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 29, 2013

Ludicrous Reasons to Conduct the SR - 710 Study: To More Easily Get to Senior Fish and to More Easily Explore Cities

By Peggy Drouet, March 29, 2013

Here is the post on the SR - 710 Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/SR710Study ):

Check out Fish Taco Tuesday! #InstaMove #HelpingYouGetThere
Like · ·
  • Winston Mdtjya likes this.
  • Alvaro Bob Gonzales ANOTHER locale that we would arrive to, NOT using the proposed tunnel!!
  • Diana Britt The 710 tunnel wouldn't get us anywhere near Señor Fish; not even the Metro Goldline stop at Meridian is all that close. Who thinks up these posts of yours?See Translation
  • SR - 710 Study Thank you for your engagement with the SR 710 North Study. All five alternatives under review by the Study Team seek to improve connectivity to key destinations located throughout the Study Area and reduce cut-through traffic on local streets thereby reducing congestion.

    • Diana Britt I think we're all pretty clear METRO's not really interested in anything but the tunnel; trying to make it sound like you have any interest in the other four alternatives is disingenuous, at best.
    • SR - 710 Study The SR 710 Study is analyzing five alternatives including the freeway tunnel option. To learn more about the Study’s purpose, need, and performance criteria, please visit http://www.metro.net/projects/sr-710-conversations/

      With the SR-710 North Study underway, we’re closer than ever to shaping the future of transportation and mobility in your community. After years of gridlock and discussion, two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters approved the passage of Measure R in 2008. As a result, Metro is in a position to addre...
    • Winston Mdtjya Yes please find us a better way to get here coming from Long Beach!!! And taking the metro for 1.5 hrs is not a good alternative.
    • Peggy Tyarks Drouet Are people really going to drive from Long Beach or Alhambra to eat at Senior Fish in South Pasadena? Why wouldn't people from Alhambra or Long Beach eat instead at the Senior Fish in Alhambra? Don't people usually eat at the branch of a chain restaurant that is closest to them? If I want to go to Senior Fish, I would go to the one in South Pasadena, the one closest to my home. I wouldn't take the Gold Line to Little Tokyo to eat at the Senior Fish there. Or drive to Alhambra to go to the Senior Fish there. What does this have to do with connectivity to key destinations (Senior Fish is definitely not a key destination) or to reducing cut-through traffic on local streets, as if people from Alhambra chose to go to Senior Fish in South Pasadena or vice versa, they would be adding to and not reducing cut-through traffic? If anyone took a 710 tunnel to the Senior Fish in South Pasadena, they would then be clogging the streets in Pasadena to get there.
    • SR - 710 Study All five alternatives under review by the Study Team seek to improve connectivity to key destinations located throughout the Study Area and reduce cut-through traffic on local streets thereby reducing congestion. This would give many the opportunity to explore cities that would not have been as easily accessible.
      How did "the opportunity to explore cities" and an easier trip to Senior Fish (a fast food Mexican restaurant) become goals of the SR - 710 Study?  I say to the Moderator of the SR - 710 Study Facebook page: Get a Life! If you want to explore a city, you just get in your car and go (or take public transportation if it is available) and you don't make a big deal out of possible congestion along the way. Either the sights you will be seeing or the restaurants you will be eating at are worth the trip or not. We in West Pasadena make the congested trip to Arcadia on the 210 Freeway when we want to eat dinner at one of their restaurants, a trip that will become more congested if the 710 tunnel is built as it will add more traffic to the 210. Simply said: reduction of north-south congestion by building the 710 Tunnel will increase east-west congestion--not the way to go Metro.
Caltrans Campaign of Harassment: Video by Joe Cano

March 29, 2013

Joe Cano: Just got this information today. It appears Caltrans did not like the fact that tenants expressed their concerns & complaints at the recent UCT Assembly. Now the campaign of harassment is being stepped up by the rental agents.

 Below please find an alert from the governing body of the UCT. Caltrans is intensifying the level of intimidation to throw people into the street. I would like Mr. Ruben Campos to explain the 'you people' comment'.

Paying Rent Policy and Late Fees
In addition I would like to inform you all that at least one of our CT neighbors
was told by her agent that she has multiple late fees. Without a written notice
our neighbor just got told that that she had been late for the last 4 months.
This was a complete shock to her because she has been sending her rents on time
(by the 4th). The agent also told her that she has 30 days to pay those late
fees. She was also told that no longer is paying the rent at the Caltrans
building on First Street an option. The agent said "it will no longer be an
option because you people wait till the last minute to pay and overwhelm the
cashier." All of this, of course, came as a shock to our neighbor.

The rent late policy is another issue that many neighbors are complaining and
concerned about and that should be ironed out with Caltrans. As you all know,
whether your rent is considered late or on-time is not based on a postoffice
postmark but instead on a time stamp as received by Caltrans' Cashier office in
Sacramento. If the clerk is absent or overburdened we are out of luck. If your
letter/check is stamped after the 10th it is late. Every time we are late we
are charged a 50.00 fee. The policy leaves it completely to Caltrans to decide
when they received it. When asked to verify that it was stamped late, Caltrans
again refuses to provide evidence. Also, since our rents go to a PO Box,
whether they get there on time or not depends on when the letters are picked up
from the PO Box. The whole process is based on Caltrans practicing good faith,
respect for their honor, being professional and efficient. These are all
attributes in which we all know Caltrans is challenged and rarely practices. It
seems to many, that Caltrans is continuing and perhaps even increasing a
campaign of harassment as one of many ploys to depopulate the corridor.

If you are experiencing any of this, or anything else, please reply to all and
let us all know and let's discuss what we are going to do at the next UCT

 Comments on the No 710 on Avenue 64 Facebook page:

"You people..."?? What the hell is that supposed to mean? I'm insulted and I'm not even a CalTrans renter. My suggestion is to make sure tenants have their receipts for payment for the months CalTrans is claiming they were late. Never pay in cash. Use checking, ATM/Debit card, money order, or cashier's check. This creates a paper trail of on-time payments. Then take CalTrans to court as a group of all those in the same predicament. Legal Aid can help with the filing.

  Another government agency gone awry.

  BTW, "last minute" has nothing to do with anything. On time is on time, as long as it is before the deadline. Most landlords of large buildings or multiple buildings allow on-line payments too. I suppose CalTrans is archaic in this respect.

 From my understanding they are playing a shell game with the stamping of the checks at the Caltrans office. One person got the cashier to admit she was wrong and had the late fee removed. Postmarking & return receipt does not prevail in this latest Caltrans tactic. The tenants are being terrorized.

 On-line payments would nullify the late fee issue, so Caltrans is still in the Dark Ages by intent.

  If they are playing a shell game, stamping the receipt for the tenant with one date and time and their own document with another date and time, that will come out in the wash as long as the tenants have those receipts. I was in a similar position with the IRS a few years ago. Once they knew I had the cancelled check and the return receipt from the certified mail, they gave in on the first phone call. I'm not saying CalTrans will give up that easily, but keeping receipts is crucial. Everyone who goes to the office to pay in person needs to look at the date and time on their receipt before leaving the window. The idea is to beat CalTrans at their own stupid game. It takes some time to establish a pattern, but it will work in the long run.

 Joe, for your use: http://www.caltenantlaw.com/LateFees.htm

 Joe, for your use: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/showCodesTextSearchResults.xhtml

Protesters take port railyard fight to home of Los Angeles mayor


By Brian Sumers, March 29, 2013


Protestors against the SCIG, which is a railyard expansion project near the Port of Los Angeles, in front of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Getty House residence in Los Angeles. About 50 people representing homeowners and various groups were part of a 24-hour hunger strike at the location.
 Gallery: Railyard protest at L.A. mayor's residence

Carrying signs reading "more pollution is no solution" and "diesel pollution is no joke," a group protesting a proposed rail yard at the Port of Los Angeles rallied Friday outside the Los Angeles mayor's official residence.

For much of the day, they stood quietly outside of the mansion where Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa lives. Many had not eaten since midnight, the beginning of a 24-hour hunger strike. The protesters - about 50 of them at midday - wanted to voice their displeasure with the Southern California International Gateway, a 153-acre facility that would be operated by Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF Railway.
Protestors against the SCIG, which is a railyard expansion project near the Port of Los Angeles, in front of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's Getty House residence in Los Angeles. 

Led by a community group called East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, the protesters were upset that the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners had voted unanimously to support the project on March 7. They noted that each of the commissioners was appointed by Villaraigosa and they asked why the mayor had not tried to stop it.

"He's not making good choices," said Beatriz Reyes, 24, a community health worker who lives in west Long Beach, adjacent to the proposed site. "I believe he is doing what is beneficial to him. He should listen to us."

Residents living near the rail yard - which would be situated in an industrial area bounded by Sepulveda Boulevard, Pacific Coast Highway, the Terminal Island Freeway and the Dominguez Channel - say they're concerned that it will bring more pollution to their communities. They say they fear increased train and truck traffic will result in even higher rates of asthma lung cancer and heart disease. And they note most of the residents living close to the proposed rail yard are low income and cannot afford to move.

Although it is unknown if the mayor was home this morning, Peter Sanders, Villaraigosa's press secretary, said in an email the mayor was aware of Friday's protest.

"The mayor recognizes that some members of the community are concerned about the project," Sanders said. "Those concerns will be aired and considered as the process moves forward. He respects the rights of those who choose to protest lawfully. "

Sanders also noted that port officials view the project as vital for ensuring Los Angeles stays competitive with other port complexes nationwide. Proponents say on-dock rail facilities are the most efficient way to move goods from ships to stores and warehouses. They underscore that the new rail yard will eliminate 1.3 million truck trips each year. For now, many trucks must drive between the port and BNSF's current rail yard near downtown Los Angeles.

Angelo Logan, executive director of East Yard Communities, said his group promotes most rail projects at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But he said this one is different, mainly because of its location. His group has long claimed that the project will increase pollution levels for nearby residents. He said he is upset Villaraigosa has sided with corporate interests.

"We are protesting what he has done, and we are also urging him to take a leadership role on this issue," Logan said. "It's not as much about his authority in terms of decision-making as it is about his leadership. "

Logan said he hoped Friday's action would bring attention to the project. He said he knew of about 100 people engaging in the brief hunger strike, including many who could not make it to the protest.

Those who did come to the mayor's residence in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles said they were committed to stopping the railway, no matter what it takes.

Evelyn Knight, 79, who has been living in west Long Beach since 1968, said she lives three or four blocks from the site and has no plans to move.

"That's my home," she said. "I don't want to run out of my community. I have never run away from anything. I want to fight. I want to help people fight for their rights. "

The project is not official yet. The next step requires approval from the Los Angeles City Council. Logan said East Yards are expected to begin an intense lobbying campaign within the next two weeks.

Adults more likely than teens to text and drive, study says


By Hayley Tsukayama, March 29, 2013

Many of the campaigns to stop texting and driving have been aimed at hyper-connected teens, but a new survey from AT&T shows adults are more likely to be driving distracted.

Nearly half of adults surveyed, 49 percent, said they text and drive — even though nearly all of them say they know the habit is dangerous. Ninety-eight percent of adult drivers surveyed said they know that distracted driving isn't safe. But the trend actually appears to be on the rise, AT&T said, as six out of 10 drivers said they never texted behind the wheel just three years ago.

The top reasons that adults gave for their behavior were that sending a text while driving has become second nature, they feel it makes them more productive and it helps them feel connected.

While the survey showed adults were more likely to engage in the bad habit, 43 percent of teens also said they were sending messages while behind the wheel.

The survey on teens provided a bit more data on why young people choose to text and drive. One reason is that most text-message users, the survey said, expect a reply within five minutes or less — 48 percent of teens said they expect a response right away once they fire off a text message.

Parents' behavior, teens said, has a big influence on their own actions. AT&T found that not having a parental rule against texting and driving is among the greatest predictors that a teen will send messages while driving. Other factors included whether a teen had a full- or part-time job, owned a smartphone or usually sent over 100 text messages per day.

AT&T used the results to talk about its "Texting and Driving . . . It Can Wait" campaign, which encourages drivers to take a pledge not to use text messaging behind the wheel.

When it comes to deterring the practice, AT&T found that the threat of a suspended license appears to be the most effective deterrent, followed by the possibility of a $500 ticket.

Many states have tried to take on the problem of texting and driving. Texting-while-driving legislation in Virginia, for example, would make it a primary offense — meaning that law enforcement officials could pull people over just for sending messages from behind the wheel, rather than adding it on to another traffic offense.

On Monday, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed an amendment to that legislation, saying that he supported that change but suggesting that fines for distracted driving be comparable to those for drunken and reckless driving.

Metro Going Ahead With Gold Line Mixed-User in Boyle Heights


By Neal Broverman, March 29, 2013

2013_03_goldlinedevelopment.jpg Metro voted yesterday to work with a developer called A Community of Friends to build a mixed-use development on a Metro-owned parcel near the Indiana Gold Line station in Boyle Heights. The $23 million project would have 53 units, half of which would be set aside for mentally ill and formerly homeless people, along with 5,000 square feet of retail. Local business owner and neighbors are nervous about the tenants and others have expressed displeasure in Metro's Eastside development plans--both groups found common ground with Councilmember Jose Huizar, who voted against the project, since it now contains more apartments and less retail than first proposed (a power substation made adding additional retail difficult). The Los Angeles Times reports that Metro owns a total of 16 developments near train stations, with three under-construction and most of the rest in the thick of development negotiations.
Ask and Ye Shall Receive: Pothole Be Gone!


By Sahra Sulaiman, March 29, 2013

 Pothole? I don't see any potholes here.

Just this past Wednesday, I wrote about how a pothole of epic proportions had bounced a small child out of his carrier and nearly been his undoing.

Returning from Watts yesterday, I was speechless to find it paved over.

“Stunned” is probably a better word.

For the past year and a half, I have watched the pothole greedily gobble pavement until it grew into something that could probably have been spotted from the International Space Station. And, while everybody cursed it, swerved their way around it, and stared at it in amazement, it continued to sit there.

We posted a brief story, John Jones III from the East Side Riders sent it around to the offices of South L.A.’s elected officials on behalf of the South L.A. bike clubs, and voilà!, one day later, no pothole.

We are grateful for the responsiveness of officials to our concerns and hope that they are dealing with whatever the source of water is that carved out that sinkhole in the first place so that it does not reappear any time soon.
branding individual routes: too many colors, or the gold standard of legibility?


March 28, 2013

What might we learn from this bus?
Inner_Link_bus_in_Auckland crop

Inner Link is one of four Auckland bus lines -- all very frequent and designed to be useful for a wide range of trips -- that have buses painted specifically for the purpose.  The other three are Outer Link (orange), City Link (red), and Northern Express (black).  In each case, the paint job is all about making it look easy to hop on.  Note that the bus assures you of the maximum fare you'll pay, and that the list of destinations along the top of the bus gives confidence about exactly where this bus will take you.  (For an Aucklander, these names are all familiar landmarks, so anyone can mentally string them together into a general sense of route.)
It's important, too, that this is one of Auckland's newer buses.  The big, clear windows are important.  In fact, if it weren't for the maddening bus wrap, this bus would be entirely transparent, so that you could see the people on board and even make out the city beyond it.  This bus arises from European designs that are intentionally gentle on the eye, and whose transparency starts to undermine complaints about a "wall of buses."
When I first saw the branding of these buses in Auckland, I found them irritating.  These buses were announcing simple, legible, frequent routes in a way that marketed them effectively enough, but did nothing to convey that they are part of a larger network of services designed to work together.  Of course, the reality of today's network in Auckland (unlike the one Auckland Transport has in the works) is that it is a confusing tangle of infrequent and overlapping services that is almost impossible to make clear.  [PDF]
Akl chaos map sample

In the context of all that chaos, you needed these strong route-level brands like Inner Link to stand out as something useful.   And now that we plan to create over 20 bus routes that are as clear and legible as this one, the question arises, should we continue to brand them this way, each one separately, perhaps in a lively diversity of colors from goldenrod to teal?

Compare this to what Los Angeles Metro did, dividing its fleet of 1000+ buses mostly into just two colors, red for Rapid and orange for Local.  This has helped everyone see the faster Metro Rapid buses, but how much more might be achieved if you could paint a bus with both icons and information that would celebrate its role as, say, the Venice Blvd. Rapid?

The marketing and legibility question, of course is:  Would the diversity of looks (perhaps in the context of shared design elements that mean "Rapid") make the system look simpler or more complicated?  In Los Angeles I'm not sure.  In Auckland, where the system as a whole could hardly look more complicated than it does today, the call seems easier.

The issue for operations is the risk of fleet diversity.  In almost any transit agency, the operations folks will tell you they need maximum flexibility to deploy any bus on any route.  In some big-city agencies I've worked with, operating bases ("depots" in British) store buses in long stacks, where buses can be sent out only in the sequence that they came in the previous night.  Every new factor of fleet specialization becomes a new threat to getting the right bus on the right route every morning -- an admittedly heroic effort if you've toured some of the grimmer, overcrowded facilities involved.

So a separate color for every route would be a non-starter in most of North America.  Yet if we designed operating bases so that you could access any bus, or even could just have much shorter stacks, it's not obviously outrageous.  For each route, you'd paint enough buses to run just 80-100% of the midday fleet requirement.  You'd never have more painted buses than you could use.  You'd also have a supply of generic buses that could be added to any route, either as replacements for buses in the shop or as supplemental peak service.  And you'd only do this for routes with high all-day frequency seven days a week and relatively little additional service added at peaks.

In certain contexts -- especially in a case like Auckland where the whole city must learn a new story about the usefulness of buses -- it might make sense.  Even if we end up with goldenrod and teal.
Congress to U.S. DOT: The Roads Aren’t Safe Until They’re Safe For Everyone 


By Tanya Snyder, March 28, 2013

Yes, traffic fatalities have been (mostly) going down, but as long as cyclist and pedestrian fatalities keep going up, we can’t truly say our streets and roads are getting safer. That’s the message from 68 members of Congress to one pretty receptive audience: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Lawmakers say states should be making sure their streets are safe for everyone. 

In their letter to LaHood, sent on Saturday, the 68 lawmakers – including nine Republicans — note that between 2010 and 2011, driving got safer: Roadway fatalities dropped 2 percent overall; 4.6 percent for occupants of cars and light trucks. But bicyclist fatalists went up 9 percent and pedestrian deaths rose 3 percent in the same time period.

LaHood announced last month that U.S. DOT would be holding two bike safety summits this year. But the lawmakers want the agency to go further. And they didn’t just ask in vague terms for increased attention to safety. They got specific: U.S. DOT should create “separate performance measures for non-motorized and motorized users.”

If it sounds like they might have gotten some ideas from people deep inside the bike advocacy world, well, you got that right. Hundreds of Bike Summit participants made this their key “ask” earlier this month when they visited their representatives on Capitol Hill. Apparently their representatives listened.

SAFETEA-LU, passed in 2005, required states to set goals for reducing overall fatalities but included no specific reporting requirements for biking and walking. Without state attention, vulnerable road users have become even more vulnerable, with fatalities increasing both in real numbers and as a percentage of roadway fatalities, according to Caron Whitaker of the League of American Bicyclists.

One-third of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee signed on to the letter, giving DOT a good sense how the committee wants them to interpret MAP-21. “When Congress set performance measures areas, they were saying, ‘These are the things we are going to judge you on,’” Whitaker said in an email. “If bicyclists and pedestrians aren’t included in the performance measures, we risk being left behind.”

“In over half of all states, more than 10 percent of roadway fatalities are bicyclists and pedestrians but yet only seven states report investing in any bicycling and walking safety projects,” she added.

The lawmakers’ letter notes that MAP-21 required U.S. DOT to set performance measures for safety and increase safety funding to states. The signers hope that by setting specific metrics for bike and pedestrian safety, DOT can incentivize states to reduce fatalities, “while giving them the flexibility to choose the best methods to do so.”

Could increased focus on reducing bike and pedestrian fatalities lead states to limit or dis-incentivize bicycling? They might (incorrectly) assume that fewer people on bikes means fewer people dying on bikes. Whitaker says Metropolitan Planning Organizations will see to it that the performance measures aren’t interpreted that way, and if for some reason a state did use the focus on safety as an excuse to limit biking, they’d be hearing from activists – and mayors, and community leaders – pretty quickly.

They also note that such a measure wouldn’t divert funding from other safety needs.

The timing of the letter is good. U.S. DOT is still working on drafting MAP-21 performance measures, and the agency is paying special attention to bicycle safety this month.
How Car Parking Can Make Earthquakes More Dangerous in San Francisco 


By Aaron Bialick, March 27, 2013

 Can you tell why this building might collapse in an earthquake?
The threat of earthquakes that could destroy the homes of thousands at any moment has always loomed over San Francisco. In a bid to to reduce that risk, the Board of Supervisors is expected next week to mandate seismic retrofits for nearly 3,000 wood-frame “soft-story” buildings with five housing units or more that are potentially in danger of collapse.

But what may be overlooked in the discussion about earthquake safety is how it ties in with city parking policy: Many of the apartment buildings with weak ground-floor structures, or “soft-story” buildings, were built that way to make room for car parking.

“These are buildings that have larger openings on the ground floor, either due to garages or storefronts,” said Patrick Otellini, San Francisco’s director of earthquake safety. Many soft-story buildings were constructed before 1978, when modern engineering standards were set, he said.

Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City, explained that San Francisco set minimum residential parking requirements for new buildings in 1960, but those policies didn’t account for parking’s impacts on structural integrity. “If you’ve created a soft-story with parking additions, still in most places in the city there isn’t a way to get out of that, even if it compromises the safety of your building,” he said.

Radulovich said many buildings in American cities during the 1960s and 70s were built with ground floors completely devoted to parking, leaving little structural support, though they’re less common in SF, than, say, Los Angeles. For these buildings, he used the nickname “dingbat.”

Livable City has been working to reform provisions in the planning code in recent years to allow building owners more flexibility in removing or re-configuring parking to improve a building’s structural integrity, Radulovich said. As of 2010, developers can apply for an exemption from parking requirements if it compromises seismic safety. And tandem parking garages, in which multiple car owners park front-to-end in such a way that they rely on one another to move their cars for access, were legalized a few years ago at Livable City’s behest. That provision allows a garage to include the required number of parking spaces while taking up less space from the ground floor.

Otellini noted that most San Franciscans may underestimate how much damage a major earthquake could do, since they may only have only experienced quakes as big as Loma Prieta in 1989, which was only “moderate” in scale. That earthquake damaged the Embarcadero and Central Freeways badly enough to require their removal, and it sunk many houses in the Marina District, which sits on landfill. “This is not a Marina District problem. This is not a Mission District problem. This is a San Francisco problem,” he said.

“These types of buildings pose a serious threat, because there’s 58,000 San Franciscans that live in these buildings,” said Otellini. “If these buildings collapse, because it’s largely a rental [population], these are people that won’t come back to San Francisco.”

For a list of the nearly 3,000 soft-story buildings potentially at risk, read more at the SF Public Press.

The “Rebuild America Partnership”: The President’s Plan to Encourage Private Investment in America’s Infrastructure


The White House, March 29, 2013


Investing in infrastructure not only makes our roads, bridges, and ports safer and gives our businesses and workers the tools to compete successfully in the global economy, it also creates thousands of good American jobs that cannot be outsourced.  Since the President took office four years ago, America has begun the hard work of rebuilding our infrastructure:  American workers have improved over 350,000 miles of U.S. roads and more than 6,000 miles of rail, and they have repaired or replaced over 20,000 bridges.  But there’s more to do, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the entire burden themselves.

We know that America works best when it’s calling upon the resources and ingenuity of our vibrant private sector.  That’s why the President’s plan calls for a Rebuild America Partnership to help attract the private capital that can go toward building the infrastructure our workers and businesses need most.

By acting on the President’s plan, together we can build an infrastructure that’s second-to-none and prove that there is no better place to do business and create jobs than right here in the United States of America.

• Partnering with the Private Sector to Create Jobs and Invest in the Projects We Need Most:  The President is continuing to call for Congress to enact a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion, in order to leverage private and public capital and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects of national and regional significance, without earmarks or political influence.

• Giving State and Local Governments Flexible New Tools to Invest in Infrastructure:  The President’s new America Fast Forward Bonds program will build upon the successful example of the Build America Bonds program, broadening its use to include the types of projects that can be financed with qualified private activity bonds while also making the combined program more flexible.  In addition, the Administration is proposing changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of investment in U.S. infrastructure and real estate to a broader universe of private investors.

• Building the Transportation Network Our Businesses and Workers Need to Succeed:  In addition to the sound implementation of TIFIA’s recent eight-fold expansion, the Administration is also proposing $4 billion in new competitive funding for the innovative TIGER and TIFIA programs. 

The President’s Plan to Attract Private Infrastructure Investment
Through a “Rebuild America Partnership”

Despite progress over the last four years, too many construction workers remain out of work and too many of our nation’s infrastructure needs remain unmet.  The President’s new “Rebuild America Partnership” will bring together an array of new and existing policies all aimed at enhancing the role of private capital in U.S. infrastructure investment as a vital additive to the traditional roles of Federal, State, and local governments, making American workers and businesses more competitive and putting more Americans back on the job:

• Partnering with the Private Sector to Create Jobs and Invest in the Projects We Need Most.  To leverage private and public capital for infrastructure projects showing the greatest merit, the President is continuing to call for the investment of $10 billion to create and capitalize an independent National Infrastructure Bank (NIB), based on a model that has won bipartisan support from the Senate in the past.  Each dollar of Federal funding can leverage up to $20 in total infrastructure investment, mainly from partners in the private sector and State and local government. 
The National Infrastructure Bank's key provisions would include:
 Independent, Non-Partisan Operations Led by Infrastructure and Financial Experts:  While the NIB would be a government-owned entity, it would operate independently and would have a bipartisan board composed of individuals who possess significant expertise in the financing, development, or operation of infrastructure projects.

Broad Eligibility for Infrastructure and Unbiased Project Selection:  Eligible projects would include transportation infrastructure, water infrastructure, and energy infrastructure.  In general, projects would have to be at least $100 million in size and be of national or regional significance.  Projects would need to have a clear public benefit, meet rigorous economic, technical, and environmental standards, and be backed by a dedicated revenue stream.  Geographic, sector, and size considerations would also be taken into account.

Addressing Market Gaps for Infrastructure Financing:  The NIB would issue loans and loan guarantees to eligible projects at interest rates approximately equivalent to Treasury securities of similar maturities.  Loans could extend to 35 years, giving the NIB the ability to be a “patient” partner side-by-side with State, local, and private co-investors.  To maximize leverage from Federal investments, the NIB would finance no more than 50 percent of the total costs of any project.

• Giving State and Local Governments Flexible New Tools to Invest in Infrastructure.  Recovery Act funding for “Build America Bonds” (BABs) helped to support more than $181 billion for new public infrastructure.  The President’s new America Fast Forward (AFF) Bonds program will build upon the successful example of the BABs program, broadening its use to include the types of projects that can be financed with qualified private activity bonds (PABs) while also while also making the combined program more flexible.  In addition, the Administration is proposing changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA) aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of investment in U.S. infrastructure and real estate to a broader universe of private investors.  Taken together, these proposals represent $7 billion in tax reforms to support infrastructure investment among state and local governments as well as their private sector partners.

America Fast Forward Bonds:  The Recovery Act created the BABs program as an optional new lower cost borrowing incentive for State and local governments on taxable bonds issued in 2009 and 2010 to finance new investments in governmental capital projects.  The program’s innovative design ensured that States, localities, and their private sector partners receive the best bang-for-the-buck when they finance their investments in new infrastructure.  It also enabled them to attract new sources of capital to infrastructure investment — including from public pension funds that do not receive a tax benefit from traditional tax-exempt debt — and brought down interest costs by about 80 basis points on 30-year bonds.  Under the original BABs program, the Treasury Department makes direct subsidy payments to State and local governmental issuers in a subsidy amount equal to 35 percent of the coupon interest on the bonds.

The Administration proposes to create a new permanent AFF Bonds program, which would be an
optional alternative to traditional tax-exempt bonds.  Like BABs, AFF Bonds would be conventional taxable bonds issued by State and local governments in which the Federal government makes direct payments to State and local governmental issuers in a subsidy amount equal to 28 percent of the coupon interest on the bonds.  The 28-percent subsidy rate is approximately revenue neutral in comparison to the Federal revenue cost from traditional tax-exempt bonds.

The Administration proposes to include as an eligible use for America Fast Forward Bonds issuance for the types of projects and programs that can be financed with qualified PABs, subject to applicable State bond volume caps for the PABs category.

Reformed Project Limitations for Qualified Private Activity Bonds:  The Administration proposes modifying certain restrictions in the qualified PABs program, in order to encourage greater take-up and infrastructure construction:

 Increase the national limitation for qualified highway or surface freight transfer facility bonds to $19 billion from $15 billion.

 Eliminate the volume cap for qualified PABs issued for water infrastructure, in an effort to help address what the EPA has estimated is a roughly $600 billion need for capital investment in wastewater and stormwater as well as drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years.

 Increase from 25 percent to 35 percent the limitation on the use of proceeds for land acquisition, in order to enable greater PABs usage in areas with high land costs.

 Permit private ownership of qualified PAB-supported airports, docks and wharves, and mass commuting facilities, putting these infrastructure categories on an equal footing under the qualified PABs program with other infrastructure types.

FIRPTA:  Infrastructure assets can be attractive investments for long-term investors such as pension funds that value the long-term, predictable, and stable nature of the cash flows associated with infrastructure.  Under current law, gains of foreign investors from the disposition of U.S. real property interests are generally subject to U.S. tax under FIRPTA, and foreign investors including large foreign pension funds regularly cite FIRPTA as an impediment to their investment in U.S. infrastructure and real estate assets.  With U.S. pension funds generally exempt from U.S. tax upon the disposition of U.S. real property investments, the Administration proposes to put foreign pension funds on an approximately equal footing:  exempting their gains from the disposition of U.S. real property interests, including infrastructure and real estate assets, from U.S. tax under FIRPTA.

• Building the Transportation Network Our Businesses and Workers Need to Succeed.  The
 Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program — which provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and lines of credit to regionally or nationally significant transportation projects — received an eight-fold increase in funding to $1 billion in the recent surface transportation reauthorization.  Over the past 13 years, TIFIA has entered into 27 loan agreements worth $10.4 billion, resulting in more than $41 billion in total project investment.  The program, which is especially important to mayors and local leaders, highlights the important role that infrastructure financing can play in catalyzing private investment, and its expansion was a significant step towards more innovative infrastructure financing.

In addition to the sound implementation of TIFIA’s recent expansion, the Administration is also proposing $4 billion in new competitive funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and TIFIA programs in 2014.  This additional investment would make new grant and loan funding available for States and localities across the country, giving them both a new source of financing and the flexibility to design projects and financing packages to meet their needs.
Is There Space for Cyclos, Bicycles, Motor Scooters, Cars, and Trucks on the Same Roadway?

By Peggy Drouet, March 29, 2013

Every time I read a new article on the controversy of adding bike lanes to city streets, I think back to my cyclo ride in Hue, Vietnam. Here is a video of it:


 We took a cyclo ride around Hue from our hotel to a restaurant. It was a long ride, and near the end of it, it started to drizzle. The top of the cyclo did not prevent my heavy cotton sweater from getting wet or my pants. Sometimes the cyclo drivers bring along ponchos for their riders to cover themselves when it rains, but our drivers didn’t.

I put three movies together into one movie. The first part shows what the motorscooter traffic is like in Vietnam––hectic. We rode with the scooters, although mainly near the curb. My cyclo rider must have been the slowest one as other people in my group were passing us. The second part of the movie shows how a cyclo navigates a left–hand turn. The third part shows the nightmare at major intersections.

More bicyclists than voters in L.A., and it’s déjà vu all over again as 3-foot law makes a comeback

March 29, 2013


If you don’t remember anything else from today’s post, remember this.

Only 377,881 Angelenos bothered to cast a ballot in the city election earlier this month. That’s less than the estimated 400,000 people who ride a bike in Los Angeles every month.
If we don’t have power in this city — and we don’t — it’s our own damn fault.

If you don’t care enough to vote, don’t complain about the dangerous streets and lack of infrastructure you’ll help saddle the rest of us with in the years to come.

A California legislator makes a third attempt to pass a three-foot passing law — and get it past two-time veto pen wielding Governor Jerry Brown, who seems to be popular with everyone but bike riders these days.

This law seems significantly better than the last version; as I read it, it requires a minimum three-foot distance even when passing cyclists riding in bike lanes, unlike last year’s bill. And this one includes the exemption allowing motorists to briefly cross a double yellow line to pass a bicyclist, which is the excuse reason Brown gave for vetoing the last bill, and which seemed credible to virtually no one.
Even Sutter didn’t buy that crap.
Meanwhile, a bill that would have required drivers to be tested on their knowledge of bike laws and infrastructure was inexplicably gutted by it’s own author; it now deals just with distracted driving.
CD 14 Council Member Jose Huizar supports bike lanes on a reconfigured Colorado Blvd, while Tom “Bike Bell” LaBonge comes out against bike lanes on Lankershim. A public forum was held at Occidental College to examine the battle over NELA bike lanes; reports are cyclists came out in force, even if those who regularly ride the corridor were bizarrely called outside interests. Walk Eagle Rock addresses, in advance, some of the concerns expressed at the meeting.

Meanwhile, KCET’s SoCal Connected offers a good look at the bike lane controversy, which really shouldn’t be one unless you consider cars more important than human beings. The Times examines the conflict over a planned bikeway on Polk Street in Baghdad by the Bay; Boyonabike effectively dissects the story to expose an inherent anti-bike bias.

And apparently, building bike lanes is no easier in Riverside. Or Omaha, for that matter.

Once everyone is done attacking bike lanes, I’m sure Mom, baseball and apple pie will probably be next.
Flying Pigeon says the recent Rowena road diet creates the opportunity for a real bike network. MyFigueroa presents the updated plan for Downtown’s iconic boulevard on Tuesday, April 9th with guest speaker Charlie Gandy, who I want to be when I grow up. LA/2B offers a March update without really saying anything. Not surprisingly, UCLA says children who live next to parks are more physically active, which should be an argument for more parks, everywhere. An L.A. cyclist enters a light-bearing helmet in the James Dyson Award competition. The West Hollywood city council promises to leave room for possible future bike lanes in approving the La Brea streetscape design, while the WeHo Bicycle Coalition invites you to ride the city’s new sharrows on Fountain, Sunday, April 7th. VeloNews uses the recent Wolfpack Hustle Marathon Crash race to explore the trend towards unsanctioned bike races across the U.S. Will Campbell wishes a jerk cyclist a nice day. A French couple stops in Malibu halfway on their round the world tour. KCBS-2 says there’s a turf war between cyclists and pedestrians on the beachfront bike path. The Santa Monica Bike Center celebrates women and bikes tonight with a Cycles and Suffragettes Tea Party. Glendale considers capping the 134 Freeway with a park. Environmentalists and mountain bikers clash over access to backcountry routes in the Angeles National Forest. Ride to benefit Habitat for Humanity in Palos Verdes on Saturday, April 6th; and mark your calendar for the Ride 2 Recovery Honor Ride in Agoura Hills on Saturday, April 27th.

What it’s like to ride a belt drive bike. Firefighters rescue an injured mountain biker from Laguna Canyon. A look back at the founding of the Redlands Bicycle Classic in 1984. Once again, we’re reminded that bicyclists need to follow the rules, and assured that virtually none of us ever does; yawn. Biking to Costco is easy; biking back with a fully loaded trailer, not so much. A San Francisco writer enters a Dickensian urban underground in search of his stolen bike.

Riding is usually a refuge from whatever is going on in our lives, but not always. An evangelical minister has travelled nearly 220,000 miles and worn out seven bikes after leaving Portland in 1993 to spread the gospel by bike. Jackson Hole WY cyclists have a month-long car-free route cut in half due to budget cutbacks. A Corpus Christi publication correctly observes that if the roads aren’t safe for cyclists, they aren’t safe, period. For the second time in three days, a hit-and-run driver runs down a cyclist in a Louisiana parish; the first rider was killed. Before it was Motown, Detroit was a bicycle town. Bikes to be banned at Ohio State University; not unlike like their football team. The granddaddy of unsanctioned fixed gear races rolls this weekend with the Red Hook Criterium. Why don’t police take a broken windows approach to traffic violence? New York cyclists are posting living wills online begging police to investigate the crash if they killed. A petition calls for adding bike and pedestrian pathways on New York’s famed Verrazano bridge.

Science looks at why bicyclists ride through red lights. São Paulo cyclists fight for justice after a rider loses an arm in a hit-and-run. Canadian students develop a crash-test dummy to study bike collisions, something that’s long past due; one of my life’s goals is to establish an academy to study the unique forensics of bicycling collisions. Even cities in the Northwest Territories consider bike lanes, while Whitehorse wants help updating the rules. A UK plastic surgeon claims vanity is driving middle-aged male cyclists to have varicose veins removed; mine were caused by the road raging driver who deliberately crashed into me, so I’m keeping them as a reminder, thanks. British Cycling wants to get more people biking to work. Brit cyclists will soon get a four-mile train tunnel repurposed as the country’s longest underground bikeway; in this country, it would soon be overrun with homeless camps and lurking criminals. A Queensland Sikh successfully fights a ticket for not wearing a bike helmet. Two Christchurch cyclists are killed in three days. Scofflaw Tokyo cyclists could face up to three months in jail.

Finally, the Onion says it’s pretty incredible that American’s are entrusted to drive cars; yes, it’s satire, but there can be a lot of truth in humor. And as if parking in a bike lane isn’t bad enough, a Santa Cruz man is arrested for jerking off in one near a junior high school.

No, seriously.