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, April 5, 2013

Alameda Corridor – East Construction Authority breaks ground on Nogales Street Grade Separation Project


By Anna Chen, April 5, 2013



This morning, Alameda Corridor – E
ast Construction Authority broke ground on the Nogales Street Grade Separation Project. The project will construct a six-lane roadway underpass on Nogales Street between San Jose Avenue and Gale Avenue/Walnut Drive to separate trains and vehicles.

Currently, the crossing is used daily by about 40 freight trains, 12 Metrolink commuter trains and over 42,000 vehicles. The construction of the underpass will eliminate collisions and delays for emergency responders, motorists and pedestrians, create nearly 2,000 jobs, reduce vehicle emissions from idling cars and trucks waiting for trains to pass, and mitigate impacts of growth in trade transported by train.

Metro contributed $30.5 million in Prop C funds to the Nogales Street Grade Separation Project, which is 28% of the total project cost. With the Measure R funds, Metro’s total contribution of $671.4 million covers more than one-third of the overall estimated $1.6-billion Alameda Corridor East program.

Read the full press release from the Alameda Corridor – East Construction Authority after the jump.

Federal, state, local and railroad officials gathered today for a groundbreaking ceremony for a $110.5 million six-lane roadway underpass and a double-track railroad bridge to be constructed over Nogales Street, immediately north of the Pomona (60) Freeway in the City of Industry and unincorporated Los Angeles County.
The crossing is used daily by about 40 freight trains, 12 Metrolink commuter trains and 42,680 vehicles and is ranked no. 5 in the State for grade separation priority based on congestion and collision metrics.  The congested crossing is among the most hazardous in Los Angeles County with nine train-vehicle collisions recorded by the Federal Railroad Administration over the last 10 years.

“This important project will reduce vehicle emissions, eliminate collisions, train horn noise and vehicle delay and create nearly 2,000 jobs over three years of construction,” said El Monte Mayor Pro Tem Norma Macias, Acting Chair of the Alameda Corridor-East Construction Authority (ACE).  “We thank our funding partners for providing the support needed to move this project into construction.”

To improve motorist safety and reduce delays along the construction detour route, the first phase of the project will involve widening a three-quarter-mile-long bottleneck segment of Gale Avenue and Walnut Drive at Nogales Street.  Once the widening and construction of a temporary railroad crossing are completed within 12-18 months, Nogales Street will be closed for underpass and bridge construction for approximately 18 months.

“The Nogales Street project will both facilitate and mitigate the impacts of goods movement by rail through our communities,” said Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “I will continue my efforts in Congress to secure federal funding for nationally significant freight projects such as the ACE grade separation projects.”

“I continue to be impressed by the ACE Construction Authority’s strong record in securing funding for and constructing its program of important grade separation projects.  I am proud to be their champion in our nation’s capitol,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, whose district includes the single largest ACE project, the San Gabriel Trench grade separation project.

“Trade is a major economic engine for our regional economy and remains one of my top priorities in Congress. Time after time it has been proven that new infrastructure projects can be built in an environmentally sustainable way – the ACE grade separations continue that vision,” said Congressman Alan Lowenthal, a longtime legislative leader on goods movement issues.

“I strongly support the ACE Construction Authority and its grade separation program, which is a priority for our region and in Sacramento,” said State Senator Bob Huff, Vice Chair of the San Gabriel Valley State Legislative Caucus and a founding Board Member of the ACE Construction Authority.

“Our region is still struggling to regain its footing in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The economy is slowly improving, and it is important to note that the Nogales Street project alone will create nearly 2,000 well paid construction jobs over three years of construction,” said Assemblywoman Norma Torres, whose district includes several ACE grade separation projects.

“Los Angeles County Metro is contributing more than a third of the overall ACE program funding through Measure R and other countywide sales tax measures and is committed to remaining a significant sponsor of this important rail-roadway grade separation program,” said Metro Deputy Chief Executive Officer Paul Taylor.
“The ACE program is a success story for the San Gabriel Valley, and I will continue to support the ACE projects on the Metro Board,” said Duarte Councilman John Fasana, the San Gabriel Valley’s representative to the LA County Metro Board of Directors.

“As a key part of California’s transportation infrastructure, Union Pacific makes safety our top priority,” said Scott Moore, vice president, public affairs – West for Union Pacific Railroad. “Union Pacific works regularly with local law enforcement, elected officials and community based organizations to raise awareness that railroad tracks are dangerous. In addition to our work with communities, we work with various stakeholders to grade separate railroad crossings like Nogales Street whenever possible.”

The project is an investment in a program of grade separations along the Alameda Corridor-East Trade Corridor, which accommodates about 60 percent of the containers moved from the nation’s busiest container ports in the San Pedro Bay to the rest of the country via the region’s rail network.  The Union Pacific Railroad mainline is one of the busiest sections of freight rail in the nation, with a current daily total of 40 trains per day projected to increase to 104 trains by 2025 as trade rebounds at the San Pedro Bay ports, the nation’s busiest container port complex.

Misclassification of the SR-710 Segment Between the I-210 and California Blvd. in the CH2M Hill Apppendix N Noise Technical Memorandum


N for noise? No, I think it just ended up that way. This a hard one to get through to reach an understanding of what it even studied, which (I got this far) was noise Level II screening . The appendix gives an explanation of sound, noise, acoustics, frequency and hertz, sound pressure level, and decibels, A-weighted decibels, noise descriptors, federal regulations, and state regulations. Not understanding much of these explanations, I looked for another source and found more easy- to-understand article on traffic noise from the Washington State Department of Transportation: http://wsdot.gov/environment/air/trafficnoise

From what I could figure out by reading Appendix N:

How the SR-710 Noise Level II Screening Was Conducted

“The effect of each project alternative was evaluated by calculating the change in traffic noise levels from the no build conditions along “ 16 highway segments. Each segment was classified as to the land uses located within the vicinity of the segment. “ Land uses considered to be noise sensitive receptors include residences, schools, playgrounds, athletic facilities, hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, convalescent centers, and retirement homes.” The land uses found within the vicinity of the project area were the following:  primarily of residential developments, a mix of commercial and residential developments, primarily of commercial developments, mix of residential developments and open space, mix of residential developments and school uses, and mix of residential developments and school uses.

Of the 16 different segments studied was the section of the SR-710 between the I-210 and California Blvd., the area where the 710 tunnel north portals will be located.

On page 7, the SR-710 between 1-210 and California Blvd. (now shortened to SR-710 south of 210) is described thusly: “The land uses located within the vicinity of this segment consist primarily of commercial developments.”

Did the CH2M Hill people doing this study bother to see this section in real life? If so, they couldn’t have missed seeing the following structures the vicinity of this segment: Huntington Hospital, Sequoia School, Maranatha High School and its athletic fields, and the huge Westgate apartment complex and other apartments along Pasadena Avenue at the edge of Old Town.  Are these not school, athletic, hospital, and residential uses?

However, even committing this inexcusable (purposeful?) error in classification, the following conclusion regarding the proposed 710 tunnel, F-7, was made, based on the traffic volumes, segment length, distance to the 65 dBA Leq, and area within the dBA contour (acres) to obtain the increase from the No Build option (acres). Since the part of the segment between the 1-210 and California Blvd. will now be part of the tunnel, the segment length was  reduced from  6,336 feet  to 2,300 feet and the area within the 65 dBA contour from 331 acres to 70 acres, therefore resulting in a -26.3% decrease in dBA contour acres:

 “Within the project area this alternative would expose 14,636 acres to traffic noise levels exceeding 65 dBA Leq, and increase of 129.6 acres from the no build conditions. The majority of the land uses along the roadway segments evaluated as part of this screening analysis are sensitive residential, school, or open space uses. Therefore, this alternative would result in an increase in the number of sensitive land uses that would be exposed to noise levels exceeding 65 dBA Leq.” The change, however, is only +0.9%.

What Was Not Studied

The increase in noise level by the addition of at least 100,000 vehicle trips per day on the SR-710 between 1-210 and California Blvd. or on increased traffic on any other segment was not part of this study or do I think it is required by either the state or the federal government, which, of course, is of great concern to all who live, work, go to school, etc., in any of the 16 segments.

Hot New LADOT TAP Cards Available for Pre-Order Now


By Damien Newton, April 5, 2013

Earlier this week, we debuted the new-look LADOT TAP Cards that will be available in May on Streetsblog LITE. Just like current LADOT TAP, you can add fare media for both LADOT and Metro on one card. Unlike the current cards, these could become collector’s items as the Exposition Opening Cards already have.
People were so excited, there was a small social media buzz asking how to get the cards. LADOT happily reported that you can pre-order the cards now. LADOT spokesperson Bruce Gillman:
To pre-order cards call LADOT at (213,310,323 or 818) 808-2273.  These personalized TAP cards will also be availble for pre-ordering beginning Friday on line at: http://www.ladottransit.com/ or by stopping in at the LADOTTransit store located at 201 N Los Angeles Street, Lower Level, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Cards will be in the store for walk-up purchases starting May 20th.

Care Must Be Taken Not to Add to Tension Between Motorists and Cyclists


April 4, 2013


As more people take up cycling, the stress of meeting their roadway needs versus the need for more space to accommodate cars is causing tension in some areas of Los Angeles.
York Boulevard in Highland is a good example of where the addition of bike lanes at the expense of autos has some people fuming.

We recognize that the goal of dedicated bike lanes is to give cyclists more room to travel safely, and to encourage more people to get out of their cars and take up what city and health officials hope will become a healthier and more common form of transportation. But a number of Highland Park residents have told us that they feel the addition of bike lanes to York Boulevard is stressing them out, especially during peak traffic hours.

Rather than promoting a congenial sharing of the roadway, the addition of bike lanes, which for the most part are empty as drivers wait in a long line of cars attempting to travel down the street, is adding to the tension between drivers and cyclists, residents have told us.

It just creates more frustration on the part of drivers that we fear could in the future be a danger to a person on a bike.

We are not at all opposed to cyclists using our streets, but we do wish that the traffic experts charged with coming up with the city’s bike plans would engage more drivers of automobiles in the process. They need a sensible plan as to how to mitigate auto traffic buildup caused when lanes for cars are taken away and given to cyclists.

While we are not traffic experts, we do believe that our traffic officials must be able to spot trouble-making situations, especially since cyclists are the most vulnerable of the two sides.

Public hearings are fine and needed, but nothing clears the air like creative solutions that provide for the safety of everyone using our streets.

After 30 Years, LA Synchs Its Traffic Lights: Too Little, Too Late?


By Richard Read, April 3, 2013


Freeway, Los Angeles, 2009 (photo by Myriam Thyes via Wikimedia)

Is it just us, or does roadway construction seem like an exercise in futility?

How many times have you seen crews pack up after adding an extra lane of highway, leaving the road just as clogged as it was before? Couldn't the team have added two lanes (or three), just to save time down the line? It's as if construction projects are done to resolve current problems without giving much thought to problems that might arise in the future.

According to an article in the New York Times, a recently completed traffic abatement project in Los Angeles may suffer from the same shortcomings.


In the early 1980s, the Los Angeles Transportation Department began working on something called the Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control system. Its goal? To synchronize every last one of LA's 4,500 traffic signals, giving hope that commuters might be able to travel the length of the city without stopping for a light.

Now, some 30 years and $400 million later, the city has finally completed the project. And the results...well, they're not entirely impressive. The Transportation Department says that traffic now moves 16% faster, and the pace at intersections is up 12%. That's boosted the average Angeleno's travel speed to 17.3 mph (up from 15 mph), and reduced the time it takes to drive five miles to about 17.2 minutes (down from 20).

Why haven't the results been better? Because despite the vast number of roadway sensors, cameras, and other high-tech gadgetry that's been deployed to keep LA traffic moving smoothly, the number of cars on the road has continued to increase.

The dilemma is a bit like the issue of saving time in our daily work. Over the past century, "time-saving" devices have reduced the number of hours we once spent on tasks like washing clothes, cooking meals, and writing books. But human beings never use that "saved" time to relax; we've just found other ways to keep ourselves busy, meaning that we're always trying to create more "time-saving" devices, which allow us to occupy our time in other ways, and so on, and so on.

To engineering professor James E. Moore II, traffic faces similar troubles. Moore says that when traffic is diminished, it simply encourages more people to get out on the roads. "[P]art of the benefit is not speed, but throughput".

The tide could turn, of course. Young people aren't as interested in owning cars: they're taking mass transit, riding bikes, and walking where they need to go (even in LA). For many employees, there are increasing options to work from home. Over time, factors like those could reduce the number of folks on the road.

But for now, it's just as crowded as ever. 

TomTom Research Finds Los Angeles Most Congested City in North America


April 4, 2013

 los angeles

CONCORD, Mass.--April 4, 2013: TomTom today announces the results of its 2012 Congestion Index, which measures traffic congestion in 161 cities across five continents and compares it to congestion levels in 2011. The annual Congestion Index also examines the congestion in 59 metropolitan areas with a population of more than 800,000 across North America, and found Los Angeles continued to be the most congested city in North America.
“TomTom's Annual Congestion Index provides accurate insight into the world's most congested cities”
On average, journey times in Los Angeles are 33% longer than when traffic in the city is flowing freely and 77% longer during evening rush hour. TomTom's Congestion Index, including individual city reports, can be found at TomTom Congestion Index .

TomTom's Congestion Index is the world's most accurate barometer of congestion in urban areas. The Index is uniquely based on real travel time data captured by vehicles driving the entire road network. TomTom's traffic database contains more than six trillion data measurements and is growing by five billion measurements every day. The average congestion level for all the North American cities analyzed between July and September 2012 is 18%.

The top ten most congested North American cities, ranked by overall Congestion Level, in 2012 were:
1. Los Angeles (33%)
2. Vancouver (32%)
3. Honolulu (30%)
4. San Francisco (29%)
5. Seattle (26%)
6. Toronto (25%)
7. San Jose (25%)
8. Washington (25%)
9. New Orleans (25%)
10. Montreal (25%)

"TomTom's Annual Congestion Index provides accurate insight into the world's most congested cities," said Ralf-Peter Schaefer, Head of Traffic at TomTom. "This detailed knowledge of the entire road network, helps businesses and governments make more informed decisions about how best to tackle and avoid congestion. TomTom's world-class traffic information also helps drivers get to their destinations faster. Significantly, when used on a large scale, TomTom Traffic has the potential to ease congestion in cities and urban areas by routing drivers away from congested areas."

The methodology used in the Congestion Index compares measured travel times during non-congested periods (free flow) with travel times in peak hours. The difference is expressed as a percentage increase in travel time. The Index takes into account local roads, arterials, as well as highways. All data is based on actual GPS based measurements.

As well as assigning and ranking the overall congestion levels of over 161 cities around the world, the report analyses the congestion levels in cities at different times of the day and on different days of the week. TomTom analyzed capital cities as well as cities with a population of over 800,000. In addition, a selection of key cities with smaller populations was included based on their regional importance to the transportation network. The purpose of adding these smaller cities was to provide a better understanding of congestion levels within individual countries.
Individual city reports include more detailed information such as the most congested day, time delay per year for commuters and congestion levels on main and secondary roads.


Angelenos invited to explore Metro station artwork in series of public tours


By Hayley Fox, April 4, 2013

 An art tour of Metro stops throughout L.A. is meant to highlight the more than 300 artists who've contributed works to the public transit system.



Every day throughout L.A.County, throngs of commuters pass by artwork in their local transit station, often without giving the pieces a second glance. Metro officials are trying to change that — through monthly art tours that provide insight into the artists behind the creations.

The first Thursday, Saturday and Sunday of every month, people can meet at a Metro stop and travel (mostly along the Red Line) learning about these works of public art. This Sunday at 10 a.m., people will be meeting at the information booth at Union Station for a two-hour, roundtrip tour.

Although the tour is based along public transit lines, officials caution participants that the tour is 90 percent walking.

Although most Metro funds are focused on establishing better ways to get from Point A to Point B, about .5 percent of rail construction costs go towards obtaining original artwork for the stations. Outside contributions from government groups and corporations also help.

Since 1989, Metro's Art Department has been commissioning pieces of art and have worked with more than 300 artists on projects throughout the county.

Each transit art tour is led by a volunteer from the Metro Art Docent Council.

"While docent programs are commonly found at museums around the world, Metro is the first transit agency to benefit from such a program," says Metro.

Tour guides identify themselves by carrying a megaphone and wearing a yellow safety vest. They will also be the one doling out free TAP cards with a day pass pre-loaded on them, at the start of each tour.

If guided tours aren't your thing, Metro offers an online brochure that includes images of all of the
artwork, along with a map, background information and descriptions of the pieces.
5900 Wilshire Gets The Shaft: Westside Subway Extension Begins This Week


Marielle Wakim, April 2, 2013

It may not look like much yet, but what you see in the above photo is the very early (very orange) beginning of the Westside Subway Extension project. That’s right: our  street corner is acting as a lab rat for the L.A. Metro, which will be building an “exploratory shaft” of its soon to be new-and-improved Purple Line (the last station of which is currently at Wilshire/Western).

Once it’s completed, the westward extension will include nine more miles of track with seven additional stops, including Beverly Hills, Century City, and Westwood.

Quick poll: Will YOU take the Purple Line once construction is complete? Let us know in the comments below!

Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden: Serene reawakening in Pasadena

Neglected for decades and threatened by freeway construction, a 1935 Japanese garden is brought back to life.


 By Christy Hobart, April 5, 2013

By the time Jim Haddad inherited his family's Pasadena property in the mid-1980s, the garden was in a state of neglect.

His parents had stopped maintenance on the nearly 2-acre Japanese-style garden a decade earlier, when Caltrans acquired about a third of an acre by eminent domain for extension of the 710 Freeway. Plants had died.

The pond had gone dry. Garden ornaments had been sold or stolen. The teahouse, overgrown with moss and weeds, had burned to the ground.

PHOTOS: Historic Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden revived in Pasadena

"Every real estate agent around wanted to sell off the lot in parts. It was tempting," Haddad said, noting the enormous tax assessment that was coming his way. "They were offering a fair amount of money. But I couldn't say yes."

Haddad and his wife, Connie, shared memories of living in the guesthouse as newlyweds; of their Labrador, wet from a dip in the pond, roaring through the plant beds; of a daughter's wedding; and of their grandchildren playing around the manicured grounds. They also knew that the garden, though in serious disrepair, dated to 1935 and was of cultural importance. So they held on.

To fully understand the rebirth of the garden since then, you could note that in 2005, the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, as it is known, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Or you could simply see for yourself: The garden will be open April 28 as part of the Garden Conservancy's Open Days tour.

What visitors will see is nothing short of time rewound. The garden, originally commissioned by Ellamae and Charles Storrier Stearns, was designed by Kinzuchi Fujii, a master carpenter, landscaper and recent immigrant. He conceived the landscape as a Japanese "stroll" garden that revealed itself — through essential elements such as ponds, waterfalls and a teahouse — as visitors wound around paths and over bridges.

Fujii's clients spared no expense. Black leaded tiles topped a garden wall, and stone ornaments were imported from Japan. Tons of granite boulders were hauled from the Santa Susana Pass. A teahouse of nearly 400 square feet was built for the property in Japan, then shipped to Pasadena. The landscaping included plants typical of Japanese woodland gardens — black pines, Japanese maples, Chinese elms, camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons and ferns — as well as California natives such as redwoods and live oaks.

That vision remained relegated to history until the Haddads retired and could even think about bringing the garden back to life. The bones were still there — the winding path, the man-made hill from which a waterfall once tumbled, the concrete and granite bridges. And the freeway plans had languished for so long, the extension no longer seemed to be an imminent threat.
Jim started the enormous undertaking by reviving the pond.

"I labored over it for eight or nine months," he said, until he found a sealant and method for fixing the leak. But there was much more to be done. The original waiting house, which in Japanese gardens is built along a path as a place to rest and contemplate the scenery before continuing on to a teahouse, was infested with termites. The burned-down teahouse, once a highlight, needed to be rebuilt.

When the Haddads questioned whether their efforts were worth the time and money, Kendall Brown, an authority on Japanese gardens and a professor of Asian art history at Cal State Long Beach, encouraged them to continue.

The Storrier Stearns garden, he said, is one of the few remaining prewar private estate gardens, remarkable for its scale and complexity. "It's on a level with the best of the country's top estate gardens," Brown said.

Takeo Uesugi, a landscape architect and professor emeritus at Cal Poly Pomona, confirmed Brown's assessment.

"He believed that it should be restored," Connie Haddad said. "He impressed it upon us."
Uesugi came on board as a consultant and introduced the Haddads to Jesus Rodriguez, a Colombian horticulturist who studied in Japan. Rodriguez moved onto the property to restore the garden with on-site composting, rainwater collection and proper plant care.

Jim Haddad, meanwhile, rebuilt the waiting house using a spruce tree discovered in Lake Arrowhead. ("If you're going to be authentic," he said, "you have to really look.") Using plans for the original teahouse, he also oversaw the construction of its replacement — "as close to the original as you could get," he said.

The original 11-foot-tall entrance gate had been dismantled and is in the Japanese Garden at Balboa Park in San Diego, so a replica was built. The rocked-lined paths were bolstered by seven truckloads of new rock. Bridges were repaired. New vegetation was planted.

The revival, as impressive as it may be, is only partly complete. The Haddads have plans for Phase 2, which will focus on one final section of the property. In the meantime, they're enjoying the beauty they've re-created.

"This garden is something else in the moonlight," Jim said inside the exquisite teahouse. "In the rain, there's a serenity that overpowers you here."

Added Connie: "It takes you away. It's hard to realize with a quick visit. You have to sit in the garden and let it work on you."

The Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden remains a private property, open only for filming and events, but it will be one of six private landscapes on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Pasadena tour on April 28. Admission to Storrier Stearns is $5 and can be purchased on tour day at that garden 270 Arlington Drive, Pasadena. Maps to all the gardens and a discount ticket set (six tickets for $25) will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on tour day at Arlington Garden, 285 Arlington Drive, Pasadena. The Garden Conservancy's Open Days Los Angeles tour, which covers six different properties, is scheduled for May 5. For more on Storrier Stearns: (626) 399-1721, japanesegardenpasadena.com.

Zappos CEO wants to lure Las Vegas residents out of their cars 


By David Roberts, April 4, 2013


Regular readers are aware that my hopes for sustainability are largely bound up with cities. By the simple act of bringing people together in close proximity, cities encourage diversity, health, innovation, and economic growth. They are the proving grounds where we will test new, more sustainable patterns of work, play, and mobility. I wrote a series of posts about this a while back called “Great Places.”

To me, one of the key barriers to truly green and enjoyable urbanism is the continued domination of urban spaces by cars (and parking). Cities, especially cities that grew up in the post-WWII era, are designed for cars; people scurry around on the margins, perpetually nervous about their safety. There’s really no way around this as long as car ownership is required to attain a convenient level of mobility, which it still is in the vast majority of cities.

Most public-transit alternatives to personal cars require a substantial investment of time and cognitive energy. Most people, like it or not, just want things to be easy. And so traffic congestion remains the rule in cities, even cities with robust public transit systems.

Tony Hsieh, the celebrated CEO of Zappos.com, wants to change that. (Side note: I never read management books by corporate titans, but for some reason I ended up reading Hsieh’s, and damned if it wasn’t pretty inspiring. He’s an interesting guy.) Hsieh moved Zappos to Las Vegas a while back and ever since he’s been investing heavily in making the city a vibrant, livable hub for tech innovation. Now he’s dreamed up something truly ambitious and (to me, anyway) exciting.

The idea is to provide an alternative to personal cars that is fast, flexible, multi-modal, and personalized — something that is easy the way returning shoes to Zappos is easy. It’s called Project 100. Ace reporter Katie Fehrenbacher has a great write-up of the plan, but to quickly summarize, Hsieh wants to populate downtown Las Vegas with:
  • 100 Tesla Model S sedans with professional drivers (think Uber),
  • 100 shared small, short-range neighborhood electric vehicles,
  • 100 shared bicycles, and
  • a system of buses with, yup, 100 shuttle stops.
Members willing to sign up for Hsieh’s project agree to give up their personal cars. They get a smartphone app that will tell them, at a given moment, their nearest transportation options and the fastest route to their destination. Different combinations will work for different people, mainly depending on how far they are from the urban core.

Ultimately Project 100 isn’t about the particular mix of vehicles or technologies, though, it’s about providing transportation as a service. Instead of buying a two-ton vehicle that will sit idle 90 percent of the time, sucking up gas and maintenance and insurance money, you buy access to transportation whenever you need it. All the hassle of car ownership is gone. There’s just a monthly subscription fee.

This is the promise of sharing economies: A shift from ownership to access. A substitution of intelligence for materials. A reduction in resource consumption without a reduction in quality of life.

Just two quick things to add.

First, a system like this will only work, or at least work well, if there are concomitant changes in urban infrastructure and land use. Flexible transportation options do not replace the need for greater density and walkability.

Second, you know what would really give a system like this a boost? Driverless vehicles! Insofar as it maintains a fleet of drivers, Project 100 will be costly. Insofar as it emphasizes the shared electric vehicle fleet, it will face the problem that faces all shared vehicle programs, which is that the vehicles end up unevenly distributed. People drive them places and leave them; they start to cluster in popular destinations. They must be manually redistributed.

Also they must be parked somewhere by the people who drive them, which is a hassle, a cause of congestion (people wandering around looking for a space), and an inefficient use of the city’s pool of parking spaces.

Driverless cars could distribute themselves. And they could park themselves in designated areas. They could do everything, in fact; passengers could text or watch YouTube videos. That means the transportation experience itself would be more pleasant than in privately owned vehicles.

A fleet of driverless vehicles (coupled with other modes) could help fully realize the vision of transportation as a service. I expect it won’t be long before that starts happening.

Do you hear me, Tony Hsieh? I want my robot car, dammit.

Read also http://gigaom.com/2013/04/03/zappos-ceo-rethinks-urban-transportation-in-vegas-with-100-tesla-model-s-cars/

High-speed rail a highlight of Brown's China trip


By Juliet Williams, April 4, 2013


Gov. Jerry Brown will be eyeing China's massive high-speed rail system as he tries to lure billions of dollars in investments to California during his trip to the country next week.
Brown said Thursday that the Chinese have approached building their massive high-speed rail system "with exuberance," and he feels equally excited about the prospects for California's proposed $68 billion system even as public support for the project has fallen.

"High-speed rail, it's a bold idea. Sure it's got critics, but it's taking technology and imagination and reshaping our future," Brown said in an interview Thursday with a handful of reporters in his Capitol office.

Brown and the business leaders who are accompanying him on the seven-day trip plan to ride the Chinese system. Brown said he would welcome Chinese investment in California's high-speed rail project, or anything else.

"I'm open. I'm going there, if they want to invest," he said. "I think we've got to get it further down the road before people want to come in and invest in it. Maybe they can buy part of it at some point."

China's high-speed system spans 5,800 miles but is highly subsidized by the government and does not face the same legal and environmental hurdles. Brown said he was not sure what he could apply from China's approach to his project in California, but he is interested in seeing it.

The chairman of the board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Dan Richard, is also accompanying Brown on the trip.

He said building personal relationships and showing government support for projects are crucial when doing business in China. Even so, he said he does not expect to come home with billions of dollars in immediate investments.

"They've got $400 billion or $500 billion they're going to invest abroad, so California's got to get a piece of that," Brown said. "I don't know about in the next two weeks, but they have all this money."

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/04/5317677/high-speed-rail-a-highlight-of.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/04/04/5317677/high-speed-rail-a-highlight-of.html#storylink=cpy

Tony Brandenburg: Ed Honowitz Averts Censure


April 5, 2013


 Glow of the Honovision
Ed Honowitz has managed to avert censure, though we have been vocal in asking for it for quite some time. This became our strategy when we realized that not only would Honowitz never apologize for what he had done to our family both individually and collectively, he would also continue to behave as if he was above the very rules he was obliged to uphold. And apparently we were not the first people to request a censure of Board Comrade Honowitz.

That came back in 2006 from Steven S. Lamb, who at that time was an Altadena Town Council Member, and did so in a letter to the Pasadena Weekly (click here). Interestingly, the statements supporting Mr. Lamb’s claims of cities being disenfranchised by Pasadena in 2006 were strikingly similar to the end result of 2013's PUSD redistricting (!) where Sierra Madre completely lost its vote!

Keep in mind that Honowitz, who had up until the present been Sierra Madre’s representative, believed the people of our city were too stupid to be effective Board members. And therefore too stupid to serve on the Pasadena Board of Education with such as himself. After all, it takes great minds to run a major school district into the ground in 12 short years.

Apology Demanded (letter from 2006)
… Ed Honowitz, present PUSD Board of Education member and past Board President ... stated that election by geographical district was undesirable because some geographic zones would not, in Mr. Honowitz's view, have qualified able candidates ... Mr. Honowitz's comments are tragic. For a person who grew up in Pasadena and prides himself on his intellect, Honowitz is shockingly devoid of local historic knowledge, present conditions and respect for American philosophy and values ...

As a citizen of Altadena who is one of those disenfranchised persons, I must assume that my fellow Altadena citizens, along with the citizens of Sierra Madre, are those persons who Mr. Honowitz believes should be disenfranchised because he does not believe we are capable of democratic self-governance and that there is no one in our geographic area who is a high enough quality candidate to serve with the likes of him.

This is an unbelievable insult to our communities and to general American beliefs and values. It is shocking that a person with such elitist, classist and racist views would consider himself, and be considered by others, as fit for any office in our country.

I am writing to request that your body censure Mr. Honowitz for these classist, racist, insulting, undemocratic and untoward remarks made in a hostile public manner against the whole of my community ...


Ah, well. Had I known then what I know now, I would never have asked for, let alone demanded - an apology from Mr. Ed. I’m sure Mr. Lamb learned the same.

It is below Mr. Ed’s station to apologize to a person outside of his caste. Back in 2009 I actually thought he believed in all that equity and equal opportunity crap he was spouting off. Now I realize that his often proclaimed care for the world's unfortunate was little more than a smooth career move.

We continue to seek a censure of Honowitz (click here) and we know that PUSD President Renatta Cooper knows how it’s done. So do Tom “Honowitz Lite” Selinske and Elizabeth “I didn’t Know that I was part of the Machine” Pomeroy. They pulled one off on Scott Phelps a while back. You may recall Honowitz went so far as to refer to the “Gestapo Tactics” as suggested by Honopal Ramon ”Ray” Cortines (click here).

Honowitz warned that letting Phelps’ actions go unpunished might send a bad message to students. He quoted a characterization of Phelps’ actions made by Ray Cortines, a prominent California educator, who described those actions as “Gestapo tactics.”

Clearly Honowitz failed to understand what confidentiality actually meant at the time. Though he accused Phelps of violating confidentiality, it turned out that just months earlier Honowitz violated my son’s confidentiality rights. In December, 2010 through February, 2011 Honowitz shared confidential information through email and in meetings with parents of the Sierra Madre Elementary School community about my autistic child, and then spent two years and countless thousands of PUSD dollars covering it up.

Honowitz didn’t know the difference between censure and censor at the time he pushed for a censure of Phelps, by the way. That is just funny. And pathetic.

But apparently Honowitz also has limited understanding of what the Gestapo actually did, and that is simply inexcusable. The “Gestapo tactics” that Honowitz and Cortines referred to certainly sounded nothing at all like the Gestapo I learned about. But then my degrees are in History and Education, not in art and photography. Apparently photographers make better board members than scientist/educators in the Cortinowitz world, with the bumpkin historians of Sierra Madre not worthy of qualifying at all.

If I didn’t know any better, I would think Honowitz and Cortines were making a veiled accusation of anti-semitism in the name of self serving politics, but with no clear understanding of how, or why it was inappropriate.

Nah. Not Ed Honowitz. He’d never do something so crass to cover his ... but I digress. But even more interesting was that Honowitz even went with the whole Ramon “Ray” Cortines angle at all.

Listen. Ray Cortines, former Superintendent of both Los Angeles Unified School District and San Francisco Unified School District is a Pasadena resident. Maybe even a neighbor of Ed The Historian Honowitz. Maybe even a friend, or at least someone Honowitz respected enough to quote for support back in October, 2011. There’s always room for one more agreeable chump in the sheep pen, right Eddy?

This, of course, is the same Ray Cortines who was pushing Scholastic Book Publishers to provide supplemental materials for Los Angeles Unified School District while simultaneously receiving money from Scholastic (click here).

This is also the same Ramon Cortines named as an educational consultant by Anthony Villaraigosa.

And of course, the same Ray Cortines that was the focus of that messy business with the sex scandal (click here) a couple years back. Apparently there was enough concern there to warrant a payout by LAUSD of $200,000 to Scott Graham (click here), the facilities executive who made the allegations against Cortines.

Correct me if I am wrong Mr. Cortines and Mr. Honowitz, but I believe sexual harassment and advances against a subordinate colleague are much closer to “Gestapo Tactics” than anything that led to the attempted censure and subsequent reprimand of Board Member Phelps.

I Spent $44 Million and All I Got Was This Lousy Award
In just a couple of weeks our solon of the Pasadena Community Schools Scam, Mr. Ed, will be honored along with Molly Munger and some other important dignitaries for all the groovy things they have done to promote the interests of something or other (click here).

Ed Honowitz, who is retiring from the PUSD Board of Education after 12 years, is a PUSD parent who went from being an involved parent supporting his own student to becoming a parent leader working on behalf of all students in PUSD.

This would be a wine fueled event to raise money for kids, with the entertainment to be provided by our children. Amazing. Is it ok to serve alcohol at an event where children are present, or is this something I should ask the nice people at Child Welfare?

Maybe they can invite Medical Marijuana advocates, tobacco lobbyists, and hey, how about Needle Exchange fans, too? Why pander to just one drug if we include other potential fly contributors and get funding from them all?

So dear Molly, as you may recall, was the funding behind that Proposition 38 train wreck that didn’t pass in the last election. The Pasadena area millionaire, civil rights attorney (click here) and former board member at Occidental College (can you say Petey IiPK Community Schools Dreier?), is getting props for her latest interest - securing site spaces for disadvantaged preschoolers (click here).

Say, isn’t Renatta Cooper involved in Early Childhood Education, too? Never mind, I am sure it’s just ships passing in the night.

You may or may not recall that Ed Honowitz was supportive not only of Proposition 30, but also of Munger’s Prop 38. That’s a pretty safe bet; play both sides. Proposition 38 was a $44,500,000 failure  to hike taxes in the name of education. It was flatly rejected by a whopping 71% of California’s voters. In the vernacular of the kids, it was an epic fail.

Honowitz’s support of the propositions may or may not come as a surprise (click here) to anyone who pays attention. Honowitz is all about scarfing up money from the taxpayers to promote his vision of education, but never all that into that tedious first rule of business - fiscal accountability. Of course not. When what you borrowed and steal from taxpayers runs out, you can simply ask for more.

Or maybe Molly could have gifted it to PUSD and watched it get pissed away.

PEN, Community Schools and the Future of Honovision
That he is getting an award from PEN, along with Molly, certainly shouldn’t surprise anyone since there is a nagging connection that hasn’t been disclosed. That it came from Pasadena Education Network (PEN), and not the usual Honowitz team at Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF) is an interesting twist. In any event, awards of this type are just reminders of how truly ridiculous the system is.

Is it just another coincidence that the Pasadena Education Network (PEN), who are giving an award (pay attention please) to Ed Honowitz as a parent leader according to a blurb from the PEN propaganda headquarters mailed out to Pasadena Now are giving one to Molly the same day?

Why is it that this “networking” so resembles cronyism, that anyone with half a sense and 15 minutes can find the connections between “Nancy over at PEN” (Executive Director Nancy Dufford) and her past roles as a Consultant for PUSD from 2007-2010 (click here)? A role which included managing their Open Enrollment/Student Admissions - and that she envisioned “PEN developing more community and business partnerships.” Color me surprised.

Just like Elizabeth Bucking Blanco, Nancy first worked under Edwin “Say Cheese” Diaz and then gave him an award (click here). Lookee here. Hey, don’t it figure? Nancy was on the Redistricting Task Force (click here). Hey, there’s Petey Dreier, too.

OK. I get it, work under someone, you give them an award. How nice. Thank their mediocrity with an award from the ineffective. Spend lots of that money for kids on a ceremony. Gave an award to the idiot Diaz. Ok, fine. Give one to the idiot Honowhatever. OK, fine. But if you are going to give one to Honowitz, don’t do it because he is some great parent leader. He’s not. To do so is to insult every family with autistic members in this district.

Isn’t this really another exercise in social cronyism? Won’t this award be used in a future resume? Will it support Honowitz as an educational expert? As a great liaison to parents and the community? Will it be part of his Community Schools proof of expertise?

Is it a coincidence that Ed Honowitz brought Comrade Judy Chu to a Pasadena City Council meeting to promote Community Schools and that Mayor Bogaard, and the Pasadena City Council, and the PUSD BOE fell over themselves to support Chu, and later Comrade Dreier?

Is it a coincidence that Senator Carol Lookee Liu, who is clearly connected to Chris Holden (click here) and Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard has now brought Honowitz along as an educational consultant?

Is it a coincidence that Honowitz was deeply involved in discussions with Nate Holden, and facilities chief David Azcarraga? That he may have arranged the meeting or had knowledge it was being conducted- on company time- about the use of PUSD properties and networking to bring in low yoyo construction giants the Bigley Brothers?

Is it a coincidence that improprieties may exist regarding the padding of staff hours, consultant hours, and the misuse of Measure TT funds?

Meanwhile, Back at the Soon to be Muir East Ranch ...
A couple of emailed bot responses to questions about disability awareness activities from the two top people in special education. Good thing they get all that money. Hate for them to take a vacation in the middle of the instructional school year, just weeks before the California State Testing. Especially a vacation they couldn’t afford.

From: Michael Jason
Date: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Subject: Out of Office Re: Disability awareness/inclusion

I will be out of the office from Monday, March 18, 2013 and return on Monday, April 1, 2013.  If you need to speak with someone please contact XXXXXX at (626) xxx-xxxx x88605 and she will be able to direct you to someone who can assist with your question.

From: Leonard McLaren Jr
Date: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM
Subject: Out of the Office Re: Disability awareness/inclusion

Sorry, I will be out of the office and will be returning on Monday, April 8, 2013. If you need immediate attention, please contact Special Education Department at 626-xxx-xxxx extension 88600. Thank you.

Oh wow, sorry dudes. Didn’t mean to interrupt the, uh,  party with questions about your, um, job, and my um, kid’s education that you are supposed to be supervising. Please let me know when you are done having a good time so that we can have those meeting about my kid’s education that we scheduled in the middle of my vacation. Oh, I guess they won’t be happening since you’ll be gone.

Howler of the Week
I grew up in poverty and was disenfranchised. Being poor sucked. I worked hard, and now I am just disenfranchised.

I wonder if I could get Molly to help with all my legal stuff. I watched PUSD stomp my kids’ civil rights to dust. Maybe I should ask Slick Eddy Honowitz to help set up a meeting between she and I while I am at work. I know he’s really good at setting up that sort of thing.

After all, it’s not his money.