Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, February 15, 2013

Caltrans to get millions in federal aid for Station fire, windstorm repairs

 http://www.pasadenasun.com/the626now/tn-626-0215-caltrans-to-get-millions-in-federal-aid-for-station-fire-windstorm-repairs,0,7796080.story

 By Daniel Siegal, February 15, 2013

Rep. Adam Schiff, in announcing the funding, vowed to change the disaster assistance funding formula.Rep. Adam Schiff, in announcing the funding, vowed to change the disaster assistance funding formula.



The federal government has allotted more than $3.2 million to repair local roads damaged by fierce winds and fire disasters that have struck the foothills and San Gabriel Valley in recent years.
In an announcement by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Friday, the California Department of Transportation was awarded $1.37 million to pay for roads damaged by the 2011 windstorm, and $1.9 million for damages inflicted by the 2009 Station fire.

Schiff said in a statement that while every little bit helps, assistance from the federal government to help local areas recover from the disasters was still inadequate due to a faulty funding formula.

“While this help is critical, Southern California will not receive anywhere near the level of federal assistance needed, because the formula [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] uses makes it extremely difficult for communities in large population counties and states to reach the threshold needed to qualify for federal aid,” he said.

The 2009 Station fire scorched more than 150,000 acres of land, destroying dozens of structures and killing two firefighters.  Land and infrastructure in the Angeles National Forest affected by the fire is still on a path to recovery.

“This money will help the continuing process of rebuilding the forest and roads throughout the Foothills,” Schiff said. “But it’s clear that much work still remains to be done.”

Schiff announced he would be introducing legislation to try and remedy this problem in the upcoming days. Schiff introduced legislation in the last session of Congress to address this problem, but it didn’t pass.

The windstorm in 2011 knocked out power to more than 220,000 Southern California Edison customers, toppled thousands of trees and 250 power poles and caused tens of millions of dollars' worth of damage to businesses, cars, homes and government property.

Schiff pledged to introduce legislation that would amend the federal disaster assistance formula to address the threshold problem that cities like Pasadena, which was ravaged by the windstorm, face in seeking financial help.

Downtown NFL Stadium Off For Another Year: No Team in 2013

 http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/02/downtown_nfl_stadium_off_for_another_year_no_team_in_2013.php

 By Eve Bachrach, February 15, 2013

 
 2013.02_nflteams.jpgLA's football fans will have to put their foam fingers away for another year: today's the last day for NFL teams to signal their interest in relocating to LA (and, presumably, to the approved-but-unbuilt-and-for-sale Farmers Field), and ABC reports that no franchise is expected to do so. While not a surprise given the events of the past few months, it's really quite a turnaround from the heady early days of LA's most recent campaign to bring football back to town--back in 2011, Farmers Field developer AEG sold the naming rights to the proposed NFL stadium Downtown before the city had even given the go-ahead to build the thing. And when the City Council did approve the project in September last year, they not only did so unanimously, but they also felt it necessary to pass a resolution "enthusiastically endorsing" the stadium development. Why necessary? Because there was already trouble in Farmville.

Earlier in September, AEG owner Philip Anschutz had put the company up for sale. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he'd been assured by Anschutz that the impending sale would have no bearing on football coming to town, but last month AEG president Tim Leiweke admitted that uncertainty surrounding the company--and therefore Farmers Field--was likely scaring off prospective teams. Then in October came word that the NFL had serious doubts about Farmers and really wanted a stadium in Chavez Ravine (currently home to Dodger Stadium).

Construction of Farmers is dependent on a team agreeing to move to LA, so that's now on hold. As for AEG's future, Leiweke said in an interview at the start of the year that the company had a dozen suitors and that he hoped a deal would be done by April. And if not, maybe that proposed stadium in the City of Industry will start to look more attractive to football boosters.

As LAX Modernization Plan Moves Ahead, Supes Throw Shade

 http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/02/as_lax_modernization_plan_moves_ahead_supes_throw_shade.php#more

By Eve Bachrach, February 15, 2013

 2012.12_lax.jpg

 LAX's modernization plan--with its runway relocation and people mover, among other changes--has had a mixed week. On the one hand, the City Planning Commission approved the project plan yesterday (its most controversial feature would move the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to nearby homes), reports Culver City Patch. The plan's most controversial feature would move the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to nearby homes--airport commissioners have argued that such a move is crucial to attracting more international flights to LAX, saying that "it would be short-sighted for Los Angeles to not reconfigure its major gateway airport in a way to provide an economic engine going forward and be competitive in international travel."

  But plans hit a bump on the county level earlier in the week. Another Patch report says that one county supervisor is "wondering if the plan to relocate a runway complies with a 2006 legal settlement" that limits growth at LAX and requires airport traffic to be spread more evenly around the region. Supervisor Don Knabe, who represents the area around LAX, introduced a motion a Board of Supervisors meeting this week that would "enforce compliance with the settlement agreement that stems from expansion plans at Los Angeles International Airport," according to the Daily Breeze. The supes now studying the issue and are due to report back next month.

 

 Beverly Hills Tabloid Newspaper Endorses Slate of Candidates Opposed to Subway Under Beverly Hills High School



 http://bhcourier.com/courier-endorses-john-mirisch-nancy-krasne-brian-rosenstein-beverly-hills-city-council-election-march-5/2013/02/14

February 14, 2013

 The Beverly Hills Courier endorses Vice Mayor John Mirisch, Planning Commissioner Brian Rosenstein and former Mayor Nancy Krasne for the Beverly Hills city council.  The Courier previously endorsed Mirisch.  We restate that endorsement today.

Our recommendations are based on clear policy differences between these candidates and incumbent Mayor Willie Brien.  We agree with Mirisch, Krasne and Rosenstein that our government must serve the people, not the other way around.  We can’t say it any better than Mirisch’s campaign slogan, “Government must stop treating the people like an ATM machine.”
LASD Continues Campaign of Intimidation Against Metro Customers

 http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/02/15/lasd-continues-campaign-of-intimidation-against-metro-customers/

By Damien Newton, February 15, 2013 


Earlier this week, a Streetsblog reader, let’s call him Anthony, sent the email at the bottom of this post and the picture above. To wit, Anthony noticed “at least 8″ sheriffs at fare gates checking TAP Cards as well as a k9 unit. When he stopped to take pictures, he was harassed by another member of the LASD, and then threatened with basically false arrest.

Given the events of the past eight days, its possible the Sheriffs were on edge, but the pattern of
intimidating (and sometimes attacking) Metro patrons is far too common. Since Metro seems completely unwilling to do anything about this, in fact the transit agency often helps the scofflaw law enforcement agency cover up its misdeeds, its no surprise that a member of the Sheriff’s would have no issues or shame harassing someone for taking pictures.

The only question left, is when is someone on the Metro Board of Directors going to step up and do something about Metro’s Bloody Mouth? The Metro Board of Directors regularly renews their security contract with the Sheriffs with almost no debate, despite complaints from advocates and riders that the law enforcement agency doesn’t respect passengers.

The full text of the email to me is after the jump. I didn’t edit it at all.

These pictures are of at least 8 law enforcement people standing at the exit of a metro train station checking people’s fare or “TAP Card”- although, avoiding fare evaders can be accomplished by locked turnstiles- the LA metro chooses to pay millions to the LA Sheriffdepartment to enforce ticket evasion penalties.

While I was taking these pictures- the tall, heavy set Sheriff’s deputy snuck up behind me and asked “what are you doing” – “I am taking pictures to prove that there is a k9 unit and 8 law enforcement people standing in one train station looking for fare jumpers”, I replied. He told me “you can go now”- I said, I will go when I am done Officer- and he responded- you stay here long enough and I will find something on you.

My question are:

1. Why is the police so powerful? Is this the United States that shines the beacon of liberty over the world?
2. Are the protections of the fourth amendment dead?
3. What is the proper response when a Police Officer saying. You stay here long enough and I will find something on you.
4. How does a free man digest the officer’s remarks and walk away humiliated?

My Comment: Some years ago when Metro first offered the Fly Away Bus from Union Station to the Los Angeles Airport, I attempted to drop my daughter off near where the bus was to depart. There were no signs as to where the correct drop-off place was, so I stopped on the curb,  not realizing that it was red and a stopping place only for fire vehicles. A sheriff's deputy swooped down on me immediately and gave me a $245 ticket for illegal stopping. When I opened my mouth to complain, she threatened me with more tickets. Other drivers who also didn't know where to stop and tried to find the correct place by making a U-turn got even higher-amount tickets--one got five tickets. I complained to Metro and asked them if this was how they wanted to treat people who were going to try the new bus service, which was being heavily advertised on television. They gave me a hearing and tore up the ticket. My son dropped me off for the hearing (I was not going to drive down there again) and I noticed signs as to where to stop had been put up. So this attitude of the Sheriff's Department is certainly not a new one.
When L.A. Was Empty: Wide-Open SoCal Landscapes

 http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/la-as-subject/when-la-was-empty-wide-open-socal-landscapes.html

By Nathan Masters, February 14, 2013


 View of Hollywood in 1905, looking west by southwest from Laughlin Park. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.

 View of Hollywood in 1905, looking west by southwest from Laughlin Park. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.



Early photographs of Los Angeles surprise for many reasons, but often what's most striking is how empty the city looks. Open countryside surrounds familiar landmarks. Busy intersections appear as dusty crossroads.
Southern California entered the photographic record at the cusp of a dramatic transformation in the region's landscape. When an anonymous photographer stood atop Fort Moore Hill circa 1862 and took the earliest-known photograph of Los Angeles, he captured a small town -- population 4,385 in 1860 -- within an open countryside. Vineyards, orchards, and other intensive agricultural enterprises occupy the land immediately surrounding the city. Obscured in the hazy distance, meanwhile, were sprawling cattle and sheep ranches, legacies of the region's Spanish and Mexican eras. In 1862, Los Angeles represented one of the few urbanized areas, as rustic as it was, in the entire region.
Earliest known photo of Los Angeles, circa 1862. The view looks east over the Los Angeles Plaza from atop Fort Moore Hill. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Earliest known photo of Los Angeles, circa 1862. The view looks east over the Los Angeles Plaza from atop Fort Moore Hill. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.



Over time, the growing city spilled into the surrounding landscape. Meanwhile, a devastating drought that began in 1862 and lasted through 1864 crippled the ranching economy, and more intensive agriculture retreated into the former grazing lands. Pastures became bean fields and orange groves -- a process that only accelerated with the arrival of new technologies like groundwater pumping, concrete pipes, and refrigerated train cars. Cooperative enterprises like the Anaheim Colony in present-day Orange County provided a model for making irrigated agriculture work. Providing a variety of microclimates and soil types, the Los Angeles Basin and its adjacent valleys became home to a diverse suite of agricultural uses. By the 1920s, Los Angeles County was ranked first in the nation in the value of its agricultural output.

 


Los Angeles kept growing. It did so in part by expanding outward from its historic core, rolling west toward the sea, but it also sprouted offshoots. First along the steam railroads, then the interurban lines of the Pacific Electric and finally the freeways, suburbs sprang up amid the countryside. Many of the most dramatic photos of an emptier Los Angeles show new settlements like Hollywood or Beverly Hills -- now familiar to much of the world through popular culture -- as rustic country towns. Eventually, the surrounding countryside disappeared as the suburbs and city merged into one metropolitan agglomeration.
The process reached a fevered pitch in the years immediately following World War II. From 1945 through 1957, subdividers carved 462,593 separate lots out of agricultural land in Los Angeles County. By the end of those thirteen years, nearly all of the San Fernando Valley had become urbanized, and the master-planned city of Lakewood had risen from the bean fields north of Long Beach -- an event D. J. Waldie chronicled in his classic memoir, "Holy Land."
Some communities resisted. Between 1955 and 1956, for example, three along the zig-zagged border between Los Angeles and Orange counties incorporated to fight encroaching urbanization: Dairy Valley (now Cerritos), Dairy City (now Cypress), and Dairyland (now La Palma). Within a decade, however, even those proud cow towns had adopted new names as real estate developers made dairy owners irresistible offers.
Among some viewers, these photographs showing vast swaths of emptiness where urbanization reigns today may inspire nostalgia for a lost, Arcadian past. But they also provoke pertinent questions about Southern California's urban development and city dwellers' relationship with the natural environment. Does the open countryside pictured here, for example, represent a lost opportunity to create a comprehensive system of parks and open spaces? Have Southern Californians become less informed about food production since agricultural enterprises moved to far-off places? And how did the loss of open spaces change popular conceptions of nature, wilderness, and conservation? The urgency of these questions speaks to the enduring value of photographic archives.
Rural San Fernando Valley
The San Fernando Valley and Mission San Fernando circa 1875. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
The San Fernando Valley and Mission San Fernando circa 1875. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
View of North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley from the Santa Monica Mountains, 1909
View of North Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley from the Santa Monica Mountains, 1909
Two women look out over a rural San Fernando Valley from the Mulholland Highway, circa 1930. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, USC Libraries.
Two women look out over a rural San Fernando Valley from the Mulholland Highway, circa 1930. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, USC Libraries.
Hollywood as a Country Town
Highland and Franklin in Hollywood, 1903. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Highland and Franklin in Hollywood, 1903. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Highland Avenue north of Hollywood Boulevard, 1906. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Highland Avenue north of Hollywood Boulevard, 1906. Courtesy of the Photo Collection, Los Angeles Public Library.
Rural East Hollywood, circa 1905. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Rural East Hollywood, circa 1905. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Undeveloped Beverly Hills
Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive, 1911. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Drive, 1911. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Coldwater Cañon in 1910. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Coldwater Cañon in 1910. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Benedict Canyon in 1890. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Benedict Canyon in 1890. Courtesy of the Beverly Hills Public Library Historical Collection.
Western Avenue at the Turn of the 20th Century
Children play on Western Avenue south of Sunset, circa 1906. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Children play on Western Avenue south of Sunset, circa 1906. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Bicycle race on Western just north of Santa Monica Boulevard, 1896. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Bicycle race on Western just north of Santa Monica Boulevard, 1896. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
The Los Angeles Times Bicycle Club on Western north of Pico, 1895. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
The Los Angeles Times Bicycle Club on Western north of Pico, 1895. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Orchard at Western and Washington, circa 1899. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Orchard at Western and Washington, circa 1899. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Around Town
A troop of Boy Scouts demonstrate their skills in the open fields across from Caltech in Pasadena, at the southwest corner of East California Blvd. and South Wilson Ave. Property of Polytechnic School, Pasadena, CA.
A troop of Boy Scouts demonstrate their skills in the open fields across from Caltech in Pasadena, at the southwest corner of East California Blvd. and South Wilson Ave. Property of Polytechnic School, Pasadena, CA.
West Adams Boulevard at Caldwell Avenue (now Ridgley Drive), 1923. Courtesy of the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives.
West Adams Boulevard at Caldwell Avenue (now Ridgley Drive), 1923. Courtesy of the Automobile Club of Southern California Archives.
Geranium Gardens in Gardena. Courtesy of the CSUDH Archives.
Geranium Gardens in Gardena. Courtesy of the CSUDH Archives.
Aerial view of Disneyland surrounded by orange groves in 1955. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
Aerial view of Disneyland surrounded by orange groves in 1955. Courtesy of the Orange County Archives.
Rural view from the home of Arthur Brent in Bel Air, 1927. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, USC Libraries.
Rural view from the home of Arthur Brent in Bel Air, 1927. Courtesy of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Collection, USC Libraries.
A field of sweet peas in Gardena. Courtesy of the CSUDH Archives.
A field of sweet peas in Gardena. Courtesy of the CSUDH Archives.
Lantern slide of a poppy field below in present-day Altadena, 1900. Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. Object ID LS.12459.
Lantern slide of a poppy field below in present-day Altadena, 1900. Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. Object ID LS.12459.
The Munk farm in Compton in the early 1900s. Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. Object ID P.14969.
The Munk farm in Compton in the early 1900s. Courtesy of the Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center. Object ID P.14969.
Barbecue to celebrate the opening of Montrose, a new 300-acre subdivision in the Crescenta Valley. The celebration (and land auction) took place at the present-day intersection of Verdugo Blvd. and Clifton Place in the city of Glendale. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.
Barbecue to celebrate the opening of Montrose, a new 300-acre subdivision in the Crescenta Valley. The celebration (and land auction) took place at the present-day intersection of Verdugo Blvd. and Clifton Place in the city of Glendale. Courtesy of the Title Insurance and Trust, and C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries.

Metro ExpressLanes: Can they work in LA?

 http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=8993999

David Ono, February 14, 2013

 See website for the video

The new Metro ExpressLanes project along the Harbor Freeway has been going on since November 2012. It is in the early stages of a one-year experiment, so commuters are still figuring it out.

But there are some commuters who don't like it for a number of reasons.

"I have seen this from where it was wide open to where now it is just a mess," said Bill Snobeger.

Snoberger has been making his commute from Glendale to just south of downtown for 30 years, 20 miles each way. He's not happy about the fact that it takes him longer now than ever before.

"It was bad, but it was bearable bad. Now it's bad, unbearable bad," he said.

A big part of his commute is the 110 Freeway where the new, experimental Metro ExpressLanes have been put into place.

"We've converted the carpool lanes to ExpressLanes," said Stephanie Wiggins with Metro. "The way it works is every vehicle that's going to use those ExpressLanes needs to have a FasTrak transponder."

In other words, starting last November, you can't use the carpool lanes unless you have a transponder.

To get the device requires an initial $40 deposit.

Snoberger thinks that has pushed people out of the carpool lanes and into the regular lanes, where he usually is.

"When we're sitting in traffic, and we're bumper-to-bumper with somebody, and the two lanes that are next to us here, there will be a car going by every five seconds," he said.

Eyewitness News observed traffic on three separate mornings during rush hour. The ExpressLanes were barely used.

"That's every day, every stinking day," Snoberger said.

But there are some benefits to the program. If you are a solo driver and have a transponder, you too can use the carpool lanes, as long as you are willing to pay a toll. Cars with multiple people are still free.

In theory, more people will have access to the carpool lanes under the program.

"What we found by talking to commuters and also, what we are hearing from our users, is they want the choice of travel time savings," said Wiggins.

So if Snoberger wants to benefit, he'll have to get a transponder and then pay an average toll of about $5 a day to use the fast lanes.

"I don't want to do that," he said. "I shouldn't have to do that and I don't have $200 extra a month to give to the state of California to use the freeways that we paid for."
And that brings up another sticky point for Snoberger.


"Our parents paid to have those freeways constructed with their tax dollars. And today we pay to maintain those freeways with our tax dollars. And for the state of California to take those lanes away from us that we paid for and then charge us to drive on them? That makes me mad," he said.

In fairness to Metro, it is way too early to judge the project. The latest numbers obtained by Eyewitness News Thursday show 45,000 cars are using the ExpressLanes daily, compared to 50,000 before the project.

The 10 Freeway is next. ExpressLanes begin there later this month. After a year, the ExpressLanes project will be evaluated.

I-10 ExpressLanes Open Feb. 23

Auto club offers transponders to members at a discount. Metro Expresslanes to run along 14-mile stretch of the 10 freeway between San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles. 

 http://santamonica.patch.com/articles/i-10-expresslanes-open-feb-23

By Matthew Sanderson, February 14, 2013



 

Heads up, Westside commuters. The Metro ExpressLanes route along 14 miles of the Interstate 10 between the San Gabriel Valley and downtown Los Angeles is scheduled to open Feb. 23.

All drivers, whether driving alone or in a carpool, are required to have a transponder to use the Metro ExpressLanes.

An extra lane was specially constructed for this program to keep traffic moving.

Automobile Club of Southern California members will receive a 20 percent discount on the transponders, which can be purchased on the club's website or  at branch offices. Transponders obtained at Auto Club branches will have $40 in preloaded toll credit, but members will only be charged $32.

The balance of the ExpressLanes $290 million project was funded by Metro, partly through sales tax receipts. The project is a one-year experiment, and Metro and Caltrans will survey traffic speeds and roadway capacity on the 110 freeway to see if variable tolls can improve speeds.

Another ExpressLanes route along the Harbor (110) opened in November, ending the 70-year L.A. tradition of a completely "free" freeway system.

Metro computers will check the speeds on the tollway, and raise or lower the single-person toll amount to keep traffic moving at above 45 miles per hour.

If traffic gets very bad, the signs will bar solo drivers and say "HOV Only."

Metro Silver Line buses and carpools with at least two people—and a transponder—onboard will continue to use the center lanes with those who choose to pay.

Auto Club members can also acquire transponders online with the AAA discount at aaa.com/metroexpresslanes. Drivers must activate their transponders after purchase by establishing accounts with Metro.

"The 110 Freeway ExpressLanes have already become very popular with our members, who so far
have purchased nearly 40,000 transponders in Auto Club branches and online," said Steve Finnegan, the Auto Club's government affairs manager.

Finnegan advises members not to wait until the last minute to visit their local branch for a transponder, since they are very popular.

The FastTrak transponders available at Auto Club branches can be used for automatic toll payments on all toll roads and express lanes in California, including the 91 Express Lanes and toll roads in Orange and San Diego counties.

The program will enable solo drivers to ride on parts of the former I-110 and I-10 carpool-only lanes by paying a variable toll between 25 cents and $1.40 per mile, depending on the traffic congestion in the lanes. Toll rates in other counties differ.

Carpool drivers will not be charged tolls to use the Metro ExpressLanes. For more information about Metro ExpressLanes, visit the project website  or read the Westways article on the ExpressLanes project and other Southern California toll lanes.
Car-Free City: China Builds Dense Metropolis from Scratch
 http://weburbanist.com/2013/02/11/car-free-city-china-builds-dense-metropolis-from-scratch/
  By Steph, February 15, 2013
 China Carless City 1
 
Altering most of today’s cities to eliminate cars altogether would be a daunting, if not impossible, proposition – which is why China is starting from scratch. Great City will be built around a high-rise core housing 80,000 people, entirely walkable, and surrounded by green space.
China Carless City 2
Planned for a rural area outside Chengdu, the high-density Great City will give residents access to a ‘buffer area’ of gardens and greenery making up 60% of the total area of the city. Walking from the center of the city to the green spaces takes just ten minutes, and other nearby urban centers will be accessible by a mass transit system.
China Carless City 3
Chicago architecture firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture say the city will use 48% less energy and 58% less water than a more conventional city of the same size; it will also produce 89% less landfill waste and generate 60% less carbon dioxide.
China Carless City 4
The development addresses the problem of overpopulation, pollution and urban sprawl by compacting a lot of residents into vertical housing, growing food nearby. “The design is attempting to address some of the most pressing urban issues of our time, including the need for sustainable, dense urban living at a cost people can afford,” says Gill.
Carless City China 5
“Accordingly, we’ve designed this project as a dense vertical city that acknowledges and in fact embraces the surrounding landscape—a city whose residents will live in harmony with nature rather than in opposition to it. Great City will demonstrate that high-density living doesn’t have to be polluted and alienated from nature. Everything within the built environment of Great City is considered to enhance the quality of life of its residents. Quite simply, it offers a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
More Comments on SR-710 North Study: what's on the table and what's off the table-8


http://thesource.metro.net/2013/02/08/sr-710-north-study-whats-on-the-table-and-whats-off-the-table/

 richard schumacher on said:
I’m a former and, I hope, a future Pasadena resident. From a few thousand miles away the tunnel option looks like the best solution to a very old problem. It’s the equivalent of the Regional Connector for highway traffic. If it’s tolled, all the better: those who want to can continue to take the long way ’round, or the slow way on surface streets, and they’ll have a bit less competition from those who use the tunnel.
To Richard Schumacher: If you are thousands of miles away, then I would imagine you are kind of out of the loop at the moment. Sure, it might look good on the surface (no pun intended), but there are some pretty ugly things lurking. Since you are miles away and it appears you value your Pasadena quality of life, go visit no710.com for some eye-opening issues.


  1. The one issue with the transit alternatives is that they seem ham handed and disconnected. The train alternative, because it is all grade separated, is ridiculously gold plated, and has track connections with absolutely nothing else… although I did suggest that if this is the case, to evaluate automated rail transit technology with shorter cars which might cut back on the cost and right of way take. The BRT alternative forces existing passengers on the 762 to transfer in East LA, for marginal benefit. The bus only lanes could be implemented right now for little more than striping and concrete pads. Ultimately the BRT and LRT just seem there to check boxes and do not perceived to be developed to the same detail that the tunnel is.
  2. Wow, there are so many mis-statements on this piece that it is hard to know where to begin. I think it is interesting to note that Caltrans & Metro were willing to dump the Avenue 64 alternatives within months of creating them due to fierce public opposition but are still advocating the tunnel after 60 years of protest. Let’s be clear here; the stated Purpose and Need cites traffic congestion and everyone can agree we have that. But historical data and public statements by transportation officials, paint a much different picture. It’s all about goods movement. We know it, they know it, we have proof at no710.com. Those who oppose the tunnel are interested in ANY alternative rather that the worse most expensive one. Let’s do TSM/TDM and be done! Light rail, busways, sure! The problem with the public component part of this process is that we never got the opportunity to sit down and discuss the narrowing of options. They put the rail and bus options in the wrong place. And Steve, your comment above that you don’t have any designs yet? What? The final Alternative Analysis report has pretty specific designs on all the options. I would just say, if you are new to this project, DO YOUR HOMEWORK and learn all you can. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.
NO 710 Action Committee dissatisfaction with METRO's Public Outreach and Community Involvement

From Sylvia Plummer, February 15, 2013
Letter to Metro Board, TAC & SOAC Members - dated 2/11/13

 Letter to Doug Failing, Executive Director, Highway Programs - dated 10/24/10



Be Sure to Read this one!
 The Changing Face of METRO'S Community Liaison Council (CLC)

Nick Conway ordered to stand trial on charges of conflict of interest for work with SGVCOG

 http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/breakingnews/ci_22588253/nick-conway-ordered-stand-trial-charges-conflict-interest

By Steve Scauzillo, February 14, 2103

 
LOS ANGELES - Nick Conway, the former executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, will stand trial on felony conflict of interest charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

After an unusual two-week deliberation, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria said a thorough re-examination of the evidence from the preliminary hearing showed there was enough to suggest Conway was guilty of the charges.

At issue are four contracts managed by Conway for the COG, a regional planning body, for which the COG approved amendments and extra costs amounting to at least $148,000.

Each contract represents a separate criminal count. If convicted on all four counts, Conway faces a maximum of seven years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.

"He sought out contracts that benefitted him," said the judge.

Kenneth White, Conway's attorney, said he appreciated the judge taking her time but did not agree with her interpretation of the evidence.

"I have to respectfully disagree. The documents and records show Mr. Conway's company aggressively seeking out grants for the COG was part of the COG's Strategic Plan. This was not Mr. Conway's initiative, this was the COG's direction to him for the way it wanted to go," White said.

Assistant District Attorney Dana Aratani said he was pleased by the ruling.

"We think the judge made the right decision," he said. "It looks to us that the evidence supports the felony charges."

Conway, a Pasadena resident, is due back in court on Feb. 28 for an arraignment before the start of the criminal trial.

When asked if Conway, 60, would enter a different plea at the trial arraignment - he pleaded not guilty in July after charges were filed - White responded: "On the 28th? No."

White hinted he would file a motion challenging the judge's finding of probable cause. No new motions were filed Thursday.

As part of his job with the COG, Conway and his company, Arroyo Associates, solicited and managed grants from 2008 to 2011 that were used to help cities meet new energy requirements and to improve wetlands. One grant was paid for by Southern California Edison ratepayers, according to court testimony.

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.

Aratani argued that Conway steered four grants to the COG and paid himself additional monies each time. The conflict of interest arose when Conway sought out the grants as president of Arroyo Associates, his management company, and paid himself using COG or grant funds.

"He is getting a revenue stream because of his position as executive director (of COG)," Aratani argued in court two weeks ago. "If we don't stop there, he could get a fifth grant, a sixth grant, and hire more people at Arroyo and then his business would be much larger."

The judge Thursday at first seemed to agree with the defense, saying the documents were all approved by the COG board and that new contracts meant additional work and additional compensation.

"The problem is, he created the extra work," Villar de Longoria said. "There is sufficient cause to believe the defendant is guilty of these charges and will be held to answer."

Still, White said in an interview that he was happy the judge recognized the key argument of the defense, that Conway acted with the approval of the COG board and its general counsel.

"He did what was specifically approved by multiple general counsel for the COG who were specifically tasked to look out for conflict-of-interest issues. I believe those attorneys failed the COG and him," White said.

Later, White said the witnesses who testified against Conway had biases that they did not fully disclose. He
also said: "They had voted for and approved the very contracts they were now complaining about."

It is believed White was referring to Walnut Councilman Tom King and Diamond Bar Councilwoman and current COG board member Carol Herrera. King painted a picture of Conway of being in the business of producing grants for personal gain.

"He is simply trying to develop a defense posture to publicly poison the jury pool," added King.

Walnut is one of two cities to withhold dues from COG; Irwindale is the other. King has said the city will withhold dues until the COG conducts a forensic audit "to endure that all public funds are accounted for."

Conway headed up COG for 17 years until Oct. 31, when he was fired. All contracts with Arroyo Associates were terminated. Conway was granted $155,000 in severance pay.

The COG has hired acting San Bernardino City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller as its new executive director. She takes over on Sunday.

Conway, who had previously posted $100,000 bail, was released on his own recognizance Thursday after the judge said he is not a flight risk.

Meet the Rural Region That Opted for VelociBuses Over Highway Expansion

 http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/02/14/meet-the-rural-region-that-opted-for-velocibuses-over-highway-expansion/#more-135203

By Angie Schmitt, February 14, 2013


 The four sparsely populated mountain counties make up the Roaring Fork Valley extend over roughly 50 miles on Colorado’s Western Slope. About 32,000 people are interspersed throughout the valley in small towns like Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs, but the local economy revolves around the nearby resort town of Aspen.
Smart branding is important for rural transit systems, says Smart Growth America's Roger Millar.

This, clearly, is challenging terrain for a transit agency. Aspen’s hotels and restaurants attract workers from around the region, but people who toil in local service industry jobs have mostly been priced out of the housing near Aspen.

“People who wash pots and pans at the hotels in Aspen were driving 75 miles one way for the privilege of doing that,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference in Kansas City last week.

As a result, Highway 82, the main route into Aspen, is the most congested highway in Colorado. Between 1992 and 1994, the Colorado DOT widened Highway 82 to four lanes.

“The DOT said by the time we get finished building four lanes, we’re going to need six lanes,” Millar said. “And everyone [in town] said, enough with that, we’ve got to do something different.”

Now the Roaring Fork Transit Authority is constructing the agreed upon alternative: a 39-mile bus rapid transit system along Highway 82 that they plan to call, in a bit of marketing genius, the VelociRFTA. When it opens this September, it will be the first bus rapid transit system in the country to serve a rural area.

The $40 million project will run buses every 10 minutes at rush hour, stopping nine times along the lengthy journey — a commuter express route. It will also feature heated waiting stations with bathrooms (pictured above). RFTA officials are encouraging users to walk or bike to the stations.

This rendering shows how stations will look in the nation's first rural bus rapid transit system: the VelociRFTA.

“It’s just a really really cool system,” said Millar. “They’ve put a lot of funding into branding, which is hugely important when you’re doing rural transit.”

Founded in 2000 by a vote of seven local jurisdictions, the Roaring Fork Transit Authority has already grown to be the second-largest public transit system in the state of Colorado, hosting about 4.3 million rides annually. The authority runs a bus service that takes commuters to Aspen from the surrounding communities. Then, during the day, it switches to serving tourists, on a private basis.

In 2008, voters in the Roaring Fork Valley approved a four-tenths of a cent sales tax to make the BRT system a reality. The project will also benefit from a Federal Transit Administration Very Small Starts grant.

It’s a great example of the kind of creative thinking and pragmatism than can help transit have a real economic impact in rural communities.

“They [RFTA] move about two to three times the per capita ridership of larger cities,” Millar said.

There are more than 1,000 providers of transit in rural areas with populations under 50,000, said Sarah Kline, policy director at Reconnecting America, at last week’s conference. Most of these providers offer on-demand service, the kind where the rider is picked up at her home and delivered to her destination. But more than 400 rural transit agencies provide fixed-route service, like you see in larger cities and in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Delivering transit service to rural areas is harder than in cities because it involves the expense of transporting people over long distances. But the same forces make rural residents particularly vulnerable to fluctuations in gas prices, especially if they are without viable alternatives.

“Rural areas have become more isolated over the last few decades as options such as intercity rail have been shrunk back,” she said.

Many rural communities around the country, like the Roaring Fork Valley, are managing their transit systems skillfully. Kline said it’s very important for each rural community to understand what the geographic challenges are, and to design their interventions accordingly.

Another great success story comes from tiny Allendale County, South Carolina. This community was able to vastly improve on-demand transit service simply by hiring a mobility coordinator to reduce redundancy between the existing providers. Use of the Allendale County Scooter “skyrocketed,” Kline said, without the county even having to invest in additional vans or drivers.

And how about Sanford, Maine, whose trolley system, a public-private partnership, manages to serve both tourists on the coast and the inland workers who commute there. Blaine County, Idaho, operates a seven-day-a-week, fixed-route transit service that sees a half million trips annually.

“There are things like downtown circulators being started in smaller towns. There are transit hubs and intermodal facilities and improved connections through intercity passenger rail and commuter rail,” Kline said. “So there really is a wide variety of interesting stuff going on that’s really exciting.”
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Rail Promoter, Announces Retirement
 http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/02/14/sen-frank-lautenberg-rail-promoter-announces-retirement/

By Tanya Snyder, February 14, 2013



Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, announced that Frank Lautenberg would return as chair of the committee’s Surface Transportation, & Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, & Security Subcommittee.
Lautenberg in Hoboken with DOT Secretary Ray LaHood last year. Lautenberg made two announcements today: his plans for the next two years in transportation, and his plans to retire after that. 

This afternoon at 2:00 p.m., Lautenberg issued a statement that “improving passenger and high-speed rail service in America and on the Northeast Corridor is a top priority that my Subcommittee will pursue aggressively.” That’s no surprise to anyone — Lautenberg is a strong voice for robust infrastructure spending, especially for intercity rail and urban transit.

And then, just about an hour after listing all the wonderful things he is going to do in this session to advance high-speed rail, fund Amtrak, and improve transit, Lautenberg sent another statement: He won’t return to the Senate in 2014.

No one will be shocked by this news. Lautenberg just turned 89 years old. He’s serving his fifth six-year term in the Senate. Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a rock star of local politics, has made no secret of his plan to run for Lautenberg’s seat.

In 2008, Lautenberg wrote the law to increase Amtrak funding and create the nation’s high-speed rail grant program. In 2011, he got the Northeast Corridor designated as a federally-recognized high-speed rail corridor, which allowed Amtrak to receive $450 million in federal funding for high-speed rail upgrades benefitting New Jersey.

He did battle with his state’s governor, Chris Christie, who insisted on stopping progress on the ARC tunnel, which would have more than doubled the number of trains that could have been carried a day between New Jersey and New York under the Hudson River. In this session, he plans to promote the Gateway tunnel project, which is ARC 2.0. He’s already helped secure $15 million to get it started, and he’s working on getting another $20 million.

Lautenberg championed a freight policy that carries more goods on rail than trucks, helping legislate the eligibility of rail for federal freight funding. He supports complete streets. He and Sen. Rockefeller (who’s also retiring after this session) joined forces to get behind President Obama’s vision for a National Infrastructure Bank — an idea that still hasn’t gone anywhere, but not for lack of trying. 

Lautenberg’s zeal for passenger rail will be missed when he leaves, but at least he’s got two more years left as the boss of an important subcommittee for transportation issues. Lautenberg is also still on the Appropriations Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee — two more perches from which he can influence transportation policy. We’ll be looking to him to make his mark on the rail reauthorization this year and the surface transportation bill next year.
Is Nick Conway Employing A Nuremberg Defense?

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/

February 15, 2013






 
 I see nothing

"The distractions at the COG are over." - Nancy Walsh, back when Nick "4 Felonies" Conway was still running the joint.

You don't hear the "I was just obeying orders" defense too much these days. Or at least I haven't heard of anyone using it lately. I was pretty sure it had gone out of fashion somewhere around 1946, which was about the time a number of famous defendants were using it, and with little demonstrable success. But old styles do have a way of coming back from time to time, and apparently this legal fashion statement stepped right out of its metaphorical Gold Line this week, and walked straight into Los Angeles Superior Court. You can't even begin to imagine the enhanced levels of excitement when they brought this historical (or is that hysterical?) doozy back.

There are two jam packed Steve Scauzillo articles up on the Pasadena Star News website about former SGVCOG kingpin Nick Conway's involuntary rendezvous with the L.A. County Justice System, and both reveal an awful lot about what has been going down there. But for our purposes today there are two specific passages we would like to cite as they reveal quite a bit about Conway defense attorney Kenny White's strategy for getting Nickarama off the meat hook. Check this out:

(From "Prosecutor spells out case against Nick Conway, former SGVCOG executive director" - click here): Later, White tried to establish that all contracts, payments and service agreements were always approved by outside attorneys working for COG. "The conflict of interest doesn't depend on advice of legal counsel," Aratani shot back.

But outside the courtroom, White repeated the defense's main theme: "Everything Mr. Conway did was approved summarily by the COG, the governing board and the COG's attorneys - in public," White said. "This demonstrates a context for what he is being charged with."

Apparently during the pretrial hearings Kenny White was of the opinion that Superior Court Judge M.L. Villar de Longoria, in deciding whether or not to send Mr. Conway and his 4 famous felonies to trial, might be impressed to know that his client was only following the so-called lawful orders of his superiors. In this case the steadfastly clownish SGVCOG Executives of its Governing Board. And then there is also this:

(From "Nick Conway ordered to stand trial on charges of conflict of interest for work with SGVCOG" - click here): At issue are four contracts managed by Conway for the COG, a regional planning body, for which the COG approved amendments and extra costs amounting to at least $148,000.

Each contract represents a separate criminal count. If convicted on all four counts, Conway faces a maximum of seven years in state prison, according to the District Attorney's Office. "He sought out contracts that benefitted him," said the judge.

Kenneth White, Conway's attorney, said he appreciated the judge taking her time but did not agree with her interpretation of the evidence. "I have to respectfully disagree. The documents and records show Mr. Conway's company aggressively seeking out grants for the COG was part of the COG's Strategic Plan. This was not Mr. Conway's initiative, this was the COG's direction to him for the way it wanted to go," White said.

Obviously the Judge was not very impressed by White's "he was only following lawful orders" defense, and it didn't work any better for Nick Conway than it did the military officers and high-ranking German officials in the dock at Nuremberg in 1946. All of whom would probably have preferred to be on vacation in South America.

So what exactly is the "Superior Orders" or "Nuremberg Defense?" Here is how the usually crisply written and concise Wikipedia defines it (click here):

Superior orders (often known as the Nuremberg defense or lawful orders) is a plea in a court of law that a soldier not be held guilty for actions which were ordered by a superior officer. The superior orders plea is similar to the doctrine of respondeat superior in tort law where a superior is held liable for the actions of a subordinate. Some legal scholars and war crimes tribunals will correlate the plea to the doctrine of respondeat superior; whereas others will distinguish the plea from the doctrine of respondeat superior.

The superior orders plea is often regarded as the complement to command responsibility. One of the most noted uses of this plea, or "defense," was by the accused in the 1945–46 Nuremberg Trials, such that it is also called the "Nuremberg defense". The Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals, held by the main victorious Allied forces of World War II, most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of the defeated Nazi Germany. It was during these trials, under the London Charter of the International Military Tribunal which set them up, that the defense of superior orders was no longer considered enough to escape punishment; but merely enough to lessen punishment.[4]

Historically, the plea of superior orders has been used both before and after the Nuremberg Trials, with a notable lack of consistency in various rulings.

Apart from the specific plea of Superior Orders, discussions about how the general concept of superior orders ought to be used, or ought not to be used, have taken place in various arguments, rulings and Statutes that have not necessarily been part of “after the fact” war crimes trials, strictly speaking. Nevertheless these discussions and related events help us understand the evolution of the specific plea of superior orders and the history of its usage.

While it would be absurd to assert that Nick Conway's garden variety bureaucratic pilfering can in any way be equated with the horrendous crimes committed by Nazi Germany during the 1930s and '40s, I think you can see my point here. The felonies that Nick has been charged with involved taking taxpayer money on behalf of the COG, filtering it through Arroyo Associates, a sock puppet paper pusher company that he himself personally owned, and then pocketing the difference. To say that he was doing this because he had been issued orders by his Governing Board superiors and their legal counsel at the COG to do so is not only patently ridiculous, but also besides the point.

As Assistant District Attorney Dana Aratani put it in one of the Star News articles cited above, "The conflict of interest doesn't depend on advice of legal counsel." Claiming that he was only obeying superior orders certainly does not look like it will get Nick off the hook, and could instead reveal just how weak his legal position really is. You really have to wonder if this is all they got.

Our friend, Walnut City Councilman Tom King, was one of the key government witnesses at the Nick Conway pretrial hearings. As, I suspect, he will be at Conway's coming trial as well. Tom shows up this way in the second of the two Star News articles we cited today.


Later, White said the witnesses who testified against Conway had biases that they did not fully disclose. He also said: "They had voted for and approved the very contracts they were now complaining about."

It is believed White was referring to Walnut Councilman Tom King and Diamond Bar Councilwoman and current COG board member Carol Herrera. King painted a picture of Conway of being in the business of producing grants for personal gain.

"He is simply trying to develop a defense posture to publicly poison the jury pool," added King.

Walnut is one of two cities to withhold dues from COG; Irwindale is the other. King has said the city will withhold dues until the COG conducts a forensic audit "to endure that all public funds are accounted for."

Tom commented about the above assertions here on The Tattler yesterday, and I thought it would be a good idea to reproduce what he had to say here. It pretty much lays waste to some of Kenny White's preposterous and misleading claims.


Conway’s attorney stated to reporters today the witnesses who testified for the prosecution were biased and had other axes to grind. He said in the interview that the witnesses did not reveal their affiliations but kept it secret.

The attorney makes his living defending white collar criminals. I make my living putting them in jail. I like my associations. He likes his.

As a local elected official I interact with all local government officials, including Herrera. I don't have any more affiliation with her than any other elected official. Some I like and respect and others I do not agree with. The attorney is simply trying to develop a defense posture to publicly poison the jury pool. Conway supporters have taken out expensive paid insert ads in the Los Angeles Times attacking me. Most accused people cannot do that. An Ad Hominem attacks is not indicative of a strong legal position by a defense attorney.

What happened with Conway is a tragedy. But he knew full well what he was doing and worked with close political allies on the SGVCOG to accomplish it. What happens to Conway is up to the courts.

Before I recommend Walnut re-associate with the SGVCOG, they need to conduct a forensic audit to ensure that all public funds are accounted for. Conway has a few key supporters in the SGVCOG who are more inclined to discredit critics instead of reestablishing credibility of the organization.. The selection of a nonpolitical Executive Director was a step in the right direction. I am optimistic things will get better.

I walked up to the President of the SGVCOG last week at a regional meeting and said “Hello” She quickly turned around and walked away. She was instrumental in kicking me and Herrera off the Executive Board for raising issues about Conflicts of Interest by Mr. Conway. 

Now there is a quote of the week. "The attorney makes his living defending white collar criminals. I make my living putting them in jail. I like my associations. He likes his."

Fire up the popcorn machine, settle in and get ready for the San Gabriel Valley's trial of the decade.

This one is going to be good.