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

Friday, March 15, 2013

1,500 sites planned to monitor PM2.5


By Wu Wencong, March 16, 2013

Ministry vows stricter standards to improve air quality and environment

About 1,500 monitoring sites releasing daily readings of fine particles will be set up in all prefecture-level cities by the end of 2015, top environmental officials said on Friday.

Wu Xiaoqing, vice-minister of environmental protection, said during a news conference that the target for 2013 is to build more than 440 new monitoring stations in 116 cities.

Fewer than 500 sites were already set up in 74 cities in 2012, giving the public real-time readings of PM2.5 — particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can reach deep into the lungs and bloodstream — as of Jan 1.

Accelerating the construction of air monitoring stations has been among the ministry's top tasks on its to-do list for combating airborne pollution for several years, but the heavy smog and haze that engulfed large areas of the country five times in January has accelerated the process.

"Some large and medium-sized cities continuously encounter smog and haze, in winter and in summer as well," Wu said.

"The situation is especially severe in regions like the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta, which are covered by haze for more than 100 days a year. The figure even reaches to more than 200 days in some cities."

Wu said these regions account for only 8 percent of the total land area, yet consume more than 40 percent of the coal and half of the gasoline and diesel, and discharge 30 percent of the country's sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, smoke and dust.

Experts have been calling for local governments within these key regions to jointly prevent and control airborne pollution because pollutants don't stay within administrative boundaries.

Luo Yi, head of the ministry's environmental monitoring department, said another 96 regional monitoring sites will be set up before the end of 2015 at the boundaries of cities and provinces within the key regions, and will show the routes of the airborne pollutants.

Environmental Protection Minister Zhou Shengxian said in January that a working group devoted to improving regional joint protection and control systems will be established, led by the ministry with relevant departments and local governments as members.

Wu attributed the core reasons for the breakout of smog and haze to a concentrated display of environmental problems accumulated during China's decades of rapid industrialization and urbanization rather than the weather.

"The obvious reason may be the bad weather, but the heavy pollution caused by our coal-based energy structure, our rapidly growing motor vehicle ownership, our construction sites that scatter everywhere, and our controlling measures that are far from enough all lead to the result of smog and haze," Wu said.

To change the situation of growingly severe pollution, the vice-minister highlighted several measures the ministry plans to take by 2015.

"We will push State-controlled key enterprises to release information on the pollutants they emit by the end of this year, and implement full control of coal consumption in regions with the most severe pollution," Wu said.

The ministry has also urged emissions from the thermal power, iron and steel, petrochemical, cement, nonferrous metal and chemical industries in 47 cities to reach internationally advanced levels, starting from March 1.

"This has been the toughest measure in the country's history of pollution control," Wu said. "Before that, such special limits have been adopted only within a relatively small region of the Taihu Lake basin."

Tumlin out as city consultant


March 14, 2013




CITY HALL — City officials confirmed Wednesday that they would no longer work with traffic and circulstopNIMBYgraphic.jpgation consultant Jeffrey Tumlin after comments on an online biography proved even more controversial than the parking policies he espoused.

In the bio, Tumlin wrote that Santa Monica politics “had been dominated by NIMBYs who used traffic fear as their primary tool for stopping development.” The reference, indeed the entire section on Santa Monica, had been removed as of Wednesday.

The comment spurred outrage amongst residents, who called for Tumlin’s dismissal. Additionally, Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City, or SMCLC, wrote an adjoining letter expressing distaste for Tumlin’s parking policies, which involve building less parking than currently required for new development and opening up existing lots to increase supply in some areas.

The net effect would be to drive down costs of development, and therefore the price of housing, and ostensibly cause fewer car trips by attracting fewer cars based on the premise that you will not drive where you cannot park.

The theory is embraced by planning professionals, although it constitutes “a huge transition,” said Juan Matute, of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, in January when Tumlin’s proposal first ricocheted through Santa Monica.

That holds little water for Santa Monicans aghast that large amounts of new development could ever result in the “no new net PM trips” promise enshrined in the 2010 Land Use and Circulation Element, a planning document that is supposed to dictate development in Santa Monica for decades to come.

“Mr. Tumlin’s central premise — that new development would yield no additional traffic — is an unsound prediction without basis,” SMCLC wrote. “It is fanciful social experimentation, embraced only by developers.”

It’s unclear if those unpopular ideas will exit along with Tumlin.

City Hall is not releasing his firm, Nelson\Nygaard, said Kate Vernez, deputy city manager for special projects.

For his part, Tumlin expressed regret over the comments, and apologized to the community.

“My comment was neither thoughtful nor respectful, and I have failed to live up to the standards set by the city. For that, I deeply apologize,” Tumlin said.

Update: Comments to Joe Cano's Video of the Drilling Operation in El Sereno

March 15, 2013

The comment section to Joe Cano's Video "Metro's soil sampling drilling in El Sereno is now open for comments.

Here is the video again:

And comments made: 

 "Comment on your video: Metro's soil sampling drilling in El Sereno Really? You are going to knock these honest working men FROM Southern California, by the way do your freaking research, for the blessed opportunity to go out there every morning and earn a buck? Do you even know just how much money and man power it takes to run and financially support a drilling company? Do you have any idea the skills and experience necessary to operate a drill rig? All I see staring back monologueing into the camera is a lazy, worthless slob. Get a job!"

Facebook comments to the comment:

 Sounds like it came from the owner of the drilling company.

  To the writers' point, no one is criticizing the hard working people on the drilling rig. I think the point is that geological testing is being done in neighborhoods which creates a great deal of noise and vibration for the residents of the area. The rig is operating without proper noise mitigation. The drilling rig company is making money because of an EIR and is being paid by Measure R funds, for a project that is opposed by a majority of residents in the area.

Comment:  Misty Dawn has made a comment on Metro's soil sampling drilling in El Sereno.  "Joe, you are a tard! Take off the spasm cap and act like a human."

Note: Joe "tried responding to the orginal emails,  but strangely enough those address were disabled by the users for some reason. Youtube error message: 550-5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist."

Report makes chilling forecast on Northwest quake 

 More than 10,000 people could die when - not if - a monster earthquake and tsunami occur just off the Pacific Northwest coast, researchers told Oregon legislators Thursday.

By Lauren Gambino, March 14, 2013

(We in Southern California are not the only ones worried about a catrastrophic earthquake occurring in our areas.)

 SALEM, Ore. —

More than 10,000 people could die when - not if - a monster earthquake and tsunami occur just off the Pacific Northwest coast, researchers told Oregon legislators Thursday.
Coastal towns would be inundated. Schools, buildings and bridges would collapse, and economic damage could hit $32 billion.

These findings were published in a chilling new report by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission, a group of more than 150 volunteer experts.

In 2011, the Legislature authorized the study of what would happen if a quake and tsunami such as the one that devastated Japan hit the Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone, just off the regional coastline, produced a mega-quake in the year 1700. Seismic experts say another monster quake and tsunami are overdue.

"This earthquake will hit us again," Kent Yu, an engineer and chairman of the commission, told lawmakers. "It's just a matter of how soon."

When it hits, the report says, there will be devastation and death from Northern California to British Columbia.

Many Oregon communities will be left without water, power, heat and telephone service. Gasoline supplies will be disrupted.

The 2011 Japan quake and tsunami were a wakeup call for the Pacific Northwest. Governments have been taking a closer look at whether the region is prepared for something similar and discovering it is not.

Oregon legislators requested the study so they could better inform themselves about what needs to be done to prepare and recover from such a giant natural disaster.

The report says that geologically, Oregon and Japan are mirror images. Despite the devastation in Japan, that country was more prepared than Oregon because it had spent billions on technology to reduce the damage, the report says.

Jay Wilson, the commission's vice chairman, visited Japan and said he was profoundly affected as he walked through villages ravaged by the tsunami.

"It was just as if these communities were ghost towns, and for the most part there was nothing left," said Wilson, who works for the Clackamas County emergency management department.
Wilson told legislators that there was a similar event 313 years ago in the Pacific Northwest, and "we're well within the window for it to happen again."

Experts representing a variety of state agencies, industries and organizations expanded on the report's findings and shared with lawmakers how they have begun planning.

Sue Graves, a safety coordinator for the Lincoln County School District, told lawmakers that high school students in her district take semester-long classes that teach CPR and other survival techniques in the wake of a giant earthquake. The class teaches students to "duck, cover and hold" when the ground starts shaking.

Maree Wacker, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of Oregon, said it is important for residents to have their own contingency plans for natural disasters.

"Oregonians as individuals are underprepared," she said.


State transportation secretary orders review of 99 tunnel and 520 bridge projects 


By Beth Kaiman, March 14, 2013

 OLYMPIA — New state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson has ordered a review of three megaprojects: a new Interstate 5 bridge crossing the Columbia River, and the new Highway 520 floating bridge and the tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle.
Each project costs billions of dollars.

Peterson said Thursday the assessment would be led by a program manager for the CH2M Hill engineering company, Ron Paananen. He’s the former DOT project director for the Seattle tunnel project.

His review is due by the end of September. He’ll recommend ways to clarify lines of decision-making, resolve disputes and hold down costs.

Reduce tolls? Highway 99 tunnel panel grasps at ideas 


By Mike Lindblom, March 14, 2013

Distance-based tolls, peak-only tolling, and a wide range of rates from 50 cents to $3 are now on the table, as the Highway 99 tunnel’s toll advisory committee looks at a broader spectrum of ideas for raising revenue.

At a Wednesday meeting, committee members seemed far from solving the fundamental problem, after 11 meetings in 16 months.  Any toll high enough to reap $200 million for construction costs will cause drivers to opt for downtown streets, which are already near full. Models show there wouldn’t even be a boost in peak traffic on I-5 because the freeway is saturated.

Not only are tolls expected to finance $200 million of the $3.1 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement over 30 years – but over the years, state officials quietly assumed the tolls could cover operations, maintenance, insurance and long-term equipment replacement, comprising another $400 million. Toll-backed financing is much weaker than what pro-tunnel officials assured the public back in 2009, when lawmakers voted to build a tunnel.

The latest scenarios include two that raise money:
  • Varying the rates based on whether drivers enter and exit via local streets, or continue on the highway toward Green Lake, Shoreline, West Seattle, or Burien. This would be done using electronic readers at the South Lake Union and Sodo interchanges. In late afternoon, a “short” rate might be $1.20, a “medium” rate $2.10, or a “long” rate of $3.
  • A simpler, high-revenue matrix of $2.25 morning peak, $1.50 mid-day, and $2.75 afternoon peak.
And two that minimize diversion to downtown streets:
  • A peak-only toll of $1.75, charged from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Cheap rates of 50 cent off-peak, of 75 cents peak, and free at night.
In the latter two versions, the state misses the budget targets, and couldn’t use the tolls to back a bond sale.  And in all versions, at least 25 percent of what drivers pay would be spent just to cover costs of gathering the tolls.

The tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic in early 2016.

Projections say the high revenue version would cause the tunnel to lose 41 percent of vehicles compared to being toll-free – a debacle unless the vast majority switch to transit, carpools, telework or bicycles.

Toll diversion might clog bus routes throughout downtown, said Sung Yang, chief of staff to County Executive Dow Constantine. And Mark Bandy, state traffic engineer, pointed out that diversion would reach busy bicycling and pedestrian crossings, such as Boren Avenue at Olive Way, or Dexter Avenue North and Mercer Street.

“We don’t have any more scenarios — this is it. We’ve got to figure out how to get from this material to a recommendation,” said committee Chairwoman Maud Daudon, president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and a longtime finance executive. Chances are, the group will combine these divergent ideas, she said later. Toll rates would need to undergo an investment-grade study, review by the state Transportation Commission, and passage by the state Legislature, under Initiative 1185.

Help Fund A Bike-In Movie Series on the L.A. River


 By Carren Jao, March 14, 2013


Spring is here and, in Los Angeles, that means taking full advantage of our warm weather with picnics, barbecues, bike rides and all manner of good fun. With its newly launched Kickstarter project, the Los Angeles Revitalization Corporation (LARRC) is proposing a gem of an addition to our itinerary -- a bike-in movie theater series.

Riffing off of the 1950s tradition of drive-ins, the LARRC is asking Angelenos to tune-up their bikes, make use of the bike path by the river, and take in a free movie at the end. If you don't have a bike, don't worry -- the event will be open to the public, but they encourage attendees, skate, take the bus or walk to the venue.

"So much of the work revitalizing the Los Angeles River is long-term and very macro," says Miranda Rodriguez, community and events coordinator for LARRC. "We wanted to create this meaningful way for people to participate."

The LARRC launched its Kickstarter campaign earlier this week, and more details are coming together. Just yesterday, LARRC secured the Janel Glass warehouse and parking lot to host the event.

Expect more than a movie at the bike-in, says Rodiguez. "Come bring your blankets and, if you can, come even an hour before." The Los Angeles County Bike Coalition (LACBC) will host feeder rides to help people get on the bike path. LARRC is also working with the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative (NELA RC) on a mobile mapping initiative, where they'll ask cyclists to ride around the neighborhood and take stock of their favorite places in the community. The information will go into an online community guide that will help future curious Angelenos explore this part of Los Angeles.

Find more information for the LARRC's Bike-In Movie Project here. If you like what you see, you can help fund the initiative.
The New Pope Rides Public Transit, So Will He Ditch These Old Popemobiles (PICS)


 Popemobile, 1995 edition.

With Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina chosen as the new Pope, to be known as Francis I, the remaining papal question is: how will he get around?

A Jesuit, the 76-year-old has already promised a humble papacy. He’s known for living out that philosophy as Cardinal, giving up his limousine in favor of riding public transportation. (Anyone with a photo of Cardinal Bergoglio on an Argentine bus, please send it to us ASAP!) He also cooks his own meals.

Will Francis I keep his farecard in his new robes or will the title of Pope require him to roll around in a Popemobile like his predecessors? We’re looking into exactly how often Francis I used transit (and did he ride the bike share in Buenos Aires? He is 76, but hey, maybe). We’ll keep you posted.
We are also watching what will come of the grand glass globe Popemobiles of Popes past?

Here are some recent Poped-out rides pictured below. (Earlier Papal wagons varied a bit more in design. A temporary 1965 Lincoln Continental Popemobile bore a regal black with a sunroof-like standing spot, rather than the domes pictured below. The Lincoln sold at auction in 2011 for $220,000.)
Pope Benedict XVI in the Popemobile in 2007 (Photo by Caio do Valle via Wikimedia)

Popemobile used by John Paul II when in 1982. (Photo by Detectandpreserve via Wikiemedia)

Special edition 1998 Cadillac Popemobile built solely for an appearance at the Estadio Azteca sports stadium in Mexico City. Thevehicle was blessed by the Pope, but deemed unsafe by the security team as all current "Pope-mobiles" are required to have a bullet proof viewing box. (Photo CC by Flickr user ThatHartfordGuy)

LA Marathon 2013 Street Closures 


March 15, 2017


Sunday's marathon will take 24,000 brave runners from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, so avoid the herd this weekend by studying up on the course map (above) and adjacent street closures, all of which will be closed to all cars except local traffic.
For the best places to watch the race, check out the official LA Marathon site. Below is a list of all adjacent street closures by neighborhood.
LOS ANGELES (Elysian Park, Downtown, Echo Park, Silver Lake)

  • Stadium Way. from Scott Ave. to Chavez Ravine Pl. (4:00AM - 9:00AM)

  • Figueroa St. from Alpine St. to 2nd St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Hill St. from Ord St. to 2nd St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Ord St. from Hill St. to Alameda St. (4:00AM - 9:35AM)

  • Los Angeles St. from Arcadia St. to 3rd St. (4:00AM - 9:50AM)

  • Judge John Aiso. from Temple St. to 3rd St. (4:00AM - 9:50AM)

  • Broadway from Temple St. to 2nd St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Hope St. from Temple St. to 1st St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Dewap Rd. from Temple St. to 1st St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Beaudry Ave. from Sunset Blvd. to 1st St. (4:00AM - 10:05AM)

  • Alvarado St. from Glendale Blvd. to Temple St. (4:00AM - 10:40AM)

  • Griffith Park Blvd. from Effie St. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 10:55AM)

  • Santa Monica Blvd. from Sunset Blvd. to Hoover St/Myra Ave. (4:00AM - 10:55AM)

  • Fountain Ave. from Myra Ave. to Virgil Ave. (4:00AM - 10:55AM)
To see the map in full, scroll up or visit commuterama.com.


  • Hillhurst Ave. from Franklin Ave. to Hollywood Blvd. (4:00AM -11:10AM)

  • Vermont Ave. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 11:10AM)

  • Normandie Ave. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 11:25AM)

  • Western Ave. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 11:25AM)

  • Wilton Pl. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM -11:25AM)

  • Gower St. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM -11:40AM)

  • Vine St. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM -11:40AM)

  • Cahuenga Blvd. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 11:40AM)

  • Highland Ave. from Franklin Ave. to Sunset Blvd. (4:00AM - 12 Noon)

  • La Brea Ave. from Hollywood Blvd. to De Longpre Ave. (4:00AM - 12 Noon)

  • Fairfax Ave. from Hollywood Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. (4:00AM - 12:15PM)

  • Laurel Canyon Blvd. from Hollywood Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. (5:00AM - 12:30PM)

  • La Cienega Blvd. from Sunset Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. (5:00AM - 12:45PM)
To see the map in full, scroll up or visit commuterama.com.


  • Alden Dr. from Oakhurst Dr. to Doheny Dr. (5:00AM - 1:00PM)

  • 3rd Str. from Oakhurst Dr. to Roberston Blvd. ( 5:00AM - 1:00PM)
To see the map in full, scroll up or visit commuterama.com.


  • Barrington Ave. from Montana Ave. to Dorothy St. (5:00AM - 2:40PM)

  • Montana Ave. from Bringham Ave. to Bundy Dr. ( 5:00AM - 2:55PM)

  • Bundy Dr. from Dunoon Ln. to Montana Ave. ( 5:00AM - 2:55PM)

  • Beverly Glen Blvd. from Wilshire Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. ( 5:00AM - 1:50PM)

  • Westwood Blvd. from Wilshire Blvd. to Santa Monica Blvd. ( 5:00AM - 2:05PM)

  • Massachusetts Ave. from Sepulveda Blvd. to Cotner Ave. ( 5:00AM - 2:20PM)

  • 26th St. from La Mesa Way. to Georgina Ave. ( 5:00AM - 2:55PM)

  • Main St. from Colorado Blvd. to Olympic Dr. ( 12 Midnight - 4:00PM)
Comments to Joe Cano's Video of the Drilling Operation in El Sereno

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook March 16, 2013

interestingly, when I setup the Youtube video of the drilling operation is El Sereno, I forgot to disable the comments section for that post. The purpose of the Youtube channel is to expose Metro dis-information campaign & the response by our No On 710 movement to Metro's di-information campaign. The commentary by two opponents of our movement really had nothing intelligent to say. 'One refered to me as a 'retard'. I did take offense to that because our beloved nephew Pablo has Down's Syndrome. Anyone that uses that term says a lot about that person's character. 2nd post blasted me for being critical of the working man, and being a Latino lowlife from El Sereno. Typical racist BS. Nothing intelligent about why a tunnel should be built was stated. My Russian 'Ushanka' offended one person. Hey it keeps my head warm, & didn't anyone inform these people the big bad Communists are all going capitalist lately. Metro is trying to sell the tunnel & United States property to the Chinese government?, so who are the bigger traitors here.
 The video: Metro's soil sampling drilling in El Sereno

Joe Cano on the Caltrans Tenants Meeting held March 14, 2012

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook March 15, 2013

The Caltrans Tenants Meeting was a success! A large number of tenants attended along wit the support from representatives from the office Of Councilman Huizar's office, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez & Sen. Ed Hernandez. & it came as no surprise Caltrans was missing in action. It came as no surprise to eveyone that Caltrans sent the United Caltrans Tenants a letter basically saying 'take a hike'. Supporters from Pasadena & South Pasadena were there too.

The Grand Dame & guru of the No On 710 Movement was front row next to Tom Williams (blue cap).

We thank Mr. Rob Charles from Sen. Ed Herandez office for his attendance & concern.
Caltrans was invited, but responded in a letter to the tenants, basically saying 'take a hike'. With the abuses, intimidation, retaliation tactics used by Caltrans staff, contractors & property management agency this really came as no surprise.

How LA is losing its love affair with cars


By Peter Huck, March 16, 2013 Shutting the door on its reputation as car capital of the world, Los Angeles' future is planned as a

 Shutting the door on its reputation as car capital of the world, Los Angeles' future is planned as a "transit-rich megalopolis".


It was the 20th century California Dream: a suburban home, a flash car to get you to and from work and a freewheeling lifestyle. But the dream's flipside was a nightmarish sprawl with an unsustainable footprint. By century's end, Los Angeles was plagued by traffic snarls that threatened to lock down the megalopolis.

"We crossed the Rubicon into gridlock in 2007," says Denny Zane, ex-mayor of Santa Monica and now executive director of MoveLA, a lobby group intent on restoring mobility to Angelenos. "Traffic was like ice slush. Then it crystallised in a moment." The city's wealthy Westside, near the 10 and 405 freeways, endured epic jams. "You could see the future and it wasn't pretty."

The city of movement was stalled, open to jibes like Mayor Len Brown's claim that Housing Minister Nick Smith, eyeing Auckland's greenbelt, favoured a flawed LA model of "suburban sprawl and unbridled land availability".

It was a dystopian vision that threatened LA with a "precipitous decline into second world status", overtaken by economic titans like Mexico and Brazil.

If the catalyst for change was life in the slow lane, and cascading economic setbacks, the solution, pushed by a business, labour, environmental and official coalition forged by MoveLA, is to reject LA's "sprawl model"- based on cheap fuel and land - for dense urban growth linked by public transport.

"When the moment of truth arrives, and it ain't pretty," says Zane, "the common interest becomes very evident." This was just as well, because in California any revenue raising measure needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

In 2008 the MoveLA coalition, backed by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, put Measure R - a half cent sales tax increase - on the ballot. It sought US$40 billion ($48.8 billion) for transport relief [resurfacing streets, building cycle paths, installing new signals, etc], plus expanded or new rail and bus routes over 30 years.

The intent, said Villaraigosa, was to shift LA "from the car capital of the world to a transit-rich megalopolis". Measure R passed with 67.8 per cent.

A subsequent vote, Measure J, which hoped to extend the time frame to 60 years, failed with 66.1 per cent of the vote. Undeterred, the city opted to accelerate its construction programme, aiming to finish in 10 years. The expansion will double LA County's "fixed guideway transit system", using rail or rights of way, from 193km and 103 existing stations, to 380km and 200 stations. Anyone who boards a bus or train in LA County - the City of Los Angeles plus 87 other cities; part of a bigger Southland region - can travel one way, with unlimited stops, for US$1.50 ($1.82). A day pass, allowing unlimited rides, is $5.

In 2012 LA Metro debuted the Expo Line to Culver City, on LA's Westside, and the Orange Line extension to Chatsworth in the San Fernando Valley. Construction began on extending the Expo Line to Santa Monica, while routes to the city's international airport, LAX, and elsewhere are in the pipeline.

Besides connecting to other transit systems outside LA County, LA Metro focuses the city's orientation from unsustainable peripheral growth to core areas where most people live and work. Stations are seen as hubs for economic development, a template Zane knew from Santa Monica's 3rd St Promenade.

"When we did 3rd St 20 years ago and adopted the mixed-use, multi-family, higher-density housing model, a young Dutch architect named Jan van Tilburg designed the first mixed-use project anyone had seen built in Southern California for decades. He's designed more than 30,000 units. That was unheard of 20 years ago. Now it's standard practice."

Smart city development, emphasising public transport and mixed-use, dovetails with California's Global Warming Solutions Act 2006, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 per cent to 1990 levels by 2020. In 2012 the Southern California Association of Governments adopted a US$524 billion, 20-year regional plan to curb emissions. Almost half is earmarked for public transit.
"It's certainly a welcome state of affairs when what you need to do to reduce greenhouse gases is also what you need to do to develop your economy," says Zane. Transit ridership in LA County is up "significantly".

Zane says federal-backed loans, where Washington becomes "a smart lender rather than a big spender," allows LA to expedite projects by stimulating local investment.

The LA story reflects wider trends. The US Metropolitan Research Centre says there are 40 million McMansions "that no one wants".

A 2011 study, "The New California Dream," from the Urban land Institute, found Southern California was oversupplied with a large unsellable inventory of single family homes, a legacy of the state's real estate meltdown that triggered the 2009 recession.

The recession may have axed the sprawl model but demographics were already rejecting it. Young people wait longer to marry and have kids. Baby boomers are ageing. Both groups want "walkability," with easy access to a full range of urban amenities. "Developers are all becoming new urbanists," laughs Zane.

At the same time, car ownership is no longer a rite of passage for many young people. While
kilometres travelled per capita have steadily shrunk across the board in the US, the most significant drop is with the under-30s.

"The car used to be the signal of adulthood, of freedom," a Ford Motor Company executive told the New York Times in 2011. "Now the signal into adulthood for teenagers is the smartphone." A 2011 US survey found 46 per cent of 18-24-year-olds chose internet access over a car. And by 2008 the number of 16-year-olds with a driver's licence - 50 per cent in 1978 - had plummeted to 30 per cent.

"The prevalence of high-quality information is changing our choices," says Amanda Eaken, deputy director of sustainable communities with the National Resources Defence Council.

"You can go to Google Maps and find out how long it will take, and the cost, to walk, drive, cycle, bus or train somewhere."

Mass transit also brings health benefits - less smog and more exercise through walking and cycling - and helps prime household budgets by reducing the need for multiple family vehicles, savings that flow into the local economy.

"I think the drive model is basically broken," says Eaken. "We're in a very different era to when [petrol] was cheap. People talk about affordable housing. We talk about affordable living. If you add up the cost of all the driving to get to that dream home, then the old model doesn't work anymore."

Flat out
37,272,314 - Total boardings for buses and trains in LA in February
35,180,418 - Total in February 2011
$1.82 - Cost of a one-way bus or train ticket in LA County, which covers 87 cities

City's Bundy Drive Bike Lane Proposal Opposed by Brentwood Residents 

Brentwood Community Council says traffic congestion caused by the 405 Freeway project, a limited number of access points to the nearest freeways and limited parking spaces make bike lanes a tough sell. 


By Matthew Sanderson, March 14, 2013


Two Brentwood organizations and one resident are pushing back against the city's proposal to add dedicated bike lanes along Bundy Drive and other surface streets along the Westside.

In a Feb. 21 letter to city planning, Brentwood Community Council Chairwoman Nancy Freedman said the community has had no opportunity to give feedback on the Los Angeles Department of Transportation's proposal for bike mobility projects west of the 405 Freeway and north of the I-10. These streets include Bundy Drive, San Vicente Boulevard, Barrington Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard and Montana Avenue.

Part of the First Year Bicycle Plan calls to add approximately 40 miles of bicycle lanes in the city.

Freedman said a Feb. 19 public hearing from city planning to discuss the bike lanes was barely publicized and, according to the turnout, had less than five residents from Brentwood and West L.A. combined show up. Freedman added it is her understanding the city will not take any further action on bike lanes until there are additional hearings publicized in advance.

"The Brentwood Community Council and South Brentwood Residents Association
are supportive of improving bicycle safety in Brentwood through a combination
of sharrows, bike buffers as have recently been implemented in Santa Monica on Montana Avenue and downtown, and dedicated bike lanes where space permits," Freedman added in her letter.

Citing that Brentwood's proximity to Metro's I-405 Sepulveda Pass Improvements Project, the community council opposes any further moves to the city's First Year Bicycle Plan without acknowledging the extremely high traffic congestion in the area, the limited number of routes under and to the 405 Freeway and the I-10 and the severe lack of parking spaces in South Brentwood. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl's office reportedly comissioned a parking study in the area.

According to Marylin Krell of the South Brentwood Residents Association, the city's draft environmental impact report on the bike plan shows that adding a bike lane to Bundy Drive would significantly impact Bundy at Wilshire, at Santa Monica Boulevard and at Olympic Boulevard, and would also create level of service grade "F" at each of these intersections.

Andrew Rees, of Brentwood, is also circulating an online petition asking the city to abandon any bike lane plans on Bundy Drive and Centinela Avenue. It has 31 signatures as of Thursday, March 14.

The environmental impact report is available for review at the Department of City Planning, 200 North Spring Street, Room 750, Los Angeles, CA 90012 and other locations, such as West Los Angeles Regional, 11360 Santa Monica Blvd.

Editorial: Ventura County is riding the rails and enjoying it


March 14, 2013


People going about their normal lives in Ventura County provide clear evidence of national trends affecting Amtrak.

In Ventura County, according to a national study released this month by a Washington, D.C., think tank, ridership on Amtrak increased 52 percent from 1997 to last year, due in part to the public perception that taking the train is a nice alternative to driving on Southern California’s often-frustrating freeways.

The growth level in the county was very close to the national increase of 55 percent during the same 15-year period.

Combined ridership at the Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Moorpark and Simi Valley stations jumped from 145,562 in 1997 to 221,234 in 2012, according to the report by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program.

Amtrak, America’s intercity passenger train service, operates on more than 21,000 miles of track. Its ridership growth in recent years has been mostly on its short-distance routes — less than 400 miles. It makes money on its short-distance corridors while losing money on its long-distance routes.

Not surprisingly, Amtrak has been improving its short-haul routes with help from states that have been helping upgrade tracks, operate routes and improve stations. California has contributed $400 million in operating expenses, more than any other state, between 2007 and 2011. A total of 15 states provided nearly $850 million altogether in that period, the Brookings report noted.

Some critics object to public subsidies for Amtrak. But the government subsidies for Amtrak are vastly outweighed by government subsidies for highways, a fact sometimes overlooked in debates on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

In Ventura County and much of Southern California, Amtrak is a pleasing alternative to fighting hordes of cars and trucks on clogged and frequently unpredictable freeway traffic.

Trains also offers travelers a way to avoid the airport security checks and long waits that have become all too familiar to air travelers. In addition, trains provide a level of comfort that satisfies many travelers at lower cost than driving a car at today’s high pump prices.

Perhaps Ventura County will never patronize trains to the extent that commuters and travelers do in the nation’s crowded urban centers. But the obvious advantages of Amtrak are helping it gain more and more fans, even here in the freeway-crisscrossed cities of car-loving Southern California.

Long Beach port sees sharp increase in cargo


By Joe Segura, March 14, 2013

LONG BEACH — Long Beach port officials Thursday said terminals saw a dramatic increase in cargo in February, moving 36.6 percent more containers compared to the same month one year ago - including a nearly 46 percent surge in imports and a 17.2 percent jump in exports.

The Long Beach figures were slightly more robust than those released by the Port of Los Angeles, which reported overall volumes increasing 16.99 percent compared to February 2012. The increase was due in part to a surge in imports prior to the closure of factories for the Chinese New Year.

Long Beach's total for February was 530,967 TEUs (or 20-foot equivalent container units). The port moved 279,144 TEUs of imports, the highest volume of import containers for a February since 2007. Exports rose to 140,626 TEUs.

Empty containers were up 44.2 percent; with imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.

The Los Angeles port figures show imports jumped 25.23 percent, from 254,359 TEUs in February 2012 to 318,547 this year. Exports dropped about 5 percent, from 164,725 TEUs last year to 156,690 this year.

For the first two months of 2013, Los Angeles port's overall container volumes have increased 4.87 percent compared to the same period in 2012.

Trans-Pacific trade this time of year, according to Long Beach port spokesman Lee Peterson, is often affected by the Chinese New Year holiday, which can slow goods production in many Asian countries that export to the U.S. The holiday is determined by the lunar calendar and in 2012 started in late January, which affected February 2012 numbers. This year, the holiday was in mid-February and its effects are more likely to be reflected in March statistics.

Also, cargo increases in recent months are in part due to the more frequent use of larger ships and the addition of service lines to Long Beach. In the latter part of last year, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM, two of the largest ocean carriers in the world, established exclusive hubs at the Port of Long Beach.

For more details on Long Beach cargo numbers, visit www.polb.com/stats. For information on the Port of Los Angeles figures, visit portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp.

Which Major Cities Are Leaders in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions?


March 7, 2013

Central Park, NYC
New York City is a leader in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities are to greenhouse-gas emissions what Chernobyl was to nuclear power plant failures, which is to say, they’re the worst offenders out there. Cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and cough up 70 percent of global CO2 emissions. Some are even gaining notoriety: Air pollution in Beijing is so severe these days that residents can’t even escape it by going indoors, according to scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

But many cities are making progress in shrinking their greenhouse-gas footprints, and a recent new study shows that they can make reductions of as much as 70 percent. Scientists at University of Toronto’s Civil Engineering department used Toronto as a test piece for studying cities’ carbon footprints, and they outlined how changes in transportation, buildings and energy supplies–things like boosting insulation, switching to LED lighting and putting in building management systems and automatic lighting controls–can reduce emissions.

A 30 percent reduction would be fairly simple, the researchers say. “With current policies, especially cleaning of the electricity grid, Toronto’s per-capita GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions could be reduced by 30 per cent over the next 20 years,” study author Chris Kennedy said in a statement. “To go further, however, reducing emissions in the order of 70 per cent, would require significant retrofitting of the building stock, utilization of renewable heating and cooling systems, and the complete proliferation of electric, or other low carbon, automobiles.”

Toronto has yet to begin adopting the plan Kennedy and his colleagues have outlined, but it is among the 58 city-members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an organization committed to developing and implementing policies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The group’s chair is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and in fact, New York is one of the most innovative and aggressive cities in the world when it comes to emissions reduction. “In my mind London and NYC are providing the greatest leadership,” Kennedy told Surprising Science.
Many other cities are also making strides, according to a 2011 study issued by C40 that details what its member-cities are doing to reduce their emissions. Forty major cities participated in the research, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York in the U.S., and cities from Moscow and Jakarta to Beijing and Mexico City internationally–many of the most populated, high-traffic urban centers in the world. Engineering and design firm Arup, along with the Clinton Climate Initiative, surveyed city officials and conducted research on their greenhouse-gas output and actions to reduce emissions.

Five cities stood out–here’s a breakdown of some highlights:

São Paulo: When landfills were reaching capacity in South America’s most populous city, the Brazilian metropolis installed thermoelectric power plants to capture and burn biogases emitted by the decaying waste. São Paulo’s 10 million citizens generate 15,000 tons of garbage each day, and trash is one of the city’s biggest greenhouse-gas challenges—as opposed to other cities, which struggle more with emissions from buildings and energy supplies. This step allowed São Paulo to reduce methane emissions and produce clean energy at the same time, and now 7 percent of the city’s electricity needs are met this way.

Copenhagen: Known for its bicycle culture, Denmark’s capital is a leader in green transportation, with 36 percent of work- or school-related commutes done by pedaling, according to the C40 study. Other cities have used Copenhagen as a model for their cycle parking, lanes, signage and other biking infrastructure. But Copenhagen is also a leader in waste management. Since 1988, it has reduced the amount of garbage it sends to landfills from 40 percent to less than 2 percent, and fully half of the city’s waste is recycled and used to generate heat. Nearly all of Copenhagen’s buildings (PDF) utilize an underground piping network that distributes hot water or steam in lieu of relying on boilers or furnaces. Citizens are required to pay for the heat regardless of whether they’re connected to the system.

Addis Ababa: In Ethiopia’s capital, shoddy water pipes are being replaced to help boost the city’s 50 percent leakage rate  “Cities can lose huge amounts of their often energy-intensively produced potable water due to leakage from pipes during distribution,” the C40 study authors wrote. “Wasting potable water… increases greenhouse gas emissions, and is also a major issue for those cities that are threatened with droughts. The number of drought-threatened cities is rising due to climate change.” 
That project joins large-scale, low-carbon housing developments that will create new homes for people currently living in Addis Ababa’s shanty towns, the C40 study showed. The city is also planning to convert 40 percent of its land to green space, which serves to absorb CO2 emissions and reduce the urban-heat-island effect. To that end, Addis Ababa’s mayor instituted a plan to plant three million new trees (the most ambitious tree-planting project in the world) and create a giant nature reserve featuring every tree and plant native to Ethiopia. 
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Ethiopia’s capital city Addis Ababa is shrinking its carbon footprint by building low-carbon, low-income housing and launching the most aggressive tree-planting program in the world. 

New York City: The city that never sleeps is a leader in green policy, according to the C40 study. Its PlaNYC, a program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise prepare for climate change, includes planting trees and other vegetation to enhance 800 acres of parks and open spaces and pushing new development to areas with existing transit access so that new subway and bus lines don’t have to be added. The Greener Greater Buildings plan mandates upgrades to meet the NYC Energy Conservation Code for renovations, and the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan integrates details like green roofs and porous pavement into the city’s quest to manage storm runoff and alleviate pressure on wastewater treatment plants, which overflow in storms. New York is also known for its system of innovative pneumatic troughs that remove trash from Roosevelt Island through underground tunnels and eliminate the need for fleets of fossil-fuel-burning garbage trucks that clog traffic and wear down streets.

London: Greenhouse-gas reductions in the UK’s capital and largest city are impressive in part
because it’s the only city to have achieved them “by diminishing consumption [rather] than a change of energy sources,” according to another study published last fall by Kennedy. His research showed that London was also the sole city where carbon emissions from commercial and institutional buildings have dropped. How did London make it happen? Establishing a so-called Congestion Charge Zone (PDF) was one key measure. A fee structure tied to emissions restricts the movement of freight and other heavy goods vehicles within the city’s center and allows electric vehicles to travel for free in the zone. The scheme, introduced in 2003, “has reduced vehicle numbers in the central business district by over 70,000 per day, cutting carbon emissions in the zone by 15%,” according to the study authors. Also, the city’s transit systems are integrated and easy to use thanks to a smart-ticket program, attracting more riders who might otherwise drive gas-guzzling cars.

While the overall effect of these emissions-reduction efforts hasn’t yet been measured, C40 study authors say the 40 cities have taken a combined total of 4,734 actions to tackle climate change. The simplest and most immediate change cities can make, according to Kennedy, is to decarbonize their electricity grids. “This is important because a low-carbon electricity source can be an enabler of low carbon technologies in other sectors, for example electric vehicles, or heating via ground source heat pumps,” he says. But the most effective change Kennedy recommends that city residents make in lowering their carbon footprints is to set their home thermostats 1 or 2 degrees lower in the winter or higher in the summer.

What does or could your city do to reduce its emissions? Leave us a note with your ideas!
A New Movement for The New City: The Problem With Cars


 By Bruce McVean, March 14, 2013


This is the first of two posts based on Bruce McVean’s The New City lecture given on Monday 11th February 2013 at Cambridge University Department of Architecture. You can read Part 2 here.
Cities have always been shaped by transport; and the planning and design of cities has always impacted on transport choices.

Rising car ownership after the Second World War freed developers from the need to build homes within walking distance of public transport, shops and services; and at the same time, lobbying by car manufacturers, government investment in road building, and changes in planning policy and development economics helped make the car the primary mode of transport.

The negative impacts of rising car ownership and use have long been acknowledged. In 1960 the UK’s Ministry of Transport commissioned a team led by Colin Buchanan to look at the problem, resulting in the publication of Traffic in Towns in 1963. 50 years later the project steering group’s famous acknowledgement that, “We are nourishing at immense cost a monster of great destructiveness. And yet we love him dearly…” still rings true.

Many people continue to aspire to car ownership, or view owning a car as essential to maintaining a high quality of life. And who are we to deny them when electric cars will soon wean us off carbon dioxide emitting toxic fossil fuels?

Cleaner engines may reduce the contribution that car travel makes to carbon emissions and air pollution, but they won’t solve the myriad other negative impacts of car dependency that are neatly summarised in the diagram below from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report The Urban Environment (click the following graphics to view full size). Tackling carbon emissions and air pollution is an essential task, but it’s not the only task – the big villain isn’t the internal combustion engine, it’s the car.
RECP Graphic
One of the major issues that I feel gets too little debate is the inherent unfairness built into a car dominated transport system. The chart below, taken from Sustainable Development Commission’s excellent report Fairness in a Car-Dependent Society, clearly highlights that those that are better off travel the most. As the report notes, the widespread availability and affordability of car travel has brought many benefits, but these have been obtained at a substantial price. A price that falls most heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable – the ones that travel, and therefore benefit, the least.
SDC graph 1
Similarly, it is those too young or old to drive that are most likely to be killed or seriously injured on our roads (see chart below, again taken from Fairness in a Car-Dependent Society). To borrow a phrase from RoadPeace’s Director, Amy Aeron-Thomas, “We may share the road, but we don’t share the risk.” Risk is unacceptably skewed towards pedestrians and cyclists. Responsibility for minimising risk must by extension fall on those who have the potential to do most harm – motorists.
SDC Graph 2
While no one is seeking to restrict individual freedom of movement, as the SDC argue, that freedom must “be exercised without unduly compromising the rights of others to live free from the negative impacts that travel imposes.”

Even when driven slowly cars dominate our streets and impose themselves on other users. Add speed to the equation and they own the street completely. As a result many people are discouraged from walking and would never contemplate cycling. Statistically walking and cycling may be low risk activities – and the health benefits certainly far outweigh the risks – but no amount of statistics can change the often unpleasant and at times frightening experience of trying to negotiate a street network that has been engineered around the needs of the motorist.

Given this situation it’s little surprise that the majority of people are failing to meet the minimum recommended amount of physical activity required to maintain a healthy weight – at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five times a week.

The costs to the NHS of the UK becoming an increasingly obese nation are widely reported, but the health benefits of being physically active go much further. As Liam Donaldson when Chief Medical Officer states, “The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a ‘wonder drug’ or ‘miracle cure’.”

In responding to the obesity epidemic policy too often focuses on reducing calorie intake, while neglecting the potential benefits of creating a built environment that makes it easy and attractive for people to incorporate physical activity into travel. Yet only by doing this will it be possible to get the whole population active, something that can’t be achieved by exhorting people to join the gym and hoping that Olympic success in 2012 will inspire mass take up of organised sport.

Car dependency can also limit our social lives, as Appleyard and Lintell discovered in 1972 when they studied the correlation between the traffic volume on a street and the relationships between neighbours on that street. The result was perhaps unsurprising; those streets with the heaviest traffic were also the ones where least people interacted with their neighbours.

The social life of cities is, of course, about more than being on first name terms with your neighbours. As Jane Jacobs noted in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, “Lowly, unpurposeful, and random as they may appear, sidewalk contacts are the small change from which a city’s wealth may grow.”

Cities exist to allow people to socialise – people love to be around and to watch other people – how then can we make sure that our streets are places where people want to spend their time and that our cities are great places to live, work and play? I’ll explore some of the answers to that question in Part 2.

What is an Equity-Based Transport System ?


March 14, 2013


We understand that in the transport sector this is not a well known or much appreciated concept, at least in the positive sense we are trying to develop here, so we are making every effort to clarify. I was discussing this program the other day with a bright young woman from the Emirates who is on an MBA program here, who smiled at me indulgently as I asked her views and said: ‘Don’t you understand Eric, life is not fair”. That gives us, I would say, a good point of departure.


The first step in this process is to see if we can create a common understanding of our topic and the strategy that goes with it – bearing in mind the fact that in most cities in the world, probably all of them to be perfectly frank and accurate, our transportation arrangements are not equitable, indeed far from it. There are winners and losers from the present mobility arrangements, worse here, perhaps a bit better there.

In all places, better and worse, there is a basic dominant pattern. Let’s call it if not a paradigm at least an inevitable result of the dominant paradigm now firmly in place.  A paradigm that is so deeply engraved as part of the received wisdom, that it is all but invisible. But the results are there for all to see.

Thus as a result of this invisible  paradigm women in virtually every city in the world are by and large less well served than men. Non-drivers less well than drivers. The elderly and frail less than the active and healthy. Children less well than adults,. The poor far less well than the rich. The unemployed less well than those with jobs. Those of us who cannot really (that “really” is an important word that we shall also be looking into) afford to own and operate cars as opposed to those who can. And if you care to think about it a bit, you can surely complete this list as well as I.

In a word, in most cities on this gasping planet for the great majority of all people the present transportation arrangements are inequitable. The dominant (a) all-car (b) no-choice transportation arrangements of the 20th century are not doing the job for the transportation majority. They are grotesquely unfair; they are also highly inefficient, socially and environmentally destructive and unaffordably uneconomic.

Turning it around

So what if we were to turn the situation around and take as a starting point for public policy and investments not so much the dominant twentieth century values of speed (ever faster), distance (ever farther) and indifference (ever more) but 21st-century values of equity, frugality (this is not a negative word), social justice and deep democracy?  And that of course is what this project is all about.

One of the key pillars behind this program is a belief that, properly engaged, the move to equity-based transportation can lead to greater efficiency and economy both for specific groups and individuals, and also for the city and its region as a whole. That it is to say that it is going to be a step up, not a step down!

If we redraw the system to make it better for women of all ages and life condition, it will be better for men as well. Better for the frail and elderly, then better for the rest as well.  Better and safer for children, then better and safer for all. Better for the poor, then well, believe it or not, better for the rich as well.

At the end of the day, once you understand and accept the basic principle of equity a huge number of other good things follow: quality of life for all, resource and energy efficiency, financial integrity, new targets for entrepreneurship, technology and innovation,  local environmental and planetary climate impacts, social peace and solidarity.   The present we want for ourselves, our families and neighbors. The future that we want for our children and grandchildren and future generations.
And you have only to look in one place to see if you have it — and that is on the streets of your city. If the mayor, all public servants, and the top economic 20% of your community travel by the same means as the other 80%, you have an equitable system. If not, not!  It’s that simple.

With that behind us, now we know where to start.

PS. Once you have established the basic principle, the real work begins. The creation of a competitive, non-solo-car transportation system – remember, we are taking about an (a)  better-than-car, (b) multi-layer, (c) high-efficiency, (d) high-choice, (e) transformative mobility system — is possible, but it requires effort, brains and fire in your belly to get there. But the final result — equity – efficiency — economy — will well be worth all that hard work it takes to get there.