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

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Climate Imperative of TOD in Santa Monica


By Gary Kavanagh, May 13, 2013

 Santa Monica From Above

 One of the sub-rifts I’ve observed within the debates and backlashes against development in Santa Monica reflects the diverging views within environmentally conscience minds about balancing localized and broader impacts. There are people who have advocated for environmental initiatives of various kinds their entire life, who I fundamentally clash with despite also considering myself a passionate advocate environmental protection. We’re seeing the same issues with completely different lenses.

In what I am going to refer to as a slow or no growth locally perspective, to add development intensity of any kind here is to further potentially increase the impact of Santa Monica. This impact is a net negative, and one perceived to be associated with a linear increase in more vehicle traffic or other negative consequences.

Anchoring around walkable areas tied to transit investments already under construction, is lower impact and more sustainable (ecologically speaking and financially) than having the investment capital for development flow outward. Adding transit oriented development as non-linear, and facilitating more walkable and bikeable distances between a greater number of potential homes and businesses with the potential for longer trips by transit made more convenient. A shift away from automobile dependency and centrism is an imperative.

Within the realm of choices Santa Monica can make for itself, allowing for more transit oriented development near our already under construction electric light rail line connecting us to Downtown Los Angeles, is one of the best things we can do to enable lower energy use per capita for more people, maintain strong city finances, and address some of the supply side of the forces making the city less affordable and accessible. People living in Santa Monica along the Expo Line corridor already have shorter commute times than most places in the region, I’m guessing in part because so many jobs already exist within that area (my own 10 minute daily bike commute fits completely within that light pink slice).

Our ideal climate also reduces household energy demand significantly. As of this writing, Burbank just set a new record high of 103 degrees. Santa Monica was in the low 70′s and upper 60′s during the same part of the day, wrapped in that natural air conditioning we call the marine layer. Given a choice of adding units in Burbank or Santa Monica, units in Santa Monica will by default use less energy without residents even having to think about it. The means to live a lower carbon lifestyle, so long as one can afford the barriers to entry and the capacity exists, is just plain easier in Santa Monica.

However, the prevailing paradigm in the U.S. and Southern California in particular has been banking on suburban and exurban sprawl that consumes an ever growing footprint, diminishing formally agricultural or open land. The forces behind developing automobile centric sprawl are complex and numerous, but making infill development or renovation of old buildings to new uses prohibitively difficult through zoning and costly parking minimums in established communities, is certainly helping push sprawl outward. Charles Marohn of Strong Towns has made a compelling case that the low density auto-oriented sprawl model of development is not financially viable over multiple infrastructure life-cycles, independently of any environmentally focused concerns.

The L.A. region,California, the United States and global population are still on growth paths. We have demographic shifts of more aging and retiring early boomers looking for less automobile dependent housing at the same time that the biggest U.S. generation, the millennials, are increasingly leaving the nest (if they can) and seeking employment in urban centers. These factors and others, within the framework of our current economic system, all apply price pressures reflected in rising rents in compact urban areas with a lot of job opportunities, such as Santa Monica currently enjoys among other benefits.

With those conditions in place, I don’t see any choice but to in some locations infill, build upward, or we are promoting to build outward (sprawl). Automobile oriented sprawl is by far the most environmentally damaging way for  development to take shape by far. Both in sheer land use footprint and the energy demands of spreading everything further apart in ever greater regional orbits. Given the number of underutilized properties and land devoted to parking lots within the central east/west corridor of Santa Monica, there many opportunities to develop and add density even in areas referred to as built out, that do not have to depend on going significantly upward.

That doesn’t mean I support settling for any kind of development by any means. I want to see more local energy spent imagining how development could better fit within our other goals and values. I’d like to see some serious conversations about innovative ideas like requiring passive solar design and active solar energy generation (Lancaster, CA is phasing in solar requirements) or solar water heating features (as Hawaii requires on new construction). A real plan toward sustainability should consider requirements that are a net positive from the current state of affairs, and ditch any mandates to pollute more like parking minimum zoning.

I’ve been told a few times that tight water demands mean we ought not allow more density in Santa Monica, but L.A. regional residential water demand is driven most by keeping short blade grass green in a chaparral climate that is poorly suited to non-water conserving plants. Unguided by urban growth boundaries, a lot of development in the past several decades has gone to where ever it could, often in drier areas of the Southern California region with cookie cutter houses and over sized front yards caught up in the keeping grass green arms race.

When we consider the adaption side of the climate change, concentrating future development in very low lying coastal areas could, much further out in time, become problematic, if we do not radically change course on emissions. Despite being very close to the sea however, most of Santa Monica is largely insulted from potential oceans threats by high bluffs and ascending elevation moving inland. However, long before we might see sea level rise significant enough to require intervention in the L.A. area (with the southern edge of Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey and Long Beach on the front lines of sea level risk in LA County), we are already seeing our inland areas dealing with higher temperatures and more severe droughts and dryness. Heat is not to be under estimated in harm, and people dieing from heat related symptoms in heat waves is not uncommon even under 20th century norms.

Global warming impacts may reduce the desirability of the hottest inhabited SoCal regional microclimates, and further fuel demand for cooler regional locales if populations start to shift. Santa Monica is in the unique position of a micro-climate that can at times be more than 30 degrees cooler than locations like Encino that are only 8 miles away. In light of the 400ppm CO2 daily average milestone recently recorded in Mauna Loa Hawaii and inadequate action globally to address the rising emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, I’m not particularly encouraged by our prospects for averting some serious shake ups around the globe in the coming century.
Santa Monica From AboveThe effect of the parts per million of CO2 concentration in our atmosphere is a globalized phenomenon. Whether CO2 is emitted here, or from mini-McMansions in Chino Hills, the atmosphere doesn’t care, but some types of development undeniably foster radically different emissions outcomes per person.

Our 8 square miles in Santa Monica is far from isolated, it functions as part of a region that is completely interdependent, and the accounting for our progress, or setbacks, on meeting environmental goals, cannot simply stop at the municipal borders. John Muir famously wrote, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” In applying that sentiment to urbanism, I find it to mean we can never consider the actions or inactions of a municipality like Santa Monica independently of the context of neighboring forces.

Looking outward at the broader systems and society we are inherently connected to, fostering transit and bicycling oriented development here is one of most effective actions Santa Monica could take with it’s own power toward mitigating human impacts on the environment as a whole. I suspect there are some who may never come around to seeing it this way however, and the tension of trying to reconcile these views will continue to shape debates in sustainability minded communities like Santa Monica and the broader environmental discourse for some time to come.

Bullet Train Could be a Problem For Santa Clarita Home Sales


By Neal Broverman, May 13, 2103





The Southland Regional Association of Realtors recently held a meeting where Santa Clarita-area agents were told they must inform prospective buyers about the California high-speed rail project if the house they're selling is along the planned route--though it could be decades before the train is operating in the area--the Santa Clarita Valley Signal reports. The train could bring down values, since Santa Clarita will host tracks but won't have a station itself (the nearest will be in Sylmar). One councilmember says that "houses that are in the path are kind of being held hostage ... If they want to sell their home this is hanging over them." The exact route through Santa Clarita hasn't been hammered out, but one potential option would affect 23 houses, a church, and two schools; another route would closely follow Metrolink tracks and have fewer impacts. Either way, some locals want the train put underground in the city, even though a study during the environmental review process found no rationale for that. In late February, city officials met with members of the California High-Speed Rail Authority and expressed renewed optimism that a tunnel wasn't out of the question.

· Homeowners face challenges from high-speed rail project [Signal]

Everyone has the right to breathe clean, healthy air


We are 50 States United for Healthy Air,
and we are members of your community:
doctors, nurses, clergy, tribal leaders,
parents and concerned citizens.

Clean Air Ambassadors are coming to Washington, D.C.
May 13–16, 2013 to speak with elected officials.
Members of Congress: Use your ears to help our lungs!
We are calling for strong standards to clean our air and limit
coal ash, air pollution, and carbon pollution.

Go to the website to find your ambassadors by state.




From Sylvia Plummer, May 13, 2013

Tuesday, May 14 @ 1:30pm
We need everyone that is available to attend this press conference at Alhambra City Hall, 111 S. 1st St.,  Alhambra, CA 91801

Wear a red shirt and bring your no 710 signs and buttons. (there will be some available)

Our plan is just to have a NO 710 presents at this news conference.

Alhambra will announce a new a new campaign called "close the gap" in support of the SR 710 freeway extension.  

Read Story below:

Perhaps it is time to start a campaign to boycott Alhambra businesses.
The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, May 13, 2013

This week there is a ton of bikey stuff happening around the county, especially inside city limits, Pasadena and Long Beach, as part of “Bike Week” celebrations. We’re highlighting some of the events below, but be sure to check out Bike Long Beach, Bike Week Pasadena and Metro’s Bike Week page to see more details and more events happening around town(s).
  • Monday – Metro’s all excited about the Eastside Access Project. They even claim to have” exciting, new streetscape designs that will make you want to stroll, power-walk, or ride your bikes to the Indiana, Maravilla, East LA Civic Center,  and Atlantic Gold Line Eastside Stations.” Come see and learn about these streetscape designs tonight. Get the details for the 6 pm meeting, here.
  • Tuesday – It’s the most original event of Bike Week, the Good Samaritan Blessing of the Bikes! This not-at-all kitchy event usually features some of the best rah-rah bike speeches you’ll ever here and the awarding of the Golden Spoke award. If you’re worried about your bicycle being attacked by vampires, or you have a love of fresh-squeezed OJ, this is the place for you. Stop by on your way to work, the blessing starts at 8 am at Good Sam’s.
  • Tuesday – Do you like burgers and the LACBC? The Stand in Studio City is doing a fundraiser. Eat there, show them this coupon. All will be good as long as they are open on Tuesday.
  • Wednesday, Thursday – Metro Board of Directors committee hearings. Look around for Leimert Park Station hints or check out the special budget hearing. Even with Leimert Park announcement stalled until next month, there’s plenty to see. Dana, you’re going to look through the budget for me, right? RIGHT? All the meeting details are available on the Metro website.
  • Thursday – It’s Bike to Work Day and Bike From Work Day. All in one day. Groovy.
  • Friday – Bike Night at the Hammer! Grab some friends and pedal on over for an evening celebrating all things bicyclistic! Free festivities include bicycle portraits, a screening of the 1983 Australian action movie BMX Bandits (starring a young, not-yet-famous Nicole Kidman), bicycle-centric crafts, and free admission to exhibitions including LLYN FOULKES. Guest hosted by artist and bicycle enthusiast/activist Lisa Anne Auerbach. Details.
  • Friday – If I weren’t leaving town Friday morning, I wouldn’t be at The Hammer, but at the Bike In at Bike Week Pasadena. No offense to the hammer, but the Bike In is going to screen a quick Streetfilm and they invited me to speak. I’ll speak pretty much anywhere, and I mean anywhere, I’m invited. Oh, and the movie is Napoleon Dynamite. Get the details, here.
  • Saturday – In 2008, I rode Pasadena Critical Mass the Saturday of Bike Week in Pasadena. The Kids Costume Bicycle Parade sounds like pretty much the same thing except it’s officially sanctioned and the Mayor’s going to be there. No, not Antonio the Mayor of Pasadena, silly. Details.
  • Sunday -  Kidical Mass Bixby Knolls celebrates one year of family bike rides with a kid-friendly ride, featuring ice cream at Georgie’s Place, where the event begins and ends. Details.
Is there more? Is there something we need to know of for next week? Let us know, damien@streetsblog.org

Fail Harder: Lessons From L.A.'s Best Unrealized Transit Ideas


 By Sam Lubell, May 8, 2013



All it takes is traffic.

For years Los Angeles has been known as a world capital for one thing more than any other. The motion picture industry, you say? Not quite...That’s been moving out of town for years. Nope, it’s traffic.

Yes, once again L.A. has been declared by several surveys as the most trafficky city in the country, and it’s clear to most who study these things that widening freeways, syncing traffic lights, and adding new toll lanes aren’t going to do a thing to stop it.

Since you can’t force people out of their cars, only one thing that can alleviate congestion in a place as sprawling, peopled, and densifying as Los Angeles: Mass transit.

The bizarre thing is that the city was once known for its streetcar suburbs and its Pacific Electric trolley, which boasted one of the world’s most extensive systems of tracks. Then the car came along and, after World War II, completely took over. The massive expansion of the city coincided with our country’s new highway boom, and the rest, as they say, is history.

But in the midst of all this car craziness, Angelenos, their various government agencies, and several visionary designers have been proposing mass transit schemes for more than a century. Some of them are incredibly innovative, some of them, well, just crazy. Now that we’re becoming more and more used to driving 0 miles per hour on the 405 freeway, and running into rush hour traffic on the 10 freeway at 2 p.m., we’re getting more and more willing to take a look at something—anything—other than the car.

So here are some of the most innovative schemes that my co-curator Greg Goldin and I compiled as part of our upcoming exhibition, Never Built: Los Angeles, which opens at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum on July 27. We’re not advocating that we install these plans, but we are advocating for Angelenos to push for a solution that’s just as innovative for today’s time. Do us a favor. Let’s not let the next round of great ideas to solve the car crush become “Never Built.”

1.) Kelker and De Leuw Subway Plan, 1925

Proposed back in 1925 (yes, 1925), the plan, laid out by nationally recognized transportation consultants Kelker and De Leuw, recommended the immediate construction of 153 miles of subway, elevated rail, and street railways at a projected cost of $133,385,000. Strong opposition by the business community and the Los Angeles Times to planned sections of elevated rail, and voters’ reluctance to tax themselves to benefit the privately held railways, sunk the plan. Subsequent subway proposals continued to roll out all the way until the 1980s, when a half cent sales tax finally paved the way for the city’s first subway lines.

2.) Airtram, 1936

Proposed by Joseph Strauss, chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Airtram was designed to offer “the speed of the airplane, the comfort and quiet of the automobile,” as Strauss put it. Putting transit above the maze of trolley wires that engulfed the city, the system involved suspending aluminum cars from steel and concrete armatures. They were then quieted with cushioning devices, silent drive motors, and noiseless breaks. Strauss’ plan was promoted in Los Angeles by real estate developer George Rowan, but after Strauss died in 1938, Rowan gave up on his quest.

3.) Carveyor, 1956

The Carveyor system—unveiled in 1956—was the product of an unheralded but important Los Angeles architect named Samuel Lunden, who designed, among other things, USC’s Doheny Library. The plan consisted of a conveyor belt upon which strings of six-passenger pods—supported atop large columns— swept silently about the town. Passengers would hop on and off the cars from moving sidewalks, synchronized at one and a half miles per hour. Once the cars left the stations, they’d speed up to 15 miles per hour. The four loops of the system, each running through downtown, would cost a total of $8.8 million.

4.)  Monorail, 1960s

Because of its speed and ease of construction, the monorail has been one of the most popular proposals for mass transit in Los Angeles. Two of the most promising concepts came in the 1960s from the companies Alweg and Goodell, which both proposed building their entire systems for free in return for collecting all fare box revenues. Alweg, which built the Seattle and Disneyland Monorails, proposed a sleek design almost identical to what it built in Seattle for the 1962 World’s Fair. The 43-mile-system, fanning out from downtown, would have cost $187.5-million. Goodell’s cars, which looked somewhat like flashy Cadillacs, would have reached out 60-miles, and cost $214 million. Both projects were doomed by city officials, who ironically, wanted to build a subway that wouldn’t happen for another 20 years.

5.) People Mover, 1970s

A pet project of L.A.’s Community Redevelopment Agency, the People Mover was precipitated by federal funding that became available for such a project in 1969. Over the next decade a slew of proposals came forward, most of them consisting of small, automated cars, riding on air cushions along a roughly three-mile route through the center of downtown. All the ideas died in the 1980s, when newly elected president Ronald Reagan pulled the plug on the money for anything like it.

6.) Maglev, 1990s to present

Several air-cushioned high-speed trains have been proposed for the city over the years, including a route between LAX and Palmdale airports in the 1970s. But the most advanced was the Maglev, or magnetic levitation system, using magnets to propel trains at high speeds without wheels, axles, or bearings. Back in the 1990s the government was pouring millions into Maglev research, and proposing another LAX-Palmdale route, this time a magnetic one, which was rejected by Caltrans in favor of more freeways. The doomed proposals continued, including Maglevs from Ontario Airport to West Los Angeles, from Irvine to Palmdale, and from Anaheim to Las Vegas.

Metro Windfall Won't Help Crenshaw Line's Leimert Park Stop


By Neal Broverman, May 8, 2013


The same day that Metro delayed making a decision on whether the Crenshaw Line would include a Leimert Park Village station, it got news that it received $390 million from the state to improve public transit and air quality. The majority of that money will go to the Regional Connector tunnel in DTLA that'll connect three light rail lines, but $61 million was earmarked for the Crenshaw Line (the other funds will go toward buying light rail train cars and repairing buses). So, how about using that chunk to help build the underground Leimert Park station, which should cost about $131 million? Uh, no. "[T]hese state monies were already committed for the original life of project budget," Metro's Jose Ubaldo tells Curbed. So, the waiting game continues.

Metro must keep faith on the Gold Line: Opinion


By Doug Tessitor and Sam Pedroza, May 10, 2013

In November 2008, a supermajority of Los Angeles County voters supported Measure R, Metro's half-cent sales tax increase for transportation. An estimated $40 billion in tax revenue is being generated over thirty years for transit, highway and other projects to improve mobility.

One of the transit projects specified in Measure R is the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont.

Measure R is providing enough funding to build the first half of the light rail line from Pasadena to Azusa. In order to complete the full project to Claremont, an additional $950 million is needed.

The Foothill Extension is no different in this regard than other Measure R projects - additional funds must be found in order to complete the program and meet the voter mandate.

According to Metro documents, billions of dollars must be located from other sources over the coming years to complete the Measure R transit program alone.

Metro has been working on numerous strategies to fill that funding gap.

They have asked voters to extend the county tax, requested grants and loans from the federal government, and worked to partner with the private sector.

To date, these strategies have included plans to complete the Purple Line, the Green Line, and other Measure R transit projects - with one exception: the Foothill Extension.

The Foothill Extension is the only project where Metro has decided to shorten the project to fit the funding, rather than commit to finding the funding to complete the project. A double standard position that the LA city-centric agency is comfortable taking.

The unfortunate message is clear - Metro is committed to completing all Measure R projects, with the exception of the Foothill Extension to Claremont; and without Metro's commitment to completing the project, funding the line to Claremont will be all but impossible.

The Foothill Extension is a true success story for Measure R and the voters of Los Angeles County.

The Pasadena to Azusa segment was the first Measure R rail project to break ground, and it is on budget and on time.

It will be completed in 2015, when the Construction Authority building the line will turn it over to Metro.

The Azusa to Claremont segment, now environmentally cleared, is being readied for design and engineering in anticipation of a groundbreaking in as early as 2016.

It is time for Metro to stop making excuses for not completing the Foothill Extension and do the right thing.

The voters approved a program of projects carefully crafted by the California State Legislature, which including the Foothill Extension to Claremont.

It was one of only two transit projects with such a clear definition.

It is time for Metro to keep faith with the voters and commit to completing all Measure R projects as promised, including the Foothill Extension - all the way to Claremont.

Doug Tessitor is a Glendora city councilman who serves as chairman of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority's Board of Directors and on the Executive Board of Foothill Transit. Sam Pedroza is a Claremont city councilman who serves on the Construction Authority's Board of Directors and as chairman of the Foothill Extension Joint Powers Authority Board. The Construction Authority is an independent transportation agency responsible for planning, designing and building the Gold Line Foothill Extension.


Vast network of express lanes on way


By Chris Nichols, May 11, 2013

 Cars and trucks travel in the express lanes, along the middle of Interstate 15, near Rancho Bernardo. | U-T San Diego photo by Howard Lipin.

Cars and trucks travel in the express lanes, along the middle of Interstate 15, near Rancho Bernardo.

Despite nationwide declines in ridesharing, the San Diego region is embarking on a vast expansion of “next-generation” carpool corridors.

These new roadways, called express lanes, would accommodate car pools, buses, select “clean air” vehicles and solo drivers willing to pay a toll.
More than $13 billion worth of express-lane networks are planned on half a dozen freeways from Santee to Oceanside during the next 40 years. They already exist on Interstate 15 in North County, and stretches are being built on Interstate 805 in Chula Vista and Sorrento Valley.

As the corridors come online here and across the United States, some question whether they are the most economic way to tackle freeway gridlock. In other words, they wonder whether there will be enough motorists willing to fill those lanes.

The percentage of residents in San Diego County who carpooled to work fell from 13 percent in 2000 to 10.6 percent in 2010, reflecting a similar national downward trend, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data on that issue.

Even if carpooling rebounds, what kind of financial return might taxpayers see on their investment in express lanes?

Supporters said the goal of the new corridors is not to reach a certain traffic count but create new travel choices and cut commute times for everyone.

Another goal of these networks, which are sometimes called managed lanes, is to provide a congestion-free corridor. For example, tolls on the I-15 express lanes rise as traffic in the regular lanes increases, moderating the number of solo drivers who choose to enter the corridor.

One critic of carpool lanes, Jack Mallinckrodt, said despite the features offered by express lanes, the expense of building them is “exorbitant” compared with the price of ordinary lanes, which handle far greater traffic volume.

A U-T San Diego review of traffic data on I-15 shows that each express lane, on average, carries between 20 percent and 30 percent of the traffic handled by a standard lane.

The I-15 express lanes network, which is considered a model for similar roadways nationwide, includes four lanes, transit stations and direct-access ramps not typically found on traditional freeways. It stretches 20 miles along the middle of the interstate, from Escondido to Kearny Mesa.
The project is estimated to cost $1.4 billion, or $17.5 million per mile of freeway lane, once finishing touches are completed in the next few years.

That’s significantly higher than the $10 million to $12 million average per-mile cost to build urban freeways in California, said Mallinckrodt, a member of Drivers for Highway Safety, a watchdog group based in Los Angeles County that opposes carpool lanes.

And it’s roughly twice the average nationwide price to build a four-lane freeway in an urban area, which is listed at $8 million to $10 million by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

Moving people

Use of the I-15 express lanes has been growing. As of March, the average daily vehicle counts in the corridor topped 30,000 along several sections, up from an average of 20,000 to 25,000 vehicles just three years ago.

But the March figure is nowhere close to Caltrans’ 2003 forecast that predicted 70,000 daily vehicle trips on some stretches of the corridor by 2020, said Samuel Johnson, director of intelligent transportation systems for the San Diego Association of Governments.

Johnson said SANDAG currently estimates that the I-15 express lanes will draw up to 37,000 daily trips by 2020. He said the original forecast of 70,000 did not anticipate the Great Recession and the slowdown of population growth and development that followed.

He also emphasized that the overall goal of express lanes is to move people efficiently — not to necessarily achieve a particular traffic volume. If people pack buses, car pools and van pools in growing numbers, he the project would be a success.

Johnson and other officials said efforts are underway to increase use of the express lanes.

By next year,for instance, travelers on I-15 will have the option of taking an expanded set of long-haul buses that will travel the length of the express-lanes corridor. The buses will ferry riders from North County to job centers in Sorrento Valley and downtown San Diego.

That I-15 bus network, estimated to cost $246 million, represents a large chunk of the total expense for the freeway’s express-lanes project.

Similar bus systems are expected to extend across the county once express lanes are built on additional freeways, including interstates 5 and 805 and state Routes 78, 52, 54 and 125.

Plans for the express lanes represent the San Diego region’s pivot away from building corridors that focus just on car and truck drivers.

“We’re not going to be able to build ourselves out of congestion,” said Ed Cartagena, a San Diego-based spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, when asked about the express lanes earlier this year. “Since we can’t, Caltrans and SANDAG are pushing for alternate ways to travel.”

Reduced commute time

Transportation officials, along with many North County commuters, said the I-15 express lanes have been successful at cutting travel times on what had been a notoriously gridlocked interstate.

In January, a year after the final stretch of I-15 express lanes opened, SANDAG announced that travel times had dropped from 40 minutes to 30 minutes for all travelers on the new corridor.

Motorists who do not use the express lanes benefited, according to the agency, because buses, car-poolers and others left the regular roadway for the new corridor.

Critics, including Mallinckrodt, said travel times would have dropped even more if traditional freeway lanes had been built instead of the express-lane corridor.

Even so, the signs of promise on I-15 have given regional leaders confidence as they plan the expansion of express lanes across San Diego County.

Nationwide, transportation leaders have taken note.

Metro areas including Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, Altanta, Washington D.C. and Miami have all pushed forward with similar express-lane projects, said Lee Munich, director for state and local policy programs at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Future uses

San Diego County’s express lanes will be made of asphalt and concrete. But plans for how to use them in future decades aren’t set in stone.

One day, the corridors could feature wirelessly-connected trains of cars rushing down the lanes, with cars spaced just feet apart, regional officials have said. Drivers using this connected vehicle technology would sit passively as computers do most of the work.

For more near-term plans, SANDAG has even considered allowing big rig trucks to rumble alongside the buses, car pools and other drivers in the express lanes — thereby increasing the use of the corridor.

Some changes have already taken place on the I-15 express lanes.

Caltrans recently ran a pilot program to reconfigure the moveable barrier along the middle of the corridor, to adjust for changing commute patterns. This barrier also allows Caltrans to open a wider swath of the express lanes to all drivers during regional evacuations or long-term back-ups on the outer lanes.

It’s uncertain whether the San Diego region will ever open its express lanes to all drivers, such as during non-peak hours. A bill was recently introduced in Sacramento to open a stretch of Los Angeles freeway to all drivers outside of rush-hour periods.

There hasn’t been a similar push in San Diego, officials said.

“That would be up to the (SANDAG) board,” said Gary Gallegos, the agency’s executive director. 

“Our carpool system is evolving. We’re building it as we speak.”

Alhambra to launch 'Close the Gap' campaign to support 710 Freeway extension

By Lauren Gold, May 13, 2013
 ALHAMBRA-- The city Tuesday will launch a new campaign called "Close the Gap" in support of the SR-710 freeway extension from Alhambra to Pasadena.

The city, which has long supported the "gap closure" will host a press conference at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to announce the new initiative. On July 10, the campaign will officially begin with "710 Day" in Alhambra on July 10 to "raise awareness with educational presentations and booths," officials said in a press release.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is in the second phase of a three-year environmental study of five options to complete the freeway: "No build," light rail, bus, traffic management solutions and an underground freeway tunnel. The draft environmental impact report is set to be released in 2014.

Many other elected officials and cities, such as South Pasadena, Pasadena and La Canada Flintridge, have hosted events in the past few months protesting the 710 extension.

WeHo Weekend ‘Entertainment Shuttle’ Gets Branding Company


May 9, 2013



The West Hollywood City Council moved forward with plans for a weekend “entertainment shuttle” on Monday.

The council started the bidding process to find a shuttle service provider for a 6-month pilot program, which will run from July 1 through December, and approved paying Symblaze Inc. $17,000 for branding and marketing (council members voted 4-0, with Councilmember John D’Amico abstaining).

The shuttle, approved in April, will make 15-minute runs from Doheny Drive to Fairfax Avenue along Santa Monica Boulevard with a detour to the West Hollywood Public Library parking deck on San Vicente Boulevard. It will operate on Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.

If possible, the council asked that a “demonstration vehicle” be available for the LA Pride Parade on Sunday, June 9.

The expected cost for the six-month pilot program is $93,000, which does not include marketing and branding costs.
Metrolink to provide TAP-enabled tickets


Metrolink and Metro have worked collaboratively to create a Metrolink ticket that is compatible with the Metro TAP system. TAP-enabled tickets will be dispensed from Metrolink Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs) to allow passage through Metro’s turnstiles leading to Metro rails lines and stations.

All Metrolink tickets with Los Angeles County destinations will be TAP-compatible, and all riders will be required to physically tap their tickets at the turnstiles and validators when transferring to a Metro Rail line. When boarding a bus, the current policy of simply showing the bus operator your Metrolink ticket will still be in effect. Tapping is not required on buses.

Metrolink riders will also experience a change in the timeframe where they can purchase monthly passes. In an additional measure to reduce fare evasion, the new Monthly Passes will only be available for purchase starting the 25th of the current month through the 5th of the new month beginning in May.


What are Metrolink TAP enabled tickets?
A Metrolink TAP enabled ticket is a new ticket that provides customers with access through Metro Rail turnstiles and validators. All ticket types will be TAP enabled. A TAP enabled or compatible ticket has a “smart chip” and antenna embedded into the ticket. The “smart chip” technology lets you have a seamless transfer to Metro Rail. TAP enabled tickets have a TAP logo on the upper right corner to distinguish the new tickets from the old.

Where is the “smart chip” and antenna in the new Metrolink tickets and can it be damaged?
The “smart chip” and antenna are built into the paper ticket near the TAP logo on all ticket types.  The signal is strongest when the TAP logo is placed on the TAP reader at a station turnstile or validator.  The “smart chip” and antenna are used to unlatch the turnstile.  Bending or folding the ticket may damage the “smart chip” and antenna, so please do not bend.

I went to one Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) and received one version of ticket stock and on another day, I received another, what do I do?  Do I still need to TAP?
Metrolink is transitioning its ticket stock.  Some of the older ticket stock will be utilized while we transition.  If you have ticket stock shown below you do not need to TAP.  There is no antenna in the older ticket stock.  However, if you receive the new stock (identified with a TAP logo) you must TAP at the turnstile or validator.

When will the turnstiles be latched?
The latching should be complete by the Summer (2013). However, if you have a Metrolink ticket with a TAP logo in the upper right hand corner, you must tap to validate your ticket.

Why do I have to tap?
Metro installed turnstiles at many of its Metro Rail stations and is completing the process by latching them.  In order for Metrolink passengers to pass through the latched turnstile, they must physically tap the “smart chip” ticket to unlatch the turnstile before walking through.

I bought a Monthly Pass before the first of the month, when can I tap it?
Monthly Pass holders should begin tapping on the first of the month that is identified on the front of the ticket.  If you tap early, your Monthly Pass will unlatch the turnstiles, however, it is not a valid transfer if it does not fall within the month identified on the front of the ticket.    Riding on a tapped ticket outside of the period identified on the front of the Metrolink ticket/pass is a violation of the fare policy and will result in a citation.

Why did Metrolink change the Monthly Pass sales period to the 25th through the 5th of the following month?
Metrolink changed the pass sales period for Monthly Passes to conform to preprogrammed TAP transfers.  If you miss the window to purchase a Monthly Pass, please purchase a 7-day Pass.

Why is my Metrolink TAP enabled ticket not working on buses with TAP readers?
Metrolink TAP enabled tickets are not programmed to work on buses with TAP readers at this time.  Please show your Metrolink ticket to the bus operator to board a Metro bus.

Can I laminate my Metrolink ticket to protect the TAP antenna?
No, do not laminate Metrolink tickets or apply excessive force.  Heat from lamination damages the front surface of the ticket stock making it unreadable.

What does the new Metrolink ticket look like?
Tickets that are TAP enabled have a TAP logo on the top right corner.

My ticket does not have a TAP logo on it, is it valid?
One-Way and Round-Trip Tickets that do not have a destination in Los Angeles County will not have a TAP logo and will not be TAP enabled. This is because the TAP program is based in LA County.  Non-TAP enabled tickets are valid for use between the origin and destination stations printed on the ticket.

Is this new technology costing me anything?
No, there has been no increase in cost to the passenger.

My monthly pass is valid for the current month, however, when I tap the pass on the TAP reader; it says it expires the following month?
You are only allowed to ride on Metrolink for the calendar month identified on the pass.  The TAP reader may display a date beyond the current calendar month however you are not allowed to ride the Metro system beyond the last day of the calendar month printed on the pass.

My ticket is not working on the TAP readers in the station, what do I do?
Use a Gate Help Phone located near the gates in each station as an immediate remedy to get through the turnstile.  This is a one-time solution and should not be relied upon for damaged Metrolink tickets.  To receive a permanent solution, please visit a Metrolink ticket window at Union Station to resolve issues accessing the Metro Rail turnstiles.  Gate Help Phones are in all Metro Rail stations and the line is staffed during all Metro Rail service hours.

When should I buy my ticket?
Tickets and passes are available all the time, however, Monthly Passes will only be sold on the 25th to the 5th of the following month.  Monthly Passes will not be available outside of this window.

Can I purchase a Monthly Pass outside of the designated dates (25th to the 5th) if I am not traveling between station pairs in L.A. County?
No, Monthly Passes will only be available from the 25th to the 5th of the following month.

Does my Corporate Quick Card allow me to redeem my Monthly Pass from the TVM outside of the 25th to the 5th of the month?
No, Monthly Passes will only be available from the 25th to the 5th of the following month.  All other tickets and passes are available at any time through the Corporate Quick Card.

Is my ticket TAP enabled if I am traveling to a destination outside of LA County?
All the Monthly, 7-Day, Weekend Passes and certain One-Way/Round Trip Tickets will have the smart chips in them.  Only the One-Way/Round Trip Tickets not coming into Los Angeles area will be without.

What’s the difference between Metrolink and Metro?
Metrolink and Metro are not the same entity. While the names are similar and the agencies work together to improve mobility in Southern California, it is very important customers make the distinction when it comes to ticketing and scheduling.
Metrolink operates heavy rail commuter train service into six counties in Southern California.

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is the transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder and operator for one L.A. County. They operate light rail, buses and van pool throughout one of the most populous counties in the country. Metro is one of Metrolink’s five member agencies and is responsible for the majority of its funding, based on the number of miles in Los Angeles County. Their website is www.metro.net.

What is a TAP card?
All Metro passes and stored value are now sold on TAP, a durable plastic card that can be used for an extended period of time. Each TAP card has an electronic chip inside; just load the type of pass with the amount you want on your card, and the chip remembers it. Then you simply tap your card each time you board a Metro Rail or bus, and the bus farebox or rail validator looks for valid pass first. This is not valid on Metrolink trains.

Garcetti sees Hollywood as 'a template for a new Los Angeles'

Over 12 years as the area's councilman, he has championed high-density 'smart growth' that's been business-friendly. But community activists worry about rising rents and traffic-choked streets.


By Kate Linthicum, May 10, 2013

Garcetti's Hollywood template

Pedestrians walk past high–rise buildings along Vine Street in Hollywood. Over 12 years as the area's councilman, mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti has emerged as a leading champion of “smart growth,” which aims to entice residents out of their cars by densely concentrating new development along transit lines. Activists worry about rising rents and traffic-choked streets.

Chris Robbins could be a poster child for mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti's vision for Los Angeles.
Each morning, Robbins straps on a backpack, cues up his iPod and sets out on a short walk to the subway, which whisks him to his downtown public relations job. He and his wife share one car. On the weekends, they like to stay local, savoring their neighborhood's array of new restaurants and bars.

Over 12 years as Hollywood's councilman, Garcetti has emerged as a leading champion of "smart growth," which aims to entice residents like Robbins out of cars by densely concentrating new development along transit lines.

The councilman has helped muscle through tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for construction projects and has backed exemptions permitting developers to build bigger than zoning laws allow. The result has been an explosion of development on the streets surrounding the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including nearly 3,500 residential units built or under construction.

Hollywood is "a template for a new Los Angeles," Garcetti says, "a blueprint for a city where you can live near where you work, near where you play … where the hours you don't have to spend in your car, you can spend with your family.

But the high-density growth also has brought worries about rising rents and traffic-choked streets.
The building boom has generated dozens of lawsuits from community activists who accuse Garcetti and the city of giving away too much to developers. Garcetti's opponent, Wendy Greuel, has warned L.A. could become "a new Manhattan" under a Garcetti administration.

She also criticizes his role in helping steer a $30-million taxpayer loan to a developer whose pledge to bring a long-running Cirque du Soleil production to the heart of Hollywood collapsed after just 16 months. The show's abrupt closing last year took with it the promise of 850 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity.

The city loan is secured and not at risk, officials say, and Garcetti insists the renovation of the Dolby Theatre was worth the investment. But Greuel complains that the public money "could have been used to revitalize parts of South Los Angeles, or neighborhoods in the Valley."

That theme could resonate with voters beyond Hollywood. A USC Price/Los Angeles Times poll last month found 38.4% of likely voters viewed Garcetti as caring more about big business and developers than the city as a whole, compared with 30.6% who viewed Greuel that way.

Garcetti says he's no density hawk pushing for New York-style skyscrapers across the city: "What you do in Granada Hills is not the same thing you do in Hollywood." But he said that building more in select areas, such as along Wilshire Boulevard and in parts of South Los Angeles, makes sense.

So does leveraging public money to spur development, he says. And an isolated bad outcome like the closure of the Cirque du Soleil show, he argues, shouldn't overshadow dozens of success stories and the positive potential of the Hollywood model.

On the campaign trail, Garcetti regularly draws flattering comparisons between Hollywood now and what it used to be, "when you saw street prostitution, drug dealers and empty storefronts."

Leron Gubler, the head of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, credits Garcetti with setting a business-friendly tone for the area and being able to forge consensus between opposing groups. "People who are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars aren't going to invest unless they think they can work with the councilman," said Gubler, whose group has endorsed Garcetti.

Hollywood's revitalization was underway long before Garcetti took office. Former Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg helped deliver the catalytic Hollywood & Highland shopping complex, which opened in 2001 with $90 million in city assistance.

Garcetti's involvement was seen as pivotal in other projects, including the $500-million W Hotel complex at the fabled corner of Hollywood and Vine. In 2006, the project was in jeopardy. Shopkeeper Bob Blue was fighting the redevelopment agency's use of eminent domain to seize his family business. According to Gubler and Helmi Hisserich, who worked for the agency, the project was close to losing its funding when Garcetti and his staff stepped in.

"He said, 'I want you to talk. I want you to work out a deal,'" Hisserich said. Blue and the agency ultimately agreed the project could be built around Blue's luggage business.

Cyclists Aren't 'Special', and They Shouldn't Play by Their Own Rules


By Sarah Goodyear, May 12, 2013



 Cyclists Aren't 'Special', and They Shouldn't Play by Their Own Rules

The other day, something happened in Chicago that made bicycling a little more boring.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced an ordinance that would double the fine for “dooring” a cyclist. Motorists who open their doors into the path of a person riding a bicycle, one of the most dangerous hazards that bike riders face, would have to pay $1,000. This is good. Dooring kills people, like Neill Townshend.

At the same time, Emanuel proposed increased fines for cyclists who break the law, bringing them from $25 up to $50–$200. This is also good.

It was a move that the Chicago Sun-Times referred to as "even-handed." And at least one major element of the bicycling community perceived it the same way. "Too often we see people on foot, on bikes and driving cars traveling recklessly," wrote, Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago’s largest and oldest biking and pedestrian advocacy group. "Active Trans supports increased traffic fines as an important way to improve safety (along with better education and infrastructure)."

Not that there isn’t disagreement in the city’s bicycle community. In fact, if you want to read what is commonly referred to as a "lively debate" on the issue, look no further than the pages upon pages of comments on The Chainlink forum in response to the Sun-Times story.

Some people commenting are mad. The ordinance should have included a provision for "Idaho stops" that would have allowed cyclists to slow at stop signs and red lights before cruising on through! Cars cause more damage when they hit people than bikes do! It isn’t fair!
But here’s the thing: A lot of other people agreed with the ATA position, saying things like this:
The core of the "scofflaw cyclist" is not reckless endangerment of oneself, requiring protection by some nanny-mayor to keep you from killing yourself.  It's the selfish, dickish rudeness of those who ride through stop signs like Mr. Magoo at the expense of people in all directions -- other cyclists, people in the cross walk, and drivers who are waiting their turn -- that makes it very hard for the people doling out the cash for the bike lanes and bike share to quiet the critics.
What’s happening in Chicago is the same thing that’s happening in cities all over the country: Bicycling is becoming mainstream. According to the city’s figures, 20,000 people now ride their bikes to work in downtown Chicago on a regular basis. That’s up 200 percent since 2005.

In New York, it’s the same story. Bicycles are now a routine form of transportation for tens of thousands of people. The bike commuting rate doubled between 2007 and 2011. In San Francisco, bikes made up 66 percent of inbound traffic on Market Street in a recent count – and it wasn’t "bike to work day," when the share rode to 76 percent.

When bike share hits New York City, biking is only going to get more quotidian, as it has in other bike share cities such as Washington. Sorry, haters, but that’s reality now.
Riding a bike in the United States has long been perceived as a statement. Being a bicyclist has been an identity – burdened with its own identity politics. The cyclist as renegade, outsider, maverick, or outlaw – that has been the image, or self-image, depending on where you stand on the “issue” of cycling.

But in the last couple of years, we have been moving at an almost imperceptible pace toward a different kind of reality – one in which American cities, from Chicago to Miami to Los Angeles to Minneapolis to Boston and back around again — have been building bike infrastructure, implementing bike share systems, passing laws protecting bicyclists, and the like.

And biking is slowly, slowly becoming just another way to get around.

The flip side is that in places like Chicago, they have also been ticketing bicyclists for violating laws. In New York, the Department of Transportation has deployed safety officers on busy bike routes to remind people of the right way to ride. Ticketing blitzes seem to be happening more regularly.

This is what has to happen for things to get to the next level.

In New York, the city where I live and ride and walk and drive (which, yes, I do sometimes), cycling manners remain appalling, despite advocacy campaigns like “Biking Rules” to change that. Take as an example Court Street in Brooklyn, a hundred feet from my front door. I walk up and down this busy street several times a day, and on almost every trip I see people riding their bikes against the one-way traffic. It’s stupidly dangerous for them, for other cyclists who are riding with the traffic, for pedestrians, and yes, even for drivers of motor vehicles who might be forced to swerve to avoid a crash.

If every single one of those people got a ticket every time they tried this nonsense, I would be thrilled.

(My one caveat is that I’m concerned about enforcement being disproportionately aimed at young men of color and becoming part of the stop and frisk problem.)

I am truly sick, at this late date, of people wanting to have it both ways: calling for protected bike lanes and a bike share system, demanding that cops step up enforcement when it comes to cars, and then blithely salmoning up a major thoroughfare and expecting everyone look the other way.

It makes all of us look terrible and it’s a real hazard. Same goes for blowing through a stop sign or red light, or blocking the crosswalk when you’re impatiently waiting for the light to change. Not to mention shouting at pedestrians to get out of the way when they are crossing legally. I saw someone yell at an old lady the other day. Seriously?
Have I ever done these things? Well, not all of them. I have never been a wrong-way rider, and I don’t yell at small children and older people who impede my relentless forward motion. But I plead guilty to riding through lights and blocking crosswalks in the past. I need to do better.
I am trying to see myself as an ambassador for bicycling and to break the bad habits I formed over years of biking on streets designed solely for cars. If I am going to fight back against the forces that want to intimidate and marginalize me when I am on my bike, I think that riding as squeaky clean as possible is my best strategy these days. The balance has shifted, and with the advent of bike share, modeling good behavior is going to be more vital than ever. Not just to prove the naysayers wrong, but also to be truly safer riders.

Does obeying the law mean that you will reach your destination more slowly? Yes. Over long distances, it can even add a significant amount of time to your trip. Get over it. Plan for it.

Is it fair if bikers get tickets when motorists don’t? Nope. You know what else isn’t fair? Everything. Deal with it.

There is a price to be paid for trying to move beyond the life-threatening rodeo days of cycling in major American cities. It’s called civic responsibility. Playing by the rules. Making nice. Whatever you want to call it, it may mean that you’re going to have to give up your identity as a special person who does some special activity known as cycling.

You’re not so special any longer, just another regular part of the urban landscape. And that means you’re going to have to find another way to set yourself apart from the crowd. A bike just won’t do it anymore. And that’s just great. Sometimes, being boring is a good thing.
Election Day in Los Angeles is Tuesday, May 21

From Sylvia Plummer, May 12, 2013

The race between Gil Cedillo and Jose Gardea in City of Los Angeles District 1 is very close.  We need a good turnout to ensure that Gardea wins.
The communities that make up District 1 include: Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Westlake, Angelino Heights, Temple Beaudry, Lafayette Park, Chinatown, Forgotten Edge, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Pico Union, Adams-Normandie, Mid Cities and Mac Arthur Park.  Do you know anyone that lives in these communities?

Why Gil Cedillo is bad for us...

Gill Cedillo has been pushing the SR710 freeway since he got in office taking frequent trips to the California State Assembly
Committee on Transportation to promote it.  

Here is some background - check out the freudian slip in the below quote and other statements in the attached documents:

”I believe and we believe, and many of us do, that this resolution will clear the way, ah  for a surface route highway and provide us an opportunity to seek a alternative and but you can only take one step a time and in this instance the one step for us is to eliminate the surface highway."

I don't think he meant to say "clear the way for a surface freeway" - but many of us have suspected that a bait and switch could take place.

Also, in the attached "Transcript of California State Assembly Committee on Transportation Monday, April 25, 2011" document you clearly see where Cedillo's heart is.

More evidence:
Christy Wolfe spokeperson for Gilbert Cedillo stated the following:
Quote: "...[H]e is a supporter of a tunnel to alleviate the region’s traffic congestion," Cedillo Spokesperson Christy Wolfe told EGPNews.com in 2009. "The senator is pragmatic on the issue…he is keeping all options on the table until some of the options are ruled out."
Source: Arroyo Community Gears Up For 710 Battle. Highland Park-Mt. Washington Patch. August 3, 2012, by David Fonseca.

More reasons:

Jackie Goldberg former LA CD13 Councilmember & Assemblymember comments on the City Council District 1 race:

"Having reviewed the funding for each remaining candidate, I have to admit to some misgivings about my friend and former colleague, Gil Cedillo.  He has taken “free” billboards from the company that wants electric billboards in residential neighborhoods, and that worries me.  He also has taken massive funding from the L.A. Chamber of Commerce PAC, which includes about $25,000 from Walmart Corporation. If I were voting in CD 1, I would most likely vote for Jose Gardea because he does not seem to have suspicious money on his side of the ledger. But, officially, as of today, I have not made an endorsement in this race."

Why we support Jose Gardea...

Jose Gardea is against the 710 Tunnel:
Quote: "I'm absolutely against it. When you look at a project like the tunnel project and the alternatives that are proposed, you're looking at bad planning. You're not working with community; you're not working with neighborhoods. It's just contrary to what we believe in in terms of good planning. It's easy for for me to say I'm opposed to it. You can talk about job creation, you can talk about moving cargo, but it doesn't replace good planning. So, I'm against it, and I'll do whatever I can in my power to fight any other "good ideas" they may have."
Source: Candidate Jose Gardea Answers Questions at Mount Washington
Association Meeting

His thinking, vision and planning have been good for the District and good for the City of Los Angeles.

See LA Times Article:

Here is a current news article on the campaign between Gardea and Cedillo in LA District .
Glasnost in the First District, starting with the second paragraph: