics not bringing them positivity and prosperity, others from across the aisle have picked up the ball, and they are running with it to secure victory for themselves and their constituency.

Councilman Holden is so busy playing dead that he is not listening to his constituents. They would tell him why they believe that he expansion of the 710 is a very poor idea, primarily (and not surprisingly in these tough economic times) because of the cost. The NO 710 Action Committee website claims that the cost that government sources have quoted project costs ranging between one and fourteen billion dollars to build a tunnel rather than construct a freeway. However, the Boston Globe has estimated that the project will ultimately cost $22 billion, including interest, an amount that would not be paid off until twenty-six years from now.  and that it will not be paid off until 2038.

Chris Holden, a longtime proponent of the 710 Expansion (an expansion that has never been popular with the people of the various cities that it would need to pass through) with monetary interests in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Ports, has succeeded in angering people from both sides of the aisle, a bad thing to do in the current economic climate—especially for waffling politicians who specialize in possum playing.

Nor are the members of the committee the only voices opposed to the career politician and possum player. California residents Tom Savio stated in The Pasadena Star-News: "…I am a life-long Democrat; I have never voted Republican –until now. I am voting for Donna Lowe over Chris Holden in the 41st Assembly District race because Lowe has steadfastly stood with the homeowners of Pasadena against the I-710 Tunnel to Nowhere - I mean Alhambra. Whereas, Holden, crony of the freeway contractors and unions, will not take a stand on the 710 Tunnel until after the election. Of course, the downside if Holden loses is Pasadena homeowners will still be stuck with him on our City Council!"

Holden may indeed be playing possum, but the predators do not seem to be fooled. In the end, playing possum regarding this issue just may cost him his political life.

How Do You Help Stop the 710 Tunnel? By Voting "No" on Measure J


Saturday, October 13, 2012


               Paying for the hangman's rope


As most are aware by now, Metro is the "lead agency" in the effort to ram the 710 Tunnel down the screaming throats of this part of L.A. County. That this bureaucracy blitzkrieg is being paid for with taxpayer money, and is being done so despite the overwhelming opposition of the people unfortunate enough to live in the path of this horrifyingly destructive boondoggle, is typical of how such things are conducted here. One of the chief features of bad government being the use of tax money to work against the interests of those who provide it. And with Metro we get just that, and so much more.

 But there is some good news here. That being we can deny Metro over $90 billion dollars and in the process likely stop their tunnel scheme dead in its tracks. How? By voting "NO" on Measure J .

In an excellent "LA Watchdog" article on the CityWatch news site (click here), columnist Jack Humphreville lays a few things down in a piece titled, "Do You Trust the Gang at Metro to Manage Another 90 Billion of Your Dollars? Say No to the Measure J Slush Fund."

LA WATCHDOG - “Would it be a good idea to see how Metro handles the first $40 billion of sales tax revenue before we give them an additional $90 billion?”

You bet it is. 
This is reason enough to vote NO on Measure J, the November ballot measure that proposes to extend the life of the “one-half cent traffic relief sales tax” for an additional thirty years to 2069.

If passed by two-thirds of the voters, this extension would provide the politically controlled Metropolitan Transit Authority (“Metro”) with an additional $90 billion, resulting in a 60 year total of $130 billion.  

While we have questioned Metro’s management capability and organizational resources to control so many complex, capital intensive highway and mass transit construction projects that will burden our grandchildren with tens and tens of billions in debt and interest payments, we have not focused on the allocation of 40% of these sales tax revenues dedicated to finance the massive operating losses of the Metro’s bus and train operations and to fund the “Local Return Improvement” program.

The article goes on to state that sales tax money already given to Metro through Measure R remains unaccounted for under its "Local Return Improvement " program. This money being difficult to trace, and with certain key portions of it functioning as a kind of slush fund.

Me? I just want to starve the Metro beast so they can't build the 710 Tunnel. And yes, I do know there has been some debate over whether Measure J money could legally be used for 710 Tunnel purposes, and therefore not be as much of a factor here as claimed. I myself question that, and ask you to consider the source. Besides, why take the chance and find out otherwise later?

After all of the disreputable nonsense we have heard from Metro on the 710 Tunnel , do you really trust anything coming out of that quarter?

By voting "No" on Measure J you will be putting yourself in a win-win position. You will help to stop the tunnel while also giving yourself a tax break. This cannot be too difficult a choice.

 Can Measure J Be Defeated?

According to an article on the LA Weekly's blog earlier this week, the matter is very (very) close. The post is called, "Measure J: Transit Tax Extension Holds Narrow Margin In Internal Poll, But Needs More Campaign Cash to Win" (click here). This is the gist of it:

A county sales tax measure to accelerate transportation projects has slightly more than the two-thirds level of support required for passage, according to internal polling from the Yes campaign.

Measure J is leading 68-22, according the poll. However, the pollster warns that after voters hear positive and negative messages about the half-cent sales tax extension, the margin narrows to 67-27 -- putting it on the cusp of defeat.

Measure J is an extension of Measure R, the half-cent sales tax measure voters narrowly approved in 2008. Measure R is set to expire in 2039. Measure J would extend the tax for an extra 30 years. That would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to borrow more money now to accelerate projects already funded under Measure R.

Opponents, including Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich, argue that the jobs figure is exaggerated. They point out that Measure J won't create any jobs that would not already be created under Measure R. A ballot argument against the measure, signed by the two supervisors, calls it "a blank check that our kids and grandkids will pay for the next 60 years."

 Let's just beat the damn thing.

710 progress report withheld from Metro board


 By Lauren Gold, SGVN
Updated:   10/30/2012 10:29:20 PM PDT
A group of staffers who promised the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board an update on proposals to extend the 710 Freeway backed out of a public presentation Thursday, officials said.

The SR-710 N. Gap Closure study team's late decision has raised questions among freeway fighters expecting a presentation on the nearly-concluded "alternatives analysis" phase of the three-year environmental impact report.

Metro staff said a short announcement by Board Chairman Michael Antonovich at the September board meeting was the extent of the presentation it will give the board on its process of deciding how to extend the 710 from the 10 Freeway to the 210 Freeway until it releases the draft environmental report at the end of next year.

Metro board member Ara Najarian said he was disappointed in the staff's decision and plans to request that a presentation be made at the board's next meeting in early December.

"I expected a professional presentation by planners as to the status of those different alternatives, not just for the sake of the board but for members of the public as well," Najarian said. "They're not going to get away with it that easily; they are not going to sweep this under the rug. We are going to shed full daylight on this process."

Metro sent out a press release in August announcing the five alternatives staff planned to "recommend" to the board for in-depth study: "no build," light rail, bus,
traffic-management solutions and a dual-bore underground freeway tunnel.

The agency had promised to give a presentation to the board in October on how it chose those five, but Michelle Smith, a project manager, said the plan changed. She said the staff felt that the final five options have already been explained to board members and "stakeholders."

"That was the plan a while back, but since then there have been changes in plans," Smith said.
Najarian said Antonovich's announcement was not a sufficient explanation of progress in a study Najarian calls "one of (Metro's) bigger projects."

In addition to canceling the board presentation, Metro staff announced last week that community meetings scheduled for October have been canceled. Metro also recently canceled a meeting it had scheduled to talk about truck traffic.

Frank Quon, the executive officer of Metro's highway program, said the meetings will likely be rescheduled for late January. Quon said staff plans to update the "stakeholder outreach" and "technical advisory" committees on Nov. 14 and 15.

"I think the thought was to be able to gather more information to be able to package, that way that we can actually start to share it with them," Quon said. "We didn't feel we were ready to go to the community."

But, Quon said, the study is still "pretty much on schedule." He said the alternatives analysis phase will conclude this fall.

Joanne Nuckols, a member of the No 710 Action Committee, said she thinks Metro's change of plans is a response to the negative feedback the agency received in recent months over its public outreach, and opposition to the project in general.

"All this opposition that started in August was totally unexpected. They had no clue, and instead of getting better it just kept getting worse, and more people were vocal and outspoken," Nuckols said. "They are trying to avoid the public or any presentation like that where the board members can get together and say we don't like that. It doesn't surprise me."

Despite concerns from freeway opponents, board member John Fasana said he was "fine" with staff's decision to move forward in the EIR.

"I didn't have any expectation. In the San Gabriel Valley, we are going to want some updates of what's going on, but in terms of when it comes back to the Metro board, I don't want to tamper with the study either. I want the study to continue to go forward without having to have a referendum from the board every time."

For more information on the study, visit www.metro.net/ projects/sr-710-conversations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opinion: Measure J equals gentrification, racism, and pollution with public funds 


By Sunyoung Yang and Eric Mann 
Updated:   10/30/2012 04:45:26 PM PDT
  MEASURE J is the latest version of gentrification, racism, and environmental pollution packaged as urban progress. It is Mayor Villaraigosa's swan song for L.A. as he moves on to his next career aspirations -- be it governor, senator, or secretary of transportation while saddling Los Angeles with a 60 year debt long after he is gone. Measure J's sizable war chest comes from powerful real estate developers and construction contractors - AEG and Westfield Corporation, Parsons Brinckerhoff and CH2M Hill - who stand to make a killing from construction contracts as they push out working class people and people of color with a Disneyfied future for L.A. -- tourists, condo construction companies, and upscale restaurants.

In a nutshell, Measure J is MTA's bid for a $90 billion advance from taxpayers just four years after voters handed them $40 billion with the first transportation sales tax Measure R. But why should an agency with such a record of misuse of public funds and a perverse hostility to L.A.'s Latino, black and working class majority be trusted with this blank check? They shouldn't.

According to its supporters, Measure J is all about accelerating job growth. Yet MTA's recent history indicates Measure J will only accelerate MTA's assault on low wage workers and the unemployed - the 500,000 janitors, domestic and hotel workers, and part-time community college students who depend on the system every day to get to the very low-wage jobs that can barely feed their families.

They are 90 percent Black, Latino, and Asian Pacific Islander and have an average annual household income of $14,000. Four years ago the same people behind the Yes on J campaign brought us Measure R. They promised transit expansion in exchange for $600 million of our tax dollars each year. What they delivered were the elimination one million hours of bus service and a sizable increase in fares.

The MTA played a shameless game of bait and switch with its budget. First, it promised the public 20 percent of the funds for bus service. But then, with $120 million to improve the bus system it simply took the funds already allocated for bus service and switched them to rail, then claimed a shortfall for the bus system and raised fares and cut service. Then it handed out hefty contracts to Parsons ($90 million) and Hill ($37 million) for projects that haven't even broken ground. In response, the Bus Riders Union persuaded the Obama Administration to conduct a civil rights investigation that showed evidence that MTA knowingly violated federal law.

The MTA claims that Measure J will help the environment. But did you know that the MTA has made a deal with the devil, that at least 20 percent of the Measure J funds will go to freeway expansion? How in the world can we combat greenhouse gases and air toxins by expanding the freeways again and again? When will we restrict auto use? But what if the MTA is really a rail construction agency?

That would explain its nefarious but logical behavior. When the cost overruns on construction pile up and the funds to operate new rail lines turn up short will the MTA ask us for even more funds? And what of 60 years of debt service? By the time the public figures out the catastrophic plans for rail projects that will never be completed and the loss of a chance for bus rapid transit and a 24/7 bus system that could be built with one-third of the funds it will be too late. As Villlaraigosa would say, "Apr s moi le deluge."

Last year, black leaders asked the MTA to upgrade the planned Crenshaw Boulevard Line, citing the potential devastation of local businesses and the threat of deadly accidents as have happened on MTA's shoddily built Blue Line. They were told by the mayor and the West Side forces that MTA simply didn't have the money. In East L.A., residents and local businesses demanded that MTA rebuild affordable housing that had been leveled during the Gold Line construction. They object to bringing in chain stores on property seized by the MTA using eminent domain.

The agency has stonewalled them. In the San Gabriel Valley, demands from a grassroots coalition to halt the advance of the $10 billion 710 tunnel - which would devastate working-class neighborhoods like El Sereno and Highland Park as much as bedroom communities like South Pasadena - have also fallen on deaf ears at MTA.

Meanwhile, the $9 billion Westside Subway extension - with backing from Westfield Corporation, JMB Realty, LACMA, and other West Side heavy hitters - has moved full steam ahead. Our charges of gentrification are rooted in facts.

A defeat for Measure J, with its enormous advertising budget and false promises of a world class city absent of its own residents would force a public debate about L.A.'s transit future. Doubling L.A.'s bus fleet from 2,500 buses to 5,000, enacting bus only lanes and a network of rapid buses, building bus rapid transit and having auto free days, rush hours, and zones would generate an environmental and social justice plan for the city in which public funds would be used for the public good, not private profits and the careers of politicians. No on Measure J is an important step to de-rail catastrophe.
Sunyoung Yang is the lead organizer of the No on J Campaign. Eric Mann is the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center.

No On J Photo

Posted by Gabriel Strachota on the No On Measure J Facebook page

Measure J: Moving today for tomorrow


 by Rabbi Mark Diamond and Marlene Grossman

 How much would we like to do, but simply don’t, because of traffic? Commuting questions plague us every day: How long will it take us to get to work; to go to the doctor; to get to school; to attend events for our kids or grandkids?

Over the past 4 years, community leaders have come together around the notion that, in the words of Assembly Member Michael Feuer, “something transformative is taking place in Los Angeles.” Over the past 20 years, Los Angeles, once the freeway capital of the world, has quietly been transformed into the third-largest transit system in the country. And on Election Day, we have a unique opportunity to create new jobs and better mobility with the passage of Measure J.

 A brief history lesson: in 2008, a coalition of groups, including Move LA and AJC (American Jewish Committee), united to support Measure R, which passed with more than 67 percent of L.A. County voters. Measure R will raise $40 billion over 30 years and build the subway to Westwood, the Gold Line to Arcadia, an Orange Line extension to Canoga Park, the Green Line to LAX and the South Bay and more.

While Move LA, AJC and many other organizations supported Measure R, 30 years seemed just too far away to appreciate this victory. We all are committed to improving Los Angeles for many future generations to come.   And yet, wouldn’t it be great to ride and enjoy these projects in our lifetime?

Enter Measure J: it would accelerate the construction of seven transit and eight highway improvement projects across LA County, so that construction begins within five years and is completed in 13 years, instead of 27 years as is currently planned. If you were born today, you could ride one of these projects to your Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Wouldn’t that be a true transformation!

Measure J does not raise taxes. Instead, it extends a half-cent 30-year sales tax that voters approved in 2008 for another 30 years, from 2039 to 2069. This longer revenue stream would allow LA Metro to finance the accelerated construction now, at a time when the cost of financing and of construction is at an all-time low. Speeding up these projects would also accelerate the creation of 250,000 jobs over the decade, according to the private nonprofit LA County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) — at a time when unemployment in the county is still at a painfully high 11 percent.

The transit projects that would be accelerated — and completed between 2019 and 2025 — include the Green Line Extension to LAX, the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor, the Westside Subway Extension, Gold Line Eastside Extension, Green Line Extension to the South Bay, the West Santa Ana Transit Corridor to Cerritos, and the Regional Connector, which connects rail lines in downtown Los Angeles to provide one-seat rides between the San Gabriel Valley, Gateway Cities and both the Westside and Eastside.

And yes, you read us correctly – there will be a rail connection to LAX and a (yet undetermined) public transit project through the 1-405 Sepulveda Pass Corridor by 2025.

Measure J also provides another 30 years of funding to cities and unincorporated parts of LA County to use for the transportation projects of their choosing, including fixing potholes, safety improvements, signal synchronization, street and sidewalk repair and local transit service.

In addition to the betterment of Los Angeles, Measure J is a particularly important issue for AJC and the entire Jewish community.  Our dependence on oil from hostile nations has put a stranglehold on our national security. With every dollar that we pump into the coffers of despots in Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and especially Iran, the more we become beholden to them. Many of the challenges faced by the United States and Israel in the Middle East are directly linked to oil, and much of it is used in the transportation sector.

Living in a city and a county known for its freeways and cars, our best bet to materially decrease our dependence on foreign oil is to get people out of their cars and on to other forms of transit – carpools, buses, rail, bicycles, and by foot.

Measure R set us on that path. Let’s keep moving down this path together.

Now City Hall wants to raise the sales tax too



Measures to raise the California sales tax (Proposition 30) and to extend the already-higher sales tax in Los Angeles County (Measure J) are up for a vote on the November 5 ballot. Now City Council President Herb Wesson is floating the idea of an additional half-cent sales tax increase within the city of Los Angeles to be voted on next March. He says the extra tax hike will be needed to raise $220 million a year and ease the budget pressures on City Hall.

 Why Wesson would bring up such a politically explosive suggestion now is mysterious, and he compounds it by calling on his Council colleagues to set the process in motion tomorrow with final approval in mid-November. Says Carol Schatz, president of the Central City Association, which represents downtown businesses: “You don’t surprise a whole city with a sales tax proposal with less than 24 hours' notice. Something like that needs a lot of discussion and evaluation.”

If Prop. 30 passes and if Wesson's tax plan goes through, the sales tax in Los Angeles would be 9.5 percent if I'm reading things correctly. We currently pay 8.75 percent; many residents of California pay as low as 7.25 percent in sales tax now.

L.A. County Voters To Decide Fate Of Transit Tax Extension


 Danny Lee October 29, 2012 

 The future of several Metropolitan Transportation Authority projects in Los Angeles County could be decided on Nov. 6 when voters choose whether or not to extend the county's half-cent sales tax to fund improvements to public transit.

If approved at the ballot box, Measure J would tack on an additional 30 years to a sales tax for transportation projects set to expire in 2039. The measure, which requires approval of two-thirds of voters to pass, would generate an extra $90 billion in local sales tax revenue until 2069.

Measure J, supported by L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in addition to several business, environmental and labor groups, would accelerate projects such as the Green Line extension into the South Bay, Gold Line extension into the San Gabriel Valley, the Westside Subway extension and the Regional Connector.

However, some unions argued that Metro's growing emphasis on rail has come at the expense of the county's bus system.

"[The measure] is going to benefit large real-estate and construction corporations, while impacting communities of color, especially bus riders who are going to see cuts in their service and fare increases," said Sun-Young Yang, lead organizer of the Los Angeles Bus Riders Union.

Yang contended that despite the additional funds for transportation created by voter-backed Measure R in 2008, Metro has scaled back on its bus service. She said the discontinuation of Metro Line 305, which provided commuters a direct route from South L.A. to West L.A., has "led to further financial burden" for working-class riders.

"After that line got eliminated, many of the domestic workers from South L.A. that worked on the Westside now have to transfer three times to get to their low-wage jobs," Yang said.

Those who oppose extending the sales tax are attempting to inform voters on the issue through the No on Measure J Web site. In addition to the Bus Riders Union, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have also come out against the measure.

But the measure's supporters claimed that a 'Yes' vote would create 400,000 new county jobs and provide necessary resources to invest in infrastructure improvements such as road repair.

"No matter what your politics, everyone benefits from traffic relief and putting people to work," said Matt Szabo, executive director of the Yes on J campaign. "Our hope is to allow those currently paying the transportation tax to actually realize the benefit of that tax by having the projects built within a reasonable amount of time."

Measure J has secured the endorsements of area newspapers like the L.A. Times and Daily News. Supporters have also ran television and radio advertisements to boost support for the initiative. Szabo said backers hope to secure more endorsements from local Chambers of Commerce and neighborhood groups in the week ahead.

Opponents said "it is a tough fight" going up against a campaign that has more than $2 million at its disposal thanks to donations from financial heavyweights like Anschutz Entertainment Group and Museum Associates, a nonprofit that operates the L.A. County Museum of Art, but the phone-banking will continue until Election Day nonetheless.

"We have a tiny, but formidable operation," Yang said. "We're up against a multi-million dollar, corporate-backed campaign. Hopefully we'll be able to swing 34 percent of the vote to defeat this measure."

Metro Hurdles and Hallelujahs—Progress Despite the Roadblocks 


 10.29.2012 Ken Alpern 

 GETTING THERE FROM HERE - It’s no secret that our economy, political scene and public sector operations are all in play, and perhaps the single most favorable result of our stumbling economy (no, folks, it’s not zooming back…but it’s not falling apart, either) is our ability to really scrutinize what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong.  Fortunately, despite the obstacles and setbacks, our transportation leadership at Metro (both at the political and staff levels) are making progress. Let’s start with the Expo Line—Phase 1 is too slow, the TAP card system isn’t user-friendly as it ought to be, and the parking lot around the Culver City station needs to be cleaned up.  However, that latter parking lot is definitely being used, and the biggest problem with it is that it’s too small.

But that parking problem is similar to the parking nightmares which faced North Hollywood and Universal City when the Red Line Subway reached those two locations—it means that mass/rapid transit has finally reached the right locations to be of benefit to a region of the county that didn’t enjoy access before.  It’s arguably a sign of success, and with the understanding that Culver City was always sort of a “Phase 1½” because it linked Phase 1 and 2 and was always a step behind the rest of Phase 1, it’s safe to say that the Culver City Expo Line at Venice/Robertson will be a transit hub for decades to come.

So unless Metro has had a sea change of operational paradigms from its past 10-20 years, it’s safe to say that Expo Line speeds and operations will improve.  Metro doesn’t take complaints lying down, and those who ignore those complaints are usually out of a job or demoted.  The Foothill Gold Line was too slow, but now it’s quite fast and enjoys excellent ridership that’s silenced the critics.  And the TAP card system is one that should be fixed sooner, and not later.

And to the west, where Phase 2 bridges and utility work are moving at rocket speed thanks to the incredible work of Skanska/Rados (a go-to contractor that Metro should embrace for the indefinite future), the dangers posed by those seeking to put a halt to construction while they bring their anti-Expo legal challenges to the State Supreme Court include damaging the economy and the wallets of the taxpayers, as Supervisor Yaroslavsky has rightfully noted.

Metro, the Expo Construction Authority and the combined political leadership of LA City and County are all opposing any work stoppage, and it’s hoped that reason and courage rule the day with respect to moving the Expo Line forward against those who’ve opted to drag their heels for the past few decades rather than achieve helpful mitigation for the Westside.

And as the Expo Line fights its way westward, and as the Crenshaw Line, Foothill Gold Line and Downtown Light Rail Connector projects offer the obvious next steps towards establishing light rail as a true network to serve the greater county, the next light rail hurdle—connecting the Green and Crenshaw/LAX lines to LAX terminals, are being tackled by the Metro Board.

The Metro Board, under a motion passed by Supervisor Don Knabe, has requested that Metro’s chief executive come back with a plan by late January 2013 to get the LAX/MetroRail connection completed by 2020.

Clearly, the County of Los Angeles wants and needs a solid, user-friendly connection between MetroRail and LAX.

Clearly, with the mayoral race of the City of L.A. heating up, a pointed question must be raised to all four candidates (Garcetti, Greuel, Perry and James) as to whether they intend to confront LA World Airports Chief Executive Gina Marie Lindsey.  Lindsey has unfortunately and hamhandedly given the taxpayers a rude gesture by dismissing this connection as a Busway, which is not desired by the taxpaying public and which is more expensive to operate than a rail connection, despite the greater startup costs for a rail system.

Of course, the need to increase the $200 million seed money for a Green Line to LAX (now more appropriately designated as a MetroRail to LAX because both the Crenshaw and Green Lines need a singular direct or indirect rail connection) is paramount for LA World Airports, Metro and the Federal Transit Administration to know that the City and County of Los Angeles means business with respect to creating a 21st Century rail network.

Also of course, our freeways, particularly in the Inland Empire, need upgrading and widening whenever and wherever possible.  Anyone who experienced “Carmageddon East” when the SR-60 freeway was temporarily shut down after a truck fire last December knows we need our freeways as much as we do a rail system (more so, at this immediate time).

Both rail and freeway construction, now both conducted by Metro in L.A. County, have been helped by Measure R but will be ensured and expedite by Measure J, the county measure we’ll be voting on next week.  Measure J does NOT raise current taxes, but allows us to borrow from future and extended sales tax revenues to build our needed freeway and rail projects within the next decade.

Regardless of who wins the next presidential election, and regardless of what happens in Sacramento or Washington as they work to balance their budgets, Measure J ensures that L.A. City and County’s economy and mobility continue to grow for the indefinite future.  More freeway and rail projects will change from the realm of science fiction to undisputable fact—and they will be as vetted and on budget as we’ve seen for our current Measure R projects.

So there are hurdles, and there are legitimate complaints to throw at Metro—and throw them we MUST.  But to show that we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is, we need to continue to fight to make sure our transportation problems can be fixed with guaranteed funding.  And our economy will benefit no matter what political or fiscal challenges get thrown our way.

The next thing we can do, and the only thing we can do right now, to ensure quality rail and freeway funding, particularly a MetroRail connection to LAX.

Pass Measure J!  J as in Jumpstart!

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) –cw

Why You Should Vote No On Measure J


OCTOBER 2012Vol 2, Issue 11
Head Shot
In This Issue
On Tuesday, October 9, the Board of Education adopted a resolution unanimously opposing Measure J (see full text of resolution below), which is on this November's ballot. Measure J would extend the ½ cent sales tax increase passed with Measure R for an additional 30 years, generating up to 90 billion dollars for transit projects in Los Angeles County. Many people might be fooled by the messaging the supporters of Measure J have been using regarding job growth, but this is another example of government run amuck that will negatively impact the students and staff of Beverly Hills High School as well as the residents of Beverly Hills.
I urge you to vote NO on J. To learn more about how you can donate and support the No on J effort visit No On Measure J For a lawn sign opposing Measure J please send an email to Lawnsign Requests and provide your address.
I want to be very clear why I am personally opposing Measure J, after supporting and voting Yes on Measure R in 2008.
  1. As a trustee for the Beverly Hills Unified School District, I have an obligation to the current students, staff, parents, and community, as well as to safe guard the rights and assets of the District for future generations.
  2. Passage of Measure J will speed up the timetable for MTA's plans to tunnel under instructional buildings at the High School and interfere with current and future plans to develop the High School site for today and the future needs of our students and community.
  3. If Measure J passes, we will be in essence funding the very project that threatens our one and only high school in the District.
  4. Let me be clear, Metro has turned a deaf ear to our concerns regarding mitigation of methane gas and our requests to go deeper and/or reroute the tunnel to avoid noise and vibration under instructional buildings that students will be learning in.
  5. In addition, the current depth and route will severely limit future development on the campus.
If my words do not convince you of serious safety concerns that will impact our students, read what Congressman Adam Schiff (D) wrote in a letter date September 21, 2012 to the MTA Board (Congressman Adam Schiff (D) ):
"...These concerns, which echoed throughout the public hearings on the matter, include Metro's intent to use tunnel boring machine (TBM) technology to construct the tunnel. The large and bulky TMB, which can be hundreds of feet long and tens of feet wide, will clog space in residential neighborhoods for years to come as the tunnel construction process can be quite lengthy. Moreover, once the TMB is underneath homes, the daily boring through rock and soil could cause severely disruptive vibrations. The quality of life in the communities surrounding the tunnel path will further be reduced as tens of noisy and polluting trucks will have to be used to remove the tons of rock and soil discharged from the machine."
Why do the MTA's current tunneling plans severely limit current and future plans of the high school?
Answer: Once MTA secures an easement, it is for 100 years. It is not just the tunnels but the zone of influence around the tunnels. MTA must approve any development around or on top of the location of the tunnels; in our case, this equates to roughly a 140 foot zone of influence. The District would be forced to seek the approval from MTA for any plans that encroaches on their zone of influence. In addition, the Department of State Architects (DSA), which also must approve any construction on school campuses, has no precedent for building heavy rail under instructional buildings. We have no idea whether the DSA will approve our plans today with proposed heavy rail under instructional buildings and we certainly do not know if they will approve plans over the next 100 years. State law and codes change on a regular basis. When Beverly Hills High School was built, State Law allowed for an oil well on our High School campus. Today, oil wells on school campuses are prohibited. Can we really afford to take this risk with our only High School in the District?
Why worry about future development?
Answer: I have a responsibility as a trustee to protect the assets of the District and I take my responsibility seriously. In addition, if we cannot develop our High School site to meet the needs today and for the future of our residents, it will impact our property values and tax bases. A 2008 RAND Corporation Study found a direct link between quality of schools and property values. If we cannot meet the needs of our students, families will choose not to live in Beverly Hills and that will impact property values and negatively impact city services that are provided through property tax revenue.
What about being good neighbors and regional concerns?
Answer: The City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills residents have been unfairly attacked and ridiculed by a well-funded and well organized smear campaign to disregard our legitimate concerns regarding safety, noise and vibrations by claiming that we are a group of whiny, wealthy, NIMBY's who do not care about the greater good. We have shown in our actions that we support the subway to the sea, but we do not support a blank check for wealthy out of town developers and the rail contractors who stand to make hundreds of millions of dollars from a project that jeopardizes the safety and quality of life for students and residents across Los Angeles County. It is always in the region's best interest to stand up and speak out against government waste, mismanagement, exploitation, and sweet heart deals for developers and political contributors, especially when it comes at the expense of the tax payers and residents of Los Angeles County. We need only look to the front pages of our local papers to the scandal surrounding the Los Angeles County Assessors Office. The assessor and several staff members are under indictment for trading campaign contributions for reduced property tax bills. It is not difficult to see the corrupting influence money has in politics and how well connected political donors and their large political contributions can harm the residents of Los Angeles County.   Why do we think it would be any different with the MTA?
Again, in the words of Congressman Adam Schiff (for full text CongressmanAdamSchiff (D) ):
"...Finally, the community has rightly expressed profound concerns over the cost of the project. While the project was originally estimated to cost approximately $1.5 billion, a 2011 study estimated it would cost $2.8 billion and now the Measure R extension expenditure plan believes it will cost $5.6 billion. How costly will it be in another year? Or two? Or ten?"
There is a broad based coalition that has come together across the political spectrum to fight Measure J:
  • Bus Riders Union
  • Los Angeles Community Action Network
  • Union de Vecinos
  • Crenshaw Subway Coalition
  • Northeast LA Residents Against Measure J
  • Michael Antonovich, MTA Board Chair & LA County District 5 Supervisor
  • Don Knabe, MTA Board Member & LA County District 4 Supervisor
  • Sam Pedroza, Claremont Councilman
  • Doug Tessitor, Glendora Councilman
  • Mayor R. Rex Parris of Lancaster
  • Mayor Jim Ledford of Palmdale
  • Bernard Parks, Los Angeles City Councilmember, 8th District
  • Mark Ridley Thomas, MTA Board Member & LA County District 2 Supervisor
  • Congress of Racial Equality-CA
  • John Mirisch, Vice-Mayor, Beverly Hills
  • Lili Bosse, Beverly Hills City Council
  • Brian David Goldberg, Beverly Hills Unified School District
Source: NoOnMeasureJ

We have a rare opportunity to send a clear message to MTA and wealthy out of town developers and contractors that enough is enough. We have a rare opportunity to say NO to government waste, inefficiency, and disregard for the safety and legitimate concerns of the residents that are impacted by these decisions. Join me and a broad based coalition of groups, citizens, and your Beverly Hills Board of Education in Opposing Measure J.
Full Text of BHUSD Adopted Resolution:

RESOLUTION 2012-2013-009

WHEREAS,     Measure R was approved by the voters of Los Angeles County in 2008;

WHEREAS,     Measure R requires a one-half cent sales tax for a period of thirty (30) years to finance new transportation projects and advance projects already in the pipeline;

WHEREAS,     Measure R is not set to expire until 2039;

WHEREAS,     In June of 2012, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board authorized placing Measure J on the November 6, 2012 Ballot for the purpose of extending the half-cent transportation tax for another thirty (30) years, until 2069;

WHEREAS,     Metro asserts the additional funds will be used to sell bonds which will allow it to accelerate the construction of transportation improvements, including seven rail and rapid transit projects and up to eight highway projects;

WHEREAS,     Measure J allows transit and highway funding priorities to be shifted between projects within sub-regions of Los Angeles County, if approved by a two-thirds vote of the Metro Board;

WHEREAS,     Measure J would enable Metro to bond against future Measure R revenue and build transportation projects much sooner than originally contemplated;

WHEREAS,     Metro asserts that phases of the Westside Subway Extension will be accelerated by Measure J;

WHEREAS,     The Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education has previously opposed Metro's plans for the Westside Subway Extension to the extent that said plans call for tunneling and tunnels under the heart of the prime building area on Beverly Hills High School, which tunneling and tunnels impact the current and future uses of the high school site and the District's educational mission;

WHEREAS,     To the extent that Measure J would speed up construction and therefore impact on Beverly Hills High School, Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education opposes Measure J.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education formally opposes Measure J on the California November 6, 2012 Ballot.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we hereby authorize the listing of the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education in opposition of Measure J.

PASSED AND ADOPTED this 9th day of October, 2012 by the following vote: Ayes __6___ Nays __0___Absent

Brian David Goldberg, Ph.D.                              Gary W. Woods, Ed.D.
President, Board of Education                             Superintendent of Schools
We share the common goal of providing the best possible education for our children.
Brian David Goldberg, PhD
Beverly Hills Unified School District Governing Board Member

Claremont Officials Angry Over Measure J 


 The city was originally supposed a part of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension project, but recently learned the line would stop in Azusa. 

By Gina Tenorio

Claremont officials are fuming over being excluded from the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension project and let them know it recently by voting to oppose the passage of Measure J.

The measure has been placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. “J” is a county measure that looks to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax for an additional 30 years. It would collect some $90 billion over the next 30 years if passed.

Voters passed Measure R in 2008.

But recently, MTA officials announced the Gold Line, which was supposed to extend out to Montclair and possibly even Ontario International Airport, would stop at Azusa, city officials said.

The only word I can think of is, we’ve been bamboozled here,” said Council Member Corey Calaycay. “We’ve paid taxes on Measure R and it makes me angry because we were included in that Gold Line. That Gold Line should come all the way out here and out to the airport and now they’ve changed the game.”

“It’s not right,” he continued.

Mayor Larry Schroeder, and council members Joe Lyons and Pedroza voted to oppose the measure. Mayor Pro-tem Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali abstained. Calaycay also abstained despite voicing his opposition to the city being excluded.

Nasiali told the council members that he understood the concern over Measure J, but felt giving residents information and allowing them to decide should be sufficient.

Measure J funds would be used to sell bonds that will allow Metro to accelerate construction of transportation improvements, according to a Claremont staff report. A 2008 study by the private nonprofit Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation determined the current tax costs residents an average of $25 per person per year.

The goal of the Gold Line is to create another way to bring in tourists and businesses that would contribute money to the city through the sales tax, officials said.

The measure allows transit and highway funding priorities to be shifted between projects within sub-regions of Los Angeles County if approved by a two thirds vote of the Metro Board, according to the report.

If passed, the tax would be extended to 2069 and are committed in Metro's current expenditure plan until that date, officials said.