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 16, 2013


Eric Garcetti for mayor

He's the candidate with the most potential to rise to the occasion and lead Los Angeles out of its current malaise and into a more sustainable and confident future.


 February 17, 2013

 Eric Garcetti
 Mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti.

Los Angeles is an underachieving city led in recent decades by a succession of underachieving mayors — people who came in with big dreams or big talk but soon got bored with the day-to-day task of steering a municipality. Voters don't get to conduct a casting call or sift through hundreds of applicants until they identify the ideal candidate, but must instead choose from a field prescreened by the political and fundraising processes. This year that field fails to include a candidate who stands out as the obviously superior choice. The task for voters then becomes to scrutinize track records, eliminate the worst hazards and seek potential that can be forged, with the proper pressure and continued voter vigilance, into accomplishment.

The candidate with the most potential to rise to the occasion and lead Los Angeles out of its current malaise and into a more sustainable and confident future is Eric Garcetti.

Voters must be frank with themselves about Garcetti, who as a member of the City Council for nearly 12 years and its president for six must bear some responsibility for the city's current fiscal problems, which were dramatically worsened when the council negotiated employee contracts that were unaffordable, leading to a budget too far out of balance, and leading, in turn, to deep cuts in services.

ENDORSEMENTS: Los Angeles City Elections 2013

But frankness also requires scrutiny of Garcetti's role in beginning to correct the problems. For the
most part, he has performed well. As council president, he worked behind the scenes to awaken his colleagues to the depth of the city's financial crisis and to take action they did not want to take, imposing layoffs and requiring those remaining in the workforce to shoulder more of the burden of their medical and pension benefits. At times when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa should have been on hand to close difficult negotiations, the task was left to Garcetti, and he came through. He antagonized his allies in labor, not because he wanted to but because he saw that he had to. That fact undermines the too-common chatter that he lacks backbone.

His style as council president was not always satisfying to outside observers, who like to hear leaders talk tough or watch them crack heads. Garcetti used finesse. He knew who he was leading, he knew how to get from them what was needed and he knew how to count votes. He knew how to get the job done, and he did it — or at least as much of it as could be done at the time. Los Angeles will look in vain for its Ed Koch or its Richard Daley, because the job here simply isn't tailored for that kind of swagger. Successful mayors of Los Angeles — like Tom Bradley — must be experts in the art of finesse. Garcetti is such an expert.

They also must be experts in using the tools at their disposal to create a vibrant and livable city. Voters should be inspired by Garcetti's stewardship of Council District 13. His predecessors may have laid the foundation for the revival of Hollywood, but Garcetti closed the deal with creative land-use decisions and community outreach that returned an edgy spark to the neighborhood while attracting new business and providing new housing for families living on the margins. Under his guidance, Atwater Village has blossomed, Glassell Park is on the verge, Silver Lake and Echo Park are cultural touchstones, East Hollywood neighborhoods have claimed their identity. He added many acres of badly needed park space. He brought to his job a deft mixture of community organizing, development, outreach and leadership. He has not left everyone in his district happy, because he has made choices — and that's a good thing. It requires a measure of courage, and is an indication of leadership. Along the way he championed programs in his district to deter gang violence and fight quality-of-life crimes such as graffiti, and they became models for citywide successes.

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

Many of Garcetti's achievements have parallels in the downtown and South Los Angeles district of Jan Perry, who is also running for mayor. Perry's warnings about the budget and employee compensation were earlier and firmer than Garcetti's, and her penchant for speaking her mind, no matter the consequences, is appealing. So why not Perry for mayor? In large part because her strengths are also her weaknesses, and they too often undermine her. The highest-profile example is her battle with Garcetti's successor as council president, Herb Wesson Jr., a fight that by her own account resulted in her district being redrawn as the city's poorest, encompassing only a fraction of the resource-heavy downtown it previously did. Voters need not shy away from Perry merely because she can be combative, but they must ask themselves whether that characteristic has helped or hurt. Perry is often right, but being right is not enough. Garcetti, if elected, is more likely to be an effective and successful mayor.

Controller Wendy Greuel is smart and ambitious, and she has enjoyed the built-in advantage of being city government's official critic, making her the chief advocate for voters and taxpayers. To some degree she has been an able fiscal watchdog, insisting, for example, that the city build up a prudent reserve fund as council members sought to instead spend down the inadequate reserve to avoid layoffs. But she has failed to fulfill her office's potential.

Four years ago, she asserted that because she was less abrasive than her predecessor, Laura Chick,
she would be more successful in getting City Hall to heed her audits and follow her advice. She now acknowledges that City Hall has not been responsive but claims that she could, as mayor, do what she could not do as controller. That is not an argument that inspires confidence.

Nor has Greuel been as innovative as Chick, who saw the potential of her office beyond performing audits and critiquing the status quo. For example, as others in City Hall read and prepared to shelve a report from the Advancement Project's Connie Rice on dealing with the city's growing gang problem, Chick studied it, championed it and demanded that failed programs be dropped and a new one based on Rice's blueprint be housed directly in the mayor's office. In so doing, Chick forced City Hall to rethink itself and to discover new, effective partnerships and protocols for measuring success. She made her office count. She showed the type of initiative and creativity demonstrated on the council by Garcetti. In comparison, Greuel has been overly cautious and less effective than she could have been. It is hard to see how she would rise to the challenge as mayor given her record as controller.

Also running is entertainment lawyer and talk radio host Kevin James, who, when confronted with the poor management and stifling bureaucracy that have gotten City Hall into trouble, sees full-scale corruption. He sees transfers of money from special funds to create an adequate reserve as corruption rather than prudence; he sees generous contracts to city employees as corruption rather than lazy bargaining and bad management.

It's an approach well suited to radio and no doubt appealing to listeners and many voters, who would like to believe that if only the rascals are thrown out and replaced with untainted outsiders, everything in Los Angeles will fall into place. But running a city is a complicated business. James is interesting and his words are riveting, but his critique is wrong. City Hall has been too long without someone who knows how to run it, and a lack of leadership, a lack of mission and discipline, have led to low-quality work being delivered by a high-quality workforce.

James is at his best when he drops the talk of corruption and zeros in on one major cause of the city's troubles: the employee contract of 2007. But his prescription is overly simplistic: Change the players. The city has had mayors with too much "outsider" posturing and too little knowledge of how to run the place.

Emanuel Pleitez has made a name for himself in this race but is a long way from being ready to lead a great city. Like James, he relies too much on the argument that his "outsider" status, by itself, would be a cure for City Hall's ailments. Those who are disappointed in Villaraigosa should remember that he ran as an outsider and had been on the council for only two years when he ran for mayor, and his lack of familiarity with City Hall — his lack of finesse — is part of what doomed his administration.

Voters at first embraced Villaraigosa because they saw in him the power to inspire. Garcetti has that too, but in a different, quieter fashion, and he backs it up with experience in City Hall, a share of troublesome mistakes and 12 years of achievement. If he avoids a tendency to be glib when he should motivate, and if he avoids the tendency to allow his finesse to give way to a desire to be all things to all people, he could be just what Los Angeles needs. At this time, out of this field, he's the best choice for mayor.

Sections of Pasadena to sit March 5 election out because of new voting districts

New voting districts mean most residents east of Hill Avenue won't cast a ballot this year.


By Joe Piasecki, February 15, 2013

 For all but a few neighborhoods, the March 5 Pasadena City Council and school board elections are a west side story.

Because not all districts are active in every election, the new lines mean that most voters east of Hill Avenue — except a block of about 10,000 Pasadena voters in the southeastern part of the city — will not receive a ballot this year.

 In all, the new system leaves 42,249 of 123,084 area voters waiting until their districts come up for election in spring 2015, including most of east Altadena and all of Sierra Madre.

And not all Pasadena voters will get to choose both a council and school board representative.

In Council District 3 in Northwest Pasadena, for example, there are 2,958 voters who don't live in two overlapping school board districts that are active this election cycle.

Only 1,429 of the roughly 8,500 voters in Council District 5 can vote for a school board candidate this spring because they also live in school board District 5.

The overlapping district boundaries have resulted in 11 ballot groups, said Pasadena City Clerk Mark Jomsky, who in turn oversaw the printing and mailing of 11 voter information guides earlier this month.

Confused residents can determine their voter districts using an interactive map at www.cityofpasadena.net/cityclerk.

Despite all the mix and match, Jomsky said using voter districts to elect school board members rather than races covering all of Pasadena, Altadena and Sierra Madre comes with an upside for taxpayers because not all are active.

“There's likely to be a cost savings — fewer pamphlets, fewer ballots and fewer polling places and poll workers,” he said.

Latino voters in Pasadena will have a major say in the March 5 election


By Joe Piasecki, February 16, 2013

For more than a decade, the majority of students attending Pasadena public schools have come from lower-income Latino families in Northwest Pasadena.

But when it came to choosing who runs the schools, those most reliant on public education were heavily outnumbered at the polls.

 Now, voter districts debuting in the March 5 school board elections — including a Northwest Pasadena district where 56% of residents are Latino — have made the working-class Latino vote an emerging force at the ballot box.

But nowhere is the change more pronounced than in school board District 3, which is home to more public school students than any other voter district.

Stretching from the Foothill (210) Freeway to Woodbury Road along the eastern edge of the Arroyo Seco, to Lake Avenue on the north and narrowing to Fair Oaks Avenue at its southern terminus, it also has the highest percentage of Latinos of any school board district, said Ken Chawkins, who last year headed a volunteer task force that drew boundaries according to income, educational attainment and ethnicity.

“Whether they elect a Latino or not, that community is now speaking for itself,” he said.

Four school board candidates, two Latinos and two African Americans, are running to represent the district's roughly 29,000 people. Though more than half of the residents are Latino, African Americans represent a larger share of the district's 13,802 registered voters.

District 3 candidate Guillermo Arce, a social services administrator and public school parent critical of the district's special-education services, said the contest should not center on ethnic identity. But Arce also said the defeat of Latino candidates would “be the biggest disenfranchisement of the Hispanic community in Pasadena.”

The departure in May of outgoing school board member Ramon Miramontes could leave the board without a Latino member, but Latino hopefuls are competing in three of the four March 5 board races.

District 3 candidate Tyron Hampton, a graduate of Northwest Pasadena schools who is black, said race is a topic candidates “need to keep as far away from as possible” or risk alienating voters.

All District 3 candidates say Northwest Pasadena needs an advocate able to engage parents whose financial struggles leave them without the time or resources to get involved in school affairs.

The need for greater parent involvement exists in both Latino and African American families, said Randy Ertll, executive director of the education-focused nonprofit El Centro de Acción Social.

“Candidates [in District 3] will have to transcend their own ethnicity to win,” Ertll said.

Pixie Boyden, a District 3 resident who also served on the districting task force, said she hoped the shift from at-large races to districts would make face-to-face contact between candidates and voters a better campaign strategy than blanket political mailers.

District 3 candidate Ruben Hueso, a Los Angeles elementary school teacher and public school parent, had raised $6,175 as of Jan. 19, the last required reporting date. Hampton, Arce and foster parent Deidre Duncan did not report raising funds.

“Until now, this was the forgotten district,” Hueso said. “I'm getting comments [from residents] that no other candidate has ever knocked on their door — whether it's a mayoral race, City Council or school board. People are saying they've never been approached.”

In their own words: 2013 candidates for Pasadena City Council, school board


February 16, 2013


City Council District 3

John J. Kennedy

Age: 51

Profession: Senior vice president, Los Angeles Urban League

My experience and lifetime of service to Pasadena provide the knowledge (issues, budget, colleagues, constituents) to effectively serve District 3 on day one.

I believe in democratic ideals — transparent, accountable government — as part of the solution. My top priorities include more open space, zero-waste policy, decreasing traffic congestion through mixed-use, walk-friendly developments, light rail/public transportation, one-way streets and traffic synchronization. I also support job creation by encouraging public and private spending with local firms and depositing funds with local banks that lend locally.

Numerous endorsements by local leaders speak to my character and ability to bring people together.

Ishmael Trone

Age: 52

Profession: Businessman, financial consultant

Improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods is my top priority. For years I have worked closely with our new Assembly member, Chris Holden (who strongly endorses my candidacy) to:

Improve public safety = Worked with Pasadena police, creating events to maintain channels of communication between the police and community leaders. Worked with neighborhood associations to reduce crime.

Enhance quality of life = Oversaw $10 million in park renovations and improvement projects to make neighborhoods more livable.

Creating jobs = Chair of the Fair Oaks Project Area Committee, vice chair of the Community Development Committee and a member of the Rose Bowl Renovation Local Hiring Committee.

Like my own daughters, I am a product of Pasadena Unified. I strongly support public education.

I would be honored to have your vote.

Nicholas Benson

The candidate did not respond to submission request.

PUSD District 1

Dean Cooper

Age: 63

Profession: Information Technology Solution Provider, CNA, MCSE

On March 5, Altadena voters can vote for Dean Cooper to ensure that Pasadena Unified's school board has imperative conversations to realign its responsibility of being overseer for all learners, or vote for the incumbent to ensure that the board will continue with a) its failed oversight for instructional equity, b) its failed oversight of the superintendent's effectiveness, and c) its failed oversight in implementing 21st century safety interventions.

Safe classrooms, orderly campuses, instructional support staff, valid technology innovations and student-centered agency cooperation are needed now. Altadena cannot waste another two years to do the basic requirements, which have been left undone.

Kim Kenne

Age: 50

Profession: school board member

I've lived in Altadena for the last 19 years and have been an actively involved Pasadena Unified parent for 10 years. My career experience is in the financial industry in the area of information technology.

Pasadena Unified needs to improve in three areas:

Budget transparency. All stakeholders need to understand where our money goes.

Robust accountability system. We need to hold staff accountable for results and evaluate our programs on a regular basis.

Parent Engagement. Every parent needs the knowledge and skills to be able to advocate for their child's education.

PUSD District 3

Guillermo Arce

Age: 51

Profession: Human services administrator

As a longtime resident of Pasadena and father of three children, two of whom are current Pasadena Unified students with special needs, I'm invested in making our local schools great.

If elected, my commitment to you is to expect high academic rigor from all students, evaluating teachers based on results, guaranteeing safe campuses, fiscal accountability, equal access to a quality education for all students and treating parents as active and equal partners involved in their children's educational success.

Cast your ballot on March 5 for Guillermo Arce, District 3, the best qualified independent voice for parents and students.

Tyron Hampton

Age: 30

Profession: Entrepreneur, small-business owner, project manager

I'm a proud product of District 3 schools: Cleveland, Washington Middle and John Muir High. Cast your ballot for me, because I plan to counteract the loss of programming at our schools by building more public/private partnerships to supplement math, science and arts programs.

Additionally, I'm running to increase accountability and oversight on Measure TT projects, as well as sole source contracts that will ensure our classrooms don't get shortchanged. Also, I'll bring a youthful perspective that supports the integration of 21st century technologies and teaching programs.

I'll make myself accessible for the students, parents and stakeholders. Vote for progress.

Ruben Hueso

Age: 46

Profession: Teacher

I'm a passionate advocate for education. I've been an elementary schoolteacher for 20 years. I understand the needs of the classroom and the challenges that schools, teachers and students face.

I'm also a Pasadena Unified parent. My older daughter graduated from Pasadena High School and is now a freshman at USC. My younger daughter is a PHS freshman.

I'm determined that underserved Pasadena Unified students receive the education they deserve to transition to college. I'm committed to engaging parents, teachers and community stakeholders to create excellent educational environments. I will fight achievement gaps by championing programs that stimulate and engage students.

Deidre Duncan

The candidate did not respond to submission request.

PUSD District 5

Stella Murga

Age: 62

Profession: Executive director, Pasadena Youth Center

I need your vote to reform and hold Pasadena Unified accountable for the success of our youth, teachers and the entire community.

As executive director of the Pasadena Youth Center for 12 years, and a resident for 37, I uniquely understand our students' needs and can lead Pasadena Unified to successfully support them.

With your vote, I am the best, qualified candidate to ensure:
  • Student preparation for colleges and careers
  • Dynamic community, college and business partnerships
  • Greater parental involvement

The time for positive change is now.

Please vote for me on March 5 to represent District 5.

Elizabeth Pomeroy

Age: 74

Profession: Teacher, school board member

I have been a teacher at middle school, high school and college levels. With my extensive community service, I've helped our schools forge partnerships with local organizations. Having years of experience in fundraising and grant-making, I assist Pasadena Unified to seek alternative funding sources. As an author and speaker, I advocate strongly for our schools.

As a Pasadena school board member, I'm working to create a culture of high expectations, improve campus security and strengthen students' transition to college and careers.

Despite harsh budget cuts, our schools and students are making achievement gains. We must sustain and increase this progress.

PUSD District 7

Luis Ayala

Age: 49

Profession: Attorney, educator

As a father of two school-age daughters who has lived in Pasadena for 8 1/2 years, I care about education. We need a school board that can ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely so that our students can compete in the 21st century.

As an attorney, business owner and educator, I know how schools operate and what teachers and administrators confront daily. With this experience, I will work with other board members to 1) ensure that West Pasadena has high-performing schools that focus on science, technology and global skills, 2) expand the thriving multi-language immersion programs into our middle schools, and 3) insist on strict oversight of our bond funds and operating budget.

We expect our schools to have high expectations and challenge the minds of our students. In short, we need to prepare our children to compete internationally in the 21st century.

Scott Phelps

Age: 49

Profession: Teacher, college professor

I am the only K-12 teacher in this race, having taught for 15 years in Pasadena Unified, most at John Muir High, where I won the Pasadena Rotary Teacher of Excellence Award.

I am the only candidate whose children have attended Pasadena Unified schools, first at Cleveland Elementary and now at McKinley K-8 school. A Caltech graduate, I have consistently spoken out for higher expectations, such as an improved focus for some students at Muir, better student achievement across the district, increased accountability, transparency and collaboration and less waste of time and money.

With your vote, I can continue this effort.

Focus group says that these redesigned screens on Metro ticket machines are a big step in right direction; what do you think?


By Marie Sullivan, February 15, 2013

You will have to go to the website to view the new ticket machine screens. It is worth a look if you haven't taken the Metro for awhile.

What do you think? Are we on the right track with these new screen designs?

A focus group on Tuesday — the third focus group so far — indicated that ticket vending machine redesigns by Metro’s Creative Services Staff are headed in the right direction.

All of the participants were impressed with the new designs and provided helpful feedback to further refine the screens. They assured Metro that the new screens were a vast improvement over the existing screens and were “very clear and self-explanatory.”  Another participant noted, “I don’t have to concentrate and look for the options. They are very clearly organized.”

One new addition is a more prominent selection screen with 10 different languages, which will make purchases easier for limited-English customers and tourists from abroad. Other improvements include more understandable terminology and less jargon, simpler screens with fewer options and more intuitive selections and more explanations of options — which hopefully will mean less pushing of the ‘help’ button for customers.

The new screens will help all riders purchase and reload TAP cards more quickly and easily, a big help to both rail and bus riders. Bus riders are now using TAP cards more than ever before.

Preliminary results from the most recent bus survey conducted by Metro Research show that about seven in 10 bus riders are now using TAP cards to pay for their fares. This is up from about five in 10 in the previous quarter.

What do you think? If you’re leaving a comment, please be as specific as possible about what you like or don’t like or any suggestions that you may have.

To accelerate the building of 13.5 miles of HOV lanes on I-5 in Santa Clarita area, Metro proposes charging tolls for vehicles with one or two occupants to use the lanes


By Steve Hymon, February 15, 2013



Metro this month is providing key details on plans to accelerate an important Measure R project for northern Los Angeles County. The project would add carpool lanes for 13.5 miles in both directions to Interstate 5 through the Santa Clarita area. A toll for vehicles with one or two occupants (at peak hours only for vehicles with two occupants) would be charged to use the lanes — with the tolls being used to finance the construction of the carpool lanes about 30 years earlier than planned in Metro’s long-range plan.

There’s a lot more detail in the Q & A that follows in the post. The absolute crucial details: the lanes
would be managed to maintain speeds of at least 45 mph, the number of general traffic lanes would remain the same and the new lanes will add capacity to the freeway, especially when coupled with the new truck lanes being built on either side of the Newhall Pass.

There are two community meetings scheduled this month to discuss the project. The public can ask questions and provide feedback. Content at all meetings will be identical; please attend the location most convenient for you. All meetings are open to the public and we urge you to invite your friends and neighbors.

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013, 6-8 PM
Sports Complex – City of Santa Clarita
20880 Centre Pointe Pkwy
Santa Clarita, CA  91350
Served by Santa Clarita Transit Lines 5 and 6
Tuesday, February 28, 2013, 6-8 PM
Rancho Pico Junior High School
26250 Valencia Bl
Stevenson Ranch, CA  91381
Served by Santa Clarita Transit Line 7

Below is the Q&A on the project with a lot more detail and there’s a short Power Point on the project after the jump. I’m interested in your thoughts on the project, particularly if you live in Santa Clarita or elsewhere in northern L.A. County.

What exactly is the project proposing to do?

The project would use a public-private partnership to build one carpool/toll lane in each direction to the I-5 freeway for 13.5 miles between the 14 freeway and Parker Road. A private firm would be hired to help fund, build and manage the lanes and be paid back with toll revenue. That would allow the project to be completed by 2019 instead of 2040 or later.

This stretch of freeway includes some of the fastest-growing areas in Southern California — the city of Santa Clarita has gone from 79,000 people in 1979 to more than 201,000 in 2012 and is expected to add 50,000 more people in the next 30 years, not including growth in the unincorporated parts of the Santa Clarita Valley. Not surprisingly, traffic congestion in the Santa Clarita Valley and surrounding areas has worsened; the average one-way commute time of 32.7 minutes for Santa Clarita residents is among the highest in Los Angeles County.

The carpool/toll lane will be used for free by those in cars with three or more passengers. Buses, van pools and motorcycles would also use the lanes for free. Cars with two people will be able to use the lanes for free outside of peak hours — during peak hours they will be charged a toll. Single motorists will be charged a toll at all times.

Tolls will change depending on the time of day and traffic; the exact amounts haven’t been set yet. (On the Metro ExpressLanes, tolls currently range between 25 cents and $1.40 per mile). In exchange for the toll, the lanes are managed so that those who use the HOV lanes can expect speeds of 45 miles per hour or greater. Metro will also consider having lower tolls for qualified low-income users.
Similar lanes have opened in recent years around the U.S. and are known as congestion pricing or HOT lanes. The idea is to sell extra space in the carpool lanes to better spread out traffic on the freeway and increase its capacity. In other similar projects, traffic has also improved in the regular lanes as some motorists choose to move to the carpool/toll lanes.

What is a benefit of paying the toll?

In short, less time driving and commuting — whether in a car or on transit.

Motorists using the entire 13.5 miles of HOT lanes should be able to make the drive in a maximum of 19 minutes — a considerable time savings over peak period travel times on that stretch of the 5 freeway. Vehicles using the new lanes should expect to use less gas than in stop-and-start traffic and therefore help improve air quality. Trucks will not be allowed to use the lanes.
The lanes will also be used by vanpools, Santa Clarita Transit and Commuter Express buses, helping transit users get to and from the Santa Clarita Valley more quickly.

What happens to the general lanes on the 5?

All the regular lanes that can currently be used for free will remain — no general lanes are being taken away as part of the project. The regular lanes are also going to be repaved as part of the project. The toll lanes are also expected to ease congestion in the general lanes and motorists in those lanes may see some gas savings.

There’s another big benefit for motorists using the regular lanes. The project is presently building truck-only lanes for big rigs slowly climbing and descending Newhall Pass. Those trucks often tie up traffic on the 5 as faster-moving car traffic gets stuck behind trucks or has to frequently switch lanes to pass the trucks.

The southbound truck lane will be between Pico Canyon Road and the 14 while the northbound lane will be between the 14 and Calgrove Boulevard. The $72-million truck lane project is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Why is Metro building carpool lanes that can be used for free in some parts of Los Angeles County while proposing tolled lanes for the Santa Clarita area?

Toll lanes are the best way to speed up the construction of this particular project, which isn’t scheduled to be fully complete until 2040 — and that’s only if extra funds can be found to supplement money from the Measure R sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.
Without the toll lanes, the alternative is to try to build the project in shorter segments over the next 20 to 30 years, meaning there could be chronic construction on this stretch of the 5 for the next two-plus decades. Building the lanes now also means that area residents can enjoy the benefits of them now instead of many years in the future.
Metro also believes the project will be considerably less expensive to build now while construction costs remain low due to the Great Recession. The project will also help retain or create jobs in the area.
Why won’t the toll lanes continue south of the 14 freeway?

At this point, the carpool lanes on freeways immediately south of the Santa Clarita Valley are either existing or have funding and are being designed or under construction. Those lanes will allow motorists who use the new North County toll lanes on the 5 freeway to continue south on carpool lanes on the 5 and 405 freeways; in the case of the 405, the carpool lanes will extend in both directions all the way to the Orange County line.

Whether other carpool lanes remain free in the future is something that could change if there is both public and political support for trying to manage regional freeways in a different manner to combat congestion.

To re-emphasize the point: the reason that tolls are being sought on this 13.5-mile stretch of the 5 freeway is that it’s the best way to finish the project by 2019.

Is this an expansion of the ExpressLanes that recently opened on the 110 freeway?

The idea behind the ExpressLanes on the 10 and 110 is the same as the idea here:  sell extra space in the carpool lanes to help increase the freeway’s overall capacity.
Technically speaking, however, these are not an expansion of the ExpressLanes, which are part of a one-year test program that is largely funded by the federal government.

This project is different. A private firm would pay for the construction and then be repaid by tolls once the lanes open. This kind of arrangement, called a public-private partnership, is similar to a mortgage. Metro is getting the money up front to build the project and then will use toll revenues to repay the cost of the project over the next 35 years.
Once the 35 years are complete, Caltrans — the state agency that oversees freeways — could choose to manage the lanes itself or have a private firm continue to manage them.

Why should Santa Clarita residents pay for a project that also includes freeway sound walls in Pasadena and Arcadia and extra lanes for a short stretch of the 71 freeway in Pomona?
It’s a funding issue. All of the projects are presently ready to be built — most of the planning and environmental studies are complete. But the best way to build all of them is to pool the available funding for them from a variety of sources and have a single contractor build them. The larger the project, the more likely it will attract contractors who may be able to keep the price down of building them.

Why will only carpools of three or more people be allowed to use the lanes for free?

It’s the best way to increase the capacity of the lanes — the more people per car, the more people the lanes can carry. Offering free rides to vehicles with three-plus occupants is also the best way to ensure enough money is raised to build the lanes now.

What happens when you’ve repaid the cost of the lanes?

Caltrans will own and manage the facility or could choose to have a private firm continue to manage it.

As Gold Line Ridership Plateaus, Metro Looks to Add Speed


By Neal Broverman, February 15, 2013



Metro just posted ridership numbers for January and many of the rail lines showed increases, including the Pasadena-to-East LA Gold Line, which notched a few hundred more riders per day from December up to 42,476 for an average weekday. While increased numbers are good, the ridership is leveling off after nearly doubling a year or two after the Eastside extension opened in 2009, adding new stops in Little Tokyo, Boyle Heights, and East LA. Metro is apparently concerned that the extension peaked, because they outlined ideas last month to bring more riders to the train. A memo from the transit agency, linked to on a forum at The Transit Coalition, indicates the extension only carries 13,700 riders a day, meaning the bulk of the Gold Line ridership is on the Pasadena segment.

The first strategy to increase ridership on the extension is to get the train moving faster. The GLEE includes an underground segment with two subway stations in Boyle Heights, but the majority of the six-mile extension runs at street level and must interact with street lights (it also moves pretty slowly as it curves over the 101 on an elevated bridge). "Metro is working with City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) to look at the potential for increasing speed on the MGLEE and Expo Lines. This will include possible adjustments to traffic signal timing at key intersections. A simulation of full signal pre-emption was conducted on the Metro EXPO Line. Part of the analysis included identification of minor intersections where full signal pre-emption would be useful in increasing speeds. The list of intersections has been provided to LADOT and follow-up meeting is scheduled on January 10th."

But back to the Gold Line--Metro is looking at Indiana/First Street, Mission/First Street, Alameda/First Street, and other intersections for possible traffic light pre-emption. "Indiana/First appears to be the primary challenge in the afternoon, with a 5-phase signal cycle with 30-seconds attributed to each phase. The time variance travelling through this intersection can result in up to a 2 minute difference in arrival at Union Station. A simulation test on the MGLEE will be completed by January 25 to identify specific signal phasing improvements. Upon completion of the testing, we will meet with LADOT and/or Los Angeles County Public Works Department to review findings and determine actions going forward."
Metro is also considering working with Montebello Bus Lines for more feeder service directly to GLEE stations, as well as allowing MBL day pass users free access to the Gold Line (they currently have to pay to transfer). A shuttle from the Little Tokyo station into the heart of Downtown is also being floated, as is a new marketing campaign. The agency is also working on a multi-million dollar project to increase bike- and pedestrian access around the GLEE's eight stations.

San Marino mural is a nod to a piece of iconic history


 By Mercedes Aguilar, February 15, 2013

Muralist Brian Kenyon at the dedication of a mural of a mid-20th-century Red Car he painted on a wall by the San Marino Fire Department in San Marino on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

 Muralist Brian Kenyon at the dedication of a mural of a mid-20th-century Red Car he painted on a wall by the San Marino Fire Department in San Marino on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

A historic gift to San Marino several years in the making made its debut on Valentine’s Day, a mural celebrating the city’s red wooden Pacific Electric Railway trolley brought in the 1900s by none other than Henry Huntington himself.

The idea sprung from a chance meeting between muralist Brian Kenyon and Councilman Dennis Kneier, who along with the Rotary Club wanted to give a something big to the city of San Marino.

“It was good fortune, wonderful timing and pure luck,” Kneier said.

The Centennial Mural, which many locals have started calling “The Red Car Mural,” makes its debut on the same year San Marino celebrates its centennial.

The mural on an 18-by-52-foot wall in the 2200 block of Huntington Drive was unveiled Thursday during an invitation-only luncheon at the fire station across from City Hall.

The red electric trolley cars traveled throughout 1,100 miles of Southern California cities, but San Marino resident Henry Huntington introduced the trolley car system in the 1900s, said Wendell Mortimer, president of the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation and advisor to the mural project.

The San Marino line traveled throughout Huntington Drive, Oak Knoll Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard and went all the way to Glendora, Mortimer said.

“San Marino has been a bedroom community for Los Angeles,” Mortimer said. “[The mural] is something that adds to the ambience of the city.”

The mural depicts the Pacific Electric No. 1051 wooden car, which was built the same year San Marino was founded in 1913, Mortimer said.

Though the project was in talks for several years, the mural itself started in mid-January because the host building was undergoing a remodel, Kenyon said.

“San Marino has been very good to me,” Kenyon said. “I wasn’t that familiar with San Marino before I started the mural, but the people have been really nice and reasonable.”

Because the painting features such a historic piece, Kenyon and Mortimer kept in contact and reviewed many photographs to get the essence of the car, Mortimer said.

“[The mural] is not a photograph; it’s not meant to be, but it does have the spirit of the red car,” Mortimer said.

How We Feel About a Billboard Can Impact Our Driving


Emily Badger, February 15, 2013

 How We Feel About a Billboard Can Impact Our Driving



Research suggests that human emotion has an impact on cognition. If you’re in an emotional state – happy, angry, sad – that can influence how you perform complex tasks, how long it takes you to search for something or to react to a stimulus.

Consider the task of driving, which demands all of the above (multi-tasking, close attention, quick reactions). As it turns out, driving can be susceptible to "emotional distraction" too, and from a seemingly insignificant source: roadside billboards hawking sunny beach vacations or warning of lung cancer.

Researchers at the University of Alberta recently found that such signage can impact your driving, and not just because it’s visually distracting. The emotional content of a sign matters, too. In a driving simulation study with University of Alberta students, researchers Michelle Chan and Anthony Singhal found that drivers passing signs with negative words (abuse, stress, prison, war) tended  afterward to slow down and drift from their lane. Drivers passing signs with positive words (cash, fame, sex, win) did the opposite, speeding up on the simulated road. As the researchers write in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention:
Our results demonstrate that emotional distraction can impact driving performance by reorienting attention away from the primary driving task to the emotional content and negatively influence the decision-making process. One implication of our findings is that roadway safety could be improved with a careful consideration for where on the road certain billboard types are placed.
Graphic signs for anti-smoking campaigns, or really bawdy billboards for the Las Vegas Strip, probably shouldn’t be placed at the blind bend in a roadway.
Past studies have suggested that negative stimuli holds our attention for longer, causing slower response times in other tasks. On the other hand, the authors write:
Other related research has shown that positive emotions are associated with better and faster physical performance, including jumping higher or running faster, compared to negative and neutral emotions... It is possible that this same type of faster behavior may also be present in driving, and may be due to similar mechanisms connecting positive emotion to human performance.
We'll also throw out one other unscientific theory: Maybe some of those positively stimulated drivers are just really eager to get to the Stardust slot machines.

RELEASE: Tuesday is Deadline to Register for March 5 Elections

Registration forms are available at the post office, the city's public counters and community centers.


Tuesday, Feb. 19 is the deadline to register to vote in the March 5, 2013 City Council and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Primary Nominating Election, according to a release from the city.

Eligible individuals wishing to participate in the March 5 election for City Council Districts 3, 5 and 7 and PUSD Board of Education Districts 1, 3, 5 and 7 must complete a voter registration application and mail it by the Feb. 19 registration deadline to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters.

Registration forms are available at the City’s public counters, community centers and U.S. Post Offices. Individuals needing registration assistance can visit City Hall, the Jackie Robinson and Villa-Parke Community Centers, La Pintoresca and Santa Catalina Branch Libraries and the Public Health Building during regular business hours where city staff is also available to assist in completing registration materials.

For more election and voter registration information, call the City Clerk’s Office at (626) 744-4124.  Additional information is also available online at www.cityofpasadena.net/CityClerk/Election.
The Tattler Sunday News - Now On Saturday!


February 16, 2013

 Who gets elected when you don't know?

 (Mod: There is something I need to post tomorrow that cannot be posted today. And there is a reason for this, one that you will easily see if you stop by. However, the Sunday News goes on and must not be stopped. So I'm posting it on Saturday instead. Here at The Tattler we understand that an informed citizenry is the best defense against all sorts of evils. As an example - I am convinced that there is a direct correlation between an uninformed public and tax increases. The less people know the more they are taxed, and vice versa. I just need to figure out the math. Anyway, and in that spirit, here is the Tattler Sunday News on Saturday. It is the right thing to do. Our small contribution to a greater good.)

Two Incredible Videos from our friends at the No 710 Action Committee:
1) 710 Coalition is Metro funded front group (click here)
2) Measure R funds and where are they going? (click here)

(Mod: These are truly remarkable videos, and they give you an idea of just how sophisticated the folks fighting the 710 Tunnel have become. The first reports on a totally bogus organization that claims to be a group of concerned resident volunteers who want the 710 Tunnel built, yet upon further review turns out to be a highly paid lobbyist and some of the usual Metro hacks. The second shows how Measure R moneys, which as you know come out of our hide, are being used to pressure City Councils and the citizenry in general to support the 710 Tunnel. Illegal? Most likely. But what government agency in this vastly corrupt county will stop it?)

San Diego ex-mayor used charity funds to cover gambling debts (L.A. Times click here): She married a fabulously wealthy man decades her elder, and became the first female mayor of San Diego. But when Maureen O'Connor left public life, she spent countless hours seated in front of video-poker machines. Over a nine-year period, she wagered an estimated $1 billion, including millions from a charity set up by her late husband, who founded Jack in the Box. That was the portrait that emerged in court Thursday as the frail former mayor tearfully acknowledged she skimmed more than $2 million from a charity founded by her late husband, Robert O. Peterson.

O'Connor, 66, admitted in a plea deal that she had a gambling addiction and is nearly destitute. Her lawyer, prominent defense attorney Eugene Iredale, suggested that a brain tumor may have impaired her reasoning; he gave reporters copies of her brain scan from a 2011 surgery. O'Connor's rapidly declining medical condition "renders it highly improbable — if not impossible — that she could be brought to trial," according to court documents filed by federal prosecutors.

"This is a sad day for the city of San Diego," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Phillip Halpern. "Maureen O'Connor was born and raised in this town. She rose from humble origins ... She dedicated much of her life, personal and professional, to improving this city."

The $1-billion gambling binge stretched from 2000 to 2009, according to court documents. In 2008 and 2009, when the fortune she had inherited was not enough, she began taking from the R.P. Foundation to cover her losses. Despite being ahead more than $1 billion at one point, O'Connor "suffered even larger gambling losses," according to prosecutors. Her net loss, Iredale said, was about $13 million.

(Mod: Think about that the next time you order a Jumbo Jack with cheese.)

Alameda City Attorney Teresa Highsmith's Departure? (Alameda Patch click here): News broke in the Alameda blogsosphere and twitterosphere earlier this week that Teresa Highsmith, Alameda's city attorney, had signed on as interim city attorney in Barstow, California.

Which, for me at least, leads immediately to this question: where is Barstow? So here: Barstow is a town of about 20,000, located 55 miles north of San Bernadino. (Wikipedia notes this: "In a 2006 state-funded economic survey, Barstow ranks among the 10 poorest cities in California. One-third of residents receive public assistance and 4 out of 10 receive welfare and Social Security funds.")

In any case, on Wednesday SFGate blogger John Knox White posted video of Highsmith accepting the role of interim city attorney in Barstow. Michele Ellson of The Island followed with a report that included this detail: "Mayor Marie Gilmore, and City Councilwomen Lena Tam and Beverly Johnson said Wednesday that Highsmith hasn't resigned or retired from her Alameda post, and that she didn't inform them directly about the Barstow job."

The Alameda Journal's Peter Hegarty followed with a report yesterday, confirming that Alameda city officials did not seem to know of Highsmith's position in Barstow until seeing video from the Barstow council meeting.

Then yesterday afternoon down south somewhere, presumably near Barstow, the Desert Dispatch posted this story: "Interim City Attorney Focus of Attention in Alameda." Which included this:

"City Council  [Barstow's]  appointed an interim city attorney Monday unaware of her involvement with an investigation of a councilmember in Alameda that racked up more than $100,000 in legal fees, some of which went to her current law firm." 

The legal fees referred to were for the controversial and divisive investigation of Councilmember Lena Tam. The charges were eventually found to be insufficient to warrant continued investigation. Tam was re-elected to her council post in November and sworn in for her second term on Tuesday.  Also from the Desert Dispatch:

"Highsmith is now also working for Colantuono & Levin, the same firm that she asked the City of Alameda to hire for the investigation of Tam."

(Mod: The Teresa Highsmith news stories just keep rolling in. I would like to thank those who have been sending them my way. My PRA request to the City of Alameda for additional information on the Highsmith Affair will be filed on Tuesday. Stay tuned. Sierra Madre needs to know who exactly it is that the Three Stooges rehired as our City Attorney last Tuesday.)

D.A. and alternate public defender open probes into Pasadena cops (Pasadena Star News click here): The Los Angeles County District Attorney and Alternate Public Defender's offices Thursday announced separate probes into allegations of misconduct by Pasadena homicide detectives. The announcement comes a week after Judge Larry Fidler declared a mistrial in a murder case, and admonished Detective William Broghamer and Officer Kevin Okamoto for their "egregious" conduct during an 2007 homicide investigation.

A defense attorney for one of the defendants in that case said the county's twin investigations will likely expose deep rooted corruption. "They shouldn't have a homicide department," Attorney Andrew Stein said Thursday. "The department needs to be cleaned out from the top-down. I don't understand how anyone could allow this culture to exist."

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who last week declined to criticize the police department, backpedaled Thursday and expressed support for the investigations. "I think the actions on the part of the authorities is appropriate in light of the judge's findings in this one case," Bogaard said.

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said he welcomes "all reviews to determine whether there are missteps or misdeeds by officers." And while much of the criticism of his department has been aimed at the homicide unit, Sanchez said he plans an internal investigation into the department that goes beyond one rogue unit.

"I would be myopic, if I looked at only one department I need to look at the entire department to see whether this issue is widespread or isolated," Sanchez said.

(Mod: I was talking with someone yesterday who is closely watching the investigations into the PD problems in Pasadena, and it was his assessment that the Pasadena Police Department is one of the most corrupt in Southern California. That, along with racial animosity, drives many of the excesses that have occurred there. The big question in his mind is why Bogaard, who has apparently known about these problems for years, said nothing until a Judge's decision made his continued silence impossible.)

L.A. tax measure could help pay for raises for city employees (L.A. Times click here): At a time when taxpayers are being asked to dig deeper to resolve Los Angeles' chronic budget crisis, city employees are receiving raises that will cost tens of millions of dollars within a few years, according to records obtained by The Times.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, an assortment of City Council members and Police Chief Charlie Beck are urging voters to approve a sales tax hike on the March 5 ballot that would boost the city rate to 9.5%, one of the highest in the state.

At the same time, thousands of police officers, firefighters and civilian employees are in the midst of receiving a two-year series of raises that were backed by the mayor and council. When all the increases are in place for a full year — the fiscal year that starts July 2014 — they will add $167 million annually to the general fund budget, which pays for public safety and other basic services.

The added cost of the pay increases will equal three-fourths of the new revenue the city expects to collect if the sales tax measure passes.

Opponents of the tax increase, Proposition A, argue that city leaders gave away too much to employee unions amid the economic downturn. Voting for the measure "only encourages more bad behavior," said Jack Humphreville, a neighborhood volunteer who wrote the ballot argument against Proposition A. "They're basically trying to bail themselves out of a problem that they made for themselves," he said.

(Mod: Anybody here think Josh Moran's UUT special people re-do vote in 2014 won't be for some of the same reasons? If Measure U Part 2 is passed and our utility rates go to 12% - highest in California - it is my belief that we too will see large spending increases. "Get the balance right" meaning "give us all we want, we want to go shopping.")

See you tomorrow.