Purpose

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Top 10 urban highways that deserve to be torn down

http://grist.org/cities/top-10-urban-highways-that-deserve-to-be-torn-down/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=update&utm_campaign=socialflow

By Ben Adler, February 18, 2014

 Buffalo

 Route 5/Skyway blights the waterfront in Buffalo, N.Y.


Urbanist policies are often thought of in the positive: building bike lanes, light-rail lines, pedestrian plazas, and mixed-use developments. But the suburban sprawl that swept across our landscape left a lot of detritus, so urbanists also have to focus on getting rid of the negative — in many cases, this means highways.

It’s no coincidence that the watershed moment in American urbanism wasn’t the initiation of a new urbanist project. Rather, Jane Jacobs rallied her Greenwich Village neighbors to stop the Lower Manhattan Expressway from ever being built. Other cities that abandoned their most ill-conceived highway plans in the face of community resistance, like Vancouver and San Francisco, are noted today for their high quality of life and low carbon footprint.

But in much of North America, limited-access highways tore through downtowns and surrounding urban neighborhoods. Designed to bring suburban drivers into and through inner cities, these elevated behemoths consumed everything in their paths and cast shadows over what was left. They separated residents from their communities, waterfronts, and public amenities. Now, as they age, it has come time for cities to determine what to do with them: rebuild, replace, or tear down.

Every year, the Congress for a New Urbanism issues a report, “Freeways Without Futures,” that lists highways deserving of demolition. In its recently released 2014 edition, the group writes: “CNU advocates for replacing urban freeways with surface streets, boulevards and avenues as the most cost-effective, sustainable option for cities grappling with aging grade separated roads. This has the added benefit of providing significant opportunities to heal local street networks and improve regional traffic dispersion.”
The 10 freeways on the list, a
nd an additional five that have been targeted by campaigns for removal, have much in common: Built in the two decades after World War II, and thus nearing the end of their design life, they degrade their environs. Several were conceived by New York’s infamous master builder Robert Moses. One, in Buffalo, actually split in half a park designed by the great landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. Another, which bears Moses’ name, separates the city of Niagara Falls from its famous attraction. Here’s the full list:

“Freeways without futures”
  1. I-10/Claiborne Overpass, New Orleans
  2. Route 5/Skyway, Buffalo
  3. I-81, Syracuse
  4. Gardiner Expressway, Toronto
  5. Inner Loop, Rochester
  6. I-70, St. Louis
  7. I-280, San Francisco
  8. I-375, Detroit
  9. Terminal Island Freeway, Long Beach
  10. Aetna Viaduct, Hartford
“Campaigns to watch”
  1. I-345, Dallas
  2. I-894/Sheridan Expressway, Bronx, New York City
  3. I-710 Extension, Alhambra and Pasadena
  4. NYS Route 198/Scajaquada Expressway, Buffalo
  5. Robert Moses Parkway, Niagara Falls
If one of these highways is near you, you might want to get involved in efforts to remove it and replace it with a reconnected street grid. Urban history provides ample evidence that determined citizens can shape their surroundings for the better.

Study: Prenatal Exposure To Air Pollution May Reduce Newborns’ Skull Size

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/02/19/study-prenatal-exposure-to-air-pollution-may-reduce-newborns-skull-size/

February 19, 2014

 newborn infant hospital baby maternity



WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — Pregnant women living near freeways or other places with high concentrations of air pollution may be at greater risk of delivering a baby with a smaller head, according to researchers at UCLA.

KNX 1070′s Ed Mertz reports a recent study could shed new light on a possible link between air pollution and fetal growth.

The findings, which are expected to be published in the April 2014 issue of the science journal Environmental Research, were collected from a survey of more than 500 pregnant women between 1993 and 1996 whose homes were located near pollution-monitoring sources.

Based on ultrasound measurements, researchers found newborns who were exposed to traffic-derived air pollution saw a reduction in the diameter of the developing fetus’ skull of as much as one millimeter at approximately 19, 29 and 37 weeks gestation.

The heads of newborns exposed during late-term pregnancy were also more likely to develop slower and smaller, according to researchers.

Dr. Beate Ritz, Professor and Vice Chair of Epidemiology at UCLA, said while the difference in head size was slight compared to other babies, it remains significant enough to potentially have a lifelong impact.

“It might tell us that, actually, these children also could have some impact on their brain function, possibly on their cognition, possibly on worse outcomes,” Ritz said.

Although data compiled in the study suggested evidence that the height of babies might also be impacted by pollution, Ritz said that conclusion was not yet statistically clear.

Higher and faster, elevated transit isn’t always smarter

Toronto planners and politicians point to the gloom under the Gardiner as a key reason for not building elevated transit.

 http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2014/02/18/higher_and_faster_elevated_transit_isnt_always_smarter.html

 By Tess Kalinowski, February 18, 2014
A Canada Line rapid transit train crosses over the Fraser River from Vancouver to Richmond, B.C., as Grouse Mountain is seen in the distance.
A Canada Line rapid transit train crosses over the Fraser River from Vancouver to Richmond, B.C., as Grouse Mountain is seen in the distance.

In paradise, they are building transit that runs over the road rather than under it or on it.
Honolulu’s 32-kilometre, $5.16-billion light rail line — scheduled for completion in 2019 — will run mostly over highway medians.
It will connect the city with the airport, the Pearl Harbour naval base and the 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium.
Elevated transit is generally considered a cheaper alternative to tunneled subways and it has the added benefit of leaving car lanes intact. It also avoids traffic delays.
So if overhead trains are good enough for Hawaii, Chicago, Vancouver, London and New York, why has transit-starved Toronto so consistently shunned this solution?

 It has been suggested many times. But, with the exception of the Scarborough RT, there’s never been much appetite for overhead tracks.

Most recently, it’s been floated as an alternative to running an LRT on the road on the east end of the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT, from Laird Rd. to Kennedy Station.
It would eliminate the problem of reduced left turns and car lanes in a busy section of town, said London-based transit expert Michael Schabas in his review of Metrolinx’s Big Move. He contends east Eglinton is never going to have the kind of pedestrian vibrancy of a Queen St. so adding LRT to the road merely adds traffic.
“Most of Vancouver’s Skytrain network is elevated. This does not seem to have damaged Vancouver’s reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities,” says his report.
An elevated track would also allow for driverless trains, something Schabas thinks Toronto should consider to save operating costs. Automated trains cannot operate in mixed traffic, they must drive on a grade separated right of way for obvious safety reasons.
Being an island with limited space, means there’s a compelling case for elevated transit in Hawaii, which is being modeled on the Vancouver Skytrain, said Scott Ishikawa of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.
“The most important reason is the trains are separate from the surface traffic below, free of any traffic delays and accidents,” he said.
“A train ride from the first stop (in Honolulu) to the last stop will be 42 minutes, regardless of time of day,” said Scott Ishikawa of the Honolulu Rail Transit Project.
But Toronto planners and politicians fear elevated transit lines risk creating a public realm with all the atmosphere of the Gardiner Expressway’s dank underbelly.
The Hawaiian version has also been controversial.
But, said Ishikawa, “The system will actually be dwarfed by buildings and freeway viaducts, particularly in downtown Honolulu.”
Toronto chief planner Jennifer Keesmat cites the shadow that a structure like the Gardiner casts on the street below. She also brandishes one of the chief arguments for building Toronto’s LRTs in the first place.
“From a land use planning perspective, if our objective in integrating higher order transit into our city is to create great places for walking, for commerce, living,… elevated infrastructure doesn’t work so well for any of those objectives,” she said.
It may be less expensive to build than an underground subway but it’s not necessarily cheap to maintain, said Keesmat.
“This is the challenge with the Gardiner. It’s much more expensive from an operational and maintenance perspective than a road that’s at grade. The Catch22 with elevating any kind of infrastructure – a really good example of this is the subway in Chicago – not only is it ugly, it creates really dark spaces,” she said.
It’s not just the shadow but the noise of elevated transit lines that can be problematic, said TTC CEO Andy Byford. If you build above the street you’ve also got to contend with getting people there, that means elevators or escalators.
Keesmat says she’s more optimistic than Schabas about the potential for at-grade LRT to inspire a more human atmosphere on Eglinton east.
“There are some areas along Eglinton that will mature very quickly, the easy sights. They’re always the ones that go first. Then there are other sites that are tricky. Land values are going to have to increase significantly before you’re in fact going to see that intensification,” she said.
That’s often the case, she said, pointing to Bloor St. near the Dundas West Station. It has taken years, but mid-rise development is happening there.
“The Honolulu transit corridor project is really about connecting the city with the county…. It’s about connecting two urban areas. That’s very different from the context we imagine along Eglinton where we would like to see a significant amount of intensification along the corridor,” said Keesmat.
Despite the accolades heaped on Vancouver, the integration of Skytrain into the urban fabric has been uneven, said Lawrence Frank, a professor of the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC.
Some of the station development has been very successful. But the spaces between stations have been more problematic although it’s not clear how much elevated transit depresses those land values, he said.
On balance though, Frank said that elevated transit should probably be considered more often.
“It’s just a matter of having very careful urban design standards and I really believe that vegetation – a lot of investment in trees along the sides of the street – is really important. To the degree possible you want to buffer it any way you can,” he said.
While overhead transit hasn’t historically been embraced here, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig says it “is one of the solutions we do need to think about for different parts of the system as we move forward.”
It was rejected east of Don Mills for the Eglinton Crosstown. But there are plans for an elevated section in the West End, near Black Creek Dr.
“That’s an opportunity,” he said, “for us to show how we can build an elevated section of guideway in a way that fits into the community. One of the concerns in Toronto historically has been how do you integrate an elevated structure into the local community.”

 

LA Mayor: 'The Basics Have Been Neglected For Too Long'

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/19/279207885/la-mayor-the-basics-have-been-neglected-for-too-long

By Kirk Siegler, February 19, 2014
 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may have only been in office eight months, but he's got big plans.

 Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may have only been in office eight months, but he's got big plans.

Los Angeles may be known for its celebrities, glitz and glam, but the city's mayor, Eric Garcetti, is focused on something decidedly less flashy: infrastructure.

Take the city's airport LAX, for example. You'd be forgiven for mistaking its terminals for a cramped bus station. And stepping out onto the curb can feel like an assault on the senses, with the horns, aggressive shuttle drivers and travelers jostling for taxis.

"It seems a little disorganized," says business traveler Burton Webb of Boise, Idaho, on his first impressions. "I prefer airports that have good access to trains."

Not in LA. This is a city of almost 4 million people, with one of the busiest airports in the world — but no train into the city. At least not yet. Messy, chaotic LAX is emblematic of everything that Garcetti wants to change.

"The basics have been neglected for too long, and it's the foundation I have to lay in the first few years if I'm going to write the next chapter of LA," Garcetti says.

He likes to say that he wants to reinvent LA and promote its diversity, food and innovators — but first, there are enough streets to stretch a four-lane highway from here to France, but many are battered with potholes. There is a Metro rail system, but it's limited. LA covers 469 square miles, but just getting across this city sliced up by freeways can seem like a heroic feat.

"We destroyed our public transit system from the '30s and '40s and '50s, and so we're in the process of rebuilding it," Garcetti says. "A bigger program than anywhere in the U.S., but a long way to go."
A lifelong Angelino and former city councilman, Garcetti has quickly developed a reputation as being understated. You're not likely to spot him in public making a grandiose announcement. He seems most at ease talking about things like infrastructure.

Mayor Garcetti and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tour the Los Angeles River last year. Garcetti plans to restore natural habitats along the river.
Mayor Garcetti and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tour the Los Angeles River last year. Garcetti plans to restore natural habitats along the river.
 
Recently, at a groundbreaking for a new voter-approved train line connecting a neglected neighborhood with the airport, the mayor got an opportunity to tout his transportation agenda. For years, lawsuits and infighting have prevented a train from reaching LAX.

"We're investing $36 billion local dollars ... to relieve traffic, to build a city that isn't so dependent on everybody owning a car," he said.

The mayor's schedule is crowded with stops like these — promoting transit in the early morning, a 10 a.m. trip to Koreatown to launch his pothole repair initiative, a speech in the suburban San Fernando Valley about conserving water.

"I would never mistake an understated style for a lack of ambitious policies," Garcetti says.

Still, they're not nearly as ambitious as those of Garcetti's predecessor, the flashy Antonio Villaraigosa. Right out of the gate, Villaraigosa made big plans, trying to wrestle more control of one of the nation's largest public school districts. He was also a rising star in the national Democratic Party.

But politics and personal problems caused Villaraigosa's influence to fade. Garcetti watched Villaraigosa's tenure closely and wisely went the other way, says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, who teaches public policy at the University of Southern California.

"Angelinos don't want big promises, don't want glitz," she says. "What they want is to be left alone, to do what they need to do to live their lives, to maybe get the traffic situation under control."

But Garcetti has barely been in office eight months; Bebitch-Jeffe notes that his leadership has yet to be truly tested with a major event like a disaster. And Garcetti isn't exactly low-profile, either, when it comes to national politics, regularly appearing for photo ops with senior White House officials.

One rare, rainy morning, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to have a look at Garcetti's plan to restore the Los Angeles River. Long the brunt of local jokes, it's more concrete storm drain than river.
The mayor addressed a small crowd along a restored section of the river where native plants had started to flourish.

"Here, we used to have our back to the river. Today, we're beginning to turn our faces to the river again. To see the beauty of it, to make sure we get the pollution out of it," Garcetti said.

But in a sign of the challenges still ahead, Garcetti and the EPA chief had to cancel their plans to kayak there. The rain sent runoff pollution into the storm drains that feed the river. It wasn't safe for them to get into the water.

Metro Diary: Every Day He’s Hustlin’

http://la.streetsblog.org/2014/02/19/metro-diary-every-day-hes-hustlin/#more-91052


By Sahra Sulaiman, February 19, 2014


 The Willowbrook Station, looking South. Sahra Sulaiman/LA Streetsblog





The well-dressed and good-looking young man with enormous glasses walked toward where I was standing at the front of the packed Blue Line car, gave me a wink and a smile, then turned around and began delivering his sales pitch for headphones to the passengers.

Watching him work the car, I was reminded of how puzzling I find complaints about vendors — especially from those that claim they won’t ride the Blue Line because of them — on the trains.

Most of the vendors I have seen are friendly and savvy salespeople who understand that being presentable and personable, having a solid product, and, above all, not harassing passengers are the keys to success.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t get the occasional sad-faced vendor of incense who won’t take no for an answer or someone like the guy that likes to pop his glass eyeball out, of course. But, in my experience, they are in the minority.

The majority either are largely unobtrusive, floating by and murmuring, “DVDs,” like sweet nothings, or are more like the guy with the glasses — someone who is a regular presence, who takes his “job” seriously, and who has invested a lot of time and effort in honing his business and people skills.

If they’re as smart as the guy in the glasses, they anticipate their customers’ needs. When it has rained, he’s offered me umbrellas. When it has been cold, he has peddled hats.

And, he has always had a smile.

Now he was heading back up the aisle toward me again, this time with a different product in his hands.

“Battery chargers!” he announced.

Pointing at the young male passengers, he argued it was not cool to be caught with uncharged phones or other devices. What would the ladies think of such a man? Not very much.

This guy was good.


And, he had broken the ice for passengers that often keep to themselves. People started glancing at each other, giggling, and discussing his sales techniques.

It took guts, an older gentleman said, to keep going back and forth up and down the same train car.
“You have to have a good personality and be confident in yourself,” he explained.

He was a vendor himself, he said, gesturing at the goods sitting on his lap, but he didn’t think he had what it took to sell on the train. He preferred going to his regular spot and letting people come to him.
“It’s not easy,” agreed another man, seated off to my right.

“I don’t know about those headphones,” I said, pondering the vendor’s wares. “But I do like those glasses!”

Just then, I looked up to see the young man once again moving up the aisle, this time bearing candy and a huge grin on his face.

People started laughing out loud.

“Hold up,” said the guy to my right. “I need me some Skittles.”

“Third time’s a charm…” I said.

“He has everything!” exclaimed the older gentleman.

“Next thing you know he’ll be back here with water,” joked the guy with the sweet tooth. “It’s hot out today and I might need a little drink to go with my candy.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” I said, pointing back to the spot between the cars where the vendor had set his goods, “I bet you he has got some. His bags look full and he’s a man who knows what he’s doing…”

When the vendor made his last run through the car, icy bottles of water in hand, passengers burst out in guffaws, practically applauding him.

“You called it,” laughed the men, pointing at me.

We talked more about the vendors and about how hard many of them work just to scrape by.
While they are often seen unfavorably by Metro and transit advocates either because they are doing something that is technically illegal or because they sell candy or other things that can end up facilitating the trashing of a train car, it is clear that most are doing it because they have few other choices.

Those I’ve spoken with have been open about how they haven’t been able to get other work.
Few people are hiring young men of color with limited education or formal job experience, or who might have had a run-in with the law when they were younger. Unemployment rates in some areas of South L.A. over the past few years have actually rivaled those that helped stoke the frustrations underlying the 1992 riots.

It all serves to make vending a somewhat attractive option.

Vendors can set their own schedules and be their own bosses — how much money they make depends entirely on how much they are willing to hustle. Those already familiar with the ropes, having grown up helping their families out by selling candy at school, working with their parents at swap meets, or doing other odd jobs under the table, might even feel they have a bit of an advantage.

 And, the trains provide a relatively safe platform, run past places where they can replenish their supply of goods, allow vendors to simultaneously build a regular clientele and reach new customers, and are cheaper than renting a booth.

Still, it’s not the most lucrative of livings.

A vendor might walk away with $50 or $60 at the end of the day, some of which has to be plowed back into buying supplies. Some vend at additional sites when they’re not on the trains just to be able to make ends meet.

But, if you’re a good salesperson and know your market, you can make enough to support yourself, as one well-known vendor — a kind man with a big blue box filled with cellphone accessories and anything else a person might need — was once able to do.

Unfortunately, the Sheriffs confiscated his box last year, he wrote to tell me.

That blue box and all it contained had been his livelihood, he said. It had kept him off public assistance for years. Without it, he wasn’t sure he would be able to start over.

The men I was speaking with on the train nodded solemnly.

It was preferable, they agreed, to see young men unable to get a job take the initiative to work on their own terms rather than go on welfare, get involved in drugs, or turn to crime.

Suddenly, we were at the 7th St. Metro Center. By giving us all something to talk about, the vendor had helped the half hour it takes to get from Rosa Parks to downtown fly by.

I was grateful, both for the distraction and the good company.

Thanks to mechanical and other airline-related shenanigans at O’Hare airport, it had taken me two days to get back to L.A. from the midwest. I was tired of being in transit.

As people crowded in front of the door to get off, the older gentleman gathered his goods together and then looked at my suitcase.

“Are you a vendor, too?” he asked.

“Nah,” I smiled. “I just got back into town. It’s nice to be home.”

Thinking Ahead: Big Blue Bus Seeks Input on Expo Line Integration

http://www.santamonicanext.org/thinking-ahead-big-blue-bus-seeks-input-on-expo-line-integration/

By Lindsey Miller, February 19, 2014

 

 Expo Phase 2

 L.A. Metro Expo Line Phase 2

 

Big Blue Bus (BBB) has just begun the gargantuan process of figuring out how to best integrate its system with the Metro Expo Line Phase 2, set to open in early 2016. Three of the seven new stations being built are within the City of Santa Monica, but all are within BBB’s service area. The end of the line will be at Colorado Avenue and 4th Street, just a few blocks from the beach. The line connects to Downtown Los Angeles via Culver City, ending at Metro Center, 7th St. and Figueroa St.

Most of the future stations already have some overlap with existing bus routes, including four routes that already serve the current end of the line in Culver City at Venice and Robertson Boulevards. BBB is embarking on this Expo Integration Study to decide how to best serve its new and existing riders given its current budget and resources.

Last week, it held three community meetings at which consulting firm Nelson\Nygaard presented the current system and some of the questions it and BBB are trying to answer with the study. What the agency was looking for at the meetings—and is still looking for at the beginning of the process—is public comment. What people say now will help inform the direction of the planning moving forward.

In other words, the first step is to hear from the riders before they start working on updating its routes.

The project’s manager at Nelson\Nygaard, Thomas Whittmann, called Expo a “game changer,” because it will provide BBB riders with “fast, frequent service access to destinations throughout the region.” BBB already connects with L.A. Metro service, but Expo advertises 46-minute commutes from downtown L.A. to Santa Monica upon completion of Phase 2. Not only that, but existing Metro train lines serve places including the San Fernando Valley, Universal Studios, LAX, Hollywood, and many other city attractions. They also provide connections to commuter trains like Metrolink and nationwide train service like Amtrak.

Attendance at the meetings was light (about 40 people total at all three), but there is still plenty of opportunity get involved. BBB will soon release an online survey on its study website that will include multiple-choice and write-in questions, as well as a “create your own transit system” game. The results of the survey and preferences gathered at this stage will be incorporated into a plan, or a few options for a plan, that the agency will present in July. At this point the public will again have an opportunity to voice its opinion on the service. BBB projects that the changes identified in the study will be implemented by late 2015, as soon as Phase 2 is ready to open.

“This is like putting pieces of a puzzle together,” said the project’s manager at Nelson\Nygaard, Thomas Whittmann. “Big Blue Bus won’t have more budget to run shuttle buses to every Expo Line station. But when we’re making changes to the bus routes we’re messing with people’s lives. We need to understand what people want.”

Some of the questions BBB is looking at answering in these early days include, should it create any new lines? Should it truncate any lines at Expo stations or reroute nearby lines to connect? How should it accommodate buses, bus stops, and riders at Expo stations? How can it best continue to serve popular destinations like downtown Santa Monica and UCLA? Should it serve any new areas like Playa Vista? Should it expand hours or increase frequencies on popular routes? In short, how can it best “extend the reach” of Expo and Metro Rail?

At one of the meetings, Whittmann asked the audience what its vision for transit looked like. One community member said she envisioned walking to the end of her block, taking a blue bus to whichever Expo Line station was safest and most convenient to her needs, then using Expo to go wherever she needed to go. She wanted the bigger link to Expo—but she also did not want to lose the ability to take a blue bus for her local trips either.

“We want to leverage Expo as a primary resource, but we need to be thinking about the local needs and people too,” said BBB’s Chief Operations Officer Patrick Campbell. “This is about how to leverage a major resource with the reasonable constraints we have.”

BBB Ridership
Big Blue Bus weekday ridership

There are some constraints to the study. For example, the number of buses it runs and its budget, which will probably not change much. As a public agency, BBB also has a responsibility to try to serve riders who have few other transportation options. It typically uses measures like land use, population density, employment density, and household income to estimate transit demand.

As for how to integrate with Expo, BBB already has a few ideas. Whittmann said the agency is already thinking about how to connect big Santa Monica destinations such as Santa Monica City College, Saint John’s Health Center, and the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital with the Bergamot Station at Olympic and 26th St.

The agency is also already taking steps to streamline the fare process with an “Azul” smart card that is linked to an online web portal where users will be able to add value or passes to their card. BBB is planning to add ten ticket vending machines at big connection points in its service area, Campbell said.

It has already made a couple changes to its transfer policy in recent months, including offering special transfer TAP cards for riders transferring to Metro Rail at the Green Line Aviation Station. At the beginning of the year, it eliminated transfers to other BBB lines to help expedite boarding times.

Campbell said its fareboxes will be compatible with the TAP cards used with L.A. Metro buses and trains and several other transit agencies in the area, including Culver CityBus, Santa Clarita Transit, and LADOT. Once TAP finishes working with Long Beach Transit, it will start adding BBB into its system. He expects TAP-compatible fareboxes to be up and running by early summer.

 

 

El Sereno is the city that is going to stop the SR710 dead in its tracks (again).

Posted by Joe Cano on Facebook February 18, 2014

Here is one of the many tactical moves against Metro & the SR710 Tunnel.

I'm pushing for a meeting with Mayor Garcetti. The case for environmental racism is as strong now as it was when a federal injunction was filed against Caltrans a few decades ago. El Sereno stopped the SR710 project dead in its tracks once before and will do so again. The way I see it, Metro is in violation of the National Environmental Protection Act. California transportation agencies (Caltrans & CTC) that have funding agreements with the federal government are governed by NEPA with stricter outreach rules to minority communities during an EIR process. Metro thinks they can get away with just satisfying CEQA, which governs California's environmental protection standards. The rules that govern outreach to minority communities under NEPA came about as result of the inherent injustice against poor communities by governmental and corporate business interests. Factories, freeways, and all manner of public and private works projects were historically steered away from the wealthy communities and dropped in the middle of or next to poor ethnic communities. These same communities were silenced, ignored, and exploited. The freeway interchange in East Los Angeles, where all freeways converge and where the largest majority Latino population in Los Angeles is located, is one of many acts of injustice committed against the Mexican American community. Many of my elementary school classmates and their families were displaced by the Soto Street exit off the 10 Freeway as part of that freeway expansion. More factories per square mile can be found in ethnic communities along with a corresponding higher rate of illness and learning disabilities. The National Environment Protection Act gives voice to those most affected by municipal, state, and federal public works projects. Those who do not have the resources to hire lobbyists, lawyers, or medical experts to defend themselves against a project are at a disadvantage--NEPA is supposed to make that correction in the EIR process. The once disadvantaged are now participants in the EIR process and now have a say in their own future and in their well-being or demise, but it is their voice and their decision alone whether a project will improve or destroy their way of life. Metro has continuously obstructed, stalled, and basically engaged in subterfuge in all aspects of the EIR study process and now in the EIR. The voice of the least wealthy and poorer communities is drowned out by the roar of a consultant-led feeding frenzy of Measure R funds.

The SR710 EIR and Metro will wind up in court and that is inevitable. The question now: Is the City of Los Angeles willing to continue burning up millions of taxpayer money while we rip this EIR apart in court. The best solution is to get Mayor Garcetti to use his votes on the Metro Board either to retool the process as addressed in our letter or to just kill the project flat out and avoid any futher legal headaches and further squandering of public money by Metro.