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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Judge clears Conway of all charges, dismisses DA's case against ex-COG chief

Shapiro: 'The court feels there is no crime here, period;' COG foes may have had ax to grind

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23652110/judge-clears-conway-all-charges-dismisses-das-case

By Steve Scauzillo, July 12, 2013
 
 
 
Former San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Nick Conway
LOS ANGELES - A judge on Friday tossed out of court the Los Angeles County District Attorney's case against former San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Nick Conway, declaring him innocent -- as Conway and his attorney had maintained all along. The District Attorney had alleged Conway obtained contracts that benefitted him financially.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro ruled Conway did nothing wrong and dismissed all four felony conflict-of-interest charges leveled against the former head of the 31-member planning agency.

"The court feels there is no crime here, period," said the judge.

Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani declined to say if he would appeal the ruling. "We are going to be considering our options," he said Friday afternoon.

A relieved Conway, 61, of Pasadena, left the court smiling but declined to comment by order of his attorney, Kenneth White. White is a former U.S. Attorney who once prosecuted government officials for fraud. Conway also received help from a second attorney, former state Attorney General and Pasadena resident John Van de Kamp, who appeared in court on his behalf Friday.

"To go for a felony prosecution case like this did not make any sense whatsoever," Van de Kamp said. He added that Conway, who was both the head of his firm, Arroyo Seco Associates, and executive director of the SGVCOG, did a good job.

"He was able to provide services that were very reliable and efficient and came at a cost that is lower than they are paying now," Van de Kamp said.
Indeed, the SGVCOG's governmental structure was on trial as much as Conway. Both White and Van de Kamp said the SGVCOG was correct in dumping the independent contract form of governance when it hired Andrea Miller as an employee and the agency's new executive director earlier this year.

However, White said since the SGVCOG terminated Conway's contract on Oct. 31, he has not had any clients and has "been punished" by the District Attorney's wrongful prosecution.

Judge Shapiro agreed with the defense's argument that whenever Conway obtained grants, he was doing exactly what the SGVCOG governing board had instructed and did not violate Section 1090 of the penal code, the conflict-of-interest clause. In addition, every grant in question was approved by the SGVCOG board, done in the open and with the blessing of the SGVCOG's attorneys.

"It was fundamentally unfair that this man was being made a scapegoat for a structural problem for someone who had a political bias against him," White said after the decision.

White argued much of the case was propped up by a political vendetta against Conway by former SGVCOG president and now former Walnut Mayor Tom King, waged in part because of Conway's resistance to railroad underpasses that would benefit the Walnut/Industry area. Diamond Bar Councilwoman Carol Herrera testified that Conway tried to stop the board from supporting improvements to the 57/60 freeways interchange, a project supported by Industry and Diamond Bar, as a way to get back at her for opposing him.

Judge Shapiro, in granting the defense's motion to dismiss the case, referred to the political machinations. "People in city government maybe had an ax to grind with Mr. Conway," he said in court.

Aratani insisted that King and Herrera's testimony was not personal, but rather showed how Conway would take certain contracts that benefitted him and reject others that would not. He said Conway, who headed the SGVCOG for 17 years, on four separate occasions sought out and signed contracts that benefitted himself and his company. In court Friday, he repeated the claim that Conway added $105,000 to a contract between SGVCOG and Arroyo initially worth $422,000. "This was a company that was able to grow its business by a considerable amount," Aratani argued. "Truly what was happening is a conflict."

But Judge Shapiro said if there was a conflict of interest in Conway's actions, it was only in a technical sense, not a criminal one. "I don't see a crime here," the judge repeated.

The judge also said Conway's case was similar to that of Karen Christiansen, a contractor for the Beverly Hills Unified School District who was convicted of conflict-of-interest felonies but had her conviction overturned on appeal on May 31. The appellate court ruled because she was not an employee, Christiansen was not subject to the conflict-of-interest law.

Shapiro said Conway "got caught up in a disagreement after he had done everything in the open. He may have benefitted, but the people who hired him to perform, they benefitted also," he said.
Herrera, reached by phone at her Diamond Bar home Friday afternoon, said she was floored by the judge's decision.

"I am in a state of shock," she said, adding: "Maybe some day there will be justice."

Dick Jones, the SGVCOG's general counsel, worked with Conway and also helped transition the SGVCOG away from the contracting out form of government. He commented from his law office in Orange County via telephone.

"I'm sure it is a great deal of relief for Mr. Conway," Jones said. On whether the SGVCOG's new structure is more secure, he said: "The COG is in much better shape today with regard to Section 1090."

Van de Kamp said the state Legislature is looking at fixing the 1090 law. Unless holes in the ambiguous law are filled, every government agency that uses an independent contractor who benefits from services rendered may be subject to criminal prosecution, he said.

"They need to consider the question: Are you trying to bar all outside independent contracting?" Van de Kamp said.

White said the San Fernando Valley COG contracts out for management services and has no employees, the same structure used by the San Gabriel Valley COG when Conway was executive director.

"All I can say is, I hope they have an executive director who is getting good legal advice," White said.



Alhambra 710 Information Cards

Did you know… 1.

The 710 tunnel will not relieve the congestion on Alhambra’s surface streets.


Metro's origin and destination traffic studies show that 84% of vehicles
exiting the 710 in Alhambra will not use the tunnel for one
of two reasons: their destinations are local and there are no exits
planned for the tunnel between Valley Blvd. and the City of Pasadena;
OR they want to avoid paying the congestion pricing-based
toll (toll diversion rates are projected to be 35%). This traffic will
continue to clog the surface streets of Alhambra and the streets of
adjacent cities. The tunnel will do nothing to solve problems on
Atlantic, Garfield, New, Huntington, Valley, Mission or Commonwealth.
Metro reports that there are currently 44,000 vehicles a
day on the 710 north of the 10, but they project a five-fold increase
to 180,000 per day after the tunnel is built.

Did you know… 2.

Metro plans to control tunnel capacity with tolls.


Metro has proposed the possibility of a single-bore tunnel, reducing
lanes in each direction from 4 to 2. Tunnel capacity would be
halved, and yet Metro plans to widen the 710 leading to the tunnel,
exacerbating the “tunnel funnel”. When asked about the reduction
in capacity, they responded, "We will control tunnel capacity
with tolling." Measure R funds are insufficient to build the tunnel.
It can only be built through a Public-Private Partnership, and
this necessitates that it will be tolled. Tolls high enough to control
capacity mean more vehicles will avoid the tunnel. Alhambra and
environs will suffer the consequences -- idling cars & trucks on the
710 as it narrows to 2 northbound lanes; idling cars & trucks as
off-ramps are congested with drivers avoiding tolls; slow-moving
and idling cars & trucks STILL using surface streets -- all spewing
harmful emissions into the local atmosphere.

Did you know… 3

Air quality impacts are underestimated since the
data are based on Los Angeles County as a whole,
not tunnel-adjacent cities like Alhambra.


The assertion in the Around Alhambra article (07/13, p. 19B) that
“...preliminary analysis indicates there would be better air quality”
is not consistent with results of Metro’s own Alternatives Analysis.
Their report shows that three major categories of pollutants won’t
decrease, but instead, would actually increase county-wide by
anywhere from 0.01 – 0.35% relative to no build. Localized conditions
can be expected to be much worse. Pollution from the tunnel
will be vented only through the ends — not intermediate
stacks. Concentrated exhaust from miles of tunnel would be expelled
into Alhambra and adjacent areas from the south portal and
result in elevated levels of toxic pollutants.

Did you know… 4.

Over 294,000 truckloads of dirt will be excavated
to construct the south portal.


Metro reports that 5 million cubic yards of dirt must be removed at
the south portal which will be constructed in Alhambra and Los
Angeles — not south of Valley Blvd. While the haul destination is
yet undetermined, the resulting 294,000 truckloads of dirt (17 cubic
yards per truck) will be hauled under Valley Blvd. to enter the
710. During the 9 -12 years it will take for construction, Metro
plans to store a significant portion of the dirt on site to use for the
“cover” of the “cut and cover” portal construction. No details have
been specified for minimizing impacts due to windblown dirt or
muddy runoff during rain storms.

Did you know… 5.

It’s not about South Pasadena any more! Public
opposition to connecting the 710 to the 210 has
grown explosively.


Contrary to assertions in Alhambra’s press release that “...public support
for the completion of (closing) the gap has grown significantly” — just
the opposite is true! After analyzing impacts and costs of this project,
over 30 cities, neighborhood associations, healthcare organizations,
school districts and other agencies have officially opposed the connection.
Among these are: City of Los Angeles, La CaƱada Flintridge,
Glendale, Sierra Madre, La Crescenta, South Pasadena, Eagle Rock,
Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, Mt. Washington, Highland Park, El Sereno
and others. Elected officials including Congressman Adam Schiff, State
Senator Carol Liu, Assemblymembers Mike Gatto, Cameron Smyth,
Jimmy Gomez and Anthony Portantino (former) as well as the new
Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, all oppose the extension. (See
Sources for complete list.)

Did you know… 6.

Cost estimates for the tunnel have varied so
widely as to be unreliable.
 

Since a tunnel was first presented as an option, cost estimates by government
agencies have ranged from $1—$14 Billion. A recent article in
Around Alhambra states, “Studies indicate that the tunnel project can be
built through a Public-Private Partnership, with approximately $1.29 billion
in public funding that would help attract over $2.53 billion in private
capital, with ongoing maintenance collected through tolls”, inferring a
total cost of $3.82 Billion. However Metro’s own Alternative Analysis
released in December, 2012 cites a cost of $5.46 Billion. This estimate
is only 1/2 Metro’s $10 Billion estimate for a tunnel of the same diameter
and length for the Sepulveda Pass Corridor project. Currently under
construction in Seattle is a tunnel of the same diameter but only 1/5 the
length of the 710 tunnel at a cost of $3.1 Billion. You do the math and
then ask yourself how a tunnel 5 times as long can cost the same as Seattle's?

Sources: 1.

SR 710 North Study. Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No. 9 —
February 13, 2013. PowerPoint Presentation. http://www.metro.net/
projects_studies/sr_710/images/SR710_tac_meeting_9_021313.pdf
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Public Private
Partnership Program. Prepared by InfraConsult, March 2012. http://
media.metro.net/board/items/2012/04_april/20120418P&PItem15.pdf
SR 710 North Study. Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No. 8 —
November 14, 2012. PowerPoint Presentation.
http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/sr_710/images/
SR710_tac_meeting_8_111412.pdf
`Fact-checked by the No 710 Action Committee
Learn more at: www.no710.com


Source: 2.

SR 710 North Study. Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No. 10 —
April 24, 2013. PowerPoint Presentation.
http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/sr_710/images/SR710_tac_meeting_10_032513.pdf


Sources: 3.

Around Alhambra, Alhambra’s Community Newspaper. ‘Research suggests
a tunnel is the best option to close 710-210 Gap’ Page 19B, July,
2013.

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority SR-710 Alternatives
Analysis Report. Appendix O, Air Quality Technical Memorandum. December,
2012. http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/
docs/710study/docs/appendices/Appendix%20O%20Air%20Quality%
20Technical%20Memorandum.pdf

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority SR-710 Alternatives
Analysis Report. Pages 147—151. December, 2012. http://
www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/resources/envdocs/docs/710study/docs/
Final_AA_report_2013-01-14_Low_Res.pdf
Fact-checked by the No 710 Action Committee
Learn more at: www.no710.com

Source: 4 .

SR 710 North Study. Technical Advisory Committee Meeting No. 10 —
April 24, 2013. PowerPoint Presentation, Slide 70.
http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/sr_710/images/SR710_tac_meeting_10_032513.pdf

Sources: 5. 

Around Alhambra, Alhambra’s Community Newspaper. 710 Day:
a celebration about ‘Closing the Gap’. July, 2013.

No 710 Action Committee website. Resources tab. “Resolutions
and Statements Against the SR-710 North Extension”
http://www/no710.com/resources.html

Sources: 6.

Around Alhambra, Alhambra’s Community Newspaper. ‘Research suggests
a tunnel is the best option to close 710-210 Gap’ July, 2013.

Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority SR-710 Alternatives
Analysis Report. December, 2012. http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/
resources/envdocs/docs/710study/docs/Final_AA_report_2013-01-
14_Low_Res.pdf

LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Sepulveda Pass Corridor
Systems Planning Study, November, 2012. Preliminary Cost Report. http://
www.http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/sfv-405/images/
final_compendium_report/6.0%20Preliminary%20Cost%20Report.pdf

Washington State Department of Transportation project website:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct/Schedule/Budget
http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/route_710/images/

SR 710 Fwy— Tunnel Alternative Fact Sheet. http://www.metro.net/
projects/sr-710-conversations/fact-sheets/


Best Driving Apps For Los Angeles Include Text Message Blockers, Gas Gadgets & Parking Fairies

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/12/best-driving-apps-los-angeles_n_3582699.html?utm_hp_ref=los-angeles

By Sophie Kissinger, July 12, 2013

 Best Driving Apps



Smartphones have a reputation for being serious sources of danger in the car. However, some driving apps can actually make for a safer and easier ride.

From traffic monitoring apps to text message blockers, smartphones are transforming the way we act on the road. And in LA, that's certainly a good thing. Looks like they've thought of everything -- from an app that alerts you when you're going over the speed limit, to a new way to find cheap gas and parking, it looks like LA is quickly adapting with the pace of technology.

So whatever your driving vice; there’s an app for that.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best ones out there. Did we miss your favorite driving app? Comment below!

Go to the website to see a slideshow of the apps.

How Do You Taint A Block Party? Lobby For A Freeway!

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/07/12/how-do-you-taint-a-block-party-lobby-for-a-freeway/

By Kris Fortin, July 12, 2013


 

 "Close the Gap" shirts ran for $5 each at Alhambra's block party in support of the I-710 freeway expansion from Alhambra to Pasadena.


For most people who live in Alhambra, the pedestrian is a second rate participant on the city’s roads. Car dealerships line Main Street in the north, wide six lane streets run along Valley.

So, to see Alhambra close one of the busiest north-south arteries in the city from 11 am to 2 pm on a Wednesday was beyond surprising. Alhambra’s ”Close the Gap” event blocked Fremont Avenue from Valley Boulevard to Mission Road from 11 am to 2 pm. Wednesday to automobile traffic as a way to promote the Interstate 710 expansion project.

Alhambra hasn’t closed a street since the annual Jubilee ended a few years ago, but that event happened on a minor side street off Main Street that doesn’t get nearly as much foot or car traffic.
Art Beanda, 46-year-old Alhambra resident, sat with his two children in front of the apartment complex off Fremont Avenue.   After four years at the apartment complex, the block party gave Beanda his first chance to meet his neighbors.

“You see them and I mean, this guy lives here and you just say hi, but from far away,” Beanda said.
While the block party is a great direction Alhambra is headed for pedestrian activities, the association to the highway project felt odd. It’s great to see Alhambra close off a street for a recreational activity, but I’ve never heard of a pedestrian friendly event lobbying for a highway project. One step forward for Alhambra pedestrians felt like a step back by lobbying for the highway project.

Whether or not the 710 project goes through or not, will Alhambra continue to use July 10 (7/10) to promote the existence or non-existence of the expansion? Probably not.


Hopefully it’s not the last block party in Alhambra, but it would be best to move this ped-friendly activity back to, you know, promoting livable streets.
Three-year-old Anneliese Diep rocks a Close The Gap balloon. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
A children's take on the I-710 expansion project includes open roads with no pedestrians. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Participants relax near the front of residences on Fremont Boulevard. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Carnaval games get the cars treatment. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
Drive, a Cars cover band, plays to a crowd of one nearing the end of the event. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog
The 710 expansion makes families happy. I'd love to see Streetsblog editor's children's take on the project. Kris Fortin/LAStreetsblog

And, here’s a treat from Lauren Gold on Alhambra’s amazing civic pride:

Go to the website to view two videos.


A Very Bad Idea for Alhambra!


Information flyer for Alhambra:









Six tips for safe cycling in the city

http://grist.org/living/six-tips-for-safe-cycling-in-the-city/?utm_campaign=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&sub_email=pdrouet@earthlink.net

By Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan, July 12, 2013

 You'll feel mighty accomplished after your first successful city cycling trip.

 You’ll feel mighty accomplished after your first successful city cycling trip.



What does it take to truly join the elite tribe that is urban cyclists? Do you have to achieve Paperboy levels of expertise: master the left turn in traffic, negotiate vanishing bike lanes without missing a beat, learn to bunny-hop over open sewer drains? Or do you just have to successfully ride your bike in a city, even once? If it’s the latter, break out the champagne — ’cause I’m in the club, baby.

I earned my spokes earlier this week, when I decided it was high time I got out of my relatively quiet neighborhood and into some real city traffic. I haven’t taken this step before because, frankly, riding into the morass of buses, cars, and trucks on the downtown streets freaked the hell out of me. But after getting inspired at a recent bike symposium, I steeled myself to give it a try.

If you’re standing where I was just a few days ago — on the outside, looking wistfully at the urban bike crew — let me be the first to encourage you to go for it. Get the basics down first, then lean a little closer. I’ll share a few of my hard-won lessons, too.

1. Think like a cyclist.

One of my biggest hurdles to biking anywhere beyond my neighborhood: the epic hill that lies between me and pretty much every other destination in the city. The shortest route downtown is particularly intimidating, careening straight down a slope that drops 250 feet over the course of half a mile. Um, no thank you.

But then I realized: Man, you’re thinking like a driver. Just because that hill is the easiest route for a car doesn’t mean it’s the best way for your newfound urban cycling self. It was an answer so obvious I didn’t even see it at first: Find another way.


2. Tap your route-planning tools.

OK, but which way? I first turned to Google Maps’ cycling directions tool. The mapmakers cheerfully routed me down the gentler west side of my neighborhood hill, keeping the screaming descents to a minimum before directing me onto a semi-busy street straight to the city center. But, hmm — would that congested road really be the best way to go? I wasn’t so sure, so I opened my Seattle cycling map, a free brochure I picked up at the library that views the city through
two-wheeled glasses: a network of bike lanes, “sharrows,” signed bike routes, and off-street paths. The street in question wasn’t singled out as particularly bike-friendly, so I decided I’d deviate around it on my way down. After a few more minutes comparing Google to the paper map, I pieced together a route I felt reasonably comfortable attempting — but just in case, I slipped the bike map into my bag.

3. There is no shame in walking the bike.

I hopped into the saddle and pedaled off. Hey, this isn’t so bad! I thought, cruising more gradually downhill via the recommended route. But then I swung east, crossing the aforementioned murder slope, and started down my alternate path. It was then I learned a hard truth about cycling in Seattle: Sometimes, your choices are steep and steeper. Even though this wasn’t the worst way down the hill, it was still dramatic enough to cramp my hands over my brakes like crab claws.

So, dear reader, I got off and walked. After just two blocks, the grade relaxed enough for me to jump back on and continue my ride. Now, wasn’t that easier than a) somersaulting over the handlebars, b) riding in futile circles trying to find a better way down, or c) giving up the cycling thing altogether?

4. In fact, embrace your hybrid nature.

In just a few minutes, I reached that busy street I’d already planned to avoid. My workaround: Just ride through the large pedestrian complex located right next to it (hey, I didn’t see any CYCLISTS WILL BE SHOT ON SIGHT signs). This, in practice, didn’t turn out to be the best idea. It being a sunny summer day and all, the place was packed with wanderers moving in jellyfish-like hordes. Rather than risk mowing down an unsuspecting tourist, I again jumped off the bike and walked whenever the crowds got too thick. It wasn’t exactly rapid transit, but I made my way out.

I was now getting into the outskirts of downtown, a confusing mass of construction zones, busy arterial roads, streets that abruptly turn one-way, and weird diagonal intersections. And here, I suddenly realized what an advantage it was to be both a part of traffic and not a part of it. How many times have you been stuck behind the wheel in slow-moving traffic and longed to yank the wheel sideways, driving over the sidewalk to freedom? Or seen your destination right there, but had to drive around two blocks to get there because of one-ways, no-turn signs, and medians? On a bike, none of this applies. Whenever the road started feeling dicey, or I saw a shortcut to my destination that the street couldn’t reach, I simply pulled over (safely, of course), got off, and melted into the cityscape, right to where I wanted to go. Then, bam, I rejoined traffic smoothly whenever the obstacle was past. This must be what it’s like to be a shape shifter.

5. Assume all cars want to kill you.

To my relief, I didn’t have any close calls or scary moments riding downtown. This might be because I was feeling extra-defensive. On a bike, you’re painfully aware of how small and fragile you are next to the armored vehicles of death with which you share the road. Now, I don’t really think drivers want to kill bikers. But some drivers aren’t really paying attention, or don’t have bikes on their radars, and others might honestly just not see you. Either way, in any collision, you, as the cyclist, are holding the losing hand. Cars turning right in front of you, zooming through yellow-turning-red lights, opening their street-side doors: Assume all want to flatten you, and you’ll be ready.

6. Just ride up the damn hill already.

I made it downtown, locked up my bike, ran my errands, and was soon facing the flip side of the hill problem. My planned route took me back on yet another road, this one with an uphill bike lane. If I wanted to make a habit of this cycling thing, I needed to face up. So I switched gears, took a breath, and went for it. Did I get all sweaty? Did my quads burn? Yes and yes. But did I make it — in even less time than the typical bus ride? Also yes! Hear me roar! I made it downtown and back in one piece!

Have you already mastered city riding? Just recently joined the ranks? What tips and tricks have helped you? Share in the comments section below, s’il vous plait.

Coming to Your Neighborhood!

From Sylvia Plummer, July 12, 2013

Those living in El Sereno, Alhambra and Pasadena take a look at the boring machines that will be at the SR-710 portal locations.  Below is a good visual and description of the boring machine and how it works.  













 

Metro's Doug Failing stated publicly that they are considering using 4 machines at once.  I wonder if he has given much consideration to the amount of dirt they would be moving in a day.  Based on information that was provided at the TAC meeting on April 24, 2013,  5 million cubic yards of dirt will be removed per portal.   So for each portal that makes 294,000 truckloads of dirt (17 cubic yards per truck).  Over 17,000 truck loads from each portal.  Where will the dirt be hauled?  Some dirt will be stored on site to use for the "cover" of the "cut and cover" portal construction.  No details have been specified for minimizing impacts due to windblown dirt or muddy runoff during rain storms.


Reference on page 70 & 71 from Metro's SR710 TAC meeting, April 24, 2013:

How Nimby's Hurt California - Op-Ed

From Sylvia Plummer, July 12, 2013

his Los Angeles Times opinion piece starts of talking about housing, then the SR710 is mentioned:

"the fact that the 710 Freeway doesn't connect to the 210 Freeway as it was designed to, along with countless other regional planning failures, can be traced to NIMBYism. "

This needs some comments from the NO 710 camp.
 
 http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-thornberg-nimbyism-los-angeles-20130712,0,7243249.story
 
By Christopher Thronberg, July 12, 2013
 Casden West L.A. development
 
 A rendering shows the proposed Casden West L.A. development slated for Pico and Sepulveda boulevards.
 
 
 
If you haven't heard, another major housing development in Los Angeles has been substantially scaled back as a result of local interest groups and the support they receive from populist politicians. Casden West L.A. was planning to build more than 600 housing units with 160,000 square feet of retail space in West Los Angeles on the new Metro Expo Line. Yet after years of wrangling with various groups, the current plan calls for the retail space to be shrunk by 90% and the number of residences reduced by 7%. Of the residences, more than 10% will have an "affordable" status, meaning other units will be priced commensurately higher to subsidize them.

Maybe this doesn't sound too draconian, but the outcome of this project is all too familiar. And Los Angeles is suffering for it.

Amazingly, the same people and politicians leading the charge against developers trying to build badly needed homes in the Los Angeles region are also the ones who complain that the highways are too crowded, who rail that their children cannot afford a home in their neighborhood and wonder why some businesses choose to leave for other destinations. These local interests have helped create a housing shortage over the last two decades through pressure tactics that push most growth in the housing stock to the suburban periphery, retail development into a few small dense clusters and drive land prices in the center of cities to levels that are out of reach for most of the population.

GRAPHIC: Casden Project

And this is true throughout coastal California. Add up the downsized and failed projects, and the net result is a state housing shortage. Seven of the 10 least-affordable housing markets in the nation are in California.

California's lack of housing is by far the greatest threat to our economic growth. Many businesses cannot hope to compete in national markets when they have to pay workers far more here so those workers can afford a place to live.

What is particularly astounding in the Casden case is that it was a "smart" development — a large project located on one of the light-rail lines that could one day end up being the primary transportation network in a region with an increasingly gridlocked road system. It was proposed to be a mixed-use development, allowing local residents to walk or ride their bikes to shop.

It is no small concern that local NIMBY — "not in my backyard" — groups are consistently able to wield a disproportionate amount of power and threaten even "smart" projects. They delay projects by years and drive up the costs because of legal fees, lobbying and political contributions.

But then, California has honed NIMBYism into a state specialty. Another example is the Il Villaggio Toscano project in Sherman Oaks. First proposed in 2004, the project planned to turn an empty lot on Sepulveda Boulevard into a multi-use complex with 500 residential units and some high-end retail space. In May, the Sherman Oaks Neighborhood Council finally approved it as a 399-unit project — a 20% decrease in the number of housing units. Some members of the council are moving to have it shrunk even more. And these votes are just advisory, as the project ultimately has to be approved by the Planning Commission and the L.A. City Council. The project was almost certainly affected by the financial crisis of recent years, but NIMBY groups also played a major role in the delays and revisions, with home and property owner groups opposing the development citing the usual: noise, traffic, congestion.

The inability to upgrade LAX, the fact that the 710 Freeway doesn't connect to the 210 Freeway as it was designed to, along with countless other regional planning failures, can be traced to NIMBYism. But with housing, the results are tragic. Los Angeles has some of the most overcrowded housing conditions in the nation, leading to a wide variety of social problems. Still, the very politicians who support NIMBY activities are the same ones who decry high housing costs, blame greedy landlords and developers, and push to pass rules on rent control, affordable housing mandates and other such market distortions.

Want cheaper housing? Highways that aren't packed with commuters making 30-mile treks? Cleaner air, a more profitable rail system, more businesses moving in and the ability to walk to shopping? The answer is densification — allowing developers to build these type of developments to the fullest extent possible. Do you want to see a system that doesn't seem to rely on insider influence and political contributions? The answer is simplification — making the process quicker, fairer and transparent.

The solutions are simple.

• Reduce permitting fees and speed up the time it takes to receive them.

• Substantially reform the California Environmental Quality Act, particularly as it relates to residential development, by streamlining the process to make it much faster, less costly and more predictable, and by altering the rules that allow many groups to abuse the process.

• Redo the tax system at the local level, rewarding cities for developing housing rather than retail and office space.

• Create a clear set of zoning rules up front that determine what a developer can or cannot do.
The changes are simple, but the politics of enacting such changes are complex. The first step is for Californians to realize that we are the source of many of the problems that dog our state. And while we may pine for a past of low-density neighborhoods and free-moving highways, growth is inevitable. Working with it, rather than against it, is ultimately the path to the best future.

710 Day & 2,000 Attendees? Video by Joe Cano

Joe Cano posted on Facebook July 12, 2013:

So where are the 2,000 people, in Harry Baldwin's pocket getting some shade more than likely.
 Considering the majority of people wearing blue 'Close The Gap' t-shirts were Alhambra City workers, even if they lived in Alhambra, this comes no where near the 2,000 attendees claimed by the city manager. Paid employees standing around on public tax payer's money waving signs, t-shirt, bag & beach ball giveaways all give the impression this is 'gift of the publics money'. All highly suspect & possibly illegal. Time for an investigation by the state AG of this City Council.
 
 
 

710 Tunnel Toll Shock to Alhambra Residents

https://www.facebook.com/ILoveAlhambra

(Peggy Drouet: We in Pasadena knew of the toll that would be charged to use the proposed 710 tunnel somewhere back over a year ago, but the citizens of Alhambra seem to just finding out about it now. Something definitely is wrong here with Alhambra's outreach to its own residents. Purposely done? It must be so.)

Comments on the I Love Alhambra Ca Facebook site:




I`m Pissed ! 710 Fwy Extension 99% sure it will be a Toll rd.

And that is not good for 90% of the people and 190,000 more autos and trucks will go from 6 lanes down to 2 to get ready to enter into a double decker tunnel but once all that traffic see`s that they have to pay then guess what ? Yes off on Valley which produces more traffic so No less traffic and you have to pay for it.

I was for the extension all my life until today that I heard that it will be a Toll rd, I say Hell NO ! What do you say now ?



  • Kristen Messina Puccinelli How can an "I Love Alhambra" FB page be against the 710? The City of Alhambra needs to close the gap to alleviate traffic and pollution on its city streets. Sure, some people may not want to pay a toll, but many will, and that will be that many less cars exiting into Alhambra and creating congestion on Valley and Fremont.

  • Angelo Glorioso I say, people WILL pay a toll if it gets them somewhere faster. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!!

    I Love Alhambra Ca replied · 5 Replies · 7 hours ago
  • Rex Berry Freeway yes! Toll road...NO! People are tired of paying for the state's mistakes!

    Cyndee Farrell I say be neutral on this page and don't talk about your personal opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. on a I Love Alhambra page. Inform us, yes! Entertain us, yes! Personal Opinions....not so much.
  • Teresa Messina Juarez Also they will not collect tolls indefinitely. It is for a defined period to cover the cost of the road. Please don't base your opinion on facts you've collected from a no710 website.
  • Glen Stanley I would expect nothing less from the idiot democrats that run LA County and Calif. The #91 toll started out at 50 cents, not its $5.

    I Love Alhambra Ca Glen Stanley Nice comment and you are so right and they want to start it at above $5.00 oh boy !
  • Rich Gilliam Forget it, don't build it. This wont do anything for traffic. It will create some jobs for awhile but that's it. This is a joke. So the state of California just wants more of your tax dollars ? I think the City of Alhambra should now fight the construction and try to stop the 710 (sorry to say that)

    I Love Alhambra Ca Rich I think you are really Right ! I would have more respect for them if they did fight ! thanks - rich

  • Lupe Caballero This 710 fwy issue has been going on even before I was born! I think by now Cal trans and/or state of California should stop wasting our tax dollars for studies, etc. I live near the proposed route and I wouldn't want a toll road, tunnel, freeway, etc., close to my home. It's a nice quiet area and I hope it stays that way. I know some people think differently and for that I'm sorry. Thanks!
    L
  • Christina Garcia Sons of Bitches! A toll road?!!...They knew people would hate this idea, thats why they had their little festival during the week in the middle of the day! How convienant! Only unemployed people who don't drive anywhere important can attend. Yeah perfect! Give them t-shirts, fans on a stick, balloon animals and shoot confetti in their faces and they'll love it! Meanwhile they prob slightly mentioned "oh yeah btw the expansion includes a toll road cough*"...pfftt!!...
  • William Paul Shivers To take a suggestion from someone else... Extend the 710 to Huntington Drive, It can then be South Pasadena's problem....

  • Ignacio Mata How can anyone who Alhambra be against the 710 no matter if it's a toll rd. Is the creator of I Love Alhambra a South Pas resident? Close the gap!!!

  • Tawnya Lange I like any change that improves traffic movement and gets a few people off our Alhambra roads...people will pay - it may not have to be Alhambran's - but I think the road should be finished to provide an option.

  • Suzanne LePage Please just finish the darn freeway it's been like that since I've been born

  • I Love Alhambra Ca Yes who uses Toll rds now only about 10% of the people and that is not a good reason to spend 10 billion dollars and It will not ease the traffic but worsen it !

    Denice Zabinski Leave it to Jerry Brown to screw the people of CA again (and again)!!!!
  • Shelley Cavallaro Kresan I say no to all toll roads in California. That what our taxes are SUPPOSED to pay for.

  • Teresa Messina Juarez They all exit now and create traffic on our streets. With the extension many will stay on the freeway. The toll road allows the extension to be built without a lot of extra taxpayer money. I say do a little more research on the topic before you change your opinion.

  • Marc Gilutin Well, on the positive side, it'll ease up the traffic on Fremont and Fair Oaks a little.
    L
    Linda Malcor Who's saying its going to be a toll road? Is it going to be a toll tunnel? Whatever "they" say it's going to be, I doubt any of us will see it in our lifetime.
  • Alvaro Bob Gonzales NOW you are starting to see the rhetoric that Metro & CalTrans have been spreading. AND...the state cannot even afford what the tunnel would cost to build!!!

  • Carmelita MacPherson-Haltom Imagine that! Karma...So. Pas, Pas etc.

    Tom Hernandez Really? A toll road? HELL NO!!
    I say build the fwy above ground so everybody can use it. South Pasadena get over it. Its called progress.
  • Sharon James I waited 30 years and nothing was done..so if it will be a toll road it will take another 30 years...it is such a short distance. The toll roads are so much better than FW's plus they maintain them. I do NOT see it happening. We will all be dead by then.

  • Michael Strauss I am sick of our government all they do is find ways to rip us off and yes we do need that freeway 2 is the traffic on the streets

    I say yes to the 710 no to toll roads and in peach our government officials for not doing their job which is supposed to look out for us

    Is there anyway we can fight this this is bullshit

  • Michael James It's been 40+ years, forget the toll. You wont be around when its finished anyway. The city of Pas. must have a BIG cut of the pie to go against the moneyholders . By the time its all said and done they will need a double-decker for the area.

  • Kristen Messina Puccinelli California drivers need to realize that toll roads are the future. I just spent 10 days on the East Coast and paid a toll on every road I drove on in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. And what about the carpool lanes on the 10 and 110 freeways being a pay toll now? See, it's simply the future of transportation. Not a hidden agenda...

  • Frank Bodeman well I say put a toll exit on Valley blvd also that would move the traffic LOL

  • Linda L Moody I don't mind tolls as long as it's used for repairs. I say yes!

    Teresa Messina Juarez Also the website you reference is a no 710 website

  • Carilla Clements Ummm toll roads r an elitist ploy to keep the supposed middle class happy...tell a single parent ur in favor wen they only have 20¢ in their change tray n have to travel another route only to b late in picking up their kids from school cus they dont have enuff for the tolls...n pls dont say they should b more prepared...Lord have mercy!


  • Michael Beltran How about Toll until the construction costs are paid for? WIN/WIN

    Tom Hernandez The whole point of the 710 is to get cars off of Freemont.
    YES ON 710!!
    NO ON TOLL ROAD!!
  • Steven Lam People will pay to use this road and it's going to be more than 10%. Just look at all the things people pay for nowadays out of convenience and time savings to keep up with the hustle bustle...smart phones with higher cost service fees, hybrid vehicles for that carpool sticker to get to somewhere faster (when it was offered of course). For those that choose not to pay for it as a toll road, it stills benefits you because all you have to do is take the exit and take the old route (and your old route will be less congested).

  • Ernie Santiago Continue the 710.

  • Ray Edey Good reason to move to palm desert.

  • Brunie Sirias No on 710!!!!!!!

  • Patty Slimak They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot!

    Frank Romero Thank South Pasadena. You live in Los Angeles county not Mayberry. Funny they have no problems tearing up Fremont and polluting their neighbors.

    Dulcy Jenkins That's just one of the proposals, and a yukky one, but ONE of the proposals.


  • Joelanda Presley It's all part of South Pasadenas plan. Its been that way for years.

    Elena Solorzano No to 710 extension.
  • Sandra Montoya I don't think it will ever be completed let alone a toll road!

    Adrian Alexander Garcia Theyve been going back and forth on this for decades. It's about as sure as a Football team coming into town and a stadium being built for it.
  • Dan Georgino I say it should go where it was supposed to. Someone built on that land when they were not supposed to. Now move them and build the freeway.

  • LR Garcia UNLIKE! The 710 is just as bad as the 5 freeway and now they want to make it worse!? I was alsready pissed off when they made the 10 freeway carpool lane into a toll lane now I am just furious

  • Chuck San Dimas I could care less. Bulldose the houses or make it a toll road. Can see it from San Dimas and don't plan on staying in California. Too many liberals and high taxes. What's worse is that everyone compains but does nothing to change it. Same crappy politicians screwing California.

    Carilla Clements Once again we pay for our own freedom...ugh
     
     Alex Gonzales No freeway

      • Christina Garcia Captain Kelly, telling it like it is!...

      • Yvonne Hahni No to toll road. None of the major freeways I saw built in the last 55 years were toll roads. Toll roads are the new kid on the block. There should be better ways.

      • Frank Rizzio Glad I bailed outta there in 89

        Flexjenpenizzy CA More cars, more traffic, more smog, more polution..No thanks..

        Crystal Vargas Sucks that it will be a toll road..i guess i will stick with taking Fremont all the way up



      • Susan Bowen McGregor anyone who lives near this freeway, i.e. the 210 corridor will be sorry - eithr way, but toll road sucks

        Teresa Messina Juarez There are toll roads Orange County

        Shelly Sovern Garrett I don't believe there has ever been a toll on any roads in California before-I may be wrong...wow. I can't imagine that doing anything but create delays...that's crazy



      • Teresa Messina Juarez I still don't see your logic. How will it create "more traffic" on Valley when right now the freeway ends on Valley and all the through traffic is dumped out onto Valley.

      • Leslie Almeida there are meetings being held all week, informational sessions for people in neighborhoods that will be effected by this. i am one of them, so i say NO!
      • Jesse Cruz what about all the people losing their homes? and guess who's paying for it.. all of us..
        and you all know tons of money will be wasted, as that's what the government is good at, wasting other people's money.

        Isaac Elisaldez Tolls thems, I says!!

        Terry Stanley Don't like toll rds don't go to Baja



      • Frank Snyder Land was California's anyway move them away with imminent domain. That route will make everyone's life easier!

        Denice Zabinski AMEN @Chuck San Dimas!!!


      • Linda Trevillian I have NEVER read ANYWHERE that is will be a toll road. And I wonder where you saw/read/heard that. Perhaps there will be an HOV lane like other freeways have. But, those are optional.
         
        My Comments (which no one yet has replied to): 
         
         Who do you think will be paying the tolls for the 710 tunnel for your elected officials? Could it be you, the taxpayers, a good number of you who won't be able to afford the tolls yourselves? Who pays the tolls for these people now for them to use the 110 and 10 toll lanes? Something to find out.
         
         The traffic on the 210 is horrendous much of the day now and keeps getting worse. Add to it the truck traffic from the 215 that will travel on the 210 to the 710 tunnel to get to the ports and vice versa and you will have massive gridlock. That should not take long to happen after the tunnel is built. So what would be the solution? Simple, build a new east-west freeway through Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead, Temple City and El Monte to the 605. Don't expect Pasadena to fight a new east-west freeway. They would welcome anything to reduce traffic on the 210.