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

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Union Station page now up on Metro.net


By Anna Chen, September 11, 2013

In case you didn’t know, Metro.net now has a page exclusively dedicated to Los Angeles Union Station. It’s got all the relevant information: available retail and dining, history of the station, transportation options, and event listing.

Go check it out and let us know what you think! More information will be added to the page in the coming months – especially with the station’s 75th anniversary happening next year – so make sure to check back often.


The Union Station page is at  http://www.metro.net/about/union-station/

  • Overview
  • History
  • Transportation
  • Retail & Dining
  • Events
  • Photos
Los Angeles Union Station - Overview
Historic Union Station is the most accessible destination in Los Angeles and one of the county's busiest and most beautiful transit hubs. Built in 1939, the station houses multiple transportation providers offering local, regional and long distance service. Travelers passing through Union Station will enjoy its authentic Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Moderne architecture and contemporary amenities. For passengers with longer layovers, historic sites and sightseeing opportunities await within and immediately outside its doors.

Metro is planning updates to the historic station; more information on the Union Station Master Plan here.

Location and Hours

Union Station
800 North Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Click here for PDF/printable version.
Roxy on the Ohoopee
Grab and drag to zoom
Union Station is open to the public daily 4am - 1am. Tenants and retail hours vary. Please contact each business directly for hours.

Between 1am and 4am, ticketed passengers and those persons with lawful transportation purposes will be directed to a designated seating/lounge area. Those persons without authorization or permission to remain in Union Station or on the facility property will be required to leave the premises. (LACMTA Code, Section 6-05-120 369i PC)

Metro’s August ridership: two rail lines reach new all-time highs


By Steve Hymon, September 11, 2013

Both the Red/Purple Line and the Expo Line had their best months yet, with 164,081 and 27,280 average weekday boardings, respectively — slightly higher than their previous bests (see the graphs above). The Gold Line had its third best month with 44,451 average weekday boardings; the numbers for the Gold Line were a tad higher in both June and July of 2012.
While the bus system had more boardings than August in the previous two years, ridership on the Metro bus system remains flat.
Overall, August 2013 was a strong month for ridership with 41.22 million boardings on Metro buses and trains. That was higher than the previous two Augusts — there were 39.29 million boardings in Aug. 2011 and 40.78 million boardings in Aug. 2012. Ridership on Metro tends to fluctuate depending on the seasons and calendar (i.e. how many weekdays there are in any given month).
Graphs showing the last two years of ridership numbers for individual rail lines and the bus system are above and more precise numbers for August in the past three years is below.
Bus Ridership Estimates
Bus – Directly Operated

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,088,003 1,074,951 1,048,258
Average Saturday Boardings 739,531 723,663 728,213
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 564,750 552,120 547,722
Total Calendar Month Boardings 29,892,721 29,827,005 29,213,674
Directly operated bus ridership includes Orange and Silver Line ridership.
Bus – Contract

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 52,295 45,836 41,327
Average Saturday Boardings 31,088 26,702 24,266
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 23,458 20,881 18,727
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,399,762 1,244,551 1,122,490
Bus – Systemwide

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,140,298 1,120,787 1,089,585
Average Saturday Boardings 770,619 750,365 752,479
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 588,208 573,001 566,449
Total Calendar Month Boardings 31,292,483 31,071,556 30,336,164
Directly operated bus ridership includes Orange and Silver Line ridership.
Orange Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 28,101 27,513 22,977
Average Saturday Boardings 17,678 17,776 14,187
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 14,269 13,601 11,420
Total Calendar Month Boardings 763,688 758,307 630,899
Silver Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 12,597 11,449 9,730
Average Saturday Boardings 5,379 4,441 3,825
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 3,951 3,168 2,517
Total Calendar Month Boardings 319,833 293,763 249,158
Rail Ridership Estimates
Red/Purple Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 164,081 154,025 159,302
Average Saturday Boardings 107,995 90,817 100,728
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 74,028 79,423 80,785
Total Calendar Month Boardings 4,445,878 4,223,540 4,389,998
Blue Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 87,723 92,006 82,189
Average Saturday Boardings 60,840 65,686 57,645
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 48,487 54,087 47,924
Total Calendar Month Boardings 2,428,066 2,595,229 2,312,624
Blue Line estimates do not include Expo boardings.
Expo Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012
Average Weekday Boardings 27,280 19,776
Average Saturday Boardings 20,063 12,569
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 15,014 10,722
Total Calendar Month Boardings 760,524 548,009  
Green Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 42,593 45,536 43,373
Average Saturday Boardings 27,691 27,291 23,058
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 16,142 16,143 18,901
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,140,066 1,221,076 1,165,424
Gold Line

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 44,451 42,125 39,598
Average Saturday Boardings 21,506 21,050 24,460
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 19,033 17,075 20,868
Total Calendar Month Boardings 1,161,576 1,121,376 1,092,062
Rail Systemwide Ridership Estimates

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 366,128 353,469 324,462
Average Saturday Boardings 238,096 217,413 205,890
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 172,704 177,450 168,478
Total Calendar Month Boardings 9,936,110 9,709,229 8,960,107
Includes Expo Line ridership.
Systemwide Ridership Estimates

Aug. 2013 Aug. 2012 Aug. 2011
Average Weekday Boardings 1,506,426 1,474,255 1,414,047
Average Saturday Boardings 1,008,715 967,778 958,370
Average Sunday and Holiday Boardings 760,912 750,451 734,927
Total Calendar Month Boardings 41,228,593 40,780,785 39,296,271
Includes Expo Line ridership.

Strict Hit-&-Run Law Approved by California Legislature


By Dennis Romero, September 10, 2013


Following LA Weekly's coverage of Los Angeles' "hit-and-run epidemic," which showed that motorists involved in these collisions simply need to flee and run out the three-year statute of limitations to be home free, L.A. area Assemblyman Mike Gatto got to work.

See also: L.A.'s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic.

His legislation, Assembly Bill 184, proposed to lift any statute of limitations on alleged hit-and-run drivers, meaning they could be prosecuted at any time during their lives. However, amendments and compromises nixed the unlimited statute and doubled it instead -- from 3 to 6 years. Not bad.
The bill is headed to the governor:

AB 184 passed the assembly today after last-minute amendments in the senate yesterday, Gatto's spokesman, Justin Hager, told us.

Because the legislation passed today it appears Gov. Jerry Brown will have 10 days to sign it -- if he gets it by Thursday. (It will take a day or two for final language to be clarified for the record by capital staffers). If he gets it after that then the deadline to sign it would be Oct. 13, Hager said.

See also: Chief Beck's Hit-and-Run Crisis.

In any case the new law would, if signed by the gov, give police an extra three years to track down hit-and-run drivers.
AB 184 will allow victims of hit-and-runs and law enforcement to obtain justice from cowards who do everything possible to avoid responsibility for their actions. Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually. Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.
Seven people have reportedly died in the last three weeks alone in hit-and-run collisions in the city of L.A.


Podcast Preview: L.A.'s Original Urban Plan Did Not Include Traffic

An exclusive look at how transportation was supposed to be



You Can’t Eat the Sunshine is a weekly podcast series produced by Kim Cooper and Richard Schave in which the Esotouric founders talk with L.A. personalities about the city’s myths, contradictions, and inspirations.

This week, Richard and Kim discuss the viral petition to restore Pershing Square. They also chat with Emma Roberts, a Rare Books Librarian, who divulges how a team of manuscript detectives tackled the mysterious treasures of the Los Angeles Public Library.

In this exclusive clip, Richard and Kim sit down with Ken Bernstein, Head of the Office of Historic Resources for the City of Los Angeles, whose insights into Los Angeles' traffic problem might surprise you: at its inception, L.A. was meant to develop around public transit, not the automobile. According to Bernstein, the Pacific Electric Building on Main Street was supposed to be the center of downtown, where all trains and buses would reach the end of the line.
We find this both fascinating and frustrating, seeing as it will take some of us up to two hours to get home...in our automobiles.
To hear the entire episode, click here.

History, Landscape, Beauty on the American Freeway


By Robert Bruegmann, September 7, 2013


Freeways, particularly urban freeways, have had a bad press for several decades now.  They are accused of despoiling scenery, destroying habitat and causing urban sprawl.  Many observers report with glee on the latest news of a small segment of urban freeway being dismantled.

This blanket condemnation makes it easy to overlook the remarkable contribution that these freeways have made to the American economy and to American culture.  It is hard to imagine the growth in productivity in the country during the postwar years without these roads, which vastly increased the mobility of goods and people and connected parts of the country together in ways that were unprecedented.

The constant criticism also makes it difficult to appreciate these roads as cultural artifacts and a wonderful way to see the country.  This is all the more surprising since Americans in recent years have been discovering the rich legacy of our nation’s highways. There has been spate of books that celebrate travel on America’s pre-freeway-era highways. Many authors wax eloquent over the remaining motels, fast food restaurants and drive in theatres along US 66 or advise motorists on finding abandoned segments of roadway by passed by later highway alignments.   There has also been a remarkable surge of interest in America’s parkways, from the earliest parkways like the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester County New York, started in 1907, to parkways at the end of the parkway era in the years immediately before and after World War II when they gradually became more like freeways, for example the Arroyo Seco Parkway in Los Angeles, or the later segments of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, the Taconic Parkway in New York State or the George Washington Parkway outside Washington. 

America’s postwar freeways merit a similar rediscovery.   I think that one of the biggest obstacles to appreciating them has been a question of scale.  Driving along a two-lane roadway it is possible to pull off the pavement and look at an historic courthouse or a particularly interesting agricultural landscape or early gasoline station. That is not possible on a freeway. It is also true that the engineers who designed the nation’s postwar freeways were probably less conscious of the aesthetic dimensions of the roadways than the designers of the German autobahn, who set a standard for integration of landscape and roadway  never surpassed, or American designers like landscape architect Gilmore Clarke who played important role in designing the parkways of metropolitan New York.   There is, moreover, no doubt that the push to accommodate increasing traffic loads and to make freeways safer in this country has led to a certain uniformity of standards that some people find boring.  Finally, the proliferation of sound walls over the last few decades all too often makes driving through urban areas like driving through a tunnel.

Still, there is no better way to get a good view of the larger features of the American landscape or cityscape than looking through the windshield of an automobile rolling along a freeway at 65 miles per hour. At that speed it is often easier than on a slower road to appreciate the changes that occur in plant species as the highway climbs a steep ridge or to appreciate the way massive cuts to lower the grades on the climb over a hill that provide a graphic illustration of the underlying geology.  It might be difficult for many people to appreciate long stretches of flat country but, if a driver can put herself into the proper frame of mind, this experience can have its own rewards because of the way it accentuates the scale of the landscape. Even the billboards, which many drivers consider simply objectionable intrusions into the natural landscape, can, by their style and content, illustrate a great many regional differences.

And fortunately, there has been over the last two decades a growing recognition of the aesthetic dimensions of freeways.   In some ways this marks a reversion to ideas that were common in the parkway era when there was almost always a conscious attempt to integrate road and landscape into a successful composition reflecting  the landscape and culture of the region through which it passed. 
A pioneer postwar example of this push to bring conscious aesthetic design to the freeway can be seen in I-280, the Junipero Serra freeway, which runs between San Francisco and San Jose.  Here the engineers worked with Lawrence Halprin, the landscape architect, and architect Mario Ciampi to create a road that was widely considered the “most beautiful freeway in the world” when the initial segment was opened in the 1960s.  This highway, with its careful alignment, minimizing cut and fill, and the bold, sculptural concrete overpasses does little to diminish the spectacular landscape of the San Francisco Peninsula.  In fact it affords a wonderful way to experience the golden hills on one side of the roadway and the coastal range on the other, often seen in the morning or late afternoon with fog pouring over the crest.

In recent years the highway departments in an increasing number of American states have attempted to be more attuned to the aesthetic dimensions of freeways and of the places through which the roads run.   Wildflowers now bloom in medians and margins of a great many American freeways.   In arid landscapes engineers and landscape architects have worked to preserve native plants and use them as elements in a kind of idealized desert landscape in the median and along the berms.    In one of the most impressive achievements, a twelve mile stretch of I-70 passing through the tortuously narrow Glenwood Canyon west of Denver, opened in 1992, the designers went to great length to fit the roadway into the landscape in the least obtrusive way possible.  They accomplished this by splitting the roadway alignments, reducing the section of the roadway structure to a minimum, cantilevering both alignments from the canyon walls to reduce their bulk, pushing tunnels through the most difficult spurs of land and even treating the rocks that were scarred by excavation so they would not produce jarring juxtapositions.

Even the urban freeway, target of the most vociferous criticism, offers interesting perspectives for those willing to look.  Unlike the case in much of Europe, where planners have often attempted to create a parkway-like driving experience by providing a wide buffer between the roadway and nearby urban areas and tightly restricting new development along the highways, American freeways have become the new main streets of many cities.  Driving along the ring roads around American’s large cities can offer some of the most compelling views of these metropolitan areas. For the motorist driving along I-80, the Ohio Turnpike, there is the view from the giant viaduct crossing the Cuyahoga River.  There, 20 miles to the north, up the heavily wooded deep gash created by the river, the gleaming tip of the Key Bank Building peaks out  above the intervening ridges in clear weather, unfortunately all too rare in Northeast Ohio.  Likewise, very few urban views can compare with the panorama that suddenly unfolds for motorists as, emerging from I-376’s Fort Pitt Tunnel under Mount Washington, they suddenly burst out onto a bridge over the Monongahela River and a view of the Golden Triangle and the entire skyline of Pittsburgh.

A drive along a city’s freeways is often the best way to get a good grasp of a region’s economic geography.   It would be hard to miss the contrast between the view from the Indiana Toll Road across the grimy industrial landscape of steel mills and refineries just east of Chicago, on the one hand, with the landscape of heavily planted berms and expensive new houses along the Tri-State Expressway in the north suburbs.

Many of the earliest freeways have crossed the 50 year threshold and deserve a closer look as some of the country’s most important historical and cultural artifacts.  And they provide a wonderful way to observe America’s landscape and cityscape.

Taconic State Parkway north of New York City.  The New York area had the first and largest set of parkways in the nation.  The Taconic, running along the Taconic Mountains from the Kensico Dam in Westchester County to Chatham near Albany, was not finished until 1960, but it maintains the earlier parkway standards rather than those of the later freeway era.   Because of its careful alignment and roadway design by landscape architect Gilmore Clarke and the beauty of the rugged countryside which it runs, it remains one of the country’s great driving experiences.

I-280, Junipero Serra freeway, south of San Francisco.  Although a much wider highway than the prewar parkways, this road, constructed in the 1960s, maintains much of the feel of the earlier parkways though the use of alignments carefully fitted into the rolling hills, integrating the road beautifully into the spectacular landscape of the San Francisco peninsula. 

I-20 east of Birmingham Alabama.  The undulating line that marks the edge of the pine forest and the beginning of the mowed grass in the freeway margins recalls the long curving vistas of English 18th century picturesque landscape tradition. On an overcast morning the resemblance to the British landscape tradition is particularly striking.

I-10 and I-215 at Colton, California.   No place in the United States is so associated with freeways as the Los Angeles region, but actually this region has fewer lane miles of freeway than most large American metropolitan areas.  Because freeway construction pretty much stopped in the 1970s but the population continued to grow and the density rose, this region has some of the most congested roads in the country.  If there is any consolation, they offer some remarkable displays of engineering bravado and urban intensity.

I-70 west of Denver, Colorado.  The construction of this roadway through the Glenwood Canyon in the Rockies is both an engineering feat and an aesthetic tour de force.  By separating the alignments and cantilevering the roadway from the canyon wall, the designers were able to minimize the visual impact of the road and provide spectacular vistas for travelers.

US 75 approaching downtown Dallas.  This short piece of roadway completes a loop around downtown Dallas that allows two interstate roads to bypass downtown.  A drive around the loop provides a kaleidoscopic sequence of views of tall buildings and a highly effective orientation to downtown Dallas.

I-10 east of Blythe Arizona.  Perhaps even more than in the East, the great distances of the American West make the freeway a lifeline for residents who live far from population centers.  The smooth roadway makes a striking contrast with the great rock outcrops and vast stretches of scrubland.

I-80 and I-94 Pennsylvania Turnpike north of Pittsburgh.  The era of the parkway ended at about the time of the second world war as a new generation of freeways started to emerge.  One of the interesting features of the interstate system today is the way it provides testimony to the shifting ideals of roadway design.  Although large stretches of the Pennsylvania turnpike, whose initial segment opened in 1940, have been upgraded, the narrow right of ways and steep gradients of the older portions of the road as well as the streamlined design of the overpasses recall the transition from one age to the next.

I-20 between Covington and Augusta Georgia.  A classic piece of interstate road with the smooth ribbon of pavement gliding effortlessly through a landscape of low hills and dense forest.

I-10 west of downtown Phoenix.  The state of Arizona has been particularly active in trying to create an appropriate landscape for the state’s highways.   They have pioneered techniques for saving cacti and other native species in the path of the roadway and then re-installing them alongside the new roads to create an idealized desert landscape.

I-10 approaching downtown Los Angeles, California.  The advent of sound walls has changed the driving experience in some profound ways.  In places it has severed the visual connection between the roadway and the city around it.  On the other hand, in some places, as here, when vines and other plants grow up over the walls and trees overtop them, the result is a curious but not entirely unpleasant sensation of floating through a city without being part of it.  Until the traffic backs up, of course.

I-27 between Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas.  The long flat stretches of the Llano Estacado of northwest Texas produce an almost hypnotic effect.  Even highway signs and telephone poles take on a monumental character, and train elevators loom up in the distance like the skyline of a great city.

I-70 in eastern Utah.   Although freeways can seem intrusive and over-scaled in the city, they are often dwarfed by the huge open spaces in states like Utah or Nevada.

I-5 south of Longview, Washington.   A trip across the country on the interstate roadway system allows for a panoramic view of the regional differences between, for example, the flat, semi-tropical landscape of central Florida and the deep green evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest.

State route 99, the Alaskan Way Viaduct, downtown Seattle.   Completed in 1953, this roadway, this roadway like a number of freeways built in the heart of American cities, created a barrier in the city.  Some of these highways, for example the Central Artery in Boston have been relocated underground. In other cases, like the Embarcadero Freeway in San Francisco the replacement was a surface boulevard.  In this case, after a considerable debate, officials made the decision to create a massive tunnel.  It is difficult to argue that a road like this should be preserved, given its structural problems and the way it cuts off Seattle from its waterfront.  Still, it is almost inevitable that some of the drivers navigating the new tunnel will keenly miss the spectacular urban spectacle that unfolds today as they sweep along the viaduct.

A shortened version of this article appeared in  Planetizen: http://www.planetizen.com/node/65034
Comments on that site:

  • Jym Dyer
    ⦿ Someone's been huffing too much exhaust.

  • Roland Beinert 
    There is no better way to get yourself or someone else killed than to try to get a good view of the larger features of the American landscape or cityscape looking through the windshield of an automobile rolling along a freeway at 65 miles per hour. Please pay attention to the road and traffic around you and not the scenery. If you want to watch the scenery, take a train, or, if you're in the city, try actually walking :)

  • baycityroller1 
    "Behold, America...as it passes by at 65 miles per hour!" - Robert Bruegmann

  • baycityroller1
    It's all well and good to love suburban sprawl and the freeways that serve its malignant, destructive growth. It's another thing entirely to force the half of Americans who don't or can't drive to pay directly and indirectly for that sprawl, those roads and the inner city decay, oil wars and pollution they cause.
    If you want your automotive suburban sprawl, pay for it yourself. Also, be prepared to find ways to mitigate its effects, both here, and around the world, because the rest of us are getting tired of dealing with your gross sense of entitlement and the maintenance and clean up it so often requires.
    I say start with freeway removal.

  • Vernon6
    but..."Wildflowers now bloom in medians and margins of a great many American freeways. " oh....hooray.

    • Jym Dyer Vernon6
      @Vernon6 - But only the ones that can resist toxic soot, tire dust, and reflected glare from concrete. Those other wildflowers are just loser flora.

  • Patrick
    More nonsense from the sprawl apologists at new geography. The words "beauty" and "freeway" do not belong in the same sentence, unless the sentence is "freeways destroy natural beauty."

  • lCharles_Siegel
    Bruegmann has taken a break from admiring sprawl and has started admiring freeways instead.
    What's next? Will he claim that all the carbon dioxide emissions caused by sprawl and freeways are really good for us?

Public Transportation Benefits


Public transportation in the United States is a crucial part of the solution to the nation’s economic, energy, and environmental challenges - helping to bring a better quality of life. In increasing numbers, people are using public transportation and local communities are expanding public transit services. Every segment of American society - individuals, families, communities, and businesses - benefits from public transportation.

Public Transportation Consists of a Variety of Modes

  • Buses
  • Trolleys and light rail
  • Subways
  • Commuter trains
  • Streetcars
  • Cable cars
  • Van pool services
  • Paratransit services for Senior citizens and people with disabilities
  • Ferries and water taxis
  • Monorails and tramways

Quick Facts

  • In 2012, Americans took 10.5 billion trips on public transportation, the 2nd highest annual ridership number since 1957.
  • 35 million times each weekday, people board public transportation.
  • From 1995 through 2012, public transportation ridership increased by 34%—a growth rate higher than the 17% increase in U.S. population and higher than the 22% growth in the use of the nation’s highways over the same period.
  • Public transportation is a $57 billion industry that employs nearly 400,000 people.
  • More than 7,300 organizations provide public transportation in the United States.
  • 74% of public funding for public transit is spent creating and supporting hundreds of thousands of private sector jobs.

Public Transportation Enhances Personal Opportunities

  • Public transportation provides personal mobility and freedom for people from every walk of life.
  • Access to public transportation gives people transportation options to get to work, go to school, visit friends, or go to a doctor’s office.
  • Public transportation provides access to job opportunities for millions of Americans.

Public Transportation Saves Fuel, Reduces Congestion

  • Americans living in areas served by public transportation save 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel annually in congestion reduction alone.
  • Without public transportation, congestion costs would have been an additional $21 billion.

Public Transportation Provides Economic Opportunities

  • For every dollar communities inves in public transportation generates approximatley $4 in economic returns.
  • Every $1 billion invested in public transportation supports and creates 36,000 jobs.
  • Every $10 million in capital investment in public transportation yields $30 million in increased business sales.
  • Every $10 million in operating investment yields $32 million in  increased business sales.

Public Transportation Saves Money

  • The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation, and 94% of this goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars, the largest expenditure after housing.
  • Public transportation provides an affordable, and for many, necessary, alternative to driving.
  • Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save more than $9,700 every year.

Public Transportation Reduces Gasoline Consumption

  • Public transportation’s overall effects save the United States 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline annually.
  • Households near public transit drive an average of 4,400 fewer miles than households with no access to public transit. This equates to an individual household reduction of 223 gallons per year.

Public Transportation Reduces Carbon Footprint

  • Communities that invest in public transit reduce the nation’s carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually: equivalent to  New York City; Washington, DC; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopped using electricity.
  • A single commuter switching his or her commute to public transportation can reduce a household’s carbon emissions by 10%, or up to 30% if he or she eliminates a second car. When compared to other household actions that limit CO2, taking public transportation can be 10 times greater in reducing this harmful greenhouse gas.
For more public transportation facts, see the Public Transportation Fact Book.

HOLA Brings Youth Art to City Bus Benches


By Dana Gabbard, September 10, 2013

For video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CZIOxlCozk

A few months ago I noticed some intriguing art appearing on bus benches in my neighborhood between MacArthur Park and Lafayette Park, where Wilshire got its start as a dirt road through a barley field that Gaylord Wilshire named after himself and gave to the city of Los Angeles.*

The top five images are from HOLA. The bottom two by Dana Gabbard

All the benches carried the logo HOLA Public Art Project. This struck a cord as I remembered a space on the ground level of the Wilshire Royale apartment building (NE corner of Wilshire/Rampart) that in the past had been a venue of restaurants and clubs. More recently unoccupied, the building had suddenly sported the HOLA logo in its window and signs of new life after long being dark. A quick Google search revealed HOLA stands for Heart of Los Angeles, a free after school program in arts, academics and athletics for underserved and at-risk youth begun in 1989. I exchanged e-mails with Lee Schube, Communications Director, and Nara Hernandez, Visual Arts Director, who gave me the skinny on this intriguing project.

The artwork is by HOLA’s Visual Arts students, created during “We Are Talking Pyramids,” HOLA’s first public art project. Pearl Hsiung and Anna Sew Hoy, the 2012 Artists in Residence, guided the students as explained in this video and page on the HOLA website.

The 7 benches along Wilshire and 6th Streets will be up for 1 year. Hernandez enthused “It was a great experience to have the youth turn ad space into art space. HOLA has been in the neighborhood for almost 25 years and two years ago we decided that we wanted to give back to the community beyond the constraints of our campus by creating more public art. As a result, we began the HOLA Public Art Project, funded by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. It’s a series of Public Art Residencies where emerging and established artists collaborate with HOLA youth.”
She also kindly shared a description of the design process:
Students at HOLA [used] the cut-up technique, a literary technique in which a text is cut up and rearranged to create a new text. The concept of cut-up can be traced to the Dadaists of the 1920s, but was popularized in the late 1950s and 60s by writer William S. Burroughs, and has since been used in a wide variety of contexts. The cut-up technique was introduced to the students in order to let them discover their own meanings from readily available sources. For this project, the students … cut-up articles from the Los Angeles Times and local Spanish and Korean language papers to create simple, yet poetic and whimsical phrases. The students [then transferred] their best phrases into a bench design, creating a font for the phrase, as well as designing the motif for the background.
Considering my artistic abilities are limited to drawing stick figures I find the work these students did really rocks. Besides the bench photos accompanying this piece,check out the HOLA public art blog for more examples of the awe-inspiring artistry of the young people HOLA serves. Charles White Elementary School (where Otis/Parsons art school used to be) is right across the street from where I live and during the school year on my way to work I often encounter parents escorting their kids to school.

It is an amazing thought that one of those young scholars I walked past could well be the artist behind the art on the bus bench I sit on while waiting for the bus each weekday. That brings a smile to the face of even a grumpy Uncle like me!

My thanks to Lee Schube and Nara Hernandez for their kind and helpful responses to my query about the benches and supplying photos of several of the benches. And kudos to everyone at HOLA! Check out their website for more about all the great stuff they are doing!

*  I learned this from reading Kevin Roderick’s excellent Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles; his recent opionated guide for the Wilshire CicLAvia is a great overview of the Boulevard I consider my community.

Senator Liu’s 710 Freeway Properties Bill Approved by State Senate


September 10, 2013


California State Sen. Carol Liu’s bill on 710 freeway properties has been approved by the Senate on a 38-0 votation and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has 30 days to sign or veto the proposed law.
The bill would help Caltrans sell state-owned houses no longer needed for construction of a proposed State Highway Route 710 extension in Los Angeles, Alhambra, South Pasadena, and Pasadena.
SB 416 was co-authored by assemblymembers Chris Holden of D-Pasadena and Mike Gatto of D-Burbank.

“This bill gets Caltrans out of the real estate management business, generate revenues for local transportation projects, and returns these properties to our local tax rolls,” said Liu, who represents about 930,000 people in the 25th Senate District including Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and La Cañada Flintridge. “I want to thank Mr. Gatto and Mr. Holden for their support of this important measure,” Liu said. SB 416 passed the Assembly 77-0 last week.

The Assembly unanimously voted in favor of the passage of the bill last week with 77-0 votation.
The North Route 710 project comprise a 4.5-mile, uncompleted segment transects neighborhoods and communities. Caltrans owns over 500 homes, about 400 of which are occupied by tenants for whom Caltrans serves as landlord, but many houses remain vacant and in disrepair.

Liu said that in the last decade, attention has shifted to the construction of a tunnel to connect the 710 freeway between State Routes 10 and 210 because it would require less surface area and fewer properties to be destroyed. Liu suggested that Caltrans declare all other properties excess and sell them, thereby returning them to private ownership and the tax rolls.

However, Roberti Bill requires the state to pay for costly repairs prior to any sale. It requires that homes first be offered for sale at an affordable price to eligible tenants and then to an affordable housing entity. Remaining properties are to be sold at fair market value. Under the law, Caltrans must make repairs to the property required by lenders or government assistance programs or provide a comparable replacement dwelling, Liu said.

SB 416 would retain Caltrans’ authority to offer a replacement dwelling, would revise the definition of “fair market value” to reflect the existing “as is” condition of the property, and would delete the requirement for costly repairs to be made prior to sale. SB 416 would also give first right of refusal for purchase of residential properties at fair market value to former tenants in good standing and for purchase at fair market value to tenants of non-residential properties before they are offered on the open market.154

Approved Bill Could Allow Solo Motorists To Drive In Carpool Lanes


September 10, 2013

 See website for a video.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Solo motorists could drive in carpool lanes on Los Angeles freeways for a few hours during the day under a bill approved Tuesday.

The bill, which was approved by the state Assembly on a 69-1 vote, is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Assembly member Mike Gatto introduced the bill, AB 405, to ease traffic congestion by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes — also known as carpool lanes — on certain freeways during non-peak hours.

“Carpool lanes were designed to reword those who pool their rides during the busiest rush hour,” Gatto said. “The Northern California freeways where this has been adopted, the carpool lane is a carpool lane only from 6 to 10 a.m. in the morning commute and then again from 4 and 7 p.m. in the evening commute, but any other time in the day or night solo drivers are free to access the carpool lane.”

 f Brown signs the bill into law, Caltrans would set up test zones along the Ventura (134) Freeway and the Foothill (210) Freeway.

A 2011 CalTrans report indicated that the majority of HOV lanes in Southern California are not being utilized to capacity during non-peak hours, leaving single-passenger vehicles idling in slow-going or stand-still lanes.

A solo motorist faces a ticket costing approximately $340 if caught driving in a carpool lane.
Pending Brown’s signature, the bill would go into effect July 1, 2014.

How Serious Is LA About Hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics?


By Eve Bachrach, September 11, 2013



  Every few years it seems like half the cities in the country vie for a chance to host the Olympics, and LA is no different. Most bids don't have much in the way of support and fizzle out early, and we'd assumed LA's 2024 talk was no different--for instance, we put so much thought into our "applicant city" logo for 2024 that we just copied the one we used for 2020. But there have been a few signs that this city's actually taking this thing seriously. First, the LA Times speculated that the flurry of exciting developments proposed along the LA River might indicate real interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics (the bid "could include new facilities near or along the river," apparently), and said City Hall was abuzz with the notion. Now The Source--Metro's blog--is getting in on the tea leaf reading, wondering how LA's transit expansion might play into a bid.

Is it possible that current talk of accelerating transit projects isn't just about assuaging impatient tax payers but is designed to possibly appeal to the International Olympic Committee? "Cities almost always promise key infrastructure upgrades as part of their Olympic bids. And there are a couple of Measure R projects that I'm guessing Olympic officials might be interested in: the Purple Line Extension to Westwood and the Airport Metro Connector, currently scheduled to be done in 2036 and 2028, respectively." The Purple Line extension is important to get spectators to potential venues at UCLA (like Pauley Pavillion).This is all just speculation--and a final decision isn't due until 2017--but Eric Garcetti's reaffirming of LA's interest in hosting duties on his first day as Mayor (pdf) adds grist to the mill. If the Olympics do come back to LA, here's hoping Airbnb is still around so we can gouge all those tourists who come to rent our houses, apartments, and couches.

· Notes on transit: the 2024 Olympics, Measure R and project acceleration [The Source]

· Will the LA River Star in Los Angeles's 2024 Olympics Bid? [Curbed LA]

Lawmakers Push to Permanently Upgrade Transit’s Second-Class Tax Benefit


By Tanya Snyder, September 10, 2013

While the rest of the Capitol prepared for President Obama’s visit to lobby members of Congress on Syria military strikes, three lawmakers gathered under the hot sun with transit advocates to push for a more bread-and-butter issue: tax benefits for transit riders.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, sporting his dashing new goatee, illustrates "even-steven." Photo by Tanya Snyder.

For years, car commuters could claim up to $240 per month in tax-free driving expenses, while transit riders could claim only up to $125. The 2009 stimulus package brought transit commuter tax benefits up to the same level, but the parity provision kept expiring each year, and lawmakers had to scramble to reinstate it. Transit parity wasn’t reinstated for 2012, reverting the maximum monthly deduction back to $125.

A fiscal cliff deal at the beginning of this year not only restored parity for transit riders, it made the change retroactive, setting both transit and parking deductions at a maximum of $245 per month — and creating big headaches for employers. The retroactivity was necessary to restore parity, since otherwise it would have been considered a new change to the tax code. But it was probably more trouble than it was worth, creating a disincentive for employers to offer it.

“Employers have looked at this benefit and said, ‘It goes up, it goes down, you make changes every year; I don’t understand it. Why should I even give this to my employees?’” said David Judd of Edenred, one of the main companies that administers these benefits. “That’s a lousy attitude, given all the benefits of it. But it’s become confusing.”

That’s why Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and James McGovern (D-MA) gathered outside the Capitol today to push for their Commuter Parity Act (HR 2288). The bill would make the transit and parking benefits equal on a permanent basis — and would include bike-share as a form of transit.

Only two other Republicans have signed on to the bill: Reps. Peter King of Long Island and Robert Wittman of Northern Virginia. But McGovern said he doesn’t know anyone who’s opposed to this bill, on either side of the aisle. It’s good for small businesses, which pay lower payroll taxes when their employees have more tax-free income. And another sweetener is that the measure is revenue-neutral, costing the taxpayer nothing.

Sponsors were  a little shy about explaining how an increase in the benefit could cost nothing, but it’s good policy: They’re reducing the maximum monthly deduction for parking to $220. It’s a “tiny” reduction, in Blumenauer’s words, and it’s enough to give a fair shake to all transit commuters. Of course, Blumenauer tends not to be shy about these things, and he did slip in his opinion that the benefit should, in fact “tilt it the other way — because [transit commuters] are the folks that are using less of the roadway; they’re having less congestion, fewer accidents.”

“But we’re not doing that,” he was quick to add. “Just even-steven.”

Many daily transit commuters don’t spend as much as $220 per month, but for commuter rail riders and people with long express bus trips, a higher maximum will make a difference. Other people who stand to benefit are the growing number of Americans incorporating bike-share into their commutes.
Blumenauer would like to see commuter benefit parity folded into a grand bargain, which Congress is supposedly going to negotiate soon to bring closure on battles over the budget, the debt ceiling and, potentially, tax reform. But he’s not putting all his eggs in that basket. This is a standalone bill that can pass as such — and with broad bipartisan support. Blumenauer suggested it could even pass on suspension, a quicker way to pass a bill in the House that requires a two-thirds vote in favor. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is ready to pick up the mantle in the Senate once the House takes action.

CEQA Opponents Incorrectly Point to Expo Lawsuit as Reason to Weaken CEQA


By Damien Newton, September 11, 2013

 Progress continues on the Expo Phase II bridge over Venice Boulevard....or Does It?

Over the past week, I’ve been studying CEQA and the politics behind the various reform efforts to better report on what’s happening in Sacramento as Senator Darrell Steinberg’s SB 731 moves through the legislature. I’ve stumbled on some amazing arguments over that time, but none are quite as amazing as the one made by economist John Husing of Economics and Politics Inc. on behalf of the pro-business CEQA Working Group.

To make his case that CEQA lawsuits are bad for business and jobs, Husing goes through the brief history of Expo Phase II’s long environmental process, and the ultimately unsuccessful CEQA lawsuit brought by Neighbors for Smart Rail. Then Husing laments the job creation delayed while the lawsuit played out.
For this group of occupations, the  NIMBY lawsuit led to the equivalent of 679 prevailing wage workers not having jobs for 3½  years. The overall impact has been as follows (Exhibit 1):
  • $51.53 is the weighted average of the median hourly wage & benefit levels of the six  categories of prevailing wage jobs that were delayed.
  • Nearly all of the workers will earn from $50-$60 in wages & benefits except laborers  ($47.39).
  • The “other” category was the average of median hourly wages and benefits ($51.49) of  teamsters, sheet metal workers, plumbers and pipe fitters.
  • 1,358,335 hours of work will eventually be created at the prevailing wage & benefit rates  of the various occupations.
  • 679 full time equivalent jobs have been delayed. That is 1,358,335 hours of work spread = across 40 hours a day or 33,958 full time weeks of work. For a 50 week year, that means  679 full time equivalent jobs have been affected. The most were 281 laborers, 155  operating engineers, 66 carpenters and 62 iron workers The least was the equivalent of 55 
  • full time cement workers.
  • The weighted average wage & benefit earnings of the workers whose jobs were held up  will be $103,067 over the period of construction.
This is a completely compelling argument, or rather it would be if it were true. Somehow, Husing missed that no court ever issued a stay of construction on Expo Phase II and work has continued since design was completed. In other words, all the statistics presented above are completely wrong in every possible way.

While Husing’s mistake is lamentable, it gets even more outrageous when repeated by an editor for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

At the “news” website Fox and Hounds, Charles Crumpley, the Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal repeats Husing’s claim about job loss on the Westside . Apparently the Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal both had no idea that a major construction project was underway in the city he covers as Editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal and doesn’t bother checking facts before publishing.

I’m not perfect. Anyone that reads Streetsblog L.A. knows I make my share of typos and I’ve missed a story or two over the years. However, I’ve never left a story unchanged a full day after someone has shown me I’m wrong on the facts. It’s just amazing to me that the Fox and Hounds story hasn’t been edited by now either by Crumpley or the editors.

If you read through the Fox and Hounds story, you’ll note there’s a comment from me at the bottom pointing out this rather egregious factual error. I’ve also emailed Crumpley and asked him to edit the story.

After the Reason Foundation’s laughable “report” on Desert XPress convinced several faux Libertarian Members of Congress to oppose a loan to the project, I’ve become painfully aware that it doesn’t always matter if someone is completely incorrect. If they have the right title, people will believe them. In the case of XPress, Reason was guilty of some rather far-fetched conclusions. In this case, Crumpley and Husing are guilty of gross incompetence.

CEQA Reform Update: Is This the End for LOS?


By Damien Newton, September 11, 2013

Finally, some sanity may be coming to California’s most important environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Under current law, all projects, be they rail lines, bike plans, or new buildings would have to prove that it would not impact local driving times or it would have to complete a costly mitigation plan.

LOS, simplified. Image: Safe Routes California

Traffic plans and projections are routinely challenged by NIMBY’s which sometimes lead to delay of a project, such as implementation of San Francisco’s bike plan, and other times just lead to local annoyance, as the recently concluded lawsuit against Los Angeles’ Expo Line.

However, a series of amendments to SB 731 written by Senator Darrell Steinberg changes that standard. Instead of looking at Level of Service, (LOS) the barometer of how quickly cars can move through the street, projects will be evaluated on how they impact air quality, noise, safety and overall mobility. For years, CEQA studies have led to more fast moving traffic, more sprawl and more dangerous communities.

An early version of the amendments only applied the LOS change to transit districts, but that was amended to include the entire state in yesterday’s committee hearings.

In the Sacramento Bee, Curt Johanson of the California Infill Builder’s Association notes that these changes will finally have CEQA working as it’s supposed to. By measuring whether or not a project increases traffic instead of congestion, air pollution instead of drive time, and public safety instead of speed, Steinberg is putting the E back in CEQA:

“By moving toward these real environmental measures, Steinberg’s bill makes good projects in the right locations easier and ensures more thorough environmental review of all projects. Projects would get rewarded for reducing overall driving and burdened if they contribute to more, resulting in a solution that both business advocates and environmentalists can agree is healthy in the long term for all Californians.”

Autumn Bernstein, the director of Climate Plan, concurs. She writes of the updated SB 731, “Its a game-changer for bike lanes, BRT projects, and infill developments have been stymied by CEQA’s outdated fixation on Level of Service. “

Odds of 731 passing have increased since Streetsblog discussed the legislation last week. Steinberg shelved popular legislation such as SB 1, which would have funded portions of other smart growth legislation, to focus on CEQA reform. SB 731 cleared the Assembly Natural Resources Committee yesterday and is expected to be heard by the Assembly Local Government Committee today. That leaves two days for a vote of the full Assembly and a hastily assembled conference committee between the Assembly and Senate, before heading to the Governor’s desk. SB 731 passed in the Senate earlier this year.

While Bernstein praised the changes to LOS that now appear in the legislation, she is even more enthused by changes  that will help prevent physical or economic displacement, commonly thought of as gentrification.

These measures could include rent stabilization ordinances, inclusionary zoning, housing impact fees, and condominium conversion restrictions. SB 731 is now one of the few pieces of legislation to recognize that there is an environmental and societal harm to policies and projects that displace residents and uproot communities. The California Planning and Development Report explains that the politics of this proposed change aren’t cut and dry:
In the past, the state has explicitly rejected moves toward assessing the socioeconomic impact of development via CEQA – in contrast to New York, whose CEQA equivalent moved in that direction a long time ago (but is not as frequently used on private development). These amendments reveal the tension among liberal Democrats in reforming CEQA. On the one hand, they want more infill development. But on the other hand, they can’t let go of the idea that infill development will be bad for people who currently live in urban neighborhoods.
Of course, nothing is certain in the California legislature, and a powerful collection of business and oil interests are trying to gut CEQA. Streetsblog discussed earlier today how some of the arguments put forward by these interests are, to put it kindly, less than true.

While it is certainly frustrating for transportation reform advocates to see frivolous lawsuits or delays to projects, removing a broad portion of the state’s environmental protections, as opposed to the technical changes proposed by Steinberg, would undermine legislation credited with halting off-shore dumping, electrifying the port of Los Angeles and saving California’s redwood forests.
Streetsblog will continue to follow SB 731 as it advances this week.

Manhattan Has a Gas Station That's Also an Art Gallery


By John Metcalfe, September 11, 2013

Manhattan Has a Gas Station That's Also an Art Gallery
Les Lalanne and Paul Kasmin Gallery
"Internationally acclaimed art" and "fill-up station" don't often fit together in the same sentence. This is one of the happy occasions when they can, however, thanks to an old gas depot in Manhattan that's becoming a revolving gallery for public art.

A little while ago, dump trucks sloughed loads of gravel onto the floor of the defunct Getty service station at 239 Tenth Avenue in West Chelsea. (Single Yelp review: "it's gas... self explainatory!") Workers topped that off with verdant sod and lined the business with dwarfish trees. The bucolic transformation is all a set-up for the place's inaugural show on September 16: "Sheep Station," a herd of bronze ungulates crafted by the late surrealist sculptor, François-Xavier Lalanne.

Turning an oil-stained car-hole into Manhattan's newest trendy art spot was the idea of the Paul Kasmin Gallery and real-estate mogul Michael Shvo, who recently purchased the site for $23.5 million. (To measure by price per square foot, the deal was almost a record-setter even for the ridiculous New York real-estate market, reports Crain's.) Shvo plans to build luxury condos on top of the parcel, and even more units on top of those if he can get the air rights, and being an art collector himself decided to temporarily devote the space to various shows. They will alternate every so often until construction begins in 2014.

When the condos finally open, tenants will find their tony building outfitted with even more art installations, according to The New York Times. In the meantime the Getty will serve as one more of the world's oddly high-class gas stations, including one executed by Mies Van Der Rohe and another by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Here are a few photos showing what the station looks like now, as well as one of the sheep that will soon faux-graze in Chelsea: