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

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Social Media Solution Sought for Pacific Surfliner Ridership


By Keith Carls, March 5, 2013

CENTRAL COAST – The State of California will spend as much as $9 million dollars over the next three years on a social media campaign to increase ridership on Amtrak and its Pacific Surfliner trains.

The State Department of Transportation says the Pacific Surfrider that runs along the California coast has grown into the second busiest rail corridor in the country.
Serving up ole fashioned home-style cooking next to the train tracks is what business is all about at the Station Grill.

"We have trains that go 40 feet by us", says Station Grill owner Chris Rivas, "you get to see them, you get to hear them and you get to feel them, there's no denying that."
Station Grill customers have had a front row seat as the Pacific Surfliner has grown in popularity over the years.

"When we first opened there were only the four trains", Rivas says, "we now have two extra trains that have started up since we've been in business."

The most recent numbers show ridership on the Pacific Surfliner has fallen in the past two years amid complaints from some the trains are too slow between southern California and the Bay Area.

"Its comfortable, there's no hassle", says train rider Jim Worthen, "you'd expect more people to be taking the train but they don't seem to be doing so."

The State of California and Amtrak believe social media like Facebook and Twitter could actually convince more people to take the train.

The California Department of Transportation has hired a PR firm to promote train ridership by increasing Amtrak California's Facebook fans and Twitter followers by at least 25 percent a year for three years in the $9 million contract.

Its an easy sell for some and made to order for others like Chris Rivas and the Station Grill.

"Definitely, Amtrak is a plus in the area", Rivas says, "it doesn't bring tons and tons of people in right now but it will get better."

"You know its maybe 50 miles of pristine beaches all the way down that you never get to see from the highway, its amazing" adds Jim Worthen about riding the Pacific Surfliner.

Currently there are only about 90,000 Facebook fans and Twitter followers of California Amtrak and the Pacific Surfliner.

L.A. tax hike popular in South L.A., unpopular many other places


March 7, 2013


So why did Proposition A, the half-cent sales tax on the March ballot in Los Angeles, fail?
There has been much debate about the question at City Hall and beyond.

Times Data Editor Ben Welsh analyzed voting patterns and produced a map that shows how the different neighborhoods of L.A. voted.

He discussed the map in a Google + Hangout Thursday. He noted that support for the tax was strongest in Central and South L.A. and weakest in parts of the West Valley and Westside, among several more affluent places.
Here's how the tax did in central Hollywood versus several nearby hillside communities:
Here is a breakdown of the western part of downtown L.A. versus the eastern part:

The sales tax was seen as a last-ditch attempt to help balance the city's budget without more reductions, which already have included slashing 5,300 positions and scaling back services ranging from sidewalk repairs to 911 rescue operations.

Now, more cuts are coming.

"Everything has to be put back on the table, from the size of the police force to the restoration of fire services to the paving of our streets," said the city's chief administrative officer, Miguel Santana.

Explore the voting map here.
United Caltrans Tenants (UCT) Association

Posted on Facebook on March 7, 2013

Caltrans renters living along the “proposed 710 Freeway/Tunnel Corridor” have received a mailer informing them that their rent will be increased by 10% every 6 months in an effort to raise Caltrans property rentals to “fair market rates.”

However, Caltrans has failed to provide tenants with a rent amount for their individual properties, the process they used to determine fair market rates, or qualification guidelines for an affordable rent program.

The United Caltrans Tenants (UCT) association was formed in response, and are asking for the following: 
* An immediate moratorium on rent hikes
* Caltrans public disclosure of how they determine “fair market” rental rates
* Ultimate rent amount for each tenant and details of the Affordable Rent Program
* A cooperative process between Caltrans, tenants and elected officials
* Participation of local elected officials on behalf of the communities they represent

Please attend this important meeting to show Caltrans, Metro and our local elected officials that we will not let our homes and communities be destroyed for or by the 710 project!

Thursday, March 14, 2013, 6pm
All Saints Catholic Church Parish Hall
3420 Portola Avenue, El Sereno CA 90032
Joe Cano: No on 710 Photo

Posted on Facebook by Joe Cano, March 7, 2013

 This is dedicated to my Tess, the female power in my life. She brought me my hard boiled egg this morning as I waited for the drilling rig. She is what keeps me going.


Survey shows what patrons most want from an improved Union Station


By Marie Sullivan, March 7, 2013



A word cloud of write-in answers to the most desired amenities.

In a recent survey, Metro recently asked patrons what they would like to see in an improved Union Station. Among the upgrades requested:
  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options
Metro Research & Development worked with the Union Station Master Plan team to conduct the survey of Union Station visitors. The survey collected data on how people are currently using the station, as well as which new amenities are most desired in and around the new station. Metro purchased Union Station in 2011 and the Master Plan will create a blueprint on how to upgrade the station and develop the areas around it while, of course, preserving the famous structure.

The survey was conducted online from January 28 to February 6 and with paper surveys that were distributed in and around Union Station on Jan. 31. All told, 329 paper surveys and 1,735 online surveys were collected.

When looking at the results, keep in mind that web respondents tended to be less frequent users of the station (not regular-commuters), while paper survey respondents were more likely to use the station on a daily or weekly basis (regular commuters).
We asked patrons how they arrived at Union Station and how they left to reach their destination. Online survey respondents were more likely to be Metro Rail riders, and less likely to walk, bike or take Amtrak or Metrolink.
Presently, most people who frequently use Union Station are currently doing so only for transportation. However, others are also taking advantage of shopping, dining and recreational activities. A third of users are coming to the station for recreation and entertainment, and a quarter are using it for dining and shopping.
Out of 12 suggested improvements, seven stood out as being more desired than the others:
  • Easier access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Better connections between transportation services
  • More options for dining and shopping
  • Enhanced passenger information & help guides
  • Additional or improved signage
  • Better bicycle access and parking
  • Additional transportation options
The other suggested improvements were:
  • More space to circulate through the station
  • More public art and activities on station property
  • More waiting areas and seating
  • Increased security
  • Additional parking (tip: there is usually space on level four of the parking garage).
More graphics after the jump — keep reading please! 

An analysis of survey respondents by zip code shows an interesting pattern. Most patrons actually live close to the station, but significant numbers of respondents were from more distant areas, likely due to the farther reach of services like Metrolink.
Zipcode Distribution USMP_04-01
Thank you to all who participated in the survey online or in the station! Your input has helped to give us a better idea of what you would like to see at Union Station, and will help team move forward with developing plans for the station.

For more information on the Union Station Master Plan project and to keep apprised of upcoming meetings, check our website and our facebook page for details.

New State Law Easing the Way For Miles of New LA Bike Lanes


By James Brasuell, March 6, 2013



Los Angeles is in the middle of recalibrating its expectations for its Citywide Bike Plan's Five-Year Implementation Plan following a gamechanging state law that makes it easier to approve bike lane projects. The state legislation, called AB 2245, makes most bike lane projects, even those that will reconfigure the street (e.g., the infamous "road diet," which removes vehicle lanes) exempt from review under the very controversial California Environmental Quality Act. In effect, the new law will radically assist the process of reviewing and approving about 200 miles of priority bike lanes targeted by the city's five-year plan. The AB 2245 review process still requires safety impact analysis and public hearings, which means that the draft Environmental Impact Review that the city released for the five-year plan back in January will suffice for the AB 2245 requirements. Already, 123 miles of the bike plan have been implemented, mostly without any CEQA review. Now the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is in the process of figuring out which of the top priority 200 miles will move forward immediately, which still require some tweaks, and which will be put off indefinitely. Exactly which bike lanes will be built, and when, has yet to be formally announced, but more news is expected soon.

Despite the political support for bike projects exhibited by AB 2245, opposition from some of the communities in line for the next round of bike lanes has been vocal. LAObserved recently covered a Westside hearing for bike lanes on Westwood Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard, and even went so far as to give opponents of the lanes a forum to vent their frustrations. LADOT's Bicycle Coordinator Nathan Baird acknowledges that there is a perception of opposition to some bike lane projects, but that is not the prevailing public sentiment: "It is a tough sell for some communities ... But some communities are really ready for [bike lanes], and we're hoping that the ones that move forward first will serve as an example."

The best argument for bike lanes and road diets, according to Baird, are the safety benefits: "A lot of good research and studies show that bike lanes reduce bicycle injuries, and they also help prevent motor vehicle crashes." Adding a bike lane often requires that the middle vehicle lane be pinched, which slows traffic down for an overall traffic-calming effect. Many of the bike lane projects also add center left turn lanes, which makes the street safer and less congested for everyone. Bike lanes also improve the pedestrian experience.

According to Baird, the "twin goals" for the 200 miles of priority bike lanes are to connect gaps and serve low-income communities. When complete, Baird says, the city will have facilities resembling of a real network of bicycle facilities, "We've been forced to look at these miles because they are so important ... we're still not getting the really good networks we need." Those priority miles include that sexy MyFigueroa project that complete streets advocates have been lusting for since, it seems, the dawn of time (it would makeover Fig between LA Live and Exposition Park).

Helpful maps of the planned bike lanes are available at the LADOT Bicycle Services website.

Proposal boosts valley-LA rail link

Officials confident $162M plan will pass


 By Skip Descant, March 6, 2013

 Passengers await the arrival of an Amtrak train at the Palm Springs station in May 2010.

Passengers await the arrival of an Amtrak train at the Palm Springs station in May 2010.

The recent draft of the 2013 California State Rail Plan includes a Coachella Valley Route that would connect Los Angeles to Indio, expanding passenger rail service for the Palm Springs region.

The proposal calls for eight stops, with three — Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Indio — in the Coachella Valley.

The project would require cooperation with Union Pacific Railroad, which may be the largest obstacle.

“The main challenge to implementation of passenger rail service in this corridor is securing cooperation with UPRR,” the draft rail plan reads.

“Service initiation is contingent upon an operating agreement with UPRR (Union Pacific Railroad) and securing necessary capital and operating funding,” the draft continues. Union Pacific officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The project would cost an estimated $161.7 million, which includes $83.4 million for trains, $62.6 million for new stations and $15.7 million for maintenance facilities, according to the rail plan.

Train industry watchers in the Coachella Valley say Union Pacific could be amenable to increased passenger traffic given the mostly public-funded rail upgrades in Colton that make freight traffic flow smoother.

“We’re going to hold their feet to the fire on this one,” said Robert Manning, president of the Southwest Rail Passenger Association. “I’m sure if we push, we’ll get this.”

“It ain’t over with by any stretch of the imagination,” he added. “And there’s no doubt in my mind that we will get this thing.”

Tourism officials in the Coachella Valley have long wanted better passenger rail service between Indio and Los Angeles, ideally with daily service — up from the three-day-a-week service the area currently receives via Amtrak — and at times better suited for weekend travelers.

The rail plan does not get into scheduling specifics or the operator of the line. Local tourism officials say they hope it’s Amtrak, which is well-suited for the 125-mile trip to Palm Springs.

“We in the tourism industry are pushing for Amtrak because of the better consumer experience over Metrolink,” said Tim Ellis, general manager for the Palm Mountain Resort and Spa in Palm Springs and vice chair for the Hospitality Industry and Business Council, a valley-wide consortium of tourism leaders. Metrolink operates commuter trains reaching areas like Riverside and San Bernardino.

 “Metrolink has commuter cars designed to move many people on shorter trips,” Ellis added, characterizing them as “public transportation rather than an experience.”

Manning also said he’d like the Coachella Valley Route to be operated by Amtrak, which has indicated a willingness to operate the train service.

The statewide rail plan proposes six new routes over tracks shared with freight service. They include routes like the ritzy X Train, connecting Los Angeles to Las Vegas where the five-hour trip is filled with on-board perks like large-screen televisions, fold-down seats and lounges.

Train travel seems to be on the upswing all across the nation. A study released this week by the Brookings Institution indicates a 55 percent increase in nationwide ridership from 1997 to 2012. The shorter Amtrak routes — those less than 400 miles — had a $47 million operating surplus in 2011. While the longer routes — like the Sunset Limited which connects Los Angeles with New Orleans and stops in the Coachella Valley — lost some $614 million in 2011.

The seven Amtrak stations in the Riverside-Ontario-San Bernardino region saw a 74.2 percent increase in passenger activity from 1997 to 2012, according to the study.

The California State Rail Plan points out the significant population growth the region is expected to see in the next 30 years, with the Los Angeles-Indio corridor expected to add 5.8 million residents. Riverside County will experience the bulk of this growth — 52.4 percent. Added access to rail should be a vital part of the transportation picture and one that needs to be started today, Manning said.

“But we have to get this thing started because population density is such that it’s imperative at this point,” Manning said in a recent interview with The Desert Sun.

L.A., California Streets Crumbling, Will Need Billions To Fix, Report Says


By Dennis Romero, March 6, 2013 

Thumbnail image for pothole-art.png

If you think our streets are crumbling before our very eyes, you're not alone.

The latest California Statewide Local Streets and Roads Needs Assessment by the League of California Cities shows that our roads are in "rapid decline" and that our budget to fix them is perhaps even worse.

The assessment says that unless we come up with the cash to fix our streets ...

... one out of four of the roads across California will be in "failed" condition within 10 years.

The assessment says it we're under-funding our street maintenance and repair by more than $82 billion but that such an investment would protect $189 billion worth of taxpayer dollars underlying our roadway infrastructure.

In other words, as League of California Cities executive director Chris McKenzie put it:
It costs far less to repair and maintain roads than to replace them. State and local governments, the Legislature, and the people of California have a choice. We can either spend money now and make the repairs, or expect to pay a lot more in the future.
If you read LA Weekly you already know that Los Angeles continually ranks as one of the very top cities with the worst roads in the nation, a distinction that used to belong to East Coast towns like Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

The cost of saving L.A.'s roads will by far cost more than rescuing streets in any other California county: $12.5 billion over 10 years, according to the assessment.

california roads assessment.JPG
L.A. county roads remain "at risk," as they have since 2008, the study says.
Matt Cate, executive director of the California State Association of Counties:
Unless this crisis is addressed, costs to maintain the local system will only continue to grow, while the safety, quality and reliability of California's local transportation network worsens. California needs economic growth and jobs right now, and restoring our deteriorating transportation infrastructure will foster both.
Freight Advisory Committee will help
America's businesses deliver the goods

U.S. Dept. of Transportation, March 7, 2013 

Freight movement is the lifeblood of the American economy. To succeed here and around the world, our nation's businesses need to get goods from ship to train to truck quickly and efficiently.
On Tuesday, as part of our ongoing effort to establish a National Freight Strategic Plan, we invited stakeholders to the DOT Freight Policy Council's second listening session. We wanted to hear from those on the front lines of shipping about how we can improve the way we move the goods that drive our economy.
Truck at Cargo Port
America's employers and companies count on a modern, multi-modal transportation system to move their goods to consumers every day.  In fact, the U.S. freight system moves 57 tons of goods per person every year.  About 48 million tons of goods are transported across America each day. That’s $46 billion worth of new cars and trucks, machinery for factories, televisions, smart phones, and many, many other goods that we buy and sell every day.
In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama laid out his plan to strengthen the middle class and grow the economy by making America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing. Safe and efficient freight movement plays a key role in that plan.

So at DOT, we're taking the lead on improving our nation's freight movement to help keep America's businesses competitive. Tuesday's listening session was just the latest step in that effort.
Trucks on the road
Last summer, we created the Freight Policy Council, chaired by Deputy Secretary John Porcari and representing DOT leadership across the modes--from highways and railways to ports and pipelines--as well as economic, legal, and policy experts from the Department. We’re working to designate a National Freight Network, a system of priority roads most critical for people and businesses moving freight.

We’re also working on a proposal that will track our progress as a nation, to let us know how our transportation systems are performing and to help us decide where to focus future investments.
Cropped Seaport
And last month, we announced the establishment of a National Freight Advisory Committee (NFAC) to help guide our freight improvement efforts.
At DOT, we’re committed to engaging with the people who count on freight. That includes the states,
the freight and logistics industries, businesses, consumers, and others.  We want representatives from across the transportation spectrum to help us improve the way we move freight. Click here to nominate someone or yourself for the NFAC.
Freight train
In 2010, we shipped more than 18 billion tons of freight in the U.S., but by 2040 we’re projecting that number to increase by 27 billion tons.

So if we want our businesses to remain competitive, we have no choice but to invest in a transportation system --including roadways, railways, waterways, and runways-- that supports our economy and gives it the opportunity to continue growing as fast as possible.

That's why Deputy Secretary Porcari and members of our Freight Policy Council spent Tuesday listening to the folks who know freight best. And that's why--through the new National Freight Advisory Committee--we'll continue to listen as we develop a national freight strategy that keeps America's economy moving forward.

Port of Los Angeles to vote on whether to approve the SCIG Rail Yard Project


By Morgan Wyenn, March 6, 2013

(From Sylvia Plummer:  Today, March 7th,  the City Selection Committee will meet to decide whether or not Glendale Councilman Najarian’s nomination to the MTA Board will be confirmed.)

John Fasana, Barbara Messina and their gang are against Najarian and will try to sabotage his confirmation.  Why?  Because he's against the 710 Tunnels. 
Tomorrow, March 7, the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Port of Los Angeles—the busiest container port in the country—is going to vote on whether or not it will  build a new rail yard in a neighborhood that suffers from extreme environmental burdens already.  The rail yard would be called the Southern California International Gateway (the SCIG) and it would be operated by railroad giant the BNSF Railway Co.

This proposal is extremely controversial, and is widely understood to be one of the most racist ideas proposed by the City for decades.  The main issue is that it would bring harmful, asthma- and cancer-causing air pollution into a low-income residential neighborhood already suffering from elevated air pollution levels.  The rail yard would be located in the worst possible location: directly adjacent to an elementary school, a high school, a day care center, a park, and a center for homeless children, and extremely close to residential neighborhoods.  The Port performed an environmental analysis that concluded that the rail yard would improve the region’s air quality, but we have combed through their analysis and see clearly that their analysis is full of holes and incorrect assumptions.  This project would make the area’s air pollution worse, not better.

The rail yard would be a hub for thousands of diesel trucks and trains spewing harmful air pollution.  It would be very noisy and would increase the number of diesel-spewing trucks in the area.  The Port’s own analysis admits that the rail yard would disproportionately affect the minority communities nearby.

We have worked alongside community, environmental justice, and public health organizations for years, asking that this project be located on-dock at the port, rather than so close to communities that already face dangerously high levels of air pollution from port operations, nearby refineries, and highways packed with diesel trucks.  We hope that the Harbor Commission tomorrow will stand up for the community and common sense and reject this poorly conceived project.

We will be there tomorrow, asking the Board of Harbor Commissioners to abandon this toxic project. 

If you want to join us, here are the details:

8:30 AM, Thursday, March 7
Port of Los Angeles Cruise Annex Building
Rear Berth 92
San Pedro, CA 90731

For more info, check out: http://www.portoflosangeles.org/Board/2013/March%202013/03_07_13_Special_Agenda.asp

Blog: Najarian Rallies Against 710 Freeway Extension at La CaƱada Flintridge Event 


March 6, 2013



 (From Sylvia Plummer: Today, March 7th,  the City Selection Committee will meet to decide whether or not Glendale Councilman Najarian’s nomination to the MTA Board will be confirmed.)

John Fasana, Barbara Messina and their gang are against Najarian and will try to sabotage his confirmation.  Why?  Because he's against the 710 Tunnels. 
The Ara Najarian campaign traveled north of the Emerald Isle on Sunday, February 24 to the City of La Canada Flintridge to fundraise, but, more significantly, to reaffirm to the leaders of the Foothill communities, who were in attendance, that Ara was strongly opposed to the creation of a 710 tunnel.

In attendance were former Assembly Member Anthony Portantino, former Assembly Member and member of the California Transportation Commission Dario Frommer, State Senator Carol Liu, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogard, La Canada Mayor Stephen Del Guercio, South Pasadena Mayor Richard Schneider, La Canada councilmember Don Voss, Montebello City Councilman Jack Hadjinian, Sierra Madre City Councilmember John Harabedian, South Pasadena Councilmember Michael Cacciotti and Pasadena Unified School Board Member Ramon Miramontes.

This overwhelming regional support demonstrates the greatly positive regional impact that Ara’s reelection to both the MTA Board, on March 7, and Glendale City Council, on April 2, will have.

“We’re going to win this fight. We’re going to get on the MTA Board in March… I’m going to get reelected to Glendale City Council and continue to fight for the City of Glendale and the region we all live in to bring smart, sensible transportation alternatives to the region so our kids can grow up with healthy lives and healthy lungs and we’ll all be much better off.”

For every story there is a protagonist and an antagonist, in this case the antagonists are working
vehemently against are for petty political reasons.

“I do these things because I think it is the right thing to do, it is the proper thing to do, and I don’t like to back down from bullies, I don’t like to back down from people who have more stripes on their shoulders or more millions in their war chest.”

Ara went on to state his reasons for opposing the construction of a tunnel connecting the 710 to the 210 freeway, which increase pollution in Glendale and all Foothill communities.

“I am opposed to this tunnel and they didn’t like that. They think the way to solve the problem here is a tunnel and poof and all their traffic on the local streets in Alhambra, in Monterey Park, in Temple City is just going to disappear and everything is going to be wonderful. Well, they’re wrong. They’ve been sold a wrong bill of goods. There are large forces and powerful people behind that tunnel and they’re just not thinking it through.”

While Ara has made much progress on the issue of the 710 tunnel as a member of the MTA Board, he has done a great deal for Glendale residents in his eight years of service on the City Council and his two years as Mayor.

 “Glendale is becoming a better city, day by day. We are a safe city, we’re opening up new parks, our budget is balanced, we have some pension reform, which is helping with some of the long-term financial issues, we get along fairly well on the City Council, and we’re trying to be leaders in the region.”

Ara has not only worked to oppose the environmentally unfriendly 710 tunnel, but he has actively promoted environmentally safer alternatives.

 “There are other ways we can make the traffic better. We have four other alternatives like light rail, bus rapid transit, traffic demand management, and a no build alternative. We owe it to the residents of LA County and the resident of this [Glendale and Foothill communities] region to fully explore other ways and other alternatives before we rubber stamp the idea of a 5-mile tunnel. And that’s why they want to kick me of the MTA Board. And I’m not going to let them do it. I’m fighting with an army.”

On March 7th the City Selection Committee will meet to decide whether or not Councilman Najarian’s nomination to the MTA Board will be confirmed.

Critiquing the "Urban Mobility Report" 


By Todd Litman, March 6, 2013


One of a planner’s main jobs is to produce objective technical analysis. We assemble and organize data so the facts can speak for themselves. However, behind most technical reports is a dramatic story.

For example, the Urban Mobility Report (UMR) calculates traffic congestion costs for U.S. cities. Behind the numbers is the following narrative: Automobile commuters are good, hard-working people victimized by villainous traffic congestion, which threatens our productivity and happiness. Traffic engineers are heroes who can defeat this monster if only they are given sufficient resources. Success requires that wise but distant decision-makers (city councilors, transportation agencies, governors, congress, etc.) be persuaded to support their congestion reduction campaign. With more highway funding we will once again enjoy growth and happiness.

What’s wrong with this narrative? A lot if you care about transport system efficiency and equity. It assumes that “transportation” means automobile travel, ignoring other modes. It assumes that congestion is the most important transport planning issue, ignoring other objectives and impacts. It ignores other factors that affect mobility and accessibility, and the indirect costs of highway expansion. It ignores motorists’ complicity in creating congestion when they choose automobile-dependent lifestyles, and as citizens when they oppose efforts to improve alternative mode and transport pricing reforms. This narrative directs resources to roadway expansion over more efficient and equitable solutions.

The Urban Mobility Report is biased in various ways that exaggerate congestion costs and roadway expansion benefits. It ignores basic research principles: it provides no literature review, it fails to explain key assumptions, it inadequately cites sources, and incorporates no external peer review. Yet, few practitioners, decision-makers or journalists who use UMR results seem aware of these problems.
My new report Putting Congestion in its Place: Critical Evaluation of the “Urban Mobility Report” investigates these issues. This blog describes my key findings. For more detailed information please read the full report.

Defining Congestion

The Urban Mobility Report’s title is inaccurate: it should be renamed the Traffic Congestion Report since it ignores other modes and performance factors. The UMR uses the terms commuter when the analysis only considers automobile commuters. This significantly skews results. For example, the UMR indicates that in 2011 Washington DC’s automobile commuters experienced 67 average annual hours of delay, but since that region has only 43% auto commute mode share this averages just 29 hours per commuter. In contrast, Houston’s automobile commuters experience a somewhat lower 52 annual hours of delay, but since it has a 88% auto mode share this averages 46 hours per commuter overall, much higher than Washington DC. This shows how alternative modes can help reduce total congestion costs. Yet, the UMR only values walking, cycling and public transit to the degree they reduce vehicle congestion; it assigns no benefit to the congestion avoided by the travelers who shift mode.

Congestion Costing Methods

Although not mentioned in the Urban Mobility Report, there is considerable debate among transport economists concerning how best to measure congestion costs. One key issue is the baseline (or threshold) speed below which congestion delays are calculated. Lower baselines result in lower congestion cost values. The UMR uses freeflow speeds (level-of-service A) as a baseline. For example, if a roadway’s legal speed limit is 60 mph, and congestion reduces peak-period traffic speeds to 50 mph, the UMR considers the 10 mph speed reduction wasted time. However, freeflow speeds are not optimal: 45-55 mph traffic speeds tend to maximize roadway capacity and vehicle fuel efficiency. As a result, many transport economists recommend using lower baseline speeds.
Another key factor is the dollar value assigned to delay. The U.S. Department of Transportation recommends valuing personal travel at 35% to 60% of prevailing incomes, or $8.37 to $14.34 per hour, based on $23.90 overall national average incomes. The UMR uses $16.79 per hour (although it cites $8 per hour on page 24 and $16 on pages 25-31), 40% more than the USDOT’s $12 per hour default value.

The Urban Mobility Report's congestion cost estimates therefore represent upper-bound values while more reasonable assumptions would result in much lower congestion cost estimates. The following graph compares the UMR's $121 billion upper-bound cost estimate based on a freeflow speed baseline and $16.79 per hour time costs with a middle-range value based on 70% baseline and $12 per hour value, and a lower-range value based on a 50% baseline and $8.37 per hour.
Congestion Cost Ranges

The Urban Mobility Report uses an upper-bound travel speed baseline and travel time unit costs. Most economists recommend lower values. The lower-bound estimate is based on Transport Canada’s lower baseline speed and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s lower travel time unit costs.

The Urban Mobility Report uses an upper-bound travel speed baseline and travel time unit costs. Most economists recommend lower values. The lower-bound estimate is based on Transport Canada’s lower baseline speed and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s lower travel time unit costs. The UMR does not explain how it selected its assumptions or discuss possible analysis biases, which violates basic research principles.

Comparing Costs

The Urban Mobility Report claims that traffic congestion wastes “massive” amounts of time and money, estimated at 5.5 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of fuel, worth an estimated $121 billion. Described this way the costs do seem large, but measured per capita they seem modest: 17 hours, 9 gallons and $388 per year, or less than three minutes, 0.03 gallons and $1.06 per day. These represent less than 2% of total travel time and fuel costs.

The following graph compares various transportation costs, measured annually per capita. Congestion costs are estimated to range from $110 (50% baseline speeds and $8.37 per hour time costs) up to $388 (the UMR’s estimate) compared with approximately $2,600 in vehicle ownership costs, $1,500 in crash damages, $1,200 in parking costs, $500 in pollution damage costs and $325 in roadway costs.
Costs Ranked by Magnitude

Congestion costs are estimated to range between about $110 and $340 annual per capita, depending on assumptions. These are modest compared with other transportation costs.

Congestion costs are estimated to range between about $110 and $340 annual per capita, depending on assumptions. These are modest compared with other transportation costs.
Because congestion costs are overall modest, it is inappropriate to evaluate potential congestion reduction strategies in isolation: a strategy may provide little net benefit if it increases other costs, but is worth far more if it reduces other costs or provides other benefits. For example, roadway expansions may seem cost effective considering just congestion reduction benefits, but if they induce additional vehicle travel which increases other traffic problems, the overall economic impacts may be negative. On the other hand, improving walking, cycling and public transit, or efficient parking pricing may seem to provide only modest congestion reduction benefits, but turn out to be very cost effective considering their co-benefits.

The Urban Mobility Report incorporates a striking example of bias hidden in its technical analysis: it assumes that any traffic speed increase reduces per-mile fuel consumption and emission rates, although most other studies find that these rates minimize at 45-55 miles per hour and increase with higher speeds, as illustrated below. As a result, the UMR assumes that reducing congestion always saves energy and reduces emissions although other researchers conclude otherwise. For example, Barth and Boriboonsomin explain, “If moderate congestion brings average speeds down from a free-flow speed over 70 mph to a slower speed of 45 to 55 mph, this moderate congestion can reduce CO2 emissions. If congestion mitigation raises average traffic speed to above about 65 miles per hour, it can increase emissions. And, of course, speeds above 65 or 70 also make the roadway more dangerous.”
Emission Curves Compared

The Urban Mobility Report ignores this last point, that congestion reductions can increase traffic risks, although it is much discussed by traffic safety researchers. Crash rates tend to be lowest on moderately congested roads (V/C=0.6), and increase at lower and higher congestion levels, while fatalities decline at high levels of congestion, indicating a tradeoff between congestion and safety. Per capita traffic deaths tend to increase with per capita vehicle travel, so if roadway expansions induce additional vehicle travel this tends to increase traffic casualties.

Exaggerating Future Congestion Problems

The Urban Mobility Report’s press release headline, “As traffic jams worsen, commuters allow extra time for urgent trips…” implies that congestion problems are increasing, but the analysis actually indicates that congestion has decreased in recent years due to demographic and economic trends that have caused vehicle travel to peak in North America. Yet, the UMB simply extrapolates the high pre-2006 traffic growth rates without accounting for underlying demographic and economic factors that affect travel demands. In other words, the UMR assumes that the future will simply be a repeat of the past, ignoring fundamental changes in travel demands.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Urban Mobility Report has significant omissions and biases.
  • It fails to review current congestion costing literature, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different methods, and explain why the selected methodology and assumptions were chosen.
  • It uses methods and assumptions that result in upper-bound congestion cost estimates, including freeflow travel speed baseline, although many experts recommend lower values, and $16.79 per hour travel time values, far higher than recommended by the USDOT.
  • It fails to consider factors that significantly affect accessibility and transport costs, including the quality of transport options, roadway connectivity, and land use proximity, and ways that various congestion reduction strategies can affect these factors.
  • It exaggerates congestion compared with other transportation costs. It calls congestion costs “massive,” although they are relatively modest overall, at most increasing travel time and fuel consumption by 2%.
  • It ignores generated traffic and induced travel impacts, which reduce congestion reduction benefits and increase indirect and external costs, reducing roadway expansion net benefits.
  • It predicts that traffic congestion problems will increase significantly in the future, based on the assumption that traffic will grow as rapidly in the future as during the peak growth years of the late twentieth century. This ignores widely-recognized demographic and economic trends which are changing travel demands. In fact, most experts predict that congestion problems are unlikely to increase significantly in the future, and can be reduced effectively by meeting growing demands for alternative travel options and using TDM strategies.
The Urban Mobility Report’s estimates represent the upper-bound range of possible congestion costs; applying methodologies and assumptions generally recommended by economists and government agencies can reduce these estimates by half or two-thirds. To be comprehensive and objective, the UMR should summarize current congestion costing research; discuss different evaluation perspectives and costing methods; explain why the methods and assumptions it uses were selected; apply sensitivity analysis; compare congestion with other transport costs; account for changing travel demands; consider all impacts when evaluating potential congestion reduction strategies, and provide more transparency, quality control and peer review.

This is not to deny that traffic congestion is a problem: it is frustrating, increases costs and reduces productivity. However, it is not appropriate to exaggerate congestion relative to other related problems or evaluate congestion reduction strategies without considering other objectives and impacts.

For More Information

Robert L. Bertini (2005), You Are the Traffic Jam: An Examination of Congestion Measures, TRB Annual Meeting (www.trb.org); at www.its.pdx.edu/pdf/congestion_trb.pdf.
Joe Cortright (2010), Driven Apart: How Sprawl is Lengthening Our Commutes and Why Misleading Mobility Measures are Making Things Worse, CEOs for Cities (www.ceosforcities.org); at www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart.
Eric Dumbaugh (2012), Rethinking the Economics of Traffic Congestion, Atlantic Cities, 1 June 2012; at www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/06/defense-congestion/2118.
Susan Grant-Muller and James Laird (2007), International Literature Review of the Costs of Road Traffic Congestion, Scottish Executive (www.scotland.gov.uk); at www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/11/01103351/0.
Zachary Howard and Clark Williams-Derry (2012), How Much Do Drivers Pay For A Quicker Commute? New Evidence Suggests That It's Less Than We Think, Sightline Institute (www.sightline.org); at (http://daily.sightline.org/2012/08/01/how-much-do-drivers-pay-for-a-quicker-commute.
Todd Litman (2009), “Congestion Costs,” Transportation Cost and Benefit Analysis; Techniques, Estimates and Implications, Victoria Transport Policy Institute (www.vtpi.org/tca).
Todd Litman (2012), Smart Congestion Relief: Comprehensive Analysis Of Traffic Congestion Costs and Congestion Reduction Benefits, paper P12-5310, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting (www.trb.org); at www.vtpi.org/cong_relief.pdf.
TC (2006), The Cost Of Urban Congestion In Canada, Transport Canada (www.tc.gc.ca); at www.adec-inc.ca/pdf/02-rapport/cong-canada-ang.pdf.
TTI (2012), Urban Mobility Report, Texas Transportation Institute (http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report); at http://tti.tamu.edu/documents/mobility-report-2012.pdf.

Top Eight Reasons People Give Up On Public Transit


By Jeff McMahon, March 6, 2013

 Car 1075, ex-Newark car, painted in Cleveland ...

 A Muni streetcar on Market Street in San Francisco

Commuters are more likely to stop using public transit when they experience delays they can blame on the transit agency, according to researchers at the University of California Berkeley.

They are more likely to forgive delays caused by traffic, emergencies or mechanical failures.

“The most significant negative experiences that drove a reduction in transit use were delays perceived to be the fault of the transit agency, long waits at transfer points, and being prevented from boarding due to crowding,” wrote the researchers: graduate student Andre Carrel, undergraduate Anne Halvorsen and Professor Joan L. Walker from Berkeley’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The researchers surveyed users of San Francisco’s Muni transit system, as well as former users. They set out to learn not only how transit users adapt to unreliability, but also how experiences on buses and trains inform people’s long-term transportation choices.

They found that passengers care about much more than just when the bus arrives—a factor traditionally considered to influence perceptions of reliability. Passengers care about the types of delays they endure and when in the trip they occur.

For example, passengers are more likely to be angered by delays at a transfer stop than an origin stop, where they first board the bus or train.

At an origin stop passengers may be able to wait at home, Carrel said, if they have access to real-time arrival information, and they may be able to consider alternative ways to travel.

“If you get stuck at a transfer stop—you get off of one bus and you’re waiting for another—you’re pretty much screwed,” Carel said in a Canadian Broadcasting Company interview. “We found that was much worse.”

But it wasn’t the worst experience reported by bus riders.

“What’s even worse is when people get stuck inside the bus,” Carrel said. “When the vehicle is stuck, say backed up behind other transit vehicles, that is the most important event in people wanting to stop using transit.”

The study should give pause to transit agencies that require buses to idle at green lights or pull over to stick to a schedule or to prevent bus bunching.

The top reasons people give up on public transit, according to the researchers:

1. Delayed on board due to transit vehicles backed up or problems on the transit route downstream.
2. Experienced long wait at a transfer stop.
 3. Missed departure due to wrong real-time information. 
4. Unable to board or denied boarding due to crowding.

Much less significant were events that riders do not perceive to be the fault of the transit agency. “People tend to be much more forgiving when they feel the problem is beyond the control of the agency,” Carrel said. “That would be, for example, when buses are stuck in traffic, where everybody’s stuck in traffic.”

5. Delayed on board due to emergency or mechanical failure.
6. Experienced long wait at origin stop.
7. Ran to stop but the bus or train pulled away.
8. Delayed on board due to traffic.

The researchers found that comfort is the least important factor influencing decisions to stop using public transit. Riders don’t mind standing in crowded buses or trains as long as the vehicles move without delay and run frequently. Commuters are willing to wait 10.2 minutes, on average, before they consider a wait too long, the study found.

The researchers presented the study, “Passengers’ Perception of and Behavioral Adaptations to Unrealiability in Public Transportation” in November at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting. Their findings have been generating discussion recently on governing and planning agency blogs.

The researchers offer recommendations to transit agencies:
  • When holding up buses for schedule reasons, hold up the empty buses, not the full ones.
  • Small vehicles running more often may be better than large vehicles running less often.
  • Pay particular attention to the wait times for transfers.
  • When buses and trains are delayed, let passengers know what’s happening, especially if the delay is not the transit agency’s fault.
“It’s important for passengers to understand the reasons behind the problem, so communication is really key,” Carrel said.”I would say this to transit operators: If something is not their fault, don’t just let people sit at the stop or inside the bus and not tell them why they’re not getting a ride.”

Uncovering the First, Fascinating Rulebook for Subway Signs


By Henry Grabar, March 7, 2013


Uncovering the First, Fascinating Rulebook for Subway Signs

Late one night last August, three Pentagram designers rummaging through the design firm's basement archives found the Rosetta Stone of New York subway graphics: the original Standards Manual, designed by Bob Noorda and Massimo Vignelli in the late 1960s.

The 180-page binder, the key to the system's iconic design choices, outlines a meticulous vision of signage intended not merely to look good -- though it does -- but to simplify navigation of the subterranean labyrinth. In its attention to passenger behavior, the manual goes above and beyond what most of us would term graphic design.

"The subway rider should be given only information at the point of decision," proclaimed the designers. "Never before. Never after."
"Diagram of the Information Tree" for the Times Square station, from page 2 of the NYCTA Standards Manual.
The existence of the book is well-known; its contents legendary. But apart from a few off-kilter snapshots posted to Flickr in 2006, images of the document itself were scarce. So when Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth found the 1970 manual in a locker beneath a pile of dirty clothes in the Pentagram basement, they did the world a favor and posted its pages, PDF by PDF, on a new website.

"None of us had ever seen anything like that before," Skourtis says. "In its full glory."
Nearly fifty years ago, the New York City Transit Authority hired Bob Noorda's Unimark International to develop a uniform system of signage for the subway system. Since the subway comprised what had been three separate systems -- the IND, the IRT, and the BMT -- the stations and trains were cluttered with conflicting, confusing instructions.

Noorda and Vignelli made it look easy. They gave the system its sans-serif typeface (the sign-makers would not or could not yet print Helvetica, so the designers settled initially for Standard Medium), its color-coded disks,and its pared-down, modular signage. A wonder of precision, the Standards Manual even addresses the heights of conductors with and without hats.

"It's pretty much a design bible as far as standards manuals go," Skourtis says.

Some things have changed in the last fifty years. Standard Medium has been (rather famously) replaced by Helvetica. In an effort to discourage graffiti, signs now feature white lettering on black, as opposed to Unimark's prescribed black-on-white. The surest sign of the book's age? A mock-up sign warning readers: "Clerk not required to accept bills over 5 dollars."

But the graphic language of the subway is nearly the same, and a flip through the book relays its remarkable aesthetic coherence. (If anything, the current system of signage is a slight under-design of the Unimark model. Noorda wanted every station peppered with "Directories," alphabetical listings of stations showing, in symbols, exactly how to get from here to there.)

The original document offers some remarkably crisp images of the subway's vernacular, like this diagram of how to construct the system's most commonly used symbol:
There are, the Manual stresses, six and only six ways to use these arrows.
The designers even included some examples of ways not to use these symbols (at the bottom of the page).
One imagines that the designers would also have forbade the now-common U-turn arrow, if they had foreseen its use.
But the Standard Manual's most famous contribution is surely the vibrant, colored disks for trains, today the stuff of t-shirts and posters:
And unlike Vignelli's diagrammatic 1972 subway map, which has achieved immortality in the design world since it was banished in 1979, these symbols have garnered the affection of strap-hangers and typographers alike.
The reaction to the published manual, Skourtis said, has been huge. "We've gotten a gigantic response -- the site crashed two or three times in the first week," he said. "We got a ton of emails. People were so happy to see the thing in its entirety."

Rep. Judy Chu is big winner in March local elections


By Lauren Gold, March 6, 2013


Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena

The big winner in the local San Gabriel Valley elections Tuesday was riding out a snow storm in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, a political powerhouse in the area for more than two decades, endorsed six local candidates for city council and school board, all of whom emerged victorious in unofficial voting results.

Chu said she was glad to see that the candidates she supported - Jason Pu in San Gabriel, Hans Liang and Peter Chan in Monterey Park and Victor Gordo, Elizabeth Pomeroy and John Kennedy in Pasadena - also won community support.

"It was great, it was incredible," Chu said Wednesday. "I was very pleased with the results. I felt that the candidates that won will provide new leadership for these cities and I am glad that the voters recognized that."

Pu, a business attorney also supported by the San Gabriel Police Officers' Association, came in third place in the San Gabriel race for three open seats - though there are still 600 ballots yet to be counted in the extremely tight race.

Kennedy, former head of the Pasadena-branch NAACP, beat out Pasadena businessman Ishmael Trone in the competitive race for Pasadena City Council District 3 and incumbent Gordo retained his seat after his opponent suspended his campaign. Pasadena Unified School District incumbent Pomeroy beat out challenger Stella Murga in the newly drawn districts.

Liang and Chan, the only two Asian American candidates in a race to replace outgoing David Lau and Betty Tom Chu, emerged head and shoulders above the competition Tuesday.

Liang said Judy Chu's support was partially to thank, along with a strong Asian American voting block in the city and hard work from his campaign team.

"She is a very well respected leader in our community so obviously her endorsement helped both Peter and I as well as endorsements from Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, Mike Eng and other local leaders," Liang said. "I think in terms of local politics I think that is very difficult to be very successful without their support and if they are against you I think that will make it even more difficult."

Seasoned local political strategist Fred Register, who ran campaigns this year for Pomeroy, Ernest Moreno and Luis Ayala, said Chu's influence in the San Gabriel Valley has been building since she first ran for Monterey Park City Council 24 years ago.

"They know her name, they are comfortable with her and when you are looking at a ballot and you see people on it you don't know very well and you learn that someone you do know and feel very comfortable with is supporting them, that's a factor," Register said. "It's partly just name recognition but also partially because Judy has done the things that have made these communities happy with her, they have elected her time after time after time."

But, Register said, he's not sure if Chu's influence extends to her new district in Pasadena yet.
"I think Judy's influence in areas that she has represented for a long time like Monterey Park and San Gabriel is very high, she is very well known and popular, but I don't think her influence is quite as high in the Pasadena area yet because she is brand new here," Register said. "I would not think her endorsement in the Kennedy race was decisive but you never know what went into voters' minds."

Chu said she chooses candidates that have demonstrated experience and commitment to the local community and who can run a successful campaign.

"I just hope that I could have helped provide some credibility for these candidates," Chu said. "I want to make sure we have the best people possible in these seats so that these cities can thrive and move forward and these candidates can do so much good when they are on the city council."

L.A. Mayoral hopefuls Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti back at it


By Dakota Smith, March 6, 2013

 Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel makes an appearance at WET Design in Los Angeles March 6, 2013. Greuel and Eric Garcetti are now campaigning for a May runoff.

City Controller Wendy Greuel and City Councilman Eric Garcetti wasted no time hitting the campaign trail Wednesday, trading jabs over union influence a day after voters picked them to face off in May's mayoral showdown.

Greuel launched her runoff campaign with a big endorsement - the Service Employees International Union 721, which represents 10,000 city workers and is known for its effectiveness in grass-roots campaigning.

That in turn triggered sniping from the Garcetti campaign that Greuel would be beholden to special interests like city unions.

 Irene Wongpec of Eagle Rock, greets mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti following a press conference at Van de Kamp's Innovation Campus in Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 6, 2013.

Greuel promised the group she would be a "champion" for them at City Hall and would make better use of the collective bargaining process in talks with unions, a reference to the City Council's winning of pension concessions from city workers last year.

"I should have worn my purple today," Greuel said, alluding to the color of SEIU's well-known logo and T-shirts.

SEIU's United Long Term Care Workers, which represents 80,000 local health care workers, also endorsed Greuel Wednesday.

Four major unions have backed Greuel, with some spending millions on her behalf in the primary. SEIU 721 hasn't announced if it will spend money on Greuel.

Garcetti won about 94,000 votes, or about 33 percent of the eight-candidate mayoral field Tuesday night, although some 90,000 ballots overall remain to be counted. Greuel tallied more than 83,000 or 29 percent. A runoff is held when no single candidate exceeds 50 percent.

Garcetti, holding his own press conference in Glassell Park, indicated Greuel's union support will be a factor in the upcoming campaign.

"There's going to be a real choice in this mayoral race between someone who's going to be beholden to those interests and those who can collaborate and step up and make the tough decisions to keep this city moving forward and balance our budget," Garcetti said.

Garcetti won large swathes of L.A.'s basin, including the Westside, while Greuel carried much of the San Fernando Valley and parts of the Harbor Area, according to City Clerk's Office polling data.

Republican Kevin James earned 16.36 percent of the vote, and Councilwoman Jan Perry took 15.93 percent.

James, who championed himself as an outsider in the race, thanked supporters Wednesday on Facebook.

"I'm proud of the campaign we waged to bring forward detailed solutions to fix the serious problems at Los Angeles City Hall," he wrote.

Perry looked downcast as she returned to City Hall Wednesday for work. Like James, she hasn't decided if she would endorse either Greuel or Garcetti, Perry said.

Given the tight race, an endorsement from Perry or James is coveted, particularly from a fundraising point of view.

Currently, Greuel has the advantage in terms of independent expenditures. Working Californians, a
group that includes the Department of Water and Power's union, spent about $1.7 million in advertisements on Greuel in the primary. Overall, the group raised more than $2 million on Greuel's behalf.

Political consultant Sean Clegg, who is running the Working Californians campaign, said Tuesday his committee planned to replicate those spending numbers in the runoff.

A pro-Greuel ad released by the committee was seen 13 times by the average TV viewer in the weeks before the primary, he said.

The Garcetti campaign believes the DWP union support is hurting Greuel's candidacy.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, Garcetti consultant Bill Carrick said internal polling found some negative reaction to Greuel because of the DWP's union support.

"We think it is a lot of baggage for her to carry into the runoff," Carrick said. "Particularly for those voters who are up for grabs."

Union leaders aren't wavering in their support of Greuel, however.

At her SEIU press conference, President Bob Schoonover called Greuel a champion for working families at City Hall.

Garcetti's spokesman Jeff Millman believes the Greuel endorsement is payback. Last year, Garcetti backed pension concessions for city workers.

Greuel and Garcetti served on the City Council in 2008 when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council agreed to a lucrative package of raises for SEIU workers.

Months later, the economy crashed, and the City Council eliminated thousands of positions at City Hall.

Greuel had left the City Council for the Controller's Office before the biggest layoffs occurred, so the cuts occurred on Garcetti's watch.

Sales Tax Increase Measure A Goes Down to Defeat in Los Angeles


March 7, 2013

It doesn't appear that the residents of Los Angeles County are in the mood to raise their taxes right now. Even in the usually tax affirmative City of Los Angeles people just aren't voting for these things. A situation that has certain government circles in something of a tizzy. How can they grow their political empires without being able to continuously raise the additional tax money needed to do so?

This from the KPCC website (click here):

Measure A, the proposed half-cent increase to the city of Los Angeles sales tax, failed 55 percent to 45 percent. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck argued the tax hike was necessary to avoid serious budget cuts to the police and fire departments.

During the campaign, city officials said the tax hike would address persistent budget deficits. Los Angeles faces a $200 million shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The new tax would have raised about that amount annually.

Like many cities, Los Angeles is struggling to recover from a dramatic drop in revenue since the Great Recession while coping with rising pension and healthcare costs for its employees. Since 2009, L.A. has eliminated more than 5,000 jobs, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said.  

“Across the board, there’s been significant reductions throughout the city,” he told KNBC during the campaign. “Every year is going to be harder and harder to balance the budget without having to reduce police and fire."

Former Los Angeles Daily News Editor Ron Kaye, who blogs about local politics, said City Hall remains fraught with waste. He campaigned against the tax increase, arguing elected officials have refused to make difficult decisions.

“The city council and the mayor have shown no backbone, no political will, no willingness to come to terms with the fact that their payroll benefits and pension costs are out of line with what the city can afford,” Kaye said.

As we saw last April when the voters of Sierra Madre overwhelmingly defeated a ballot measure that would have further extended our UUT taxes at their present California leading rate, the electorate just doesn't want to hear about tax increases. Something that does not bode well for Mayor Josh Moran's anticipated UUT do-over vote in April of 2014.