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

Monday, January 28, 2013

NBC LA Retweeted Charles E. Miller's 710 Freeway Interview with Them

The power of the retweet. NBC LA retweeted this to their 53,525 followers on Twitter :-)

Port Of Long Beach Approves Billion-Dollar Harbor Project


Shunqi Lin, January 5, 2013

 The Middle Harbor (The Port of Long Beach)The Middle Harbor (The Port of Long Beach)

Port of Long Beach officials met Tuesday to approve and formalize a $1.2 billion budget for its Middle Harbor project. The nine-year plan will combine two existing container terminals into one mega terminal. It is expected to handle more than 3 million containers, two times its current capacity.

The plan was approved by the Board of Harbor Commission in April 2009 and construction began in the spring of 2011. According to San Jose Mercury News, approximately $513.4 million in work on the Middle Harbor project has already been completed or is under way.

According to the Port's official website, the Middle Harbor project is expected to create about 14,000 permanent jobs in Southern California and 1,000 temporary construction jobs a year for the next nine years. 

The newly equipped terminal will also reduce environmental problems, making it "the Port's most technologically advanced and greenest terminal," according to their website. “We are able to double the capacity while decreasing the pollution in half from the current levels. The way to accomplish that is by using more on-dock rail,” said Port of Long Beach spokesman Daniel Yi.

The new equipment will move more containers directly from ship to a train, after which the cargo will use an elevator corridor to reach its destination, ultimately leading to fewer trucks on the road. It will also move containers faster and more efficiently from the ship, therefore resulting in less pollution on a per container basis.

Most of the budget will be spent on construction and land utility fees. Most of the revenue generated by the port comes from the rent fee it charges from tenants. Last year, the port signed a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease with Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) for exclusive use of the Middle Harbor property.

The construction is scheduled to complete in 2019. By then, the harbor will be the largest for the nation's second-busiest seaport.
Letter to Rosemead Mayor from Donald Voss
 The following letter was sent via email on January 28 to Mayor Sandra Armenta of Rosemead by Donald Voss, City Councilmember and former Mayor of La Canada Flintridge. Councilmember Voss and Mayor Armenta are both members of the Executive Board of the California Contract Cities Association. Since Mayor Armenta was absent from the City Council meeting at which the Rosemead Council voted to join the 710 Coalition, Councilmember Voss decided to send this letter to her. The Schiff letter he references is Adam Schiff’s letter to Mike Antonovich and the Metro Board dated 9/20/12.

Hi, Sandra –

I was disappointed to read that the Rosemead City Council had taken a “support” position to extend the 710 freeway northward, and had allocated Measure R dollars to manifest that support. I noticed that you were not present at the meeting during which that action was taken, so I wanted to send you this message with some information that I suspect was not presented to your colleagues.

Imagine a new highway proposal that if built would result in an additional 30,000 vehicles, 2,500 of them heavy trucks, passing daily right through the middle of the City of Rosemead – let’s say on Rosemead Boulevard. Imagine that in Rosemead there are at least ten schools within 500 feet of Rosemead Boulevard (and maybe there are?). Consider that scientific study after scientific study shows that children living, playing, or going to school within 500 feet of a heavily travelled highway face permanent lung and respiratory impairment, and that as many as 24,000 deaths occur annually in California due to chronic exposure to fine particulate pollution. Now, imagine the Rosemead City Council supporting such a proposal.

Not very likely, is it?

Well, that’s exactly the situation we have here in La Cañada Flintridge. Connecting the 710 freeway with the 210 freeway would produce that result. It would threaten the health of thousands of La Cañada Flintridge children who have yet to be born. As a city councilmember, one of my most important responsibilities is to protect the health of our city’s children and to provide for a sustainably safe and healthy environment. Is it any wonder that the La Cañada Flintridge City Council opposes the extension of the 710 freeway?

But there’s more at stake with this proposal than health alone. It’s also a matter of appropriate use and stewardship of resources in the 21st century. Building yet another freeway might have been considered a good transportation solution in the previous century. But things have changed. We now know that:

Freeways are failing as the primary mode of transportation in the Los Angeles basin. This is obvious to anyone who drives the freeways.

Auto and truck pollution pose very serious health threats, especially to children.

Modern twenty-first century transportation modes and technologies are available to help solve regional transportation problems – modes and technologies that have significantly less environmental impact than urban freeways.

Transportation dollars are scarce and fiscal responsibility is critically important. Three viable alternatives to the freeway extension have been identified. ALL THREE OF THEM COMBINED could be developed for ONLY HALF of Metro’s projected cost of the freeway.

We are all interested in relieving the traffic congestion problem at the northern terminus of the 710 freeway, but simply exporting that problem to other cities is not the right answer. The right solution will optimize the combination of transportation efficiency, cost efficiency, environmental impact, and sustainability. The problem is still being studied, and so none of this is yet known. Therefore, support of the freeway option at this time must be considered reckless, because by the proponents’ own acknowledgment, the related studies have not yet been completed. How is it intellectually possible that the “solution” is known before the studies are finished? Suppose the completed studies show that the severity of the environmental impacts or the sheer magnitude of the cost renders the freeway option impossible to pursue – would the proponents still support it anyway?

There is no question that extension of the 710 would bring significant adverse effects to numerous cities and communities situated along the 210 freeway. Many of these have expressed their formal opposition, not only because of environmental impact, but for a variety of additional reasons related to cost, suitability, and process. These cities and communities are:

Los Angeles
South Pasadena
La Cañada Flintridge
Sierra Madre
La Crescenta

Other communities that would directly suffer adverse effects include Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, and Duarte.

Elected officials, past and present, who have expressed their opposition to the project include US Congressman Adam Schiff, State Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymember Mike Gatto, and former Assemblymember Anthony Portantino. (Congressman Schiff’s letter of opposition is particularly comprehensive, thoughtful and eloquent -- I have attached it and urge you to take a moment to review it.) Each of these individuals represents or has represented communities that would directly suffer the adverse effects of the 710 extension.

In contrast, none of the cities that support the 710 extension would directly suffer any adverse effects, other than the temporary inconvenience of construction. (However, each and every city in California
would likely experience diminished access to funding for worthy transportation projects, due to the enormity of the projected cost of the freeway extension.)

I submit that the action taken by the Rosemead City Council was premature and not fully informed. I believe the action must have been taken without all the available facts – the related staff report is certainly deficient in this regard. I just can’t believe that your Council would have supported the project if it had known that it would bring such devastating impacts to the residents of my City and the cities along the 210 freeway. I honestly can't imagine my City supporting a proposal that would bring similar misery to Rosemead.

Again, Sandra, I realize you were not in attendance when this action was taken. I appeal to you to recommend that the Council reconsider its action, and defer any decision about the project until all the facts are available – at least until the conclusions of the Environmental Impact Report are released in 2015.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you, or try to answer any questions you may have. If you think it could be worthwhile, I'd also be pleased to address this with the Council.

Thank you for your consideration.



Article regarding Rosemead joining the 710 Coalition

 710 Tunnel Supporters and What Will Happen to a Tunnel if the San Andreas Fault Goes: Video by Joe Cano

Freeway fight continues to escalate in 710 corridor 


 By Lauren Gold

Posted:   01/28/2013 02:03:23 PM PST
Updated:   01/28/2013 02:47:38 PM PST
 A shouting match at an open house underscored the rising tensions between those in favor of closing the gap in the 710 Freeway and those opposed to a possible freeway tunnel.

The open house, held Wednesday at Maranatha High School, was the first of three hosted by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

What might have been a discussion of freeway alternatives turned into a shouting match between Metro representatives and members of the public.

About 45 minutes into the event, Pasadena resident Freddie Hannan jumped on a chair, blew a whistle and shouted at staff members.

"We want answers," Hannan said, waving a "No 710" sign.

As Hannan spoke, Metro consultant Jim Oswald attempted to drown her out as three sheriff's deputies approached the woman and told her and other opponents to take their protest outside.

Frank Quon, the executive officer of Metro's Highway Program, said the disruption was "unfortunate" but that many people were still able to have a dialogue with each other and with Metro staff about the project.

"This is what we hope to accomplish, to have these conversations," Quon said.
 Hannan wasn't the only anti-freeway activist to disrupt the meeting.
A man who claimed to be an El Sereno resident walked throughout the room videotaping, asking questions and making snide remarks. The man, who identified himself as Joe Cano, also held up a poster depicting the 2013 Rose Parade royal court wearing gas masks. He said a freeway tunnel like that which Metro proposes will result in far more air pollution in Pasadena, South Pasadena and neighborhoods of northeast Los Angeles.

The man posted his diatribe on YouTube.

Hannan said she wanted to speak out because she was disappointed with the meeting format.
"These are P.R. stunts," Hannan said. "They are meaningless to us."

Pasadena Councilman Steve Madison said he was "appalled" that Metro shut down the protest.

But some fellow freeway fighters said they weren't sure they appreciated the decidedly nasty turn the
decades-long freeway fight has taken in recent months.

"I don't think it accomplishes much myself," said South Pasadena resident Bill Sherman, a member of the No 710 Action Committee. "These are tactics some people think they can use and be effective, but it's not what I would personally choose to do."

But, he said, he can understand why residents are frustrated by Metro's process.

"I think that everything we say, they ignore. Every objection we make, they ignore. We bring up a
topic at the meetings, we use logic and reason, they just ignore us," Sherman said.

La Canada resident Jan SooHoo said she objected to some of the comments made in the YouTube video, which "attacked" hourly Metro staff who only attended the open house to answer the public's questions.

"I respect the right of people to protest in ways they choose to," SooHoo said, "however, I am also very aware of the fact that certain kinds of behavior and actions will result in lack of cooperation, will not make the agencies want to deal with us or talk to us."

In the end, she said, the controversial freeway is bound to incite strong opinions, but it's important to continue to stay involved in the process.

"People are emotional about it. I'm emotional about it," she said. "You have two choices: you can roll over and die or you can keep fighting."
Comments below the article:

I thought journalists were supposed to report facts without bias. This sounds very biased to me and like an attack. I'm offended.
 In this article Ms. Gold attempts to report the events at the Open House in Pasadena, however, she fell short of describing the enormous frustration attendees like me felt. I was polite and cordial when asking a question of a Metro rep, but then I would get an answer that made no logical sense. They supported their "information" with numbers and other data. In some cases there was no supporting data, only speculation on the part of the Metro rep. This kind of frustration led to those calling out "we want answers." 
 I am stunned by the bias exhibited in this piece by Ms. Gold. To say the man with the camera made "snide"remarks, and then, " posted his diatribe on YouTube ", is ot exactly objective journalism. What does a supposed "diatribe" on you tube that Ms. Gold later viewed have to do with what went on at Mananatha? This was not very well written. Very biased and disappointing.

Cal State Open House-4, Video by Joe Cano

January 28, 2013
Just like the old Batman TV show, BANG, POW, CRASH!! It just keeps getting worse. (Joe Cano)

Sacramento Politicians Look To Los Angeles After Terms Expire 


 Los Angeles Daily News  |  By Rick Orlov Posted:   |  Updated: 01/28/2013 2:40 pm EST

Sacramento Politicians Los Angeles
This election season, Los Angeles is beginning to look like Sacramento South.

There are now four members of the City Council with Sacramento experience -- Council President Herb Wesson, Councilmen Richard Alarcon, Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian -- plus Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

And there is no shortage of Sacramento-experienced politicians running for city office in the March 5 primary election. For races where no candidate receives a majority, there will be a May 21 runoff.

The migration to the Los Angeles City Council is due to term limits. The local office offers the chance to extend a political career for another 12 years, plus the opportunity for a better-paying job with less travel. Being a state legislator pays $90,259 a year compared to the $178,790 a year paid City Council members, plus perks that include a car.

While some candidates and observers have argued that so many politicians with a background in the state Legislature could mean more city business being conducted behind closed doors, others argue it depends on the official.

"There are a number of very qualified officials who will fit in with how the city operates," said Dan Schnur, executive director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute at USC.

"If it wasn't for term limits, you wouldn't have so many running for the City Council. Arguably, it's a better job because it pays better, you are one of 15 instead of one of 120 and you don't spend half your life on Southwest Airlines flying back and forth."

 State legislators now are limited to 12 years in office, which they can serve in one house or divide between the Assembly and the Senate. Previously, the limits were six years for the Assembly and eight years for the Senate.

On the council, Alarcon is termed out this July 1 from his 7th Council District, and former state assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, is running to fill his vacancy.

Four other current and former legislators are running for other seats.

Among them is Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, in the 3rd Council District and, outside the San Fernando Valley area, there are several others.

In the 1st Council District where incumbent Ed Reyes is termed out, former Assemblyman Gil Cedillo is running against Reyes' chief deputy, Jose Gardea and businessman Jesse Rosas.

In the 9th Council District where incumbent Jan Perry is termed out and running for mayor, there are two Sacramento veterans running to succeed her. They are state Sen. Curren D. Price and former Assemblyman Mike Davis.

That race has drawn a crowded field which includes Deputy Police Chief Terry Hara and Ana Cubas, chief deputy to Councilman Jose Huizar as well as community development advocate David Roberts, who served on the city Redistricting Commission. Also in the race are teacher Ron Gochez and neighborhood council member Manuel "Manny" Aldana.

There are no state legislators running in the three other open City Council seats.

In the 11th District, where incumbent Bill Rosendahl decided against seeking another term for health reasons, his top deputy, Mike Bonin, has been leading the field of candidates in terms of fundraising and endorsements.

The other candidates include prosecutor Tina Hess, teacher Odysseus Bostick and community advocate Frederick Sutton.

For the 13th District seat where incumbent Eric Garcetti is termed out and running for mayor, there are 12 candidates looking to succeed him.

The field includes a broad mix of community and political activists and range from an assistant fire chief, Emile Mack, to a former deputy mayor, Matt Szabo.

Others in the contest include council senior advisor Mitch O'Farrell, business owner Roberto Haraldson, Deputy Attorney General Josh Post, university professor Octavio Pescador, commissioner John Choi, neighborhood council member Sam Kbushyan, senate district director Robert Negrete, small business owner Michael Schaefer, neighborhood council president Jose Sigala and charitable foundation director Alexander Cruz de Ocampo.

In the 15th Council District, Councilman Joe Buscaino is running for a full term after winning a special election to fill the vacancy created with Janice Hahn's election to Congress. He is being challenged by minister James Law.

The Reality Is…


January 28, 2013


The phrase “the reality is…” is often followed by statements reinforcing the status quo. This is usually presented as a rational perspective, but I see it as justification for not rocking the boat. Those who take this approach dismiss those of us who vision something other than what we have now as merely academic exercises.
ABOVE: Washington Ave was once just a dream
ABOVE: Washington Ave Loft District was once just a dream
Take downtown as one example. A dozen years ago these same types said things like “the reality is…”
  • “downtowns are dead”
  • “if people wanted lofts they market would’ve responded”
  • “Sure people want lofts in NYC or Chicago, but St. Louis isn’t either of those”
These naysayers are excellent at explaining why the rest of us can’t reach our visions, freely giving every reason why what we want won’t possibly work. They keep saying these things even when others get together and find ways to do things differently.  Smart money is in the suburbs, they’d say. But things change.

It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision. — Helen Keller

Downtown, and urban neighborhoods, are still getting investment while many suburban areas struggle:
The swift growth of suburban poverty is reshaping the sociological landscape, while leaving millions of struggling households without the support that might ameliorate their plight: Compared to cities, suburban communities lack facilities and programs to help the poor, owing to a lag in awareness that large numbers of indigent people are in their midst. Some communities are wary of providing services out of fear they will make themselves magnets for the poor.
In the suburbs, getting to county offices to apply for aid or to food banks generally requires a car or reliance on a typically minimal public transportation network. The same transportation constraints limit working opportunities, with many jobs potentially beyond reach and would-be employers reluctant to hire people who lack their own vehicles. (Soaring Suburban Poverty Catches Communities Unprepared)
And now these same folks are quick to point out why these suburbs can’t be rethought. With so many people lacking vision do we really need a few trying to speak over those of that do? The reality is what we make it out to be.
– Steve Patterson
CD 11 Livable Streets Candidate Forum Videos Online. Next Streetsblog TV Events Announced
By Damien Newton, January 28, 2013
It might have taken five days longer than we thought, but I finally uploaded the entire two hour Livable Streets Candidate Forum for the four candidates vying to succeed Bill Rosendahl in Council District 11. Watching the video again, it’s striking how few times Rosendahl’s name comes up in the discussion.
 Also notable, each of the four candidates kicks off the forum season with a discussion of walking, bicycling, transit, parking and more sounding as though they’ve spent the last four years at UCLA planning school. As the forum season continues, it will be interesting to see if they continue in this vein or if the focus on Livability last week was an outlier.

All four videos are embedded after the jump.

Meanwhile, mark your schedules for the next two Streetsblog TV events. On February 7th, we’ll be at the opening of two pocket parks in Downtown Los Angeles at 9:00 a.m. with Mayor Villaraigosa, Council Members Huizar and Perry and more. Then, on February 10th we’ll be at Occidental College for the CD 1 Candidates debate at 1:00 p.m. Read more…   (Click on Read more to get to the videos.)

The Week in Livable Streets Events

 The big event on the calendar has to be the Move L.A. event at the end of the week. And not just because it has a party for Bill Rosendahl at the end.

  • Monday: The City of Santa Monica hosts a community workshop for their pedestrian master plan. They say the goal is to make the entire city a safe and enjoyable place to walk, but to do that they need your help. Read the press release in our calendar section.
  • Tuesday: The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Civic Engagement Committee meets at 6:45 pm on the last Tuesday of each month. This month’s meeting will take place at the Pitfire Pizza on Second and Main in Downtown L.A. on Tuesday, January 29th, focusing on the upcoming March elections. Email bikinginla at hotmail dot com to be added to the discussion list.
  • Wednesday: The Transit Coalition moved it’s monthly meeting for one month only. Remember, they now meet in Union Station and reservations are necessary. The subject of this week’s meeting is “Regional Rail, Bob Hope Airport, HSR.” Get more information about registering at their website.
  • Thursday: Pasadena gets in on the whole “Bike Boulevard” trend with the opening of the Rose City’s first official bike boulevard at 3 p.m. at the corner of Marengo Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard. Patch broke the story and has the details.
  • Friday: Friday, February 1st marks Move LA’s 5th Annual Transportation Conversation from 8 am to 3:30 pm in the old ticketing area at Union Station. If you bring a bike, you get in for free. Get more details here, and we’ll have a full write up later in the day.
Cal State Open House-3, Video by Joe Cano

January 28, 2013

El Sereno has its own civil engineers that can dispute anything Metro throw at us. We are not 'stupid Mexican Americans' like Metro thinks we are. (Joe Cano)
We have three generations of civil engineers living in El Sereno that can punch holes through Metro's sham number scheme. (Joe Cano)

Leaders Promote Moving Forward At Santa Monica's State Of The City


 January 25, 2013


                                           The beach at Santa Monica--photo, Peggy Drouet

                                           Third Street Promenade. Photo: Peggy Drouet 


(Note: Below Richard Thorpe states that the travel time from downtown Los Angeles to Fourth and Colorado in Santa Monica will take 46 minutes. Add about 20 minutes to take the Gold Line to downtown Los Angeles from Pasadena plus some minutes to transfer from the Gold Line to the Expo Line, it will take probably less than 1 1/2 hours to get from Pasadena to Santa Monica and you  won't have to negotiate the freeways to get there or pay for parking when you arrive. It would be a short walk from the Santa Monica station to the beach and also the the Third Street Promenade. A shuttle from the station to the Getty Villa would also be a nice addition.)


Earlier this week, City Council members talked about saving money for a rainy day. Clearly they were not referring to the wet weather that welcomed the Santa Monica State of the City held Thursday morning at the SGI USA Center. Yet planning for the future was definitely a topic of discussion among the event’s speakers and nearly 300 attendees.

While last year’s State of the City focused on technology, this year’s event, which was planned by the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, delved into public transit. With the Expo Light Rail line arriving in Santa Monica potentially as early as 2015, both City and County leaders used the event to celebrate the future without taking an eye off the present.

 City Manager Rod Gould told The Mirror that Santa Monica has a lot to look forward to in the coming year as Council members and other civic leaders balance the promise of the future with present realities.

“Santa Monica is a place where this community and City need to make some choices. And we have some terrific choices,” Gould said. “Choices to revitalize the downtown and make it more vibrant and interesting. Choices to make a transit-oriented village at Bergamot Station... (and) at the same time preserve neighborhoods. There is a lot of stimulus coming to Santa Monica.”

Gould also said while the City has choices to make about its future, every effort would be made to preserve Santa Monica’s neighborhoods.

“I don’t want people to worry that Santa Monica will lose its community identity,” Gould said.

He added the City would make a lot of decisions in 2013, such as a new zoning code, development of the Bergamot Area Plan, and the execution of bike and pedestrian plans.

The impending choices are balanced with budget challenges. Capital improvements will be difficult to execute with the loss of redevelopment, for example. Still, Gould said Santa Monica has a better outlook than most other cities in the county.

Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Laurel Rosen said part of reason Santa Monica has a promising future is because of its thriving business community. She pointed out The Chamber represents nearly 850 businesses in Santa Monica employing about 10,000 people, adding the City has a grand total of more than 7000 brick and mortar businesses.

 “This City is great because of its business community, their availability, (and) their contribution to the General Fund,” she said. “We’re moving forward as a city and we can do that together.”
Mayor Pam O’Connor pointed out the City’s residents perfectly complement local businesses.

“The key to Santa Monica’s vibrancy is its neighborhoods,” she told The Mirror. “It’s the residents, the business corridors that serve the residents and neighborhoods. Most of our area is neighborhoods.”

Amidst the positive sentiment, O’Connor balanced her perspective with a take on the recent council discussion about the five-year budget outlook.

“There’s always uncertainty. We don’t know what the future is. That’s why we in Santa Monica have in the past and continue to work to have a sustainable baseline budget. We have to keep our eyes on the horizon, we have to be creative, but I’m optimistic,” she said.

That optimism continued during the keynote addresses by two members of the L.A. County Metro Authority, which oversees the Expo Line and all other public rail transit in the Los Angeles area.

Martha Wellborne, Executive Director of Planning for LA Metro, addressed the 300 some attendees about the future of light rail and subways in Los Angeles County. In addition to the Expo Line’s planned arrival in the next two to three years, Wellborne hinted at the Westside extension of thread Purple Line, which will travel along Wilshire Boulevard between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Metro is also going to conduct a feasibility study looking into building a corridor along Sepulveda connecting the Valley and the Westside to LAX.

She added the Metro system as a whole features 134 miles of rail and has matched San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit in ridership.

Also addressing the State of the City was Richard Thorpe, CEO of Exposition & Construction Authority.

Thorpe spoke practically of what to expect when the Expo arrives in Santa Monica. For example, travel time from Fourth and Colorado to downtown Los Angeles would take 46 minutes. Metro also projects 27,000 people riding Expo Line each day once complete.

 He also added that the Expo Line construction is responsible for nearly 4,000 jobs and more than $100 billion will be spent on local businesses.

“This is much more than just a train from Santa Monica to Los Angeles,” Thorpe said.
Concluding the State of the City were O’Connor and Gould, both of whom spoke of Santa Monica’s outlook.

The Economic Excellence Award was presented to Jonathan Wolf on behalf of the American Film Market for its continued support of the Santa Monica community and Pam O’Connor was honored for her contributions in moving Santa Monica forward.

Pedestrians and cyclists pledge to keep the peace on L.A. River Path


January 25, 2012



The L.A. River Path through Elysian Valley is the scene of frequent confrontations and collisions between pedestrians and cyclists.  But last weekend,  cyclists got off their bikes and pedestrians took a break from strolling to sign a pledge to “share the path.” About 100 cyclists and 60 pedestrians signed the pledge during the first annual “Share the Path” event , according to David De La Torre, an Elysian Valley activist. De La Torre and many other residents who have expressed  concern about the safety of pedestrians along the popular but narrow path since it was extended through Elysian Valley in 2010.

The event, which was co-sponsored by the Elysian Valley neighborhood council, Elysian Valley Neighborhood Watch and the L.A. County Bike Coalition, provided an opportunity for the cyclists and pedestrians to meet each other and receive information on river path etiquette  “This event is a great way to educate cyclists and pedestrians and prevent future incidents from happening,” said De La Torre in a neighborhood watch announcement.

Transportation Funding Changes could be Coming 


By Joel Fox, January 28, 2013


In his last Tuesday Sacramento Bee column, Dan Walters considered what could lead to major changes in highway and transportation funding as the Brown Administration considers its options.

Pointing to a Tax Foundation report, Walters wrote, “California has the nation’s third-highest fuel tax, more than 50 cents a gallon, but is among the lowest states in having motorists and other transportation users pay for their services through fees and taxes.

In fact, the organization calculated, California’s users pay for less than a third of building and maintaining streets, roads, highways and transit services.

The rest of the transportation burden is being borne by diversions of other revenue, such as those local sales taxes paid by everyone who buys retail goods, the state’s general fund that’s been tapped to service transportation bonds, city and county property taxes, federal grants and so forth.”

Funding transportation by means other than by the users of the transportation is being considered as a solution for transportation funding by other states.

Effective and efficient transportation funding is key to a revived California economy. This is not a new issue. In 1988, I worked with Proposition 13 co-author, Paul Gann, on a ballot measure (Proposition 72) to boost funding that would have required sales taxes on gasoline to be used for transportation purposes (as well as establish a budget reserve.) The measure lost.

Because cars are getting better mileage and as hybrid and electric cars start to move into the market, the old methods of funding roads on a pay-as-you-go tax on a gallon of gasoline is not keeping up with the demand. An array of states, including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia and Wyoming are all considering new funding strategies.

In Virginia, Governor Bob McConnell is proposing abandoning the old pay-as-you-go highway tax system by eliminating the state’s 17.5 cent per gallon gas tax and replacing it with an 8/10 of one percent increase in the state sales tax from 5 percent to 5.8 percent and dedicating the increase to the roads. Opponents fight abandoning the pay-as-you-go principle. Supporters argue that the roads benefit all because it serves the backbone of the economy.

It would be hard to conceive of California following a similar plan by upping its already top-of-the-heap sales tax.

Other state proposals under consideration deal with miles-based user fees and more toll roads. Transportation expert, Ken Orski, an occasional contributor to Fox and Hounds Daily, writes an overview on some of the state and federal proposals that may be coming in transportation funding on his Innovation Briefs blog.

Proposals to change transportation funding are likely coming and the proposals may involve new, creative funding methods. As Orski writes, “when it comes to raising money, bold and unconventional approaches will sometimes trump established principles.”


Wider I-405 expansion may get another look

New membership on the OCTA might bring the matter to another vote; directors to hear a briefing on plans Monday


Doug Irving, January 25, 2013

Article Tab: Cars on the northbound I-405.
                                                                             Cars on the northbound I-405.

The question that motorists stuck in idle might ask themselves during any given rush hour – What the heck would it take to fix the 405? – does have an answer, at least for now: About $1.3 billion in new lanes.
That's the solution to the notorious congestion on I-405 that the Orange County Transportation Authority approved late last year: One new lane in each direction. Total cost, $1.3 billion.
 Not everyone is convinced that's enough.

Several cities along the freeway have mobilized to fight for more lanes. OCTA directors will hear a briefing Monday on the freeway-widening plans, an item that county Supervisor John Moorlach placed on the agenda in part to test the waters for another vote.

Like the cities, he favors a proposal that would add two lanes in each direction, not just one, at a cost of around $1.4 billion. The OCTA board dismissed that option as too expensive last year, but most seats on the board have since changed hands – bringing in new members whose votes are much less certain.

"I would love to have the new board take a look at it," Moorlach said.

Motorists stuck in the rush-hour crawl won't see any immediate relief, no matter how the board votes. Construction isn't scheduled to begin until at least 2015, with the new lanes – from the Los Angeles County line to the 55 freeway – ready for traffic around 2019.

Orange County drivers and traffic planners have been trying to figure out how best to loosen the congestion on I-405 for nearly a decade. Voters in 2006 approved the idea of adding one lane in each direction as part of a package of transportation projects paid for with a half-percent sales tax, known as Measure M2.

Planners later raised two other possibilities. The first would add two lanes in each direction. The other would add one normal lane and create two pay-to-ride toll lanes in each direction, in part by using existing carpool lanes.

That last option, which Moorlach said was "crammed" through the planning process, drew immediate fire from cities along I-405. Six of them – Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Westminster, Fountain Valley, Seal Beach and Los Alamitos – launched a $25,000 lobbying effort to derail the toll lanes and push for two new lanes in each direction. They're considering whether to pool another $25,000 to keep the fight going.

The $1.4 billion cost to add two lanes in each direction may seem like a short jump from the $1.3 billion estimate for single lanes, but that's a difference of $100 million. Moorlach and others who support the double-lane solution say the money could be found in other projects. The OCTA board, though, voted 12-4 last fall to support the less-expensive single-lane project.

Nine board members – including seven who voted for single lanes – have since left the board; a 10th seat that had been vacant has been filled. That could change the voting math, because three of the replacements come from cities pushing for double lanes.

Two others said they support the single-lane solution. That leaves five new members as potential swing votes; they said they will wait for Monday's briefing before deciding whether to take a side.

That briefing is on Monday's agenda as an update on the project – and on the possibility of Los Angeles adding toll lanes on its side of the county line. Moorlach said he would see how the discussion goes before deciding whether to make a formal request to reopen the debate over how Orange County proceeds on its side.

Pasadena’s ‘Bicycle Boulevard’ Aims to Create Safer Cycling

The boulevard was created to provide a low-traffic area for cyclists. 


January 25, 2013

Mayor Bill Bogaard, Councilmember Victor Gordo and bicycle enthusiasts will join the City’s Department of Transportation in celebrating the opening of “Bicycle Boulevard,” the city’s latest step in creating a low-traffic area for cyclists, according to a city press release.

Pasadena’s first dedicated “Bicycle Boulevard” opens with a public ribbon cutting at 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31 (?) at the corner of Marengo Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard.

“Bicycle Boulevard,” funded by a $500,00 grant from the California Department of Transportation, is a three-quarter of a mile stretch along Marengo Avenue, anchored at the intersection with Orange Grove Boulevard and Washington Boulevard.

There will be special bicycle signals at the intersections to let bicyclists know when it is their turn to enter the boulevard. Posted signs will divert motorists from entering the boulevard.

While the boulevard is not open to through vehicular traffic, residents on Marengo Avenue can still access the bicycle zone using the side streets. The boulevard is still considered a residential street with on-street parking.

“Bicycle Boulevard” in Pasadena is Los Angeles County’s second boulevard for bicyclists.

For more information, call (626) 744-7664 or email Jenny Cristales, Associate Transportation Planner at jcristales@cityofpasadena.net.

Has America lost its infrastructure edge?

Bernd Debusmann says infrastructure in the United States is falling apart


Bernd Debusmann, January 28, 2013

At the halfway mark of his first term, US President Barack Obama spoke in urgent terms about the need to rebuild America. "We need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information … Our infrastructure used to be the best, but our lead has slipped. We have to do better."

That did not happen, according to two expert reports issued as Obama began his second term in office. Instead, the US is slipping further behind global competitors, chief of them China, in building up an infrastructure that can handle 21st-century business. Once the world's No 1 in infrastructure, the US is now ranked 14th.

"How did this happen?" asks one of the reports, by Building America's Future, an independent group led by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and two former governors, Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Arnold Schwarzenegger of California. Answer: "We have let more than half a century go by without devising a strategic plan on a national scale to update our freight or passenger transportation system."

Following that bleak assessment, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated that unless the US invests US$1.57 billion per year in infrastructure between now and 2020, it will lose US$3.1 trillion in gross national product, US$1.1 trillion in trade, US$2.4 trillion in lost consumer spending and more than three million jobs.

Reports on the sorry state of many roads, railways, seaports, airports, power grids and water treatment plants rarely make much of an impression on citizens who tend to believe, according to polls, that the US is the greatest country on earth. But even for the most fervent believers in that idea, last October's Hurricane Sandy provided grounds for doubt. The hurricane devastated large parts of the eastern seaboard and left tens of thousands of people without power for weeks. Reason: in large parts of New York and New Jersey, power lines are strung from pole to pole, easily cut by storms and falling trees. In most developed countries, the cables run underground.

While the engineers' report focuses on the domestic impact of neglecting the infrastructure, Building America's Future features comparisons with other countries. It provides telling glimpses of shortcomings. Example: in Chicago, the country's biggest rail centre, congestion is so bad it takes a freight train longer to get through the city limits than it does to get to Los Angeles.

China, which spends 9 per cent of its gross domestic product on transport compared with America's 1.7 per cent, is held up as an example of a country that gets it right: "It is China, not the US that has the most bullet trains in the world. It is China that boasts the world's largest ports … China is now home to six of the world's 10 busiest container ports - while the US is home to zero." The report blames a "striking lack of vision" by a succession of US leaders.

Obama spoke of the need for "nation-building at home" rather than in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the US has spent over US$1 trillion since 2001 - money that might have been used to repair, among other things, the 150,000 bridges in need of repair or replacement.

Nation-building at home requires common purpose, something which has been absent in hyper-polarised Washington, where the gulf between Democrats and Republicans has been widening. There is no sign that the new Congress will be much different from the old one, which set records for gridlock.

It's not an environment where bold initiatives flourish.

LA Metro and Metrolink find solution to rider transfer issue


Ashley Bailey, January 28, 2013



Record High Gas Prices Turn More Commuters Toward Metro Rail

 Los Angeles County Metro and the Metrolink regional commuter rail system have worked out a way to ease passengers' transfers between the two systems after Metro locks its turnstiles this summer. The effort will start on the Red and Purple subway lines.

 Commuter rail uses paper tickets. Light rail and subways use plastic “TAP” farecards. And riders sometimes transfer between systems without paying. That could get complicated when one of those systems begins to latch its turnstiles later this year.

David Sutton of Los Angeles County Metro said that agency and Metrolink have developed a solution: a new “TAP”-enabled paper ticket.

“This ticket will be dispensed from their machines, but the unique thing about it – it will have a smart chip embedded in that will enable their passengers to get through our latched gates," Sutton said. "If it all goes well, most customers won’t even know what happened.”

Metrolink, the regional commuter rail system, is testing the new tickets to work out any kinks before it distributes them.

"We're going to be doing some more testing in February, making sure customers can get through our gates, going through scenarios such as, you know, I loaded my card and it's not working, what do I do?" Sutton said.

Metro, operator of the light rail and subway lines, plans to latch station gates starting in June. The first phase of the project will be the Red and Purple subway lines. Sutton said Metro plans to latch the gates at those stations by the end of August.

Cognitive Dissonance in Transportation Funding


By Kevin Klinkenberg, January 9, 2013

The world of transportation may be changing rapidly, but the world of transportation funding certainly is not. Like a giant ship turning around very slowly, we still are loaded down with the baggage of thinking from 70 years ago. Sometimes it’s just too easy to point out the hypocrisy, but it still needs to be done.

Today’s example comes from the Kansas City metro area.

Last fall, a small group of residents in downtown Kansas City voted to fund a Transportation Development District (TDD) with the purpose of funding the construction and operations of a two-mile long streetcar line downtown.

A TDD is essentially one of a series of self-taxing districts, where people agree to raise sales and/or property taxes for a specific purpose. In this case, it will fund a $100 million line, which will be the first new rail transit in Kansas City since the streetcars were torn out in the 1950’s.

The vote comes after decades of heart-wrenching debates and votes regarding rail transit in the city. After multiple citywide votes were shot down by voters for a much more expansive system, rail promoters chose to focus instead on a small, starter line, funded directly by the people it serves and most benefits.

 KC Streetcar 12th Main lo res 300x225 Cognitive Dissonance in Transportation Funding

 An illustration of what the streetcar could look like in downtown, KC. Image created by HDR, Inc.

I’m glad for KC, and ecstatic to see this move forward and be operational by 2015. And in an even smarter move, the streetcar line will be free. That decision should have a great impact on its use, and help begin to wean people off the notion of easy motoring and free parking in the heart of the city.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that the voter-approved plan is essentially what the Urban Society suggested as an approach back in 2007. At the time, city leaders chose to put yet another expansive and expensive plan before the voters. It was predictably shot down.

As one of the former Board Members of the Urban Society, it’s nice to occasionally say, we told you so.

When considering plans for the core of the city, City leaders would do well to listen to those most passionate about it, instead of suburban voices with competing interests. Understand your market and your customers, like any savvy business does. But that’s a story for another day.

The interesting thing to ponder is what this effort tells us about the future of transportation funding, versus the current state.

To contrast the streetcar funding, about ten years ago, the Missouri Department of Transportation started a project to rebuild the infamous Grandview Triangle intersection, which is the intersection of Interstates 435, 470 and US 71. The stated purpose of the project was to reduce congestion for suburban commuters. In essence it would reduce travel times by about a minute at rush hour, for a cost of $200 million in 2001 dollars.

0 0000 MORGUE KC MO GrandviewTriangle 2008 273x300 Cognitive Dissonance in Transportation Funding
 Grandview Triangle Intersection

Like all highway projects, it was chosen, funded and built with no public vote. The voters of the entire state of Missouri, and in fact the entire United States were the primary funders of the project. Again, the project was entirely for the benefit of suburban commuters, since the intersection had no congestion outside of at most 10 hours per week.

This is the cognitive dissonance that says one group of people must vote for and fund their own lifestyle choices (urbanites who use transit); while another group gets their lifestyle choices funded by everyone.

I’m actually not at all opposed to the approach used for the streetcar line. In fact, I think that it’s a much fairer way to go about funding major transportation projects that require public dollars.

I simply wonder: why don’t we do this for every major project? The primary recipients of our largesse for the Grandview Triangle are people who live within about a ten-mile radius of it. What if they had to fund its rebuilding? Would those voters have chosen to raise their own taxes for this one intersection?

The KC streetcar plan is a great start for the city, and I predict in no time it will lead to further
expansions. The simple, logical approach is what promoters of the core have wanted for many years.

My hope is that the project is inspiration to take a new look at the entire model for transportation funding. I’m not opposed to someone’s choice to live in the suburbs and drive everywhere. But I don’t want to pay for their choice, any more than they want to pay for the construction of the transit system I want to use. Until we devise a fairer method for funding infrastructure, that puts the costs squarely with the users, we’ll continue to fight the same battles over and over. And the cognitive dissonance will only get louder.
AC Transit wins state’s highest environmental award


By Mitchell Handler, January 27, 2013

AC [Alameda-Contra Costa] Transit was awarded California’s highest environmental honor for its use of hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels, Tuesday evening.

The agency was chosen for the award in part because of its comprehensive use of hydrogen fuel cells in its buses. Along with the 16 other awardees, AC Transit was honored with the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award at a ceremony in Sacramento.

“The thing that is a major part of the governor’s environmental platform has always been to reduce carbon emissions,” said Jim Marxen, head of communications at Cal/EPA, the state agency that coordinates the award program. “Fuel cells are still fairly cutting-edge, and it’s a technology that we’ve looked at for some time.”

AC Transit’s zero-emission fuel cell cars and buses have traveled more than 500,000 miles while carrying more than 1.8 million passengers since 2000, saving more than 68,000 gallons of diesel fuel, according to material presented at the GEELA ceremony.

The agency was also noted for installing more than 1.1 megawatts of solar power on its rooftops, with plans to install 300 kilowatts more in 2013, according to a press release from AC Transit.

Local environmental and transportation groups lauded AC Transit on the award.

“It’s really great to see AC Transit receive recognition from the governor for this program,” said Shannon Tracey, communications and development manager at Transform, an organization that works to improve public transportation in the Bay Area. “Zero emission buses reduce emissions where they travel, and that’s particularly beneficial to low-income communities in the East Bay that already suffer from high asthma rates due to air pollution.”

Other award winners this year include San Diego, Sonoma County and the San Francisco Giants.

“We’re leaders in the environment, so the things we do here in California to protect the environment are often times mimicked and repeated elsewhere in the world,” Marxen said.

Letters to the Editor: NFL in Bowl 


 Good on you Steve Madison and all but one member of the Pasadena council for keeping options open for the temporary usage of the Rose Bowl by the NFL. The financial crisis for completing the current upgrade of the Bowl could be a burden to all the taxpayers and should be lessened by all possible means.
I am a 50-year resident of West Pasadena and a firm believer that all avenues should be considered to overcome the huge deficit in construction funds we are facing.

I am also a regular golfer at Brookside and have been for years.

The temporary damage done to the course during games is rectified within days. The ground crews clean up very efficiently after the UCLA games and would continue after eight or possibly nine games in an NFL schedule. The golf courses currently subsidize the Rose Bowl operations in the amount of $2 million per year. Relief or partial relief from that could provide great improvements to the courses themselves.

And traffic? of all things Pasadena is good at, it is traffic control on game days. We have been moving folks in and out of the Rose Bowl for almost 100 years.

I wonder how many members of the West Pasadena Residents Association actually attend NFL games? We fans are noisy, really enthusiastically noisy, I will give you that, but for how long? Three to four hours in the afternoon or early evening eight or nine times a year. Really, is that too much to impose on neighbors to help alleviate the vast cost overruns in finishing our Grand Old Lady?

So fellow residents, please don't sign any petition for a recall of Steve Madison. If it ever does make it to the ballot box, please vote no. He and the rest of the council (except one) have shown the fiscal responsibility we expect from our elected officials. Maybe the recall petition should be used for the only council hold-out?

-Janet Wood, Pasadena

Letters to the Editor: Metro open house on 710 was a fiasco 


Posted January 27, 2013

The 710
The Metro-sponsored open house on the 710 Freeway at Maranatha School Wednesday night was a fiasco.

Instead of a formal presentation followed by questions from the audience, Metro set up a series of displays some of which were so complicated that the Metro staff could not explain them. The displays were focused on the past history of the 710 and included options that have long since been removed from consideration. The format was designed to divide and conquer and prevented me from hearing the questions asked by other attendees who have studied the proposals more thoroughly than I.

I did ask about air pollution and was told the exhaust from the tunnel will be cleaner than the outside air but the Metro person said there had been no studies of types of gases and particulate size that will be filtered and there have not been any proposals on how the exhaust will be cleaned. I was told that the tunnel will lead to a decrease in traffic on the east-bound 210 but the Metro person was unable to give me a scenario on why this would occur. I left feeling scammed and none of my fears were allayed.

-Robert C. Holmes, Pasadena


Newton: The city that could be

The candidates envision Los Angeles in 2021.


 By Jim Newton, January 28, 2013
Aerial view of downtown Los Angeles

 The four leading mayoral candidates -- Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James and Jan Perry -- agree that Los Angeles is and will continue to be defined by the distinctiveness of its neighborhoods. Above: An aerial view of downtown Los Angeles in 2010.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've spent considerable time with the leading candidates for mayor, asking them about their approach to governance, watching them campaign and trying to get a feel for what distinguishes each from the others.

Specifically, I was interested in their visions for the city, their approaches to campaign funding, their leadership and management abilities, and their strategies for winning the election. Over the next few days, my columns on those subjects will appear. Today's looks at vision.

Here's the initial question I put to the four leading candidates — Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Kevin James and Jan Perry: "Imagine it's 2021. You've been mayor for eight years. How does Los Angeles look different as a result of your work?"

VIDEO: Interviews with L.A.'s mayoral candidates

All four were smart enough to add nuance to the question: Los Angeles, with its many diverse neighborhoods, defies a single vision. They all agree, then, on the bottom line: Los Angeles is and will continue to be defined by the distinctiveness of its neighborhoods.

Beyond that, though, there were many differences in their approaches, and those differences reflect deeper distinctions among these candidates.

James campaigns on specifics, and this area was no exception. His future Los Angeles, he said, would feature more people on foot and on bikes, more underground parking with green space on top, less graffiti, smoother sidewalks, a train to the airport, protection for historic buildings and manhole covers that are level with the street. He imagines downtown continuing to rise, attracting more residents and businesses, but he resists embracing "transit-oriented development," a darling of Garcetti and others, as a panacea.

Most important, though, James, the one Republican of the four, imagines a future shaped by solving budget problems, in part by eliminating impediments to business growth. His ultimate goal? "There will be far fewer 'Space Available' signs," he said.

Garcetti's vision is more philosophical than physical. The former council president, whose district includes dense areas such as Hollywood but also leafy Atwater Village and Silver Lake, believes strongly in communities deciding issues for themselves.

"I don't think you can ever force something down a neighborhood's throat," he said. Intense arguments over zoning or planning, he added, are usually "the result of laziness," of not taking the time to hear out residents and others.

That goes a long way toward explaining Garcetti. Government, in his view, can't be separate from the people governed, and serves in part by helping neighbors work through arguments. The Los Angeles of Garcetti's vision eight years from now would almost certainly have greater density around transit, for instance, but only because communities had debated and embraced it.

Greuel's 2021 Los Angeles sounds something like James', if slightly less detailed. There would be better public transit; downtown would continue to grow; there would be more places to walk and bike; the city would be greener. All of which is manifestly Greuel: practical, methodical, a little vague, neither too threatening nor too ambitious.

She views government's role as starting the planning conversation and then serving as an honest broker among disparate interests.

If Perry were to have eight years as mayor of Los Angeles, she says, the city would be cleaner and more creative at the end of it. Graffiti would be less prevalent, pocket parks more common, streetscapes better organized and parking more conveniently located for housing. The elements of that vision speak in part to Perry's immersion in the fine points of development, which undergirds much of her rhetoric.

Her deputy Marie Rumsey says Perry will consider any idea that promises neighborhood improvement. "She never starts with no."

Some see her, though, as favoring developers. In the case of a controversial Fresh & Easy market, for instance, Perry opposed a proposal that would have required the market to pay its workers a living wage in exchange for government subsidies. Madeline Janis, Perry's principal foe in that debate, accused the councilwoman of favoring the developer over her constituents. Rumsey describes the difference as one of "idealism versus practicality."

It may be tempting to dismiss the importance of a mayor's physical vision for Los Angeles. But imagination matters, as L.A.'s history well attests. Rear Adm. John Walker recommended placing a port in San Pedro, and L.A. officials tethered it to the city by annexation; the port is still the region's most important economic force. William Mulholland eyeballed an aqueduct from the Owens Valley, and it still supplies our water. Tom Bradley imagined a center of commerce on Bunker Hill, and there it is. Richard Riordan could not bear the unfinished parking lot on Grand Avenue and, together with Eli Broad and others, raised the money that paid for architect Frank Gehry's building of genius.

Where would we be without those?