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

Thursday, August 16, 2012

South Pasadena official welcomes Pasadena to the 710 fight
By Lauren Gold, SGVN
Posted:   08/16/2012 04:38:31 PM PDT

An array of signs against the 710 Freeway extention through San Rafael area, and Avenue 64 on a house being constructed on Colorado Boulevard and San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena Wednesday, August 15, 2012. (SGVN/Photo by Walt Mancini)

SOUTH PASADENA - City Councilman Philip Putnam said Wednesday he thinks the city should be wary that a recent opposition vote by the Pasadena City Council against some of the 710 Freeway extension alternatives could push the chosen route back into South Pasadena.

The Pasadena City Council voted Monday to oppose three alternative routes for the 710 Freeway extension that run through the San Rafael neighborhood. But Putnam raised concerns that the council's opposition may only be to routes that affect Pasadena directly.

"We need to make sure they're not working to just eliminate their route and not eliminate the South Pasadena routes," Putnam said. "We want to be sure even if they eliminate those Avenue 64 routes that the people in other cities see the impact it would have on our city that it could have had on theirs."

The council voted Wednesday to discuss strategies at a special meeting next week to work with neighboring cities in its fight against freeway routes that could affect the city.

South Pasadena has long led the charge against a surface freeway that would cut through the center of the city. The city has come out strongly in support of a "multi-modal" transit plan to ease congestion.

City Transportation Manager Dennis Woods said South Pasadena has continued to reach out to Pasadena for support. The community "seemed to be relatively quiet" until the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Agency drew up some alternatives
that passed through wealthy Pasadena neighborhoods.

"For us in South Pasadena, we have been vigilant the entire time I don't know if the residents of Pasadena have been in the same state of alert," Woods said. "Now they are because they are aware that it may impact their immediate neighborhood."

Metro is currently analyzing a set of 12 possible transit alternatives as part of its three-year environmental study to fill the 710 Freeway "gap" from Alhambra to Pasadena. Officials said they plan to present a narrowed-down list of route options to Metro's board in October.

Woods said South Pasadena will continue to reach out to Pasadena, as well as La Ca ada Flintridge, Burbank, Los Angeles and Glendale, for support and collaboration on the 710 issue.

Woods said he wasn't sure whether Pasadena's opposition Monday to three proposed alternatives through the San Rafael neighborhood would mean a boost for South Pasadena's cause.

"We'll find out, that's to be seen," Woods said. "I think ultimately we all want better mobility options."

But will Pasadena would take its opposition to the 710 extension as far as South Pasadena?

"Why not?" City Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. "Think about it, when's the last time you heard of a community demanding a freeway? When people demand transit options, it's not usually freeways. I think we've had enough of freeways in Pasadena."

But Nat Read, chairman of the 710 Freeway Coalition, said he thinks the anger in Pasadena will simmer down once the San Rafael routes are eliminated as possibilities for the final project.

"This has happened in neighborhood after neighborhood - everywhere alternative routes were suggested," Read said. "Once the process goes forward and that route is no longer considered, then there isn't anything to get agitated about."

In addition, he said 2001's Measure A, in which Pasadena voters supported "completing the 710 Freeway between the I-210 and I-10 Freeways," indicates that there is support in Pasadena for completion.

"Pasadena is the only city along the route where the people themselves formed the city's policy on this subject and I'm sure the City Council will respect that," Read said.

Pasadena Councilman Steven Madison said he hopes he can get support from other council members to also oppose a tunnel route connecting the 10 to 210 Freeways and said he personally supports a "no build" option.

"I would like to continue to push for more opposition," Madison said. "In my mind, the only thing that Measure A constrains us from doing is opposing the surface route between the I-10 and I-210, which really was the only thing on the table back in 2001 when the measure was adopted by the voters."

For more information about the 710 environmental study, visit http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/.

lauren.gold@sgvn.com, 626-578-6300, ext. 4586

SR-710 Study Facebook Site: https://www.facebook.com/SR710Study

I'm already on Facebook, so I can get to their site and also post on it easily. I don't know how it works for people who aren't already on Facebook and I know there are many people out there who will never go on Facebook for various reasons. But if you need to be a Facebook member to look at and post on this site, you can just join Facebook, not put a photo of yourself on your Facebook page or even put your dog's photo on it for your Facebook photo, and you don't have to add any information about yourself. You don't even have to have any Facebook friends.

What has been disturbing about how this SR-710 Study Facebook site is the number of questions that the SR-710 Study Group doesn't answer. Each time you go to one of the Metro/Caltrans meetings or listen to a Metro/Caltrans presentation, such as at the Pasadena City Council Meeting this last Wednesday night, or when you read a new article about the SR-710 Extension or Gap, you come up with new questions, many you didn't think of that you might have wanted to ask the Study Group. Very few are being answered on Facebook and people have been writing that they are not being answered after e-mailing the Study Group either.

Here are some of the questions being asked and not being answered or information being requested and not received:

 Metro: please post clear, detailed maps of the proposed routes to be posted on your FB page or website immediately.

  Metro please provide a route description of the Proposed F-2 route. Does it run from S Ave 50 to N Ave 50 to El Paso Dr to Eagle Rock Blvd to York to the 2 Fwy? People who live in the area of the route have been trying to match your map to a street map. We want to verify that the proposed route section through HP/ Glassell Park/ MT Washington. There needs to be greater transparency on the routes and maps. The latest brochure Metro disseminated at the CLCs should have contained clear, full size, street level maps of the proposed routes. The residents who live near or on a route deserve to have these proposals clearly communicated to them. When can you make this information available and post the maps on this site?

 Are the new slides that you presented at last night's Pasadena City Council meeting available to view on the Internet? If so, where can they be found? If not, when will they be ready to be viewed?

 Metro/CalTrans: Please post the opposition numbers. You post the "like" number by default of facebook. Count and post the opposition numbers! We expect to see those numbers by Tuesday, 08/14/12. [Not posted yet]

Michelle Smith mentioned the potential formation of a P3. P3s require some sort of fare or toll collection otherwise no one would invest in them. If the tunnel, highway or freeway alternatives are chosen, will there be toll to use those routes? If yes, what will the amount of the toll be?

 The slides presented at CLC meetings did not include detailed maps. Do you have link to the detailed routes? In particular, I am wondering at what street the F-7 Tunnel would go underground and at what street it would emerge. I would also like to know the total anticipated length of the tunnel and how it will be ventilated.

Maps of the proposed routes on handouts are being requested by the public ( I want to emphasize readable maps with the routes and affected streets clearly marked.) Residents are reaching into their own pocketbooks to distribute copies of the unclear maps and proposal. They are also having to dig through the voluminous technical reports to find specific information on routes and affected areas.

Some Comments on the Facebook Site 

 The primary reason for this proposal seems to be, in spite of all the window dressing, the movement of frieght. It seems that frieght is most cheaply, effectively and in the least ecologically damaging way, moved by rail. Also to be considered is the five year build with HUGE amounts of dust particulate pollution to the area followed by expended hydrocarbon fumes and tire dust. Recently the City of Los Angeles responding to extensive and numerous health studies on the effects of living near freeways has passed regulations against new residential development within 1000 feet of a freeway. This means that now every new freeway construction either is or should be a no housing zone 2200 feet wide. We should abandon this freeway extension and convert the frieght use to rail.

 Measure R dedicated $780M to the "Interstate 710 North Gap Closure (tunnel)"... which is presumably what is paying for these studies. Folks, I think we need to consider how to repeal that line-item in Measure R. $780M is a lot of money that could pay for a lot of good, useful things, instead of paying for a bunch of high-priced consultants to produce "couldn't fail worse if you tried" plans. Measure R is dedicating our tax dollars to a lot of good projects. However, this is NOT one of them! We want our money back!

 H2 and F5 are terrible ideas. As a resident in one of the affected areas (Garvanza), I would have expected Metro/Caltrans to inform me about the potential plans it has to destroy my neighborhood and my property. Instead, I received all the information I have from my neighbors--nothing from Metro. Very poor outreach indeed! Besides, building a highway through residential neighborhoods is an outdated project. Please bring us 21st-century solutions instead, like new train lines for transportation and extend light rail and other forms of public transportation in North-East L.A. and Pasadena.

 The CLC’s are not a productive way for our opinions to be heard since they are not conducted by Metro staff members that can answer our questions.
From what I could gather at the CLC, it seems like the only time we could have registered public opinion was at the meeting in 2011 and I hate to say it, but it looks like southwest Pasadena was deliberately left in the dark on this meeting. I purchased a house on Avenue 64 in October of 2010 and would have gone to this meeting if I had been properly notified of the proposed routes; I mean someone passing out fliers at the homes that could be potentially torn down would have been sufficient. Thank you.

 Metro/CalTrans: It is very obvious that you are vehemently opposed by all communities involved. Stop spending our tax dollars on your useless study. Have you seen the video of the Pasadena meeting?? Other meetings? ALL communities involved are united. We do not want your freeway/highway expansion by any name you call it. GET OUT OF OUR SPACE!!! GET OUT OF OUR CITIES!! GET OUT OF OUR LIVES!!! PERMANENTLY!!! You are NOT welcome!!

The proposed 710 expansion through the San Rafael neighborhood is a complete abomination! This annihilating act is a direct attack on innocent hard working American families who depend on the value of their homes to raise families, to put their kids through college, and to retire one day after decades of service to our community.

You will be stripping the residents of their livelihood and robbing so many people who have worked SO HARD their entire lives to buy a house in this neighborhood! I am a resident of Annandale Road., and we honored our beautiful street by having the City of Pasadena declare us a Historical Neighborhood.

This project basically CRUSHES THE LIVES of so many families -- As a devastating natural disaster would.... But this is caused by people we financially support who are supposed to make reasonable decisions...to better our community... and who are least humans with a soul!!!!

I think most of us really liked the idea of Los Angeles County having a modern public transportation system, so we voted in favor of Measure R's 1/2 cent sales tax that will be levied on us until 2039. Now, Metro is considering putting Measure R2 on the November ballot that would possibly extend the sales tax forever, which will allow Metro/Caltrans to borrow money against future receipts so that our modern transportation system can be built more quickly. If R2 is put on the November ballot, I will vote against it because of Metro/Caltrans' totally outrageous plans for the 710 extension. I think that we who are affected by these plans will gladly do everything in our power to defeat this new measure--measure R barely passed, so the number of people being affected by the 710 extension could easily defeat Measure R2. Or perhaps we could put our own measure on the ballot to limit the power we gave Metro/Caltrans over our lives by passing Measure R. It is such a shame that Metro/Caltrans has turned so many people against it and that this may affect what could have been a shining era for public transportation in Los Angeles.

 The SR-710 study area includes a population of over 1 million people (back of the envelope tally). Only 357 people attended Metro's open houses last spring. Metro received 252 comments. Those numbers are abysmal considering this proposal affects people's homes, neighborhoods, health, historic treasures and quality of life. Those comment numbers would have been much higher if Metro had fulfilled their CEQA and NEPA responsibilities. One only has to look at the meeting turnout numbers for the CLC meetings this week to see that the significant increase in turnout is a clear indicator that Metro has failed to sufficiently notify the affected populations during the entire scoping process. 

It was clearly evident at the NELA CLC meeting last night that Metro is failing to adequately notify the affected population. Over 300 people turned out thanks to the work of concerned neighbors who had just found out about the meeting only days earlier themselves and a notice posted on the filling tanks at a Highland Park gas station. What was most striking is that there were only a handful of native Spanish speakers in attendance which illuminates the fact that there is a huge percentage of NELA population that is still unaware of this issue. This could turn into an environmental justice issue if corrective notification steps are not taken. Metro must put into place a more aggressive outreach plan and delay the narrowing of the options to 5 or so until CEQA and NEPA can truly be satisfied.

 We are already the laughing stock of the world transportationwise. I travel a lot and when I tell people I am from Los Angeles their main comment is "How can you have freeways with up to 8 lanes going in one direction and still have a traffic nightmare?" So what is Metro/Caltrans vision for the 710 freeway? Add more lanes to the existing 710 freeway and then to extend the nightmare through old historical neighborhoods, thereby destroying the best of what living in the LA area has to offer.

 The idea that you would "choose" to destroy an entire neighborhood & an historic church just because you have additional money allocated! NO to destroying our way of life! H-2 and F-5. NO to the tunnel, NO to the trucks. Save our home!

 I want to see Metro/CalTrans experts at the meetings ready answer any questions. I feel like Metro/CalTrans are cowards. They do not want to face the communities and, therefore, send their contracted companies and have instructed them not to give any viable information. It is not fair to their contracted companies and it is not fair to the communities. Step up, Metro/CalTrans! Cowards that you are!

State Auditor slams Caltrans for mismanagement of 710 homes

By Lauren Gold, SGVN

The California State Auditor Thursday released an audit of Caltrans' management of a set of state-owned homes along the proposed 710 Freeway extension route, slamming the agency for wasting state funds.
The audit was requested by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, in 2011 to investigate the agency for possible fraud after reports surfaced of grossly inflated repair costs for state-owned homes.

To view the full audit, visit www.bsa.ca.gov.

The audit states that Caltrans did not charge the market rate to tenants renting the homes, did not closely monitor affordable housing tenants and spent more money repairing properties than it gained in rent revenue.
"Because of Caltrans' poor management, we estimate that it missed the opportunity to generate roughly $22 million in rental income for the SR 710 properties between July 1, 2007, and December 31, 2011," an executive summary of the audit states.
The audit recommends that Caltrans find a way to retain access to the properties in case a 710 surface route is ultimately built but defer management to local city or private control.
Specifically, the audit suggests the creation of a Joint Powers Authority that would include Caltrans and the cities of Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles to manage the properties.
"This option would allow the affected cities an opportunity to have an equal voice in the management of the properties," the audit summary states.

South Pasadena Council receives 710 update [Pasadena Star-News]

By Lauren Gold

SOUTH PASADENA - At tonight's meeting, the City Council will receive an update from representatives from the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority regarding the 710 Freeway extension.
The council will also discuss a possible community forum on the 710 issue in partnership with the "No on 710 Action Committee."
At the meeting, the council will also consider a letter of support for a Senate bill for Los Angeles County windstorm tax relief and approve the purchase of a police detective vehicle.
For a full agenda, visit http://www.ci.south-pasadena.ca.us/government/PDFs/2012/cc_cra_agendas/081512.pdf.
lauren.gold@sgvn.com, 626-578-6300, ext. 4586

Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_21318806/south-pasadena-council-receives-710-update#ixzz23ibO6j3j

East L.A. Sounds Off At 710 Freeway Hearing

There are six expansion alternatives under review, but some are pushing to add a seventh.
By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer
During last week’s public hearing on a proposed widening of the 710 Freeway, Hector Gascon of Commerce warned that while residents might think the project’s worst offense is that “they are going to take down Sergio’s Tacos,” a local eatery, “it’s more serious than that.”
Another Commerce resident and former truck driver, Abelardo David Rodriguez, thinks the project could benefit trade at the local ports and said he would hate to see jobs being lost due to competition from a port being built in the Panama Canal along the gulf coast.
The magnitude of the project was not lost on members of the public who attended the hearing Aug. 9 in Commerce, one of three hearings held along the corridor to solicit community input on six project options to expand a major freight corridor along the 710 Freeway from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to East Los Angeles. In all but the “no build” alternative, the freeway could be widened from eight lanes to as many as 10 or 14 lanes. The input from the hearings will be included along with others submitted before the Sept. 28 due date for comments and incorporated into an environmental impact study to begin this fall.
Ruth Schwartz reacts as a planner tells her that her property could be displaced by the project. (EGP photo by Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou)
In addition to those who could lose their homes or businesses, the hearing drew people who do not live in the project’s immediate area. Jairi Sanchez, 25, a Boyle Heights residents, told EGPNews that her own community “was destroyed by freeways” and she did not want to see the same happen in Commerce and other communities along the 710 Freeway. During his public comment, Jim Flournoy of Rosemead said the project could lead to congestion along the 60 Freeway because much of the cargo from the ports is expected to flow east toward inland warehouses and into the rest of the country.
The proposed project also brought out activists concerned about the project’s effect on air quality in the region. The Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, which includes Commerce-based East Yard for Environmental Justice (EYCEJ), as well as Communities for a Better Environment in Huntington Park, proposed adding a seventh “community alternative” to the project that is a hybrid of different elements from the existing six alternatives, according to Isella Ramirez, Co-Director of EYCEJ.
The “community alternative” keeps the freeway at its current eight lanes and requires that only non-polluting, zero-emission technologies and vehicles be used on the freeway corridor, including a two-lane, elevated structure between Ocean Boulevard and the intermodal rail yards in Vernon and Commerce.
Instead of widening the freeway to relieve congestion, as suggested in the existing alternatives, the groups are also advocating for the development of an aggressive public transit system, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, and improvements to the Los Angeles River. The 710 Freeway project should be designed not only to “facilitate cargo, but to really suit the residents of the corridor,” said Angelo Logan, co-director of EYCEJ.
In her public comment, Ramirez said Measure R in other communities fund light rail and other public transit projects, “but all we’re getting are freeway projects.”
Project Manager Ron Kosinski told EGPNews they “could very well” end up with a seventh option by “picking and choosing” parts of the existing alternatives. “We have to take a look at it.”

710 Freeway traffic figures doubted [from the Glendale News-Press]

Najarian says MTA's truck numbers constitute a 'snow job.'

Ara Najarian
At a meeting Monday in La Canada, Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian accused transportation officials of underplaying the amount of truck traffic that would rumble into the area if the 710 Freeway is connected with other highways. (Times Community News / August 14, 2012)

On the same night Pasadena officials were raking Los Angeles County transportation officials over the coals for their proposals to extend the Long Beach (710) Freeway, Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian was carrying a similar tune in La Cañada Flintridge.

At a public meeting hosted Monday by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency at La Cañada High School, Najarian — who serves on the agency's board of directors — accused regional transportation officials of underplaying the amount of truck traffic that would rumble into the area if the 710 Freeway is connected with the Foothill (210) or Ventura (134) freeways.

“There is a snow job going at the highest level,” Najarian said, followed by a burst of applause from the roughly 45 people in attendance. “There is a driving force behind this tunnel … there are people, consulting firms, construction firms, trucking firms that are vested in this, and are pushing it.”

MTA officials have said that the proposals for easing congestion in the so-called 710 gap — including a possible 4.5-mile tunnel between the end of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra and the 210 Freeway in Pasadena — would not significantly increase truck traffic nearby.

But opponents said freight companies are driving the effort to build the extension.

Pasadena, South Pasadena, La Cañada and Glendale officials have all publicly opposed the project, citing potential impacts to traffic and air quality.

“This is what La Cañada has been expecting forever, 30,000 trucks a day,” La Cañada resident Susan Bolan said. “We demand to see a freight-movement alternative.”

The MTA is conducting an environmental study of 12 alternatives to ease congestion in the area. They range from the long-debated extension of the 710 Freeway to new proposals to build a highway along Avenue 64 that would connect with the 134 Freeway. The agency is also considering mass transit and street improvements.

Mary McCormick, a spokeswoman for MTA, said the information Najarian is seeking, including the cost of building the tunnel, is still being prepared as part of the environmental study.

“It's not that it's a snow job,” McCormick said. “It's that a lot of times when information isn't communicated, or you don't understand the process, it feels like that.”

The study is expected to wrap up in 2014, though parts of it will be released as they are completed. During that time, some of the alternatives are expected to be dropped.

McCormick said many of the public's questions would be addressed at MTA's next set of open houses, scheduled for Oct. 18 at the El Sereno Senior Center and Oct. 20 at Maranatha High School in Pasadena.