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, September 3, 2013

10 Things To Get Over About Los Angeles And 10 Things It Will Teach You To Love

No really, I’m sick of it. Get over it. Stop whining. Here is a list of things I’m tired of hearing about Los Angeles and a list of things I think people should learn to love instead.

 http://www.buzzfeed.com/iang18/10-things-to-get-over-about-los-angeles-and-10-thi-eg04

August 31, 2013


1) Hating the San Fernando Valley

1) Hating the San Fernando Valley
 
 
40% or so of Angelenos live in the Valley. More than the population of Philadelphia. If you live in LA and know more than 10 people you probably know someone who lives in the Valley. Sure, it’s a newer, sprawl-ier place than a lot of Los Angeles. Sure, it’s typically 10 degree (F) hotter than a lot of Los Angeles. Sure, it doesn’t have quite the cultural facilities like some other parts of Los Angeles. But let’s not get started on the lack of interesting qualities in a lot of places from where you might have moved.

Plenty of awesome stuff comes from the valley. Do you like movies from Disney, Warner Brothers or Universal? Do you watch television on CBS, ABC or NBC? Have a problem with Marilyn Monroe? Or anyone on this list?

GET OVER IT!

2) There are no seasons in Los Angeles

 
 
Okay, I understand that you might miss a crisp fall day with the leaves changing if you live in New England. In Los Angeles, that’s the depth of Winter.

Sure snow is pretty when it’s falling or has recent fallen, but does anyone look forward to shovelling it? Or when it turns to dirty slush? Or the sidewalk ices over and you risk your life to shuffle down the street?

Oh, and Spring, don’t start with Spring. Spring is all in bloom and green in May… after two months of rainy wet and mud.

LA has winter… it’s drizzly or brisk and cool. Sometimes you need a jacket or a sweater, but at least you can still get around without special tires or digging the walk out. LA has spring… it’s beautiful and green, and the air clears up, and there are lots of wildflowers in bloom… spring in LA is gorgeous. Summers can get hot, but we have great beaches AND it is, in fact, a dry heat, so you can use a FAN or OPEN YOUR WINDOWS instead of running the AC most of the time. It still cools off at night so there is respite! And LA has Fall… it’s bright and clear like Spring, some trees do lose their leaves, and you don’t have to worry about snow on Halloween or Thanksgiving.

GET OVER IT!

3) Everyone is in the Industry

3) Everyone is in the Industry
 
 
That’s like saying that EVERYONE in Detroit works for the auto industry. Or, everyone in San Francisco works at a Start-up. Or, everyone in Houston works for Oil and Gas companies. Or, everyone Austin is trying to start a band… There are lots and lots of people who don’t work in the Industry and don’t really care about the Industry. You know how many people living in Los Angeles are in “entertainment occupations”? In 2001 it was 1.8%! Yup, 98.2% of the people who live in Los Angeles do not work in entertainment. If you find yourself surrounded by people “in the industry” you’re missing out on, literally, over 4 million people who work in Los Angeles. It’s less than 75,000 people that work in entertainment. And you know what, it doesn’t make all 75,000 of those people famous and rich, for many it’s a job, it puts food on the table and your kids through college.

GET OVER IT!

4) Los Angeles has no Public Transit

4) Los Angeles has no Public Transit
 
 
Los Angeles has the second largest bus system in the US behind New York City. Which makes sense, because it is the second largest city in the US. It has the third largest transit system by ridership in the US as well.

Why do people think there is no transit? Some guesses:

- There is no single center. New York’s subway is built to get you to Manhattan, especially Mid Town and lower… where people from outside of Manhattan, or the residential parts of Manhattan work. Chicago gets you Downtown too. It’s easier to plan a system if you’re really focused on getting people to a concentrated single area for work.

-There are literally dozens of other transit systems from surrounding and overlapping cities like Culver City’s Bus, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus, Foothill Transit and so on, which don’t always play nice with each other.

So it’s not that it isn’t there, it’s that it’s really complicated and people just don’t want to figure it out. So they jump in the car.

GET OVER IT!

5) Los Angeles is a Desert

5) Los Angeles is a Desert
 
 
NO it’s not. Is it a hold over from the politicking about the Owens Valley Aquaduct? Is it an out-dated or inaccurate definition? Is it all of those things? Yes.

GET OVER IT!

6) Los Angeles has no Culture

 
 
First of all, as the primary center of the entertainment industry in the US, the “no culture” argument doesn’t hold water… it’s the epicenter of the majority of this country’s cultural exports in the form of popular entertainment. So is the argument that it’s High Culture? When did we all get so posh?

Los Angeles is pretty well established as a center for visual art, film, architecture, literature… it’s got a lot of everything. And for theatre, it has over 300 professional theaters. If you don’t know where to find the theater, here is a list.

How about LACMA, MOCA, the A+D Museum, the Hammer, Barnsdall, the Fowler (on UCLA’s campus), the Getty Center, the Getty Villa, LACE, MAK Center, REDCAT, Skirball, SPARC, 18th Street, Bergamot, This list of current gallery showings from Art Forum

I mean I could go on. But if you think Los Angeles is without culture, you’re just lazy.

GET OVER IT!

7) Los Angeles is a Sprawling Suburb

7) Los Angeles is a Sprawling Suburb
 
 

At nearly 2,000 more people per square mile on average than New York, you can’t compare Manhattan to Culver City and call it a day.

Where do you think the traffic comes from? It’s people, commuting, from one place to another. I already pointed out the lack of center to the city, so people move from where they live to where they work, somewhere in the great expanse of Los Angeles, which is actually just much more evenly distributed in terms of density than east coast cities.

What LA is is BIG. It’s massive. It is widely spread out, spilling into neighbouring cities and counties… and there are A LOT of people there too, distributed in hundreds of communities, living in any number of configurations, speaking literally hundreds of languages (the LA Almanac says 224) .

GET OVER IT!

8) Los Angeles is here to Entertain You

10 Things To Get Over About Los Angeles And 10 Things It Will Teach You To Love
 
 
So you moved to Los Angeles and everywhere you go there are stupid, fake people, eating stupid hippie BS food at “brunch” every hour of the day, who don’t seem to do anything except for talking about their screenplays and or doing a cleanse. They get in their stupid hybrid car and drive to the gym to walk on a treadmill so they look great illiterately begging for skin cancer at the beach….

Source: Every post about how people hate living in LA. and then every comment where someone corroborates this image of LA in their brief time living there.

NEWS FLASH: You’re lazy.

This is akin to saying New Yorkers are rude. New Yorkers aren’t rude, they just don’t want to deal with your BS, so could you kindly get the heck out of their way.

Yeah and Los Angeles isn’t a monkey here to dance for you. Put some effort into it.

Los Angeles rewards exploration. Small cafes, independent book shops and art galleries, awesome music stores, the best movie going experiences in the country, year-round farmers markets, live music for all tastes, a great variety of cultures and foods, an amazing public library system, loads of significant architecture, great parks, plentiful sporting events, amazing street food, the most interesting magic/burlesque scene, arts colonies, urban agriculture, historic sites, experimental theater…

Yeah, and there is Brunch. Brunch is awesome too. But there is also the ruins of nazi come hippie commune along a river with a waterfall you could check out off of Sunset too. You just have to put in some effort.

GET OVER IT!

9) No one is “from” Los Angeles

9) No one is "from" Los Angeles
 
 
That’s a picture of Good Samaritan Hospital (well the 1920s building, there is a lot more to it). But, as a hospital of many buildings, people are born in some of those buildings. It is in Los Angeles.

There are a lot of us “natives”, but we’re sort of treated like Unicorns. Why? Because a lot of people move to LA. They move to LA and their networks are based on friends of friends… on school and college relationships… on aspiring to being in entertainment… on thinking it would be great to live in LA… on enjoying the sunny weather…. you know, name a thing. But none of these mean you’re going to interact with people from Los Angeles. This holds true for where ever you might move.

Truth is, the people you never meet from Los Angeles are busy living in Los Angeles. You know: working, paying rent, going out with friends, taking out the trash. It’s a place, full of people. People have kids. Kids grow up. They stay or they don’t.

End of Story

GET OVER IT!

10+) Privilege.

10+) Privilege.

Here are some common complaints as a sub-list, a meta-list if you will. It’s an inception list:

1) It all looks the same - That’s right, the 1930s apartment blocks of Korea Town are identical to the 1950s ranch homes of the Valley and the late 19th century Victorian homes of Angeleno Heights.

2) Nobody Walks/Takes Transit - True… if you think that only people with the means to buy and operate a car are people.

3) The air sucks - Yeah, if you insist on driving everywhere, the air is going to suck. Luckily, even with a booming population, the air is continuing to get better.

4) The traffic sucks - Yeah, if you insist on driving everywhere, the traffic is going to suck. Luckily, with the extra sales tax Angelenos voted to impose on themselves, we have lots of ambitious transit projects happening all the time. But it’s hard to keep up with so many people moving here all the time with their cars.

5) Hippie Sh*t - I’m glad you have enough leisure time and disposable income to indulge in the exploration of non-western traditions, organic/vegetable based diets, and other forms of non-normative lifestyle choices that you’re bored.

6) There is no History - Except for the Indigenous populations displaced by hundreds of years of Spanish Colonialism, formerly being part of Mexico, the late 19th century oil boom, and the rise of mass entertainment. But, no we don’t have that many art deco skyscrapers…

7) The bagels and the pizza - Two things. First, you’re wrong and lazy. Second, Tacos. Yeah, the first things was two things, think of the value. But if you primarily value your location based on its access to the cuisine of a primarily European diaspora which immigrated to the US in large numbers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, you shouldn’t move to the clear opposite side of the continent from where they would have entered the population, and which is more heavily populated with those who will have emigrated from Central America, South America and Asia (or were just already here) ?

8) It is all about movies and money and dominated by shallow celebrity culture - If you’re primarily interacting with less than 2% of the population of a city (see above).

9) So many broken dreams - You mean failed actors stuck waiting tables? Or do you just mean people who, despite trying and working hard, can’t catch a break and are having a hard time trying to make ends meet? Welcome to the world. LA doesn’t have a corner on this market. Try to meet some folks just trying to give their kids more.

10) It’s dangerous - It’s a city. Crime is pretty low from where it once was. It’s a city. Some people have had life crap on them… it makes unfortunate things happen.

A lot of Los Angeles hate seems to originate from people coming to town and then wanting LA to be like some place else, just with better weather. It’s a unique place with its highs and lows like any gigantic, diverse, complicated city. It’s not like it’s a city under constant threat of chemical warfare from a brutal dictatorship… or the anxiety of daily suicide bombings. There is traffic congestion. It doesn’t snow. These are not unmanageable issues.

And, yeah, I think it smacks of I’ve-got-enough-to-complain-about-anything privilege. It says: I’m so threatened by the dangerous unfamiliar city, that I’m doing to pay too much for rent to remain in s specific safe enclave of people who don’t really engage with the city, which, let’s face, includes a disproportionately high number of people who have moved to Los Angeles to be in the entertainment industry…

GET OVER IT!

1) Learn to love the Natural Beauty

1) Learn to love the Natural Beauty
 
 
No natural beauty? Yeah, Right. With so many hills and mountains, there are so many places in the center and within 30 minute drive to leave the city behind. Sure Franklin, Runyon and Fryman canyons are crowded. Good thing there are HUNDREDS of options.

2) Learn to love the Literature

2) Learn to love the Literature
 
 
Los Angeles has a long history with the written word. Faulkner wrote the screenplay for the Big Sleep here. But, not everything written is for the camera. There is a thriving literary community in Los Angeles with plenty of wordsmiths who are not at all interested in a development deal with disney.
Check out the calendar here

3) Learn to love being a Pedestrian

 
 
Los Angeles was designed as a walking city. Where do you think all the staircases came from. Check ing out http://www.secretstairs-la.com/welcome.html.

4) Learn to love Transit

4) Learn to love Transit
 
 
There are a lot of nieghborhoods where being carless is easy. Some, because the density and walkability are desirable, can be more expensive, but without paying for a car, this can actually save.

Because the car based history of LA, there are parts of the city which are hard to reach in a timely fashion from transit. But it’s doable. AND, it’s pretty normal for a lot of the world.

5) Learn to love the Diversity of Food

 
 
Here is a good place to start. You can start embracing the ethnic diversity of Los Angeles through the food.

You can also get tours of various neighrborhoods on foot and based on food from companies like Six Taste. It’s worth it. Discover something.

Even better are the fly by night operations are picnic tables all around. Some argue that LA has the best tacos anywhere. I know there are lots of amazing tacos. Give up your bagels and pizza (which can be found anyway) and embrace a real and good taco!

6) Learn to love Personal Space

10 Things To Get Over About Los Angeles And 10 Things It Will Teach You To Love
 
 
What the hell is charming about spending your entire day within earshot of another person? I mean if you want that, you can have it in Los Angeles, sure. But what’s nice about a single family house? About being in the car by yourself? You can sing at the top of your lungs and no one cares.

Yeah, I get the appeal of casually running into people. But, this just means you need to put a little effort into it. I’ll take having personal space and needing to seek out social settings over constantly hum of human interaction all the time.

7) Learn to love Urban Argriculture

7) Learn to love Urban Argriculture
 
 
Yup

8) Learn to love Driving

8) Learn to love Driving
 
 
Yes, this is counter to my previous plea to learn to love transit. But, this is different. Driving can be enjoyable. Rent a car and cruise Mulholland, the canyons, or the Pacific Coast Highway…. or any number of scenic roads… and you’ll come to appreciate what can be nice about driving beyond the soul crushing monotony of a daily commute.

9) Learn to love the Movies

9) Learn to love the Movies
 
 
Yeah, I know how I’ve stressed the small percentage of people actually in the entertainment industry. But, since the industry is based here, you can take advantage of excellent quality screenings of just about any movie. I’ve never been to another city where I can count on proper focus and sound, or dream of selecting a seat, as one of the simple pleasures of enjoying mass entertainment.

10) Learn to love Not Complaining


This list is a complaint. I know. Don’t think you got me there, I know.

Los Angeles is not like other places. And that’s not to say it’s the unique and singular while other places aren’t. It’s just a fact. Los Angeles is not like other places and other places are not like Los Angeles. Just like I’m not you, and you’re not me.

A New Yorker, or anyone who has established an address in the New York City area for a length of time long enough to receive mail and then profess their love of the Big Apple, is going to find Los Angeles a big change. That goes for most cities that are around the same age or older than New York around the world. If you need a clear central hub of activity to be able to negotiate a city, then sure, Los Angeles isn’t going to work for you. That doesn’t mean it’s awful, it means it is different.

Conversely, someone from Houston might love the density and the drier weather. Someone from Phoenix might love that it’s slightly cooler, near the ocean and not in Arizona. This doesn’t mean that people from Houston or Phoenix are vapid, inane wannabe screenwriters and actors.They could be. They could also just like LA or have a new job in LA or any one of another myriad other reasons why someone would move from one place to another.

Traffic is bad, there is pollution and it’s a massive mess of humanity. But you need to get over that you might not like it. If you really dislike it, you’re welcome to leave. If you’re just whining, you’re welcome to STFU.

BONUS: Why we say “The” in front of the Highway Numbers/Names

BONUS: Why we say "The" in front of the Highway Numbers/Names
 
 
But let’s hit the “The” question regarding highways, I can name a few reasons that happens:

1) It’s faster… there are state routes, US highways and interstates all webbed together with unique numbers, so instead of saying that you’ll take I405 to Highway 101 to Route 170 to I5… which is sort of a stupid way to go… and you can’t get on the 170N from the 101S (which is actually going East as it goes there the SFV where these highways meet) , but would need to get off at Tujunga and head north to the riverside onramp for the 170N… you just would say you take the 405 to the 101 to the 170 to the 5. All freeways of different types.

2) The first freeway ever was THE Arroyo Seco Highway, which is now CA State Route 110 north of downtown LA…. it has a name and it gets a definite article like THE Hollywood Freeway (170) or THE Golden State Freeway (I5 north of downtown) or THE Ventura Freeway (Highway 101N through to Ventura) or THE Santa Monica Freeway west of Downtown or THE San Bernadino Freeway east of Downtown (both I10) or THE San Diego Freeway (I5 going south from Irvine where it joins the I405)… so when something just has a number it carries over.

3) The Arroyo Seco Highway is now State Route 110 north of downtown LA…south of downtown it becomes an Interstate (I110, The Harbor Freeway), but is the same freeway without an interruption. The 210 is also like this, part of it is an interstate and part of it is a state route (It changes in Glendora). So you can refer to the entire thing by using a definite article.

4) LA isn’t the only place that does this. In Canada… well at least Toronto…they say THE 400, THE 401, THE 403… all definite articles.

Why don’t other places do this? Cause they’re different places. Why do we say Soda and others say Pop. Popular vernacular is that way.

Tip-A-CHP

From Steve Madison, Pasadena City Councilmember


If you are in the Pasadena area on Thursday, September 5th, CHP officers will be at El Cholo Cafe accepting tips to benefit local Special Olympics Southern California Athletes. This will be a great event!


 

Smogtown: The Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles

http://sunroomdesk.com/2013/09/03/smogtownthe-lung-burning-history-of-pollution-in-los-angeles/

September 3, 2013

Book by Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly
Overlook Press, 2008



 Smogtown
 
Smogtown isn’t a new book, but the conflicts covered in its last chapters are still breaking news. The LA Times’ Trash talk and the real dirt on a toxic tour of Los Angeles, just featured one of Smogtown‘s history makers, Communities for a Better Environment. The group has been protesting pollution hazards, including those from freight transfer facilities, endured by communities along the 710 for the past 20 years.

The SR-710 extension gets a mention early on. The text contradicts claims that it is the “last remaining gap” in the system, saying that disgust with the results of freeway building scuttled almost 40 percent of the 1954 regional blueprint in the latter decades of the 20th century, including routes through Beverly Hills, Laurel Canyon and Pasadena.

The fight over building another freeway through Pasadena continues, however, pitting communities against each other. The Monrovia City Council will consider the city of Alhambra’s request for it to reaffirm a resolution supporting the SR-710 completion tonight (September 3) at its regularly scheduled 7:30pm meeting (Agenda Item AR-1). Representatives from Metro and Alhambra, as well as from communities opposing the SR-710 extension, will be there. Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena, and Sierra Madre officially oppose the proposed extension, and have petitioned Metro and Caltrans to fund transit options and focus on rail for goods movement to limit truck traffic.

A controversial transit line is now planned through Beverly Hills. Near Laurel Canyon, a huge project to widen the 405 is causing widespread disruption, and even before its completion another rail tunnel being proposed to alleviate traffic in the Sepulveda Pass.

The air near LA’s freeways: How dangerous? asks today’s LA Times, in a followup to its story a week ago about AQMD’s monitoring of freeway pollution. Now that the ACMD has been required by the courts to monitor freeway air pollution, what will it do if levels exceed federal standards? The Times editorial says “Forcing older diesel trucks off the road would be hugely expensive for a very localized problem.” This “localized” problem affects millions in Southern California, and truck accidents are frequent, dangerous, and sometimes fatal. A solution that takes large trucks off crowded urban roadways is needed for many reasons.

Pollution from port facilities / transport infrastructure made it into the book’s later history, and continue to make news today (see the Long Beach Business Journal report on the Top 5 Sources of Air Pollution in the Region). Imposing low- and zero-emission requirements on trucks going into and out of the port complexes continues to be controversial, as several owner/operators are solo business owners. Its also an incomplete solution that alleviates some air pollution, but doesn’t address congestion and traffic safety problems. Why not put freight on short-haul rail lines to distribution points throughout Southern California?

What didn’t make it into Smogtown are game-changing new proposals for goods movement that feature electrified rail: zero-emission, short-haul railcars that transport freight directly from the port to warehouses and transfer facilities. A system like GRID, now pursuing next steps at CleantechLA, could take thousands of trucks off urban roadways and eliminate much of the pollution from container transfer facilities along the 710.

A prominent name in Smogtown‘s early chapters is Caltech scientist Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, who first linked smog to tailpipe emissions in the 1950s and proved his case to industry detractors.
The earlier history in this book is entertaining and enlightening. In contrast with dry accounts of the decades-long struggle the auto industry waged to avoid emission limits, this book covers selected battles by focusing on personalities like Haagen-Smit and vendettas like the war waged on Detroit by Supervisor Kenneth Hahn for better pollution controls on cars. Its chapters make for great drama instead of dry documentary. Scientists, politicians, lobbyists and determined bureaucrats on both sides fight it out, while residents used to burning their trash and driving their cars suffer through smog alerts but are difficult to motivate.

Back to breaking news – a quote from the book that could have appeared in one of today’s columns:
Hudson Elementary School in Long Beach, California, lies along the busy Terminal Island Freeway, which carries trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Across the highway there’s a rail yard where diesel locomotives, like the trucks barreling past, carry cargo containers from the twin port complex. Emissions from the trucks and trains, not to mention from nearby ships, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities clustered around the port, have made the location of the elementary school one of the most polluted points in Los Angeles.

…Just beyond…lie two of the busiest intermodal shipping facilities in the nation…More than 30,000 trucks rumble through this neighborhood to its rail yards each day, spewing diesel soot all the way…The neighborhood also lies along Interstate 710, a freeway that the California Department of Transportation has proposed double-decking with special lanes to accommodate a projected doubling of freight trucks serving the port complex over the next decade.
Smogtown is great reading because much of the history it covers is still unfolding today: The BNSF Southern California International Gateway project, an inter-modal facility four miles from the port, is being actively opposed by the City of Long Beach, Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other groups. Long Beach is suing Los Angeles over approval of the SCIG EIR. The I-710 expansion EIR, in the works for years, is being held up and is actively opposed by a large coalition proposing its own Community Alternative 7. Further north, the No 710 Action Committee is urging Caltrans and Metro to seek rail alternatives for goods movement and fund more transit. The Committee opposes a roadway/tollway (it will almost certainly not be a freeway) connecting the I-710 to the 210 and facilitating more truck traffic through Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale and communities further east and west.

The Southern California Association of Governments and Mobility 21 are both petitioning the federal government to fund their proposed goods movement projects, and both organizations are actively promoting their long-term plans.

For more background on Southern California’s goods movement infrastructure, environmental justice movement, research on fine particulate pollution, and personalities still making news today, Smogtown is a great resource.
by Chip Jacobs and William J. Kelly
Overlook Press, 2008

Smogtown isn’t a new book, but the conflicts covered in its last chapters are still breaking news. The LA Times’ Trash talk and the real dirt on a toxic tour of Los Angeles, just featured one of Smogtown‘s history makers, Communities for a Better Environment. The group has been protesting pollution hazards, including those from freight transfer facilities, endured by communities along the 710 for the past 20 years.
The SR-710 extension gets a mention early on. The text contradicts claims that it is the “last remaining gap” in the system, saying that disgust with the results of freeway building scuttled almost 40 percent of the 1954 regional blueprint in the latter decades of the 20th century, including routes through Beverly Hills, Laurel Canyon and Pasadena.
The fight over building another freeway through Pasadena continues, however, pitting communities against each other. The Monrovia City Council will consider the city of Alhambra’s request for it to reaffirm a resolution supporting the SR-710 completion tonight (September 3) at its regularly scheduled 7:30pm meeting (Agenda Item AR-1). Representatives from Metro and Alhambra, as well as from communities opposing the SR-710 extension, will be there. Glendale, La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena, and Sierra Madre officially oppose the proposed extension, and have petitioned Metro and Caltrans to fund transit options and focus on rail for goods movement to limit truck traffic.
A controversial transit line is now planned through Beverly Hills. Near Laurel Canyon, a huge project to widen the 405 is causing widespread disruption, and even before its completion another rail tunnel being proposed to alleviate traffic in the Sepulveda Pass.
The air near LA’s freeways: How dangerous? asks today’s LA Times, in a followup to its story a week ago about AQMD’s monitoring of freeway pollution. Now that the ACMD has been required by the courts to monitor freeway air pollution, what will it do if levels exceed federal standards? The Times editorial says “Forcing older diesel trucks off the road would be hugely expensive for a very localized problem.” This “localized” problem affects millions in Southern California, and truck accidents are frequent, dangerous, and sometimes fatal. A solution that takes large trucks off crowded urban roadways is needed for many reasons.
Pollution from port facilities / transport infrastructure made it into the book’s later history, and continue to make news today (see the Long Beach Business Journal report on the Top 5 Sources of Air Pollution in the Region). Imposing low- and zero-emission requirements on trucks going into and out of the port complexes continues to be controversial, as several owner/operators are solo business owners. Its also an incomplete solution that alleviates some air pollution, but doesn’t address congestion and traffic safety problems. Why not put freight on short-haul rail lines to distribution points throughout Southern California?
What didn’t make it into Smogtown are game-changing new proposals for goods movement that feature electrified rail: zero-emission, short-haul railcars that transport freight directly from the port to warehouses and transfer facilities. A system like GRID, now pursuing next steps at CleantechLA, could take thousands of trucks off urban roadways and eliminate much of the pollution from container transfer facilities along the 710.
A prominent name in Smogtown‘s early chapters is Caltech scientist Arie Jan Haagen-Smit, who first linked smog to tailpipe emissions in the 1950s and proved his case to industry detractors.
The earlier history in this book is entertaining and enlightening. In contrast with dry accounts of the decades-long struggle the auto industry waged to avoid emission limits, this book covers selected battles by focusing on personalities like Haagen-Smit and vendettas like the war waged on Detroit by Supervisor Kenneth Hahn for better pollution controls on cars. Its chapters make for great drama instead of dry documentary. Scientists, politicians, lobbyists and determined bureaucrats on both sides fight it out, while residents used to burning their trash and driving their cars suffer through smog alerts but are difficult to motivate.
Back to breaking news – a quote from the book that could have appeared in one of today’s columns:
Hudson Elementary School in Long Beach, California, lies along the busy Terminal Island Freeway, which carries trucks from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Across the highway there’s a rail yard where diesel locomotives, like the trucks barreling past, carry cargo containers from the twin port complex. Emissions from the trucks and trains, not to mention from nearby ships, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities clustered around the port, have made the location of the elementary school one of the most polluted points in Los Angeles.
…Just beyond…lie two of the busiest intermodal shipping facilities in the nation…More than 30,000 trucks rumble through this neighborhood to its rail yards each day, spewing diesel soot all the way…The neighborhood also lies along Interstate 710, a freeway that the California Department of Transportation has proposed double-decking with special lanes to accommodate a projected doubling of freight trucks serving the port complex over the next decade.
Smogtown is great reading because much of the history it covers is still unfolding today: The BNSF Southern California International Gateway project, an inter-modal facility four miles from the port, is being actively opposed by the City of Long Beach, Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and other groups. Long Beach is suing Los Angeles over approval of the SCIG EIR. The I-710 expansion EIR, in the works for years, is being held up and is actively opposed by a large coalition proposing its own Community Alternative 7. Further north, the No 710 Action Committee is urging Caltrans and Metro to seek rail alternatives for goods movement and fund more transit. The Committee opposes a roadway/tollway (it will almost certainly not be a freeway) connecting the I-710 to the 210 and facilitating more truck traffic through Pasadena, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale and communities further east and west.
The Southern California Association of Governments and Mobility 21 are both petitioning the federal government to fund their proposed goods movement projects, and both organizations are actively promoting their long-term plans.
For more background on Southern California’s goods movement infrastructure, environmental justice movement, research on fine particulate pollution, and personalities still making news today, Smogtown is a great resource.
- See more at: http://sunroomdesk.com/2013/09/03/smogtownthe-lung-burning-history-of-pollution-in-los-angeles/#sthash.qnvjz757.dpuf

Can Drastic New Anti-Pollution Rules Help Clean Up Beijing's Air?

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/politics/2013/09/can-drastic-new-anti-pollution-rules-help-clean-beijings-air/6753/

By Emily Badger, September 3, 2013

 Can Drastic New Anti-Pollution Rules Help Clean Up Beijing's Air?
image of air pollution levels in Tiananmen Square over nine days in March of this year


The air quality in Beijing has grown so bad that it's begun to produce its own catch-22s. All that smog is starting to keep tourists away, but tourism is just the kind of less energy-intensive industry that China needs to develop. The city is hoping to ramp up its public bike-share system, in an effort to shift a majority of trips through the city center onto public transportation. But who would want to ride a bike in this atmosphere?

At least one perverse consequence could be helping. The pollution has gotten so awful that residents and officials long averse to addressing greenhouse gas emissions (at the expense of economic growth) are now clamoring for drastic solutions to its related problem: unbreathable air. As The New York Times reported over the weekend in a piece on the "silver lining" to China's smog:
“Air pollution was the perfect catalyst,” said Wai-Shin Chan, director of climate change strategy in Asia for HSBC Global Research in Hong Kong. “Air pollution is clearly linked to health, and the great thing is that everybody — that’s government officials and company executives alike — breathes the same air.”
In fact, officials in Beijing proposed new rules Monday that would seem unthinkable in the United States. The city already has a cap on new auto registrations available each month, creating a public lottery with long odds. In August, 1.6 million people applied for new automobile licenses, but only 22,000 are issued each month. Now, among a suite of new anti-pollution measures from the city, the restrictions on new cars will get even tighter. The city currently has about 5.35 million of them. Officials now want to ensure that number levels off at 6 million by 2017 (that would mean about 10,000 new permits each month over the next five years).

Also announced as part of the five-year plan: 1,200 of the biggest-polluting companies and factories will be ordered by the government to upgrade their facilities or shut down by 2016. In industries that miss their pollution reduction targets, no projects that would contribute new pollution will receive regulatory approval, as of this year.

Then there's this:
Companies who break environmental laws will be banned from receiving bank loans, fund-raising through initial public offerings and value-added tax breaks starting this year.
The goal is to cut harmful particulate matter in the air by 25 percent by 2017. According to the city's Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau, this is a "declaration of war against PM 2.5." The measures will undoubtedly be painful (and only government officials in a country like China could declare and enforce them). But the alternative now clearly means living in a city where surgical masks have become an depressingly common accessory:

   
Women wear face masks during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday in Beijing earlier this year. Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters.

The Los Angeles Times Wonders What Can Be Done About Freeway Pollution

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/09/03/the-los-angeles-times-wonders-what-can-be-done-about-freeway-pollution/

By Damien Newton, September 3, 2013

 This Freeway in San Diego is part of the problem. Is part of the solution building more freeways in San Diego?


The Los Angeles Times published a remarkable editorial today questioning why so little is done about the public health crisis caused by Southern California’s reliance on freeway travel. However, either because of confusion or lack of will, the editorial stops short of proposing any real solutions to the crisis. It merely note it exists.

The first step, is admitting you have a problem.

The Times reports:
University research over the years has found substantially worse air pollution adjacent to freeways, and worse health among nearby residents as well. A 2005 USC study concluded that children who lived within a quarter of a mile of a freeway were 89% more likely to have asthma than those living a mile away. The closer they lived to freeways, the higher the asthma rates. But these university studies, though they added to our collective knowledge, did not affect government regulations.
While the Times earns kudos for talking about the danger posed to those living near freeways, there are two points left out of the editorial that are crucial to understanding why freeway pollution is ignored in policy settings and informs just how difficult a battle to reign in said pollution will be.

The first is that there are powerful interests that want to see the current transportation system, a system that literally cripples and enfeebles the people that live near it, continued. Oil companies, car manufacturers, construction unions, are just some of the giants that will fight meaningful change in transportation policy unless the new policy involves clean car programs.

For examples, Xcel Energy is looking to pervert the democratic process in Boulder, Colorado because the city wants to convert to clean power. Locally, AAA and car dealerships have eschewed the public process to pull the levers of power behind the scene to attempt to block a road diet and protected bike lanes plan on South Figueroa Street.

The second problem missed by the Times is that the people whose lives are devastated by the pollution creating freeways are not the people creating the pollution. Traditionally, the communities dissected by asphalt scalpels are the poorest and least likely to wield power behind-the-scenes. Not coincidentally, they are also least likely to own cars and travel on a freeway for work/recreation/whatever.


The Times’ only proposed solution isn’t actually a solution at all, but a proposal to mitigate just a small portion of the impacts of our fossil-fuel transportation system. By suggesting air filters for residences near freeways, the Times’ wel intentioned solution would do nothing for people that spend part, or most, of their day outside.

If the Times’ is serious about reducing the destructive impacts of freeways on our region’s public health, the first step would be stopping the expansion of the network while the region builds out a transit system. That means opposing the 710 Big Dig. It means opposing the other 710 expansion project. It means fighting the 405 expansion in the O.C. It means exposing the ridiculous waste of the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Project. Transportation writer Laura Nelson is more than capable of writing these stories, the issue is whether researching and writing them will be a priority for the editorial board.

Sadly, “admitting you have a problem” is the easiest step in what would be a long battle against freeway impacts. The steps above don’t stop the damage that is already occurring, just slow its growth. The next step involves a campaign to halt highway expansion statewide while a Fix-It-First policy of road and transit repair goes into place. Once California has done that, the next step is working on some freeway removal.

If today’s editorial is the first of many needed steps to begin a real campaign, than kudos to the Times. If it’s just a one-shot editorial, the Times could have done more for the environment by saving the paper and not printing.

EDITORIAL: The air near L.A.'s freeways: How dangerous?

Pollution along the region's freeways has been ignored for too long. But what can be done to improve it?

 http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-freeway-pollution-20130903,0,1359178.story

 September 3, 2013

 Freeway pollution

 University research over the years has found substantially worse air pollution adjacent to freeways, and worse health among nearby residents as well.

You know something is off base when the regional air district monitors and regulates emissions from fire pits on Southern California's beaches, which affect a handful of homeowners, before it gets around to the 24/7 blasts of pollution along the area's freeways. That's not entirely the fault of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, though. Unhealthful emissions from cars and especially trucks along the freeways have fallen into a regulatory black hole until now.

The AQMD regulates only stationary polluters — industrial plants, residential fireplaces, fire pits and the like. But while the freeways are stationary, the cars and trucks that cause the pollution are mobile. So even though the freeways are emitting pollutants all the time — a never-ending source of ultra-fine particulate matter and other noxious emissions that repeated studies have linked to health problems among the people who live closest to them — they are not in fact regulated by the AQMD. In the four counties covered by the South Coast AQMD, that's more than 1 million people. The air district has done occasional spot monitoring, but none of its 35 permanent stations is near a freeway because such stations are supposed to measure regional, not localized, pollution levels. That's an outdated way of gauging the damage caused by air pollution, from before the health dangers of particulates were well understood.

A lawsuit filed last year by the nonprofit public law group Earthjustice forced the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop procrastinating on new rules for particulates. The recently adopted standards include requirements for permanent air monitors near freeways; the AQMD will install four of them by 2015.

University research over the years has found substantially worse air pollution adjacent to freeways, and worse health among nearby residents as well. A 2005 USC study concluded that children who lived within a quarter of a mile of a freeway were 89% more likely to have asthma than those living a mile away. The closer they lived to freeways, the higher the asthma rates. But these university studies, though they added to our collective knowledge, did not affect government regulations.

If the new AQMD monitoring stations find pollution levels that far exceed federal standards, the law will require that measures be taken. The question is, what measures? It would be far more complicated and difficult to regulate freeway pollution than, say, to require better filters at an industrial plant. Forcing older diesel trucks off the road would be hugely expensive for a very localized problem. Perhaps sealed windows and air filtration in nearby homes would help, although that wouldn't do much for kids who are playing outdoors. Two things are certain, though. Authorities can't make the situation better by ignoring it, and they have ignored it for too long.

The Week in Livable Streets Events

http://la.streetsblog.org/2013/09/03/the-week-in-livable-streets-events-114/

By Damien Newton, September 3, 2013

Our August vacation from doing “The Week in Livable Streets Events” is over. We’re back with a short week featuring LACBC training for bicycle and pedestrian counts, a meeting on bike safety issues with the LAPD in the Valley and more! We will talk more about the importance of bike and ped. counts tomorrow, but if you have the time to help out, you should.
  • Today - Folks in the Valley are invited to LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas and Metro Orange Line tonight at 6 pm. To RSVP and get the location details, contact Glenn Bailey, a member of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee. Get more details, here.
  •  
  • Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday – The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is holding training classes before next week’s annual bicycle and pedestrian count. The City of Los Angeles rarely (if ever) counts the number of people walking and bicycling, preferring “traffic studies” to transportation studies. This the Bike Coalition is focusing on the San Fernando Valley and South L.A. If you live, work or play in those areas it’s a good time to get involved by helping with the counts. But first, you need to get trained. Get the details, here.
  •  
  • Saturday - Supervisor Gloria Molina invites you and your family to the 2nd Annual East L.A. Bike Ride! LACBC is organizing and leading two rides for all ages and abilities. The 4-mile route is for children and families. The 8-mile route is for adults who want something a little longer. The ride begins at 9:30 at the Civic Center. Get more details, here.
  •  
  • Saturday - A one-time event on a Saturday afternoon, to stimulate and encourage artistic expression
    throughout the Los Angeles area…Get a day pass, if you’re not a regular Metro rider and join the fun. Get more details here or on Facebook.

US faces constant Labor Day-like traffic in coming decades

http://www.autoblog.com/2013/08/31/us-labor-day-traffic-to-be-new-norm/

By Brandon Turkus, August 31, 2013

 US map of future traffic congestion

 

With Labor Day weekend upon our American readers, many of you have probably loaded up your vehicles for the last road trip of the summer. But with Labor Day weekend comes traffic. Lots and lots of traffic. And while the Labor Day scrum is generally as bad as things get for the year, a study by the US Travel Association reports that a number of freeways across the country are in danger of heavily increased traffic levels becoming the new normal.
As originally reported on The Car Connection, Americans may be driving less, but the number of cars on our roads is outpacing that decline, which in turn places greater stress on the interstate network. Take Interstate 96, the freeway that runs from downtown Detroit to Grand Rapids, as an example. The only major cities on that east-west road, besides its termini, is the state capital, Lansing. But during Labor Day weekend, its traffic volume increases 154 percent. The USTA warns that unless a project is started quickly, the increased traffic flow will become the norm by 2030.

The USTA also analyzed 15 other major interstates, including three different stretches of I-95 on the country's east coast, I-5 between Los Angeles and San Diego, I-45 between Dallas and Houston and I-15 between southern California and Las Vegas. Each route was at risk of anywhere from 117- to 159-percent increases in traffic flow by 2040. See the map above for more examples.

All of that sounds pretty daunting, but we also have to wonder if advances in vehicle-to-vehicle communications and autonomous technology over the same period will go a long way toward increasing average traffic speeds by greatly reducing accidents while safely increasing traffic density through platooning.

 Press Release:


Typical Day on U.S. Highways Will Soon Look Like Labor Day
Congestion Could Cost U.S. Economy 208,000 Jobs


AUGUST 29, 2013

Washington, D.C. - If current trends continue, Labor Day-like traffic will soon plague U.S. highways on the average day of the week, according to analysis prepared for the U.S. Travel Association.

The study examined highway usage data and growth rates along 16 key interstate corridors nationwide. Its conclusion: without investment and policy changes, average daily car volume will soon surpass that of the notoriously congested first weekend of September-within a decade in some places.

Given that major transportation projects can take 15 years to complete, timely relief is already beyond reach in some locales. There is still hope for other major highways, but only if leaders act soon.

"Traveling with relative ease cannot be taken for granted, whether it's for business or pleasure," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "If the average day on the road resembled those brutal periods when bumper-to-bumper traffic is the norm, it would devastate our economy and way of life. For a great number of America's major corridors, that day is not that far down the road."

The 16 interstate segments included in the analysis were selected for their geographical diversity and the quality of the traffic data available for them. Together, they provide a reliable snapshot of the growing congestion on America's highways, according to Cambridge Systematics, the firm that conducted the analysis.

The Labor Day highway analysis is the first portion of a broad, multi-modal examination of travel infrastructure that U.S. Travel will release in installments through the fall.

Highways are not the only travel mode strained by extra volume on Labor Day weekend. A number of the nation's largest airports experience passenger volume peaks on Labor Day: Logan International Airport in Boston (171% of the daily average); Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (177%); LaGuardia Airport in New York (194%); Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta (219%); and, with the largest spike of all, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (237%).

According to a new survey, 58 percent of recent Labor Day travelers said they would significantly alter their yearly travel habits if U.S. highways experienced Labor Day-like conditions on the "typical day." More than 38 percent of respondents would avoid at least one-to-five trips per year; while almost one in five travelers (19.5%) said they would stop taking long-distance trips altogether. To put these findings in perspective, if auto travelers avoided just one auto trip per year, the U.S. economy would lose $23 billion in travel spending, expenditures that would directly support 208,000 American jobs.

"While some improvements have been made in the last decade, the current level of investment is not nearly enough to prepare us for what's ahead," said Dow. "There is simply too much at stake for our economy and quality of life to let travel in America grind to a halt."

To prevent this crisis, the U.S. Travel Association in the coming months will propose a wide variety of policy prescriptions. Policies under consideration include: targeted investments in alternative modes of transportation; more flexible funding options for U.S. gateway airports; and the expanded use of innovative funding and public and private partnerships for nationally significant transportation projects.

Early analysis of the aviation data compiled for the broader study supports the popular belief that Thanksgiving is the peak domestic air travel day by total passenger volume. U.S. Travel plans to release the study's portion on air travel trends prior to Thanksgiving.

 

Just Another Hyperloop?

http://www.betterroads.com/just-another-hyperloop/

By Lauren Heartsill Dowdle, August 2013


 0830 Blog Edmonton Transportation

It looks like Elon Musk isn’t the only one who wants to enter the futuristic transportation debate.
Dan Corns, president of Magnovate Technologies, proposed a system that would use magnetic levitation technology to move people, freights and commodities up to 310 mph – all in a computer-controlled, driverless vehicle. They company has already created prototypes of the vehicle, which floats about 2 inches above a track formed by connected, permanent magnets, reports the Edmonton Journal.

If the hyperloop system comes to mind, you aren’t alone.

“Certainly, we’ve seen Mr. (Elon) Musk’s hyperloop in the press of late,” says Alex Conradi, director of investment, International and Intergovernmental Relations, to the Journal. “Quite frankly, I think this one is closer to being real than his. But never say never.”

While Corns’ proposed system would have a linear motor, like the hyperloop, it would also move on a cushion of air, instead of the hyperloop’s sealed tube.

My predictions? Yes, this idea does sound better than the hyperloop, only because it seems some real engineering and thought has gone into the project. But, I also think this is just going to be one of many new transportation ideas in the next few months.

Everyone has heard about the hyperloop, so now they will take that idea, tweak it and come up with other – and hopefully better – transportation inventions.

And that’s the real path to success. It isn’t always the first idea that makes it on the track, but the most refined and tested.
It looks like Elon Musk isn’t the only one who wants to enter the futuristic transportation debate.
Dan Corns, president of Magnovate Technologies, proposed a system that would use magnetic levitation technology to move people, freights and commodities up to 310 mph – all in a computer-controlled, driverless vehicle. They company has already created prototypes of the vehicle, which floats about 2 inches above a track formed by connected, permanent magnets, reports the Edmonton Journal.
If the hyperloop system comes to mind, you aren’t alone.
“Certainly, we’ve seen Mr. (Elon) Musk’s hyperloop in the press of late,” says Alex Conradi, director of investment, International and Intergovernmental Relations, to the Journal. “Quite frankly, I think this one is closer to being real than his. But never say never.”
While Corns’ proposed system would have a linear motor, like the hyperloop, it would also move on a cushion of air, instead of the hyperloop’s sealed tube.
My predictions? Yes, this idea does sound better than the hyperloop, only because it seems some real engineering and thought has gone into the project. But, I also think this is just going to be one of many new transportation ideas in the next few months .
Everyone has heard about the hyperloop, so now they will take that idea, tweak it and come up with other – and hopefully better – transportation inventions.
And that’s the real path to success. It isn’t always the first idea that makes it on the track, but the most refined and tested.
- See more at: http://www.betterroads.com/just-another-hyperloop/#sthash.TVYOiXL8.dpuf

Tollway authority disputes study of HOT lanes

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/tollway-authority-disputes-study-hot-lanes/nZkFh/

By Kerry Kavanaugh, September 2, 2013

HOT lane study photo


ATLANTA —
A new study out about the Interstate 85 High Occupancy Toll lanes, or HOT lanes, suggests drivers are more likely to use the lanes, which stretch from I-285 to Old Peachtree Road, if they live in an affluent area.

But state officials argue the study is highly flawed.

The Southern Environmental Law Center conducted the study, analyzing the median income level of Peach Pass users by ZIP code.

It is their argument that these are publicly funded roads and should be equally used by all.

The SELC said its study of Peach Pass transactions by ZIP code shows a relationship between income and HOT lane usage.

According to its data, people who live in the highest-income ZIP code, earning an average of $102,000 a year, were five times more likely to use the lanes than people living in the ZIP code where the average income was the lowest, at $43,770.

SELC researchers told Channel 2 Action News they realize the data is limited but it was all they could obtain via open-records requests.

The State Road and Tollway Authority said two of their own studies are already underway.

"With respect to the top ZIP codes, the report shows that the people most likely to use the lanes are those who live near the top end of the corridor," said SRTA spokesperson Bret Brantley. "When you compare the top five median income ZIP codes map to the top five highest-use ZIP codes map, only two of the ZIP codes overlap."

That's according to the state's own calculations. The state also argues the SELC study doesn't take into account Peach Pass riders who are in carpools or ride public buses.

Georgia Tech is conducting one of the studies for the state; it is due out later this year.

SRTA said it also disputes the nickname "Lexus Lanes."

They claim the Georgia Tech study shows the most frequent vehicles in the HOT lanes are the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, Ford F-150 and Nissan Altima.

Mt. Washington man offers solutions for parking problems – but they are going to cost you



http://www.theeastsiderla.com/2013/08/mt-washington-man-offers-solutions-for-parking-problems-but-they-are-going-to-cost-you/

By Brenda Rees, August 8, 2013

 

 Richard Willson, a fan of the parking meter.

We all know the frustration of looking for a parking space – leaving early for a meeting or get-together to allow extra time to find a spot. Driving endlessly in circles, hovering like an automotive “vulture” waiting for someone to leave to swoop in with that spot. Feeling like you’ve won the lottery when you achieve that glorious parking space.

It doesn’t have to be that way, says author, artist and the current chair of Urban Planning at Cal Poly Pomona Richard Willson, a Mt. Washington resident who has penned the recently published book, “Parking Reform Made Easy.” A handbook for city planners the nation over, the book is not only an overview of the existing parochial problems that are inherit in so many municipal parking requirements (some cities are using 40-year-old plans), but it’s also a toolkit for how to change and improve parking conditions.

In short, Willson is providing city planners a guidebook on how to make smarter parking codes that serve the most people with the least environmental impact.

Sounds good, right? Well, the hard part of Willson’s parking nirvana reform, folks, is that it shouldn’t be free.

“No one likes to pay for parking but residents are going to pay for it in other ways,” he says over coffee at CafĂ© le Leche on York Boulevard in Highland Park. Even if you find a “free” parking spot, it’s not free, contends Willson who says that the true cost of free parking dominos into higher rents/mortgages for developers and tenants not to mention merchants who, in turn, raise prices on goods and services and often lower workers’ wages. Plus, studies show that free parking creates more single drivers, adds to pollution, contributes to congestion as we cruise for curb parking, and well, the list of ills goes on.

Parking has its other woes in the form of outdated parking codes. Often, these requirements thwart revitalization efforts, since they usually require businesses to have X number of parking spaces per X number of square feet of space  … and businesses can’t count on-street parking as their own. What’s a new shop owner to do?

Parking requirements shape land use, patterns, transportation systems and travel behavior, he explains. That vacant parking lot, row of parking meters or big parking structure influence how we travel (car, bike or walk?), where we travel and when we travel.

Willson contends that parking shouldn’t be just a technical matter left to the engineers who plot out the next apartment complex or shopping centers. It’s a policy decision that brings together community goals of transportation, design and urban form, economy and sustainability.

But it all starts with the individual city, because, as much as we like to think that we “own” a specific parking spot, “technically the city owns that road and the parking,” says Willson.

Cities, however, usually want to work with neighborhoods about parking issues. Willson describes how some neighborhoods – like Melrose and those surrounding UCLA – are receiving parking meter revenue for community improvements, a practice that has been successfully done in Boulder, CO. “It’s a good idea and I’d like to see more neighborhoods embrace it,” he says pointing to the nightmarish parking around the retails area of Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

Willson is equally impressed with the example of Old Town Pasadena, which built parking structures within the fabric of its trendy shops and restaurants. Here, people would know directly where to park in an easy and efficient manner.

Parking lots, in general, can be a waste of land especially if they only serve one purpose. Willson shows an aerial shot of the Ontario Mills Shopping Center and the nearby Citizens’ Business Bank Arena. Huge parking lots surround both complexes – space that is wasted when no events take place or  when shopping is at a lull. “This was the typical suburban way of thinking about parking,” he says adding that arena folks could have worked with the nearby shopping center to shuttle folks during events.

Parking in established older neighborhoods is often mired in antiquated parking requirements. Willson points to South Pasadena as an example of how  out-of-touch parking requirements hampered new businesses on Mission Boulevard until that code was recently updated and freed businesses from parking code chains.

Willson sees Los Angeles’ parking codes as being flexible and less demanding, as shown by measures that have allowed the conversion of historic buildings in downtown Los Angeles to residences, and programs to help restaurants open in historic structures in Eagle Rock. Still there is plenty of room for improvement, such as making it easier to build housing for households that do not own cars, especially around transit stations. The city’s Recode LA zoning reform effort will address these parking issues.

Originally from Canada, Willson came to Southern California in 1986 to get his masters at USC in Urban Planning. He’s lived in East Hollywood, El Sereno as well as his longtime home in Mt. Washington. Has he ever experienced frustration in finding parking? “No, not really,” he says with a laugh, explaining that any situation he’s encounter he considered it “all data” and part of his research.

While getting his masters, Willson met Donald Shoup, chair of Urban Planning who later would write his 2005 landmark book “The High Cost of Free Parking.” The book outlined the negative repercussions of off-street parking requirements; Shoup also argues that free parking makes us more dependent on cars, adds to rapid urban sprawl and contributes to a host of economic problems.

Willson says his book takes the next step in Shoup’s ideas by offering practical pathways for city planners to update, modify and contemporize their own parking requirements.

So far, Willson has been getting good feedback on his book. He’s presented an overview to city planners here locally (Hawthorn and Westminster are moving forward) and he will make similar outreach to New York University and Seattle later this year. A webinar is also in the works.

Before the conversation ends, Willson discusses the future of paid parking in the form of the ubiquitous parking meter. Cities, he says, are seeing good use of meters these days thanks to a federal grant which allowed them to swap out coin-only for the ease of credit card. No more fumbling around for quarters. Swipe and go.

Technology won’t stop there, says Willson. He’s seen the future and in the works are meters that — via smartphones – can contact you when the meter is going to expire. In addition, you could then pay for addition time on the meter remotely with your smart phone thus extending your evening at your favorite restaurant or bar.

“It’s all about making parking easier for everyone,” he says. But, as he said earlier, it won’t be free.

A cycling-friendly future for Southern Californians: Tim Brick

http://www.dailynews.com/20130830/a-cycling-friendly-future-for-southern-californians-tim-brick

By Tom Brick, August 30, 2013

President John F. Kennedy once said, “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride.” That’s definitely true, but bikes can do so much more than that. Bicycles have the potential to solve a wide array of modern problems and are indispensable tools to promote healthy and sustainable communities.

In 1990, Pasadena Mayor Jess Hughston asked me to chair the Mayor’s Committee to Make Pasadena Bicycle Friendly. Our trailblazing report laid out a program designed to encourage cycling for health, recreation and transportation and to cultivate a bicycle-friendly culture backed up by sound policies and programs.

A few years after our report, Pasadena added a transformational goal to its general plan: “Pasadena will be a city where people can circulate without cars.” Moving beyond the car to incorporate the needs of the broader community, including the young and the old, pedestrians and bicyclists, while integrating the opportunities of public transit, has provided broad social benefits for everyone.

In the last two decades, there has been a steady growth in bicycle use and in programs that make it safe throughout Southern California. These elegant machines that amplify human energy and expand the range of human interaction now account for 3 to 4 percent of local trips, and pedestrians account for about 9 percent more, well above the national average for people-powered transportation. Stripes on streets, bike racks on buses, cyclists on trains and improved bicycle facilities are ubiquitous indicators of growing popularity.


Other cities throughout Southern California have taken the lead in developing model policies and programs. Long Beach, which bills itself as the “most bicycle friendly city in America,” has established a mission “to provide an environment and culture where bicycling is a safe, viable and preferred mode of transportation.” The port city is using local funds as well as state and private grants for many forward thinking projects such as green-sharrowed lanes and an ambitious bicycle boulevard project. In Glendale, bicycles are integral to a Safe and Healthy Community Plan.Los Angeles has big plans to be the largest bicycle friendly city in America. The Master Bicycle Plan, adopted two years ago, includes numerous new bicycle friendly policies, expanded parking facilities and 1,302 miles of new bicycle ways.

This June marked the 10th anniversary of ArroyoFest, an inspirational event that closed the Arroyo Seco Parkway, aka Pasadena Freeway, for a Sunday celebration. Thousands of bicyclists and walkers along the carless parkway were imbued with a new vision of how to link communities together in a sustainable way for the future. Plans for a cycleway to connect Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles are now in the works.

More recently, CicLAvia, inspired by the famous street closures that invigorated Bogotá, Colombia, has turned over the streets of Los Angeles to hundreds of thousands of Angelenos on foot, on bikes, on rollerblades or whatever to celebrate their streets and neighborhoods in new and liberating way.


There is a dynamic momentum developing for bicycling throughout Southern California that can improve our health and reshape our communities. In a region blessed with such a pleasant climate and gentle topography, where 60 percent of all local trips are less than five miles, there are increasingly few reasons not to ride. So take that bike on your next shopping trip or ride to work one day a week, and soon you may find yourself incorporating the two-wheeler into your lifestyle. It will be healthy and good for you and for your community.

Let’s ride.