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, January 16, 2013

Exclusive ABC7 poll: Eric Garcetti leads crowded LA mayoral race


  By Kevin Boie

Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti leads a crowded eight-candidate primary mayoral race but undecided voters could quickly turn the tide, according to an exclusive Eyewitness News poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

The survey found Garcetti taking a comfortable 26 percent of the vote among likely L.A. voters. However, three other candidates also garnered double-digit support, including second-place finisher city Controller Wendy Greuel, who took 18 percent.

Broadcaster Kevin James and Councilwoman Jan Perry tied for third with 12 percent each.

Four remaining candidates did not fare as well in the poll.

In the unlikely event Garcetti takes more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 5 primary, he will be elected mayor.

A more likely scenario: The two top finishers will advance to the May 21 general election.

One in five voters remains undecided -- a fact that could shift the playing field.

Voter Demographics - Mayor
According to the poll, here are the voters attracted to the top four finishers:
  • Garcetti's support is male, moderate and Latino.
  • Greuel's support is white, older, educated and affluent.
  • Perry's support is black, female and middle-income.
  • James's support is young, male, Republican and disproportionately Asian.
City Attorney Race

In the election for city attorney of Los Angeles, the poll finds incumbent Carmen Trutanich edging Assemblyman Mike Feuer, 27 percent to 21 percent.

Greg Smith trails in third with 14 percent and Noel Weiss takes 10 percent.

Voter Demographics - City Attorney

Trutanich has a broad-based coalition, taking 27 percent of the vote among whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians.

 Feuer fares well among males, senior citizens and the most affluent voters.

San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments expected to pick new executive director Thursday 


 By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

Updated:   01/16/2013 07:21:38 PM PST
 San Bernardino Interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller speaks July 18 during a special session by the City Council to hold a vote on a fiscal emergency ordinance.

 After months of uncertainty and even murmuring among members as to whether it should continue to exist, the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments could be back on solid ground Thursday with the hiring of a new executive director.

A search committee from the regional planning agency has recommended the board hire Acting City
Manager Andrea Travis-Miller away from the city of San Bernardino.

Travis-Miller has accepted the offer but it must be approved by the COG board at its meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, at the Southern California Edison CTAC facility, 6090 N. Irwindale Ave., Irwindale.

She's expected to earn between $160,000 and $190,000 for the full-time position.

While some in San Bernardino are worried that her absence could slow the complicated process of the city's bankruptcy filing, local officials seem pleased over the choice.

"Her qualifications are incredible," said Alhambra mayor and COG President Barbara Messina on Wednesday. "She will bring our organization back to new heights."

The COG is made up of 30 cities, the county and local water districts and has worked on building railroad overpasses with its subsidiary, the Alameda Corridor East, as well as helping cities meet the state's new AB 32 rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency proposals.

But the COG came under a cloud in July when the Los Angeles District Attorney's Public Integrity Division raided the Pasadena home and Alhambra offices of long-time Executive Director Nick Conway. Conway was arrested and charged with four felony counts of conflict of interest stemming from contracts he handled for the regional planning agency. He has pleaded not guilty.

The crux of the conflict-of-interest allegations is whether Conway brought in this money as a financial benefit to himself - because his company was typically paid to manage the grants - or whether that benefit was the appropriate result of his duties as the agency's contracted staff.

The COG has been without a permanent executive director since placing Conway on paid leave in June and then firing him and his company, Arroyo Associates on Oct. 31. The long-time executive director had become synonymous with the planning organization he ran for 17 years.

Some cities, including Walnut and Baldwin Park, decided to withhold dues after Conway was arrested. Walnut has said it will not re-up until the COG clears its conflict-of-interest issues.

The hiring of Travis-Miller, someone with a reputation of high integrity who has worked for nearly a year to bring San Bernardino back from its own fiscal cliff, could send a signal to recalcitrant member cities that things are getting better.

"The organization is going adrift. But it should get back on track as quickly as possible," said Bart Doyle, a former Sierra Madre mayor and COG president who is now a government consultant. Doyle was a candidate for the job but was not chosen because he said the agency was looking for someone with city manager experience.

"She really fits the profile," he said of Travis-Miller. But he said she will have a steep learning curve getting to know San Gabriel Valley issues and personalities.

"I would have felt better if they found somebody who knows the Valley well," Doyle said.

Messina disagreed, saying Travis-Miller worked for nearly a decade as city manager of La Mirada and is also an attorney. That combination of work experience made her stand out from the rest of the applicants, she said.

"This is the culmination of where we had to go," she said Wednesday.

 Covina Mayor Kevin Stapleton, a long-time COG board member, agreed: "For the COG to move on, this issue has to be resolved," he said.

Community fights for San Rafael Elementary’s future


Step on to the grounds of San Rafael Elementary today, and you’ll encounter
a thriving community of children learning in two languages, and a vibrant
campus that boasts many improvements to play spaces amid the historic buildings and
towering trees, which are a signature of the neighborhood. San Rafael is currently the only
operating public school in West Pasadena, and the WPRA Board has actively supported
it by organizing volunteer events, providing financial support for enrichment programs,
and advocating on a range of issues affecting the school and its students,
staff and families.

Since the May disclosure of seismic faults running
beneath the nearly century-old campus, San Rafael
parent leaders and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) officials have continued
to discuss the options for rebuilding or relocating the school and its highly successful
Spanish/English Dual Language Immersion program. The school had been planning
several upgrades to the campus (funded by the Measure TT bond program) when the
faults were discovered. The State prohibits tructural improvements to public school
buildings within 50 feet of faults.

Many parents of San Rafael students, following months of conversations with PUSD staff and
board members, have advocated for either rebuilding on a portion of the San Rafael campus outside the setback zone (50 feet from projected fault lines) or relocating the school
to Linda Vista Elementary, which was closed by the District some years ago and is the only
other PUSD school site west of the Arroyo.

At its December 11 meeting, the PUSD Board of Education discussed the potential closure
of additional school campuses in the District due to declining enrollment at many of its
school sites and projected budget shortfalls in the coming years. San Rafael was on the short
list of schools considered for closure during the last round of PUSD school consolidations
in the fall of 2010. The school was spared closure at the time, and in the two years since
has seen its enrollment increase significantly with demand for the Dual Language
program. The school now draws families from the immediate neighborhood as well as
throughout Pasadena and surrounding cities.

For now, the District has agreed to keep open the option of relocating the school to
the Linda Vista site, despite a hefty price tag to renovate and expand campus buildings
needed to accommodate the rapidly growing program at San Rafael. District officials have
largely dismissed the notion of rebuildingat San Rafael because of the even greater
projected expense.

Leadership of the Linda Vista~Annandale Association (LVAA) has expressed support for
reopening the Linda Vista campus and appeared at the December 11 meeting to urge the Board
to reopen Linda Vista as a public school. The Board will not make a final decision about
San Rafael Elementary’s future until sometime next year, and the school will remain open at
least through the 2013-14 academic calendar. Meanwhile, the students, staff and families
continue to invest in a program that is widely recognized as a rising star among education
programs in the city.

The campus, despite going without its promised upgrades, sports new murals andplayground equipment thanks to the efforts of parent volunteers, and buzzes with the
excitement of teachers and students creating a unique learning community for the 21st
century — building on a strong foundation poured nearly 100 years ago.

— By Catherine Stringer, WPRA vice president. Catherine’s two children attend San Rafael and
participate in the dual-language immersion program.
WPRA battles over 710 Freeway tunnels



 An artist’s cross-section of the 710 Freeway tunnels

The WPRA board, along with many area city governments and elected officials, opposes
LA Metro’s plan to dig two double-decker, 4.5-mile, freeway tunnels that would extend the
710 Freeway from I-10 in El Sereno to the 710 stump in Pasadena. The following Q&A’s provide
additional insight into why the WPRA and so many others oppose the 710 Freeway tunnels.

Q. What problem is Metro trying to solve?

A. Good question. Metro’s stated objective is to “improve mobility and relieve congestion between SR-2, I-5, I-10,I- 210 and I-605 in Northeast Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley.”

Q. What are Metro’s proposed solutions?

A. In addition to the tunnels option (F-7), Metro is studying the following alternatives:

• Expanding existing freeways, arterial and transit systems (no build)
• Enhancing operations management and demand management activities (TSM/TDM)
• Developing a rapid-transit bus alternative (BRT 6)
• Developing a light-rail transit alternative (LRT 4)

While the tunnels idea is only one of five alternatives, Metro appears to favor it because it
would “complete the natural goods movement corridor” and best serve long-haul trucks.

Q. What’s wrong with the tunnels?

A. Let us count the ways:

• All the pollution from the north end of the tunnels would be expelled into Pasadena.
This would be the first attempt to filter vehicle exhaust in the U.S. Worse, we have
no current technology to effectively filter out the dangerous fine particulates. Exhaust
portals would be erected near Huntington Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the
region, and three schools. Air pollution would be trapped in foothill communities
by the mountains and an atmospheric inversion layer.

• The tunnels would be hazardous to build and operate. The tunnels would cross
four known earthquake faults and punch through two major aquifers. They would
be more than twice as long as the longest current double-decker tunnels in the
U.S. Construction would take up to 12 years [Metro 2006 PB Study], giving rise
to a continuous stream of trucks moving hundreds of thousands of tons of dirt and
construction materials that will disrupt mobility, force street closures and interrupt
access to downtown businesses.

• The project will be extremely expensive. Official estimates of the cost of the tunnels
range from $1 billion to $14 billion. Additionally, because of the many technical
unknowns, the risk of cost overrun is very high. To put it into perspective, the
higher ranges of tunnel cost estimates are comparable to ALL the rail-freight
improvements identified by Southern California Association of Governments
(SCAG) for the next 15 years.

• Financing and construction of the tunnels would be highly risky. Metro plans to use a
Public Private Partnership (PPP) to finance the highly risky construction and operation.
The private companies would require public guarantees to minimize their risk. In other
words, cost overruns could be borne by the public, and the tolls would be set by the
PPP to ensure a profit.

• The tunnels will attract up to 200,000 cars and trucks every day. Metro originally
reported that the 710 extension was essential to complete a truck corridor.
Lately, however, the story has changed. Now Metro says it doesn’t expect many trucks to
use the tunnel — an odd pronouncement considering that cargo volume moving
through the LA basin is projected to double over the next 20 years.

• The tunnels would not ease traffic congestion. Many of us recall that closing
the “gap” between I-210 and I-15, also billed as a way to ease traffic congestion, resulted
in quite the reverse for both the freeways and surface streets along the route.

• Tunnel traffic would bypass Pasadena’s businesses. The first northern exits would
be on Lake and Mountain, well past Pasadena’s business center.

Q. What should be done instead?

A. Metro is discounting (or simply choosing not to consider) 21st-century solutions to
the issue. Just a few of the smart alternatives (using existing technology and available for
far less cost) include:

• For people — Metro light-rail expansion and improvements, grade separations, express
train passing tracks, light-rail extensions

• For cargo — A completed Alameda (rail) Corridor and other port and rail projects

• Other low-build alternatives in the SR-710 study — dedicated bus rapid-transit routes,
intersection/turning traffic improvements, park/ride/express facilities, transportation
demand management and transportation systems management along the corridor
between I-10 and I-210

The WPRA believes that every dollar spent analyzing and promoting traffic tunnels is
wasted. That money — $700,000 thus far to “study” the issue — would be better spent on
worthwhile projects.

The WPRA looks forward to collaborating with Metro on transportation solutions that
truly address our shared regional traffic needs in a fiscally and environmentally responsible
manner. For more information, visit wpra.net.

— By Bill Urban, WPRA president

Ron Kaye: L.A. has gone to potholes



January 12, 2013

 Cracked and potholed streets don't just damage your car and annoy you, they also kill — causing accidents, slowing emergency response times, endangering pedestrians, even increasing the risk of West Nile virus by allowing stagnant pools of water to accumulate and become the breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Those were among the arguments put forward last week to the Los Angeles City Council by the city's street services chief in urging members to put a measure on the May ballot to raise $3 billion from higher property taxes to repair “We have a 60-year backlog of failed and near-failed streets; that is approximately one-third of our street network,” Nazario Sauceda told the council as he explained how the city allowed its roads to deteriorate by scrimping on funding for decades.

“Bad streets also affect curb appeal and thus reduce the value of our houses,” he added.

Imagine that. For six decades city officials neglected the repair and maintenance of the city's streets to the point that nearly a third need to be totally rebuilt and another third are in danger of failing in coming years. It is hardly surprising given the fact that L.A.'s sidewalks are even worse than the streets, and there hasn't even been a policy on who is responsible for them in the 30 years I've lived there.

Los Angeles and Glendale are neighbors, but exist in parallel universes going in opposite directions. Their populations have increased at roughly the same rate during the last 60 years, so L.A. is still nearly 20 times the size with nearly 20 times as many miles of streets — 6,500 miles to 350.

I checked in with Steve Zurn, head of the Glendale Public Works Department and city-owned utility, to try to understand why the glitzy entertainment capital of the world has gotten old and run-down, while the Jewel City is a gem that looks young and beautiful when it comes to its infrastructure.

“I don't know how you could stand up and say we haven't done anything for 60 years because of lack of attention, diligence and vigilance in keeping the infrastructure up. Who would even admit that?” Zurn chuckled when I told him what was going on in L.A.

“Glendale has always made sure the foundation of the city is well maintained. Everybody in this city, elected officials and management alike have always supported that. It is about everything from aesthetics to the quality of life to mobility. We've been lucky in that regard.”

According to Sauceda, L.A. was spending only $50 million a year on its streets until funding was doubled in recent years, providing just enough to fill the worst potholes and use slurry — the cheapest repair technique — to try to get a few more years out of the roads that are still salvageable.

By that measure, Glendale would spend $5 million a year based on its size.

“We were spending about $12 million a year on our streets and sidewalks, but we've cut back to about $10 million a year, $7.5 million on streets, $2.5 million on sidewalks because of the economic downturn. A lot of cities just use the gas tax, but Glendale has always put other money from general capital improvement and other funds into maintaining our infrastructure so we have very few failing roads.”

Imagine that, spending more on maintenance every year avoids coming to that moment when you face a monstrous bill like Los Angeles does.

Glendale uses a pavement management system that ranks every street by category — arterials, collectors and residential — on a 100-point scale with zero being a dirt road and 100 a brand-new road.

“Today, our streets are averaging 76.2, which I've got to tell you is excellent. Of course I'm biased, which I've got to say makes me proud. In 2005, it was 73 and 2010 [it was] 74.6. At a time when a lot of people are cutting back, our road system is actually getting better.”

Zurn scoffs at slurry-sealing failing streets.

“You're just painting the street to make it look good,” he said. “It's a waste of money [and] isn't structurally sound, but if you get that slurry on a street that is still structurally sound, you're going to be able to get another 15 to 20 years out of it, at least in a residential area.”

How important is street maintenance to him?

“I said when I became the director 10 years ago that the street infrastructure is the skeleton of the city, and it is vital that we keep it well maintained and in good shape,” Zurn said. “When I leave this city, if that infrastructure isn't in as good or better shape than when I got it, then I failed in my job.”

I can only wonder how many directors of street maintenance have come and gone in L.A. in the last 60 years, and whether any of them ever held themselves to that standard.the long-neglected 6,500 miles of mean streets.
The Art of the Political Holdup: Raising Taxes to Fix Street and Storm Water Systems without Fixing the Corruption of Power



It was like enduring a colonoscopy, two of them actually.

First, the deadbeats of the City Council on Tuesday killed — but only for the moment — the insulting proposal handed to its most junior and obedient members to carry: An ill-conceived and unstudied plan to soak property owners in an iniquitous manner to the tune of $3 billion or $4 billion or $5 billion (who knows?) to fix the streets neglected for nearly 60 years.

Then, the County Board of Supervisors allowed, reluctantly, a couple of hundred angry citizens to speak for five  or six hours, a minute at a time, about the insulting, ill-conceived and unstudied plan to soak property owners in an iniquitous manner to the tune of $9 billion (or is it $15 billion) to finally fix the storm water runoff problem after decades of neglect so the pollutants don’t reach the sea and ruin our beaches.

Anybody who doesn’t think those are worthy goals are not worth listening to — a point so clear and obvious nobody among all those opposed to either or both taxes ever questioned the goals.

What they questioned is in the integrity and competence of their government officials — a point of view that was only opposed by those who supported the taxes because they benefited financially, ideologically or in other ways personally, like environmentalists, hillside homeowners and other rich people, S-M Conservancy King Joe Edmiston, unions and  trade associations that would get all the billions of dollars in work.

The politicians have not offered a single justification, accepted an iota of responsibility or a word of apology for letting these and other vital problems get so out of hand for so long.

All they wanted was your money, specifically your money if you happen to own property — something that means to them you must be rich so it’s fair to stick a gun in your face and hold you up.

It’s like the Sheriff of Nottingham robbing Robin of Sherwood Forest at sword point, which is what drove him to made adopt the revolutionary posture in the first place.

The revolutionaries in these cases were homeowners, railroad executives, small business owner, school districts and nearly every city in the county except the City of Los Angeles that has never seen a tax it doesn’t love, never seen a tax it wouldn’t kill for, never seen a tax it wouldn’t foreclose your home for, never seen a tax it didn’t desperately need to pay employee salaries and provide the grease that feeds a corrupt system of contractors, consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, P.R. execs and other selfish special interests.

What’s telling is that both the city and county backed away from putting the tax hikes before voters because they couldn’t answer the most basic questions about the proposals: How they came to decide on the amount of the taxes, what projects would be funded, what protections would be put in place to protect the taxpayers’ money from being stolen.

Worst of all, they had to admit in both cases that amount of increased taxes they sought were picked because they thought it was as much as the public would bear. Incredibly, the money would be insufficient to the city’s streets and do nothing to fix the sidewalks and in the county’s case only solve part of the storm water runoff problem.

 Go to the website to view the videos:

What's Wrong with Taxes for Good Streets, Clean Water 

Molina Soliguy Answers All Questions

L.A.'s No. 1 Problem: Bungling and Incompetence

L.A.'s No. 2 Problem: Confusion and Incompetence

Community Films Series: Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor


To celebrate the construction phase of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor, filmmaker 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.

The fifth film in the series features poet Gina Loring who recites “Universal Breath,” an original poem she wrote for Metro. A Metro rider herself, Loring’s poem gives us a vision of the everyday dynamics of LA County’s public transportation experience. “Universal Breath” is a celebration of LA’s world renowned culture and how public transportation knits this diversity together.
These five videos are available to view here.
Stay tuned for the next and last video.

For more information about the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor page, please visit metro.net/crenshaw.

For more Metro videos:  http://www.metro.net/news/videos/details/75/

Congressman Weighs in on Metro Board Nomination: Keep Najarian

 by Damien Newton, Wednesday, January 16, 2013


 Congressman Adam Schiff.

 In the odd drama over whether or not Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian will be reappointed to the Metro Board of Directors, there are a lot of conspiracy theories.

Some, including the Councilman, believe that Supervisor Mike Antonovich is using Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana to wage a proxy war against Najarian. Antonovich, a political heavyweight who used his current position as Chair of the Metro Board of Directors to replace Najarian with Mark Ridley-Thomas on the Metrolink Board of Directors, is believed to be stung by Najarian’s vote to place Measure J on the fall ballot and incensed over his effective opposition to the I-710 Big Dig project.

If this theory is true, then Najarian’s chances for renomination have brightened as an even bigger fish is now backing his bid to return to the Metro Board. Congressman Adam Schiff , in a widely copied letter, wrote to the League of California Cities to forcefully back Najarian and reject any notion that his position against The Dig should disqualify him from serving on the Board. His letter is  available exclusively online here at Streetsblog.

After defending both his record as a Board Member and his position on the Big Dig, Schiff argues that a vote against Najarian is a vote for parochial interests over that of the whole county.

The Metro Board is well served by members with a diverse set of views, so that the County has the benefit of a cross-fertilization of ideas and from the scrutiny from a Board that is not a rubber stamp from any particular point of view. Although Ara has served our region extremely well, he has not served in a parochial way; nor should individual voting members of the League of California Cities act parochially in attempting to reject his nomination.

Advocates backing Najarian with the No on 710 Coalition aren’t assuming Najarian’s continued support from the North County cities or Congressman Schiff will be enough to carry the day when the Los Angeles County City Selection Committee next meets. Advocates are writing to the Mayors of each city that either voted against Najarian in December or didn’t attend the meeting to urge a “yes” vote for the Glendale Councilman.

Najarian needs a majority of the weighted vote to be reconfirmed to another four-year term on the Metro Board. Until a confirmation of someone is completed, Najarian will continue to serve as the current representative of the North Cities.