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

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Steve Scauzillo: Villaraigosa would have brought a West Coast offense to the White House 


February 2, 2013

THIS is why I think Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would have been be a good choice for secretary of transportation of the United States. I say "would" because Villaraigosa announced Friday that he was pulling his name from consideration.
It's not that I believe he is a man of character. I mean, let's not discuss his affairs with various TV news anchors. Some Latina groups still hold that against him, and rightfully so.

Or that he's a very skillful politician. Has he ever been able to solve L.A.'s budget woes? I think he's still striking out in that game.

And didn't he turn his back on those Occupy L.A. folks? Yeah, it's hard to forgive him for that.

No, my argument goes toward his views on transportation, his successes in that arena, and the fact that he's a bicycle guy.

But before I start unpacking those three reasons, there's one overarching criteria that would have made him the best choice to join President Obama's cabinet:

He's from a Western city.

Villaraigosa would be one of the few people in the White House who understands the height and breadth of transportation problems in the Western United States.

And not just say, Denver or Phoenix or Seattle, but Los Angeles. Southern California. He's from the place that lives by an oxymoronic corollary that says car culture is cool even when it means wasting years of one's life sitting in traffic.

So yeah, Villaraigosa would have brought this perspective to the Harvard eggheads in the White House and in Washington in general.

Just someone there who knows the sheer geography of the land would be a plus for us transportation-challenged Californians, who sit in traffic no matter what freeway, what day or what hour. The rest of the time we breathe bad air from the traffic jams.

The first thing this New Yorker noticed when I arrived in L.A. was how big the place is. From Ventura to San Diego, from the San Gabriel Valley to Riverside to the O.C., there is a vast amount of real estate. More than any East Coast city. Our megalopolis is so spread out, it makes designing a public transportation system much tougher than in Boston, New York or Charlotte.

I know. The train from my hometown in Long Island to Manhattan is a straight shot. Compare that to the web of train lines we need to cover only Los Angeles County. We are a county of 11 million people. Our movement issues are mountains compared to the East Coast's molehills.

Just having Villaraigosa whispering this fact in Obama's ear would have been huge for us.

Now, this did not happen when Hilda Solis, a hometown girl from La Puente and El Monte, segued into the White House as Obama's secretary of labor.

SoCal didn't get any special labor grants. There was no West Coast effect.

That was because Solis' heart is really in the environment, not in labor. She'll be better when she comes home and puts her passion into local issues.

Back to Villaraigosa, he successfully pitched and passed Measure R, which will raise $40 billion for more trains and buses over 30 years.

And he's come up with the America Fast Forward Program which aims to move 30 years of transportation improvements into 10. I agree: We need transportation improvements now, not when we're dead.

Denny Zane of the group Move LA recently wrote Southern California is in the midst of a transportation revolution and Villaraigosa gets a lot of the credit. Two new rail lines opened in 2012 and three are under construction, Zane wrote.

Zane's piece, in the online City Watch, adds this line from the New York Post: "Los Angeles is the Future ... New York, watch your back."

Like Zane, I agree that downtown L.A. is seeing more walkable neighborhoods. There are even green bike lanes! We can take light rail from Pasadena to Culver City. There are two, not one but two, competing express buses to L.A. running out of the brand new bus station in El Monte.

Villaraigosa, as Metro chair, deserves a lot of credit. Too bad he won't be spreading his West Coast offense to Obama's cabinet. That, and a 49ers win today in the Super Bowl, would have gotten the Golden State moving.


Political backing playing big role in District 3 Pasadena Unified election


By James Figueroa, February 2, 2013 


 Ruben Hueso, Tyron Hampton, Jr., and Gillermo Arce, candidates for District 3 Pasadena Unified School District board.

PASADENA - Ruben Hueso, a Los Angeles teacher and Pasadena parent, clearly has the major political backing in the District 3 election for the Pasadena Unified School board.

He's the brother of San Diego state Assemblyman Ben Hueso, has funding from former Assembly speaker Fabian Nunez and has scored endorsements from unions and other groups such as ACT Pasadena.

"I'm getting great responses from the community, and I feel very hopeful," Hueso said, adding that he's walking the district every day and is the only candidate with lawn signs so far.

The race remains wide open, however, with four candidates vying to represent Northwest Pasadena in the first year of voting districts for the March 5 election. 

Among the other three candidates, Guillermo Arce has gone on offense against Hueso, Tyron Hampton Jr. has relied on his roots as a PUSD graduate and Deirdra Duncan has tied her candidacy to a family focus.

Arce, a special education advocate and Los Angeles County worker, sees the election as three 
underdogs going against the establishment candidate.

At one point, a sitting PUSD board member asked Arce to drop out and support Hueso, he said.

"Once Hueso came in with his money and his political support I became yesterday's news," Arce said. "I don't play second fiddle that well. ... I'm a person that will not sell for anything in the world."

In his campaign, Arce emphasizes the need to reform special education in Pasadena, and like many of the other candidates in local forums, he has identified a "brain drain" in PUSD as students leave for charter schools or other districts.

On Facebook, Arce has gone on the attack, accusing Hueso of hiding the Nunez connection.

But the $5,000 campaign donation from Nunez has never been an issue, Hueso said.

"I'm a parent, I've been a volunteer at all my daughters' school, and I've been watching the board kindergarten," he said. "So, I want to make an impact, I want to make a difference here in the district."

Hueso plans to start by taking a critical look at Measure TT, the PUSD construction bond program that's been criticized. In December officials discovered that several contractors were overbilling. An investigation is ongoing.

"Measure TT is a major issue that has to be faced right away. And we need to look into perhaps removing a lot of people," Hueso said.

His own campaign has gone through a misstep, because of campaign photos portraying Hueso's leadership role with the Boy Scouts. Blogger John Crawford pointed out Wednesday that the photos violate Boy Scout policy.

Hueso doesn't believe the mistake will be significant.

"We'll have a different flyer every week," he said. "That's not going to appear anymore. But I can't hide who I am."

Both Hueso and Arce have emphasized their Latino heritage, but Hampton has also sought Latino votes in an effort to craft broad appeal. He has already taken steps to learn Spanish, he said.

"I hope to be fluent in the community," Hampton said. "I want to be able to represent all people. Not every student speaks English, and I want to be able to talk to all of them."

Hampton, a Muir High School graduate and local construction manager, refers often to his upbringing in the PUSD system and his youthful connections.

That status makes him the closest in the race to being an incumbent, he said.

As he's talked to voters, Hampton has noticed a disconnect with parents and a need to provide 
programs with a smoother path from elementary to high school and on to college. He hopes to address it through the Linked Learning program and public-private partnerships.

"Parents feel like they cannot send their child to Washington (Middle School) or John Muir, which produces great products," he said. "They don't feel like they're going to get a good education at those schools. That makes me feel PUSD is lacking on displaying the great people that came out of John Muir."

Duncan, a foster mother who drew attention recently for trying to fend off an eviction, is running partly because of her experience with what she says is an illegal foreclosure. Situations like hers have contributed to declining enrollment at PUSD, she said.

"We should not be going in the community and seeing all of these empty houses that could have children in them going to these schools," Duncan said.

"That's my passion, bridging the gap between the city, the community and the schools and connecting this bridge," she added. "Without this connection, we're losing schools."

However, Duncan has missed some of the local forums and interviews, putting her campaign at a disadvantage.

The outcome, she said, will depend on whether voters have the passion to make a good decision.


Crescenta Valley Town Council to Host 710 Community Forum
 SAVE THE DATE - February 27, 2013 - An event not to be missed
Rosemont Middle School, Cafeteria
4725 Rosemont Avenue
La Crescenta, CA 91214

On behalf of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, we are pleased to announce and invite you to attend the Crescenta Valley 710 Community Forum.  It will be held on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 from 7-9 PM at Rosemont Middle School.  The forum will be similar in format to the ones held in Pasadena and South Pasadena and a great opportunity for the communities to come together for information and networking.

This forum comes after the release of Alternatives Analysis Final Report/Open Houses and the night before the MTA Board Meeting.  We will have a lot to talk about.

Feel free to print or send the attached flyers to anyone who might be interested in attending.  There are two separate versions. 


Susan Bolan & Jan SooHoo
No 710 Action Committee, no710.com

Frank Beyt
Crescenta Valley Town Council
 Crescenta Valley
710 Community Forum

Wednesday, February 27, 2013
7:00 - 9:00 PM
Rosemont Middle School, Cafeteria
4725 Rosemont Avenue
La Crescenta, CA 91214

Metro and Caltrans have identified 5 alternatives
to "close the gap" The plans include:
No Build
Transportation System/Transportation Demand Management
Bus Rapid Transit
Light Rail Transit
Freeway Tunnel
Please join us to learn how the SR-710 Extension will affect the
quality of life in the Foothills and how to take action
Hosted by Crescenta Valley Town Council
with support from
La Cañada Flintridge City Council,
Glendale City Council,
and No 710 Action Committee no710.com
For further information, please contact
Councilmember, Frank Beyt at beyt@att.net
Tony Brandenburg: The March of Folly


February 2, 2013

 Pasadena: World Class City
Last night I heard a couple of politicians refer to Pasadena as a “World Class City.” I had no idea. I kinda guessed it, I mean, after all there is a music hall, orchestra, a couple of museums, lots of churches, a light rail, and that classy 35’er joint. All of these are certainly indicators of a world class city. Heck, because of the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl, Pasadena is pretty much world famous. Never mind that I have been to thirty countries in the world and all of their people stare blankly at me when I say, “You know, the home of the Rose Parade” (click here).

Don’t  they know that the Rose City is a famous World Class City? I certainly didn’t way back when, but I do now. I watched them turn a skid row into a Cheesecake Factory. I know that when I think of the great cities I like to revisit -  Paris, Rome, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Hamburg, London ... I always think of Pasadena, too. I mean, who doesn’t, right?

Long gone are the days when blowing things up in the Arroyo Seco was a cause for panic (click here), and JPL is practically an American institution (click here) but still, the nagging question remains: Will we ever have a Jack Parsons Parade?

Back to my point: of all of the great cities in America, Pasadena is only outclassed twice - by Baltimore and Cleveland.

You go, Rose Kings.

A Waste is an Awful Thing to Mind
I got to thinking today. That’s never a good thing. It inevitably leads to more thinking. It generally devolves into trouble and misfortune. I was thinking about one of those useless pearls of wisdom: I think the phrase is Idle Hands are the Devil’s Plaything, or some such nonsense. My friend’s mom used to always say that when I was a kid. She also called me devil spawn.

Anyway. When I get to thinking too long on something the outcome can never be good.

Give Me Plastic, or Give me Death
The Tattler has discussed the folly of our northwestern neighbors and their green obsession, specifically in regards to plastic bags (click here). I have never really chimed in on the topic, but I am a little behind the beat sometimes.

Listen:  I am all for stupid rules, especially when they are engineered by well-meaning buffoons in suits (click here). I also support higher taxes, unlimited fiscal waste, more Federal holidays, covert meetings, smash-up derbies, and city government members meetings wearing beer sipping hats. I love hearing the Pasadena Board of Education president Renatta Cooper talk about taking tequila shots after my friend Mary and I speak at meetings. It makes me feel validated that the truth drives people to drink, but who’s going to eat that nasty worm?

In fact, I think all meetings of this caliber should be conducted with the members of the BOE passing around a bottle of Jack Daniels. Now that’s integrity! There is also the other method of conflict resolution (click here), right Mr. Honowitz?

So. There are a few things I have learned from this little rule, and to the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, take heed. I live in a city that is surrounded by neighboring cities. That means I can drive in three directions for shopping. I may drive to Pasadena, or to Arcadia/Temple City, or to Arcadia/Monrovia. Pasadena’s  ban on bags, which I may purchase for 10 cents a piece if I forget mine - annoys me on two levels:

1 - I do not appreciate paying a dime to promote branding i.e. showing my neighbors I use your product so that they might be influenced to as well (as if they can’t think, right?); and

2 - I feel cheated by you because you are profiting at the expense of the cause you supposedly support.

My friends the dolphin free tunas, the range-free bison, and the Sierra Madre illegally bred chinchillas do not get saved. In fact, their plight is being exploited, and they are being used. Maybe that ten cents a bag emblazoned with the Whole Foods logo should go straight into the kitty to help Save the Whales, to euthanize encroaching wildlife, to build a dog park, promote a flea circus, save a panda for the WWF (click here), or some other charity.

Every day Ralph’s sells a bag, another Unicorn loses its Horn.
My solution is to do my big purchase grocery shopping in Temple City, Arcadia, and Monrovia. When I do that I also spend my money there on gas there. If I feel the need to go to Target? I go to Duarte. Staples? I go to Rosemead. The City Council of Pasadena has cost Pasadena stores and gas stations in Pasadena more than ten thousand Brandenbucks annually, as well as grossly hiked taxes that could’ve been transinflated into ‘denas, but will instead become recused as ‘rcadians and ‘rovians. I suggest you consider what I am saying, and follow suit. It’s time to stand up to these so called “environmental” bullies and tell them to back off.

Thank your City Hall, retailers of Pasadena.

The Eco-Police
The best part of this policy is the Orwellian drive to rat out your neighbors and shopkeepers. According to the policy, enforcement of the ban will be complaint driven. Code Enforcement within the City’s Planning & Community Development Department will investigate any complaints.

Amazing. On one hand the Pasadena City Council spend countless millions of dollars - your tax dollars - to build pack-n-stack apartments, a train line, a special road for bicyclists, and a plan for community schools. They do this, allegedly, to build bridges between the communities. With the other hand they encourage people to snitch on the environmentally unsound. They even have a crack-shot investigative team of handle it

Obviously these people are totally insane and should be institutionalized, but they are not. In fact, instead of locking them up, we put them in charge of the very junta that keeps are children imprisoned every day. They are in charge of mandating the very School Board we are indentured to. But wait! There’s more.

Our taxes pay for this insanity.

Why Pasadena Cares Less About the Poor than You Do
Some people are exempt from the policy, and thus cannot be touched by the long arm of the Eco-Police. You may ask, just who are these special people? What is this special class so beholden (click here)?  Who is it that has been exempted from paying the fee? The lucky people who are exempted are those who cannot afford the bag fees, those of us who are just flat broke:

The charge will be waived for customers participating in either the State Department of Social Services Food Stamp Program or the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children

This all was the result of the Green Fascistic Accords, as you’ll recall, and a study, which probably cost the magic number ($50,000) (click here) and which stated:

On September 18, 2006, the City Council adopted a comprehensive environmental Green City Action Plan (GCAP) based on 21 specific actions identified in the United Nations Green Cities Declaration and Urban Environmental Accords (UEA). The adopted plan identifies the development of a plastic bag reduction program to support the goals of achieving zero waste to landfills by 2040, reducing the use of a disposable, toxic, or non-renewable product category by 50 percent by 2012, and protecting the watershed.

Let’s get this straight. If you are the poorest among us, you have the permission of the Pasadena City Council to skip this rule. You can also skip it if you are a farmer’s market seller, or a restaurateur.

In other words, one of the groups most affected by damage to the watershed - farmers - are encouraged to cut their own environmental throats.


Another group, the poor, are allowed, even encouraged - to destroy the watershed and abuse the landfills. Technically, they aren’t even allowed to be part of the Green Machine because they are below the poverty line.

So, the City Council members will exempt the poor?

Well, no, not exactly. Actually the City Council choose to hand them the very material needed to destroy the environment, and they will do it free of charge. If you or I want the privilege of wrecking the landfills, we have to give ten cents  a pop, payable to the supermarkets. Obviously, they want to destroy the environment, too, or they wouldn’t make the bags with their company brand lasered on them in the first place.

Does any of it even make sense?

Oh I forgot: Don’t worry, be happy. The guys who brown bag their tall-boys can do it right out in the open. In doing so, they are being environmentally sound alcoholics.

Devil’s plaything, Devil’s workshop. If you overthink it you’ll go to Hell. OK. Got it.

Obviously the City of Pasadena cares less about the farmers and about the poor than you do. Even the Pasadena bicyclists feel the eco-love. That’s why the ‘Dena is a world class city, and that’s why we all are just a bunch of Sierra Madre hillbillies.

Man, I wish we were forward thinking and cultured enough to have an orchestra, a couple of Denny’s, a few museums, and other cool pointy-headed stuff, too.

Oh. Did I mention Luis Ayala is an attorney? (click here)

Please save your questions for the candidates until after the resolutions are passed. Thank you.

Metro and PDC Owner Team Up for WeHo Mega-Development


February 1, 2013



The pedestrian action in West Hollywood's Boystown area comes to a dead stop on the south side of Santa Monica Boulevard and east of San Vicente, but now it may finally seem some life with a huge new mixed-use complex. Metro, which owns a bus depot southeast of that intersection, has signed an agreement with Pacific Design Center owner Charles Cohen to create a master plan for that space--the project would cover the 8.4 acre lot plus 2.5 acres of the adjacent West Hollywood Sheriff's Station lot, Wehoville reports. It could potentially put Metro's buses in an underground garage and construct "400,000 square feet of commercial office space in two high-rise towers, 600,000 square feet of residential/hotel space, 120,000 square feet of retail shops, a 2,500-seat movie theater complex and an 800-seat open amphitheater, plus a 50,000-square-foot sheriff's station" above it. Damn.

Cohen has long eyed the prime space at Santa Monica and San Vicente, which greets the sidewalk with a long, mean wall. Apparently, he submitted an unsolicited proposal for the land back in 2011 and Metro hired his company, Cohen Brothers, without asking for other offers (and WeHo had its eye on the bus lot, too, hoping to create more there than parking for mass transit).
Cohen is working with architecture firm Gruen Associates on the master plan; Gruen worked on the PDC with Cesar Pelli.

If built, the project would go up in stages, with the underground bus lot built first. The subterranean depot will have to be operational during construction and if Metro incurs costs because of the work, Cohen will be responsible for covering them.

Los Angeles Plans to Completely Re-Envision Pershing Square


February 2, 2013



 90s-era construction

 Major potentially amazing gamechanger on the horizon in Downtown: LA Live/Downtown NFL stadium developer AEG has "agreed to provide $700,000 in seed money to help 're-envision'" the atrocity that is modern-day Pershing Square. City Councilmember Jose Huizar "said the city will put together a task force that will be charged with coming up with potential changes to the much-maligned park," according to the Downtown News. And listen to this, from Huizar: "If that task force comes back and says we want to scratch the thing and start anew, so be it, or we just want to change a few parts. Everything is on the table." Pershing has been a public plaza since the 1860s and has been designed and redesigned over the years. It fell victim to the mid-century car madness that swept LA and was excavated in 1952 and replaced atop a parking garage. It was given another makeover in the '90s into the greenery-light version we know today.


AEG Giving Seed Money to Pershing Square Effort


February 1, 2013


  Pershing Square

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES -Some big changes could be coming to Pershing Square. Councilman José Huizar, whose 14th District includes the park at 532 S. Olive St., said that officials with Anschutz Entertainment Group have agreed to provide $700,000 in seed money to help “re-envision” the park.

Huizar said the city will put together a task force that will be charged with coming up with potential changes to the much-maligned park. “Everything is on the table,” Huizar said. “If that task force comes back and says we want to scratch the thing and start anew, so be it, or we just want to change a few parts. Everything is on the table.”

There is no timeline yet on the project or details on how the seed money will be used, Huizar said.

The idea was sparked by problems that arose at Pershing Square last year after members of the Occupy L.A. movement made the place their headquarters. Some camped out at the park, prompting complains from stakeholders including merchants at the weekly farmers market, who said they being harassed by members of the group.