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 23, 2013

County Parties Endorse Candidates in the Los Angeles City Elections

The Los Angeles County Democratic and GOP parties announce their endorsements for candidates running in the L.A. City elections, held March 5. 


By Jared Morgan, February 22, 2013

With local elections less than two weeks away, the Los Angeles County Democratic and Republican parties have for the most part decided which candidates they're backing.

The Republican Party has endorsed Kevin James for mayor, while the L.A. County Democrats have not come to a consensus on which candidate to back.

The other candidates running for mayor include L.A. City Councilwoman Jan Perry; Emanuel Pleitez, Chief Strategy Officer at L.A.-based technology company Spokeo; L.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti; L.A. City Controller Wendy Greuel; former L.A. County and federal worker Addie Miller, factory production worker Norton Sandler and Yehuda Draiman, council secretary for the Northridge East Neighborhood Council.

The Democratic Party has endorsed Assemblyman Mike Feuer for city attorney and Ron Galperin,
business owner and attorney, for city controller. The party also gave its endorsements to Bob Blumenfield, Paul Koretz, Felipe Fuentes, Mike Bonin and Joe Buscaino for their bids in the Los Angeles City Council race.

The Republican Party is tipping its hat to William Morrison, Joyce Pearson and Jesse Barron for City Council; and endorsed Jozef Thomas Essavi, Ernest Henry Moreno and Tom Oliver for the Community College District Board.

For a complete list of all certified candidates, visit the Los Angeles City Registrar’s website, or find the list attached to the right.

If you'd like to vote by mail, your application must be received by the Office of the City Clerk by Tuesday. The deadline to submit your vote-by-mail ballot in the March 5 elections is March 4.

Click here to learn how to find your polling place.
59 Names That Should Live in Infamy: Special Interest Super-PAC Raised $620,200 to Sell Sales Tax Hike to Voters


February 23, 2013


When they talk about the entitlement class, put at the top of the list the unions, lawyers, lobbyists, businesses, real estate and billboard companies that contributed $620,200 to bamboozle the uninformed and gullible into voting for Proposition A, the sales tax hike on March 5.

They are the shame of the city, greed merchants who should have no place in civil society, pariahs who should be shamed everywhere they go since they have no sense of shame themselves.


Put AEG, beneficiary of $2 billion in entitlements from City Hall for the Farmer’s Field deal, at the top of the list with an initial $100,000 contribution — a small price to pay indeed.

Then, there’s the $231,000 tossed in by other real estate interests, the big boys like Alan Casden, Jim Thomas and JH Snyder and those who want to join them at the front of the line of developers, property managers and contractors getting rich from City Hall’s slavish award of entitlements to those who fund its corruption.

Throw in a more modest $91,750 from a wide range of businesses including a trash hauler hoping for a lucrative franchise, garment makers, a railroad, technology and entertainment companies, even a Warner Bros. executive, $35,300 from assorted lobbyists/lawyers and a puny $5,200 from financial firms.

Add $60,000 from billboard companies, including $25,000 from Clear Channel Outdoor which simultaneously served notice on the city of its intent to sue for $100 million — half the revenue from the tax it is backing — if officials dare to mess with its scofflaw attitude toward regulation of digital, illegal and other signage that makes LA such an ugly city.


But the real insult comes from the labor unions which are drooling at the prospect of padding their
bloated paychecks if this regressive and destructive tax passes.

Unions and their immediate allies contributed $95,900 — including $850 from three of the harbor’s 15 port pilots who average close to $350,000 a year for a four-day work week with 27 days vacation

plus all city holidays.

Since the end of the second reporting period, it appears the SEIU has joined the $100,000 contributor club, earning it shared credit with AEG for the Yes on A TV ad featuring Charlie Beck whose respect for the spirit and letter of ethics law is in evidence in his abusive use of his official title in the ad. He might as well as have worn his dress blues.

The first quarter million in spending mainly went for slate mailings with “Citizens for Waters,” as in Congresswoman Maxine Waters, netting $25,000.

Thousands more were spread around such fictitious entities as the “Independent Voters League” and “John F. Kennedy Alliance,” both located at 3700 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 1050B, “Continuing the Republican Revolution” in Newport Beach, “Budget Watchdogs” in Torrance, “California Latino Voters’ Guide” and “Our Voice Latino Voter Guide,” which is located at 2350 Hidalgo Ave., also the home of the “Coalition for Senior Citizen Security” and the “Council of Concerned Women Voters” slate mailers.

The political machine’s pollster Fairbank, Maslin, Maulin netted $43,218; direct mailer Thomas Aaron of Chatsworth more than $50,000; Niko Consulting $31,815; the machine’s lawyer Stephen Kaufman a measly $8,184,85; even the Post Office and Paypal did alright.
hat still left $404,141.68 with more flowing in if the pollster can fudge the numbers enough to discredit the USA-ABC poll showing 46 percent against the tax to 26 percent for.

Is there no decency in his places in this godforsaken city? Does Charlie Beck lack the courage to stand up to save even a small measure of respect for himself and the LAPD?

Will not the mayor and all the elected officials running for Mayor, Controller, City Attorney, City Council take a stand for honesty and integrity and denounce this ill-conceived campaign for personal and collective advantage at the expense of a populace struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table?

Of course not, because they have all lived high on the worsening cancer of City Hall corruption they don’t know or care about the difference between right and wrong. They are all hypocrites who denounced Super PACs, demand a constitutional amendment to ban them and live off the dirty money that flows from people, companies and organizations that expect handsome returns for their contributions.

And frankly if you the voters don’t hold them accountable, you are no better than they are.

One final note, city officials do not make any of the information about Super PACs available online or in any searchable form.

You have to ask the City Clerk’s office for the information as civic leader Jack Humphreville did in this case and it comes in a form that requires the information be typed into a spreadsheet as I did in this case.

Here are the reports from the City Clerk’s office: (YesonA_460_1.1.13_1.19.13-1)(YesOnA_460_2.22.13)

L.A. mayoral candidates on the defensive at Valley Glen debate 


By Dakota Smith, February 23, 2013

Amid a week of negative campaigning in the Los Angeles mayor's race, Saturday's debate in Valley Glen was a largely cordial event.

The event, hosted by the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, even allowed the five leading candidates to rebuff recent criticisms heard in the media or voiced by their rivals. With the March 5 primary looming, the attacks are growing heated, evidenced in nasty mailers or pointed debates.

Moderator Dan Schnur repeated oft-heard complaints in the mayor's race and invited the candidates to respond.

"Are you not too conservative for the people of Los Angeles?" Schnur asked of Kevin James, the lone Republican in the race.

James pointed to his work as a co-chairman of AIDS Project Los Angeles as an example of his diverse background, and rejected the label of being a right-wing Republican.

The city's "fiscal crisis," he added, requires a conservative approach. " I can go toe-to-toe with the special interests at City Hall."

City Councilwoman Jan Perry was asked if she was too combative. Perry lost much of her downtown district during the recent redistricting process, a move critics chalked up to her stubbornness at City Hall.

At Saturday's debate, she reframed Schnur's question, saying she doesn't believe being aggressive is a negative aspect of her personality. "I don't like to waste people's time," she said.

Former tech executive Emanuel Pleitez was asked about his thin resume when it comes to politics. He replied that he didn't think political experience was necessarily helping out those who run City Hall. "In my eyes, City Hall has gotten us to the brink of bankruptcy," Pleitez said.

As for City Controller Wendy Greuel, more than $2 million has been spent by unions representing the Department of Water and Power and the Los Angeles Police Department. How could she be independent, Schnur asked.

Greuel pointed to her work on audits, including on the DWP. "I have angered a lot of people as the city controller - but not the taxpayers," she said.

Of City Council member Eric Garcetti, Schnur asked: "Are you tough enough to crack heads together when the mayor needs to make the difficult decisions to make L.A. work?" Garcetti's nice-guy, consensus-building approach has led some critics to question his leadership abilities.

Garcetti pointed to work he'd done on the reducing the city's deficit and his work on turning around Hollywood, which was largely known for being blighted and crime-ridden a decade ago, as examples of his leadership.

"Of course, I will never stop being nice," he added, prompting laughter from the audience.

Schnur's questions marked a lighter moment in the race, which is growing increasingly combative. Recently, Perry's campaign came under fire for sending out mailers suggesting Greuel is a registered Republican. Greuel is a Democrat, but was a registered Republican when she was younger.

Additionally, Greuel's campaign was criticized for releasing the arrest record of a newspaper reporter at the Los Cerritos Community News. The record was put out by her campaign after the paper published a negative story about Greuel.

In an interview on radio station KCRW this week, Greuel said she didn't condone the behavior of her campaign.

Steve Scauzillo: Air pollution regulations put us light years ahead of China


February 23, 2013

The next time someone complains about our strict air pollution regulations in Southern California, just Google the words "China" and "air pollution."

You will see very recent images of smoggy Beijing that makes an August day in L.A. back in the 1970s look like a picture postcard of a Swiss city with the gleaming Alps in the background.

The air in China is so bad, you can see it from space.

Dirty, filthy air left people in China's capitol unable to see 200 feet in front of their faces this month. In January, western news agencies reported the smog levels were so high they literally measured off the charts.

Particles in the air being breathed by millions of Beijing residents, and those of other China cities, have exceeded what the World Health Organization says is "hazardous" to one's health.

Sure, we know about particles here in California. And we know about ozone, a lung-damaging pollutant that is created when emissions mix with sunlight. But we also know how to reduce them.

Particles below 2.5 microns can bypass the body's normal defenses and lodge deep into the lungs, causing asthma in children, emphysema and lung cancer in non-smokers, and cardio-vascular disease.

Air pollution is responsible for six million premature deaths worldwide every year, according to the World Health Organization.

A new study out of UC Irvine concludes that tiny particles as well as ozone - from the burning of diesel fuels, gasoline, and other factory emissions like those from South Bay oil refineries - are contributing to the increase of asthma cases in children. They are also adding to more children with allergic reactions and more children coming down with cases of bronchitis and respiratory infections.
I shudder to think of our compatriots in China - think of the children - living with such polluted air that they are ordered to stay indoors by the Chinese government, a government not known for its benevolent attitude toward its people.

The New York Daily News reported a few weeks ago that just a single pediatric hospital in downtown Beijing treated 9,000 cases of patients with pneumonia and other lung-related illnesses. And these were only the children.

Businesses were closed for a two-day period. About one-third of government cars were ordered off the road.

It's reminiscent, somewhat, of the old smog alerts we experienced more than 30 or 40 years ago - though never to that extreme. Thanks to cleaner gasoline, more advanced catalytic converters and efficiencies in cars and trucks, stricter regulations on industry, and more scientific knowledge on the hazards of air pollution, we've improved our air quality greatly.

We haven't had a second-stage smog alert in Southern California in more than 30 years. First-stage alerts began to drop precipitously in 1991.

Personally, I haven't felt the shortness of breath I did that day of playing volleyball at a church picnic like I did that summer day in 1986. I'll always remember having to lie down inside just to catch my breath.

It's because of our will to do something about air pollution in Southern California that we can look out the window most days and see clear skies.

Reasonable regulations have made it healthier for us and for our children and grandchildren. That's a success story that the anti-regulation crowd screaming for fewer environmental regulations conveniently forget.

Without the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board pushing the envelope for emission-reducing inventions and yes, regulations, my children - our children - would be growing up with damaged lungs.
Like the children in China.

China is now thinking about instituting a cap and trade policy to limit the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere - something California is already doing.

Not only are we ahead of China in this crucial public health arena, American companies can help China get there by exporting our clean technology.
That's what I call a green-green solution.

Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake to perform at the Rose Bowl in July 


By Brenda Gazzar, February 22, 2013


 Justin Timberlake, left, and Jay-Z perform on stage at the 55th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013, in Los Angeles.

 PASADENA - As its renovation project continues to hemorrhage dollars, the Rose Bowl announced Friday that rapper Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake will headline a Sunday night concert at the historic stadium July 28.

The event, which follows on the heels of the July 4 fireworks show and July 7 international soccer matches, is expected to draw about 55,000 fans, Rose Bowl Operating Co. officials said.

"We're in the business of trying to have marquis events that help the RBOC and help Pasadena as a whole," Rose Bowl CEO and General Manager Darryl Dunn said Friday. "These artists are among the more popular musicians today ... From a fiscal perspective, it will be very beneficial."

Concert proceeds will go toward the RBOC's operating budget and, if there's a surplus, the ongoing stadium renovation, Dunn said.

Since the original plan to renovate the historic stadium was approved in October, 2010 its estimated price tag has ballooned from $152 million to $195 million.

City officials agreed last month to borrow $30 million, which increases project funding to $168 million. Stadium officials say they can "substantially complete" the project for $181.5 million, which would reduce the funding gap to $13.5 million.

Jay-Z and Timberlake are expected to bring $300,000 in net revenue to the RBOC, Dunn said. The 2009 U2 concert, which drew an estimated 97,000 fans, generated a little more than $400,000.

Nina Chomsky, president of the Linda Vista/Annandale Association, said the cumulative effects of the three July events will be difficult for stadium neighbors. Having the soccer matches and the concert on Sundays is particularly inconvenient, she said, since many residents have to wake up early the next morning.

"They signed them all up and didn't give a thought to planning or structuring these things over time," Chomsky said.

She suggested that special planning, organization and even noise rules for the events, particularly the concert, be put in place as soon as possible.

Dunn noted that opportunities for such concerts are rare and that scheduling is often dictated by the 
entertainers' needs. The city's noise ordinance is always suspended during a concert, he said, otherwise such events could not be held.

Councilman Victor Gordo, president of the RBOC, said the U2 concert was very successful, in part, because it was held on a Sunday when there is less freeway traffic.

"For all these events, we have to listen carefully and work with neighbors to identify mitigation measures, whether it's traffic control, added trash pickup or street cleaning," Gordo said.

Gordo called the largely renovated stadium, which includes a nearly completed premium-seating pavilion, a "revamped asset that is all the more attractive to the entertainment world."

The Sunday evening concert will not interfere with the renovation, which is now about 80 percent complete, since no heavy construction is anticipated at that time, he said.

Are You Ready for the Big One?

Port upgrades urged to keep pace with Panama Canal expansion

Despite current upgrades, officials fear that other facilities will siphon off cargo traffic once two new canal locks are finished. 


By Ricardo Lopez, February 22, 2013
 Port of Los Angeles
 Trucks line up at the Port of Los Angeles. Some work is underway but officials are calling for major upgrades before the Panama Canal expansion is finished.

Port and city officials have called for expediting planned upgrades at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to stave off the threat of losing cargo traffic when the $5.25-billion Panama Canal expansion is completed next year.

At a hearing Friday at Los Angeles City Hall, state officials heard testimony from trade economists, shipping line representatives and labor groups on how the state can promote the ports so they keep their share of U.S. cargo traffic, which harbors on the East and Gulf coasts are eager to lure away.

The two seaports, the largest in the U.S., currently receive about 40% of the nation's cargo traffic.

But as construction nears completion on two new Panama Canal locks that will be able to accommodate massive cargo vessels, Southern California officials are increasingly worried about the effect on the state economy — namely the loss of logistics jobs. An estimated 640,000 people work in trade-related jobs in Southern California.

A coalition of labor, business and government estimates that the ports could lose up to 25% of their cargo traffic when the canal upgrade is completed. Trade economists, however, say it's too early to make any reliable estimates on the economic effect on the state.

Nonetheless, the San Pedro Bay ports have been furiously upgrading facilities, focusing on expanding rail access that would more efficiently move goods and deepening the bay to accommodate larger vessels. There are $6 billion worth of upgrades planned for the ports.

Among those testifying Friday was Daniel Miranda, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 94, based in San Pedro.

Miranda testified that planned upgrades, such as the construction underway now at the Gerald Desmond Bridge, have taken years to approve. Meanwhile, their Chinese counterparts have built major infrastructure projects aimed at improving the movement of goods in a fraction of the time.

It took "five years to get a bridge pushed through," Miranda said. "We need your help in helping us expedite the completion of these projects. The process is unbelievably slow."

Many of those who testified said the state should streamline approval processes to ensure that the ports stay competitive. Other ports in the U.S., Canada and Mexico have been aggressively expanding as well.

The American Assn. of Port Authorities said U.S. ports are pumping $46 billion into upgrades to boost cargo traffic. The Port of Baltimore, for instance, recently installed four massive cranes — worth $40 million — to load and unload cargo from larger ships.

Absent from the panel were environmental groups and civic groups, which have in the past raised concerns over pollution and increased truck traffic because of construction at the ports.

Despite the construction binge, international trade experts testified that it's impossible to know what the effect of the Panama Canal expansion may be, but that it is better for Southern California ports to be ready rather than stand by idly.

"We can anticipate some diversion but the true extent of it is up in the air," trade economist Jock O'Connell said.

Trade patterns could shift. Companies may choose to unload goods at West Coast ports, moving cargo by rail, rather than tack on longer sailing time by passing through the Panama Canal. Also unknown is the cost of the tolls set by Panama Canal authorities.

State Sen. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles), who heads the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development, said the state needs a strong strategy to promote the ports.

"The bottom line is jobs, jobs, jobs," he said Friday.

Price has introduced SB 592, which would direct the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development to address port activity and promotion as part of its strategy submitted to the state Legislature in 2014.
Potential EU-US free trade area would have big repercussions for China and other partners in Asia and South America
 By David Fouquet and Jiang Shixue, February 23, 2013

Plans recently announced for the creation of a vast new Atlantic free trade area, if realized, would have historic economic and trade implications, but potentially also geopolitical and strategic repercussions.

Although at first glance the ambitious and long-discussed project, representing trillions of dollars in
trade and investment, directly concerns only the European Union and United States, it is clearly directed at China and other rising Asian economies.

President Barack Obama and various EU leaders have focused attention on the more concrete,
tangible trade and economic benefits that might accrue from the establishment of a vast free trade area between the US and EU: The two account for close to half the total world GDP and one-third of world trade - some half a trillion euros a year in goods and more than 250 billion euros ($330 billion) in services - and have more than 2 trillion euros in accumulated direct investment on each side of the Atlantic.

Yet, while they emphasized that such an accord could be expected to generate an extra 0.05 percent GDP growth in the EU - a positive spin coinciding with data showing continuing contraction in EU output - some of the leaders pointed to other less tangible objectives.

Not only was the economic rise and influence of China cited by both officials and media on both sides of the Atlantic as a primary stimulus for the proposed trade zone, it was also characterized as an "Economic NATO" or a US "rebalancing" toward Europe after the much publicized previous US pivot to Asia.

Officials in both Washington and Brussels were reported to have said that the rising economic might of China gave added incentive to the undertaking. They said that the trade agreement would provide a more united front against Chinese standards and norms on areas such as product safety or intellectual property. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht was quoted as saying that without such an agreement, "we would be forced to accept Chinese standards".

But the fact remains that if the Atlantic partners show unity and solidarity in some areas, they are also of profoundly different economic and social cultures in some aspects, including regulation of business, consumer or environmental protection, antitrust or competition policy and many others. This difference is especially profound in southern Europe where agricultural interests are seen as being threatened by greater opening to globalized trade and competition. For decades, Europeans have resisted US practices involving genetically modified crops, the antibiotic treatment of animals and fisheries, or the imports of certain US agricultural products.

The reaction in Asia to the news was uneven, with only China and the Republic of Korea seemingly giving consideration to the significance of the news. The media in Japan largely confined themselves to reporting the announcement. One knowledgeable Japanese source suggested that political opinion and analyses of the implications of a US-EU FTA were being hampered because of the scheduled elections for the Upper Chamber this summer, which might solidify the position of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and thus clarify his administration's position on international trade relations, including proposed accords with the EU and US. India is already conducting trade negotiations with the EU, which both sides have suggested could conclude this year. While Singapore, another important Asian trader, has virtually concluded such negotiations with the EU.

Undoubtedly, a US-EU FTA would have a tremendous impact on China. All the developing countries would likely be under pressure to obey the rules set by the US-EU FTA. Chinese trade reached $3.87 trillion in 2012, surpassing the $3.82 trillion figure of the US. Therefore, China would be the first country affected by the FTA.

As the largest trading nation, China would expect to benefit the most from a global system of free trade. As a result, it is in China's interest for the Doha Round of trade negotiations to be concluded as soon as possible. The proposed US-EU FTA demonstrates that the two economic superpowers have less interest in establishing a multilateral trade system, and, without their active participation, the Doha Round will continue to drag on with no end in sight.

A US-EU FTA would exert more pressure on China to negotiate FTAs with its trade partners, including the US and the EU. But as they would be negotiating their own FTA, neither the US nor the EU would have the time or interest in starting new FTA talks with China. Even if they did, they would probably urge China to make concessions on many areas of their economic relations.

A US-EU FTA would also make it difficult for China to expand its exports to the US and the EU. Every FTA tends to demonstrate the so-called trade creation effect and trade diversion effect. The creation effect is good for the partners in an FTA, but the diversion effect is bad for other trade partners. Most Chinese exports are labor-intensive and they would be less affected by the creation effect, however, a growing part of Chinese exports is not labor-intensive and these Chinese products will suffer from the diversion effect.

Negotiations for the US-EU FTA will take years to materialize. In the meantime, China will be in a passive position watching to see what the US-EU FTA will include and how it will change the global trade system.

David Fouquet is a senior associate of the European Institute of Asian Studies in Brussels. Jiang Shixue is deputy director of the European Studies Centre at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
Comments to

Everything You Need to Know About New Toll Lanes on the 10


By Adrian Glick Kudler, February 22, 2013

 As we saw with the 110, while these theoretically shouldn't affect traffic in the solo lanes congestion will increase just due to the number of HOV drivers who don't have/want to get a transponder. No idea whether traffic has evened itself off on the 110, though I doubt it. The fees are ridiculous. 

 what different is you idiots california are paying for roads as well as getting taxed on them as well. It seem like anyone can screw over California any day..

  It seems like traffic on the 110 has returned to normal, maybe a minute or two slower. I ride in the regular lane, alone, because I am a terrible person.

 Why as californian's are we paying for these toll boots? I though roads taxes, gas taxes were funding to take care of these roads any yet we have to pay to use this this does not make any sense at all. It odd how MTA (Metro) is in charge of this project. Is is a fine monopoly of miss use of funds californian's handing over to them. why in the hell is anyone speaking up? Didn't voters already vote yes on all there bullshit bonds they added to the ballot and yet they want more money. WHAT THE HELL... By the way have anyone else notice how much of a waist of money that TAPP system was it doesn't work Metro know that as well but yet let the TAX PAYERS FLIP THE BILL FOR IT. DON'T BE SURPRISE IF MTA ENDS UP LIKE RTD WITH MISSING AND EMBEZZLED FUNDS OVER THE YEARS.... GO METRO BITCHES...

 The transponders cost $3 per month - which is completely ridiculous. It is only waived if you spend a bunch on tolls each month. So people coming to and from the airport occasionally or visitors to LA get totally screwed. And what is to stop people just putting the transponder on 3 people every time? The photo is taken from the rear of the vehicle so the number of occupants is not visible. I like the idea - I just wish we could learn from other countries and do it right.

 Why are we allowing this to happen? Complex rules for OUR roads, that WE built with our tax dollars. Now some idiots change all the rules AND have the audacity to charge?

Honestly they can take their transponders and shove them up their asses!

If you dont want to pay, you dont have to, just drive the regular lanes and waste time. What I dont like, is that they are charging carpoolers for the transponders. As a carpool, that car shouldnt have to pay for anything because it is helping both traffic and the environment, not even the transponder.

Everything You Need to Know About New Toll Lanes on the 10


 By Adrian Glick Kudler, February 22, 2013


Metro's second foray into toll lanes begins at 12:01 tonight as it converts 14 miles of carpool lanes on the 10 into ExpressLanes, aka high-occupancy toll (HOT!) lanes. That means solo drivers can use those lanes, but they'll have to pay a toll. We learned all the basics when the first ExpressLanes opened on the 110 last fall--anyone who wants to use the lanes will need a FasTrak transponder that can be set to reflect the number of people in the car so that the system charges (or doesn't) accordingly. (We also learned that there's enforcement--CHP gave tons of tickets to abusers in the first months of the 110 program.) But there will be a few differences in the new set of lanes, which will stretch 14 miles between the 605 in El Monte and Alameda Street in Downtown. Metro's The Source has helpfully explained:

-- Cars will have to have a total of three or more people to travel toll free during rush hours (Monday through Friday, 5 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 7 pm). The 110 only requires two.

-- Cars with only two people will have to pay a toll during rush hours.

-- Cars with two people will not be charged a toll outside of rush hour.

-- "The average toll will likely be different due to the differences in length and space available to toll payers." Average tolls will probably be about $4 to $7 one-way, according to the LA Times.

-- The 10 will have a second ExpressLane for nine miles, between the 605 and the 710.

-- There will be four entrance points on the westbound 10 and three entrance points on the eastbound 10.

As with the 110 lanes, the idea is to keep traffic moving in both carpool and non-carpool lanes, so the ExpressLanes will close to solo drivers if speed fall below 45 miles per hour.

Countdown to I-10 Metro ExpressLanes: understanding the differences between the 10 and the 110 ExpressLanes


By Steve Hymon, February 15, 2013


The ExpressLanes on the 10 freeway are scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23, weather permitting. While the concept is the same as the existing ExpressLanes on the 110 freeway, there are some similarities and differences.
The big similarity: if you plan to use the lanes in a private vehicle (i.e., not a bus), you will need to have a FasTrak transponder. They can be obtained online at www.metroexpresslanes.net, through AAA or at Costco and Albertsons. If you get a transponder at AAA, Costco or Albertsons, please click here to complete the registration process.
ExpressLanes staff put together this handy list to help explain those differences:
•The 10 and the 110 corridors have different minimum occupancy requirements as a carpool lane that do not change for the conversion to ExpressLanes. The 110 allows vehicles with two or more people to travel toll-free 24/7; however the 10 allows three or more passengers to travel toll free 24/7.

Two person carpools using the 10 ExpressLanes pay a toll during rush hour (Monday through Friday 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.) but are not charged a toll during non-rush hour (Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m.to 4:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., and weekends). The overhead electronic signs will make it clear when tolls for two person carpoolers are in effect.

•The average toll will likely be different due to the differences in length and space available to toll payers. The 10 is longer (14 miles from Alameda Street in downtown L.A. to the 605 freeway in El Monte) and the 110 is shorter (11 miles from Adams Boulevard in downtown L.A. to the 91 freeway).

Metro has also added a second ExpressLane on the 10 (between the 605 and the 710) to provide nine new miles in each direction; the 110 already had two lanes in each direction for eight of its 11 miles. This lane is added through re-striping and did not take away any general purpose lanes.

•The number of entry and exit points are different:  the 10 ExpressLanes has four entrance points westbound and three entrance points eastbound while the 110 ExpressLanes has four entrance points northbound and six entrance points southbound. The exit and entry points are shown on the above map.

Metro ExpressLanes is an exciting new endeavor. But like all new undertakings, it will take some time to become familiar with how it works, and it will take time before we experience the full benefits and rewards of this new traffic flow improvement project. We expect to see traffic flow enhancements and congestion reduction as the project progresses over time along with some immediate advantages such as new and more frequent transit service. Participant-adoption, and on-going feedback as a vital partner in this program will ensure its success as well as an improved travel experience for all commuters between the 110 and 10 freeways to downtown Los Angeles.

Over-Budget 405 Widening Won't Finish Until at Least 2014


By Neal Broverman, February 22, 2013


Almost everyone in LA has stared at the ongoing construction on the 405 and said, "For the love of God, when will this end?" Metro's Source blog provides a much-needed update on the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, which includes upgrades to the freeway that'll culminate with a new northbound carpool lane from West LA to the Valley. We'll give you the bad news first: the project is only two-thirds complete, thanks to construction complications, mostly related to the relocation of utilities, and won't be finished for more than a year and a half at the earliest. There's no indication when the entire project will wrap--The Source only says, "the project's middle section between Montana Avenue and Sunset Boulevard has proven to be the project's greatest challenge ... Consequently, this part of the project is now anticipated to be completed in mid-2014."

"The project team has shifted Sepulveda Boulevard to the east in this area to make room for the widened freeway. Major utilities required relocation -- with extreme street congestion limiting the duration and sequence of needed work. Other mitigations have been needed for sound walls and retaining walls in the area. Nearby homeowners have suffered the brunt of major construction impacts."

Estimated to cost about $1 billion, the project is now over budget by an undisclosed amount. The good news: Wilshire Boulevard has fresh on and off-ramps; Skirball has a new onramp; a new, wider Sunset Bridge is open; improvements to the interchange with the 10 are complete; and there have already been upgrades to Sepulveda. Before the sun sets on 2013, "all bridges and utility work will be nearly complete with project ramps, underpasses, soundwalls and retaining walls."

Panama Canal expansion impact on ports discussed at California Senate panel session


By Brian Sumers, February 22, 2013

While it's too early to know how global trade routes will be affected by the Panama Canal expansion scheduled for competition by 2015, California ports and state leaders should prepare for increased competition, business and labor experts told a state Senate panel on Friday.

Widening the canal will allow even larger ships leaving Asia to sail directly to the East Coast without stopping in California. Because of concerns that the project could negatively affect the state's economy, Sen. Curren D. Price, Jr. convened a hearing of the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development at Los Angeles City Hall.

"What if the biggest of the ships go through the Panama Canal?" the Los Angeles Democrat asked. "What does that mean for us? We need to hear what we are up against, who might be impacted and what we can do on the state level to be prepared."

The panelists generally commended Price for considering the issue, and said California must ensure the state's ports remain competitive - especially the San Pedro Bay complex of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation's two busiest ports. But they cautioned the global shipping industry is complex, with many different factors affecting what goods are shipped where.

Panelists said containers most likely to be shipped through the new Panama Canal would be filled with so-called discretionary cargo - material bound for U.S. markets outside the Southwest. For now, much of  that cargo flows through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and then onto rail cars traveling eastward. In the future, it is possible some of that cargo could flow through the canal and then be unloaded from ships in eastern ports like Houston, Texas and Savannah, Ga.

But just because retailers can ship goods directly to a port like Houston does not necessarily mean they will, said Jock O'Connell, an international trade economist based in Sacramento. Issues like cost - no one knows how much the Panama Canal will charge companies to go through the new locks - and weather play into the analysis. The fall, typically a busy time for cargo imports, also is hurricane season in the Caribbean, making it possibly not the mostly reliable place to ship materials.

"This is an incredibly complex matter," O'Connell said. "We can anticipate some diversion but the true extent of it? It's still up in the air. What we are dealing with here is not a straightforward equation."

Ferdinando Guerra, associate economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., told the committee the state also must prepare for increased competition from ports in Canada and Mexico, in addition to East Coast ports.

"Our seaports have been facing multiple threats for the past decade and this will only get worse," Guerra said. "This is a very complex issue that involves many critical related factors that will ultimately determine how much of our market share is lost. It's not a matter of if. It's a question of how much market share we will lose."

O'Connell said one option is not to focus so much on market share but instead to try to stimulate more imports and exports.

"As long as trade continues to grow, there is an opportunity for increasing and retaining levels of business while losing market share," O'Connell said. "Simply losing market share is not the end of the world."
T.L. Garrett of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association said California legislators could help the state hold onto its competitive advantage by thinking critically before enacting any new regulation at the ports.  He said it would also be helpful if California reformed the process for obtaining approval for projects under the California Environmental Quality Act to make it more efficient.

Garrett also said it might be a good time to let the state's residents know how important the ports are to California's economy. According to materials distributed at the hearing, 40 percent of total containerized cargo entering the United States arrives at California ports. The ports generate roughly $7 billion in state and local taxes annually, committee data shows.

"We need to promote trade," Garrett said. "We need to bring attention to it. We need to let the citizens of this country know how important trade is to their daily lives."