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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Why I Oppose a 710 Freeway Extension 


Homegrown Angeleno, Proud Progressive Democrat
 Posted on October 11, 2012 at 10:59 am
Public dollars must always be wisely invested. That's especially true in California when we are laying off teachers, closing health centers, deferring safety inspections on bridges, and endangering our future with fee hikes that price talented, eager students out of university degrees.

A costly extension of the 710 Freeway through Northeast Los Angeles is a mistake from a fiscal perspective, from a planning perspective, and from a standpoint of basic fairness. Extending the 710 may sound harmless to outsiders. But it's a bad move for our community. That's why I have joined with local residents to oppose a new freight corridor through our neighborhoods.

I have participated in the community forums surrounding the proposed construction routes, both surface and underground. And I have listened to the pro-build arguments. But the lack of fluency by transportation consultants in communicating plans and responding to neighbors' concerns left me disappointed. If the need to move freight cargo north and east from nearby ports really is the driving force behind this new freeway, then economics indicate that upgrading or extension of existing rail is actually a smarter investment.

The threat of this huge highway has hovered over (and under) Northeast L.A. for too long. I know residents in CalTrans properties. I have seen the condemned CalTrans dwellings that sit vacant in our neighborhoods, and I know about the lost revenue this has cost us and the blight it creates in communities like El Sereno.

I have also heard from hundreds of my neighbors about the major disruptions this new project would impose. And I will not allow the special neighborhoods of Northeast Los Angeles to be laid spoil by a huge and costly new highway that has been poorly sold to us as an imperative. It's time our communities' voice is heard. I am working to ensure it always will be.

Sierra Madre City Council opposes 710 Freeway tunnel 


By James Figueroa, SGVN
 SIERRA MADRE - The City Council joined a chorus of opposition from foothill cities to the 710 Freeway tunnel plan Tuesday, voting unanimously to draft a short resolution against the project.
The council cited concerns that traffic would become overwhelming on the connecting 210 Freeway, which runs just south of the three-square-mile, bedroom community of 10,000.

"The tunnel option would be completely detrimental to our city, and to the region," Sierra Madre Mayor Josh Moran said.

The Metro board is considering options to complete the 710 Freeway from Alhambra to Pasadena, although the idea created controversy for decades. The proposal is now awaiting the completion of an environmental report.

Moran joked that Metro was unlikely to be swayed because of Sierra Madre's opposition, but noted that the city - along with others such as Duarte and Azusa - wasn't invited to planning meetings despite being inside the study area.

South Pasadena Mayor and 710 opponent Michael Cacciotti also addressed surface and transit alternatives in his presentation to Sierra Madre, but the council held off on a larger stance.
The only voice of support before the council on Tuesday was Harry Baldwin of the 710 Freeway
 Coalition, who faced telling silence at one point when he admitted he is paid for the role.

The coalition represents several organization and cities supporting the project, such as Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Marino.

The 4.5-mile tunnel project is planned as a public-private partnership, with private funding that would be supported by tolls for non-cargo motorists to drive through the tunnel. Chances are too great that the project could run out of funding before it is completed, or that trucks are eventually allowed to use it, Councilman Chris Koerber said.

"MTA and Caltrans are proposing a 1970s solution to a 2020 situation," he said. "It's crazy."

Sierra Madre Joins Opposition Against 710 Tunnel

 Published: Thursday, October 11th, 2012


By Jim E. Winburn
The Sierra Madre City Council on Tuesday threw its support behind neighboring cities that oppose the tunnel option proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s SR 710 study.
“The City Council feels that the tunnel option would be detrimental to our city, and not only to our city but to the area in general,” said Mayor Josh Moran, citing concerns for increased traffic congestion and pollution likely to result with the tunnel alternative.
Approved unanimously by the City Council, Moran directed city staff to draft a simple resolution outlining Sierra Madre’s opposition to MTA and Caltrans’ Environmental Impact Report with the intention of developing a tunnel solution to close the 710-Freeway gap.
The council’s decision was also fueled by the city’s supposed exclusion from MTA’s stakeholder meetings that sought participation from local communities impacted by any of the proposed transportation alternatives.
“To find out that Sierra Madre is in the study area, and that we were not invited until recently in the last couple of weeks to be part of this hearing process, I am extremely agitated that Sierra Madre is getting stuck like that,” said Councilman Chris Koerber.
In response to the study’s alignment with Environmental Protection Agency goals to reduce congestion and air pollution through alternatives to surface roads, Councilman John Harabedian said the idea for a tunnel is a nonstarter for Sierra Madre.

“Well, if this is a traffic fix, it’s like telling someone with a weight problem to buy bigger clothes to lose weight,” Harabedian said. “You don’t build more roads if there is a traffic problem.”
Harabedian agreed with City of South Pasadena Mayor Michael A. Cacciotti, who spoke at the meeting, that what is needed to close the SR 710 gap is to look at multi-modal public transportation options.

Cacciotti outlined several multi-modal transportation ideas that would better serve the interests of local communities. He proposed the moving of goods by electric rails through the San Gabriel Valley rather than with diesel-polluting trucks. Cacciotti also supported bus, light rail and rapid transit projects with full funding, including an extension of the Metro Gold Line Foothill all the way to the Ontario Airport.

“Instead of moving tens of thousands of vehicles in the central L.A. freeway system east of the San Gabriel Valley, reduce that and improve air quality by providing people an alternative to cars, including trucks, and exorbitant gas prices with a comprehensive, integrated system that is efficient and fast,” Cacciotti said.

During public comment, Harry Baldwin, executive director of the 710 Freeway Coalition, tried to persuade the City Council to wait for answers from the MTA’s Environmental Impact Report. Representing the cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Marino and local officials who support the 710 study, Baldwin said the EIR, when completed in 2014, will provide answers to what problems exist and how they will be mitigated.

“What we’re requesting is that you stay with your ears tuned to what’s going on,” Baldwin told the council. “Let’s support the MTA and go ahead with their Environmental Impact Report. That report will be taking more public comment, and that’s what they’ve been doing all along.”
Moran said he believed the study is based on the unrealistic assumption that surrounding communities will continue to rely only on their cars and that light rail and buses would only minimally impact traffic congestion. “It seems that they had a preconceived notion just to go through and bore this tunnel, put a few names on it, and everybody is happy,” the mayor said. “It’s just not the case.”

The total distance of the State Route 710 gap is about 4.5 miles. The 710 Freeway currently ends at Valley Blvd. in the City of Alhambra, and a portion of the 210 extends south to California Boulevard in the City of Pasadena, where it ends.

A total of $780 million was specifically set aside from Measure R in 2008 to revisit the question of extending the 710 Freeway through SR-710 environmental studies and improvements. Metro staff has forwarded five alternative projects to be considered in an EIR, which include a bus rapid transit from Los Angeles to Pasadena, a freeway tunnel alternative connecting the north and south termini of the 710, as well as the option not to build.
Join the fight to defeat Measure J! 
 Bus Riders Union

 Join the fight to defeat Measure J! Call 213-387-2800 to sign up for one of our nightly phone banks.

The time to get involved is Now! Defeat of Measure J is within reach!
Measure J is the regressive sales tax being pushed by LA Metro that will gravely impact low income communities of color, give billions of dollars to corporations for construction projects, and threaten to destroy the bus system. These last few weeks are vital. The latest poll in LA Weekly shows "Yes on J" ahead by only 1%! How can you help?

Put out lawn signs-email or contact the office (213) 387-2800 to arrange delivery
Join us for nightly phonebanking
Do voter presentations and outreach
Hand out flyers

Editorial: Taxing the future for transit today 

 Proposed L.A. transit-tax extension – to 2069 – serves as a cautionary tale for Orange County.



Los Angeles County voters will decide Nov. 6. whether to extend the Measure R half-cent sales tax for an additional 30 years through an initiative known as Measure J – which proponents argue will accelerate rail, highway, bus and local transportation projects. But there's a problem – the original measure still has 27 years left to run.

The Measure J extension would give the Metropolitan Transportation Authority "a blank check." Critics say it would erode the fiscal discipline imposed by Measure R's 30-year duration.
Article Tab: image1-Editorial: Taxing the future for transit today
 "This is short-term thinking yet again," Beverly Hill Vice Mayor John Mirisch told us. "They want to borrow all that money upfront when we don't know what the needs of Los Angeles County will be in 30 years. It's now like a great-grandchildren tax."
Measure R funds several MTA projects, including the Westside Subway Extension and extension of the Gold Line light-rail line in the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles. The extra sales tax will expire in 2039, but Metro is pushing Measure J, which would extend the tax until 2069.

Voters passed Measure R in 2008 under the pretext that it would be temporary and help to accelerate transportation improvements. Asking now to extend the tax until 2069 is unsupportable given that officials cannot anticipate the technologies and population patterns nearly six decades into the future.

Furthermore, Metro's fiscal and safety records are hardly stellar. Most recently Najmedin Meshakti, an engineering professor and safety expert at USC, questioned the light-rail Expo Line's safety precautions along intersections near the university. Those questions and complaints about potentially confusing and dangerous rail crossings have led to some improvements – after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was made aware of them.

The Beverly Hills School Board has come out strongly against Measure J. That's largely because of a proposed subway stop in Century City that would require tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. Local officials and parents are concerned the plan may endanger students because of flammable gases that could rise up from old oil wells underneath the school.

Metro's environmental review declared the tunneling project safe, but independent experts have raised doubts about some of Metro's justifications for locating the subway stop someplace that requires tunneling under the school.

Tunneling very well may be safe, but the point is that Los Angeles officials aren't terribly concerned with working with Beverly Hills. Instead, they continue to paint the city in an unfavorable light – suggesting residents are snobbish and want to keep Angelinos out. In fact, Beverly Hills' local officials support rail expansions, but want to have a say in what the future landscape of their town will look like.

Orange County voters approved Measure M, a 20-year half-cent sales tax earmarked for transportation improvements, in 1990 and agreed in 2006 to extend it until 2041. The great majority of the money has been spent on freeways, roadways and commuter-train service.

"This is cautionary to Orange County," Mirisch said. "The first solution is not to feed the beast. The second is to allow for meaningful principles – there's no respect for local control."
Metro's announcement to cancel the October outreach meetings
 Posted by Gretchen Knudsen on No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page
 It's critical that we respond to Metro's announcement to cancel the October outreach meetings. By law they are required to have public stakeholder involvement. Metro is finishing up the alternatives analysis and will be moving into the formal EIR soon. Staff has already indicated that there won't be a voting moment. They will simply just finish up the anaylsis and move the five options into a full EIR study. It's imperative they hear how outraged we are that the meetings have been cancelled. Michelle Smith and the lead from Consensus promised the Pasadena City Council that October meetings would be held. Another staffer told the members of the LA City Council the same thing. Metro needs to hear from us.

Posted by Sylvia Plummer on No 710 on Ave 64 Facebook page 
  There will be a presentation by ASSEMBLYMEMBER ANTHONY PORTANTINO on the State of the State. Monday, October 15 at 6:30pm Pasadena City Council Meeting, Pasadena City Hall, Council Chambers, 100 North Garfield.

Do You Trust the Gang at Metro to Manage Another 90 Billion of Your Dollars? Say No to the Measure J Slush Fund