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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013



March 5, 2013

“If you are looking for a strategy to seriously undermine a civilization, just make sure there’s not enough affordable housing,” Denny Zane tells writer Jeremy Rosenberg on KCET’s “The Laws That Shaped LA” blog. Denny tells Jeremy about his concerns about the Ellis Act, which passed in 1985 and allowed landlords to evict tenants in order to “go out of business” and remove their buildings from the rental market and demolish them in order to turn them into condos or to build new apartments or condos or — according to some advocates — sometimes escape rent control laws.

In the past decade more than 20,000 units have been “Ellised” in four California cities with rent control ordinances, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and Berkeley, and the records show that this number increases as the market becomes more active. Tenants rights activists say the number of Ellis Act evictions is already increasing as the real estate market begins to recover — tenants in at least 17 buildings in San Francisco’s Mission District, for example, were given eviction notices at the end of 2012.

In Los Angeles, where passage of the Measure R local sales tax has provided for the build-out of 12 new rail lines — new transit construction also tends to stimulate the market — there is concern about the increasing number of buildings that have been purchased in urban core neighborhoods where many transit riders and low income residents currently live. A recent study for the Los Angeles Housing Department expressed concerns about the effect of new transit lines on affordable housing in transit-rich neighborhoods, which currently house a high percentage of low- and moderate-income workers and their families — in Hollywood, Koreatown, downtown LA and Venice Boulevard to the south. The LAHD study is on our website here.


Santa Monicans Want Consultant Fired For Using "NIMBY"


By Neal Broverman, March 5, 2013

 Poor Jeffrey Tumlin. This planning and transportation consultant and principal at Nelson/Nygaard has a group of Santa Monicans calling for his head (aka his job) thanks to his online biography at N/N's site, which includes the following tidbit on his work in the beach city: "For decades, Santa Monica politics had been dominated by NIMBYs who used traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development. The city's award-winning 2011 Land Use and Circulation Element update, however, commits to no net increase in vehicle trips ...." Tumlin, who's worked on numerous SaMo planning projects, including the bike plan and 2010 Land Use and Circulation Element, refuses to change the bio, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. What he will say is that the NIMBY moniker describes the Santa Monicans of 2005, "where residents attempted to put the kibosh on any and all development because such bad options were being brought to the table and does not apply to the conversations around development happening today."

Tumlin insists that NIMBY (which stands for "not in my backyard," for the uninitiated) is not a negative word and, "At the time, residents were absolutely right to be NIMBYs, and should carry that label with pride, as they did then," Tumlin said. He added that locals have gotten more sophisticated and articulate in their arguments against development.

"I find it hard to believe that there was ever a point in time where someone embraced the term NIMBY," said Albin Gielicz, chair of the North of Montana Neighborhood Association. Diana Gordon, cochair of Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, said Tumlin's defense is "insulting and ridiculous ... If Mr. Tumlin sincerely has changed his mind about residents, he wouldn't now be proposing ideas that will only benefit developers, such as taking away our parking and supporting more and greater density development. The fact that he is proposing plans that would make developers more money (by allowing them to build less parking) and residents more miserable tells us that his original opinion of us is unchanged."

NOMNA and SMCLC are circulating a petition to get Tumlin canned.



Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel appear to be headed to May runoff in L.A. mayor's race
March 5, 2013
 Los Angeles mayoral candidate, Wendy Greuel, visits the Sherman Oaks/East Valley Adult Center on Election Day, Tuesday, March 5, 2013.
City Councilman Eric Garcetti and City Controller Wendy Greuel appeared headed for a runoff battle in May after early returns pegged them as the top two finishers in Tuesday's mayoral primary.

The two were leading a field of eight candidates, but neither appeared to have the necessary threshold to win outright and avoid a runoff.

Tuesday's primary capped an increasingly combative race that featured three City Hall insiders and two outsider critics among the frontrunners. Negative mailers and accusations dominated in the two weeks before the election. Greuel was frequently targeted by opponents over heavy union spending on her behalf.

No other candidate had Greuel's advantage going into Tuesday's election.

Unions for the Department of Water and Power and police, as well as film executives and other interests spent $2.7 million in an effort to elect her. The funds paid for television and radio ads, mailers, and polling research, according to City Ethics Commission filings.

Nearly $2 million of that money came from Working Californians, a group backed by the Department of Water and Power union.

Despite that advantage, as the voting booths opened on Tuesday, the race remained extremely unpredictable. Numerous polls put Greuel, 51, and Garcetti, 42, as frontrunners, but many votes remained up for grabs.

The other frontrunners included Councilman Jan Perry, talk radio host and attorney Kevin James and tech executive Emanuel Pleitez. The lower-profile candidates who failed to qualify for city matching funds were advocate Addie M. Miller, factory production worker Norton Sandler and neighborhood council secretary Yehuda "YJ" Draiman.

None of the five frontrunners was able to secure a large voting block before the primary to guarantee victory. That meant campaigns had to fan out across the city and tussle over shared bases.
Mostly, candidates had to just hustle.

In the days before the election, Greuel and Garcetti made it a point to visit North Hollywood, Boyle Heights, and other L.A. neighborhoods where there was no clear favorite candidate. Additionally, throughout his campaign Garcetti targeted first-time voters, while Greuel touted her efforts to become the city's first female mayor.

Overall, Greuel, Garcetti, and Perry started the race with similar advantages. All are City Hall veterans, and have varying degrees of name recognition. Their City Hall connections helped with fundraising. Perry brought in $1.5 million, while Greuel and Garcetti each raised more than $4 million during the race.

The outsider candidates - Pleitez and James - relied on more creative ways to woo voters. Pleitez tried to chip away Latino votes from Garcetti. An East L.A. native, he placed his headquarters in Boyle Heights.

Pleitez also filed ethics complaints against Garcetti during the campaign over two alleged conflict of interest issues involving billboards and an oil lease.

James, a former talk show radio host, ran a series of web-only advertisements portraying City Hall as corrupt. Seeking to win Republican voters away from Greuel, James ran on a fiscally conservative platform, promising to rein in city employee salaries and challenge the unions' power. In a snub to Greuel, who used to represent the eastern San Fernando Valley, he referred to himself as "the Valley's candidate."

 Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti has lunch at the Original Tommy s on Roscoe Boulevard in North Hills on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 with students from the Van Nuys Aviation School. 

Perry also turned on Greuel in the weeks before the primary. The councilwoman is well-known in downtown and South L.A. for her fiscally conservative views and development background. But voters are less familiar with her in places like the San Fernando Valley.

In an effort to reach a wide swath of voters, Perry relied heavily on mailers, some of which attacked Greuel. In one, she accused Greuel of selling out voters for her DWP union backing.

But the attacks went both ways. In the campaign's final days, Working Californians spent $400,000 in television ad criticizing Garcetti. The committee also spent more than $170,000 on negative mailers targeting Perry and James. The spending suggested that Working Californians viewed nearly every candidate as a threat to Greuel in terms of votes.

Near the end of the race, the increasingly hostile tenor overshadowed discussion of the major issues facing the city. L.A.'s potholes and crumbling streets were a frequent topic on the campaign trail.

At debates, the candidates were often asked about reduced city services, and how they would bring in new revenue. A recent poll found the budget is the biggest concern among voters in the L.A. mayor's race.


Larry Wilson: Mixing peds and bikes on Rose Bowl loop 


March 5, 2013

  When the city of Pasadena embarked on one of its periodic efforts to improve safety for the dangerous mix of users of the Rose Bowl loop in the Arroyo Seco, I made light of the strategy in this space.

As is, you are correct, my wont. Call me irresponsible.

It's not that I am anti-safety. It's that this particular measure - requiring pedestrians, and that includes runners, to go one direction only around the 3.2-mile loop that encircles the stadium, much of the two Brookside golf courses and some of the parking lots south of the bowl - seemed onerous and unenforceable. And just, I don't know, un-American.

There are times when, as a runner, I want to start out uphill, and get the worst over first, coasting downhill through the final steps of my little 5K run.

And there are times when I want to start going down, loosening up in the first stage and being ready for the climb toward the end.

That was my only logic, along with a general contrariness and anti-authoritarian bent. Freedom of choice and all that. And, yes, I recognize there are laws for pedestrians as well as for motorists, but that's not quite the point here - this effort was begun after the wide lane for walkers, baby-stroller pushers and runners was painted around the loop, cars and bicyclists not allowed.

The direction being legislated was counter-clockwise around the loop.

The logic was the same as it always is in the attempts to legislate this mix - simply that it's better when on foot to face wheeled traffic rather than having your back to it. Gives you more of a chance to get out of the way of a runaway or rude driver or cyclist.

I thought the rule was still in force in theory, though I had not paid much attention to ii in fact.

Not according to Chris Ziegler of Monrovia, an avid cyclist, who writes: "Some time back the City of Pasadena employed a campaign for fitness-seekers; one element of the campaign encouraged pedestrians to walk facing motorized/lawful bicycle traffic, of which you wrote an article that was critical of such advice and somewhat mocked the city's program. Sadly, the city manager(s) are very vulnerable to your criticism and they killed the program."

They killed the program because of me? Now this would be a first. Though it is so uplifting to entertain the fantasy of that conversation in City Hall: "You read Wilson's comments on the Rose Bowl loop in this morning's Star-News?" "Yessir." "Clearly, he has spoken, and we must obey." "My thoughts exactly, sir. I will instruct Public Works, Transportation and the Police Department to nix the one-way pedestrian mandate tout de suite." "Damn straight, Jones. Then we can await further instructions from the local media. They know what's best."

OK, back to reality. It turns out cyclist Ziegler was involved in a bike-vs.-pedestrian accident last year, and he attached the police report with the gory details. He and a friend crashed into a walker or runner south of the Bowl on Seco Street who admitted he forgot to look out when crossing into the street. One point in my favor: This is not in the area that has a protected, painted-off section for peds. But I'm on Ziegler's side here: "These types of collisions are the driver behind the city's attempts to discourage fitness-oriented cyclists from using the Rose Bowl loop, the safest fitness asset we have in the SGV. My point being, please go easy on the criticism towards safety programs." Though a runner, I am totally pro-cyclist and entirely pro-peloton, and we peds need to watch where we step.

Volunteers for Pasadena school board candidates allegedly involved in shoving match 


By James Figueroa, March 5, 2013

PASADENA - Volunteers for school board candidate Ruben Hueso say there was an Election Day shoving incident at their headquarters involving two people promoting rival candidate Tyron Hampton Jr.

The Hampton volunteers allegedly tried to hang up posters on the windows of Hueso's Altadena headquarters, then got into an argument when confronted, Hueso campaign manager Kimberly Caceras said.

The rivals "verbally accosted and physically shoved one of our volunteers," according to a Hueso letter to Hampton seeking an apology.

 Hueso stressed there is zero tolerance for violence in Pasadena Unified School District.

Hueso's camp filed a police report, but the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department couldn't confirm that Tuesday night.

Hampton said he wasn't aware of the incident until contacted by reporters, and doubted whether the two people were associated with him. The bulk of his campaign involved walking through the district by himself, he said.

"I advocate no violence and no one with my camp would do anything like that," Hampton said. "I ran a really positive campaign."

Sequestration cuts already affecting local ports


By Rob Hayes, March 5, 2013


The Port of Los Angeles is the busiest in the country and sixth busiest in the world when combined with the Port of Long Beach. But port officials say the federal government's $85 billion budget sequestration is already starting to slow that stream of cargo, thanks to overtime cutbacks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors.

Sean Strawbridge, managing director of trade development and port operations at the Port of Long Beach, says over $1 billion a day in goods move through the two ports.

"So any impact has an amplified effect, not only on the local economy, but the regional economy and the national economy as well," Strawbridge said.

Customs agents are responsible for screening cargo ships for materials that could be used by terrorists. When their overtime hours go away, port officials say ships stack up, and dock workers get paid to sit.

Kristin Decase, CEO of the Port of Hueneme, says the cutbacks have already cost them an entire day of operation.

"They cut overtime, so they cut all of our opportunities to do business on Saturdays," she said.
Customs and Border Protection officials said in a statement, "CBP will focus its resources on its core mission areas, operating in a way that is least disruptive to the facilitation of lawful travel and trade while not compromising our security mission; however, itineraries should be adjusted to account for unexpected delays."

But port directors say those delays don't have to happen.

"Customs should be looking at cutting nonessential operations first before they cut essential operations," Strawbridge said. "It's very concerning for us that essential operations are already being affected less than a week into sequestration."

SR710 Boring Supervisor Freakout. Video by Joe Cano

Published on Mar 5, 2013
Yesterday I recorded the boring project from across the street on Magnolia near the corner of Meridian in So. Pasadena. I returned today to get a better idea of the loudness of this process closeup. As I was video taping the boring unit, a project supervisor most likely Metro tried to hand me an SR710 contact card. His remarks were slighty obscured by the noise but I have provided subtitling. HIs attitude was 'I don't know what this is all about, when I said I kow exactly what is going on he insisted 'No you don't'. As soon as I informed him I was with NO On 710 group & tried to turn the camera on him, he reaches out & covers my video camera with enough force to throw me off balance & tries to force the busness card by laying his hands on my person. Simple assualt as I see it. A complaint has been filed with So. Pasadena PD. I have provided a DVD of the incident as well as a screenshot of the person that assaulted me. I did not harass anyone, I did not talk to anyone. I was clearly outside of the construction cones & not in their way. The hostility occured when my affiliation with NO On 710 was made clear. The guys doing the boring had no problem with me. Some of them even waved to me when they saw me again.

Los Angeles Harbor Commission to vote on embattled BNSF railyard project


By Karen Robes Meeks and Brian Sumers, March 2, 2013




 Vanessa Bacon, Ashley Hernandez, Alyssa Alvarez joins other protesters against the the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) Project in Wilmington, Calif. on October 18, 2012. The SCIG involves the construction and operation of a railyard between Sepulveda Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway along SR-47.

Los Angeles harbor leaders this week will decide whether to endorse the environmental impact report of a controversial $500 million railyard that could support rising cargo demands but also abuts neighborhoods in West Long Beach and Wilmington.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting on Thursday, when the board is expected to vote on the final EIR of the 153-acre Southern California International Gateway railyard project being proposed by BNSF Railway.

The proposed facility, to be located in an industrial area bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway, the Terminal Island Freeway and the Dominguez Channel, would allow trucks to load containers and put them on trains closer to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, rather than having trucks drive 24 miles away to another facility in downtown Los Angeles.

But health and environmental groups and residents in the area say the project will worsen traffic and health problems already affecting the neighborhoods. The project, which was proposed in 2005, is in proximity of several schools and parks, including the Villages at Cabrillo, a Long Beach transitional housing facility for homeless veterans, families and youths.

Long Beach Councilman James Johnson, whose 7 th District includes the affected neighborhoods, said the city of Los Angeles and the Port of Los Angeles "made no good faith effort to meet the needs of Long Beach 

"This is a textbook case of environmental injustice, where you take a mostly minority, working-class community that already has some of the worst air quality in the United States and you add pollution to that neighborhood," Johnson said. "I think it's just wrong."

Proponents, including the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said the project will use green technology at the facility and help remove 1.5 million trucks annually from the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

BNSF spokeswoman Lena Kent said that the railroad's decision to move forward on the project has been the result of several years of meetings with hundreds of community members and business leaders.

"BNSF believes that we have proposed a project that not only meets the current and anticipated containerized cargo demands at the San Pedro Bay Ports, but will also create 'greener' capacity for the ports to grow and to continue to be a source of even more good paying jobs for the Southern California economy," Kent said in an emailed statement.

Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino, whose 15 th District includes San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway, said he supports the project. He said he is especially pleased it will encourage private investment and create tens of thousands of new jobs. He also said the port needs the railyard to ensure it remains competitive with others in North America.

"This has been eight years in the making," Buscaino said. "The time is now. I think we have hashed out all the concerns the port has had and the community has had. We cannot delay."

Representatives of both ports have said the ports aren't taking an official position on the project, though the decision lies in the hands of the Los Angeles harbor commissioners.

Kat Madrigal, a Wilmington resident and the development and communications coordinator for East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, said proponents of the project are being short-sighted. She said her group plans to mobilize at least 100 people to attend Thursday's meeting and speak out against the railyard.

She said the project might actually increase pollution locally, especially for low-income residents living near the port.

"We believe that it is important that the community both in Wilmington and in Long Beach don't want this railyard," Madrigal said. "The commissioners should be held accountable to the community. This is not something the community sees as a community improvement project."

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting will take place at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Cruise Center Terminal Annex Building, 390 N. Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro, just north of the USS Iowa. For more information or to check out the report, visit www.portoflosangeles.org.
karen.robes@presstelegram.com, 562-714-2088, twitter.com/KarenMeeksPT

Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting

WHEN: 8:30 a.m. Thursday

WHERE: Cruise Center Terminal Annex Building, 390 N. Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro, just north of the USS Iowa.

INFO: www.portoflosangeles.org

LA’s Mayor: Lawless and Clueless on Mass Transit


By Ken Alpern, March 5, 2013


 GETTING THERE FROM HERE - After 13 years of fighting for the approval, funding and construction of the Expo Line, it is both infuriating and saddening that the City of Los Angeles—and, in particular, its pro-transit Mayor, would be so lawless and clueless as to promote a breaking of the law that would sour the desire to promote mass transit. 

Friends4Expo, the Sierra Club, Metro, the LADOT, Westside electeds and the general public pushed and fought against those unwilling to accept change…but the collective will of the public was decidedly NOT interested in attacking or transforming the Westside for the worst—we all wanted an improvement in our quality of life.

And ditto for the Eastside, Mid-City and Downtown—anywhere we want mass transit to expand, it’s with the goal of improving our Economy, Environment and Quality of Life.

So to Mayor Villaraigosa, who was politically-smart enough while running for Mayor to vote against a Playa Vista because most of the Westside knew it was entirely unmitigated with respect to traffic and infrastructure impacts, I have a few questions:

Why would you prove the opponents of the Expo Line correct, and humiliate and marginalize those fighting for the Expo Line, by completely subjugating the rule of law (City Planning and Transportation Policy, CEQA law)?

Why would you allow Planning, which is controlled by extremists who don’t give a rip about LADOT recommendations, environmental impacts, zoning law and Community Plans, to smash through an approval of a Casden project that will have towers up to 16 stories in a region that only is 2-3 stories high?

Why would you force those of us who fought for the Expo Line, including Sierra Club leader and Friends4Expo founder Darrell Clarke, to be marginalized and bowled over by a power-drunk bully, City Planning Commissioner William Roschen, who did virtually all the talking and made it clear this project was going to pass, come hell or high water?

Why would Planning be allowed to announce its approval of a project less than two weeks before its fait accompli approval by the City Planning Commission, and to be held during the daytime in the Valley over the extreme objections of Westside Councilmen Rosendahl and Koretz?

Why would you say to all the Friends4Expo and Westside transit advocates who screamed about the lack of consideration of this project’s proximity to the 405 freeway, about a complete lack of bicycle, bus and transit amenities and a southern driveway that will smack right across the Expo Bikeway and likely put bicyclists at risk?

What would you say to those of us pro-Expo fighters who dropped everything and drove in horror and terror to the Valley, giving up a day of work and expecting transit-oriented development to be addressed, only to have your representative give a carte blanche approval to Roschen and the Planning Commission and then walk out of the room?

What dare you say to Westside pro-Expo, pro-transit-oriented development and pro-affordable housing Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz, whose Planning Deputies testified this project was too large and out of character, but who were also summarily dismissed and disrespected by a power-drunk and downright rude Roschen?

What dare you say to the myriad of Neighborhood Councils and community groups, virtually all pro-transit, pro-transit-oriented development, and pro-jobs creation who voted for Measures R and J, and who collectively screamed, “NO!” to this project after the developer refused to make any mitigations, no matter how much we begged?

What should we say to Culver City and Santa Monica, whose cities are as pro-transit-oriented development, job creation, and truly elegant densification as any reasonable and open-minded municipality, but who would never let a flagrant violation of CEQA law (blatant disregard to airport impacts, woefully inappropriate public notice) stand?

What should we do about planning a future north-south rail line from the Valley to the Westside, which will likely have a key intersecting station at this site, and why was your bullyboy Roschen so insensitive to the understanding that the Casden project has no consideration whatsoever about a Westside Regional Transit Center at this location?

What would you say to Friends4Expo founder Darrell Clarke, and pro-Expo fighters like Barbara Broide, Marty Rubin, Lillian Laskin and others who gave up so much of their time over the past decade to make the Expo Line happen, only to be given one minute to try to correct this “approved, no matter how flawed and rushed” act by Planning?

What would you say about all the bussed-in stooges and contractors, reading off their talking points cards, who were never there during the Expo Line fight and who dismissed us all as “NIMBY’s”? 
Really, Mr. Mayor, is that how you treat us—having used us and now discarding us—as no longer relevant?

Well, Mr. Mayor, just a few ideas:

1) There are health, environmental issues, and lost opportunities for transportation and transit-oriented planning that even the Sierra Club has with this project.  We’d like them addressed, and not by some vague, nebulous “Michael LoGrande and Planning will work on them, but it’s approved.”

2) Will the LADOT and Metro, whom Casden’s developers don’t really talk to and address their recommendations, and will Neighborhood Councils (who really do want a project here) continue to have their ignored suggestions counted as “outreach” by the developers?

3) Do you recognize that the violation of what Roschen (who brusquely IGNORED the advice of legal counsel to continue this item because of raised environmental and legal problems) and the City Planning Commission did last Thursday places the City of Los Angeles in serious legal risk for violation of its City Charter and CEQA law?

The good news, for anyone reading this, is that—despite the $50,000 donated by Mr. Casden to the Mayor’s Proposition A sales tax hike measure effort—the decision of the many zone changes and variances now rests with the City Council, and no way and no how will Bill Rosendahl and Paul Koretz let this Casden monstrosity move forward.

Mr. Mayor, I will propose that the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee come up with an alternative plan that has residential/commercial/industrial that is transit-oriented, provides jobs, establishes affordable housing, has a Westside Transit Center, considers a future north-south rail line station, and passes muster with the LADOT and the region.

Mr. Mayor, this plan will also require that the Casden developers come up with a mitigation plan to pay back the $25 million that the City of LA coughed up to establish to create a rail bridge over Sepulveda, and which allowed this project to survive at all.

Mr. Mayor, this plan will require this project to have bicycle, bus and transit- and traffic mitigations to please both those living and working here, as well as those wishing to access this station from the Valley, South Bay and the Westside.  There will also be a few ideas as to what to put on the “no-man’s land” adjacent to the freeway.

There needs to be a Transit-Oriented Development, not a Transit-Obstructing Development, at this crucial location.

If the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee doesn’t wish to pursue this endeavor, I will respect their wishes—but I urge them, the Sierra Club, Friends4Expo Transit, Light Rail for Cheviot, and all interested Neighborhood Councils and community groups to weigh in on what should be a great opportunity to build at this site.

By the way, Mr. Mayor, I am still interested in devising a few ideas as to how to connect MetroRail to LAX…but tire of the endless e-mail back and forth with your staff as to a phone call or meeting that appears to be more lip service than an actual intention to meet and talk.

My last question, Mr. Mayor, is this:  do you think that the reckless power play displayed by Roschen, the Planning Commission and the Department of Planning helped or hurt, the cause of mass transit expansion in LA?

Restated, are you and Planning trying to kill the cause of urban mass transit before it’s even had a chance to truly begin?

Beverly Hills's Juicy NIMBY Battle Goes to the Polls Today


By Henry Grabar, March 5, 2013


There's an election in Los Angeles County today, which puts the political spotlight on America's juiciest NIMBY controversy: the path of a new $6.3 billion subway line beneath Beverly Hills High School.

The vulnerable official, on this day, is Beverly Hills Mayor William Brien. Is he leading a small town's effort to sue a federal agency and stand up for its rights? Or is he, in the words of Vice Mayor John Mirisch, an individual "for whom party loyalty trumps all else," whose contradictory conduct constitutes "a slap in the face" to the 90210?

In this famously posh enclave west of Hollywood, the tunnel under the school has been cast in apocalyptic terms. In April, the local parent-teacher association released a five-minute video suggesting that the Metropolitan Transit Authority was on the verge "of turning the school into a mega-disaster." Shots of the historic, white-walled high school explode into towering fireballs of methane gas.

The rest of the world does not seem so concerned. Study [PDF] after study [PDF] have confirmed the safety of the route. Unpaid consultants with the U.S. Geological Survey have also backed the tunnel. The Los Angeles Times called the city's opposition "embarrassing."

Today's election could shift the conversation. Brien, whose position as mayor is derived from his council seat, is in a field of six candidates vying for three seats. A mayoral primary in neighboring Los Angeles could also lead to policy changes.

The city of Beverly Hills and the school district have already sued Metro, and last month they filed suit against the Federal Transit Administration. A judge could force a rewrite of the subway's environmental impact analysis, ultimately resulting in a change to the route. Beverly Hills has also retained Exponent, the disaster analysis firm, whose report calls for further study of the two proposed routes [PDF].

But Brien was hesitant to join Vice Mayor John Mirisch in backing the city's lawsuit against Metro. The L.A. Times, in the same breath as shaming the subway route opponents, praised Brien's maneuvering on the subway issue, saying he had sought to avoid a costly fight. The Beverly Hills Courier calls Brien's contribution "weak, late and half-hearted." Mirisch, by contrast, had a star role in the doomsday video from last spring.

Worse still, as his City Council colleagues attested to the Courier, Brien actually joined L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the "groundbreaking" for the Westside Extension -- "self-congratulatory publicity stunt," per Mirisch -- which is currently projected to run beneath Beverly Hills High. There, Brien called the new subway line a "tremendous" project "so dearly needed for so many people."

Could that be the same man at the helm of a municipal government suing to delay its construction?

Let's put that mystery to the voters of Beverly Hills.

Americans' commutes aren't getting longer


By Larry Copeland, March 5, 2103




About 8% of workers in the USA have commutes of an hour or longer, and nearly 600,000 full-time workers endure "megacommutes" of at least an hour-and-a-half and 50 miles, according to new U.S. Census data on commuting.

The national average, one-way daily commute is 25.5 minutes, and 4.3% of the nation's workers work from home. The data is from the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey for 2011.

On average, it took no longer to get to work in 2011 than it did in 2000, said Alan Pisarski, author of the continuing series "Commuting in America," who attributes the stagnancy to economic woes.

He said, "9.8% unemployment does wonders for congestion."

According to the Census, about one out of five workers with hour-plus commutes use transit. Only 61% of workers with long commutes drove to work alone, compared with 80% for all workers who work outside the home.

"The average travel time for workers who commute by public transportation is higher than that of workers who use other modes," said Census Bureau statistician Brian McKenzie. "For some workers, using transit is a necessity, but others simply choose a longer travel time over sitting in traffic."

The long commute has become a staple of American work life: The Census released detailed data for 24 metro areas; in one-third of them, at least 10% of the workforce has commutes of an hour or more.

One of them is Chicago, where roughly 14% of workers face a daily commute of an hour or more. "There has not grown up around Chicago the kind of (close-in) cities (with jobs) that you might see in other places," Pisarski said. "The jobs are often higher-paying in the city. I have relatives who commuted from Milwaukee, Wis., to Chicago."

More than one in four workers — 27% — commute outside their county of residence to work.

Among the 24 metros:

—San Bernardino County, Calif., has the highest percentage of carpoolers, at about 16% of the workforce. "Drivers (there) have a lot of incentive to carpool," said Jim Bak of the Kirkland, Wash.-based congestion tracking firm INRIX. "Besides sitting at the confluence of several traffic-choked freeways, the 20-mile stretch of the Riverside Freeway that runs through (the county) perennially ranks among the 10 most traffic-choked roads in the country."

The county also has the highest percentage of hour or more commutes: 15%.

—Washington, D.C. has the second-highest percentage of transit riders, its 40% behind only Manhattan's 59%. "Not only does Washington, D.C., rank among the 10 worst traffic cities each year, but it's also among the 10 most expensive to park, costing drivers on average $260 a month," Bak says.
California Air Resources Board

 Call to Action

From Sylvia Plummer, March 5, 2013
Report by Wesley Reutimann

This afternoon I spoke with a representative of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regarding the state's new Cap and Trade program, and how the billions in revenue it will begin generating (2012 and 2013 $500 million is expected, thereafter about $8 billion annually) will be allocated.  Over the past month CARB has been soliciting public comment on how the money should be spent in a series of workshops, one of which was in downtown LA on 2/27.  I briefly attended that meeting, at which a host of environmental, affordable housing, environmental justice, water, urban forestry, recycling, public transit, open space, active transportation and other groups made their case for funding. 

Since the state's transportation sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, a large chunk of the revenue generated is expected to be set aside for transportation projects that will reduce GHG emissions.  CARB will not be dispersing these monies, state agencies will, and for the transportation sector that means CalTrans

To cut to the chase, the 710 tunnel is a project that could benefit from such funding, insofar as its proponents and their consultants believe that it will reduce GHG emissions.

CARB staff was unable to tell me what, if any, scientific review process will be utilized to review controversial projects. It appears this process has not been set up, nor has the process for distributing funds once they are sent to the state agencies. 

She encouraged members of the public to submit any comments we had online before March 8th.

Potential suggestions could include:
  • An independent panel of scientists shall be utilized to review projects, especially contentious ones, to ensure they will in fact significantly reduce GHG emissions. The members of this review panel shall be selected by CARB and ??? based on their expertise in the field.  (Any ideas for impartial state agencies/parties?  UC Regents?) 
  • Auction proceeds shall not be used for new roadway/widening projects. Dollars should be focused on improving public transportation, encouraging active transportation, and repairing existing roadways and bridges.
  • The public should have an opportunity to weigh in on the method for distributing funding from the state agency level, once allocation levels are determined.
From a public health perspective, I am also encouraging CARB to specifically set aside monies for active transportation and public transportation projects, which will make walking, bicycling and using public transit a more viable option for City residents.  At present only 1% of all transportation dollars are spent on pedestrian/bicycling projects, despite the fact that 15% of all trips are either walking or biking.

The link to submit comment is below, and followed by some sample talking points for anyone interested in encouraging CARB to set aside some of the transportation monies to ped/bike/transit projects.   

Electronic Comment Submission:

Click on written comments (on left side), then fill out form, subject:  Cap and Trade Program


Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)
  • A recent study of the Bay Area estimated that significant investments in active transportation could achieve a 14% reduction in GHG. 40% of all trips in CA are two miles or less and studies have shown that investments in bicycling and walking infrastructure can encourage mode shift. A recent study of cities in the Midwest estimated that VMT in these states could be reduced by up to 20% by investing in walking and bicycling for short trips.
  • In California approximately 62.4 % of children in CA live within 2 miles of school yet 51 % of these children are driven to school in a private vehicle. 
  • California has some of the worst air quality in the nation, by shifting short trips to bicycling and walking large reductions in co-pollutants can be achieved by avoiding cold starts.

Current Lack of Funding
  • 15% of our total trips are walking or on a bike, yet only about 1% of our transportation funds are spent on bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and recently, federal spending on active transportation was cut by 33%.
  • Coupled with the need for preservation and maintenance of the existing system to make it safe and increase biking and walking a conservative estimate of $18 billion over the next ten years is expected to meet minimum needs. Currently, the State spends less than a tenth of this amount.

Co-benefits of Active Transportation
  • Bike and pedestrian fatalities, as a percentage of traffic fatalities, are nearly twice the national average. Improving conditions for bicycling and walking can improve public safety while encouraging more people to walk and bike.  
  • Low-income and disadvantaged communities have higher rates of biking and walking and also higher rates of fatalities and injuries; seniors, minorities, and youth are at significantly higher risk of being hit and killed than other portions of the population.
  • Over 80 percent of trips to and from transit are achieved by walking and bicycling. Our investments in transit need to be flanked by investments in active transportation to create a holistic and multi-modal transportation system.
  • In California approximately $41 billion dollars are spent annually on medical costs related to obesity and lost productivity due to chronic diseases caused by physical inactivity. A recent study of the Bay Area reported that investments in active transportation could reduce chronic disease by 15%.

The Cap-and-Trade Active Transportation Solution

A dedicated percentage of cap and trade revenues for bike/ped investments that:
  • Will assist regions and communities in investing in completing and expanding bicycle and pedestrian networks 
  • Promote first-mile/last-mile connections to transit 
  • Promote biking and walking access to schools, community and medical facilities, job and housing centers, and shopping and retail centers
  • Expand critical infrastructure into low income neighborhoods


House GOP releases plan to fund U.S. government for balance of federal fiscal year 2013; yep, it cuts transportation funding


By Steve Hymon, March 5, 2013


Hey — at least this post isn’t about the sequester! From Metro’s government relations squad: 
Today [Monday], the chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) released the text of legislation (H.R. 933) that would serve to fund the U.S. Government through the end of Federal Fiscal Year 2013 (September 30, 2013). The legislation would not fund transportation programs at levels authorized under MAP-21, the new surface transportation bill signed into law by President Obama last year. Rather, the legislation offered today offers reduced federal funding for a number of key federal programs, ranging from safety programs to the New Starts program. The cuts to federal transportation funding have been suggested despite the efforts of legislators, like U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who warned in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that, “Congress made a commitment to the American people that we were going to invest in our nation’s infrastructure at a time when our economy needs it the most. Congress cannot go back on that promise.” Among the groups registering their strong opposition to the continuing resolution today was Mothers Against Drunk Driving which shared its concern that the legislation would cut grants designed to reduce drunk driving incidents. The House Committee on Rules is expected to consider H.R. 933 tomorrow morning. Please click here to view a copy of H.R. 933.

Pasadena election could end in run-off as cities go to vote Tuesday


By James Figueroa, March 4, 2013

  It's go time in Pasadena, San Gabriel, Monterey Park, Temple City, Rosemead and Los Angeles, where voters decide Tuesday on city council and school board races that have seen plenty of political finger-pointing.

Pasadena's single competitive council race, in District 3, could wind up in a run-off on April 16 even though it's already effectively a two-man race.

That's because a third candidate, Nicholas Benson, dropped out last week after questions emerged about his past and his credentials. His name remains on the ballot, however.

If no candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote, the election goes to a run-off.

Benson is now supporting former NAACP leader John Kennedy, who is opposing former Fair Oaks Project Area commissioner Ishmael Trone during campaigns that have often gotten personal.

Trone has faced an accusation that he actually lives with his estranged wife in Altadena instead of his District 3 address. Meanwhile, Kennedy has answered questions about his past, which includes a 1993 arrest and acquittal for a shooting.

The other Pasadena council candidates are incumbent Terry Tornek, who is unopposed in District 7, and Victor Gordo, whose only opponent in District 5 - Israel Estrada - suspended his campaign in January.

District 3 covers parts of Northwest Pasadena and Old Pasadena, including City Hall; District 5 is a central area mostly north of the Foothill (210) Freeway; and District 7 covers a southern area below Colorado Boulevard.

There's greater competition in the Pasadena Unified School District board races, where the establishment of voting districts appeared to attract more candidates.

Four are running for Seat 3, which is open. Among them construction manager Tyron Hampton Jr. and teacher Ruben Hueso appear to be the leading contenders for a likely April 16 run-off, though
Hueso lost an endorsement from the United Teachers of Pasadena last week.

That could open the door for special education candidate Guillermo Arce, who has criticized Hueso's teaching record throughout his campaign. Foster mother Deirdra Duncan is the fourth candidate, but has kept a low profile.

Elsewhere in PUSD, two-term board member Scott Phelps and immigration lawyer Luis Carlos Ayala have waged an intense battle for Seat 7, board member Elizabeth Pomeroy is opposed by youth center director Stella Murga for Seat 5 and board member Kim Kenne is opposed by former teacher Dean Cooper Seat 1.

Kenne will stay on the board no matter what happens. If she is elected to a new four-year term, she will vacate another seat to be filled by appointment. If not, she stays until her current term expires in 2015.

The PUSD voting districts include District 1, mostly west Altadena; District 3, mostly Northwest Pasadena; District 5, a central area that includes Pasadena City College and Marshall High School; and District 7, a west Pasadena area including San Rafael and Linda Vista.
Voters in Sierra Madre will not participate in a school board election until 2015.

Voter participation in Pasadena appears low so far, based on the vote- by-mail ballots received so far - 21percent returned compared to 37 percent in 2011, City Clerk Mark Jomsky said. But he cautioned that the new districts, a greater amount of mail ballots and mail-ballot dropoffs on Tuesday make it too early to make any conclusions.

In San Gabriel, a slate of three incumbents is working to fend off two challengers.

Mario De La Torre, David Gutierrez and Kevin Sawkins are running on their records and defining San Gabriel as a city that survived lean times without losing many services.

Business lawyer Jason Pu and retired engineer Chin Ho Liao contend the current council hasn't done enough to maintain roads and promote business.

The big election clash in Monterey Park has turned out to be in a part- time watchdog position: city treasurer. Incumbent Joseph Leon and business owner Stephen Lam have traded barbs throughout their campaigns.

Five candidates are seeking two open council seats in the Monterey Park: Joe Ray Avila, Hans Liang, Larry Sullivan, Peter Chan and Tom Guzman.

There are also three candidates for city clerk: Jeff Schwartz, Vincent Chang and Neal Alvarez.
Los Angeles voters also head to the polls Tuesday to make their choice for mayor, an election widely expected to continue in a two-candidate runoff on May 21.

Two Democrats, Councilman Eric Garcetti and city Controller Wendy Greuel, lead the mayoral race.
Los Angeles voters will also elect the city attorney, controller and Los Angeles Community College District board.

How many fast ones has FasTrak pulled?

 A man successfully fights a bill for using the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County — when he was at home watching TV. Such erroneous notices are not uncommon.


 By David Lazarus, March 5, 2013


 David Lazarus

Each year the 91 Express Lanes are used by about 12 million cars a year and roughly 350,000 citations for toll evasion are issued, the agency that runs them says.

If you want to dance, you've got to pay the piper. And if you want to zip along the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, you have to pay a toll of as much as $9.55 per trip.
James Kritikson, 72, of La Verne never paid the toll, so he received a notice in the mail saying he had to cough up the unpaid fee, plus a penalty of $25. If he didn't come clean by March 28, the penalty would jump to $100.

There was just one problem: On the date — Jan. 25 — and at the time — 10:16 p.m. — that the notice said Kritikson was sneering at the 91 Express Lanes' toll system, he was in fact home with his wife watching TV, and his car was in the garage.

"Is this a scam?" Kritikson wanted to know. If not, how did the 91 Express Lanes Violation Processing Center obtain his name, address and the license number of his car?

"What is to prevent them from sending a demand to anyone whose information is available to see how many fools just pay the money to avoid the hassle?" he asked.

This might strike some as a small-potatoes issue to fret about. But what happened to Kritikson illustrates the fact that we live in a high-tech world in which automated systems can make problems for you by sucking you into their universe, even if you had nothing to do with them.

And with more and more things being run by computers — tax payments, loan servicing, debt collection — the problems that machines can make for us can be serious indeed.

In the case of the 91 Express Lanes, its operator, the Orange County Transportation Authority, reported receiving about $800,000 in penalty fees from alleged toll scofflaws in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Kritikson sent a letter challenging the violation and requesting that his citation be canceled. It didn't have to be a registered letter, but he didn't want to take any chances. The letter cost him $6 to send.

"I was not on the 91 freeway," Kritikson wrote. "My car … was at home in La Verne, in the garage, at the time and on the date on the Notice of Toll Evasion Violation."

He received a new notice last month saying that "after careful review of the information you provided and the vehicle and license plate information, we have dismissed this Notice of Toll Evasion Violation."

By the numbers, of course, Kritikson's case is a drop in the bucket for the OCTA.

Joel Zlotnik, a spokesman for the agency, said there about 12 million car trips annually on the 91 Express Lanes and roughly 350,000 citations for toll evasion are issued. Of this number, only about 10% are disputed, he said, and about 900 a year are found to have been wrongly issued.

Zlotnik said he couldn't discuss Kritikson's case specifically, but that generally, the problem of erroneous notices is a factor of the agency's machines not always being particularly good at law enforcement.

Anyone driving on the 91 Express Lanes has his or her license plate photographed automatically. A computer then takes a look at the photo and makes sure the license in the picture matches the license on file for the route's FasTrak system — the same system used for other toll roads statewide.

If no connection can be made, and thus no toll paid, a violation notice is automatically generated. Problem is, the computer has a habit of misreading people's license plates from time to time.

Zlotnik said a human being becomes involved only after an appeal is filed — the "careful review" Kritikson received. If the license in the photo isn't the same as the one on the disputed notice, you're off the hook.

It all seems straightforward. In fact, you could say the system works pretty efficiently.

But I'm with Kritikson: I wonder how many bogus violations actually result in fines being paid because people took them at face value or chose not to bother with the appeal process.
In the "Terminator" movies, the computer system Skynet takes over the world. Me, I'm keeping a closer eye on FasTrak.

Rep. Ed Orcutt responds, apologizes for 'confusing' email


By Jonathan Maus, March 4, 2013 


I'm in Washington DC right now covering the National Bike Summit; but thought I'd share an update on a big story we helped break over the weekend.

As you probably know by now, Washington State Representative Ed Orcutt has gained national notoriety for his comments that bicycling pollutes the environment. Before running our story on Saturday, I contacted Rep. Orcutt for a clarification about his comments. This morning I heard back. In an email Orcutt admits his comments were "over the top." Read the full email below:


First of all, let me apologize for the carbon emissions line of an e-mail which has caused so much concern within the bicycle community. It was over the top and I admit is not one which should enter into the conversation regarding bicycles.
Although I have always recognized that bicycling emits less carbon than cars, I see I did a poor job of
indicating that within my e-mail. My point was that by not driving a car, a cyclist was not necessarily having a zero-carbon footprint. In looking back, it was not a point worthy of even mentioning so, again, I apologize – both for bringing it up and for the wording of the e-mail.
Rep. Ed Orcutt.

Second, please understand that I have not proposed, nor do I intend to propose, any tax – and certainly not a carbon tax – on bicyclists. There is little in the Democrat tax proposal that I support. However, the one aspect of the Democrat tax plan that has merit is their proposed $25.00 tax on the purchase of any bicycle $500.00 or more. I am willing to consider this because I’ve heard requests from members of the bicycle community that they want more money for bicycle infrastructure. The idea of bicyclists paying for some of the infrastructure they are using is one which merits consideration.

Since I have heard concerns about doing this via sales tax due to the
impact on bicycle shops, I am very willing to work with the bicycle community to determine an appropriate way to enable bicyclists to pay for some of the bicycle-only lanes and overpasses. It is my intent to seek out your advocates in Olympia to see if there are other ways to accomplish this.

Again, I do apologize for the carbon line in the e-mail and any confusion it has created. I look forward to working on reasonable solutions to the problems cyclists are having with infrastructure.


Representative Ed Orcutt
 20th Legislative District
LaHood Announces Safety Summits to Help Shape New Bikeway Standards


By Dani Simons, March 5, 2013

In 2010, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood mounted a table at the National Bike Summit and proclaimed, “I’ve been all over America, and…people want alternatives. They want out of their cars, they want out of congestion, they want to live in… livable communities.” He added, to thunderous applause, “You’ve got a partner in Ray LaHood.”

Shortly thereafter he blogged, “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

Last night, LaHood addressed the same conference for his fifth and final time as DOT secretary. He echoed that sentiment: People across the country are hungry for safer streets for bicycling. He reflected on what he and the Obama administration had accomplished over the past four years, including awarding a record $3.8 billion of FHWA funding and $130 million in TIGER funds for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

But the secretary recognizes there is still more to be done. Bicyclists deaths grew by 9 percent from 2010 to 2011. And while LaHood is well known for his campaigns against unsafe behaviors like distracted driving, last night he called for increased, high-quality infrastructure to protect people who bike and prevent crashes.

LaHood told AASHTO last week that “DOT is looking to create a standard guide for how we will build modern streets that work for everyone who depends on them.” Last night, he told the crowd that DOT would hold two bike safety summits this spring, in which DOT will convene experts and advocates to get input into these new standards.

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan followed LaHood. As the head of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Sadik-Khan helped oversee the development of the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, which sets forth a well-conceived precedent for the feds to follow. She thanked LaHood heartily for his service and presented him with an honorary New York City street sign, and an offer to rename a real street after him. Maybe Prospect Park West, she joked, to the delight of the crowd.

The London Tube's Cultural Moment


By Feargus O'Sullivan, March 5, 2013


London’s subway system is getting a rare moment in the cultural spotlight. As the 150th anniversary of the sprawling, antique and often criticized London Underground rolls on, Penguin is publishing a set of 12 new books, each one explicitly connected to a different line of the system. From John Lanchester exploring the secrets of the Victorian District Line, to men's fashion magazine Fantastic Man examining the East London Line's (tenuous) connection with buttoned-up shirts, the new series is an eclectic mix that reflects Londoners' love/hate relationship with the network.

For someone like me with a lifelong, nerdish love of what British people call the Tube, the celebration is overdue. Bar a few wonderful exceptions, 12 (as John Lanchester himself pointed out this weekend), while the few exceptions – the odd Sherlock Holmes story featuring murder on the line or punk hit about subterranean muggings – generally paint it in rather gothic terms. The network definitely has its dingy side, but as a Londoner who remembers his first underground trip aged three, I’ve always seen it as a place of possibilities.

You see, I grew up on the London Tube. Back in the days before parents micromanaged their children’s every step, my siblings and I used our pocket money to explore the network’s farthest reaches every weekend, traveling out to magical-sounding stations called things like Cockfosters and Theydon Bois. Sometimes we’d discover forests or Jacobean mansions, but mostly we’d find a bus depot and the usual blah 1930s housing, though it all still seemed exciting because we were kids, briefly far from home. It was by running around on those rattling trains, pulling faces at people on the platform to deter them from getting in "our" carriage, that I first got to know London, both its vastness and its strange uniformity.

I’m not alone in this. For most Londoners, knowing the Tube comes first, the city second. People usually learn the evocative names of its stations – Angel, Elephant and Castle, Swiss Cottage – long before they attach any knowledge of actual streets and buildings to the name whizzing past the train window. The Tube also helps us make sense of where we live. Intricate it may be, but it possesses an order the city above ground lacks. Despite the London street plan’s illogical sinuousness, the network’s iconic map is lucid and intuitive, imposing a graspable, stylized mental order that users absorb and then project as a grid onto the randomness of ground-level reality.

It’s far more than just a place for orientation and transit, however. The Tube is London’s skeleton, its nervous system and its heart. Parts of it are so old that they dictated the shape of the still un-built metropolis. The network’s earliest lines pushed out into open countryside, and streets and houses only later added flesh to their bare bones. When bombs fell on the city in World War II, it was where Londoners withdrew to safety (though it wasn’t always safe). When terrible, frightening things have happened to the city, intentional or accidental, they have often occurred underground. This rocky history – the history of modern London in microcosm – has made the tube both refuge and living memorial.

Notting Hill Gate, one of the earliest Tube stations. Image courtesy of Flickr user Trowbridge Estate

Charring Cross Station. Image courtesy of Flickr user Brett Jordan

But it’s not all doom and somber remembrance. London’s antique network is also its best side. It’s a reminder that the city was once so confident and forward-looking that it was happy to pump money into crazy new schemes, even when the necessary technology wasn’t fully ready. According to the book How the Tube Shaped London, steam trains made its earliest underground lines so smoky that chemists near stations carried on a brisk trade reviving the nauseous. And when electric trains – among the world’s first – arrived in 1890, they were still so feeble they could pull just three carriages at a time. The network was thus a trial and error laboratory for every future metro system. London’s anything but defeated as a city today, but it still has managed nothing so forward-looking or so brilliantly crackpot since.This could be why its newest line, shiny and spectacular, explicitly references the Tube’s dingy Steam Age past, its boldest stations resembling glitzy, updated versions of a Victorian dark, satanic mill.

Such affection might seem odd, of course, to the thousands who descend daily into the network under duress, taking journeys they don’t like pressed against people they’d rather avoid. Crowded and expensive, the Tube is beset with (improving) delays, and weekend closures for (as announcers love to recite) "planned engineering works." It’s a place of suppressed exuberance, where people give as little of themselves away as possible. In Berlin, U-Bahn users gawp at each other openly, while Madrid’s metro riders often tend to chat. In London, however, people make eye contact only slyly and briefly, otherwise adopting a blank tube mask, or reading.

Canary Wharf Station. Image courtesy of Flickr user IdleFormat

Still, nowhere else in London shows you so effectively that you live in a huge, heterogeneous city, a small, fairly trivial member of a millions-strong mass. In a city where even the rich use public transport (cars take longer), the Tube is one of the few places where you see people from every race and social stratum. And while trains can be cramped, the inactivity of a view-less journey is often perversely pacifying, giving you enforced time for daydreaming – or reading. This makes the arrival of a dedicated set of books on the Tube especially appropriate.  Personally, I’ve read more underground, speeding under the city’s streets, than I have in any library.
Go to Hell Los Angeles, It’s Your Right — Elect Weaklings and Hacks, Give Them Your Money and Suffer the Consequences


By Ron Kaye, March 4, 2013


Here’s two reasons out of 1,000 good ones why you people who vote for failed state legislators 2JobBob Blumenfield, Felipe Fuentes, Mike Davis, Gil Cedillo and Curren Price to serve on the L.A. City Council and Mike Feuer to serve as City Attorney ought to have your heads examined.

They all voted for AB 109, authored by Woodland Hills’ own Blumenfield, that was ill-conceived, loophole-laden and approved on party lines in a mad rush without even testimony from law enforcement. They just wanted to reduce the massive budget deficit and the prison overcrowding they all helped create.

What the measure did was free thousands of hard-core criminals who supposedly were non-serious, non-violent, non-sexual offenders onto the streets or dump them into local jails where they would be released early without supervision or perhaps with GPS devices that did nothing to track their whereabouts.

People like repeat sex offender Jerome DeAvila who was arraigned last week for the rape, murder and robbery of his 76-year-old grandmother. Thanks to AB 109, he had been cited for as many as 11 parole violations in the last year and was set free after serving a single day in jail. A few days later he killed probably the only person in the world who gave a damn about him. Nothing sexual or serious in his criminal background?

Or take the case of Larry Darnell Bishop, 20, – convicted of burglary and robbery and finally assault with a deadly weapon for which he did four months in jail of his two-year sentence. Nothing serious or violent in his criminal background?

Now he’s charged with the murder of Sheriff’s Department technician Victor McClinton who was gunned outside his Pasadena home on Christmas morning as he walked a holiday well-wisher and a coach in the youth sports program he created to their car. It was a careless mistake — Bishop and two pals were gunning for a fellow gangster, not a wonderful and loving man like McClinton..
Vote for these people to join failed legislators Herb Wesson, Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz, himself up for re-election.

For once in your lives, think about what you are doing and how you can explain to God and your children why you are voting for people to run your troubled city who don’t give a damn about you.

Without thinking about the consequences of what they were doing, these 10th rate political hacks voted for AB 109.  If you put them into city offices, you can be 100 percent certain all you will get is lip service and  a smile and the unions, developers and billionaires will be laughing all the way to the bank with your money.

Don’t be fools. Don’t give them even more money by voting to impose the regressive sales tax Measure A that punishes the poor, kills jobs and does nothing to fix the problem caused by City Hall has been spending more than it takes in for decades, in boom times and recession.

Don’t put someone who is the easiest to manipulate like Wendy Greuel and the easiest to intimidate like Eric Garcetti into the mayor’s office when there are stronger people available like Kevin James and Jan Perry who have the courage to tackle the hard issues and lead L.A. out of the wilderness.

Don’t put Feuer of all people in the City Attorney’s office when Carmen Trutanich and Greg Smith will do far better jobs.

Don’t flatter the completely unqualified and self-serving double-talking Dennis Zine in the Controller’s Office when Cary Brazeman and Ron Galperin are fully qualified men with personal integrity.

As a wise man told me long ago, eat good food, don’t smoke, exercise and be kind and generous to everyone you encounter — or go to hell in your own canoe.

I guess that is the best advice I can offer after 33 years of fighting City Hall for a government that serves the people and solves their problems, respecting the values, needs and interests of all.

Of course, you can do anything you want. Just know there are consequences and if you put these worthless professional politicians into complete control of city government, you will pay dearly for your stupidity.

It isn’t the brink of bankruptcy that LA teeters on. It is calamity. They have gambled the city’s future on a boom that may never come again and left no room for a quake or a riot or a massive brush fire or another deep recession or a thousand other things that could go wrong.

But don’t take my word for it. Do what you want — ignore it, stay ignorant, respond to meaningless symbolic language — and go to hell in your own canoe. It’s your right.