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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

UCLA Football Friday Night Game: 11-15-13



Residents within the barricaded streets should obtain your 2013 Resident Vehicle  Passes.  You can pick up your resident vehicle passes at the ROSE BOWL ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, 1001 ROSE BOWL DRIVE between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm, MONDAY through FRIDAY.  These Passes should be used while a major Rose Bowl event is occurring for easy access to your home.  Passes DO NOT allow access through the Event Parking Toll Plazas in the Arroyo Seco. The passes are intended for RESIDENTIAL STREET ACCESS ONLY through the barricades on streets along the upper crest of the Rose Bowl. And finally, Resident Vehicle Passes are NOT EVENT PARKING PASSES!   Please have your passes in your vehicles at all times. Thank you!  THESE PASSES ARE NOT PARKING PASSES!! IF YOU PARK IN A MARKED “NO PARKING” ZONE, YOUR VEHICLE WILL BE TOWED!

If you like to be added to our resident’s email notification list, please send your email address and residence address to: cthompson@rosebowlstadium.com
For questions please contact the Rose Bowl Administrative Office at 626-577-3101.
Office hours: Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


45 large U.S. cities ranked by percentage of bicycle commuting


By Michael Graham Richard, November 8, 2013

U.S. cities ranked by percentage of bicycle commuting

How does your city rank (if on the list)?

This slide is from a presentation by John MacArthur at the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC). I mentioned the presentation in this article about electric bikes, and I also included the slide in that post, but I felt it deserved its own article (it's not about electric bikes anyway). It shows 45 large U.S. cities ranked by percentage of bicycle commuting, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The main takeaway for me is how much variability there is, and how big the opportunity is to just bring the laggard cities up to the level of the best biking cities. It's kind of like figuring out what works, and then exporting that model to other cities rather than have them slowly reinvent the wheel. That's why it's so important for city planners to visit Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

And even the best ranked U.S. cities aren't anywhere near perfect; Portland is continuously improving and finding new ways to make biking safer and more convenient (see this post about their multi-modal set up that includes bike valets, for example).

 And if you want to see what a truly bike-friendly city can look like, have a look at what they do in Amsterdam: (See website for the video).

More states consider toll roads to raise infrastructure dollars


By Susan Milligan, November 11, 2013


Cash-strapped states are scouting for ways to pay for critical road work, and increasingly, the result for motorists is the same: You're going to have to pay a toll.

In the past, state and federal gas taxes largely covered the cost of building and maintaining roads. But the federal gas tax, currently 18.4 cents per gallon, has not changed in 20 years. Meanwhile, people are driving less and vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient.

Nobody likes to pay tolls, but raising the gas tax is even less popular — and a tax hike would be an uphill battle at a time when Congress can't seem to agree on anything, said Patrick Sabol, an infrastructure analyst with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. At least with tolls, Sabol said, people feel they are paying directly for roads they travel, instead of paying taxes to build and maintain roads they may never use.

"There's a fairness argument," added Leonard Gilroy, director of government relations at the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank in Los Angeles. "If you use the roadway, you pay. If you don't, you don't."
Roads need
constant maintenance and at some point, they just need to be rebuilt, Gilroy said. "People believe that because they poured asphalt into the ground, they've paid for it, and that is never true. A road is never, ever paid for," Gilroy said. "What tolling does is take the hidden costs and make them transparent."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 42 states and the District of Columbia now have some sort of tolling authority or facility. Democratic Gov. Patrick Quinn of Illinois recently won planning committee approval for a $1.3 billion toll road linking interstates in Illinois and Indiana. Peter Samuel, founder of the newsletter Toll Roads News, said tolling is growing around Houston and Dallas. In Washington state, where tolling used to be limited to one bridge, there are now toll lanes. Many states with toll roads are raising rates.

Major highway projects "are hard to do under your typical system today," Gilroy said. "With tolling, you are literally able to begin that project today instead of waiting years or even decades to do it. It's a good way to catch up on the unmet needs you have today."

Driving Less

The federal fuel taxes motorists pay are funneled into the Highway Trust Fund, which is used to pay for road construction, maintenance and mass transit.

The problem is that people are hitting the road less. A recent University of Michigan study showed that Americans drove 5 percent fewer miles in 2011 than in 2006. The increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles also has deprived the Highway Trust Fund of much-needed cash. The trend is likely to continue, as the EPA has set a 54.5 miles-per-gallon average fuel standard by 2025 for the nation's auto fleet.

States are experimenting with various tolling approaches, including public-private financing and alternative ways of assessing tolls. Partnering with private companies to build new toll roads is popular because it spares state and local governments from taking on public debt. Details differ depending on the agreement, but they all involve having a private entity assume such tasks as building, operating and maintaining the roads for some kind of cash return, often tolling revenues. The government entity keeps ownership of the road.

The advantage for states is that they don't have to float an unpopular public bond issue, and may even get an upfront payment from the private company. They also don't have to worry about collecting enough in tolls to cover the debt servicing or maintenance.

Public-private partnerships are becoming more popular, according to the NCSL's Jaime Rall. Thirty-three states have authorized such agreements, up from 29 in 2010, and at least 24 states have considered legislation that would create a public-private road partnership this year, twice the 2008 figure, Rall said.

Sagging toll revenues

But the projects haven't always been financially successful. The Indiana Toll Road, for example, has produced weak revenues, leading to worries that the project may go into default early next year. If that happens, Indiana, which received $3.8 billion to lease the project, might team with a different private company or take over the road itself.

A tolled portion of State Highway 130 in central Texas is having similar troubles. California's largest government toll road agency, the Foothill-Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, recently refinanced debt after disappointing toll revenues put pressure on the agency's bottom line.

Cherian George, managing director of global infrastructure at Fitch Ratings, said such failures are not uncommon globally. In the U.S., however, the capital markets are deeper, providing more opportunity for financing, he said.
Other states are coming
up with alternatives to tolls and gas taxes. Oregon officials are experimenting with charging motorists based on the miles they travel, instead of the gallons of gas they purchase. Under its pilot program, Oregon tracks in-state mileage using GPS or an electronic odometer.

Some question the fairness of charging a gas-guzzling SUV the same as a fuel-efficient hybrid, but "regardless of what propels the car or truck, it still needs the same pavement, the same lights and the same guardrails," said Tom Cooney, communications director for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Across the country, states also are installing express or HOT lanes that promise speedier rides for a premium. From I-495 in Virginia to I-10 and I-110 in Los Angeles County, drivers pay more (how much more depends on the speed of traffic) to travel at a guaranteed speedier pace. Tolls are collected electronically, so motorists are not slowed by tollbooths.

Such projects are ideal for large metro areas where there isn't the money or space to build entirely new roads, experts say. "It's great for motorists, because they have a choice," Samuel said.

Not all states are resigned to tolling. Connecticut abandoned the practice in 1985 after a tractor-trailer crashed into cars at a Stamford toll booth 30 years ago, killing seven people. But with gas tax revenues increasingly unreliable, policymakers there are talking about it, albeit cagily, said Jim Cameron, a member of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council. "There's been no politician I've found who embraces the idea. But they're going to have to do something," Cameron said.

Naples Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe Says 'No Communion For Polluters'


November 10, 2013

 naples archbishop communion
Cardinals Crescenzio Sepe and Camillo Ruini during a celebration over the feast of the Immaculate Conception, presided by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, on December 08th, 2005.

Archbishop of Naples Crescenzio Sepe didn't mince words when speaking about the issue of pollution on Wednesday, going so far as to say, "Those who pollute are not in the grace of God and can not take communion."

His remarks came in the wake of revelations that local mafia had buried cancer-causing toxic waste around the city, posing a health risk to residents, reports Adnkronos.

He told journalists at the 10th International Forum of the Christian environmentalist group Greenaccord, "Our people have to be told the truth about what has happened. But it is also necessary to talk about all the positive things that have been done. It is time for everyone to unite and continue to free our earth of poisons."

Care for creation is something that Pope Francis has previously tweeted about, stating:

Pope Francis
Care of creation is not just something God spoke of at the dawn of history: he entrusts it to each of us as part of his plan.

This isn't the first time that clergy have banned people from taking communion due to their stance on social issues. In September, chief justice of the Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke announced that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should be denied communion due to her support of the right to have an abortion.

Sepe added that he had ordered local priests, deacons, and lay brothers to be conscious of the Church's role in public ethics, Adnkronos reported.

Ask A Native Angeleno: How Do You Deal With Soul-Sucking Traffic?


By Hillel Aron, November 11, 2013


 Glammed-up traffic in a city defined by movement

This week's question comes from a transplant who can't take the traffic. If you have your own burning question for a Native Angeleno, you can e-mail us using the subject line "Ask A Native Angeleno." It's fine if you want to be anonymous, just let us know which neighborhood you live in.

Dear Native Angeleno,

I've lived in L.A. for a little less than three years. I really like it, but the one thing I can't stand is the traffic! Ugh!!! I feel like it's slowly sucking the life out of me. How do you deal with it?


Trapped in a Tin Box

Dear Trapped in a Tin Box,

Traffic may well be Los Angeles' defining existential crisis. There's a scene in Hal Hartley's film, Simple Men, where a character is trying to fix a broken motorcycle and exclaims, "Nothing like a machine to make a man feel insignificant." That must hold doubly true for a machine that is literally boxed in by other, nearly identical machines.

And so on behalf of the LA's 3.8 million inhabitants, I am sorry.

However. Some perspective may be in order.

In my most recent column, I noted that Los Angeles is less a city and more this humungous thing (incidentally, I referenced a map showing other cities drawn inside of LA; as an astute commenter pointed out, the map has a number of flaws—namely, it grossly underestimates the size of San Francisco. LAist regrets the error; however, we feel that the map has a sort of greater truth, in that L.A. is still really really fucking big, bigger than a number of big cities combined). When it takes a long time to get from point A to point B in Los Angeles, part of the problem is the enormous distances we're attempting to traverse. It's a bummer that it takes me 30 minutes to get to the Grove from Echo Park in rush hour. But how much is traffic really adding there? Ten minutes? Fifteen?

It was with great anticipation that I first rode the Expo Line, which connects Downtown to Culver City, and will eventually run all the way to Pacific Ocean. But I was disappointed to find that the ride takes 30 minutes—about as long as the westbound drive would take during rush hour (perhaps a bit shorter than the eastbound trip). Now, the Expo Line is a bit slow. But all the public transportation in the world isn't going to make the Westside and the Eastside closer to each other.

Are we condemned, then, to a life trapped within slowly rolling glass cubicles? The Native Angeleno thinks not. There is no silver bullet; however, like many incurable diseases, a number of steps can be taken to mitigate the problem—choosing to live closer to where you work, biking to work a couple days out of the week, taking public transportation a couple days out of the week, driving to work early or late in order to beat rush hour, and so on.

Reyner Banham, that Brit who unexpectedly fell in love with Los Angeles, once wrote that the city's, “mobility outweighs monumentality.” Whereas the character of many other cities can be gleaned from iconic architecture, Banham argues, the character of L.A. can only be understood through movement, through seeing how all these funny little neighborhoods connect.

I wonder sometimes if that is in fact changing, if the menace of traffic, which has gotten noticeably worse since I was a kid (there used to never be traffic on the 10 West in the morning, or any traffic on weekends) is choking off what Banham called the "language of movement." Throw in a Disney Hall here, an Eli Broad museum there, maybe the city is becoming a more conventional one, one that takes its architecture more seriously and its driving less seriously.

For many, car-dominance in LA is simply the price of admission, the punishment exacted for 300 days a year of sunshine. A growing number of Angelenos believe a change is afoot—a slow train coming, if you will—that the automobile is soon to be dethroned in favor of an East-coast-esque public transit system. (Sidebar: wouldn't it be just like Los Angeles if the driverless car really took off just as we were finishing our 30-year light rail monstrosity?)

The Native Angeleno, for one, believes the truth to be somewhere in the middle. The misery of sitting in traffic will always be a thing, like the sub-par air quality and the preponderance of actors. But it doesn't have to be the thing that defines us, the syntax through which our Angeleno-ness is forever understood. That will change, one way or another.

A Greener Motorized Rickshaw?


Philip A. Stephenson, November 12, 2013

A Greener Motorized Rickshaw?

In crowded emerging markets like China and India, rickshaws, especially the motorized kind, have gotten a bad rap with governments fretting about congestion and smog. But there is hope that a greener motorized rickshaw could turn official opinions, since the primitive vehicle often provides needed jobs for the poor and a cheap form of transport for small businesses.

As motorized rickshaws (also called "auto-rickshaws" or "tuk tuks") have become more popular, they have assumed an integral role in the transportation systems of emerging economies. They’ve been introduced in South Africa, Egypt, Kenya, and France in recent years, where they have become a major (and at times, controversial) alternative to more expensive full-sized taxis. They’ve also been in use for years all over Asia, including in China, Thailand, Vietnam, and India, where they handle a significant portion of local commuter traffic.

For example, in India, since bus routes, trains and full-size taxis can only handle so many of the passenger miles required to keep the country’s urban centers connected to their labor force, tuk tuks take up the slack. While a bus line may take a worker most of the way, often the "last mile" of the commute, from the bus stop home, necessitates a trip in a tuk tuk. Auto-rickshaws perform up to 20 percent of  the 229 million motorized trips taken every day in Indian cities. The total number of trips is expected to increase to around 482 million by 2031. Altogether, in Asia, there are 200 million two and three-wheeled vehicles on the road. Current projections estimate that number will reach 550 million by 2035.

Growing populations and more vehicles mean even more trips, and that makes the pollution from these vehicles increasingly problematic. Too many auto-rickshaws feature two-stroke engines, which burn oil and lack catalytic converters, making them up to 13 times more polluting than low-emission four-stroke and compressed natural gas models.

That’s why officials in Thailand, China and the Philippines are pressuring owners and operators of the popular motorized rickshaws to cut down on congesting city streets with pollution and traffic. The affordability and versatility of the machines makes outlawing them altogether unrealistic. But there are other ways to lessen their impact. On November 7, Thai police announced that tuk tuks could no longer crowd the streets of Phuket to compete for tourist passengers. In San Fernando, a city in the Philippines, two-stroke tuk tuk drivers are offered cheap loans and free healthcare in exchange for upgrading to four-stroke machines. The Chinese government recently expressed new concerns about the effect of air pollution on citizens, passing a pollution protection act regulating emissions for vehicles including tuk tuks. The act limits carbon emissions across the board and will outlaw high-emission vehicles by 2017. India mandated a switch from gas to natural-gas powered rickshaws in 1998 to lessen pollution. Unfortunately, researchers have found that the carbon footprint of newer CNG models may not be much better than the gasoline models.

Fortunately, there are even cleaner options than CNG or four-stroke upgrades: electric, hybrid, and solar tuk tuks.

Recently, the M√∂venpick Resort and Spa in Thailand introduced electric tuktuks at their Karon Beach location in Phuket, replacing their entire fleet of gasoline tukuks. The resort touted the initiative on its Facebook page as its latest sustainability initiative as a Green Globe certified resort. Dubai’s Anantara Palm Resort and Spa introduced electronic tuk tuks as well with similar fanfare, and tour groups from Bonaire  to Amsterdam feature electric tuk tuk service in hopes of grabbing the attention of "green" tourists.

Many firms want to extend the trend beyond limited government action or eco tourists. A Japanese firm, Terra Auto, has begun producing electronic tuk tuks for markets in China and the Philippines. Solar models from Australia are coming onto the market. A Dutch engineer has set up production of similar electronic versions in Thailand, and a Thai inventor is doing the same with his own solar tuk tuk models.

But for now, adopting greener rickshaws is an expensive endeavor, for both governments and rickshaw owners. Electric tuk tuks can cost between $3,000 and $5,000 more than conventional models—which go for as little as $2,000.  Many drivers don’t own their own tuk tuks, and it’s an open question whether taxi stand bosses would be willing to invest in the expensive technology upfront, even if it means significant gas savings in the long-term.

India, which implemented a successful ban on two-stroke engines and a switch to natural gas versions in the 1990s, is a model for top-down government bans. The San Fernando initiative illustrates what can be accomplished with incentive programs: local Filipino officials doled out medical care and loan swaps for old engines, which incentivized all its drivers to replace every two-stroke vehicle on the road in just 11 years.