To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Friday, September 6, 2013

Monrovia Latest Area City to Take Position on 710 Freeway Closure

The city voted to support the closure of the 710 gap but with language that does not favor any particular method of doing so.


By Melanie Johnson and Dan Abendschein, September 6, 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.

 Sierra Madre's City Council voted last October to oppose a tunnel project that would connect the 710 Freeway to the 210 Freeway.  That move aligned it with La Canada Flintridge, South Pasadena and the City of Los Angeles, Glendale and the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, which have cast similar votes in opposition.  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. 

Editor's note: A previous version of this story said in the sub-head that Monrovia supported a tunnel extension, whereas the resolution the Council passed did not specify how the 710 gap should be closed

Bill to help Metro resume receiving federal funds is approved by state Senate


By Steve Hymon, September 6, 2013

A bill is making progress today through the state Legislature that would help — at least for now — preserve $3.6 billion in federal funding for Metro, as well as millions of dollars for other transit agencies in California. (For more background, please see this post from earlier this week).

The bill exempts transit workers from California’s pension reform law (known as PEPRA) for 15 months. The U.S. Department of Labor has said that pension reform violates the collective bargaining rights of transit workers, thereby disqualifying many transit agencies in the state from receiving federal funding.

Here are the three updates thus far today from Metro’s government relations staff:
PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) was unanimously approved by the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee earlier this morning. AB 1222 is the measure which provides a 15 month exemption from the state’s pension reform law. A number of labor unions spoke in support of the bill along with a number of transit agencies from around the state. Metro’s state advocacy team is working to move the bill through the legislative process and one of our representatives spoke in support of the bill this morning. The bill will next be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee and then be considered on the Senate Floor. These two votes are expected to take place later today.

PEPRA/13(C) Update

Moments ago the Senate Appropriations Committee approved AB 1222 (Bloom) on a 5-1 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate floor for consideration by the full State Senate.

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) just passed the State Senate on a 32-6 vote. The measure will now be transmitted to the Assembly for consideration.

New article asks does stopping sprawl meaning stopping growth?


By Steve Hymon, September 6, 2013

 Sprawl as seen from an airplane. Photo by Premshee Pillai, via Flickr creative commons.
 Sprawl as seen from an airplane.

A super interesting opinion piece  by Gerhard W. Mayer about sprawl, transit and development in Southern California was posted to the Architects Newspaper website:

The thrust of the piece: sprawl isn’t a reason for our region to stop growing. If anything, it’s the exact reason we should continue to grow but in a denser fashion — to create more jobs, more jobs near transit and to give transit the riders it needs to survive and thrive.

The three key paragraphs:
These issues are connected. Popular lore is that we have gotten too big, too dense. NIMBY groups blame growth for most of our woes. But by protesting growth they are also cutting off the funds that have kept us going thus far; and NIMBY activist’s resolve is putting the fear of God into our politicians if they just think about new development.
Building public transit into a city with an automotive DNA is not nearly enough. Public transit needs ridership to sustain itself. In our car-based city, people are living too far apart from each other to make it possible for enough of us to walk to transit. Once we are in a car, not enough of us get out to switch over to trains. Metro calls this the first mile, last mile problem. There are lots of smart people working on this problem, but the only way to fully resolve it is not to limp along with the city we have, but build the city we need.

The right answer is density, even if “density” is the least popular word in post-war suburban America. We often throw the word out as a verbal firebomb against new development. However, the right density is really our solution. Not everywhere of course, only within walking distance of a transit station. To offset building concentrations, we can become less dense in between transit lines to the point where we can create new open space. Yes, a better, denser, and more sustainable city can also mean less dense areas and more parks! If we succeeded in creating a balance between higher density along public transit lines and new open space in other areas of the city, we’d once again create a model for the world to admire and imitate.
I highly recommend giving the entire article a look. If you’re reading The Source, it’s likely that you’re interested in this exact kind of thing and disputes about density remain a near constant in our area.

My three cents: Even with the expense of driving, I don’t think many people in our area are prepared to give up having a car. They’re too convenient and/or necessary for many people despite the hassles.
I do think, however, many people would love to drive less to save money on gas and depreciation of their expensive vehicles. I also think many people crave living in the kind of nice, walkable, bikable, transit-able (new word!) communities that Gerhard discusses in his article.

I also think Gerhard hits a home run on the article’s most important point: using sprawl as an excuse to shut down economic growth is a really bad idea that will harm our region far more than it helps it.

Update: Caltrans "Surplus Homes"

Posted by California Assemblyman Chris Holden on Facebook, September 6, 2013

I want to thank Sen. Carol Liu for her leadership on legislation to ensure the timely sale of "surplus homes" currently owned by Cal Trans in the Pasadena-South Pas - East LA 710 corridor. SB 410, which I am co-authoring with Sen. Liu made it out of the Assembly today; just one more hurdle and its on its way.

 The text to SB 416:

SB-416 Surplus residential property.(2013-2014)

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Amended  IN  Assembly  September 03, 2013
Amended  IN  Assembly  August 19, 2013
Amended  IN  Assembly  August 07, 2013
Amended  IN  Assembly  June 24, 2013
Amended  IN  Senate  May 28, 2013
Amended  IN  Senate  May 01, 2013
Amended  IN  Senate  April 17, 2013


Senate Bill No. 416

Introduced by Senator Liu
(Coauthor: Coauthors: Assembly Member Members Gatto and Holden)

February 20, 2013

An act to amend Sections 54236 and 54237 of, and to add Sections 54237.3 and, 54237.7, and 54237.8 to, the Government Code, relating to surplus residential property, and making an appropriation therefor.


SB 416, as amended, Liu. Surplus residential property.
Existing law declares the intent of the Legislature to preserve, upgrade, and expand the supply of housing to persons and families of low or moderate income, through the sale of specified surplus residential property owned by public agencies. Existing law establishes priorities and procedures that any state agency disposing of that surplus residential property is required to follow, and defines relevant terms for these purposes, including “fair market value.”
This bill would revise the definition of “fair market value” for purposes of the sale of this surplus residential property, to reflect the existing “as is” condition of the property, taking into account any needed repairs.
Existing law requires specified single-family residences to be first offered to their present occupants, at an affordable price, as defined. Under existing law, the selling agency has the option of making repairs to the property required by lenders or government assistance programs, or providing the occupants with a replacement dwelling, pursuant to a specified provision of law.
This bill would revise the procedures applicable to the sale of these surplus residential properties not otherwise sold pursuant to existing procedures, to be offered to current and former tenants in good standing, respectively, and to purchasers who will be owner occupants. The bill additionally would require the selling agency to offer tenants in good standing of nonresidential properties to be given priority to purchase the property they occupy. The bill would authorize the Department of Transportation to offer a residence or property in an “as is” condition, at the request of a person with priority to purchase the residence or property in accordance with existing law.
This bill would require proceeds from sales of surplus residential property to be placed in the SR-710 Rehabilitation Account, created by the bill, and would continuously appropriate these funds for the purpose of providing specified repairs to the properties until the last of the properties is repaired, at which time the funds, less any reimbursements due to the federal government, would be transferred to the State Highway Account, for allocation by the California Transportation Commission, as specified.
This bill would provide that the preliminary project alternative referred to as Alternative F-6 in the December 2012 Alternative Analysis Report of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority shall no longer be deemed a feasible alternative for consideration in any state environmental review process for the Interstate 710 North Gap Closure project, as specified.
Vote: 2/3   Appropriation: YES   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


 Section 54236 of the Government Code is amended to read:
 (a) As used in this article, the term “offer” means to solicit proposals prior to sale in a manner calculated to achieve a sale under the conditions specified, and to hold the offer open for a reasonable period of time, which shall be no more than one year, unless the time is extended by the selling agency at its discretion, for a period to be specified by the selling agency.
(b) As used in this article, the term “affordable price” means, in the case of a purchaser, other than a lower income household, the price for residential property for which the purchaser’s monthly payments will not exceed that portion of the purchasing household’s adjusted income as determined in accordance with the regulations of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, issued pursuant to Section 235 of the National Housing Act; and, in the case of a purchaser that is a lower income household, the price for residential property for which the purchaser’s monthly payments will not exceed that portion of the purchasing household’s adjusted income as determined in accordance with the regulations of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued pursuant to Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937.
(c) As used in this article, the term “single-family residence” means a real property improvement used, or intended to be used, as a dwelling unit for one family.
(d) As used in this article, the term “surplus residential property” means land and structures owned by any agency of the state that is determined to be no longer necessary for the agency’s use, and that is developed as single-family or multifamily housing, except property being held by the agency for the purpose of exchange.
Surplus residential properties shall only include land and structures that, at the time of purchase by the state, the state had intended to remove the residences thereon and to use the land for state purposes.
(e) As used in this article, the term “displacement” includes, but is not limited to, persons who will have to move from surplus residential property that they occupy when it is sold by a state agency because they are unable to afford to pay the price that the state agency is asking for the residential property.
(f) As used in this article, the term “fair market value” shall mean fair market value as of the date the offer of sale is made by the selling agency pursuant to the provisions of this article and shall reflect the existing “as is” condition of the property, taking into account any repairs required to make the property safe and habitable. This definition shall not apply to terms of sale that are described as mitigation measures in an environmental study prepared pursuant to the Public Resources Code if the study was initiated before this measure was enacted.
(g) As used in this article, the term “affordable rent” means, in the case of an occupant person or family, other than a person or family of low or moderate income, rent for residential property that is not more than 25 percent of the occupant household’s gross monthly income, and in the case of an occupant person or family of low or moderate income, rent for residential property that is not more than the percentage of the adjusted income of the occupant person or family as permitted under regulations of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued pursuant to Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, but not in excess of the market rental value for comparable property.
(h) As used in this article, the term “area median income” means median household income, adjusted for family size as determined in accordance with the regulations of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued pursuant to Section 235 of the National Housing Act, as amended (Public Law 90-448), for the standard metropolitan statistical area (SMSA), in which surplus residential property to be disposed of pursuant to this article is located, or the county in which the property is located, if it is outside an SMSA.
(i) As used in this article, the term “persons and families of low or moderate income” means persons and families who meet both of the following conditions:
(1) Meet the definition of persons and families of low or moderate income set forth in Section 50093 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) Have not had an ownership interest in real property in the last three years.
(j) As used in this article, the term “lower income households” means lower income households as defined in Section 50079.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

SEC. 2.

 Section 54237 of the Government Code is amended to read:
 (a) Notwithstanding Section 11011.1, any agency of the state disposing of surplus residential property shall do so in accordance with the following priorities and procedures:
(1) First, all single-family residences presently occupied by their former owners shall be offered to those former owners at the appraised fair market value.
(2) Second, all single-family residences shall be offered, pursuant to this article, to their present occupants who have occupied the property two years or more and who are persons and families of low or moderate income.
(3) Third, all single-family residences shall be offered, pursuant to this article, to their present occupants who have occupied the property five years or more and whose household income does not exceed 150 percent of the area median income.
(4) Fourth, a single-family residence shall not be offered, pursuant to this article, to present occupants who are not the former owners of the property if the present occupants have had an ownership interest in real property in the last three years.
(b) Single-family residences offered to their present occupants pursuant to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) shall be offered to those present occupants at an affordable price, which price shall not be less than the price paid by the agency for original acquisition, unless the acquisition price was greater than the current fair market value, and shall not be greater than fair market value. When single-family residences are offered to present occupants at a price that is less than fair market value, the selling agency shall impose terms, conditions, and restrictions to ensure that the housing will remain available to persons and families of low or moderate income and households with incomes no greater than the incomes of the present occupants in proportion to the area median income. The Department of Housing and Community Development shall provide to the selling agency recommendations of standards and criteria for these prices, terms, conditions, and restrictions. The selling agency shall provide repairs required by lenders and government housing assistance programs, or, at the option of the agency, provide the present occupants with a replacement dwelling pursuant to Section 54237.5.
(c) If single-family residences are offered to their present occupants pursuant to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a), the occupants shall certify their income and assets to the selling agency. When single-family residences are offered to present occupants at a price that is less than fair market value, the selling agency may verify the certifications, in accordance with procedures utilized for verification of incomes of purchasers and occupants of housing financed by the California Housing Finance Agency and with regulations adopted for the verification of assets by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. The income and asset limitations and term of residency requirements of paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) shall not apply to sales that are described as mitigation measures in an environmental study prepared pursuant to the Public Resources Code, if the study was initiated before this measure was enacted.
(d) All other surplus residential properties and all properties described in paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of subdivision (a) that are not purchased by the former owners or the present occupants shall be then offered to housing-related private and public entities at a reasonable price, which is best suited to economically feasible use of the property as decent, safe, and sanitary housing at affordable rents and affordable prices for persons and families of low or moderate income, on the condition that the purchasing entity shall cause the property to be rehabilitated and developed as limited equity cooperative housing with first right of occupancy to present occupants, except that where the development of cooperative or cooperatives is not feasible, the purchasing agency shall cause the property to be used for low and moderate income rental or owner-occupied housing, with first right of occupancy to the present tenants. The price of the property in no case shall be less than the price paid by the agency for original acquisition unless the acquisition price was greater than current fair market value and shall not be greater than fair market value. Subject to the foregoing, it shall be set at the level necessary to provide housing at affordable rents and affordable prices for present tenants and persons and families of low or moderate income. When residential property is offered at a price that is less than fair market value, the selling agency shall impose terms, conditions, and restrictions as will ensure that the housing will remain available to persons and families of low or moderate income. The Department of Housing and Community Development shall provide to the selling agency recommendations of standards and criteria for prices, terms, conditions, and restrictions.
(e) Any surplus residential properties not sold pursuant to subdivisions (a) to (d), inclusive, shall then be sold at fair market value, with priority given first to purchasers who are present tenants in good standing with all rent obligations current and paid in full, second to former tenants who were in good standing at the time they vacated the premises, with priority given to the most recent tenants first, and then to purchasers who will be owner occupants. The selling agency may commence the sales of properties that former tenants may possess a right to purchase as provided by this subdivision 30 days after the selling agency has done both of the following:
(1) Posted information regarding the sales under this subdivision on the selling agency’s Internet Web site.
(2) Made a good faith effort to provide written notice, by first-class mail, to the last known address of each former tenant.
(f) Tenants in good standing of nonresidential properties shall be given priority to purchase, at fair market value, the property they rent, lease, or otherwise legally occupy.

SEC. 3.

 Section 54237.3 is added to the Government Code, to read:
 Notwithstanding the requirement to provide repairs in subdivision (b) of Section 54237, the Department of Transportation may offer a residence or property in an “as is” condition at the request of a person given priority to purchase pursuant to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subdivision (a) of Section 54237.

SEC. 4.

 Section 54237.7 is added to the Government Code, to read:
 Notwithstanding Section 183.1 of the Streets and Highways Code, the Department of Transportation shall deposit proceeds from sales pursuant to this article into the SR-710 Rehabilitation Account, which is hereby created. Notwithstanding Section 13340, funds in the account are hereby continuously appropriated to the department without regard to fiscal years for the purpose of providing repairs required pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 54237. The total funds maintained in the account shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). Funds exceeding that amount, less any reimbursements due to the federal government, shall be transferred to the State Highway Account in the State Transportation Fund to be used for allocation by the California Transportation Commission (commission) exclusively to fund projects located in Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, La Cañada Flintridge, and the 90032 postal ZIP Code. Projects shall be selected and prioritized by the affected communities in consultation with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, pursuant to guidelines developed by the commission. The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority shall submit a proposed program of projects and the commission shall have final authority to approve the projects. Eligible projects may include, but are not limited to: sound walls; transit and rail capital improvements; bikeways; pedestrian improvements; signal synchronization; left turn signals; and major street resurfacing, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. The funds shall not be used to advance or construct any proposed North State Route 710 tunnel. Any funds remaining in the SR-710 Rehabilitation Account on the date that final payment due for the last of the properties repaired has been made, less any reimbursements due to the federal government, shall be transferred to the State Highway Account in the State Transportation Fund, to be used exclusively for the purposes described in this section.

SEC. 5.

 Section 54237.8 is added to the Government Code, to read:
 Notwithstanding any other law, for purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code), the preliminary project alternative referred to as Alternative F-6 in the December 2012 Alternative Analysis Report of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority shall no longer be deemed a feasible alternative for consideration in any state environmental review process for the Interstate 710 North Gap Closure project, State Clearinghouse number 1982092310.

Overdrive: How America's Amazing Car Recovery Explains the Economy


By Derek Thompson, September 6, 2013

 Overdrive: How America's Amazing Car Recovery Explains the Economy

There was a time, not so long ago, when cars supposedly personified the American character. Our aggression, our style, our rugged independence. In the last 30 years, the automobile has faded slightly in the American imagination, but today the car industry does, in fact, explain the American economy.
It is a surprisingly durable, fantastically productive juggernaut, whose success relies on the old, the rich, and foreign trade -- and less on American workers.
•       •       •       •       •
To begin this story, let's appreciate the big picture. The car economy, a small but mighty sliver of American industry, has been on a roll. Since 2009, car production has nearly doubled, accounting for between 15 and 20 percent of our whole recovery.

Ford and GM said this past August was the best month for car sales in seven years. JD Power is saying it might be the best month on record. But man cannot live on cars alone, and neither can countries. "We're not big enough to tow the whole boat," Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, tells me. "It's lonely all out there by yourself."

For decades, housing has been the engine the moves recoveries. When people would clean up their debt, they'd swing a house. And, at least since 1950, a house meant a garage, and a garage meant a new car. As Jordan Weissmann has written, cars and houses accounted for more than half of the recovery in the 1970s, a third of the "Reagan Recovery" in the early 1980s, a sixth of the recoveries in the early 1990s and 2000s.

But this time, cars are leading houses, thanks to a surprising source: older Americans. "[Demand] is coming from an increased buying rate of people over 55," McAlinden said, "which is scary because we don't have a lot of repeat sales left in us."

Young people are essentially locked out of the car market, just as they have been locked out of the housing market -- and the labor market. Average vehicle prices are as high as ever, but wages are low, and unemployment for young people has typically been twice as high as for the overall population. There is also evidence that cars have fallen from their cultural perch, squeezed by urbanization among young people and the growth of a new, expensive, social, mobile technology -- the smartphone.

Young vs. old might not be the most important binary for car companies. That would be rich vs. poor. The U.S. is beginning to look like the aristocratic auto market we're used to seeing in Europe, McAlinden sayd, where the top 25 percent buys most of the new cars and the bottom 75 percent only buys old and used. "Seventy-five percent of households here are relying on used cars, thinking 'I hope that rich guy is done,'" he said.

Plutocracy in the car market isn't unique, but rather illustrative. There is “no such animal as the U.S. consumer,” three Citigroup analysts concluded in the heart of the real estate boom in 2005. Instead, we have the rich and the rest. As Don Peck wrote in his summer 2011 cover story for The Atlantic, for many industries, "the rest" just don't matter.
All the action in the American economy was at the top: the richest 1 percent of households earned as much each year as the bottom 60 percent put together; they possessed as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent; and with each passing year, a greater share of the nation’s treasure was flowing through their hands and into their pockets. It was this segment of the population, almost exclusively, that held the key to future growth and future returns.
The last two years have done nothing to make those Citigroup economists look anything less than prophetic. Middle-income jobs (like, say, auto-parts workers) made up 60 percent of jobs lost in the recession, but lower-wage occupations have accounted for about 60 percent of jobs gained the recovery. The auto recovery, like the U.S. recovery, is built on a fragile assumption: The rich can be rich enough for the rest of us.

So Much Work, So Where Are the Jobs?

The amazing car comeback has not translated into equally amazing jobs. Auto manufacturing employment is up since 2009, but whereas the motor industry has accounted for 15 to 20 percent of economic growth, it's accounted for just 2 to 3 percent of job growth. "We're at record productivity levels," McAlinden said. But productivity across the industry hasn't trickled down as better pay or equally rising employment. Instead, car companies are making more with less. According to CAR figures shared with The Atlantic, total motor vehicle output has grown 75 percent faster than total industry employment.

Why? First, the auto industry is seeing record levels of overtime. Second, car companies are relying on logistics and trucking companies -- not typically counted in auto manufacturing categories -- to work in and around the factories today to assist with assembly and sequencing of parts. These workers, even if unionized, tend to be paid less than members of the auto union. Third, car companies are importing more finished parts from Mexico -- hatchbacks, body panels, electronics -- which means cheaper Mexican workers have replaced Americans.

Data shared by Yen Chen, a senior economist at CAR, shows auto imports from Mexico on an absolute tear since 2009, far outstripping China, Canada, and Japan.

"We suspect that the record levels of parts imports is a big reason why employment is stuck in the rut," McAlinden said. The parts sector in Mexico employs 540,000 people, compared to about 480,000 in the U.S. Remarkably, Mexico's industry is already "bigger" than the United States. As we've seen with other global industries, American employment has been restrained by large companies moving more labor along their supply chain to cheaper countries. American companies simply don't need that many more Americans.
•       •       •       •       •
The modern auto recovery is, over all, a sensational story. We need growth, and we're getting more of it from cars than perhaps another other industry.

But unpacking this story reveals a more frightening picture of American industry and productivity. In the mid-20th century, a strange and wonderful blip of good fortune for the American middle class, unions concentrated in the manufacturing sector helped millions of American families achieve healthy and rising wages, thanks to collective bargaining and a burgeoning industry that wasn't yet automated or globalized. But that story is over. It has been replaced by a new American story where one of the country's most iconic industries scarcely needs more American workers to do all the work it needs.

A fun safety video from our friends at MBTA in Boston


By Steve Hymon, September 6, 2013

Given that it’s Rail Safety Month in California, I thought it would be appropriate to post a new video from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which provides bus and rail service in the Greater Boston area.

It’s always great to see government agencies be creative — and reject the notion that government has to be a dry, boring endeavor disconnected from the people who fund it. The above video reminds me of another great one from last year, courtesy of the Metro system in Melbourne, Australia.

Video: Monrovia City Council Meeting, September 3, 2013

This video is five hours and 30 seconds long. The discussion concerning the reaffirmation of the city of Monrovia completing the 710 Freeway beings at 46 minutes.

Video at  http://kgem.tv/category/monrovia/monrovia-city-council/

Neighborhood Walk with Mayor Garcetti

Posted on Facebook by Los Angeles Councilmember Mike Bonin, September 5, 2013

It might be warm, but it's a weekend for walking! On Sunday, I will be doing my inaugural "Hike with Mike" in Pacific Palisades, and on Saturday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and I will be going to door, talking with residents in Venice. Like the mayor, I am determined to bring City Hall closer to our neighborhoods -- and this door to door canvass is part of that effort. Last month, I went door to door in Del Rey, and we'll be coming YOUR neighborhood soon!


Rail car maker Kinkisharyo moving headquarters to El Segundo


By Muhammed El-Hasan, September 5, 2013

 Kinkisharyo, the No. 1 supplier of low-floor light rail vehicles in North America, is moving its U.S. headquarters from Massachusetts to El Segundo, bringing about 25 jobs to the South Bay city and about 250 jobs to Palmdale where it will manufacture rail cars for the MTA.

Kinkisharyo International Inc., the No. 1 supplier of low-floor light rail vehicles in North America, is moving its U.S. headquarters from Massachusetts to El Segundo, bringing about 25 jobs to the South Bay city and another 250 positions to the Palmdale area, where it will manufacture rail cars for the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“We are moving our U.S. headquarters because we believe in Los Angeles and believe that this location will give us great opportunities to grow our business,” said Teiji Tani, president of Kinkisharyo International, in an email response to written questions.

Kinkisharyo International is the U.S. subsidiary of The Kinki Sharyo Co., Ltd., based in Osaka, Japan.

The headquarters move to a 5,000-square-foot site, at 300 N. Continental Blvd., started over the summer and is expected to be completed sometime this fall.

In July, the MTA board voted to exercise two options to an earlier contract with Kinkisharyo. Worth a combined $397 million, the two options call for 97 new light rail vehicles to be used on the Crenshaw/LAX Line and to replace older vehicles in Metro’s fleet.

“It’s a very big deal,” Tani said of the options. “In addition to it being a significant increase in the number of cars we are contracted to build, the execution of these two options triggers a commitment that we made last year to construct the actual car shells in the United States. So, we look forward to establishing and building a production facility in coming years. This will mean more high-quality, high-wage jobs for more American workers.”

Kinkisharyo’s business model has been to perform final assembly of rail cars in the area where the transit agency ordering the vehicles is located, Tani said. The company has assembled and delivered rail cars in Boston, Hudson Bergen in northern New Jersey, Dallas, San Jose, Seattle and Phoenix. Kinkisharyo has been based in Westwood, Mass., since 1985.

Kinkisharyo is finalizing a lease at Plant 9, a parcel of land near Palmdale Airport that is owned by the city of Los Angeles, Tani said.

“We are currently in final negotiations to perform this work in the Antelope Valley and ... we will recruit and train a workforce in Palmdale to assemble, test and deliver the cars,” Tani said.
Palmdale has some manufacturing operations, including aircraft work by Boeing Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

“We’re always in favor of things that will create jobs and keep money in the local economy,” said Jeff McElfresh, CEO at the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce.

Kinkisharyo is North America’s top supplier of low-floor light rail vehicles, by both volume and value. That gives the company and its new home in El Segundo a high profile in the industry.
By contrast, El Segundo and other Southern California cities have lost corporate headquarters or other operations in recent years.

In May, Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems said it was moving its headquarters staff from El Segundo to McKinney, Texas, as part of a broad company reorganization.

In 2011, military contractor Northrop Grumman moved its corporate headquarters from Century City to Falls Church, Va., to be closer to its primary customer, the Pentagon. Falls Church also is where Computer Sciences Corp. transferred its headquarters from El Segundo in 2008 to merge its corporate base with its corporate leadership in Virginia.

In 2010, aerospace giant Boeing Co. announced plans to move two aircraft modernization programs, for the C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft and the B-1 bomber, from Long Beach to Oklahoma City, Okla., in an effort to cut costs.

However, El Segundo Mayor Bill Fisher said that despite the high-profile departures, his city has been attracting other companies, including technology firms, a vegetarian food company and a new hotel.

“The good news is even through the downturn in the economy, businesses have continued to move to El Segundo,” Fisher said. “It’s because of our low-tax structure and pro-business environment.”

What Do London's Tube Stations Taste Like?


By Mark Byrnes, September 6, 2013

 What Do London's Tube Stations Taste Like?

Today's postcard comes from London, where one man with synesthesia has mapped out what flavors he tastes at every single Tube station.

54-year-old James Wannerton has lexical-gustatory synesthesia, which means a word, spoken or written, triggers vivid sensations of taste, texture and even temperature. Since the age of 5, when Wannerton started taking the Underground to school, he noticed distinct taste associations with each station. As he got older, he started to keep track of them, compiling a list of each station names and taste starting at the age of 16 and adding to it ever since.

Wannerton's "Tastes of London" map. Courtesy James Wannerton and Transport for London. (Click here for larger version)

It's taken him 49 years to visit and record the flavor of all 360 tube stations. His final one, visited in February, tasted to Wannerton like onion rings and HP sauce. For the most part, the tastes don't change, "Neasden was cold, sliced potato when I was five and it’s still cold, slice potato today," says Wannerton, adding, "consistency is one of the defining features of synaesthesia."

After recent visits, Wannerton was able to do similar projects on the subway systems of Toronto and New York. As for future taste maps, he says he's "convinced the Paris Metro would be a great system to taste." In the meantime, Wannerton is working on art projects that attempt to graphically express the synaesthetic taste experience, something that Wannerton says "for obvious reasons is very difficult to achieve."

James Wannerton's best-tasting Tube stations:

"There are quite a few nice tasting tube stations. My top three would definitely include Baker Street which has the taste and texture of a Jam Roly-Poly pudding. Another personal favorite is Paddington which comes with the beautiful taste and texture of a Flump (pink marshmallow). Top of the list though has to be Tottenham Court Road. It has the taste and texture of an English breakfast – sausage and a fried egg, done just right!

Some routes have interesting taste combinations that go perfectly together and there are others that produce a smorgasbord of mismatched tastes such as crispy bacon followed immediately by condensed milk."

And his worst-tasting?

"One that immediately springs to mind is Bond Street which has the horrible nasal taste and texture of hair spray. Another would be Cannon Street complete with the taste and texture of 3-In-One lubricating oil. Or Bethnal Green which tastes very strongly of boiled cabbage."

Buddiga: Time to plan for a healthier Fresno County


By Praveen Buddiga, September 5, 2013

Seeing up to 30 patients per day, I know that many are dealing with the consequences of their environment. Whether people are sick with asthma or diabetes or other chronic diseases, it is clear to me that where people live impacts health. We have built our way into poor health for decades, and it needs to change.

Neighborhoods designed for cars are not healthy neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the way our communities have been designed increase traffic and pollution while reducing opportunities to walk or bike for even the shortest daily errands. Air pollution impacts chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart and lung disease.

It is time to plan for a healthier Fresno. It is time to revitalize our downtowns and rural neighborhoods. It is time for more sidewalks and walking, more bike lanes and bicycling, more bus trips and transit options. It is time to connect regional planning decisions to public health.

When residents have to get in their cars for short trips to the store, school or church, it affects their health. Every day, I see the toll that COPD, asthma and other respiratory illnesses take on my patients, my friends and my own family.

Breathing unhealthy air can affect everything from birth weight to school performance, and it can lead to an increased risk for a lifetime of lung disease. In fact, recent research found that we could eliminate more than 20,000 respiratory illnesses and save $342 million in health costs annually simply from smarter community planning that reduces traffic pollution in the San Joaquin Valley.

As a physician, I'm alarmed by the annual reports that continue to give the Valley's unhealthy air a failing grade. Despite efforts to clean up cars, trucks and power plants, every year the American Lung Association State of the Air report reminds us that Valley cities are among the most polluted in America.

We know that unhealthy air costs our Valley economy $6 billion each year; that's $1,400 per Valley resident. According to the California Department of Public Health, one in five kids in Fresno have been diagnosed with asthma, well above the statewide average. In 2010, 700 Fresno kids were hospitalized due to asthma, at a cost of more than $11 million. Particulates, like those spewed from diesel trucks, agricultural equipment and local sources, help take the lives of 1,500 Valley residents each year, according to state research.

As far as our chronic illness burdens, we don't fare much better. Thirty percent of Fresno adults are obese, as are more than 40% of our children. The April 2013 report by state and local health officers ranked Fresno County 52nd worst for diabetes deaths. Nearly 200,000 of our fellow residents have heart disease. Daily, I see patients who struggle with diabetes and heart disease that could be improved through moderate daily exercise. We need to plan for better health.

We can't change our geography — which naturally traps some air pollution — but there is something we can do: Urge regional planners to consider public health when designing neighborhoods for easy access to schools, work and shopping.

As our Council of Governments moves forward to provide a plan for growing in the future, those in the health community, and all those who want healthier communities, need to speak out.

The Fresno COG has been holding workshops that provide a real opportunity to vote for a vision that makes health a priority. The final workshop is this coming Monday, Sept. 9. We have an opportunity to ask important questions: Which option provides the most opportunities for walking and biking as safe, practical alternatives to driving? Which option gets the most buses rolling to the most places we need to be? Which looks at our downtowns and rural communities for new housing rather than taking precious farmland?

Such decisions affect the health of everyone, so everyone should use this opportunity to envision and support a healthier place to live and raise their families.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/09/05/3481157/time-to-plan-for-a-healthier-fresno.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/09/05/3481157/time-to-plan-for-a-healthier-fresno.html#storylink=cpy

CLEAN AIR: Reducing air pollution extends lives


By David Danelski, September 5, 2013

 Bruce MacRae, Vice President Government Affairs for UPS, talks about the companies new fleet of electric delivery trucks during a press conference at the UPS Distribution Facility in San Bernardino on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. UPS announced Wednesday of their recent deployment of electric delivery trucks in Southern California. 

An electric UPS delivery truck sits with no exhaust pipe during a press conference at the UPS Distribution Facility in San Bernardino on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. UPS announced Wednesday of their recent deployment of electric delivery trucks in Southern California.  An electric UPS delivery truck sits with no exhaust pipe during a press conference at the UPS Distribution Facility in San Bernardino on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. UPS announced Wednesday of their recent deployment of electric delivery trucks in Southern California.

 The fuel guage is replaced with an battery charge guage in the dash of an electric UPS delivery truck as it sits during a press conference at the UPS Distribution Facility in San Bernardino on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. UPS announced Wednesday of their recent deployment of electric delivery trucks in Southern California.

 The fuel guage is replaced with an battery charge guage in the dash of an electric UPS delivery truck as it sits during a press conference at the UPS Distribution Facility in San Bernardino on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. UPS announced Wednesday of their recent deployment of electric delivery trucks in Southern California.

Air quality improvements can be measured in human health.

Douglas Dockery, epidemiology department chair at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, was among the researchers who discovered that more people die on days when fine-particle pollution is high. The finding, made in the 1990s, helped persuade the Clinton administration to set clean-air standards for fine particles, despite industry objections about the potential costs.

In a recent interview, Dockery said he is upbeat about how overall health is improving as fine-particle levels drop in the nation’s urban areas.

In a paper published this year in the journal “Epidemiology,” Dockery and his colleagues found that people are living longer because of the reductions.

The researchers analyzed lifespan and pollution data from 2000 and 2007 gathered from 545 counties throughout the nation. They accounted for other factors such as cigarette smoking, demographics and socioeconomic status.

People on average lived four months longer when fine-particle pollution dropped by 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Since particle pollution is decreasing in Southern California, residents are enjoying longer lives, Dockery said.

Based on data from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Dockery’s finding, Inland area residents could be living four to six months longer than the population did a decade ago.
Further pollution reductions would bring additional benefit, Dockery added.

His data also showed that when pollution levels dropped in areas that already meet federal health standards, people in those places lived longer, too.

One study found that cutting air pollution, in addition to improving health and longevity, also produced economic benefits.

In 2003, pollution controls were installed at coal-fired power plants in the East that greatly reduced nitrogen oxide emissions.

A collaboration among UC Santa Barbara and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists tracked the air quality and various statistics, discovering that the improvements made a noticeable difference.

After five years, the number of days of unhealthful ozone pollution in 18 Eastern states declined by about 25 percent, and spending on prescription drugs dropped in those states by $900 million annually, the study found. Most of the savings were the result of lower demand for heart and respiratory medications.

They also found that people lived longer, boosting the Eastern states’ economies by $900 million annually.

POLLUTION: Microscopic particles can cause internal havoc


By David Danelski, September 5, 2013


 Diesel exhaust is released into the air from a big rig as it accelerates near the the intersection of Van Buren Blvd. and Etiwanda Ave. in the Mira Loma area of Jurupa Valley.

 Exhaust fumes are released into the air from a truck at the BNSF Railway San Bernardino Yard.

 Exhaust fumes are released into the air from a truck at the BNSF Railway San Bernardino Yard.

Between the moment when a microscopic piece of soot flies out of a tailpipe or smokestack and enters a person’s lungs, it undergoes an array of complex chemical reactions.

It essentially becomes an airborne vessel make of black “elemental” carbon that can carry hundreds of varieties of toxic compounds.

As the soot travels with sea breezes and churns above streets, homes, campuses, workplaces and shopping centers, it reacts with other pollutants in a process aided by sunlight, said Michael Kleinman, environmental toxicology professor at UC Irvine.

Kleinman has been studying the journeys and transformations of airborne particles for decades. He spent many of the Cold War years probing the behavior of radioactive fallout for the federal government.

When soot particles encounter ozone — an invisible gas created when other pollutants combine in sunlight — one of the outcomes is the creation of especially toxic oxygen-containing compounds called quinones, he said.

An epic battle begins when the particles are inhaled. The invaders are so small that they penetrate the body’s first lines of defense — the nasal passage and the lungs, which normally send in a bath of fluids to help a person cough or snort out harmful substances.

They are so tiny they pass through lung tissue and enter the bloodstream, a highway that carries them to other tissues and organs, including the brain.

The body’s immune system rallies to fight back.

“The inflammatory cells now come out,” Kleinman said. “It is almost like an army. These guys will attack anything that is foreign.”

Cells called macrophages come first. They try to engulf and digest the intruders. Then the body sends in the second line of defenders: the more aggressive neutrophils, white blood cells on a suicide mission to stop the invasion. The neutrophils make “oxygenated and nitrogen compounds that can literally burn a pathogen and destroy it,” Kleinman said.

The cellular battle, however, generates collateral damage.

The invaders may be neutralized, but free radicals — unstable atoms or molecules created during inflammation to help destroy the invading particles — can begin attacking and harming healthy cells. The process can trigger a chain reaction of cell injury.
“Free radicals are associated with cancer and heart disea
se, and brain disease,” Kleinman said.
Free radicals can damage fat cells and create plaque in blood vessels. Too much plaque leads to heart attacks and stroke.

The best defenses for people who can’t avoid air pollution are common-sense: minimize exposure as much as possible — avoid diesel fumes; don’t exercise when pollution levels are higher; and maintain a healthful lifestyle by eating wisely, exercising and not smoking.

This report was produced in part with a grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health Journalism, awarded by the USC Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication.

AIR POLLUTION: Battle still on for clean air


By David Danelski, September 5, 2013

 A big rig makes its on the Mt. Vernon overpass as a train travels below. 

 Gene Proctor has lived in the Jurupa Valley community of Mira Village since 1971. He says diesel pollution from big rig trucks attracted to neighboring warehouses built in the past 15 years forced him to give up jogging. "My lungs would tighten up and my heart would feel like it would jump out of my chest," he said, standing outside his home.

 Gene Proctor has lived in the Jurupa Valley community of Mira Village since 1971. He says diesel pollution from big rig trucks attracted to neighboring warehouses built in the past 15 years forced him to give up jogging. "My lungs would tighten up and my heart would feel like it would jump out of my chest," he said, standing outside his home.

People who have lived for decades in the Inland region describe summer days in the 1960s and ’70s when burning eyes and painful lungs were routine, the price paid for living in what was then one of the most polluted regions in the nation.

Few dwelled on the long-term harm of breathing toxic air.

Air quality has improved dramatically since the 1970s, but still, on more than 100 days a year, Southern California is failing to meet clean air standards — and Inland residents are getting the biggest dose of pollution.

Children appear to suffer the most.

 New avenues of discovery show that air pollution not only harms hearts, lungs and sinuses, it also penetrates the body’s natural defenses to invade brains and other vital tissues, laying the groundwork for multiple health problems.

Several studies focusing on the consequences of air pollution for Inland children have documented reduced lung function, a greater incidence of asthma and increased medical costs.

Even air considered clean under federal benchmarks may be causing harm.

“At the current levels we are still seeing health effects,” said Ed Avol, a preventive medicine professor at the University of Southern California medical school. “Everybody breathes, so in terms of the number of people who are affected, we are talking about millions and millions of people.”

The expanding list of serious health consequences is especially troubling in the Inland region, where civic and business leaders struggle to breathe life into an economy crushed in the Great Recession. Inland unemployment is about 11 percent, worse than the state’s 8.7 percent and nation’s 7.4 percent.

Some business and local government leaders say warehouses are the best answer, because of the region’s location, its freeways and rail lines, its cheap land and its vast need for jobs that can be filled by workers without a college education. Moreno Valley, with ample land available, has made warehouse construction one its main economic development goals.

The down side is that warehouses bring diesel truck traffic.

Diesel trucks, ships, locomotives and other cargo-handling equipment account for about half the ozone and fine-particle pollution in the Inland region — and 93 percent of the region’s cancer risk from air pollution, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The Inland region is hit especially hard by pollution because of weather patterns and topography. Emissions from ships, trucks, cars, construction equipment, power plants, refineries, manufacturing, dry cleaners, paint, lawnmowers and other sources throughout Southern California blow east with sea breezes. Blocked by the San Bernardino Mountains, the airborne muck collects over the Inland area, cooking in the sunlight to become more harmful.

In 2012, the annual averages for fine-particle pollution, a category that includes diesel soot, exceeded the federal clean air standards at monitoring stations in Mira Loma and Rubidoux in northwest Riverside County and Fontana and Ontario in western San Bernardino County.

Ozone, a corrosive gas, exceeded the federal standard 111 times somewhere within Southern California’s sea-to-mountains air basin in 2012. The most violations were in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including 80 unhealthful days in Redlands, 47 in Jurupa Valley and 46 in Perris.

Abner Rojas, 5, takes a break from playing at the Ruben Campos Community Center in San Bernardino. Almost half the children in the neighborhood had symptoms of asthma or had been diagnosed with it - twice the rate of children who lives five miles away in Fontana.
People living closest to freeways, busy streets and rail yards get the worst of it. Because of the increased health risks, air district officials recommend that homes and schools be located at least 500 feet from freeways and other heavy traffic areas.

The science documenting the harm of air pollution is vast.

It’s not just lungs that are affected. Like a Trojan horse, pollution carried inside the body in the simple, constant and necessary act of breathing is penetrating natural defenses and triggering an array of consequences

In children, pollution can sabotage the biochemistry vital to the development of growing organs. In the womb, pollution is a suspected factor in miscarriage, birth defects and autism. And in a child’s formative years, breathing difficulties can develop and other diseases may take root in the brain and elsewhere.

Learning deficits have been found in children living in polluted areas. And new research finds that pregnant women exposed to certain pollution are more likely to have children who become obese, a condition with its own disease complications.

Children hurt by air pollution can face chronic illnesses, such as asthma, and a shorter lifespan than their own genes might have predicted.

Adults can suffer lung damage, cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses.


Increasing volumes of cargo flowing from the sea ports in Los Angeles have put more trucks on the freeways and more trains on rails — major veins in the nation’s commerce network. Some 80 freight trains pass through the Inland area daily, and the number is expected to increase as the economy improves.

Researchers from USC and Loma Linda University have visited Inland schools and homes over the years, taking medical histories and measuring lung function. Their conclusions: Asthma and reduced lung capacity afflict a greater percentage of children in areas with higher concentrations of air pollution.

In southwest San Bernardino, a team put together by Loma Linda University ran tests last year on nearly 500 school children who live in a neighborhood that shares property lines with a BNSF Railway cargo-transfer yard.

It had been a locomotive repair and maintenance station yard that was revamped in 1995 to be a hub for cargo transfers between trains and trucks. In 2008, a state analysis found that diesel pollution from trucks, trains and yard equipment exposed the neighboring community to the highest cancer risk of all the rail yards in the state.

Almost half the children examined had symptoms of asthma or had been diagnosed with it — twice the rate of children who lived five miles away in Fontana. By comparison, San Bernardino County’s childhood asthma rate is about 15 percent; the national rate is about 9 percent.

During a public presentation earlier this year, Rhonda Spencer-Hwang, an assistant professor at the Loma Linda University public health school who helped conduct the study, said she was alarmed by the findings, especially since many of the children were not being treated.

The study is pending publication in a scientific journal.

BNSF, which has questioned the researchers’ findings and methods, has invested more than $17 million to reduce air pollution at the San Bernardino yard and elsewhere in California.

The yard uses the newest and cleanest switch engines, the light-duty locomotives used to move rail cars to assemble freight trains.

The company has deployed its newest, cleanest locomotives to California, said Lena Kent, a BNSF spokeswoman.

The railroad also put new, lower-emissions diesel engines in 12 cranes used to lift 40-foot steel cargo containers as they’re moved to trucks or freight trains.

The company made changes to reduce the amount of time trucks spend idling in the rail yard.
The changes have slashed pollution from the yard by 54 percent since 2005, Kent said.
Residents of the neighborhood believe the air is still making them sick.

Cecila Hernandez, 52, is raising her son, Fernando, 12, and a grandchild, Daniella, 5, in a mobile home a half block from the rail yard’s fence.

The children take medications for cold-like symptoms that never seem to go away, she said.
“Daniella just keeps sneezing and sneezing, and her nose runs like water,” Hernandez said in Spanish. “They say it is the environment, that it is the contamination in the air.”

Fernando said he often avoids playing outdoors, because he gets the urge to sneeze and starts to feel ill when he is outside the family’s home.

A few doors down, Soledad Serapio,13, said she takes medication for chronically burning eyes and coughing. Her mother, Nohemi Hernandez, lamented that many trucks idle on a dirt lot next to the trailer park.


It is up to elected officials, with input from experts and the public, to weigh the risks and benefits of warehouses and decide what is right for the Inland region. Warehouses already have proliferated along freeways in western San Bernardino and Riverside counties and on former dairy land in Jurupa Valley.

Trucking, railroad and warehouse industry officials say air pollution reduction efforts threaten a necessary and job-creating sector of the economy.

Homes sit near warehouses and Highway 60 in Jurupa Valley. Warehouses have proliferated in western San Bernardino and Riverside counties on former dairy land in Jurupa Valley.
California, for instance, has set an aggressive schedule for diesel truck owners to switch to newer models or retrofit their vehicles with special filters to cut diesel pollution. The rules cost the state’s trucking industry about $1 billion a year, said Michael D. Shaw, vice president of external affairs for the California Trucking Association.

Truckers have been forced to give up older trucks that are still strong road warriors or pay $10,000 to $20,000 to retrofit them, he said.

“We are very willing to do our part to reduce emissions and clean up the air,” Shaw said. “Trucks are 98 percent cleaner than they were 30 years ago.”

Truckers serving the Los Angeles County ports now must drive a 2007 model or newer.
In Moreno Valley, developer Iddo Benzeevi has said he welcomes input from air district officials on how make his proposed 41.6-million-square-foot warehouse complex as environmental friendly as possible.

Plans under consideration would allow only newer trucks to serve the World Logistics Center, as his project is known. He also plans to provide natural-gas fueling facilities and other clean-air measures.
Industry officials say they are frustrated that air pollution rules keep getting tougher every time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revises health standards for various pollutants.

Inland economist John Husing blames such regulations for driving manufacturers out of Southern California. He contends that such regulations and community opposition now threaten the transportation and warehousing industries that the Inland region needs to provide thousands of jobs for workers without college educations.

Dora Barilla, an assistant professor at Loma Linda University’s school of public health, said the Inland region needs a balanced approached as it looks for ways to reduce air pollution.

Warehouses may attract polluting big-rig trucks, but they also provide jobs to help move people out of poverty, said Barilla, who has asthma. Poverty leads to poorer community health, she said.
“We need to bring together the different factions and have a rational discussion on how improve the environment as well as provide job growth,” Barilla said in an interview.

She added that a big part of the equation is improving education among the poor.


A decade ago in Mexico City, Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas , a neuropathologist-toxicologist, started investigating the effects of Mexico City’s severe pollution on the brains of young dogs. She found that microscopic particles were able to move through the snouts of canines and into their brains — penetrating a defensive line called the blood-brain barrier.

She next began looking at children’s brains, through brain scans or by examining the brains of children who had died accidentally. She concluded that the brains of children exposed to high levels of pollution showed some of the same changes observed in the brains of people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Pollution may cause problems in children’s brains as the gray and white matter is growing, Calderón-Garcidueñas said in an interview earlier this year with Montana Public Radio.

“If anything goes wrong with these children at that period, you will have serious health effects later on,” said Calderón-Garcidueñas, an assistant professor at the University of Montana’s medical school.
She said the children exposed to high pollution levels could face intelligence and attention deficits.

In a 2012 article in “Frontiers in Psychology,” Calderón-Garcidueñas and co-author Ricardo Torres-Jardón advocate for a concerted effort to take better care of children, especially poor children, through better education, improved nutrition and less pollution in their environments.

“Unfortunately, while we wait for governmental sectors to address these endemic issues, there are no coverings for our children’s noses, nor for their lungs, hearts or vulnerable brains,” she wrote.
Many researchers have focused on freeway pollution.

Official air-monitoring stations are deliberately placed away from busy roadways, where pollution is highest, so that an area’s ambient pollution isn’t skewed by traffic emissions that tend to disperse within a few hundred yards.

In one study, rats exposed to freeway pollution in Riverside showed the earliest signs of brain tumors. The brains cells of the animals started producing genes associated with tumors. What’s not known is whether the body’s immune system can stop the tumors from developing, said Michael Kleinman, a UC Irvine environmental toxicology professor and co-author of the study.

Several recent studies have linked a woman’s exposure to pollution during pregnancy to a higher risk of having an autistic child.

The disorder strikes an estimated 1 in 50 children and, depending on the severity, can bring heartache for families and elevated costs for schools.

UCLA public health researchers studied records of more than 7,000 women in Los Angeles County. Those exposed to higher estimated air pollution levels during their pregnancies had a 12 to 15 percent greater chance of having an autistic child, according to the study published in March.

The results substantiated an earlier USC study that found children born to mothers living within about 300 yards of a freeway appeared to be twice as likely to have a child who developed autism.
In June, Harvard University researchers provided even more evidence supporting a link between air pollution and autism.

Based on a nationwide study, Harvard scientists found that women who live in areas with polluted air have as much as twice the chance of giving birth to an autistic child than those living in communities with cleaner air.


One of the newest avenues of study is air pollution’s possible role in obesity. Like autism, it’s a condition that has multiple causes and an array of related problems. In California, about 17 percent of low-income preschoolers are obese, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers with Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that when pregnant women exposed to higher levels of a type of air pollution called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, their children were about twice as likely to become obese.

PAHs are hydrocarbons released when fuel burns.

The researchers followed 763 non-smoking African-American and Hispanic women whose children were born in the Bronx or Northern Manhattan between 1998 and 2006.

Each participant wore a small backpack containing a portable air monitor during her third trimester. They kept the monitors at their bedsides when they slept.

When the children reached their seventh birthdays, one-fourth of them were obese — the children exposed to higher pollution levels were twice as likely as the others to be obese.

“Higher prenatal PAH exposures were significantly associated with higher childhood body size,” said a paper published last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The authors said laboratory studies have shown that PAHs interfere with the process of lipolysis, the breaking down of fats inside the body. The less fat a person can break down, the more it stays in the body.

Air pollution’s possible role in obesity and diabetes is an emerging area of discovery, and much more study is needed before it’s certain pollution causes or contributes to such health problems, said Avol, the USC scientist.

But its link to heart disease, lung cancer and other illness is well established.

When the EPA last year set a more stringent health standard for fine-particle pollution, its official statement said that “thousand of studies show particle pollution can harm human health.”

The agency summarized the volumes of research by saying that particle pollution shortens lives by impeding the function of blood vessels, leading to heart attacks, stroke and congestive heart failure.
In children and adults alike, the EPA said, it aggravates chronic respiratory diseases and causes short-term bouts of coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Big rigs travel along Highway 60 near Mira Loma Village homes in Jurupa Valley. Traffic has increased greatly since the housing tract was built, residents say.

The literal fallout of poor public planning — decision-making that put residents in the path of harmful pollution — is plainly evident in a neighborhood called Mira Loma Village in northwest Riverside County.

The village’s 101 homes, built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, are surrounded by a 15-square-mile warehouse district that grew up around them in the Jurupa Valley, Ontario and Fontana.

The people who live there talk about illnesses and irritations they blame on the soot that invades the neighborhood.

Shortly after President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970, maintenance worker Gene Proctor bought a small home in the neighborhood and started raising a family. For Proctor, the landmark law has been an empty promise.

He and many of his neighbors say their air quality actually got worse during the past 20 years as they watched the farm fields and dairies around their homes disappear, to be replaced by warehouses. Mira Loma Village does not have an air-monitoring station, but the region’s air quality district confirms that truck traffic degraded the air in Riverside County between 1998 and 2005.

Diesel trucks hauling cargo to and from the warehouses incessantly roll up and down Etiwanda Avenue just outside the block wall surrounding the tract. Highway 60 is a block to the south, and Interstate 15 is a mile and half to the west.

The diesel soot leaves a fine black film that residents wipe from clothes lines and hose off of patios and cars.

For Proctor, now 72, retirement in 2006 from his job in Fullerton meant giving up jogging, since he could no longer run in the much cleaner air near the Kimberly-Clark factory where he worked.
Running at home was out of the question.

“If you’re able to run a seven-minute mile, here it takes you nine minutes,” he said, leaning on a chain link fence outside his home. “You feel a weight. My lungs would tighten up. And my heart would feel like it was going to jump out of my chest.”

Respiratory ailments have many causes, and it’s difficult to say with certainty that air pollution is to blame for a particular person’s illness. But some in Mira Loma Village believe the diesel fumes are making them sick.

Miguel Rivera Jr. waits for his mother, Norma Rivera, to open a snack he pulled from the kitchen while at home in the Mira Loma Village housing tract. Norma Rivera said she, her husband and 12-year-old daughter all have breathing problems.
Norma Rivera, who lives five doors from Proctor, said in Spanish that she, her husband and 12-year-old daughter all have breathing problems.

“As traffic went up, our symptoms went up,” Rivera said.

She worries about Miguel Jr., her 4-year-old son.

“He gets really bad allergies,” she said. “They (doctors) give him medication.”

His symptoms have taken away some of the simple joys of childhood.

“When he runs around too much, he starts coughing. I can’t let him go out too often,” his mother said.

The boy loved to jump on a trampoline. “I had to take it away because he would be coughing a lot,” she said.

Socorro Ledezma of Jurupa Valley has chronic cold like symptoms and allergies. Allergies worsened as truck traffic increased, and now she frequently feels ill.
Another resident, Socorro Ledezma, said she moved from Orange County about 18 years ago.
“It was more open and much quieter, and less people,” she said in Spanish. “But now, with all the warehousing, the traffic exhaust has been awful.

“When it is foggy and the cars get wet, you see the black stuff on the cars and on the concrete. … It is black when you wash off the car or the patio.”

Allergies worsened as truck traffic increased, and now she frequently feels ill

“It started about 15 years ago,” she said. She used to get by with medications she could buy over the counter, but no longer. “Now I have to see the doctor to get prescription drugs for the allergies. I have eye drops for my eyes. And I have the nose spray. And I take pills.”

Her voice broke as she described how the ailments have changed her daily life. It’s difficult to do housework, or visit people or go to parties because of her constantly running nose and other symptoms.

Sometimes she feels better. “But it just keeps coming back again.”


Cleaner air is an elusive goal for Mira Loma Village. Warehouses can’t function without the trucks that serve them. And more warehouses are on the way.

Already approved is Mira Loma Commerce Center, a complex of 1.1 million square feet of warehouse and industrial space on 65 acres just northeast of Mira Loma Village. It is expected to generate 1,500 truck trips a day.

A settlement this year of a lawsuit over the project’s environmental reviews requires the developer to pay $1,700 per home to install air filtering systems in every home in the tract.

The residents at least will have safe indoor air, said Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environment Justice, which helped negotiate the settlement. Just as important, she added, are plans under review by Jurupa Valley city officials to route trucks away from the neighborhood.

Proctor said he has mixed emotions about the air filters. “I think they (warehouse developers) are just throwing us a bone. What are the kids going to do? Are they going to spend 24-7 indoors?”

Proctor, who said he hasn’t smoked in more than 40 years, said he has had trouble breathing and visited a doctor recently. Lung X-rays indicated he may have emphysema, a disease caused by damage to lung tissue. He has been putting off follow-up medical exams.

“I don’t want to face the music,” he said. “It is too late for me.”