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.