Purpose

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

ALL Fireworks Illegal in Pasadena: Safety Urged for July 4th Activities

 http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/all-fireworks-illegal-in-pasadena-safety-urged-for-july-4-2013-activities

June 6, 2013

 

 

The Pasadena Fire and Police Departments remind all residents and visitors that the best way to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with family and friends is by attending professional fireworks shows such as Americafest at the Rose Bowl Stadium.

The sale or possession of all fireworks is illegal in Pasadena. Violators are subject to confiscation and impound of vehicles; up to one year in jail and fines up to $50,000. Call Pasadena Police at (626) 744-4241 to report illegal fireworks.

Due to the high potential for fire hazards and injuries, Pasadena police and fire personnel will staff checkpoints around the Rose Bowl Stadium to seize all fireworks and arrest offenders.

In addition, the Pasadena Fire Department will begin applying Phos-Chek on Tuesday, June 25, to brush areas surrounding the Rose Bowl Stadium. The main ingredients of this annual, preventative application of fire retardant are phosphates and fertilizers that help prevent trees and grasslands from burning and to re-vegetate any burned wild land areas.

“The risks with fireworks are not limited to their use,” Pasadena Fire Chief Calvin E. Wells said. “Fire and injury risks also exist wherever fireworks are stored, transported or sold.” 
Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez urged everyone to make safety a priority on July 4th.
“Safety is a partnership between the City and our community. The City’s Police, Fire and Public Works departments are joining together to increase awareness about the prohibition of fireworks in the city to help lower the risk of fires and injuries,” Chief Sanchez said. “On July 4th, a Fireworks Task Force will patrol the streets to confiscate fireworks and take appropriate action. We need your help, so remember, if you see something, say something.”

Parking enforcement officers will ensure that vehicles illegally parked in Pasadena’s hillside areas on July 4 are impounded. Pasadena public safety officials stressed that the enforcement operations are to prevent accidents, fires and injuries.

“Even sparklers, which many people consider safe, can reach 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, causing serious burns and starting fires,” Wells added. “Adults normally don’t allow their children to get near anything that hot, but for some reason they think it’s acceptable to put sparklers in the hands of little ones on the Fourth of July.”

Statistics show fireworks are among the most risky of consumer products. Nearly 10,000 fireworks-related injuries are treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms every year and two of five people injured by fireworks are under 15 years old. The most current statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that in 2009 more than nine out of 10, or 92 percent, of all fireworks-related injuries treated in hospitals were caused by fireworks that are allowed for consumer use by federal or state regulations.

For more information about fireworks safety and enforcement, call the Pasadena Fire Department at (626) 744-7276. For information about the Americafest Fourth of July celebration, visit www.rosebowlstadium.com or call (626) 577-3101.

LA's Huge Bike Share Program Seeking Fortune 500 Sponsor

 http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/06/las_huge_bike_share_program_seeking_fortune_500_sponsor.php

By Neal Broverman, June 11, 2013

 

 

 

BikeShare_042712.jpg
As New York's recently-opened bike share system gets on its feet, congested and temperate LA still lacks a regionwide system of easy bike rentals. Derek Fretheim, the COO of Bike Nation, the operator of the city's huge future system, tells Curbed the system is right now navigating its way through government's red tape. Fretheim is wary of giving any dates for the bike share's grand opening--or even for the installation of kiosks--but applauds the city of Los Angeles, which he says created a permit process for the bike share in 11 months, compared to New York's three years (of course, NYC started earlier than we did). So, as they wait for permit approval, Fretheim says his company is in discussion with several Fortune 500 companies to sponsor a regionwide bike share, a la Citibank with NY's Citi Bike. Getting a corporate sponsor would help fund the expensive system (Bike Nation is already investing around $16 million) and would definitely speed the process along.

Responding to concerns brought up on BikeShare.com regarding a conflict between LA's contract with CBS/Decaux, which allows advertising (i.e. billboards) on "street furniture," and any advertising on the share's bikes and kiosks, Fretheim says it shouldn't be a problem as bike shares are not "street furniture," but rather part of a transportation network. He does admit his company is working on convincing everyone in City Hall and at CBS that that's the case, but says BikeShare.com is run by a competitor, so take its report with a grain of salt.

There's also the matter of navigating the governments of independent cities like West Hollywood, Culver City, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. While the LA bike share's first 400 kiosks and 4,000 bikes will be in LA-proper sites in areas like DTLA, Hollywood, Westwood, and Venice Beach, Bike Share has already had conversations with the four cities above to get the ball rolling on implementation.

Rose Bowl Stadium Open House on Saturday

 http://pasadena-ca.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/rose-bowl-stadium-open-house-on-saturday

By Dan Abendschein, June 5, 2013

 

 

 

 
The public is invited to an open house Saturday to see the newly renovated Rose Bowl stadium and press box.

Mayor Bill Bogaard will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the event at noon and the open house will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

New stadium features include "premium seating, as well as a state-of-the–art press box, sound system and security operations," according to the city's press release.

 The Rose Bowl renovations were financed through a public bond measure.  According to a January Pasadena Sun article, the city ultimately dedicated another $30 million to the project in January, bringing the total cost to $195 million.

Pasadena Chalk Festival at the Paseo This Weekend

 http://pasadena-ca.patch.com/groups/editors-picks/p/pasadena-chalk-festival-at-the-paseo-this-weekend

By Dan Abendschein, June 10, 2013

 

 
There will be more than 500 artists from across Southern California working to create 200 murals on pavement this weekend at the Pasadena Paseo.

The art work will "range in subject matter from the classical to whimsical, including renditions of masterpieces, abstract, portraiture, movie images, 3D effects, animation," according to a release sent out by the Light Bringer Project, which is organizing the event.

The event is free and open to the public.  The artists will be present from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday June 15 and Sunday June 16.

 

 

 



Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay features Pasadena City Hall, local firefighters on 'Masterchef'

Contestants cook in front of City Hall on Fox's hit cooking show on Wednesday
 
 http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23439703/pasadena-city-hall-local-firefighters-featured-masterchef-this
 
By Lauren Gold, June 11, 2013
 
 
 
 
 This Wednesday's episode of Fox's cooking competition show "Masterchef" features Pasadena City Hall and 101 firefighters from a number of local cities.
 
 
 This Wednesday's episode of Fox's cooking competition show "Masterchef" features Pasadena City Hall and 101 firefighters from a number of local cities.



PASADENA - The streets in front of iconic Pasadena City Hall have been graced by Italian bicyclists, acclaimed musical acts and many car commercial sets, but this week viewers can see their transformation into the "Masterchef" kitchen for Wednesday's episode of the hit Fox television show.

In this episode, which was filmed in February, two teams comprised of the 16 remaining contestants in the cooking reality show prepare steak dinners for 101 local firefighters in a makeshift outdoor kitchen set up on Holly Street. The firefighters -- from Los Angeles County and city, San Marino, San Gabriel, Pasadena and Compton -- were asked to judge which of the meals was the best.

Captain Wendell Eaton of the Pasadena Fire Department said the experience was unique, as all the firefighters were served their special meals at one long table with a white linen tablecloth in the middle of the street, with City Hall as a backdrop. He said the firefighters, including about two dozen from Pasadena, rode in with lights and sirens on different fire trucks, to the surprise of the contestants.

Overall, he said, it was a great experience.

"For me it was fantastic because I'm a fan of the show and it's good, clean family entertainment and my kids and I watch the show together and we look forward to it," Eaton said. "Now I got to be part of it and my kids are going to get a kick out of me being on TV." 

And, he added, it didn't hurt to get a free steak cooked by some of the best home chefs in the country.

"The food was better than good, it was fantastic," he said. "It's not often you get an excuse to eat two full steak meals."

Eaton added that he could have a featured role in Wednesday's show because one of the teams made an error on his plate.

The show has honored many other "heroes" in past episodes, such as members of the military.

"We would like to thank all you heroes for your bravery and service and the amazing job you do," renowned chef and show host Gordon Ramsay says to the firefighters in Wednesday's episode. "This is a very small token for us, but we are hoping that both the red team and blue team can deliver some phenomenal dishes for your exceptional lunch today and show you all how grateful we are for your amazing, undeniable services."

San Gabriel firefighter Antonio Negrete said he thinks the show also chose firefighters as judges because they have a reputation for being skilled in the kitchen. He said participating in the episode was "an all-around good time" and that Pasadena City Hall was a "great location."

"They made a great choice of picking Pasadena City Hall, it's going to make a great camera shot," said Negrete, who said he was also interviewed on camera and could be featured in the episode. "The way we entered, the way we set everything up, it was pretty neat."

City spokesman William Boyer said Masterchef isn't the only show to feature Pasadena this year; the city is on track to exceed the 515 film permits it approved in 2012.

"It's really kind of interesting how much Hollywood loves Pasadena," said Boyer, who watched the filming from his second-story office. "They love to come here and we like to have them because it's good for the economy."

The episode airs at 8 p.m. on Wednesday on Fox. For more information on the show, visit fox.com/masterchef.

 
 




Mark Your Calendar for the Summer SR 710 North Study All Communities Convening Information Sessions!

 

 

 Metro and Caltrans invite you to participate in the July 2013 All Communities Convening Information Sessions regarding the State Route 710 North Study.

Learn about five transit options that will help reduce congestion and improve mobility in the San Gabriel Valley, East/Northeast Los Angeles, and the region.

Meeting Details
 
Thursday, July 18, 2013, 6 p.m. 8 p.m.
Los Angeles Presbyterian Church
2241 N Eastern Av., El Sereno
 (Map)

Saturday, July 20, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Blair High School
1201 S. Marengo Av; Pasadena
(Map)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 6 p.m. 8 p.m.
Langley Senior Center
400 W Emerson Av; Monterey Park
(Map)
 
Care to Connect:
With the State Route 710 North Study to Get the Facts about various options being considered, including:
  • Local street, bike and pedestrian enhancements
  • Enhanced public transit opportunities
  • An improved regional freeway system

Connect With Us
Can’t make it in-person? View and comment via a live-stream of the presentation beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 20, 2013 or on-demand at our  SR 710 North Study USTREAM channel.

For more information on the SR 710 Study preparation and process, please visit metro.net/sr710study
or call 855.4SR.7100 / 855.477.7100.
 
 

 

Naked Bike Ride LA 2013: Angelenos Leave Their Clothes At Home (PHOTOS, VIDEO) 

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/11/naked-bike-ride-la-2013-photos_n_3416885.html?utm_hp_ref=los-angeles

June 11, 2013

 

 Naked Bike Ride La

 The World Naked Bike Ride LA 2013 went from Echo Park to downtown to Chinatown

Hundreds of Angelenos got a full-body tan Saturday as they rode their bikes butt-naked across the city.

The World Naked Bike Ride LA 2013 went from Echo Park to downtown to Chinatown.

Check out photos and a video from the ride below.
Also, check out photos from last year.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the WNBR, which takes place annually in cities across the world and seeks to promote “a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world." One of the group's slogan is, "Put a stop to our indecent exposure to cars and the pollution they create!"

Unfortunately, someone in LA wasn't feeling the birthday-suit vibe this year and threw a glass bottle in the direction of the bikers, LAist reports. Then, a male and female suspect in their 20s not associated with the ride yelled at the bikers to get out of there and then walked up to a biker and punched him.

This wasn't the first attack against biking nudists in LA. In 2011, two suspects punched two different bikers, shouting anti-gay slurs, in Echo Park.

Instead of responding with violence, the riders both years shook it off and rode off into the wind. Lead by example ... on a bike!

Go to the website to view the photos and the video.
Parks, Hills, Homes, Boulevards, Centers, and Industry: a Concept to Integrate Land Use and Transportation Policies in Los Angeles 

 http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/06/11/parks-hills-homes-boulevards-centers-and-industry-a-concept-to-integrate-land-use-and-transportation-policies-in-los-angeles/#more-84352

 By Mark Vallianatos, June 11, 2013



(This is the first in a three part series that will run throughout the week. They’re all a little longer than our usual fare, so give yourself a couple of minutes to get all the way through. – DN)

Can the stars align for a chance to redefine transportation and land use policies in Los Angeles so that how and where we live, work and move mutually reinforce a shift towards a more inclusive and sustainable city?

For much of the past decade, planning in Los Angeles seemed uninspired, not up to the task of a city and region with an expanding transit system, a need for more affordable housing and cleaner air, and a diverse population of immigrants who use space in creative ways and young people who value urban energy and living. The planning department was understaffed, focused on processing individual development applications. The politics of land use and the content of the City’s community plans were still caught in the stale undertow of a receding slow growth movement. The City’s Department of Transportation continued to prioritize driving, widening roads, and was too timid to embrace high quality bicycle infrastructure.

Sometime in the last few years, accelerating in the last few months, the conversation around mobility and land use pivoted from the past to the future. The Planning Department is accelerating updates of community plans; revising the mobility and housing elements to the general plan; adding a new health and wellness element. This week, Planning will start fully rewriting the zoning code for the first time since 1946.  The Department of Transportation is moving in the direction of complete streets with more bike and pedestrian enhancements.  The city and Metro are studying  how to integrate transit into our urban fabric. Walking in L.A. has gone from a mark of desperation to one of hipness and health.

Los Angeles has also just elected a new mayor and majority of the City Council. With new leadership and a sense of momentum,  how can transportation and land use policies be aligned for a more green, appealing and just Los Angeles?

To advance this discussion, I will discuss a concept to divide Los Angeles into six zones: parks, hills, homes, boulevards, centers, and industry. Each zone has a “preferred” mode of transportation, by which I mean a form of getting around that can be reinforced by land use regulations to create a positive feedback loop between the built environment and mobility. The overall goal is a Los Angeles that is more sustainable, healthy, affordable, economically thriving and socially integrated. 

Today, I’ll focus on Parks.

Parks Zone

Preferred mobility: walking

“ What generations of tourists and migrants had once admired as a real-life Garden of Eden was now buried under an estimated three billion tons of concrete (or 250 tons per inhabitant.”
- Miike Davis, How Eden Lost Its Garden 

The Los Angeles region has long drawn visitors and new residents attracted in part by its climate and recreational opportunities.  Open space and farm land in the coasts, plains, mountains and deserts of Southern California may once have seemed inexhaustible. But by the 1960s, a report to California Governor Pat Brown described the Los Angeles Basin as “1,500 square miles of low grade, monotonous suburban construction” with few opportunities for open space preservation outside of some foothill and mountain areas. 
Decades of private, speculative development and a lack of vision by public municipalities  helped Los Angeles squander much of its natural heritage. A housing boom in the 1920 built many homes but few subdivisions set aside land for parks or recreation. The City of Los Angeles built some fine public parks but not enough to keep up with its population boom. The 1930 Olmstead- Bartholomew Plan for Parks, Playgrounds and Beaches for Los Angeles recommended establishing local and regional parks, public ownership of beaches, and a network of parkways and natural reserves.

Unfortunately, the plan was not pursued by its sponsors in the Chamber of Commerce or by the City or County.

Even when the City planned for land preservation it was hard to maintain farmland or open space. The 1944 plan for the San Fernando Valley was designed to allow the construction of hundreds of thousands of new homes, but would have concentrated dwellings in “country towns” surrounded by “citrus and farm greenbelts.” Builders preferred to buy cheaper farm lands and lobby for these areas to be rezoned for residential development, and the County Assessor would often levy agricultural land at a value that reflected its potential for subdivision, putting additional pressure for conversion.

Today, the Trust for Pubic Lands Parkscore analysis ranks Los Angeles 34th out of the nation’s 50 largest cities in terms of meeting its residents needs for parks. L.A. fares poorly on access to parks, spending on parks, and horribly (1 out of possible 20 points) on the number of playgrounds per capita. Until recently, much park spending in the City has gone to maintain older parks rather than create new one, leaving many lower income neighborhoods with larger number of children with less park space per person than older, wealthier areas of LA.  

Los Angeles tragically passed up chances to create a region interwoven with large greenbelts, parkways and open space. It may, however, be possible to take revenge on the sprawl by carving park space and natural connections out of our streets, vacant lots, underused yards and infrastructural corridors:
  • Increasing the street tree canopy is more essential now than ever to reduce LA’s heat island effect and counteract the 4-5 degree temperature rise from climate change that the Los Angeles region is expected to experience by mid century http://c-change.la/temperature/. The City’s tree canopy is currently below national average, with less cover in low-income areas. Los Angeles should accelerate installation of street trees, perhaps funded by a fee on atmosphere-destructive and heat-inducing land uses such as surface parking lots and dark-colored roofs.
  • Green streets designed to infiltrate rain and storm water and requirements for water infiltration on private land protect waterways and beaches from runoff, reduce our need for imported water, and can provide a more natural urban environment. The City recently adopted a Low Impact Development Ordinance to require private properties to manage stormwater runoff  on site. Ongoing street and sidewalk maintenance and any new street repair bond should rebuild public rights of way (sidewalks, streets, parkways, medians) as permeable surfaces, using natural treatments like bioswales and rain gardens where appropriate.
  • Vacant lots and distressed commercial and residential properties that harm communities through visual blight, crime, and depressed property values can become pocket parks to transform “Redfields to Greenfields.”  As referenced above, lower income areas that may have more foreclosed homes and empty commercial lots are frequently park-poor. The City should acquire and vacant or distressed properties for use as temporary or permanent parks where the need for neighborhood open space is greatest.
  • Flood control and power distribution channels can be used as recreation and open space corridors, following the model of L.A. river transformation.
  • Many of the City’s 900 miles of alleys could be greened through traffic calming, landscaping, water infiltration and urban agriculture designs and recreational programs. Los Angeles could reset its street standards for all alleys and/or create a ‘green alley overlay zone’ to help encourage alley improvement in parts of the City, or create a network of pedestrian paths and bikeways.
  • Neighborhood streets are also potential sites for recreational opportunities. Parts of streets can be regularly closed to traffic as “play streets”. By taking half the width of part of a residential block, some streets could become permanent playgrounds to help rectify LA’s glaring need for more paces for kids to play. This groovy concept sketch is from the City Planning Department’s 1971 report The Visual Environment of Los Angeles.
  • Commercial streets with lots of pedestrian activity are ideal spots for parklets, plazas and parks. The City should continue to expand the number of street plazas and parklets. As transit and bike infrastructure increases, parts of Los Angeles’ extra wide commercial boulevards could be dramatically reduced in width or closed entirely to vehicle traffic to create linear parks.
  • Urban freeways damage public health and cut communities off from recreational opportunities. There are several proposals to cap freeways in and around the City of Los Angeles to create park space on top of the freeway, including Park 101 near downtown LA, Hollywood Central Park, two cap parks over the 10 in Santa Monica and Space 134 in Glendale.  I view freeway removal as a future priority for the Los Angeles region with stubs like the 2 South and 710 North as low-hanging fruit, and freeway removal in densely populated areas as the ultimate prize.
Finally, while finding new space for parks is important, we should remember that the greenest thing a city can do probably isn’t creating more open space, but increasing walkable density near transit to reduce driving and energy use.
Study of the Day: 40 Percent of Designated Drivers Drink Before They Get Behind the Wheel

 http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/06/study-day-40-percent-designated-drivers-drink-they-get-behind-wheel/5880/

By Henry Grabar, June 11, 2013
 Study of the Day: 40 Percent of Designated Drivers Drink Before They Get Behind the Wheel




You know what would really improve a night of self-sacrificing sobriety? A little bit of booze.
That seems to have been the position of two out of five designated drivers who agreed to be breathalyzed by University of Florida researchers.

For a study released today in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, the authors conducted three months of exit interviews at bars in a college district. Over a thousand people, about 165 of whom self-identified as designated drivers, agreed to be surveyed. Eighteen percent of those DDs had blew a BAC over .05, the point at which most adults begin to experience difficulty with depth perception and visual functions.

Though .05 currently falls under the legal limit in all 50 states, the National Transportation Safety Board voted last month to recommend that states lower the legal limit down to .05 from .08. The lower limit has been shown to decrease drunk driving fatalities, and is standard practice in much of Europe and South America.

Pasadena Tenth Fastest-Growing U.S. City, Says NerdWallet

 Population growth, employment growth and income growth were all determining factors.

 http://pasadena-ca.patch.com/groups/business-news/p/pasadena-tenth-fastestgrowing-us-city-says-nerdwallet

By Jessica Hamlin, June 11, 2013

 

Pasadena City Hall. Credit: Redmond Carolipio

 

 
Pasadena is the number 10 fastest-growing city in America, according to data compiled by financial literacy and consumer advocacy website NerdWallet.  

 The website, which announced the list of cities Monday, compared 475 cities based on the following factors:

 

  1. Population: Population growth in the working-age population (16+) between 2007 and 2011
  2. Employment: Growth in the percentage of employed residents 16+ between 2007 and 2011
  3. Income: Growth in median income for workers between 2007 and 2011
On the population growth factor, Pasadena grew 3.1 percent; Pasadena’s employment rate grew 4.5 percent and Pasadena’s median income grew nine percent.

Topping out the fastest-growing cities list was New Orleans, Louisiana. The only other California city that made NerdWallet’s top 10 list was Mountain View, located in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

See more about the fastest-growing cities list on NerdWallet here.

L.A. Metro expands art tour program

http://www.metro-magazine.com/news/story/2013/06/l-a-metro-expands-art-tour-program.aspx?ref=Express-Tuesday-20130611&utm_source=Email&utm_medium=Enewsletter 

June 11, 2013

 Union Station, City of Dreams/River of History, Richard Wyatt in collaboration with May Sun, Artists. Courtesy of Metro (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority).

 Union Station, City of Dreams/River of History, Richard Wyatt in collaboration with May Sun, Artists. 

 This summer, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) launches a new series of tours, Metro Art Moves_DTLA. The new series expands Metro’s year-round tour program providing creative explorations of stations in downtown Los Angeles.

The Metro Art Moves_DTLA tours are a fresh, new approach that aims to increase transit ridership through volunteer docent and artist led experiences of the Metro system. Tours introduce riders to the agency’s diverse collection of 300-plus artworks, familiarize the public with the services Metro provides and highlight destinations served by rail and bus.

The Metro Art Moves_DTLA tours build on Metro’s existing docent-led tour model, by adding artists to co-lead the tours. Metro Art worked with artist Sara Wookey to identify opportunities for local artists to amplify the docents’ extensive knowledge about artworks with activities that heighten tour-goer engagement and demystify the Metro system.

The docents lead discussions, offering facts about the artworks, and the artists prompt ways of engaging with the Metro system through contemplative exercises, including stylistic techniques for using the TAP card and speaking secret words into a special voice-activated artwork at Union Station.
Wookey’s artistic practice involves awakening people to the subtleties of public space and creating opportunities for participation in the urban landscape.

Metro Art Moves_DTLA tours are designed to attract new transit riders by creating connections between the places where people live and work, and the bounty of culinary and cultural adventures spread throughout Los Angeles County. Metro Art Moves_DTLA tours present Los Angeles from new vantage points, heighten the rider experience in fun and engaging ways to boost public perceptions about riding transit, promote rider etiquette and offer opportunities for discovery. The tours reframe the experience of taking transit, giving riders the opportunity to explore little known cultural treasures, iconic landmarks and downtown’s thriving cultural scene.

Established in 1989, the Metro Art program has commissioned more than 300 artists for a wide variety of temporary and permanent projects. Artists are selected through a peer review process with community input. All works are created specifically for their transit-related sites. Metro’s public art policy allocates 0.5% of project construction costs for art.

(See  http://www.metro.net/about/art/ for more information about the Metro art tours.)

Perris Valley Line: Where does it go from here?

 http://blog.pe.com/2013/06/10/perris-valley-line-where-does-it-go-from-here/

By Dave Downey, June 10, 2013

 

A small Riverside environmental group that persuaded a judge to halt a 24-mile commuter rail line maintains it isn’t trying to kill the $232.7 million project, but make it friendly to the environment and neighborhoods.

Three members of Friends of Riverside’s Hills said this week they are willing to negotiate a compromise with the Riverside County Transportation Commission, the regional agency planning the Perris Valley Line, to pave the way for certifying a crucial environmental impact report and launching construction.

“We think this thing can be settled,” said group member Richard Block in a Thursday, June 6 meeting with the Press-Enterprise editorial board. “We don’t want to torpedo this project.”

The transportation commission wants to add a line to Metrolink’s Southern California rail system, providing new service to the UC Riverside area, Moreno Valley, March Air Reserve Base and Perris, while putting trains within reach of Menifee and other southwest Riverside County communities. The line would have an estimated 4,000 boardings daily via four stations: north Riverside, March Air Reserve Base, downtown Perris and south Perris at Interstate 215 and Highway 74.
The Friends of Riverside’s Hills sued in August 2011, one month after the commission adopted the environmental study. On May 14, Riverside Superior Court Judge Sharon J. Waters ordered the regional transportation body to set aside its approval, putting construction on hold indefinitely. The decision potentially jeopardizes $75 million in federal funding awarded for the project.

Construction was expected to take 13 to 15 months.

Anne Mayer, the agency’s executive director, said in a telephone interview she was encouraged by the group’s expressed willingness to settle.

“I’m delighted that they are saying they are interested in moving the project forward,” Mayer said.

She said the agency received an extensive list of demands in May, following the ruling, and will present those to the full commission in closed session at its monthly meeting Wednesday, June 12, in Riverside. Commissioners also will consider whether to appeal last month’s ruling, she said.

“We submitted a list of demands which we know were excessive,” said Block, who lives 2,100 feet from the tracks. “We are willing to compromise on many of these demands.”

However, it would seem the group and agency remain far apart.

While declining to say precisely what it would take for the group to drop its challenge, Block and the others mentioned some of the many issues they want addressed in the community around UCR, including soundproofing homes near the railroad, placing planned sound walls farther from homes, installing an automatic shut-off valve on a jet fuel pipeline that crosses tracks en route to March, and building underpasses for three informal hiking trails leading into the Box Springs Mountain area.

One trail is the heavily used route to the prominent, gold “C” that looks down on Riverside and the university.

“That’s a trail that’s been used for generations,” Block said.

Citing a 2004 assessment that indicated nearly 200 homes in the UCR area would suffer noise impacts, group members said they would like to see most, if not all, soundproofed. Mayer countered that the assessment was preliminary and is not relevant. She said the environmental report determined 67 residences would be “severely or moderately” affected by noise and the commission will build sound walls to shield all.

In addition, Mayer said, the commission proposed to the group to go beyond what is required and equip those 67 homes with insulated windows, at a cost of $1 million. She said the offer was turned down.

John Standiford, commission deputy executive director, said he fails to understand the noise concern.
“Our trains are considerably quieter than any of the freight trains on the tracks,” Standiford said.
“Our trains are lighter, less polluting, quieter. And we’d be getting people out of cars to take the train.”

But Block said the Metrolink extension would introduce 12 additional trips a day, including one that would traverse the university neighborhood at 4:15 in the morning.

“That’s going to perhaps wake up people,” Block said.

As for the shut-off valve, the group says it wants to prevent an environmental disaster by immediately halting flow of jet fuel should a derailment or train vibration spring a leak. Mayer said the pipeline owner, Kinder-Morgan, told the commission there are ample shut-off valves in place — at Colton, March and in between — and they are capable of halting leaks in a few minutes.

Mayer added that the commission won’t build underpasses for informal hiking trails across tracks, which are essentially illegal crossings.

“People don’t belong on railroad tracks and they shouldn’t be crossing railroad tracks where it is not safe to do so,” she said. “We’re not going to do anything to encourage people to trespass on the rail right of way.”

Gurumantra Khalsa, group member and chairman of the University Neighborhood Association, said he doesn’t understand the resistance to underpasses. He said several have been built along tracks elsewhere in Southern California to provide access to beaches and parks.
While the agency is willing to negotiate, Mayer said some demands won’t be met because they aren’t necessary.

“We’re not just writing a blank check,” she added.

In any event, the commission must decide how to respond to Judge Waters’ May 14 ruling, invalidating the environmental report. Through a court secretary, Waters declined to talk to a reporter about the ruling, citing judicial ethics.

Old tax, new fees among options for highway funding

 http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/old-tax-new-fees-among-options-for-highway-funding-92291.html

 By Adam Snider, June 6, 2013

 A portion of highway with a toll road is pictured. | AP Photo

It’s clear that funding will be the key to the bill’s success — or failure.

 
 
The next highway and transit bill might be more than a year away, but a string of major infrastructure failures has lawmakers and advocates already thinking about how to boost funding.

The Highway Trust Fund is set to dive deep into the red in the coming years, a problem that has gained extra attention with last month’s collapse of an Interstate 5 bridge in Washington state, the Metro-North rail crash in Connecticut and several other major recent failures.


Lawmakers are reluctant to talk in detail about their ideas, but it’s clear that funding will be the key to the bill’s success — or failure.

“The debate in Washington about the next bill is not going to be about what America needs,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said at this week’s Transportation Construction Coalition fly-in, an annual event that draws many of the country’s top infrastructure advocates. “How do we pay for it? That’s what the debate will be.”

Here are the pros and cons of four of the most talked-about ways to raise more infrastructure money.

1) Raise the gasoline tax

Pro: In a tax-averse Congress, the gas tax can’t be slapped with the fatal “new tax” label — it’s been around for more than 50 years.

It’s also one of the cheapest taxes to collect, offers little room for fraud and has a proven collection mechanism. Most gas stations would need only a few keystrokes to update their per-gallon price to reflect the increased tax.

And a strong coalition supports hiking the tax, including some unlikely allies like labor groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber rarely supports tax hikes, a point supporters hope to hammer home over the next year.

Con: Boosting the 18.4-cents-per-gallon tax, which has been stagnant for more than 20 years, is one of the toughest sells on Capitol Hill, especially with the economy slow to recover and gas prices fluctuating between high and very high. A recent Gallup poll found that two-thirds of drivers oppose a gas tax hike, even if the money goes to roads.

Even if lawmakers muster the votes to boost the tax, it will bring in less money as the years drag on as more fuel-efficient cars and an overall drop in driving cut into gas tax revenues. With younger people driving much less than their parents and new fuel-efficiency standards kicking in over the next decade, the long-term trend for gas tax dollars doesn’t look good.

Maryland and Virginia both recently moved away from a per-gallon tax, swapping it for a percentage tax on wholesale gas prices, a move designed to combat the drop in fuel consumption.


2) Charge drivers based on how much they drive

Pro: A number of experts say charging drivers by the mile is the future of transportation funding. It’s the most accurate way to measure how a driver is using government-maintained infrastructure and is independent of fuel efficiency.

A vehicle-miles-traveled fee system that relies on GPS devices would also be flexible. It could charge more for heavier cars, state and local governments could piggyback on the national system with their own fees, and extras like tolls and congestion charges could be easily tacked onto a driver’s tab.

Con: To date, objections to a VMT fee far outweigh the advantages. Privacy has been the main concern, with many Americans opposed to a mandate that could essentially track the location of all cars in the country. Lawmakers could work around the privacy issue by using odometer readings instead of GPS data, but then much of the system’s flexibility and accuracy would be gone.

A VMT fee would also take more than a decade to fully implement and would be much more expensive than raising the gas tax. Even a simple odometer reading twice a year would cost millions of dollars in the long run.

3) Tap oil and natural gas drilling royalties

Pro: Expanding drilling off the coasts and allowing it in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a Republican-backed idea that has drawn some Democratic support.

GOP support for any transportation funding plan will be crucial, especially in the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid will need a handful of Republican votes to advance any controversial legislation. The proposal could attract some red-state Democrats, such as Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, who supports ANWR drilling.

And while it’s not a user fee in the strictest sense, oil drilling has more of a link to driving than the pension changes that Congress used to partially fund last year’s law. The “user pays” concept is important to transportation veterans who worry that cutting the link between transportation funding and the users could lead to a decline in infrastructure spending.

Con: The math hasn’t quite worked out yet. The Congressional Budget Office said three energy bills the House passed last year — on ANWR, offshore oil drilling and oil shale exploration — would raise only $4.7 billion over 10 years, far short of the tens of billions of dollars needed.

Some Republicans dispute that estimate.


“The CBO killed us on that,” House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said in March. “I’ve talked to a number of experts that said it’s much larger.” But like it or not, CBO is the official scorekeeper for legislation so Republicans will need to work around the estimates if they pursue the drilling option next year.

The idea also could draw strong opposition from some coastal lawmakers — Florida, for example, has long banned drilling off the state’s expansive coast. Last year’s measure would essentially override that ban, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

 
Another pitfall: Boosting oil drilling could lead to greater oil consumption — a no-no for Democrats pressing for alternative fuels and cleaner air. “The gas tax and even tolling can help reduce oil dependence while this would exacerbate it,” said Deron Lovaas, NRDC’s federal transportation policy director.
4) More transfers from the general fund

Pro: Transferring money from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund has been the routine over the past few years. It’s how the years of extensions leading up to MAP-21 were paid for and also offered part of the funding source for last year’s bill. And technically, general fund transfers don’t need an offset.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) supports the idea and plans to sell it to his fellow conservatives. Inhofe argues that the Constitution mandates a federal role in roads, in contrast to many other programs the federal government is paying for.

“Of all the things the general fund is used for, I can’t think of anything more noble and popular with the public than roads and bridges and maintenance,” Inhofe said this week at the TCC event.

Con: Congressional reluctance is growing about using general Treasury dollars for transportation. Before Inhofe pitched his idea, Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) lamented that “the general fund is squeezed beyond squeezed.”

Much of the opposition stems from “bailout fatigue” — since 2008, Congress has shifted $41 billion from the general fund, with another $12.6 billion already authorized for 2014. Some fiscal hawks would rather hand funding decisions to the states than sign off on another raid of taxpayer dollars.

The trust fund’s growing reliance on the general fund also leads to another worry for policy experts — that transportation will lose its trust fund status and become part of the yearly appropriations process, which can see major funding swings from year to year.



EDITORIAL: Open car pool lanes during non-peak hours 

 http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20130609-editorial-open-car-pool-lanes-during-non-peak-hours.ece

The Press-Enterprise, June 9, 2013

 

Legislators should back the idea of opening car pool lanes to all traffic during non-rush hours. - See more at: http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20130609-editorial-open-car-pool-lanes-during-non-peak-hours.ece#sthash.dyGTBnQm.dpuf
 Legislators should back the idea of opening car pool lanes to all traffic during non-rush hours.

California does not have so much freeway capacity that the state can afford to leave some lanes mostly empty for much of the day. The state Senate should back a bill that would open some car pool lanes in Los Angeles County to regular traffic during non-rush hours. And the Legislature should extend that approach to other Southern California counties, as well.

The Assembly last month passed AB 405, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, by a 72-0 vote. The bill would allow regular traffic to use car pool lanes on portions of Highway 134 and Interstate 210 during non-peak hours. Gatto structured the bill as a pilot project, but he clearly wants to extend the same approach to other freeways in Southern California.

The idea is attractive to a car-clogged region that routinely faces frustrating traffic congestion. California now has 1,428 miles of car pool lanes out of about 12,000 miles of freeway in the state, with plans for adding 777 more miles of the restricted-use lanes. But single-occupant vehicles dominate Southern California traffic, leaving the restricted lanes largely useless to most drivers. Adding new freeway lanes in heavily developed Southern California is both difficult and expensive, so the region needs to make the most efficient use of existing freeway capacity.

Inland residents, for example, welcome additional lanes for the crowded Highway 91/Interstate 215 route between Riverside and San Bernardino. But leaving those lanes off limits to most drivers 24 hours a day stands to annoy motorists more than ease traffic. All taxpayers are paying for stretches of roadway that only some drivers can use, because sharing rides is not a simple matter for many people in Southern California’s sprawling commuter culture.

California already has a precedent for opening the lanes to all traffic for part of the day: Northern California car pool lanes have restrictions only during peak traffic hours Monday through Friday. The rest of the time, all drivers can use the lanes.

Caltrans, however, says that traffic patterns make that approach infeasible for Southern California, because daily freeway congestion lasts longer. But that claim hardly justifies keeping the lanes off-limits to other traffic 24 hours a day. And the car pool lanes do have room for general use: A 2012 Caltrans report showed that some of the restricted-use lanes in Los Angeles County barely met Caltrans’ minimum standard for car pool lanes of 800 vehicles per hour, even at peak times. And those counts can see a substantial drop after rush hour periods.

Car pool lanes are supposed to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality. But the lanes do nothing to serve those goals if they remain mostly empty while the rest of the freeway is jammed. Such instances only irritate motorists and undermine public support for the restricted-use lanes.

Opening the lanes to all during nonpeak times would promote more efficient use of freeway space while lowering drivers’ frustration level. Transportation policy needs to be practical, and leaving some freeway lanes largely empty for part of the day falls far short of that mark.
California does not have so much freeway capacity that the state can afford to leave some lanes mostly empty for much of the day. The state Senate should back a bill that would open some car pool lanes in Los Angeles County to regular traffic during non-rush hours. And the Legislature should extend that approach to other Southern California counties, as well.
The Assembly last month passed AB 405, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, by a 72-0 vote. The bill would allow regular traffic to use car pool lanes on portions of Highway 134 and Interstate 210 during non-peak hours. Gatto structured the bill as a pilot project, but he clearly wants to extend the same approach to other freeways in Southern California.
The idea is attractive to a car-clogged region that routinely faces frustrating traffic congestion. California now has 1,428 miles of car pool lanes out of about 12,000 miles of freeway in the state, with plans for adding 777 more miles of the restricted-use lanes. But single-occupant vehicles dominate Southern California traffic, leaving the restricted lanes largely useless to most drivers. Adding new freeway lanes in heavily developed Southern California is both difficult and expensive, so the region needs to make the most efficient use of existing freeway capacity.
Inland residents, for example, welcome additional lanes for the crowded Highway 91/Interstate 215 route between Riverside and San Bernardino. But leaving those lanes off limits to most drivers 24 hours a day stands to annoy motorists more than ease traffic. All taxpayers are paying for stretches of roadway that only some drivers can use, because sharing rides is not a simple matter for many people in Southern California’s sprawling commuter culture.
California already has a precedent for opening the lanes to all traffic for part of the day: Northern California car pool lanes have restrictions only during peak traffic hours Monday through Friday. The rest of the time, all drivers can use the lanes.
Caltrans, however, says that traffic patterns make that approach infeasible for Southern California, because daily freeway congestion lasts longer. But that claim hardly justifies keeping the lanes off-limits to other traffic 24 hours a day. And the car pool lanes do have room for general use: A 2012 Caltrans report showed that some of the restricted-use lanes in Los Angeles County barely met Caltrans’ minimum standard for car pool lanes of 800 vehicles per hour, even at peak times. And those counts can see a substantial drop after rush hour periods.
Car pool lanes are supposed to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality. But the lanes do nothing to serve those goals if they remain mostly empty while the rest of the freeway is jammed. Such instances only irritate motorists and undermine public support for the restricted-use lanes.
Opening the lanes to all during nonpeak times would promote more efficient use of freeway space while lowering drivers’ frustration level. Transportation policy needs to be practical, and leaving some freeway lanes largely empty for part of the day falls far short of that mark.
- See more at: http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20130609-editorial-open-car-pool-lanes-during-non-peak-hours.ece#sthash.dyGTBnQm.dpuf
California does not have so much freeway capacity that the state can afford to leave some lanes mostly empty for much of the day. The state Senate should back a bill that would open some car pool lanes in Los Angeles County to regular traffic during non-rush hours. And the Legislature should extend that approach to other Southern California counties, as well.
The Assembly last month passed AB 405, by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, by a 72-0 vote. The bill would allow regular traffic to use car pool lanes on portions of Highway 134 and Interstate 210 during non-peak hours. Gatto structured the bill as a pilot project, but he clearly wants to extend the same approach to other freeways in Southern California.
The idea is attractive to a car-clogged region that routinely faces frustrating traffic congestion. California now has 1,428 miles of car pool lanes out of about 12,000 miles of freeway in the state, with plans for adding 777 more miles of the restricted-use lanes. But single-occupant vehicles dominate Southern California traffic, leaving the restricted lanes largely useless to most drivers. Adding new freeway lanes in heavily developed Southern California is both difficult and expensive, so the region needs to make the most efficient use of existing freeway capacity.
Inland residents, for example, welcome additional lanes for the crowded Highway 91/Interstate 215 route between Riverside and San Bernardino. But leaving those lanes off limits to most drivers 24 hours a day stands to annoy motorists more than ease traffic. All taxpayers are paying for stretches of roadway that only some drivers can use, because sharing rides is not a simple matter for many people in Southern California’s sprawling commuter culture.
California already has a precedent for opening the lanes to all traffic for part of the day: Northern California car pool lanes have restrictions only during peak traffic hours Monday through Friday. The rest of the time, all drivers can use the lanes.
Caltrans, however, says that traffic patterns make that approach infeasible for Southern California, because daily freeway congestion lasts longer. But that claim hardly justifies keeping the lanes off-limits to other traffic 24 hours a day. And the car pool lanes do have room for general use: A 2012 Caltrans report showed that some of the restricted-use lanes in Los Angeles County barely met Caltrans’ minimum standard for car pool lanes of 800 vehicles per hour, even at peak times. And those counts can see a substantial drop after rush hour periods.
Car pool lanes are supposed to decrease traffic congestion and improve air quality. But the lanes do nothing to serve those goals if they remain mostly empty while the rest of the freeway is jammed. Such instances only irritate motorists and undermine public support for the restricted-use lanes.
Opening the lanes to all during nonpeak times would promote more efficient use of freeway space while lowering drivers’ frustration level. Transportation policy needs to be practical, and leaving some freeway lanes largely empty for part of the day falls far short of that mark.
- See more at: http://www.pe.com/opinion/editorials-headlines/20130609-editorial-open-car-pool-lanes-during-non-peak-hours.ece#sthash.dyGTBnQm.dpuf
 
Environmentalists Call LA Rail Project Racist
 http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/06/10/58381.htm
By William Dotinga, June 10, 2013
 
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A massive railyard expansion at the port of Los Angeles is "environmental racism," the Natural Resources Defense Council claims in court.
   
  The NRDC's lawsuit comes one month after the LA City Council voted 11-2 to approve BNSF's Southern California International Gateway, a $500 million facility located 4 miles from the San Pedro ports.
   
  BNSF says the project will shorten the distance trucks travel between container ships and the rail network, currently 24 miles up the perpetually congested 710 freeway to East LA.
    
 The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 40 percent of the nation's container cargo and account for a million jobs in California, according to BNSF's website.
  
   BNSF plans to build the project in Wilmington, a suburb of 51,000 located minutes from the busy ports.
 
    Environmentalists have focused their challenge on the fact that 87 percent of Wilmington's residents are blue collar and Latino.
 
    "The SCIG project typifies environmental racism," senior NRDC David Pettit said in a statement. "This project can be built away from where people live and children go to school, but the city of Los Angeles wants to put it in a low-income minority neighborhood because they think they can get away with it."
 
     East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, a local watchdog group, joined the NRDC as a plaintiff in petitioning the Los Angeles County Superior Court on June 7 for a write of mandate.
 
     Coalition for Clean Air, Century Villages at Cabrillo and two citizens, Elena Rodriguez and Evelyn Deloris Knight, are also plaintiffs in the action.
    
 They say the project - which will add 1 million truck and train trips through local neighborhoods - is unnecessary and targets LA's poorer minority neighborhoods.
 
     "This unnecessary project is not only dangerous to the health of the local working class, working poor communities of color but to the entire region," said Angelo Logan, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice. "We are committed to fighting this project through all legal means. We believe that the alternative to this project is maximizing on-dock rail and have suggested a number of projects that could meet the port's cargo goals without building this monstrosity."
 
     The plaintiffs say LA approved the project in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as well as state and federal civil rights laws.
 
     They also believe the project will increase cancer and asthma rates by increasing the area's chronic pollution, noting that children in the Long Beach area already suffer twice as many respiratory illnesses as the rest of LA County. NRDC has already urged city council members to use cleaner locomotives, expand on-dock rail to eliminate the need for the short truck trips through Wilmington and to use zero-emission container movement systems.
 
     "It is unbelievable that the port proposed a project of this magnitude without requiring use of the latest cutting edge technology to alleviate this community's staggering pollution burden," NRDC attorney Morgan Wyenn said in a statement. 
"This project will ensure more emergency room visits, lost school and work days and new cases of asthma and chronic respiratory disease for local residents while BNSF pulls in more profits."
 
     BNSF insists that it will implement all of NRDC's suggestions into the gateway plan. For starters, only trucks built after 2010 will be allowed to rumble through Wilmington. The rail giant says that by 2026, 90 percent of its truck fleet will run on natural gas or equivalent emission fuel and agreed to spend $3 million to develop new zero-emission goods movement technology.
 
     Meanwhile, labor unions are thrilled by the project, which will pump millions of dollars into the local economy and create thousands of jobs.
 
     "SCIG will create thousands of good construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs at a time when unemployment still remains high," said Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer of the LA County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. "We also applaud BNSF for being a leader in creating the nation's greenest intermodal facility, significantly improving air quality and decreasing health risks in our communities."
 
     LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino said last month that by the time the project is completed, BNSF will have spent $100 million on green technology, clean trucks and zero-emissions research.
 
     "SCIG will be the greenest intermodal facility in the United States and will set the standard for future projects," Buscaino said.
 

Nicaragua may let Chinese company build a canal to rival Panama’s 

 http://grist.org/news/nicaragua-may-let-chinese-company-build-a-canal-to-rival-panamas/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=pdrouet%40earthlink.net

By John Upton, June 11, 2013

 

It would take an estimated 11 years and $40 billion to excavate a proposed canal through 130 miles of Nicaragua to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, providing shippers with an alternative route to the Panama Canal. And the project would have a huge environmental impact on the country, slicing through rainforest and messing with waterways.

But enough already with boring facts and details. President Daniel Ortega is trying to ram the project through his country’s congress faster than Dick Cheney rammed America’s Patriot Act through after 9/11.

If approved, the plan would give a Chinese company a 100-year lease to build and operate the canal, which is expected to be able to handle bigger ships than the Panama Canal, even after an expansion of that project is completed. Nicaragua’s proposed canal would “reinforce Beijing’s growing influence on global trade and weaken US dominance over the key shipping route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans,” The Guardian reports.

From the Associated Press:
Ortega presented the canal proposal Tuesday and hopes to submit it to at least an initial vote on Monday, with final approval planned by next Thursday. …

[M]uch of Nicaragua’s water is earmarked for human use, and its lush rivers are too environmentally sensitive to be simply dredged into waterways or dammed to provide water to operate locks. Panama faced few such restrictions in the early 1900s when its canal was built.

In a previous version of the project presented in 2006, the promoters acknowledged they would probably have to build some dams, perhaps on rivers as sensitive as the San Juan, which runs along the border with Costa Rica. …

With 1.7 billion gallons of water per day needed to run Nicaragua’s proposed locks, and tens of millions of tons of excavation needed, the project certainly looks daunting. …

“I do not understand what the rush is,” [said opposition congressman Luis Callejas]. “It’s such a sensitive topic that the population should be consulted.”
Ortega’s message to Nicaraguan lawmakers seems to be vote yes now, worry about consequences later. When has that strategy ever caused problems?

EV owners jolted by new taxes

 http://grist.org/news/ev-owners-jolted-by-new-taxes/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=pdrouet%40earthlink.net

By John Upton, June 11, 2013

 

States have begun introducing taxes on not using gasoline.

As the number of electric vehicles on the roads starts to climb, a number of states are introducing new fees to offset the projected losses in gas-tax revenues.

The AP reports that at least 10 states have considered or passed legislation that would impose such fees on electric or hybrid cars.

The new charges could help governments build and maintain the roads and bridges upon which the new generation of vehicles are being driven. But it seems that owners of gas-free cars are also being eyed to plug holes left in government budgets by the improved efficiency of traditional vehicles.

From Bloomberg Businessweek:
Gas taxes are one of the main sources of funding for bridges and roads. But people are driving more fuel-efficient cars, and many states’ tax rates haven’t kept up with inflation during the past decade. That’s left less money available for repairs. Nationwide, gas tax revenue declined every year from $40.7 billion in 2004 to $37.9 billion in 2010, according to inflation-adjusted data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a research group in Washington.

That’s a big reason Virginia and Washington State are levying green-car taxes and New Jersey, North Carolina, Indiana, and at least four other states are considering doing the same. “The intent is that people who use the roads pay for them,” says Arizona State Senator Steve Farley, a Democrat who wrote a bill to tax electric-car drivers 1¢ for every mile they log on state highways under a yet-to-be-devised tracking system. “Just because we have somebody who is getting out of doing it because they have an alternative form of fuel, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay for the roads.”
From the AP article:
Ryan Turner, an IT professional in Chapel Hill, said he and many other drivers of alternative-fuel vehicles chose their cars because they’re concerned about the environment and the country’s dependence on oil. The Chevrolet Volt driver helped advocate for a statewide plug-in vehicle readiness plan.

“On its face, it’s reasonable for electric owners to contribute toward road tax in some way,” he said. “I think what’s suspect is that, given all the issues we have in this state, given the state’s woeful effort so far to promote electric vehicles as part of some statewide agenda, it is suspect that this vehicle tax is a priority given the small amount of the revenue it will bring in.”

The policy looks especially arbitrary when more and more conventional cars are achieving fuel efficiency that’s comparable to some hybrid cars, Turner added.
Jay Friedland, legislative director for the advocacy group Plug In America, has asked legislators in other states to phase in special fees after the number of alternative-fuel vehicles reaches 100,000, arguing administrative costs make such policies counter-productive before states reach a critical mass.

“We generally say this is a period of time when you should be incentivizing these vehicles, but after a while, yes, everyone should be paying their fair share,” he said.
Some states have been mulling taxes based on the number of miles driven each year in each electric or hybrid vehicle. That may seem the fairest way of levying such charges, but it requires government monitoring that many regard as creepy and intrusive. As a result, annual fees are proving more popular with state legislatures.