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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What does yesterday’s election mean for L.A. transportation issues?


By Ted Rogers, May 22, 2013

So what does it all mean?

Former City Council President and outgoing CD13 Councilperson Eric Garcetti will be our new mayor for at least the next four years.

 Newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti campaigning at the recent CicLAvia-to-the-Sea

Unlike the city council, where carefully carved districts and big money campaign donations mean even the most unloved council person can be almost impossible to turn out, Los Angeles has a history of running unpopular mayors out of office.

Most recently, it was a young Antonio Villaraigosa who handily defeated incumbent James Hahn,
after losing to him in their first match-up in 2001. Then again, Villaraigosa was also one of the few candidates to defeat a sitting council member in recent memory, beating Nick Pacheco to represent the 14th District in 2003.

Not that anyone should expect the new mayor to be unpopular.

In fact, Eric Garcetti has proven to be very personable and able to connect with a wide range of people. It helps that he has an exceptionally wide range of experiences, from his multi-ethnic background to his skill on the piano and work as an intelligence officer in the naval reserve.

Though not everyone trusts that smile or the promises that come with it; that hasn’t been my own experience with Garcetti, however.

My first contact with him came with the city’s first attempt at passing an anti-harassment ordinance several years ago, after impassioned arguments from myself and others who had taken time out of their day to fight for the protection of bike riders.

We won just a partial victory that day, as the proposed ordinance received unanimous support from the council in concept, but was sent to the City Attorney’s office for significant revision when it was determined that the city could not write its own traffic laws, a power that is reserved for the state.

So I was surprised to find the then-Council President suddenly standing next to me as I walked away, catching me by the arm and assuring me that we had, in fact, been heard. And offering his personal promise that he would stay on top of the proposed ordinance and use his position to keep it moving forward.

He kept his word.

L.A. eventually passed a first-of-its-kind ordinance treating the harassment of cyclists as a civil violation, and allowing riders to take violators to court themselves, rather than rely on police to make an arrest. A law so groundbreaking it has rapidly been copied by cities throughout California and across the country, even as it still awaits its first test case.
Garcetti also showed his skill as a politician, casually mentioning a photo I’d posted on my blog a few days before.

Since then, I have found him to be one of the most engaged and responsive members of the city council, personally answering tweets, direct messages and emails on various issues over the years. In fact, he is the only council member I’ve found most effective to contact directly, rather than going though staff members; whether he can continue that as mayor remains to be seen.

And unlike most politicians, he’s been willing work in the background and let others receive the credit.
L.A.'s iconic City Hall will be under new leadership for the next four years

I’ve had far less experience working with Wendy Greuel, Garcetti’s opponent in the election. My contact with her was limited to her chairing of the council’s Transportation Committee, which became much stronger and more responsive after she left the council in 2009 — although that may have more to do with the passion of Rosendahl, her replacement as committee chair.

Garcetti also claims credit for shepherding the revival of Hollywood after decades of blight, a
transformation that has been achieved primarily through better urban planning and increased density, and a model he has held out for the rest of the city. And one that has been successful enough that my wife and I are currently looking for an apartment in the district, drawn by the vibrancy of the area after a couple decades on the increasingly dull Westside.

Thanks to the efforts of Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and the LACBC’s Civic Engagement Committee, Garcetti is on the record for his support for improved bicycling safety and infrastructure — including continuing Villaraigosa’s fight for a statewide three-foot passing law. As well as his support for building out a comprehensive transit network connecting the far corners of the city.

Although some have complained about the lack of depth and detail in his responses.

It will be up to all of us to make sure he keeps his promises and works with alternative transportation advocates to continue the transformation of the city begun under Villaraigosa and in his own district.

A good place to start would be luring away New York DOT Commissioner — and Occidental College grad — Janette Sadik-Khan, who is likely to be out of work when New York Mayor Bloomberg leaves office later this year.

Meanwhile, it’s yet to be seen what kind of support he’ll have from the incoming council.

CD13 winner Mitch O’Farrell is on the record for his strong support of bicycling, while yesterday’s other apparent city council winners — Gil Cedillo in CD1 and Current Price in CD9 — failed to respond to repeated requests to complete the LACBC’s questionnaire. However, Cedillo was interviewed by Streetsblog following the LACBC’s candidate forum in CD1.

L.A. has made great progress on bicycling and transportation issues in recent years. Hopefully, that will continue under the new leadership, and the City of Angels will proudly take its place as the world-class city it can and should be.

It’s our job to work with them to make sure it does.

State Stress Levels: The Most-Stressed U.S. States And Cities (INFOGRAPHIC) 

 LA Is Most Stressed City In America


May 22, 2013

  If you need to de-stress, you could add some cardio, try meditation — or move to Hawaii.

 No surprise, that's the least stressful place in the U.S. to live, according to a Gallup-Healthways survey on daily stress levels released last month. Hawaii has held this spot since Gallup started measuring daily stress in 2008. The map below shows stress levels by state, based on the percent of residents who experienced stress "yesterday" on different days during 2012.

Some of the most-stressed states are located in the Northeast, where there are plenty of cities filled with their own urban stressors. Our map also shows the nation's 15 most stressful cities, ranked by a 2011 Forbes study that analyzed data on wellbeing measures such as unemployment, cost of living, population density, traffic, air quality and more. California is home to five of these cities, but sunny weather and some of the highest numbers of per-capita yoga studios may help keep city traffic and housing costs from dragging the state down.


 There are countless personal and societal factors that can contribute to stress, and financial stressors are some of the most discussed. Two of the most-stressed states are West Virginia and Kentucky, where around 19 percent of people live in poverty. On the other hand, stress levels tend to be lower in the Deep South, where poverty levels are among the country's highest.

Steve Lopez: Labor unions the big loser in mayor's race 


By Steve Lopez, May 22, 2103


Labor gambled and lost.

Wendy Greuel drove away much of her own base.

And it's done. After two years of campaigning and more than $30 million of spinning, the next mayor of Los Angeles will be Eric Garcetti, who doesn't exactly have what you'd call a mandate.

 Though he won by several percentage points despite predictions of a tighter race, it looks like about four out of five registered voters blew off this election.

 The question is whether Garcetti won the election or Greuel lost it, despite several million more dollars being spent on her behalf by independent expenditure campaigns, and you could argue it either way. But as a San Fernando Valley resident, Greuel did herself no favors by identifying herself with the most hated city agency, the L.A. Department of Water and Power. Garcetti and Greuel appeared to have basically split the Valley vote, which Greuel needed to dominate.

Why is DWP hated? It's simple. In the Valley, where you've got to water your lawn and turn on the air conditioning, nothing makes you angrier than rising DWP rates, even if other utilities in California charge even more.

And it didn't help that the public employee union that represents DWP workers laid it all on the line, spending millions on Greuel while the union boss -- Brian D'Arcy -- told me he was expecting raises from the new mayor.

FULL COVERAGE: L.A.'s race for mayor

"From what I was hearing from my neighbors, the DWP backing was a major factor in their decision" to vote for Garcetti, said Don Schultz, a Van Nuys resident and community activist. Schultz voted for Greuel in the primary but switched to Garcetti on Tuesday for several reasons, including Greuel's primary attack on candidate Jan Perry.

Labor leaders, meanwhile, have done themselves no favors, alienating much of the public and losing in the process, which could mean tougher negotiations when contracts are up. They'd have been better off, in retrospect, either staying out of it altogether or splitting their bet.

Meanwhile, there's been grumbling among low-wage private sector union members, who fear that labor's big play in the campaign could make their fight for fair contracts all the tougher. No doubt about it, labor comes out of this with some problems to fix.

And business, as well, rode the wrong horse, with the Chamber of Commerce backing Greuel, who kept calling herself the labor-business candidate.

Maybe, for those who voted for the first Jewish mayor, who's also got Latino blood, they were voting against the city's most powerful institutions and players.

This was a vote against labor, against the chamber, against ex-Mayor Richard Riordan and many of the other pooh-bahs who think they ought to be running this city.

The next mayor of Los Angeles is Eric Garcetti.
Two dead, one airlifted to hospital in Pomona freeway crash


 By Joseph Serna, May 22, 2013

Two people were killed and one person was airlifted to a hospital after a violent crash on a transition road between the 60 and 71 freeways in Pomona, a California Highway Patrol official said.

Just before 9 a.m., a big rig and a large box truck collided on the transition road connecting the eastbound 60 Freeway to the southbound 71, said CHP Officer Francisco Villalobos.

Two men — one in his 20s, the other in his 40s — were killed in the crash. Villalobos said each came from one of the vehicles involved in the crash.

The wreck scattered debris across the 60 Freeway. The road was briefly shut down while a helicopter landed on it to airlift a third person. That person's condition was not immediately available.

The transition road was expected to remain closed until noon at least, Villalobos said.
Posted on No Giville in Council District 1 Facebook page
May 22, 2013
Welcome to Gilville.

We pledge to oppose Gil Cedillo's vision for Council District 1 in Los Angeles - We are against Walmart occupying Chinatown, Chevron fracking in oil rich NELA, Lamar and other billboards companies imposing digital billboards on Wilshire, Figueroa, and our neighborhoods and his unending need to undermine NELA and LA County by spending billions on a 710 Freeway tunnel.

His appetite for over-development is pay back for his dysfunctional Sacramento favors and backroom contributions. Gil Cedillo even once stated he hated Highland Park and other CD1 communities - he, through us, will learn to love CD1 for its active, involved community members.

Our priorities are clear. We will hold Gil Cedillo to live out his words to listen and work with everyone -- regardless of how one voted -- and promise to hold him accountable at each turn in the road.

LANE SPLITTING: Should it be legal in California?


May 21, 2013


LaneSplittingPollThe death of a Corona motorcyclist who was lane-splitting on Highway 91 on Monday, May 20, sparked a debate among readers over whether the practice should be legal. Quecannon Nihipali, 40, of Corona, was riding east on the line between two lanes in slow traffic when he struck a vehicle in front of him, was knocked off his bike and then was run over by a semi truck, California Highway Patrol Officer Maurice Walker said. He emphasized that while lane-splitting is legal in California — the only state where it is allowed — it must be done safely.


(See website for a video.)

 Hundreds of readers weighed in by responding to a poll about whether lane-splitting should be legal (see results above) or debating the practice on Facebook (see highlights below).

What do you think?

  • Legal in California and the rest of the world. The rest of the country needs to catch up. Other places in the world it is called filtering, and prevents congestion.
  • sam avery
    I agree with Elcaminocrce! There are so many distractions on the freeway these days and adding Motorcyclist to that list is not fair to the drivers... Every time I see a cycle coming up behind me I try to move over but it is not always possible... to be fair the loud bikes that sneak up on you when they are lane splitting have surprised me and scared me to the point that I have almost swerved into them as a jerk reaction... I think that lane splitting should NOT be legal in Ca. It's not worth it
  • fireflyvtxr
    Making it illegal is not going to solve accidents, kneejerk reaction to an accident is not a solution.
    Sharing lanes should be legal in ALL states, it is safer than being stuck between to drivers who do not pay attention. NO DEBATE.
    Some are “Annoyed” that they are asked to pay attention. Put down your cell phone, use your eyeballs and blinkers. Be considerate and respectful.
  • elcaminoarce
    Anyone who drives the 91 everyday like myself see's this happening. In fact, CHP and Police Officers do it as well. It is ridiculous and will inevitably result in an accident. Although I respect motorcyclist, I am annoyed with all the signs and radio announcements asking drivers to look twice for motorcyclists when in reality the motorcyclists are the ones jeopardizing everyones safety.

    1. So sad. I worry about the motorcyclists that lane-split on the 215S during my morning commute. There's construction and the lanes are narrow because of the construction. I try to move over a little to let them through but it's still so dangerous.
    2. While travelling toward north San Diego County on I-15 yesterday morning I had five motorcycles in a row "lane-split" me. Traffic was heavy (it was about 9:00a.m.) and the cyclists were travelling at a rate of speed far beyond the rate of traffic (which was moving at a rate of about 75 mph at the time). I was travelling in the #2 lane, and these guys were straddling lanes one and two. Came on me so fast that I only saw the last two coming and they cut across two lanes of traffic behind me to pass between me and another vehicle in the next lane. Two of them wobbled and nearly lost control as they pulled ahead of us. These guys aren't in situations where they are trying to maneuver nearly-stopped traffic, they are travelling at deadly rates of speed with blatant disregard for the safety of others. The CHP needs to crack down on these guys, the price is too high for their thrill rides!
    3. I really don't understand why motorcyclist are allowed to do so many dangerous things like splitting lanes. I never see them coming until they are right by me and they scare the crap out of me. They should abide by the exact same rules as everyone else.
    4. Some called for the practice to be banned.
    5. I think the fact lane-splitting is legal in California is absolutely absurd. It's a dangerous practice that puts not only the motorcyclist in danger, but everyone else around the bike. It needs to be outlawed.
    6. Way too many bikers think that our freeways are their own private racetracks. They have become a scourge and they endanger everyone, including those in cars who have to swerve and dodge them! Lane splitting needs to be outlawed.
    7. Supporters said outlawing lane-splitting isn't the answer; everyone on the road should be aware of their surroundings.
    8. It shouldn't be outlawed, other drivers should be aware and not just driving on "auto pilot". I've known to watch for motorcyclist since I was a kid before I was driving. Typical response to a tragedy, out law something.
    9. Lane Splitting should only be allowed under certain MPH standards... and if the motorcyclist wants to lane split, it is entirely up to them to keep "their" eyes open and not us motorists who never see them coming because of their lane splitting! Too many dangerous riders on the road today and too many motorists being blamed for those dangerous riders who put themselves in that position by making illegal lane changes, speeding, and lane splitting with no regard for the motorists around them.... I'm not saying every motorcyclist is like this, but I travel 40,000+ miles a year in southern California and some of these motorcyclists are absolute IDIOTS!!!!
    10. The CHP reminded riders that while the practice is legal, "it has to be done safely."CHP_HQ_Media
      Motorcycle riders were split on the subject.
    11. Unless you ride or have ridden like I have, you have no idea how much safer bikes are by being able to lane split. Besides the bike overheating (which it will) so will the rider. Can you imagine walking the bike in stop and go traffic in 100 heat while sitting on a hot engine? No way. Also, we get rear ended in stop and go. Not allowing us to lane split is more dangerous. Now, if some bikers want to ride like they are in a movie, that is their fault. My lane splitting was done safely in stop and go and only about 10 mph.
    12. My husband (who rides a motorcycle) and I just had a conversation last week about this because I had a motorcycle come from out of nowhere..lane splitting. Scared the hell out of me. Hubby said it is very dangerous no matter how safe you are because you never know what the car next to you is going to do. Unfortunately it is legal in Ca. which I believe it shouldn't be.
    13. I ride but I absolutly do not lane split...get in where you fit in and no where else....if you want to live that is.
    14. Never liked it, even when I was riding a motorcycle. Now that I don't ride anymore, it startles me when a bike splits the lane next to me.
    15. Practical considerations of bikes and bikers overheating were debated.
    16. The ignorance here is overwhelming... Motorcycles are AIR cooled. Sitting in traffic will over heat the engine causing it to overheat and be destroyed... The bike must be moving ALL the time to cool the engine by air. Some motorcyclists abuse lane splitting just as some motorists ABUSE the speed limit by exceeding it. Sitting in traffic when its 100 degrees out in a full face helmet alone can cause you heat stroke. For those of you that do NOT ride get mad because you have to sit in traffic while the motorcycles get to split lanes and get home faster than you. I have had cars purposely swerve to get in my way and even open their door to PREVENT me from splitting lanes almost causing me to wreck! Share the road and deal with the fact motorcycles are ALLOWED to split lanes. Don't get mad...Get a motorcycle instead and get home faster.... I'm out
    17. So do motorcycles not overheat in the 49 states where lane-splitting is not legal? I'm just wondering...
    18. It is ok and I have no problem with bikers "lane splitting" when there is traffic as if they do not keep air flowing there bike will overheat. But the risk does not outweigh the benefits in my opinion. I drive the 91 every day I work and when I see a biker I give them room weather they need it or not. When I dont see a biker and I am changing lanes I check again :-)Still any death is sad and tragic. Thoughts and Prayers sent to his family and loved ones.
    19. Some commenters offered constructive solutions.
    20. i think we should allow it and start putting in a motorcycle lane on all freeways. keep the shoulder clean and allow it to be used by them. bikes are a great way to lower emissions and congestion on our freeways. i have sent letters to the Governor stating that we need to restrict semi use of our freeways during commuter times. they slow traffic and are a danger to the cars that keep getting smaller. watch the 2 right lanes during your next freeway crawl during the morning or evening commute. slow to take off, move slow to avoid their inability to stop quick. my heart goes out to this mans family.
A Los Angeles Primer: The Blue Line


By Colin Marshall, May 21, 2013 


"Please stand clear. The doors are closing."

"That's right! The doors are closing -- closing on your chance for salvation! And if you refuse to accept your lord and savior, you'll find yourself behind those closed doors! Behind them for all eternity!"

The preacher went on, instinctively weaving each of the loudspeaker's announcements into the morning's forceful sermon. He wore a brown three-piece suit, not likely bespoke; his every gesticulation, and he made many, sent flying the extra fabric at his wrists and ankles. But what he lacked in tailoring, he made up in his distinctively both wild- and dead-eyed passion. The microphone he held to his mouth looked connected to nothing, yet his voice boomed as if amplified. Boomed through the whole car of the train, that is, undeterred even as my fellow passengers actively ignored it. I don't see or hear this sort of thing every time I ride the Blue Line, not that it surprised me when I did.

Writing "Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies" in the early seventies, Reyner Banham speculated about what form of transit would one day replace the freeways. "A rapid-rail system is the oldest candidate for the succession," he wrote, "but nothing has happened so far. The core of the problem, I suspect, is that when the socially necessary branch has been built, to Watts, and the profitable branch, along Wilshire, little more will be done and most Angelenos will be an average of fifteen miles from a rapid-transit station." This exemplifies Banham's still-fascinating half-prescience: 22 years after the book appeared, the first stations of that "commercially necessary" Wilshire branch -- the Purple Line I rode to the downtown coffee shop where I write these words -- would open. Just a few years before that, Los Angeles' long-awaited modern "rapid-rail" system began its operation with the "socially necessary" one, the Blue Line. Despite recent years' glimmers of hope for extension, some riders have given up hope of ever riding a Purple Line train all the way under Wilshire Boulevard, but even upon its opening the Blue Line ran from downtown not just to Watts but well past it, all the way to Long Beach.
Banham's language of social necessity may make the train sound like a food-stamp program, but when it entered service in 1990, it did so to great fanfare. The triumphal video "A Promise Delivered" (a production of the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission) frames the Blue Line as the harbinger of a brave new Los Angeles, and footage from its grand opening suggests a citywide paroxysm of ecstasy. Even the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles contributed to the push with "Operation Blue Line," once available on VHS from major grocery the city over. In it, the normally New York-based quartet of reptilian heroes shows up to defeat a black-caped ne'er-do-well named Gridlock who, in service of the eponymous traffic condition, schemes to "make all public information about the Blue Line disappear." The production makes for an embarrassing watch on every level, not least because, despite the Turtles' victory in the battle, Gridlock hasn't yet lost the war. Look at the the numbers, especially the weekday boarding average of 90,000, and the Blue Line comes out a success. Yet every time I ride it, I can't help but feel that something in the execution has gone obscurely wrong.

Water, transit and toxic hotspots are among environmental issues awaiting LA's next mayor


By Molly Peterson, May 20, 2013


 Boyle Heights resident Leonardo Vilchis, of Union de Vecinos, says the next mayor can have a lot of influence on toxic pollution in his neighborhood.


 Besides inheriting the current policy that seeks to end L.A.'s use of coal power by 2025, the  winner of Tuesday's mayoral election will face a host of environmental challenges, including the need to increase the local supply of water, maintain momentum on mass transit projects, and fight pollution in toxic hotspots such as Boyle Heights.

Outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made perhaps his biggest mark on the environment by aggressively working to end the Department of Water and Power's reliance on coal power. The big challenge at the DWP for L.A.’s next mayor is water, says former agency General Manager David Nahai.

“The unfinished business is developing local water resources,” he says. That means achieving and even accelerating the DWP’s existing goal, to obtain 37 percent of its water locally by the year 2035.
L.A. gets just about 10 percent of its water locally right now. To more than triple that, the city will have to find ways to store water during dry years, and treat contaminated groundwater for wider use -- and, of course, find money to pay for those big initiatives.

Nahai says that means the next mayor may need to make the case for higher water rates.

“This isn’t just an environmental luxury. It’s an economic necessity,” he says. “Because the cost of that imported water is going to rise, climate change will take its toll on the snowpack on which we have become dependent, and the problems of the Sacramento delta are not going to resolve on their own.” Without a statewide water bond, “someone’s going to have to pay to deal with those issues.”
Mayor Villaraigosa also tried to reduce air pollution – and traffic – by speeding up various mass transit projects. They’re funded by Measure R, the half cent countywide sales tax.

Denny Zane, with the pro-transit group MoveLA, says that work will continue, and should be a priority of the next mayor. “Measure R, alone, is going to be a $36 billion program over the next 30 years,” he points out. “Now we want to try to accelerate that and get it done over the next decade. That’s really a big responsibility. So the next mayor is going to have a significant role.”

Zane says Villaraigosa showed how a mayor can use his bully pulpit to advocate for Measure R-funded projects. He credits the outgoing mayor for recognizing a climate in which L.A. voters strongly support transit initiatives, and nurturing it. Villaraigosa created "a new mojo in L.A.” for transit,  he says.

Zane hopes that the next mayor continues Villaraigosa’s high-profile advocacy, such as lobbying Congress to complete the America Fast Forward program. That would enable cities around the country to speed up transit projects.

Zane says he’d like to see an expansion of Metro’s Crenshaw line, which he says would cut pollution and be “an extraordinary investment in that community. How much more if it would go all the way up to Wilshire and thereby create for the Wilshire Corridor direct rail access to LAX?”

Both Eric Garcetti Growing L.A.’s economy while protecting the environment is a perennial ambition for any mayor.  In communities dealing with various pollution problems, that kind of talk runs into a lot of skepticism.  Leonardo Vilchis is with the community group Union de Vecinos in Boyle Heights. He says his neighborhood has earned its reputation as a toxic hot spot – with several schools and old folks’ homes close to freeways’ thick air pollution.

The city should work more closely with regulators to improve air monitoring, he says – and limit the number of polluting businesses that can open in the community – such as the auto body shops, window tinters, and paint shops that line Boyle Heights’ major streets.

“All the machines, the grinding, the oil and all this,” he says, walking past a transmission repair shop, “and the body shop is the same kind of situation, the grinding, the oil, the hammering, the painting.”

Vilchis says businesses here don’t always dispose of waste oil and chemicals properly, leaving them to flow from gutters into city storm drains. “If these small businesses, are not trained, do not have the resources to dispose of that stuff, that goes into the sea,” he says. “So we need to be very aware that the city needs to address these kind of problems because it’s going to affect everybody.”

Two years ago, L.A. launched a program promising environmental relief for Boyle Heights and other toxic hotspots. Clean Up Green Up was supposed to reduce and prevent pollution through a variety of steps, such as incentives for cleaner businesses. Very little of that has happened.

Vilchis says the next mayor should reignite the project by directing city departments to work together on these goals. “The new mayor could immediately put this stuff in the budget and start addressing these issues and then negotiate with the council,” he says. “And if you have this kind of leadership, things will move faster, and the community will hopefully start feeling the impacts of these kind of changes in policy.”

Vilchis acknowledges that money is tight. But he hopes the next mayor of Los Angeles will show the leadership needed to confront pollution in Boyle Heights and communities like it.

Amtrak may start allowing pets to ride with you


By Jess Zimmerman, May 22, 2013

 Digital StillCamera

Amtrak fans in the House of Representatives have finally stumbled onto that age-old marketing principle: “If you want people to use a service, fill it with animals.” (I assume that’s what they teach in marketing school, and if they don’t they should.) Four House members have introduced a bill that would require all Amtrak trains to have at least one car that accommodates animals. Technically all the animals will be in kennels, but I’m going to cling to my fantasy of being whisked through the countryside in a pile of cats and dogs.

The idea behind the bill is that people would make more use of Amtrak if they could bring their furrier family members. “My dog, Lily, is part of our family and travels with us to and from California all the time,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), one of the bill’s cosponsors. “If I can take her on a plane, why can’t I travel with her on Amtrak, too?” Wait, there are Republicans in on this thing? Wait, THREE of the cosponsors are Republicans? OK, well then maybe the idea behind the bill is that Amtrak is a liberal commie conspiracy preventing our freedoms of bringing dogs wherever we want. That’s fine by me, as long as the end result is that pets can go by train.

Of course, there are rules. (This is Congress!) You’d have to pay extra for your buddy, and you’d have to be taking a trip of less than 750 miles, and your animal would have to stay in a kennel or crate, and the kennel would have to conform to Amtrak carry-on luggage rules. That means people like me, who have 90-pound dogs, would still be SOL. However, there is NOTHING in the bill — I checked! — that prevents you from sitting in the animal car when you don’t have an animal along. And there is nothing that explicitly prevents you from heartily bribing dog-toting passengers to let Fido out of his kennel to give you kisses. Which means my dream of riding the rails covered in dogs might come true after all.

Prague’s “love subway” will let single people find romance while they commute 


By Sarah Laskow, May 21, 2013




Have you ever sat on the subway across from a hot guy or girl holding the book you just finished, trying to peek at their left hand and wondering whether it’s kosher to start a conversation? The organization that runs the subways in Prague has a plan that will end these awkward deliberations for good. The company, ROPID, “wants to set aside carriages on some or all of its trains for singles seeking a soul mate,” Reuters reports. It’d basically be like Amtrak’s quiet car, except instead of sitting in silence, everyone will be scanning the car like they would a bar on a Saturday night.
Spokesman Filip Drapal said the initiative was one of the activities the city-owned company hoped would lure people out of their cars and onto public transportation.
“We want to emphasize that public transport is not only a means of travel but that you can do things there that you cannot do in your car,” he told Reuters.
We’re predicting that this service will be most popular in the evening and on weekends, though if there are morning people out there who want to strike up a romantic relationship during their morning commute, more power to them.
Mr. Money Mustache on Retiring at 30 By Riding a Bike


By Tanya Snyder, May 22, 2013

His claim to fame is that he retired at age 30. He swears that you can achieve greater financial freedom too, if you follow his example by eliminating unnecessary expenses and investing wisely. He calls himself Mr. Money Mustache. And he says nothing is more essential to his philosophy and wealth-building strategy than riding a bike.
Mr. Money Mustache rides through the snow with 85 pounds of groceries. Pin this picture up next to your car keys.

Mr. MM (his real name is Pete, but that’s no fun) has been dishing out lifestyle advice on his personal finance blog for two years to a faithful following that now numbers about 300,000 regular readers. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, he counseled prospective early retirees to live close to work and “of course, ride a bike.” In fact, MMM says, it’ll take you forever to retire if you keep wasting money on cars. He estimates it costs a person $125,000 and 1.3 working years’ worth of time to drive 19 miles each way to work.

Living so far from work that you “need” to drive is a result of bad planning, he says, and should be remedied — or, optimized — as quickly as possible. Riding a bike is the boiled-down essence of everything he preaches. He rejects the idea that his readers can “just follow the rest of his advice, while ignoring the bike parts.”

“It’s time for this silliness to come to an end,” he wrote earlier this month. “You must ride a bike. We all must.”

I’ll let you read on your own about how driving a car is like throwing away 24 blackened salmon salads, and the three questions you should always ask yourself before getting behind the wheel.
Streetsblog caught up with Mr. Money Moustache recently to talk more about how sensible transportation decisions fit into an economically sound lifestyle — and, of course, early retirement for us car-free Streetsblog editors.

Tanya Snyder: Last month was Anti-Automobile April. What did that consist of? How did it go?

Mr. Money Moustache: Anti-Automobile April was a little experiment where I tried to make the readers of my blog track their own driving for the month. My hope was that they would become more aware of it and hopefully consider canceling some of their trips, combining some of the smaller trips into fewer ones, and most importantly, replacing some of the local ones with bike trips.
TS: You take a refreshingly reasonable view of cars — that if a trip’s benefits outweighs its costs, it’s worth it, but most don’t. But obviously, there are times when you find taking a car worthwhile. What are those times?

MMM: Yeah, I am certainly not an anti-car zealot. I secretly love those machines. I love driving them, sitting in them, and reading about them. And for some reason, I have the technical stats for almost every model available in the U.S. memorized.

But you just have to realize what they’re good for.

These are 3,500-pound missiles designed to shoot you and your friends in great comfort across the entire country on life-changing vacations. You don’t just take such a thing down to the drive-through or drop your kid off at school in one. They’re for special occasions when all other options fail. So the question you ask is, “Could this mission reasonably be accomplished WITHOUT a car?”
If the answer is no, VROOM, have a good time.
MMM calls this morning traffic jam "a lineup of Clowns waiting to drive their kids a few blocks home from school, on a beautiful Hawaiian afternoon." 

TS: You separate road trip driving from clown driving. What defines clown driving?

MMM: In a post called “Curing Your Clown-like Car Habit,” I defined Clown driving as any car trip that could have been accomplished by bike — or more broadly, any unnecessary car trip. In my city of Longmont, Colorado, which is basically a 5×5 mile square with nice weather and bike paths, pretty much any car trip within the city is a Clown trip, because you can bike anywhere easily here. And yet the clowning persists.
TS: Most Americans would hear your story, for example, of biking in snow with 85 pounds of groceries and think you’re just a little loony, and you should just drive. When trying to get more people to ride bikes instead of drive, do you try to convince them they can bike in any conditions, or does it make sense to just get them started in ideal conditions?

MMM: I like to work it from both angles: Encourage beginners to head out on the easy spring days for leisure rides, but also remind people that bikes are serious tools that can cover great distances in any weather, and carry heavy loads if you have racks or a trailer. If I set an example as the guy who always rides his bike, regardless of weather or cargo conditions, it gives people fewer excuses not to ride their own.

One reader told me he printed out a picture of me biking up my driveway in the blizzard with the 85 pounds of groceries, and put it on the cabinet where he keeps his car keys, to remind himself to reconsider driving.
TS: You’re a big fan of biking and walking to replace car travel but you don’t talk a ton about transit. Do buses and trains fit into your badassery?

MMM: Uhh, the word is “badassity.” But you’re right, I don’t talk about transit much. Mostly because it doesn’t apply much in my own 5×5-mile city.
In many metro areas, a bike ends up being much faster than a bus, because you get to take a direct route without stopping to pick up other passengers — the same benefits of a car, without the drawbacks. But public transit still works wonders in other places. The subways in big cities work wonders, and I’ve really enjoyed the light rail in Denver, the San Francisco area, Seattle, and Phoenix. In general, public transit always comes #2 in my book — it’s the second choice after riding a bike.
TS: People come to your blog because they want to learn how to retire at age 30, right? Then you also have all these treatises about nutrition and driving and whatnot. Do they come for the investment advice and stay for the clown-car rant, or do they sort of check out after the get-rich-quick part?

MMM: Retiring at age 30 is a bit of a special case, as at least half of the readers are older than me — I’m 38 now. But the blog has always been more of an “efficient lifestyle” blog rather than just a financial one. To me it seems pointless to talk about just spending less money or investing more of it if you don’t balance it out with the reasons you would actually want to do this. So I write about how to live a good life in all areas — from a slightly engineering-minded perspective with the math thrown in when appropriate.
TS: The organizing principle for your argument against cars is that people can save money — and hence, retire at 30 — if they drive less and bike more. And yet, you own a car and you drive it a lot for your leisure trips. So, should someone look at you and say, “I guess driving a car can fit into a frugal lifestyle”?

MMM: Yeah, they sure can. Cars certainly aren’t a necessity to live a good life, but I like to point out that you don’t have to be particularly hardcore and minimalist to get ahead financially. You just have to be conscious of where your money is going, and not let it slip away without benefit.

For example, most people sign themselves up for car commutes, not realizing that they have made a losing bargain, cost-wise. If there’s one thing I argue against most strongly in the automobile department, it is that: Don’t use them for commuting. If you do, you’ve probably done the bigger-picture math wrong.
TS: Do you think car-sharing, like Zipcar or Car2Go, is a financially smart way of making sure you have a car for the few times you do need it, or do you think it makes more financial sense to have an old beater in the driveway?

MMM: This probably depends on your location as well as your financial situation. Where I live, my car insurance is under $30 per month, and driveway space is free. So I do have two vehicles — a 40MPG Scion xA and a 1999 Honda minivan I use occasionally for hauling construction materials and camping trips. Neither one gets driven more than once every week or two, so in reality they could both be ditched and we could just rent cars when needed. For many people, this is a financially smart decision, and the slight inconvenience of renting makes you even more likely to plan your life well and bike more.

The Forgotten Urban Transportation Problem We Should Be Trying to Fix


By Eric Jaffe, May 22, 2013


The Forgotten Urban Transportation Problem We Should Be Trying to Fix 
In the grand scheme of urban mobility, it's easy to lose track of commercial freight movement. Commuters are the primary source of traffic coming into and out of the city, and parking causes much of the street-to-street congestion within it. Fact is, says transport scholar Genevieve Giuliano of the University of Southern California, it's so easy to forget about freight that metropolitan areas have done so for years — at their own peril.

"Any of us who live in cities and metropolitan areas are very dependent on urban freight, because that's how all of the goods and services we purchase get here," says Giuliano. "It's fascinating to me that it's never been a part of city planning."

The consequence of this historical oversight is that handling cargo has become the "newest urban transportation problem," according to Giuliano. While cities have been places of trade and exchange for as long as they've existed, planners have only recently begun to give freight its due consideration. Even the new wave of smart growth strategies — with its emphasis on reduced road capacity as well as mixed-use development — has created some unintended complications for commercial movement.
"The more that you follow these types of strategies without thinking about how freight actually gets delivered, the more problems you're going to generate," Giuliano says.

Giuliano boils these problems down into three categories. The first is what she calls the "metro core" problem: essentially the congestion and double-parking that occurs in city centers when trucks aren't well-managed during the first and last mile of delivery. The second is the environmental impact of moving freight through the metro area. And the third is the hub dilemma — the additional layer of commercial traffic that accrues at international nodes like Los Angeles (for port shipping) or Chicago (for rail freight).

Recently Giuliano and some colleagues conducted an international survey of best practices in urban freight management. What they found, for the most part, was that cities outside the United States tend to be handling the problem best.

Paris, for instance, is way ahead of the curve when it comes to experimenting with potential solutions to freight congestion. The city's most ambitious program may be its model of consolidating shipments outside the metro area then shipping them into the city center for redistribution. The plan isn't perfect — for one thing, handling goods an extra time increases costs — but it does address the classic urban freight problem of partly full trucks taking up space on city roads.

London, meanwhile, recently established a low-emissions zone in the metro area. The zone targeted the worst environmental offenders, including heavy diesel trucks, and the early results are at least a little encouraging. One new study found a measurable change in fleet quality as well as a small improvement in air quality.

At the same time, it's unclear whether some of these progressive international strategies would transfer well to the United States. Government-imposed ideas like low-emission zones or road pricing haven't been embraced by American cities to date. What's more, says Giuliano, interstate commerce is protected so strongly at the national level that localities would have a hard time imposing any freight regulations on their own.

For that reason, Giuliano believes the most promising approach to freight problems in U.S. cities will be pacts negotiated directly with companies and operators. So even though Los Angeles can't impose regulations on ocean vessels, its port has developed a program that rewards compliance with emissions reduction and clean vehicles. And even though other cities might not be able to require electric trucks in downtown areas, they could offer attractive loading zone accommodations as a form of enticement.

"As states we can't impose regulations because of protection, so the next best thing is to have these negotiations to see what we can accomplish by providing incentives," says Giuliano. "The models we see in Europe, they're always initiated by government, but essentially they're partnerships: 'We have a problem, let's figure out how we're going to solve it.' "

Just 15 Percent of L.A. Voters Turned Out to Elect a New Mayor


By Connor Simpson, May 22, 2013

 Just 15 Percent of L.A. Voters Turned Out to Elect a New Mayor

Eric Garcetti will be the new mayor of Los Angeles after only parts of the city went to the polls last night. The turnout was depressingly low for America's second largest metropolis.

The victorious city councilman Garcettii earned 181,995 votes, while his competitor, the city comptroller Wendy Greuel, earned 155,497 votes. That's a 15 percent turnout for a city with around 2.5 million registered voters. Sure, expectations were low going in for a mayoral vote in May, but a 20 percent turnout would have at least been a respectable low on target with predictions. L.A.'s voter turnout disappointed the disappointing expectations. Which is never a good thing for, you know, democracy.

But low voter turnout is something of a trend in Los Angeles. The city used to boast high voter turnouts in the 1960s, but the last two mayoral races haven't boded well. The turnout in the 2009 election, when now-outgoing L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa won his second term against an array of nobodies, was only 17 percent. But those are huge drops from the last contested mayoral race in 2005, when Villaraigosa won his first term, and the city saw a 33 percent voter turnout. The city is now struggling to figure out why no one will go to the polls anymore. L.A. is home to around 4 million residents, but not everyone is willing, or able, to do the paper work to become a registered voter.

Two Fools From Alhambra: Video by Joe Cano

 Published May 22, 2013

"Barbara Messina & Steve Placido make statements with nothing to back them up intelligently or with any honesty. It is very apparent that METO has their hand so far up their ass that they are doing the talking for them."





Update about 'Let's really make backyard hens legal in Pasadena CA!' on Change.org

From Cynthia Frederick, May 21, 2013

   We made our presentation to the Pasadena City Council last night! This was a short presentation to get the matter before the council, so that they can look into the issue and put it on a future agenda for discussion. I presented them with the petition and your signatures - thanks for your support! So far nearly 100 Pasadena residents have signed - let's keep putting the word out and see if we can top 200 by the time the council makes contact! Refer your friends and neighbors to this petition, or to our website <www.cluckinpasadena.weebly.com> . Spread the word - we want our backyard hens!

Election Results


May 22, 2013


Vote CountVote Percent
LA MAYOR -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
Eric Garcetti181,99554%
Wendy Greuel155,49746%
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City Council

Vote CountVote Percent
LA CITY COUNCIL Dist. 1 -- 56 of 56 precincts reporting (100%)
Jose Gardea7,74748%
Gil Cedillo8,54352%
LA CITY COUNCIL Dist. 6 Sp.Election -- 63 of 63 precincts reporting (100%)
Walter Escobar8336%
Nury Martinez3,28824%
Cindy Montanez5,98144%
Richard Valdez7816%
Derek Waleko1,58312%
J. Roy Garcia1,2709%
LA CITY COUNCIL Dist. 9 -- 55 of 55 precincts reporting (100%)
Curren Price, Jr.5,18453%
Ana Cubas4,64347%
LA CITY COUNCIL Dist. 13 -- 76 of 76 precincts reporting (100%)
Mitch O'Farrell11,55653%
John Choi10,22447%
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City Attorney

Vote CountVote Percent
LA CITY ATTORNEY -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
Carmen Trutanich119,34238%
Mike Feuer195,91362%
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City Controller

Vote CountVote Percent
LA CITY CONTROLLER -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
Ron Galperin171,51256%
Dennis Zine133,65144%
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Vote CountVote Percent
PROP C -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
PROP D -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
ORDINANCE E -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
ORDINANCE F -- 1,311 of 1,311 precincts reporting (100%)
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Board of Education

Vote CountVote Percent
Monica Ratliff20,24352%
Antonio Sanchez