Purpose

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, December 20, 2012

Just Transportation: Is Los Angeles Making Progress on Transit for All?

 http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/landofsunshine/green-justice/metro-rail-over-bus-is-los-angeles-making-progress-on-transit-for-all.html

 by Robert Garcia

Author Jeff Speck on Walkability and the One Mistake That Can Wreck a City

 http://la.streetsblog.org/

by Angie Schmitt

   

 

 

What makes a city great? According to Jeff Speck, the secret sauce is, quite simply, walking. If your city is a good place to walk — that is, walking is safe, comfortable, interesting, and useful — everything else will fall into place.
In Walkable City, Jeff Speck writes that pedestrians are the indicator species of a healthy city.

In Walkable City, his talked-about manifesto about healthy urban places, Speck lays out a simple formula for any city to become a pedestrian haven. “Putting cars in their place,” “mixing uses,” “getting parking right,” and supporting transit and cycling are a few of the 10 principles, he says, that separate the successful cities from the rest.

A planner and urban design consultant, Speck has a few other books under his belt. In 2000, he
co-authored Suburban Nation with Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and he also co-wrote the recently released Smart Growth Manual with Duany and Mike Lydon. Meanwhile, Speck has served as the director of design for the National Endowment for the Arts and headed the Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

In Walkable City, he lays out a powerful argument, supported by careful research and highly-Tweetable facts, that fostering a culture of walking should be a central aim of every American city.

If you’re a professional planner or advocate, Walkable City is a new, essential reference. If you’re new to the subject, there’s no better introduction.

Streetsblog reached Speck this morning for an interview. Here’s what he had to say…

Angie Schmitt: You’ve taken the broad concept of civic health and boiled it down to this one act: walking. Can you talk a little about why this one activity is so important? How did you come to that conclusion?

Jeff Speck: I came to it very indirectly. I am a designer. I am a city planer. I was never focused on walking in any way, from a health perspective or a recreational perspective.

But then I started working with a lot of mayors. I oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design for four years. Every two months, eight mayors and eight designers would meet. Each mayor would bring their top city planning challenge.

Listening to mayor after mayor and how they explained their idea of a successful city, it became very clear that both the best measure of a thriving place and perhaps the best contributor to a thriving place was street life: walkability. Being successful in walkablity is really nothing less than providing street life. In our age of digital connectedness, I think for a while people forgot how important it was to have a public realm where we come to gather physically. That is still in our DNA. We need that.


It became clear to me that solving the walkability problem ended up addressing all their other concerns as well. It was not a strategic choice, to reframe this argument under the realm of walkability, but I have to say it may finally be the outfit that allows this concept to sell. We can clothe it in other terms like New Urbanism, which scares conservatives, and neo-traditionalism, which scares liberals. But no one doesn’t like walking.

AS: What is the biggest mistake cities make?

JS: I’ve repeated it so much I hate to tell you the same thing, but it’s the honest truth. The biggest mistake cities make is to allow themselves to effectively be designed by their director of public works. The director of public works, he or she is making decisions every single day about the width of streets, the presence of parking, the question of bike lanes. And he’s doing it in response to the complaints he’s hearing. But if you satisfy those complaints you wreck the city.

A typical public works director doesn’t think about “What kind of city do we want to be?” They think about what people complain about, and it’s almost always traffic and parking.

The one thing we’ve learned without any doubt, is the more room you give the car the more room they will take and that will wreck cities. Optimizing any of these practical considerations — sewers, parking, vehicle capacity — almost always makes a city less walkable.

AS: What do the effective cities do instead?
Planner and author Jeff Speck is the former director of the Mayor's Institute on City Design and the National Endowment for the Arts' design division.

JS: In more effective cities there’s a mayor who sees that he’s more or less the chief designer of the city. Charleston’s mayor, Joseph Riley, woke up one morning, slapped his head and said, “Oh my God, I am the chief designer of my city. I need to start making decisions that make my city more beautiful and functional in a more holistic way.”

Cities need specialists that help define what make them a great city. Is it going to make you a great city having an 18 minute commute versus a 20 minute commute? Or is it going to make you a great city to have a smaller carbon footprint and more transportation choices?

Those cities that recognize that they’re not generating the economic activity that they could because they’re not generating a street life and their population is sick, overweight, because they’re not getting enough exercise, they’re not getting a useful walk — those are the cities that are succeeding. If they decide that those are the objectives: economic health, public health, and environmental sustainability – [they] all mandate a city which is walkable city.

AS: You single out smaller, “more normal” cities as sort of the next frontier of this movement, as opposed to livability stars like New York and San Francisco. How do you reach these less progressive places?

JS: There is a lot of data from New York and San Francisco in it, but this book is firmly directed at the Clevelands, the Las Vegases, the Dallases, the Cedar Rapids. The cities that, if they’ve figured it out, they’re not showing it.

My book is part of it but it can’t be just me. My small firm only does so much work, now with my book out I’m doing much less [planning] work. I think it’s much more important to spread the message than to make more examples.

I lecture to the largest possible audience and then generally someone from the city council says, “We need you to help us.” But that is not a strategy for fixing our country. There will be, and there are, dozens of practitioners that will hopefully take this to their cities. This book will hopefully increase the demand for them, for their work as well.

There are probably 500 cities in America that have one-way streets through their downtown or a four-lane, two-way road that could get a road diet. They just need to come to understand this discussion.

Bike Nation Announces Nine Kiosks for First Rollout of Los Angeles Bike Share in April 2013

 http://la.streetsblog.org/

 by Damien Newton

 

 

In just under an hour, Bike Nation will publicly announce the nine locations for kiosks in its initial rollout of what is promised to be a massive bike share system for Los Angeles. Last April, Bike Nation promised a 400 kiosk, 4,000 bike bike share system to be installed in Downtown Los Angeles, Westwood, Venice and Hollywood in the next several years. The bike share company promised to invest $16 million in its system. An independent estimate from one of their competitors estimates that they could earn $40 million in revenue in the next decade.

Apparently, they’re starting the rollout in Downtown Los Angeles. That makes sense, since 175 of the promised stations will be in Downtown Los Angeles. As shown above, the first nine kiosks are planned for:
  • Union Station
  • El Pueblo/Olvera Street
  • Caltrans Building (2)
  • City Hall (2)
  • County Hall of Administration Building
  • LAPD (2)
“We are excited to put stations on the ground in Downtown Los Angeles and begin the process of rolling out our bike share program and providing a safe, low-cost, healthy transportation alternative to Los Angeles residents,” writes Derek Fretheim, Bike Nation Chief Operating Officer. “The Company has already begun its site planning in anticipation of the City Council Motion and created a sample permit package consisting of initial station locations.”

Rather than go through a standard “Request for Proposal” process as has been done with the other
 large bike share systems in America, Bike Nation gave Los Angeles another option. Bike Nation approached the mayor’s office with a simple proposal, if Los Angeles creates a permitting system to operate private bike share on public property, then Bike Nation would invest in creating a private bike share system.

Last week, the City Council unanimously passed a motion that directs staff to create a permit process for Bike Nation’s bike sharing stations to be placed in the public right of way. Bike Nation is currently working with the City of Los Angeles to navigate the new approval processes and permitting. The benefit of avoiding the RFP process is that the completely privately funded system is immune to attacks that it is “subsidized bicycle rental.” The bad news is that an RFP process provides many opportunities for the public to weigh in on where, and how, kiosks should be employed.

Bike Nation launched a website to gather cyclist feedback on where kiosks should be placed in August. Bike Nation staff emphasized that the website is still functional and they are still collecting ideas for future placement in Downtown Los Angeles. You can access the website by clicking here. If you have trouble using it, instructions can be found at Streetsblog’s story from August.

While the bike share company has yet to successfully install bike share, it has contracts with Anaheim, Long Beach and Los Angeles. The delays in installing Anaheim’s system, promised for earlier this year, has led some to question whether Bike Nation can pull off creating such a large system in Los Angeles.

Eric Bruins, the policy and program director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, hadn’t seen today’s announcement yet, but remains excited about the prospect of bike sharing for Los Angeles.

“Bikeshare is a huge leap forward for transportation in Los Angeles.  It’s going to transform mobility in the communities lucky enough to get stations and make quick trips across downtown as easy as can be.” writes Bruins.

“Over half of all trips are three miles or less and bikeshare is one of the easiest ways to help Angelenos leave their cars parked for these short trips within their neighborhoods.  We hope that all Angelenos will one day soon be able to benefit from bikeshare in their communities.”

Joining Bike Nation at the press event will be Clippers forward and bike activist Caron Butler and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Butler is a spokesperson for Bike Nation, has donated literally thousands of bicycles to inner-city youth and served as bike ambassador to the Crown Prince of Denmark on his majesty’s recent visit to Washington, D.C.

Butler will be announcing a new bicycle donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.

“I am happy to serve as Bike Nation Ambassador and today’s event is just one example of things to come,” says Butler. “Bicycling and youth fitness has been a passion of mine for many years now. I am excited that through this bike-sharing program people will have the opportunity to consider biking as a viable transportation option while also becoming more fit.”

Los Angeles Metro Sprawling Out Slightly Less Than New York

 http://la.curbed.com/

                                                                                                               [Construction at Little Tokyo's Ava viaSkyscraperPage]

 2012.12_infill.jpg

 The Environmental Protection Agency has released a report (pdf) on residential construction trends and it reveals that more than two-thirds of the metro LA housing built between 2005 and 2009 was infill (built in developed areas rather than on virgin land on the outskirts). Sprawl is dead! It's the Mayan apocalypse of sprawl! Well, let's not go crazy, but we do have to point out that LA's 67.5 percent of infill in that period beats out the New York metro's 65.9 percent (places like Austin and Texas are still majority-sprawl cities, meanwhile, while San Jose is eight-tenths infill). The LA Times explains the trend: "Compared to the postwar period, fewer American households have children, lessening demand for the conventional large-lot suburban house. Rising transportation costs have added to the allure of homes with shorter commutes ... Areas with high housing costs and demand also create a market for the condominiums, townhomes and small apartments that are typical of infill housing." Furthermore, infill building "cut per capita air pollution from auto emissions by a third or more, compared with the same construction elsewhere in the same metropolitan regions."

Crenshaw/LAX Community Films Series: Randy's Donuts
 (No url as this came to me in an e-mail)




Project Update



To celebrate the construction phase of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, video maker Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, from Dreamseeker Media, worked with Metro Creative Services to produce a series of six short videos that illustrate the history, current needs and anticipation for rail in the community along this future alignment.

Film number four features the owners of Randy’s Donuts, the donut shop in Inglewood CA known for its sweet confections and iconic oversized donut sign. Brothers Ron and Larry Weintraub bought the shop thirty-four years ago. In this installment, they consider how the future Crenshaw/LAX line will benefit their customers and other businesses along the planned alignment.

This video is available to view here.

Stay tuned for the next two videos.
For more information about the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor page, please visit metro.net/crenshaw.

Creating the Santa Monica Freeway, Building Walls Across Communities

 http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/south-robertson/creating-the-santa-monica-freeway-building-walls-across-communities.html

 by Nathan Masters 

on September 28, 2012 11:00 AM

 

Today, the Santa Monica (I-10) Freeway is an indelible marker across the Los Angeles landscape, a mini-equator that delineates boundaries between cultural and historical hemispheres of the city. Southern Californians depend on the freeway as a vital link between the Westside and downtown Los Angeles and as a transcontinental connection to points east. But in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, the I-10 was part of a massive public works project to bind the nation with concrete superhighways, then perceived as a threat that united local communities and later -- according to one admirer -- as a work of art.

Although transportation planners envisioned its general path to the sea as early as the 1940s, the Santa Monica Freeway is best understood as a member of Southern California's second generation of limited-access highways. Unlike L.A.'s first freeways, their routes mapped by local planners and their construction financed by municipal and state funds, these second-generation freeways were part of a broader statewide and national effort.

Many were part of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highway, which in Southern California included the Santa Ana (I-5), San Diego (I-405), and Santa Monica (I-10). Under the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956, the federal government would provide 90 percent of the funding for these new freeways that extended across the continent.

Greater state funding came in 1959 with the establishment of the California Freeway and Expressway System, which incorporated early, sporadic efforts at freeway building into a coherent statewide map of urban and rural superhighways.

With this backing came bolder plans and a tendency to subordinate local concerns to the needs of the larger region. Mapping their proposed routes, planners drew lines straight through established residential communities. Houses and local businesses along the route were no more an obstacle than existing surface streets or water mains; the state would purchase whatever property it needed, relocate residents, and reconfigure the neighborhoods around the new freeway.
Construction of the Santa Monica Freeway divided neighborhoods and displaced residents. Here, work continues on the freeway southwest of downtown L.A. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Construction of the Santa Monica Freeway divided neighborhoods and displaced residents. Here, work continues on the freeway southwest of downtown L.A. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Transportation planners envisioned a freeway between downtown L.A. and the coast as early as 1940. The actual route of the Santa Monica Freeway had not been adopted when the County Regional Planning Commission created this map in 1943, but the proposed routes labeled here as the Santa Monica and Olympic freeways were precursors to the route finally adopted in 1956. From a 1943 report titled 'Freeways for the Region.' Courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.
Transportation planners envisioned a freeway between downtown L.A. and the coast as early as 1940. The actual route of the Santa Monica Freeway had not been adopted when the County Regional Planning Commission created this map in 1943, but the proposed routes labeled here as the Santa Monica and Olympic freeways were precursors to the route finally adopted in 1956. From a 1943 report titled 'Freeways for the Region.' Courtesy of the Metro Transportation Library and Archive.
Transportation officials break ground on the Santa Monica Freeway's first segment, a viaduct over the Los Angeles River, on June 17, 1957. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Transportation officials break ground on the Santa Monica Freeway's first segment, a viaduct over the Los Angeles River, on June 17, 1957. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.


 It's little surprise, then, that local opposition immediately coalesced against the Santa Monica Freeway when state highway planners announced a major part of its route in August 1955. The entire route -- known originally as the Olympic Freeway -- would span 16.6 miles between the East L.A. Interchange in Boyle Heights and Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, barreling through quiet bedroom communities on its path to the sea.

Hundreds of churches, homeowners groups, and other community organizations rallied against the proposal, focusing their opposition on the 6.6-mile stretch west of La Cienega Boulevard.

Channeling the ire of his West L.A. constituents, State Assembly Member Thomas Rees declared at a public hearing that the proposed freeway "would constitute a wall diagonally across this area," adding that it would pass menacingly close to several schoolyards. Others raised concerns about air pollution, while Superior Court Judge Stanley Mosk spoke on behalf of a local orphanage over which he presided, warning that the freeway would disrupt the lives of 200 orphans.

Still, the general consensus held that Los Angeles needed a freeway connecting downtown to the coast. Instead of attacking the idea itself, opponents limited their criticism to the freeway's route, advancing alternatives that would steer the freeway clear of their homes. Many, for instance, argued for a viaduct freeway atop Venice Boulevard, whose commodious median had been unused since the Pacific Electric decommissioned its Venice Short Line in 1950.

Although planners rejected the Venice proposal, in April 1956 they did revise their original route in the face of community opposition. But while the new route saved 47 homes, it largely shifted the freeway away from the domains of its most vocal opponents and into new neighborhoods. Local opposition persisted, but the highway commission held firm.

On June 17, 1957, construction crews broke ground on the first segment of the newly renamed Santa Monica Freeway over the Los Angeles River. Land acquisition for the freeway's right-of-way began in 1958, and by 1961 families -- living in houses the state had purchased and then rented back to their occupants -- received orders to move.

On December 4, 1961, Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown dedicated the first, easternmost segment of the freeway as crews began work on the route's West Los Angeles and Santa Monica portions. At its western extreme, the freeway required a 7,000-foot-long, 20-foot-deep cut before reaching the Pacific Coast Highway's McClure Tunnel.
A segment of the Santa Monica Freeway near downtown L.A. opens on August 16, 1962. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
A segment of the Santa Monica Freeway near downtown L.A. opens on August 16, 1962. Courtesy of the Herald-Examiner Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Surrounded by other beauty contestants and public officials, Governor Edmund
Surrounded by other beauty contestants and public officials, Governor Edmund
Workers on the Santa Monica Freeway construction site in 1960. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.
Workers on the Santa Monica Freeway construction site in 1960. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection, USC Libraries.

Perhaps the most ambitious part of the project was the route's interchange with the San Diego (I-405) Freeway. Designed by Marilyn Reece, the first woman to serve as an associate highway engineer for the state, the interchange cost an estimated $20 million to build. With the aid of an early computer program, Reece plotted the curves of its ramps and soaring, 75-foot-tall bridges to allow automobiles to transition between freeways at 55 miles per hour -- a significant speed increase over the tolerance of earlier interchanges, like downtown's Four Level, which required cars to slow to 35 miles per hour.
Later, in his 1971 book "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies," architectural historian Reyner Banham singled out Reece's interchange for praise:
...[T]he wide-swinging curved ramps of the intersection of the Santa Monica and the San Diego freeways, which immediately persuaded me that the Los Angeles freeway system is indeed one of the greater works of Man, must be among the younger monuments of the system. It is more customary to praise the famous four-level intersection...but its virtues seem to me little more than statistical whereas the Santa Monica/San Diego intersection is a work of art, both as a pattern on the map, as a monument against the sky, and as a kinetic experience as one sweeps through it.
Work on the freeway progressed slowly, and in stages. It was not until October 1964 that it extended west to La Cienega Boulevard, and on January 29, 1965--several years after residents in the freeway's path were displaced--a Goodyear blimp helped cut the ribbon on the 4.5-mile segment between La Cienega and Bundy Drive. By then, local opposition had dissipated, and civic groups participated in the dedication festivities. The final segment through Santa Monica opened on January 5, 1965.
Olympic Boulevard is diverted in Santa Monica as grading and other work begins on the Santa Monica Freeway, circa 1964. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives.
Olympic Boulevard is diverted in Santa Monica as grading and other work begins on the Santa Monica Freeway, circa 1964. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives.
The interchange of the Santa Monica and San Diego freeways under construction in 1963. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
The interchange of the Santa Monica and San Diego freeways under construction in 1963. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
The completed 10-405 interchange in 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
The completed 10-405 interchange in 1964. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
Marilyn Reece (left) with fellow civil engineer Carol Schumacher at the 10-405 interchange, which Reece designed. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
Marilyn Reece (left) with fellow civil engineer Carol Schumacher at the 10-405 interchange, which Reece designed. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.
The final segment of the Santa Monica Freeway opens on January 5, 1966. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives.
The final segment of the Santa Monica Freeway opens on January 5, 1966. Courtesy of the Santa Monica Public Library Image Archives.
Heavy traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway in 1970, four years after its opening. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Heavy traffic on the Santa Monica Freeway in 1970, four years after its opening. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.

My Way Or The Highway: Why Mega-Roads Rule The City

 http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/landofsunshine/laws-that-shaped-la/my-way-or-the-highway-when-mega-roads-took-over-the-city.html

 

Sprawl: What Happens When You Legislate Against Vibrant Streets

 http://www.kcet.org/socal/departures/landofsunshine/laws-that-shaped-la/sprawl-what-happens-when-you-legislate-against-vibrant-streets.html

 Jeremy Rosenberg

December 17, 2012 11:45 AM

 Posted weeklyJeremy Rosenberg's (@LosJeremy) Laws That Shaped LA column spotlights regulations that have played a significant role in the development of contemporary Los Angeles. These laws - as nominated and explained each week by a locally-based expert - may be civil or criminal, and they may have been put into practice by city, county, state, federal or even international authority

 This Week's Law That Shaped L.A.

Law: Functional Classification Guidelines, Federal-Aid Highway Act
Year: 1968 / 1973
Jurisdiction: Federal
Nominated by: John Norquist

   

In this December 20, 1980 photo, Jerry Gerbracht walks what he calls his reindogs on Rodeo Drive, a street that John Norquist salutes. Photo by Chris Gulker from the Herald-Examiner collection. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library


Traditionally, John Norquist says, major streets in urban locations have three purposes. He labels these: "Movement, market purpose and social purpose."

Norquist is the visionary former mayor of Milwaukee and the President and CEO of The Congress for the New Urbanism. CNU is an influential Chicago-based national policy group that earlier this year held a transportation summit in Long Beach.

A successful street, Norquist says, must serve as: a path on which people travel, a place that facilitates the buying and selling of goods and services, and a public gathering spot. In short: a street is analogous to a city itself.

"You want a city to produce wealth, to be a place where commerce can go on and have a lot of complex interactivity among all the various sectors of the economy," Norquist says.

So what happened when federal and then state governments chose to focus on -- and fund accordingly -- street projects that put movement first and all but ignore the other vital characteristics Norquist mentions? A failing public policy is born, the CNU leader says.

"The regulatory structure of highway metrics is really based on a narrow-minded goal, which is to defeat congestion," Norquist says. "Within the urban context, that's too narrow a purpose."

That means during the post-World War II years, Los Angeles and other cities suffered, Norquist says. Sprawl happened. Interstates went right through cities, not around them.

Significantly wider surface streets were constructed. Historic and other older buildings were sacrificed for more asphalt lanes. Urban cores split and sputtered. Commerce stalled. Tax receipts declined. People's daily lives intersected less. Suburban big box retail replaced mixed-use Main Streets. Life in less sustainable suburbia started to make sense. Populations fled.

"You can look around L.A. and find all kinds of places where streets have been widened to try to handle what they perceived as future traffic needs," Norquist says. "It's wrecked the character of these streets."

The Harbor Freeway and Century Freeway interchange, in 1996. Photo by Anthony Friedkin. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.
The Harbor Freeway and Century Freeway interchange, in 1996. Photo by Anthony Friedkin. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library.


Then there are the areas that were previously, say, fruit groves or other relative open spaces. "Commercial streets that were built in any new area -- like most of Riverside -- once the sprawl pattern was set, they didn't even try to build streets that are valuable settings for the market or for social interactions," Norquist says.

Norquist lays the blame for the above and so many other ills goes to the deceptively innocuous-sounding, "Functional Classification Guidelines." Or, as the more demonstrative sub-title of this CNU panel session -- posted here to YouTube -- puts it, "Functional Classification: The Least Interesting Policy That Dominates Most Everything."

The Functional Classification system was spelled out in a 1968 Department of Transportation study manual and then adopted into law as part of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973. [Related: Read the Laws That Shaped L.A. columns about the original 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act and California's Article 19 and Collier-Burns Act.]

Last December, Norquist published in Atlantic Cities a great and at first glance, seemingly contrarian, read. Headlined, "The Case for Congestion," the piece in part compared traffic to cholesterol. "If you don't have any, you die," Norquist writes.

During a recent phone interview, Norquist re-iterates that HDL vs. LDL theme -- that there is both good and bad cholesterol in the manner that there is good and bad traffic congestion. In the Atlantic Cities piece, and during his recent Laws That Shaped L.A. interview, Norquist also discusses "Level of Service" (LoS) rankings. These designations are a key feature of Functional Classification, as well as being a further bit of wonk-speak.
Civic and business leaders from Sun Valley and Sunland-Tujunga celebrate the widening of Wentworth street through local communities by posing with a tractor. Photo from the Hollywood Citizen News / Valley Times Collection. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library
Civic and business leaders from Sun Valley and Sunland-Tujunga celebrate the widening of Wentworth street through local communities by posing with a tractor. Photo from the Hollywood Citizen News / Valley Times Collection. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library

The rankings work on "A" through "F" scale, like a student's report card. "'A' means the traffic flows freely and 'F' means the traffic fails," Norquist says, by way of explaining the scale, not endorsing it. "But if you take most of the really prosperous places, they have congestion -- because people want to be there."

In Atlantic Cities, Norquist writes that New York City's Greenwich Village features streets graded, "F." During his Laws That Shaped L.A. interview, the Mayor ticks off the names of various other famous locations.

"Fifth Avenue in New York, Lexington Avenue; Michigan Avenue in Chicago; Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills," Norquist says. "All those places are successful retail locations and the streets are crowded, not just with cars but with pedestrians, people spending money and enjoying themselves."
Norquist then brings up that infamously ailing Midwest burgh, Detroit, a.k.a. The Motor City. (Hi, Charlie LeDuff. L.A. misses you.)

"If you look at the city that is probably the setting for the most successful congestion elimination program, it's Detroit," Norquist says. "They built every freeway that anybody ever dreamed of. They removed their transit system -- they had about 300 miles of streetcar at the end of World War II."
And now, the city-tragic punchline: "And it worked" Norquist says. "Detroit doesn't have a big problem with congestion anymore."

Which, for a place that has lost nearly two-thirds of its peak population and much of its retail base, is like calling a bulimia victim a successful dieter.
Breakdancers on Sixth Street and Broadway, the latter another favorite Los Angeles street of the Congress for the New Urbanism. January, 1984 photo by James Ruebsamen from the Herald-Examiner Collection. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library
Breakdancers on Sixth Street and Broadway, the latter another favorite Los Angeles street of the Congress for the New Urbanism. January, 1984 photo by James Ruebsamen from the Herald-Examiner Collection. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Public Library

Norquist has spent sufficient time in the Southland, and been in touch with the CNU's local chapter, to salute a few local stretches for not going the Detroit, or Inland Empire, route. He's particularly high on Broadway in Downtown L.A.; Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena; and Hollywood Boulevard -- particularly since that iconic street wasn't widened and building stock torn down to accommodate more lanes, as he recalls was once threatened.

Norquist's efforts in Milwaukee led to the dismantling of an aged stretch of that city's Park East Freeway. He knows there are useful techniques to keep traffic moving other than building six-lane or ten-lane thruways.

And Norquist also knows, that for the solo driver with places to be, it can at times be a pain in the ass to drive through, say, Hollywood and Highland, or the streets of the Golden Triangle, or Downtown during Art Walk. But, the CNU leader says, even at its worst, moving slower on a narrower road through a happening and engaged city far outweighs the alternative that the Functional Classification has for so long promoted.

"Cities without congestion are pretty much dead," Norquist says. "Congestion is a byproduct of success -- it means a lot of people want to be there."



 
 

The 12 best things to happen to L.A. pedestrians in 2012

 http://www.losangeleswalks.org/the-12-best-things-to-happen-to-l-a-pedestrians-in-2012/

 Alissa Walker

 

stopped at adams and figueroa where the city's 1st traffic signal was installed

 

 

From pedestrian coordinators to polka-dotted plazas, this was definitely a banner year for L.A.’s walkers. Across the city, we’re seeing physical improvements to our streets and sidewalks as well as a changing perspective from citizens who are actively proving a certain ’80s song wrong. Of course, we still have a long way to go—we still have far too many pedestrian collisions, including a recent “epidemic” of hit-and-runs—but we definitely think 2012 was a big step in the right direction for making the city more safe, accessible and fun for walkers. So, in no particular order, here are our picks for the 12 best things to happen to L.A. pedestrians this year.
1. The city appoints two pedestrian coordinators: Walkers won two official advocates in City Hall this year as the LADOT named two pedestrian coordinators: Margot OcaƱas and Valerie Watson. The duo is working hard to update L.A. pedestrian infrastructure—like signaling, striping, and signage—and improve safe routes to schools and transit. And speaking of safety…
2. L.A.’s first continental crosswalk: Just this week, L.A. saw one of its greatest pedestrian victories as a “zebra stripe” crosswalk debuted at the intersection of 5th and Spring. Our own Deborah Murphy spoke at the press conference with Mayor Villaraigosa on how the new design will help make walkers more visible. 53 more crosswalks are planned for 2013, at intersections prioritized due to their high rate of pedestrian collisions.
3. Jeff Speck’s Walkable City book: Part urban planning primer, part love letter to walking, the former design director for the NEA’s fantastic book makes an excellent case for why focusing on the pedestrian experience will improve our cities. Not since Jane Jacobs have we seen a writer who describes a vibrant American sidewalk with such eloquent, blissfully jargon-free writing. The book only has a few examples from L.A., but maybe that’s a good thing—learning from the stories of other cities in this book will certainly help to inspire some change right here at home.
Sunset Triangle
4. Sunset Triangle Plaza: Who would have guessed that a half-block of chartreuse polka-dots would get so much attention? An unprecedented collaboration between Streets for People, the L.A. City Planning Commission and the L.A. County Department of Public Health resulted in the city’s first street-to-plaza conversion in Silver Lake for only $25,000. The plaza itself needs some tweaks—the color’s still controversial, neighbors complained about the loss of parking, ugly plastic barricades showed up after a car took out a few planters—but the good news is that the process is documented, and any community can adapt (and improve on) the model for their neighborhood.
5. Parklet pilot program approved: In August of this year, the City Council approved a new pilot program pioneered by the UCLA Complete Streets Initiative to build parking space-sized parklets across the city. Four locations were announced right away, and if the six-month program goes well, more will pop up around L.A. in 2013. We’re all for the parklets, but we prefer the more L.A.-specific name: Let’s call them “plazitas!”
6. Christopher Hawthorne’s Boulevards project: As part of a series that launched this year, the Los Angeles Times architecture critic has been documenting L.A.’s famous boulevards, from Sunset Boulevard’s changing personality to Harbor Boulevard’s history of political unrest. The fact that the architecture critic at our paper of record is focusing on L.A.’s streets shows a true shift in the city’s attention to urban design. Bonus: Maybe because of Hawthorne’s project, the L.A. Times launched a campaign to let readers report damaged or missing sidewalks.
7. Police return to Pedestrian Advisory Committee: After Los Angeles Walks, Midnight Ridazz and LACBC presented at City Council, police representatives re-joined the LADOT’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee, signifying a unified commitment to safer streets. Especially in light of the recent rash of pedestrian deaths on L.A. streets, this partnership is extremely important. (If you’d like to attend an upcoming meeting, the committee is still looking for representatives from many council districts, details here.)
At the station
8. Opening of the Expo Line and Orange Line extension: These two projects illustrated the dedication of the city to providing transit options for its residents as it continues building (rebuilding?) a world-class transportation system. The Orange Line now connects the extremely popular bus rapid transit line to rail in Chatsworth, and the new Expo Line brought much-needed service to South L.A. and Culver City. And, despite political battles, the second phase of the Expo Line is on schedule, which means we might be riding that light-rail-to-the-sea as soon as 2015.
9. The L.A. Weekly’s hit-and-run investigation: A devastating feature in the L.A. Weekly just a few weeks ago explored the tragic “epidemic” of hit-and-runs on our streets: 48 percent of traffic accidents in Los Angeles are hit-and-run offenses (much higher than the national average of 11 percent), and approximately 100 pedestrians are killed each year in Los Angeles by hit-and-run drivers. Yet the city and LAPD are not doing enough to prosecute and prevent these crimes (read our response to the article). Investigative journalism like this is important to amplify the conversation about safer streets, and we applaud the Weekly for taking on this issue. Update: They even did an excellent follow-up article on how hit-and-run victim Don Ward tracked down the driver who hit him.
10. Big objects moving through L.A.’s streets: First it was a boulder for LACMA, then it was a space shuttle for the California Science Center. (What’s next? One of the pyramids creeping up the PCH en route to the Getty Villa?) But instead of eliciting groans from drivers, closing our roads to move Levitated Mass and Endeavour to their destinations transformed L.A. into massive street parties where people discovered new ways to navigate the city without their cars.
Walkways
11. It started to feel like everyone walks in L.A.: From the Big Parade to the Great L.A. Walk, from Trekking L.A.’s neighborhood walking tours to the L.A. Conservancy’s exploration of historic districts, we saw a groundswell of pedestrian tours, itineraries, and events throughout the city. Our only regret is that we can’t possibly keep up with all of the pedestrian urban exploration happening around us!
12. Rebirth of Los Angeles Walks: Of course we couldn’t help but include a revitalized Los Angeles Walks in our round up. You might know that L.A. Walks has been around in some form since the ’90s, but 2012 saw our official relaunch with a new steering committee and vision for the city. After our awesome karaoke fundraiser in April, we set to work on our campaigns, hosting three community meetings across the city, and we organized “WalkLAvia” parade down Figueroa during the autumn CicLAvia. And we got plenty of press which helped connect local walkers to our cause. We’re excited for 2013 and hope that you’ll join us as we work to make L.A. a great place for walkers. Thanks to everyone for your support!