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

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Metro’s Great Expo Line Adventure: How Did We Get Here?


By Fred Gurzeler, September 6, 2013

An Armchair History (First of Three Parts) - (My friend and neighbor Dr. Ken Alpern recently wrote a CityWatch article about the struggle to make the Metro Expo Line (what I will shorten to Expo Line in this article) a reality, offering an insight that only someone who has been down in the trenches fighting the good fight (and still is/does) can provide.  Ken has asked if I can provide a deeper historical perspective.)  

Although a book could be written on the history of Expo Line, an overview will, hopefully, suffice.  Since history is rarely a series of unrelated events, some tangents are necessary, but I will keep them brief and try to keep the timeline in as chronological order as possible.

But first we must turn back the hands of time to well before the first shovel of dirt was turned over to build the Metro Expo Line (2006).

Before Zev Yaroslavsky was first elected (1975).
Before Susan Miller Dorsey High School was founded (1937).
Before Overland Avenue Elementary School opened (1931).
Before the Palms subdivision of Cheviot Hills was created (1923).
Before Culver City (1917).
Before the Pacific Electric Railway (1901).
Before West Los Angeles (Sawtelle) (1896).
Before Palms (1888). 
Before the University of Southern California (1880).
Before Southern Pacific came to Los Angeles (1876).

Back to October 17, 1875 when the steam engine of the Los Angeles Independence Railroad brought its first passengers from downtown Los Angeles to the little town of Santa Monica which had only been founded a few months before on July 15, 1875.  In addition to passengers, the railroad doubled as a freight carrier.  It was Senator John Percival Jones’s plan to build a wharf in Santa Monica to compete with the Southern Pacific, a railroad that had a virtual monopoly on freight in California.  The story of how Southern Pacific reacted to the upstart railroad is fascinating in and of itself, but beyond the scope of this article.  Needless to say, Southern Pacific ultimately purchased the LAI RR July 4, 1877.

Southern Pacific continued freight and passenger service and even expanded the route to continue north up the coast to the so-called “Long Wharf,” which it built in an attempt to establish a port. Southern Pacific also built a branch line from “Home Junction” (Exposition and Sepulveda today) to travel 2.61 miles to the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Sailors, aka the Soldiers’ Home and now, simply, the VA.

On July 1, 1908 the Los Angeles Pacific, an electric streetcar company, took over route and the line was officially designated the “Santa Monica Air Line.”  The fare from Los Angeles to Santa Monica was 50 cents.  The line was electrified from Sentous (La Cienega and Jefferson) to Santa Monica. Pacific Electric (which was owned by Southern Pacific) absorbed the Los Angeles Pacific in the Great Merger of 1911 and electrified the remaining section of the Air Line.

In 1912 Pacific Electric announced it would run the Air Line cars all the way to the beaches.  The new schedule was arranged “largely for the benefit of residents of the University district [USC]. . . . [who] can now take the Santa Monica air line [sic] cars and go straight through to the beach towns ” (LA Times 6/23/1912). As of 1913, hourly service was provided from the Main Street Station in Los Angeles to Santa Monica where the line ended at Broadway & Ocean.  (The line that went down to the coast was a separate line known as the Santa Monica Canyon Line.)

The Air Line was never the mover of people that other streetcar lines were, such as the nearby Venice Short Line.  In 1915 Pacific Electric announced that the “company will maintain only hourly passenger service [on the Air Line] between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. This is the minimum service provided in the company’s franchise.” PE’s president said that “Pacific Electric, like any other business institution, finds it necessary at times to trim its sails to meet weather conditions.  This is an ordinary measure of business prudence” (LA Times 11/12/1915).

Passenger service west of Culver Junction (Venice/Robertson) was reduced to one round trip daily except Sunday.  East of Culver Junction service remained on an hourly headway.  As of 1920 cars ran on a ninety-minute headway to Culver Junction with 30-minute headway in rush hours to 11th Avenue.  One through round trip ran daily, leaving Santa Monica at 6:45 AM and Los Angeles at 5:30 PM.

In 1924 PE tried to abandon the part of the line that ran from “Colorado street, Santa Monica, along the coast to beyond Santa Monica Canyon,” but was denied by the State Railroad Commission.  Although Pacific Electric had presented evidence that the “operating costs of the line were far in excess of its revenue, the commission decide[d] that future development of the district would require rail transportation and the line should not be abandoned” (LA Times 6/13/1924).

Operations were reduced; cars ran in morning and evening rush hour only. Sunday service most likely ended in 1926. In 1929 a 30 minute service from Main St. Station to 11th Avenue was tried, but soon stopped.

By the end of 1931 only a single round trip remained from Los Angeles to Santa Monica and it stayed that way until the end, most likely because it was the bare minimum required to maintain the franchise.

Improving transit in Los Angeles was an issue due to the ever increasing number of automobiles.  In 1925 Los Angeles formulated a rapid transit plan.  There was “strong opposition to elevated rapid transit lines and support of subway construction” (LA Times 12/17/1925). But like just about every mass transit plan it went nowhere.  To be fair, the Great Depression put mass transit on the back burner, as did World War II.

Pacific Electric tried on and off for years to abandon passenger service on the Air Line.  (Freight service, which was profitable, was never an issue.)  Mother Nature lent a hand when a not too uncommon landslide on the Pacific Coast Highway (then known as Roosevelt Highway) buried part of the tracks in 1931. PE was eventually able to cut back service to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, abandoning the Santa Monica Canyon Line in late 1933.  A December 24, 1933 Los Angeles Times article noted that a “satisfactory understanding has been reached with the Pacific Electric Railway over its former right of way property along the beach” and that widening of the (now called) Pacific Coast Highway could be completed by the following Summer.

Meanwhile, the Tenth Street Project, begun in 1922, created Olympic Blvd.  The project culminated in 1936 when Olympic Boulevard and Pacific Coast Highway were joined via the McClure Tunnel, which was built in virtually the same location as the tunnel that Air Line tracks went through only a few years before.  Thirty years later Olympic Blvd. would be cut back to Lincoln Blvd. and the Santa Monica Freeway would join PCH at the McClure tunnel.

World War II intervened to give the Air Line an important role in providing passenger service and many lines Pacific Electric was going to abandon were given a new lease on life.  By 1946, however, the Air Line as a passenger carrier was once again gasping for breath.  A Los Angeles Times article from 9/8/1946 noted it was the “only one-car-a-day line in the entire Pacific Electric system.  It’s a picturesque Toonerville Trolley which stops anywhere at the wave of a hand and drops passengers right in their backyards.” The “average run tallies around 60 passengers.”

In 1948 Pacific Electric once again submitted an application to the Board of Public Utilities and Transportation to suspend passenger service on the Santa Monica Air Line – “the oldest interurban line operating from Los Angeles.”  The 11/10/1948 Los Angeles Times article noted that “one round trip a day in made between Los Angeles and Santa Monica with an average of 40 passengers resulting in an annual loss of $6780.” It was also noted that “Nearly a dozen persons protested abandonment of passenger service.”  The article does not say who the persons were or where they lived.

By now Pacific Electric was replacing or had replaced many of its lines with busses (and had been doing so for many years).  The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial regarding trolleys vs. busses and readers weighed in (LA Times 3/14/1949):

“Rail rapid transit must be developed to coincide with rapid growth of Los Angeles and surroundings.”

“How can 200 45-seat busses take the place of the same number of 56-seat trolleys and give better service? The streets are overcrowded with traffic and fumes from cars, busses and trucks now.  Why add to it?”

“If the PE will please explain how busses can possibly make better time through congested areas with their countless boulevard stops and light signals, against a railroad that cuts through terrain avoiding all these deterrents, it will be most enlightening.”

“Since the Highland-Monterey Park bus moved onto our street 10 years ago I can’t keep my curtains and windows clean.”

“Pacific Electric’s transportation problems could be settled if the city of Los Angeles took over the lines…. I don’t think the public would mind supporting a deficit if it was necessary to settle the transportation problem.”

“While the city fathers and others are yelling for rapid transit, talking about elevated and subways, etc., why don’t they put a stop to talk about ripping up the streetcar tracks and substituting ill-smelling busses that take up one-third of the street [and also] build some cross lines so that one doesn’t have to go to downtown and back in order to reach a destination in another part of town.”

“People come here to enjoy California’s world-famous sunshine … talk of a subway is preposterous.”

“The Pacific Electric operates many of its lines over private rights of way…. [and] as the city grew, the rights of way remained inviolate, or nearly so. Now growth is being strangled in some sections because the majority of streets in those sections dead end against an obsolete, little used Pacific Electric right of way….Exposition, the least used, is the worst.  It channels north and south traffic into four arteries between Western Ave. and Culver City.  These are Arlington, Crenshaw, La Brea and Fairfax.  As a consequence, every morning and every evening traffic is all snarled up because there is a choice of only four avenues across the PE right of way.”

Pacific Electric was denied abandoning the line again in 1949.  “Passengers contend they would have to walk long distances to other transportation if the line is dropped” (LA Times 8/9/1949).  Time, however, was running out against the Air Line. There were three other rail lines that went into Santa Monica. The line down San Vicente ended service in June, 1940.  The line from Sepulveda down Santa Monica Blvd. ended in July, 1940 and the venerable Venice Short Line ended rail service in September 1950.

The end of the Air Line passenger service to Santa Monica finally came September 30, 1953.  An obituary of sorts was written that day by Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Henry who noted that a “lot of us who don’t make a business of bemoaning the ruthless course of progress will stop today for a quiet mixture of laughter and tears over the final run of this Toonerville Trolley which, until today, defied the streamlining process as it meandered through back yards and by-ways one round trip a day between downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica.”  “Inexorable progress has eliminated the Santa Monica Air Line” Bill Henry wrote, “progress” that came in the form of automobiles and busses.

The last passenger run on what was left of the Air Line occurred October 26, 1953 to 11th Avenue.

Trolley wire was removed and diesel locomotives took over all freight operation. By then Pacific Electric had ceased to exist as a passenger carrying enterprise, its interests having been sold to Metropolitan Coach Lines (MCL), a company that publically announced it was going to get rid of all the remaining rail lines.  It did not succeed and in 1958 the lines passed to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (LAMTA) which was created in 1951 by the State legislature to study the feasibility of a monorail system in Los Angeles.  In 1957 – without any tangible results regarding the monorail – a bill was passed and signed enabling the LAMTA to own and operate any form of transit it saw fit.

They succeeded in ending the last of the old Red Car lines April 9, 1961 and on March 31, 1963 the last of the legendary Yellow Cars in downtown Los Angeles stopped running, even though the remaining lines were well used and even profitable.  Busses now constituted the only form of mass transit in Los Angeles.  The busses were derisively nicknamed “guttersnipes” by those who felt abandoning all rail transit was a colossal mistake.

With the passing of one era, a new one was emerging at the same time.

● Note: Expo Line-An Armchair History (Part 2) will be posted on Thursday, Sept 12 at CityWatchLA.com  

Kicking the Damn Can Down the Alameda Corridor


By Jack Humphreville, September 6, 2013


 LA WATCHDOG - The Alameda Corridor is a well-managed public private partnership between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fee Railroads that has resulted in massive transportation efficiencies and savings.  At the same time, countless backups at surface street railroad crossings have been eliminated and truck traffic on our congested freeways has been reduced by over 10,000 trips a day.  This has resulted in significant reductions in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Yet for all of the efficiencies of this 20 mile rail expressway that connects San Pedro to the downtown rail yards that serve as a gateway to the rest of the country, the finances of the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority and its $2.2 billion of assets are upside down, relying on the credit of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to back stop this highly leveraged financing vehicle.

Over the past year, the Authority has raised over $330 million in new money, including a very successful $248 million public offering of bonds in January.  These funds were used to refinance existing debt which allowed the Authority to defer almost $100 million in principal repayments over the next seven years.

However, these bonds are backed by an insurance policy with Assured Guaranty, a multibillion insurance company that is relying not only on the operating performance of the Alameda Corridor, but the partial guarantees of the two ports.

The reliance on the credit of the two ports is understandable since the Alameda Corridor’s operating cash flow before depreciation of almost $90 million does not cover the interest expense of almost $120 million, resulting in an unacceptable interest coverage ratio of only 75%.

This annual shortfall was offset by deferring over $55 million in cash interest expense through the prior issuance of zero coupon bonds, a financing technique that has come under considerable criticism because they are considered weapons of mass financial destruction that will burden future generations with mounds of debt.

This annual shortfall has resulted in an ever increasing amount of debt.  Since 2004, total debt has increased from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion at the end of fiscal 2012, an amount that is 25 times the Alameda Corridor’s operating profit before depreciation.  This debt burden includes almost $500 million in accrued interest that has accumulated through the use of these funny money financing instruments cooked up by fee mongering Wall Street wizards. 

It is time to end this shell game of deferring over $50 million of interest payments a year and the serial refinancing of outstanding debt, all of which result in an ever increasing debt load that will haunt future Angelenos and decrease their standard of living.

Rather, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach need to develop a financial plan that provides additional revenue to the Authority so that it has the financial resources to pay its interest in full and to reduce the absolute level amount of debt to a more reasonable level over the next ten years.

While the management of the Ports may protest that this may increase their cost structure in the very competitive shipping business, it is not fair to burden the future generations with current obligations.  As it is, the our City has done more than its fair share by sticking our children and grandchildren with $30 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and deferred maintenance on our streets, sidewalks, and the rest of our failing infrastructure.

It is time to face reality and stop kicking the damn can down the road to insolvency.

Letter to Consituents in Coucil District 2 from Councilmember Margaret McAustin

Posted by Jan SooHoo on Facebook, September 5, 2013

The attached letter was sent by Pasadena City Councilmember Margaret McAustin to her constituents in Council District 2. Councilmember McAustin voted against a resolution opposing the 710 tunnel when it was last brought up by the City Council. The outcome was one vote short of passing the resolution. Hopefully, her letter indicates that she is now willing to formally oppose the tunnel and vote in favor of a resolution opposing the tunnel when it again comes before the City Council. Her one vote should be all that is needed to pass a resolution.

September 5, 2013

Greetings All,

I would like to take a few moments of your time to talk about the possibility of the completion of the 710 Freeway.

Discussion of this possible Freeway connection has been on-going for over 40 years, with a Freeway, or above grade option through Pasadena now completely dead. However, a below grade tunnel option is still a possibility.

Historically, the City of Pasadena has opposed the Freeway, however in 2001 the question of completion of the Freeway was brought to a vote in Pasadena, and the voters declared " the Policy of the City of Pasadena favors completion of the 710 Freeway between the I-210 Freeway and the I-10 Freeway ".

Pasadena residents were misled when we were told the Freeway completion would alleviate congestion. We now know completion of the 710 will bring nothing but more traffic, more trucks, more noise, more pollution, and more gridlock to our City.  I cannot, in good conscience support an underground Freeway, which would permanently change the character of Pasadena, and is contrary to the way of life we work to protect and preserve. Twin tunnels almost five miles long and five story venting smokestacks are not a solution for Pasadena; they are a solution for the Trucking Industry.

Four other alternatives to "Close the Gap" are under study right now, and we must work to influence other solutions to once and for all remove the possibility of a tunnel, Metro's underground Freeway from consideration.

I cannot and will not support a 710 Tunnel going through Pasadena, the impacts on our residents, our businesses and our children are too great. When people voted in support of the freeway, they were misled into thinking it would make life better; I firmly believe it won't. It would be a disaster for Pasadena.

In conclusion, in the best interests of Pasadena, I will oppose the 710 Tunnel.

Margaret McAustin

Westbound 10 Freeway shut down in Fontana after big-rig accident


By Robert J. Lopez, September 5, 2013

All westbound lanes of the busy 10 Freeway in Fontana were shut down during rush-hour Thursday after a big rig slammed into an overpass bridge at Citrus Avenue.

Traffic was backed up for about three miles, the California Highway Patrol said.

The accident was reported shortly after 5 p.m. Initially, only one lane was closed, the CHP said. But all lanes on the busy east-west artery were closed around 5:30 p.m.

The Sierra Avenue onramp to the westbound 10 also was closed.

Traffic was being diverted off at Citrus Avenue. There were no immediate reports on whether anyone was injured.

The CHP said it was unclear how long the lanes would be closed.

2012 Green Car Guide—Top Scoring Vehicles

Automotive Research Center 03-07-2013


The Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) compiles an annual Green Car Guide including evaluations of most of the “Green” models (hybrids, electric vehicles, alternative-fueled vehicles, PZEVs, and conventional vehicles with class-leading fuel efficiency) available at the time of publication.
For the 2012 edition of the Green Car Guide, 62 vehicles were tested. Specific tests were conducted using procedures from the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), US Environmental Protection agency (EPA), and from the ARC itself.

Attributes tested were:

Top 10 Scoring Vehicles

  • Tailpipe emissions
  • Brake stopping distance
  • Crashworthiness
  • Visibility
  • Handling (slalom)
  • Fuel economy
  • Ride quality
  • Interior noise
  • Acceleration
  • Ease of entry and exit
  • Interior size
  • Turning circle
  • Luggage capacity
Each of these attributes were scored on a 0 to 10 basis with the best score in each attribute defining the “10” score. The points are added together to determine the total score.

Top 10 scoring vehicles from the 2012 Green Car Guide:

  1. 2013 Lexus GS 450h
  2. 2011 Toyota Highlander LTD Hybrid 4WD
  3. 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE
  4. 2012 Audi Q7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic
  5. 2011 Lexus LS 600 h L
  6. 2011 Volkswagen Touareg Supercharged Hybrid
  7. 2011 Nissan Leaf
  8. 2011 Lexus CT 200h
  9. 2010 Lexus RX 450h
  10. 2012 Prius IV

Cost is not considered in the total point score, so the ARC divided the “as tested” manufacturer suggested price (MSRP) by total points to obtain the “Cost per Point” score—a measure of the value of the vehicle.

Top 10 vehicles in the 2012 Green Car Guide by Cost per Point:

  1. 2012 Nissan Versa 1.6S
  2. 2012 Hyundai Elantra GLS M/T
  3. 2012 Scion IQ
  4. 2011 Scion XD
  5. 2011 Mazda 2 Touring
  6. 2012 Toyota Yaris SE Liftback
  7. 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco
  8. 2012 Kia Rio5 EX Eco
  9. 2011 Ford Fiesta SEL
  10. 2012 Honda Fit Sport Navi

Monrovia Latest City to Take Position on 710 Freeway Closure

 The city's move puts its position at odds with La Cañada Flintridge and Glendale's.


By Melanie Johnson and Dan Abendschein, September 5, 2013

Supporters and opponents of the 710 at an event in Alhambra. (Credit: Donna Evans)

 Supporters and opponents of the 710 at an event in Alhambra.

The Monrovia City Council supports closure of the 710 freeway gap between Pasadena and El Sereno but does not favor any particular method for doing so at this time.

The council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to reaffirm a previous resolution dating back to 1989 supporting the gap's closure, but altered the language at the urging of Councilman Alexander Blackburn as to not appear to be in favor of more freeway construction specifically.

Monrovia's move puts it at odds with other nearby cities and neighborhoods, including La Cañada Flintridge, Glendale, South Pasadena the City of Los Angeles and the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, which have cast votes in opposition of the tunnel. The City of Pasadena also expressed limited opposition to several specific proposed routes last year.

Alhambra officials have long been proponents of the 710 project and the San Marino City Council has also voted to support a tunnel extension.

Monrovia's public hearing that lasted more than three hours, proponents and opponents of the project, mostly from neighboring cities, shared their views on long-delayed project.

Doug Failing, executive director of Metro's highway program, gave a presentation on five alternatives being studied: one that calls for doing nothing, a second involves improvements to intersections, a third would boost bus routes, a fourth pushes for more light rail, and the fifth is freeway construction that includes a tunnel.

Hassan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Associated Governments, said his organization will respect whatever alternative is chosen but doing nothing is not an option.

"Whatever it is, this gap needs to be closed," he said.  "We're talking about millions of people being affected."

However, opponents of the closure are convinced that the tunnel is really the only option on the table.

Michael Cacciotti, a South Pasadena councilman, presented the opposition's side and called on Monrovia to join his city, Los Angeles, La Canada-Flintridge, Glendale, and Sierra Madre in fighting the extension.

Cacciotti said the way to close the gap is to bolster the light rail system, not open up the 710 freeway and other highways to more traffic.

"What would happen if the 710 opened up," he asked. "It would be a nightmare on this 210."

Monrovia city officials said the public has been vocal on both sides of the issue. City Manager Laurie Lile said the city received about 60 emails on the subject. 

In recent months, Monrovia also has received requests from the city of Alhambra and the city of South Pasadena, the former asking for reaffirmation and the latter calling for opposition of further consideration of the project, according to a report to council.

What do you think of the Monrovia City Council's decision? Would you like to see the 710 freeway gap closed? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

100-car pileup on U.K. bridge injures dozens

Poor visibility leads to 10-minute accident southeast of London


September 5, 2013

 Accident in misty conditions on a bridge in the U.K. county of Kent.
Video link:
 100 car pileup1:31

Fire officials say up to 100 cars have been involved in a traffic accident on a fog-shrouded bridge southeast of London.

Kent Fire & Rescue Service says hydraulic cutting equipment was needed to free six people injured in the pileup that took place on New Kingsferry Bridge in Sheppey, which is located in the southeast English county of Kent.

A rescue worker works amid the wreckage of some of the 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions, which took place in dense fog during the Thursday morning rush hour on the Sheppey Bridge in Kent, east of London. 
A rescue worker works amid the wreckage of some of the 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions, which took place in dense fog during the Thursday morning rush hour on the Sheppey Bridge in Kent, east of London. 

Kent Police said there were reports of at least eight serious injuries and 60 minor injuries.
South East Coast Ambulance Service says that by midday it had transported 35 patients to six hospitals.

The accident began at about 7:15 a.m. local time and continued on for 10 minutes as cars and trucks slammed into each other.

Witnesses put visibility at 20 metres and images from the scene showed masses of twisted metal.

What LA Can Teach The Rest Of America About Living Well (PHOTOS)


By Kathleen Mills, September 5, 2013

Posted:  |  Updated: 09/05/13 EDT

What LA Can Teach The Rest Of America About Living Well (PHOTOS)

Angelenos are stereotyped as being addicted to cars, tanning salons, plastic surgery, and extreme cleanses and diets. And those are all (unfortunately) aspects of Los Angeles.

LA was also recently ranked the fourth most polluted city in the United States. And, with more than 40,000 homeless individuals, it has the largest homeless population in the country.

But that's only part of the story. Angelenos are getting out of their cars, eating better, moving more, embracing the great outdoors and getting into shape in unique and innovative ways.

Here are 13 things that the rest of the country can learn from LA about living well:

1. Urban gardens at home, at schools and in neighborhoods


More and more Los Angeles Unified School District schools are incorporating edible gardening in their curriculum. Just within the last two years, the nonprofit Enrich LA has helped build over 50 edible gardens in LAUSD schools to teach healthy eating and gardening. A coalition of nonprofits is also working to increase recreational green space in LA schools.


A nonprofit called Fallen Fruit worked with the city this year to create LA's first public fruit park, with a couple dozen fruit trees that the public can pick freely. The group also made city maps of where fruit trees grow in public space. Another nonprofit, called Food Forward, collects surplus garden produce and fallen yard fruit to share with food banks and cooperatives.

2. Taking back the streets


Yes, they still drive a lot, but LA's "Streets for the People" program is converting car space to people space to encourage more walking, biking and interacting.


The city has begun to implement parklets, which are parking spaces converted to people space with furniture, bike parking and sometimes exercise equipment.

3. Top hospitals, cutting-edge medicine, free clinics

LA was third out of the five U.S. cities with the most top-ranked hospitals. LA is home to two hospitals on U.S. News & World Report's 2013 Honor Roll: UCLA Medical Center and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. In May, the tech-savvy folks at the UCLA Medical Center live-Vined/Tweeted/Instagrammed a musician's brain surgery. The videos below show his guitar-playing skills getting stronger and smoother as the operation progresses.


Various healthcare clinics provide free or cheap services to countless uninsured Angelenos. The nonprofit Care Harbor has provided free medical, dental and vision care to thousands of Angelenos in an annual clinic for the past five years. Since the passage of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, the nonprofit has also educated patients in ways they can benefit from the new law.

4. Angelenos bike LA


The city has fallen in love with CicLAvia, when major streets are shut down for walkers, bikers, skateboarders and anyone else not in a vehicle. There have been seven LA CicLAvias since the first one in 2010. CicLAvia, as well as adding more bike lanes and secure bike parking, has helped LA's biking culture flourish.

5. Juicin' it

la juice bars

Angelenos are hooked on fresh-squeezed juice. Juice bars have popped up all over the city. Wheatgrass-beet-parsley-dandelion-cucumber juice, anyone?

6. Walking in LA

cyclavia los angeles

No one walks in LA? Not so, says nonprofit Los Angeles Walks. The group started WalkLAvia, as a part of CicLAvia, to encourage walking, and works with the city to make walking easier and safer. The city's "pedestrian coordinator" is working to improve signaling, striping, crosswalks, signage and lighting to make walking in LA safer, especially for children and seniors.

7. Farmers markets galore

View Los Angeles Farmers Markets in a larger map
There are farmers markets in LA every day of the week, across the city. Fresh and local produce, arts and crafts, foodie stands, food trucks and occasional live performers make farmers markets an event, not just an errand.

8. So fresh and so green

smoking ban los angeles

Parts of LA are rich with restaurants and grocery stores with fresh foods. There's something for everyone -- vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and all ethnic varieties. Kale and avocado are all the rage.


Fresh fruit -- with lime juice and chili powder -- from a Latino street vendor may be the most refreshing (and cheap!) snack in LA.


South LA and other low-income parts of the city have been called "food deserts" for their lack of grocery stores with fresh food. In response, in 2011 the California FreshWorks Fund -– a coalition of health organizations, banks and groceries -– committed $264 million in public-private loans to help bring fresh food into low-income neighborhoods to reduce obesity. First lady Michelle Obama visited Inglewood in 2012 to promote the program.

9. Exercise, nature, vitamin D

thomas sørenes

There are over 100 public recreation centers and parks across LA, such as the Venice basketball courts pictured above.

santa monica

LA parks are alive with exercise equipment, classes and boot camps.


Angelenos hike in their own city, in spots like Runyon Canyon, Griffith Park and Elysian Park (pictured above: Bell Canyon Park).

10. The Mecca Of Alternative Medicine


LA is home to a plethora of alternative medicine treatments, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, Chinese medicine, chiropractry, dietary supplements, energy therapies, reiki, reflexology and much more.

11. Do not smoke (even outside food trucks)!

smoking ban los angeles

California became the first state to ban smoking in enclosed workplaces in 1995. In 2004, the state banned smoking within 20 feet of a public building, and, in 2008, it banned smoking in a moving vehicle while in the presence of a minor.

In 2007, LA banned smoking in all city parks. In 2011, the city banned lighting up in outdoor cafes, food courts and within 40 feet of food trucks (pictured above: Councilman Tom LaBonge with then Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa). Last year, UCLA became a tobacco-free campus, and the entire University of California system plans to be smoke-free by 2014.

12. Workouts get eccentric

smoking ban los angeles

For those bored of the treadmill, LA's eccentric exercise options include drumming (pictured above), Hoopnotica, cirque school, trampoline parks, Zumba, obstacle races, outdoor rowing and aqua spinning. Some Angelenos exercise at trendy clubs such as the Sweat Spot, CrossFit, SoulCycle, Pop Physique and Physique 57.


There is yoga for everyone in LA, even including YogAqua (pictured above), antigravity yoga, paddleboard yoga and ripped yoga.

13. Great Outdoors. Enough said.
los angeles beach
joshua tree

king damus

New ASA-Supported California Law Assures Payment of Subcontractors


September 7, 2013

A new California law helps assure that construction subcontractors, specialty trade contractors, and suppliers will be paid for work they perform and services they provide on construction components of certain infrastructure projects financed through public-private partnerships.

On Aug. 13, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed legislation (AB 164), supported by the American Subcontractors Association, amending the government code related to infrastructure financing that authorizes local government agencies to use P3s to design, finance, and maintain a variety of fee-producing infrastructure facilities. The new law (Chapter 94) extends the California “Little Miller Act” to these P3s by requiring the inclusion of “payment bonds to secure the payment of claims of laborers, mechanics, and materials suppliers employed on the work under contract” and “performance bonds as security to ensure the completion of the construction of the facility.”

The California “Little Miller Act” requires the prime contractor to furnish surety bonds on public construction projects in excess of $25,000 in the amount of 100 percent of the contract to assure that the project will be completed, protecting taxpayer dollars, and that subcontractors and suppliers, many of which are small businesses, will be paid.

ASA of California initiated the legislation, which was supported by other major construction associations in the state.

 “More than 268,000 licensed subcontractors will benefit from this payment protection, especially because P3 projects have become more popular since public coffers have suffered,” said Daniel F. McLennon, Esq., McLennon Law Corp., San Francisco, Calif. McLennon, chair of ASA of California’s Government Relations Committee, along with Scott Holbrook, Esq., Crawford & Bangs, Covina, Calif., worked on the bill’s language.

Depending on how a construction project funded by both public and private sources is structured, the project may be exempt from both payment bond requirements and mechanic’s liens, leaving subcontractors and suppliers without adequate payment assurances.

On July 16, ASA urged Gov. Brown to sign the legislation. “Lack of payment assurances shifts very substantial risks to subcontractors and suppliers working on a P3 project,” wrote ASA Chief Advocacy Officer E. Colette Nelson. “Typically, subcontractors extend large amounts of credit before submitting an invoice to the project’s prime contractor. They will have paid their workers and suppliers. They may even have paid estimated taxes before payment is forthcoming for work properly performed. Taxpayers ultimately bear the costs of increased risk of nonpayment to construction subcontractors and suppliers.”

Increasingly, California and other states are funding construction projects for public use through public-private partnerships. Typically, the public entity will provide the land and authorize the private entity to design, build, and frequently operate the resulting public work. In trying to maximize the incentives for the participation of private investment in P3 projects, state and local governments try to minimize government red tape. The zeal to reduce red tape has damaging consequences, however, when it eliminates or omits deeply justified requirements related to public procurement, such as the statutory payment protections for work performed by subcontractors and suppliers.

“With this new California law, as well as other state P3 laws enacted during 2013, construction subcontractors have turned the tide against those attempting to use P3s as a tool to erode subcontractor payment rights,” Nelson said.