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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Amid increased enforcement, LAX police issue citations to UberBlack and UberSUV drivers


By Brian Sumers, February 24, 2014

Police at Los Angeles International Airport have begun to enforce little-known rules that make it more difficult for two of the most popular ride-sharing services — UberBlack and UberSUV — to pick up passengers at terminals.

Los Angeles World Airports police have issued about a dozen citations to drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV in the past two weeks, according to a source familiar with the matter. Drivers are being cited for not producing to police detailed information about their passengers required by airport rules and regulations.

The citations have not affected services, and both UberBlack and UberSUV continue to make LAX pickups, according to a company spokesman.

The services, which have revolutionized the livery industry with their mobile phone-based dispatch systems, were thought to be in compliance with airport guidelines. But some of the UberBlack and UberSUV drivers apparently have been tripped up by a relatively minor bureaucratic hurdle.

The problem is what’s called a “waybill” — information carried by the driver that shows some key information about the passenger and the driving assignment. According to Sgt. Karla Ortiz of Los Angeles World Airports police, drivers must know and be able to produce the name of the customer, the terminal pickup location, the arrival time of the customer, the airline flight number, the date the ride was arranged and the destination.

But the phone application isn’t set up to receive nearly that much information. Drivers don’t learn the destination from the phone app. And it doesn’t ask for the passenger’s flight number.

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Uber, said in an email that the company is familiar with the waybill requirement and said that drivers, who are essentially independent contractors, should compile passenger information.

 “We communicated previously to UberBlack and UberSUV partners that drivers should call the rider as soon as they accept a request from LAX to record all fields that are incomplete on their electronic waybill,” Noyes said.

Airport officials say the waybill system ensures that only drivers with a need to be at the airport are there waiting for pickups. Ride-sharing drivers have far more freedom to operate elsewhere in the Los Angeles region than they do at LAX, where they are heavily regulated.

“This is just part of the enforcement to always look at the waybill,” Ortiz said. “This is the only way we can make sure that people who are conducting business at the airport are doing it properly.”
Drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV have generally not run afoul of airport police.

Unlike drivers for other services, such as Lyft, UberX and Sidecar, who are often driving their personal cars and are not registered as commercial drivers with state regulators, drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV usually have proper permits from the state to allow them to make airport pickups. Drivers for UberBlack and UberSUV also generally pay LAX a $4 fee per ride, a fee that nonprofessional drivers dispatched by ride-sharing companies like Lyft do not pay.

Most of the recent enforcement action at LAX has focused on casual drivers for Lyft, UberX and Sidecar services.

At the time, Noyes said customers should instead take UberSUV and UberBlack, which the company said were in compliance with airport rules and regulations.

Alex Darbahani, president of KLS Transportation Services in Beverly Hills, said his drivers, who are not part of any ride-sharing applications, have been dealing with the waybill issue for years. He said compliance is not that difficult, so long as drivers have access to the data. His drivers record the pertinent information on a yellow sheet of paper.

“If the cops pull you over and you don’t have a waybill, you’re going to get cited,” Darbahani said. “You have to have in writing the customer’s name what airline they are arriving on and what time they are arriving.”

During a recent two-month crackdown against drivers for the three services, officers gave out 200 citations. In January, as a result of the crackdown, UberX — the most popular of those services, and part of the same company as UberSUV and UberBlack — said it would no longer facilitate LAX pickups.

No 710 Petition

Posted by Peggy Drouet on Facebook, February 24, 2014

I became involved in fighting the building of the 710 tunnel in May 2012 when one of Metro's ideas was to have the tunnel portal in my neighborhood, thereby virtually destroying my 100-year-old neighborhood. I would then have a view of 6 lanes of traffic speeding behind my house, including numerous big rigs. Metro had detailed destruction plans. Those plans were shelved after much uproar from us, but Metro still went ahead with plans for another tunnel route, one that will destroy Pasadena. Why should you become involved in this? Because you won't be watching the Rose Parade on January 1 after the tunnel starts being built. The tunnel construction will impact the parade route for 10-15 years.

 I ask you to take the time to watch the video "Pasadena, California" at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhIERwrLhRo 

and to sign the petition at  http://www.no710.com/.
I know many people do not like the sign petitions, but signing this one will not come back to bite you. Thank you and please share this post.

Pasadena: "Your Water" The Big Picture

Join Pasadena Water and Power at the, “Your Water: The Big Picture” event to learn about the California drought, the challenges of resolving California's long term water issues, and what we can do to help! The event will feature water industry experts and is free of charge.  Refreshments will be served, a Rain Barrel will be raffled, and each attendee will leave with a free water conservation kit.  Join us for an educational and eventful evening.  To register simply call (626) 744-3715.  For more information please visit PWPweb.com

Agenda for Metro Board of Directors Meeting, February 27, 2014


By Steve Hymon, February 24, 2014

Here’s the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of Metro Board of Directors and a few items of interest on fare gating, station renaming and park-n-ride lots

The Metro Board of Directors meets at 9:30 a.m. Thursday for its regular monthly meeting. The agenda is above or you can download the pdf here. A few items of general interest on the agenda:

•Metro staff are considering establishing a budget to add fare gates to four street-level stations for the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the 4th Street station in downtown Santa Monica for the second phase of the Expo Line. In a separate motion, the Board is considering to launch further engineering and cost analysis of adding fare gates to stations across the Metro Rail system. 

•There are a couple of station renamings on the docket. The Board is considering a motion to rename the Blue Line’s Grand Station to Grand/L.A. Trade Tech and the Expo Line’s 23rd Street Station to 23rd St/L.A. Trade Tech. The Board is also consider a motion to rename the Exposition/La Brea station to the Exposition/La Brea Ethel Bradley Station.

A motion asking Metro to implement an online database of previous Board of Director actions. At present, searching for motions and past actions is a crapshoot. The motion also asks for linking audio from Board meetings to reports — something that would, I suspect, be very useful to anyone who cares or is interested in actions taken by the Board.

A motion asking the Board to oppose AB 1941, which would add two members to the Metro Board to be appointed by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate Rules Committee, respectively. I included some background and thoughts on this legislation in a recent headlines — see the last item in this post.
A motion asking Caltrans to report on difficulties that have emerged in the transfer of park-n-ride lots at Metro Rail stations from Caltrans to Metro. The motion begins: “Item No. 18 and Director Najarian’s accompanying Motion underscore the importance of Metro’s increasingly complex relationship with Caltrans.” If I am reading the remainder of the motion correctly, I think “complex” is a perhaps one way of saying “difficult,” at least on this issue.
•A motion to improve lighting and pedestrian access to/from the Universal City over-flow parking lot for the Red Line station.

Imagining Measure R

Editorial: Can car-happy L.A. learn to share the road?

Re-imagining the city's streets to accommodate bikes and cars: It's the law, but how will it work?

 February 24, 2014
 Cyclists pass L.A. City Hall during a CicLAvia event in 2012.

 September brought sweet victory to the growing community of California cycling advocates: Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will prohibit the driver of any motor vehicle from passing a bike rider on the road unless there is 36 inches of space between them. Or, if for some reason that minimal passing distance just isn't possible, drivers will have to slow to a speed that is "reasonable and prudent."
The "3-foot rule" seems quite modest. A yard's worth of pavement between a cruising car or truck and a cyclist, pumping uphill or holding on for dear life on a downward slope, is hardly excessive. Fines are paltry as moving violations go — $35. The law doesn't even take effect until this fall, giving drivers plenty of time to get used to the idea and cyclists and state officials plenty of time to educate them.

But Brown had vetoed two earlier versions of the bill, leaving the impression that California was stuck in a postwar baby boom world in which streets were meant for automobiles alone. The governor's turnabout, after his concerns regarding potential state liability were addressed, was a big deal for cyclists, and perhaps a bit irksome to motorists in a state where car culture enjoyed its blissful adolescence and aggressive young adulthood.

VIDEO: Do you drive in L.A.? Watch this to see what scares cyclists.

As the bill was being signed, The Times editorial writers were beginning RoadshareLA, an online exploration of the seemingly sudden arrival of cyclists as not just a cultural but a political force in California. Bicycle advocates, for example, helped promote and pass a law — at just about the time the first 3-foot bill was being run off the road — that requires cities and counties to re-imagine their streets as transportation arteries that accommodate the increasing number of cyclists and pedestrians and de-emphasize cars. The law was designed in part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in part to improve road safety, in part to enhance the quality of life in neighborhoods where streets had become commuting-hour freeways, and in part, some argue, to reduce obesity. And, others insist, to keep cities here in competition for young professionals who reject their parents' car-oriented outlook and want to live and work in cities that accommodate their car-free lifestyles.

Assembly Bill 1358, known as the Complete Streets Bill, brought to California a nationwide revolution in how we think about our streets, how they're engineered and how they're ultimately used. Los Angeles has begun to notice some of the effects of that law, not just in the number of bike lanes and cyclists who use them but in "road diets" that remove automobile lanes.

Those lane changes may enhance some communities and protect the safety of cyclists. But they also affect the commuting patterns — and needs — of a city laid out for drivers. Consider the 2nd Street tunnel, an east-west passage between downtown and the rest of the city, and an iconic location featured in countless Hollywood chase scenes and car commercials. It's now in part a bike path, with one less car lane in each direction. Has that change added five or 10 minutes — and untold spewing pollutants from idling cars — to the twice-daily downtown commute? How well are we thinking through such changes? Are cyclists and drivers sharing the road, or are they locked in a struggle for street hegemony?

VIDEO: Do you bike in L.A.? Watch this to see what concerns all those drivers.

Until now, cycling advocates and transportation planners have responded to complaints about road diets and slower car traffic by pointing out that restriping is relatively cheap. "It's just paint," they said, and can be scraped off if the new traffic patterns prove undesirable.

But Los Angeles is now preparing its first truly "complete street," on Figueroa, creating bike lanes separated from car traffic by concrete curbs. Road diets will no longer be temporary. It's no longer just paint.

RoadshareLA looked at how other cities handle the interaction between cyclists and drivers, including London and New York. This week RoadshareLA concludes with a look back at lessons learned from the discussion, and forward, seeking an agenda for divvying up the asphalt. Readers can follow and join the conversation at latimes.com/roadshare and #roadshareLA. And they can view two videos — one each from the cyclists' and drivers' point of view — that present the challenges facing all Angelenos who try to share the road.

This is part of an ongoing conversation to explore how the city’s cyclists, drivers and pedestrians share and compete for road space, and to consider policy choices that keep people safe and traffic flowing. For more: latimes.com/roadshare and #roadshareLA.

For Lease: Tunnel. One of a kind. Never used.

If Bertha can't be fixed, some ideas about what to do with that very large hole in the ground. 


By Mark Hinshaw, February 22, 2014

The hole that Bertha built: A fixer upper with great potential.
  The hole that Bertha built: A fixer upper with great potential.

Okay, Bertha is busted; and not in a good way. If it turns out she can’t be fixed, what are we going to do with that worm hole she managed to dig before sputtering to a stop in early December. We really need a Plan B, one in which Bertha’s tube becomes, not an ignominious icon of failed engineering, but a civic cash cow.

You have to admit it’s a unique venue. Five stories high, more than three city blocks long! Hey Portland, you think you’re quirky?

Think of the storage potential: You could tuck the Space Needle inside. Sort of like what people used to do with their fur coats in summertime. Throw in some cedar chips to keep the moths away and close the door. The 605-foot-high Needle would slide in with room to spare. Except for the saucer. We’d have to crimp that a bit.

Remember when everybody thought Bertha had bumped into some ancient buried train or ship hull? I can’t be the only one disappointed upon learning she hit a pipe. Seriously? A pipe? No romance in that.
be we could shoehorn an old ship hull or a train into our new subterranean cylinder. A massive ship-in-a-bottle display would pay tribute to those early theories about what stalled Bertha. Tourists would pay top dollar to take selfies next to it.

Even better, let’s put the Columbia Center in there. With a little nipping and tucking, the tube is a perfect place to hide that horribly dated ‘80s relic. I shudder to think that in 25 more years it could actually qualify as a historic landmark. Let’s quietly get rid of it now.

Maybe we could lease the tunnel out for special events, like tailgating before Seahawks’ games. Picture 250 RV’s side-by-side with barbeques and beer and folding tables full of buns and condiments. Under the ground. The all-day drinking and 12th Man chanting would disturb no one.
We could use it to cellar wine — lots of wine — or turn it into the world’s longest brew pub. Imagine one very looooong table of foam-topped schooners. Any sloshing beer would flow, via gravity, to the low end where it could then be captured and recycled.

Or. We could use the tube to satisfy a longstanding Pioneer Square desire for public toilets. Think 600 pay stalls just a few short paces from First Avenue, but entirely out of sight. And smell.

We could save a bunch of money and put a new basketball arena in there. Of course, we’d have to petition the NBA to change its official court dimensions. But, hey, it’s worth a try. They’re a cooperative bunch. And companies from Oscar Meyer to Trojan would be lining up for the naming rights.

Wait, wait. Amazon’s always looking for new space. How about a new fulfillment center? Or drone factory! Neither needs windows, and delivery drones could just fly out the open end. Or we could just give the tunnel to Montlake. The neighborhood’s been begging for a tunnel to replace the 520 Bridge. Turns out we have one to spare. It’s just a matter of logistics.

Frankly, I’m surprised Boeing hasn’t stepped forward with a plan to commandeer the tunnel for fuselage construction. It’s just about the right diameter.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. Can’t we just fill the hole with dirt and pretend it never happened? Like the state did when it discovered that the $75 million pontoon construction yard it excavated in Port Angeles was on the site of a Native burial ground. That never happened.

As for me, I’m in the pretend-it-never-happened camp. Let’s just fill Bertha's tunnel with pieces of the viaduct, seal it up and walk away.

Penalties and bonuses provide backdrop for Bertha delays

 If the roadway isn't open in about 21 months, the Highway 99 tunnel contractor faces penalties and the risk of losing bonus pay.


By Bill Lucia, February 24, 2014

 Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

  Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

Traffic is scheduled to be flowing through the Highway 99 Tunnel in 665 days. If the tunnel is not open by then, the contractor building it will have to pay daily penalties to the state and will edge toward losing millions of dollars in early completion incentives.

When the Washington State Department of Transportation requested proposals for the project in 2010, they asked bidders to complete the project by Nov. 1, 2016. Seattle Tunnel Partners, which won the bid and is now digging the tunnel, said they could finish the job 316 days earlier, on Dec. 21, 2015.

If the contractor fails to meet that deadline, they’ll start to pay $50,000 per day in penalties, known as “liquidated damages.” In the project contract, those damages are capped at $75 million. It would take 1,500 days — more than four years — of penalty payments to reach the cap.

Seattle Tunnel Partners, which is a joint venture between Dragados USA and Tutor Perini, is also eligible for a $25 million early completion bonus. To receive the full bonus they’ll need to have the roadway open by Feb. 25, 2016, which is 66 days after the tunnel’s currently scheduled completion date, according to the terms of the project's contract. After the 66 days are up, the state will subtract $100,000 per day from the bonus.

Bertha, the boring machine digging the tunnel, has a set of damaged bearing seals and has moved about 4 feet in the last 11 weeks. The seals protect Bertha’s main bearing, which allows the machine’s 57.5-foot wide cutter-head to spin. Repairing the seals will involve digging up the front of the machine. State officials expect the fix to take “months.”

When the machine was boring, Seattle Tunnel Partners submitted monthly schedule updates to WSDOT, according to deputy program administrator Matt Preedy. The agency has not shared these schedules with reporters. Program administrator Todd Trepanier cautioned in a recent conference call that project schedules change constantly and are therefore almost immediately out of date.
Were it not for Bertha’s mechanical problems, Preedy said last week that the machine would probably be near a location called “Safe Haven Three,” just south of Yesler Way.

Bertha currently sits about 60-feet below Pioneer Square, west of the Alaskan Way. The machine has mined a total of about 1,022 feet from its "launch pit," Preedy said. Measuring 1,022 feet from the front edge of the pit places the machine just beyond the midpoint between South Jackson and South Main Street. From that position, Yesler Way is about 740 feet north and South Washington Street, which is one block south of Yesler Way, is about 415 feet north. Safe Haven Three would lie somewhere between these two points.

In early February, shortly after Seattle Tunnel Partners discovered the failed bearing seals, project manager Chris Dixon said he believed it would still be possible to finish mining the tunnel as scheduled, on Sept. 30, 2014. The planned tunnel drive is 1.7 miles, or about 9,000 feet, and ends in South Lake Union. So far, Seattle Tunnel Partners has installed 923 feet of concrete tunnel liners behind Bertha, according to WSDOT. The contractor has said that when the machine is running smoothly it can tunnel 65 to 72 feet per day.

The contractor’s bid price for the deep bore tunnel was $1.08 billion. The state awarded $71 million in technical credits, lowering the originally proposed price to $1.01 billion. Of those credits, $15.8 million would’ve been awarded for the early completion date. The equation used to calculate credits valued each day of early completion at $50,000.

Seattle Tunnel Partners' bid was about $32 million less than the one submitted by Seattle Tunnel Group, the only other competitor for the project. Even without the credits for early completion the bid still would’ve been $16.2 million lower.

State officials have said repeatedly that Seattle Tunnel Partners has not presented any evidence that indicates that taxpayers will get stuck paying for cost overruns associated with the current repairs and delays. The contractor and the state do disagree however, about whether a steel well pipe, left in the ground by a WSDOT contractor in 2002, could have contributed to Bertha’s current mechanical woes. As of Dec. 31, 2013, according to WSDOT, the state had paid Seattle Tunnel Partners $832 million.

Federal authorities give bullet train agency more time to raise cash


 By Ralph Vartabedian, February 21, 2014


 Transportation bonds

 Gov. Gray Davis signed a $9-billion bond act for high-speed rail in 2002. The voters later passed the measure, but a judge froze the funds last year. The state hopes to get access by next year.

California bullet train officials have been granted an extra three months to come up with funding to start meeting their obligations under a grant for the project, federal officials said Friday.

The deal was struck under a new state funding contribution plan in which the state would begin spending its own money starting July 1 rather than April 1.

The additional time would presumably allow the Legislature to act on Gov. Jerry Brown's request for $250 million for the project, allocated from the state's fees on greenhouse gas emissions.

The $68-billion project would build a high-speed rail line from Southern California to the Bay Area.
In addition, the new plan shows that the state anticipates getting access to its $9-billion bond fund by 2015, not this year.

A Superior Court judge refused to validate the bond sale late last year, saying the state did not follow proper procedures in approving it. The state is asking that the decision be overturned. If it is, the state may have to go through another validation case, though officials have not disclosed their plans on that matter.

In a Feb. 20 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration, California High-Speed Rail Authority chief Jeff Morales said the funding plan reflects lower expenditure amounts, based on the slower pace of property acquisitions, utility relocations, a later start on construction and the outlook for the construction schedule.

The project is about one and a half years behind the schedule that rail officials described in 2012, when they expected construction to begin later that year. It now appears that construction will not start until this summer.

The delay and the slower rate of spending would seem to work against the legal requirement to spend most of the grant money by 2017. That deadline was established under the economic stimulus act, which accounts for most of the federal money.

But federal officials have granted the state a number of modifications to accommodate the project, including the most recent change outlined in the spending plan.

Under its federal grants, the project must match federal money with state money.

State officials say in the letter they have spent $95 million of state money against grant disbursements of $255 million. The Federal Railroad Administration allowed the state to count some prior spending as matching funds.

How L.A.'s Community Organizers are Mobilizing a Transportation Equity Agenda for All


By Vanessa Carter and Madeline Wander, February 13, 2014


This article is based on a longer report "An Agenda for Equity: A Framework for Building a Just Transportation System in Los Angeles County" by Vanessa Carter, Manuel Pastor, and Madeline Wander.

Los Angeles: Reluctant No More

A leader in California's urban planning scene, Bill Fulton, once characterized Los Angeles as a "reluctant metropolis" -- unwilling to accept that sprawl had hit a wall, unable to see common connections between neighborhoods to create a cohesive region, and unlikely to overcome the social disparities and racial tension that twice produced civil unrest.

But as we witness a paradigm shift in how Angelenos move through the region, how Angelenos understand the interconnectedness of our region, how Angelenos are unifying across difference to fight for a more equitable region, we think that Los Angeles may be reluctant no more.

Talking with 40 advocates and organizations across the Southland, we have seen signs that the once disconnected and dystopian L.A. is fading away. With a new vigor, social justice organizers, policy advocates, government agencies, business leaders, and others are engaging in how to move us more sustainably through our region and, at the same time, how to swell the numbers of those supporting transportation equity. We call that last part movement building.

Last week, as part of this L.A. in Motion series, our director Manuel Pastor explained the "Just Growth" frame -- one that is big enough to encompass L.A.'s wide-ranging transportation equity movement -- asserting that social inclusion is the key to achieving economic prosperity and sustainability.

This week, we run through the agenda for transportation equity being brought together by our region's social-movement leaders. How is transportation equity defined? What does it entail? Who are some of the organizations innovating in the different niches of this work? If these questions pique your interest, read on.

What do we mean by Transportation Equity?

As we look ahead to upcoming articles in this series, it may be useful to define what we mean by "transportation equity." Indeed, this is a difficult concept to define, as it must capture a broad range of issues facing the Southland -- from transit-oriented development to bicycles to goods movement (we dig into these and some other issues a little deeper below).

But we believe the following definition does just this by highlighting outcomes (both benefits and burdens for our communities) as well as the importance of public participation in planning processes. In our view, transportation equity means:
  • Equitable access to quality, affordable transportation options and so employment, services, amenities, and cultural destinations;
  • Shared distribution of the benefits and burdens of transportation systems and investments, such as jobs and pollution, respectively; and
  • Partnership in the planning process that results in shared decision-making and more equitable outcomes for disadvantaged communities while strengthening the entire region.
In short: people matter.

Photo: Metro Library and Archive/Flickr/Creative Commons.
Photo: Metro Library and Archive/Flickr/Creative Commons.
An Agenda for Transportation Equity in Los Angeles

Of course, making sure that we put people first means that we need to consider a wide range of things that also count in the overall calculus of achieving transportation equity in L.A. Below we outline specific areas that make up our region's transportation equity agenda -- as we see it -- and how social-movement organizers are leading the charge.

Two caveats: First, while we separate these concerns for the sake of clarity, the threads of this work are inherently intertwined, and we think that they should be treated as such. Second, there are so many excellent examples of campaigns and organizing in each of these areas that we could not possibly include them all. (So we ask for your grace and understanding!)

Without further ado, the top six issue areas that matter for a transportation equity agenda in L.A.:
  1. Money Matters: Disproportionately financing highways, failing to increase the gas tax, and continuing to subsidize cars (through practices like free parking) leaves alternative transportation modes, and those who depend on them, with few resources. So getting the financing mechanisms right matter for both increasing our region's sustainability and making it more inclusive, too.

    Amid dwindling funding from the federal and state governments, L.A. has actually increased opportunities for those without cars -- predominantly low-income people of color -- by becoming a "self-help region." That is, due to voter-approved propositions like Measure R, which organizations like MoveLA campaigned for, 67 percent of the resources of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) come from local sources, like taxes.
  2. Mobility Matters: Disparities exist not only between motorists and non-motorists, but also between train users and bus riders, bus riders and cyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. Ensuring mobility for all Angelenos is essential to providing equal access to opportunities.

    In L.A., organizations like the Bus Riders' Union, the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and others are working to level the playing field by holding Metro and other public agencies accountable to devoting resources to support bus line development, bike lanes, and better sidewalks -- particularly in low-income communities with less access to cars.
  3. Housing and Development Matter: Transit-oriented development (TOD) -- that is, housing and commercial development near and around transit -- can get people out of their cars and onto transit by locating housing and jobs closer to bus stops and train stations. It can also increase real estate values, which has the potential to displace low-income residents and small business owners.

    In response, coalitions like Alliance for Community Transit-L.A. (ACT-LA) -- including organizations like East L.A. Community Coalition (ELACC), Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE), Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), Trust South L.A., and many others -- are working to implement anti-displacement policies and leverage TOD investments in order to benefit existing residents through the construction and preservation of affordable housing.
  4. Health and Environment Matter: Auto-centric development has led to dangerous levels of pollution and sedentary lifestyles threatening our environment and public health, and much evidence shows that low-income communities suffer the most. So, paying attention to not just mobility but what those modes of transportation do to our environmental and community health matters.

    In response, groups like the L.A. Collaborative for Environmental Health and Justice are working to lift up the issue and reduce the pollution associated with highways in our most vulnerable communities. Other groups like Community Health Councils are working to address problems, like obesity, through infrastructure and programs that encourage active transportation, like walking and biking.

  5. Jobs Matter: As one of the leading regions in making transportation investments, L.A. has the potential to bring good, green jobs to the region, with employment possibilities ranging from manufacturing to construction to operations. And the employment opportunities are not to be missed -- especially as our economy recovers!

    An example of this type of effort is that of the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), which has figured out a way to leverage transit dollars to create jobs in the neighborhoods that need them the most, by inserting incentives for domestic hiring and building domestic manufacturing facilities into Metro's procurement policy.
  6. Goods Movement Matters: Toxic diesel emissions from trucks, railcars, and ships moving goods create particularly harmful pollution. Low-income communities of color disproportionately live adjacent to freight facilities.

    The good news is that innovative environmental-labor coalitions are working to lessen health, environmental, and other burdens, while improving workforce conditions. Alliances such as the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports and THE Impact Project are paving the way to address these inequities through innovative research, organizing, and policies (such as the Clean Trucks Program at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach).
We're not just singing kumbaya, however; bringing together this many strands of work is complicated. Tension that keep this agenda from being integrated and adopted include the high degree of jurisdictional complexity in our multi-layered region, the depth of relationship required to foster genuine community participation in government plans, and identification of what "equity" means at the planning and implementation level. It means building capacity within government and community organizations to move the work, it means advocates and businesses partnering in the difficult work of urban development, and it ultimately means moving from having conversations to making change.

Photo: Doran/Flickr/Creative Commons

What's Next: A Shared Framework for Movement and Action, Together

What this confluence of activity across sectors and communities adds up to is a broader movement for transportation equity, as part of a vision for just growth -- investing with equity to build a better, stronger region for the long-haul.

And what these advocates and organizers understand -- due to the region's rich social-justice movement building legacy -- is that now is a crucial time for L.A. to invest with equity in transportation. After all, it's not often that a region's residents tax themselves to put $40 billion into a transportation build-out over the next 30 years.

These key investments will impact how people can easily and affordably get to their jobs, as well as determine the safety and healthfulness of their surroundings. The ripple effects of transportation equity will be broad and long-lasting for the whole region. Indeed, transportation may be where we can get the most equity bang for our tax-dollar buck.

As the collective voices in this L.A. in Motion series will show in the weeks ahead, it's the movement-building organizations that are tackling the complexities of what real participation looks like, who holds what power, defining metrics that matter for equity, building out government and community capacity, partnering with business -- to infuse equity into transportation planning.
If this framework for just growth, the agenda for L.A.'s transportation equity movement, and the inspiring stories from our communities can contribute to strengthening our region's ability to establish an innovative and inclusive transportation system, we've done our job.

See our report "An Agenda for Equity: A Framework for Building a Just Transportation System in Los Angeles County" for a full list of references that inform this article.
Benner, Chris, and Manuel Pastor. 2012. Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America's Metropolitan Regions. New York, NY: Routledge.
Brenman, Marc, and Thomas W. Sanchez. 2012. Planning as If People Matter: Governing for Social Equity. Washington D.C.: Island Press.
Fulton, William. 1997. The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press.
Pastor, Manuel, and Michele Prichard. 2012. "L.A. Rising: The 1992 Civil Unrest, the Arc of Social Justice Organizing, and the Lessons for Today's Movement Building." Los Angeles, CA: The USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity.

H‌ow to walk in LA


By Alissa Walker, February 2014

The 'you drive everywhere' cliche is so oft repeated, it's easy to forget that Los Angeles is actually made up of some perfectly strollable neighbourhoods. Journalist, blogger and activist Alissa Walker takes to the streets.
I moved to LA 12 years ago, and have been car free since 2007. Soon, I was noticing new things, meeting new people, learning about different areas of the city and caring more about LA as a whole. It has completely changed my relationship with my community.

It’s not true that nobody walks in LA. Public transport is actually great, it’s the third biggest system in the US, and better than in the suburban neighbourhood I grew up in, in St Louis. And Los Angeles is not any more or less dangerous than any other big city. But it is massive, over 400 square miles, and not all parts of it are transit accessible. It can take a very long time to get from, say, Pasadena to Santa Monica.

When people move here, they are told: ‘Oh you have to get a car, it’s horrible for walking.’ But I honestly think it’s a perception thing. Even though I loved to walk, I just did what everyone said! But the city is also changing very quickly, so there are activists who are trying to make that perception change.

LA used to have the largest electric railway system in the world, the Pacific Electric, or Red Car. In the early 1900s the system went all over the city, and locals walked to the stations. In the areas built at that time, like my neighbourhood of Silver Lake, there are public staircases built into the hillsides for passengers to get to the trolley stops.

There are many different ‘styles’ of walking, pacing fast, strolling leisurely, window shopping, people gazing, sporty hiking... It depends on where you are and what you want to see. The beach boardwalk is great for people-watching. In the mountains, my best hike is the Bridge to Nowhere hike outside of LA, but we also have great hikes right in the middle of the city in Griffith Park and the Santa Monica Mountains. I love old neighbourhoods and one of my favourites is Angelino Heights, with streets lined with old Victorian buildings. I also love the midcentury modern houses of Silver Lake.

My pavement-pounding essentials are my iPhone 5c to get around the city and look up places, and my Nike Fuelband to see how far I’ve walked. And a Metro TAP card to ride the bus home when I get tired.

Everyone should challenge themselves to leave the car at home one day a week. This would not only take cars off the road, it would improve attitudes and health and create a serious positive change for the city. It will feel so good we’ll start taking two days away from the car, then three, then four... In an ideal future, Los Angeles becomes the walking capital of the world. With our great weather, mostly flat terrain and interesting streetscapes, we really have no excuse!

Walking is becoming something that Angelenos do for transportation and regular errands, not just ‘for exercise’ and that’s an important difference. To see locals on the street who are walking to work or taking the subway to go out is a huge image change for the city, and helps make the streets fun and safe.


The Race For LA County Supervisor (Third District) – Sheila Kuehl


By Susan Cloke, February 22, 2014

 Sheila Kuehl.

 Sheila Kuehl.

With Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky being termed out later this year, the race is heating up for who will be elected to his position to represent the third supervisorial district.

The district includes Santa Monica as well as Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, San Fernando, West Hollywood, Westlake Village, and a handful of unincorporated areas such as Agoura and Universal City.

The last day for voters to register is May 19, 2014. The California Primary Election will be held June 3, 2014 with the General Election on Nov. 4, 2014.

Sheila Kuehl discusses her candidacy for the elected position with Mirror Columnist Susan Cloke.

Susan: What made you decide to run for Supervisor of the Third District?

Sheila: My whole adult life has been in public service. Issues of social justice are the focus of my life’s work: health care, foster children, the safety net, transportation and traffic, environmental protections, the arts, juvenile justice and education.

Since my 20s my work has been focused on protecting people who need protection, fighting against any kind of discrimination and working to help people who need help.

I decided I needed to go to law school so that my work could more effectively help people.
Out of Harvard Law I began by providing legal services for battered women. I chaired the Sojourn Shelter for Battered Women for 17 years and served on the Board of the Ocean Park Community Center.

I went on to run for elected office so I could be more effective in my work. I was the first openly gay person elected to the State Legislature. I carried groundbreaking legislation protecting children in all public schools in the State against harassment, discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation.

Being a Supervisor is not an entry-level job. The five Supervisors have enormous responsibility. It’s not the place for on the job training. For me, being the Third District Supervisor is a continuation of the work I have done all my life.

Susan: What in your experience makes you a good fit for the Supervisor job?

Sheila: I gained an enormous amount of knowledge and experience of the very issues the County Supervisors oversee in my 14 years in the California Legislature; six in the Assembly and eight in the Senate.

The County is the implementing arm of much of state and federal legislation on issues of social justice. When I chaired Health and Human Services Committee in the State Senate I oversaw legislation and was intimately involved with all the laws and the budget on these issues.

I worked closely with the Board of Supervisors and especially with Zev as we greatly overlapped in the geographical area and the people we both represented.

I represented more than half of the Third District when I was a State Legislator. One of the things I heard over and over from constituents was that I had a great and hugely helpful District Staff. That is key to being a good representative and it will be key in the Third District.

Susan: You worked intensively on environmental and sustainability issues at the State level. What are the environmental and sustainability issues facing the County?

Sheila: Water quality, the Santa Monica Mountains, the beaches, and coastal areas are all the responsibility of the County Board of Supervisors.

The Supervisors have jurisdiction over water quality. They are required to find a countywide solution for the pollution of storm water runoff and other pollutants entering the storm drain system and being carried to the rivers and ocean.

The Supervisors have to find a way to spread costs across the County of storm water treatment plants and other actions to prevent polluted water from entering our waterways. And I would hope to do so without too heavily impacting the inland cities.

Los Angeles is the only City in the U.S. that has a real mountain range running down the middle of it and most of that range is in the Third District. One of my primary responsibilities will be the protection and preservation of the Santa Monica Mountains as a natural resource and for public access and use.

In addition the Third District has a significant responsibility for a major swatch of coastline. We must maintain and protect the beaches for public use and to protect and enhance the cleanliness and quality of coastal water.

When I chaired the State Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee all environmental regulations and issues came before my committee and I learned both about the issues and the proposals to solve the problems facing the California environment.

I was able to work closely with Supervisor Yaroslavsky and Senator Pavley to secure Ahmanson Ranch, Gillette Ranch, and other properties so there would be no development of those properties and they could be used for public recreation and the benefit of the public.

Susan: How will you meet the energy needs of the County and protect the environment?

Sheila: It’s important to work collaboratively with the State and Federal government and the 88 cities in the County to best prepare a future in which we will have to incentivize alternative energy. Being collaborative is the key to a solution.

Susan: Transportation and traffic are constant issues in the L.A. area. What are you thoughts and how will you think about solving these problems?

Sheila: Transportation is the most challenging issue for the County. Everyone complains but few people get out of their cars. We have to provide alternatives, most especially rail.

The light rail is coming to Santa Monica but it’s unclear that it will have sufficient parking for people who want to use the 4th and Colorado station. So I’m uncertain if it will be comfortable using the station and safe to get home from the station late at night. We will need to solve that problem and make it comfortable for people to use light rail. Perhaps something like the downtown DASH system (a downtown LA small shuttle bus) to get people to and from the station.

I think we will eventually see a line from the Valley to the airport. That will greatly reduce congestion on the 405.

Locally we need to focus on alternatives such as bike valets, including at the Expo stops and we better Apps for people to know what the transportation alternatives are and how to get around town.
My criteria for judging programs to reduce traffic will be ease and comfort of use and affordability.

Susan: As Supervisor how will you approach creating affordable housing?

 Sheila: One of the most important things the County can do in the next few years is to make certain that the “boomerang” monies coming in because the cities no longer get redevelopment money (which will go, in part, to the County), is used to create and support affordable housing.

This also means a more creative approach to helping the homeless find permanent housing, housing that will include wrap-around services to give them a chance to re-integrate into society and pick up the interrupted threads of their lives.

My caring family taught the importance of kindness and problem solving and I have a demonstrated track record of innovative thinking and problem solving. I’ll bring those values to working on affordable housing and all the issues of the Third District.

The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, February 24, 2014

It’s a full week. Let’s get right to it.
  • Monday – It’s the last of the People St public information hearings. This one is at the Mar Vista Library at 6:30. Hey, that’s right by my house! Get the details, here.
  • Tuesday – LongBeachize, along with a lot of our friends, is hosting a mayoral forum in Long Beach to discuss livability issues, open space, public health and more. Click here to get more details.
  • Tuesday - Metrolink is holding a community hearing on the impacts of the proposed Taylor Yards in (North)east Los Angeles. The meeting is co-sponsored by the local Council Members, Mitch O’Farrell and Gil Cedillo. Get the details off the official press release.
  • Wednesday - The City Council Transportation Committee hearing is cancelled.
  • Wednesday – The Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust hosts a community forum on turning vacant lots into open space. The meeting is specifically about El Sereno and Boyle Heights, but the lessons can be applied anywhere. To get more details on the hearing, which begins at 6 pm in Corazon del Pueblo can be found here.
  • Wednesday - Last year, Supervisors and Metro Board Members Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina began promoting a proposal to build an 8.3-mile bike and pedestrian path to connect the future Crenshaw/LAX Line to the L.A. River. This 6 pm meeting is to update the community on these efforts. Get more details, here.
  • WednesdayMetro and Caltrans host a webinar to discuss the High Desert Corridor’s (HDC) potential rail component and connections to the Palmdale Transportation Center in Palmdale and Desert Xpress in Victorvile at 7 pm. Connect live, right here.
  • Thursday – It’s the Metro Board of Directors Monthly Meeting. Get the full agenda, here.
  • Friday – Critical Mass. Wilshire/Western. Get more details. 7:30.
  • Saturday - Come support the bike oven, hang out with friends or come make new friends/family and be part of something awesome that has been serving the Northeast Los Angeles community for close to a decade at the Bike Oven annual auction. YES you read right, the bike oven has been serving you for close to 10 years now and I don’t think the neighborhood would like to see it go. Get more details, here.
  • Sunday – LADOT, Enrich LA, Cafecito Organico & Let’s Be Frank Dogs and the Juice host a pop-up cafe on the bike trail. Bring your bike or rent a ike for a full or half day from our Linus bike selection from Coco’s Variety in Frogtown. 24.7 mile marker on the bike/ped river path.For more information, click here.
Did we miss something? Is there something we need to know for next week? Give us a shout at damien@streetsblog.org

Reorganization or Shakeup? Change in Metro Staff Has Some Wondering About Highway Projects


By Damien Newton, February 24, 2014

 Failing, pre-beard, speaks at a safety press event. Image: ##http://www.710studysanrafaelneighborhoodposts.com/2013_01_08_archive.html##710 Study San Rafael Neighborhoods##

 Metro recently released executive director of higway programs Doug Failing, shown here speaking at a safety press event.

“It’s a bloodletting.”

While Metro’s public relations team is portraying the departure of several high-profile senior staff as nothing more than the by-product of a reorganization, some in Metro’s personnel believe the staff shakeup is being pushed by CEO Art Leahy to best prepare the agency for the massive construction projects that are coming online.

As one Metro spokesperson, who was speaking on background as he is not authorized to speak about personnel matters noted, Metro has historically only worked on one rail transit project at a time. It is currently building three, with two more projects about to come online. A major change in the type of projects Metro is overseeing construction of naturally leads to a change in the structure of the agencies project delivery departments.

But that can only explain so much of the “bloodletting.”

A second explanation is offered in the Pasadena Star-News. Following a motion by Glendale City Councilmember and Metro Board Member Ara Najarian, Metro hired professional consultants to examine the agency. Their report showed an agency that is overstaffed leading to Leahy’s effort to streamiline the agency.

“It’s an attempt to streamline the upper management of Metro and to make sure we are operating as efficiently as possible,” Najarian said. “We felt that it was getting a little too bureaucratic and at least at the top level we were losing sight of our core mission and our core direction and too much involved in the day-to-day management of departments and divisions of departments.”

Michelle Lopes Caldwell, Metro’s chief administrative services officer, Roger Moliere, Metro’s executive director in charge of real estate, and Doug Failing, Metro’s executive director of highway programs, have all left the company in recent weeks. Two different sources, and the Los Angeles Times are saying that Terry Matsumoto, the agency’s chief financial officer is next. The departures are happening so quickly, that Metro’s online “management staff directory” has the wrong people listed as the heads of at least four departments.

The biggest departure is Doug Failing, who previously served 29 years at Caltrans including running the District 7 Office in Downtown Los Angeles. While Metro staff assured me on Thursday that the long-time transportation executive was just the victim of a reorganization.  Both Failing and Bryan Pennington were candidates for the new position heading the construction department that will include highway and rail construction. When Pennington was offered the position, Failing chose to retire.

At least that’s the quasi-official story. While Failing hasn’t publicly commented on his departure, friends noted his LinkedIn account now features a sarcastic comment about being laid off and unemployed. Former colleagues, again speaking on anonymity, referred to Failing’s departure as a “firing.”

Pennington was a manager in the rail delivery program, but not the head of that division in Metro so his new position is a double-promotion of sorts. He went from “upper-middle-management” to reporting directly to the CEO heading a department double the size of the one he worked in previously.

Pennington reported to K.N. Murthy, the former director of rail delivery, who will stay on at the agency in a new role.

Despite Failing being the head of a department that pushed some of Streetsblog readers least popular Metro programs, the High Desert Corridor, the I-710 Big Dig and Carmageddon to name a few, there was little doubt that he was well liked even among his detractors.

“The relentless pursuit of the 710 freeway projects is probably Metro’s most misguided, mismanaged and fiscally disastrous undertakings and Doug was probably ported over from Caltrans to further their infernal highway pursuits,” writes Judy Bergestresser with the NO-710 Coalition. “…but he’s so darn likeable it’s hard to hold him responsible.”

Questions about the future of the controversial 710 expansion project, which Metro refers to as the “710 Gap Closure” project and Streetsblog the “710 Big Dig”, has dominated the discussion of the shakeup. Three of the key figures in pushing the highway expansion project project despite its questionable value and political controversy, were among those let go: Failing, Moliere, and Metro Public Affairs Director Lynda Bybee.

Opponents of the 710 also note that it had been a dead project for decades before it was revived by then Metro CEO Roger Snoble, Art Leahy’s predecessor. Snoble’s been gone for half-a-decade, and the former bus-driver that runs Metro might not be as excited by mammoth highway projects..especially as the Sepulveda Pass Widening Project (the origin of which preceded both Leahy and Failing) continues to be an ongoing embarrassment: over budget, over promised, late and of such questionable merit that even the Metro Board Members who represent the area impacted by the project concede it was a mistake.

Partial funding for the 710 Big Dig is set aside in Measure R, but nowhere near enough to begin construction, even if the project had received environmental review which it has not. Funding for construction does not come online until the end of the 30-year transit funding measure. Of course, timelines can change.

Whether it’s a bloodletting or a needed restructuring, Metro is losing a lot of experience and brain-power. Whether or not that will lead to a more open and efficient agency remains to be seen. With so much turnover at the top, either the credit or the blame for the fallout from this shakeup can only stop at the very top.

Comment to the article:

 J. SooHoo:

Apart from his lack of experience with transit projects, Mr. Failing has had some moments in recent months that could make his superiors concerned. Here are a few.
1. He was on the CTC agenda for its Dec. 11 meeting in Riverside.
He and Carrie Bowen (Caltrans Dist. 7 Director) were to give an
update on the SR-710 project. He began by telling the Commissioners
that his presentation would be very brief because he didn't have
anything new to report. You could have heard a pin drop when he
said this. One of the commissioners noted that it had been more
than a year since he'd been before the Commission. He went on to
give a 5 minute cruise through only a few slides, each of which
represented one of the five alternatives Metro is studying. There
was nothing that was in his presentation that could not have been
presented well over a year ago.

2. After Anthony Portantino, Richard Schneider, Don Voss and others
in the group of 14 opponents who spoke at the CTC meeting, made
statements to the Commission about the lack of an MOU between
Caltrans and Metro and also about the lack of a cost-benefit
analysis, the commissioners asked Failing and Bowen if this was
true. They then pressed the duo quite hard on why no cost-benefit
had been done and when a cost-benefit analysis would be completed
and made available. It was clear that the commission was not happy
about this, especially with the release of the DEIR only a few
months away and over $40 million of the Measure R $780 million having been spent on consultants.

3. Failing and Metro Chair Diane DuBois appeared on a Santa Monica cable
channel show Oct. 17, 2013. Viewers were able to call in and ask
questions of them. I called in and asked him how Metro's
estimate for the SR-710 tunnels could be just $5 Billion when its
estimate for the same diameter, 9-mile Sepulveda Pass Corridor tunnel is twice that -- $10 Billion -- even though their documents and reports state that
they used the per mile cost of the Seattle tunnel as a base. Failing
tried to justify it by stating that Sepulveda was 9 miles and SR-710
was only 4.5 miles, so "The numbers work out". When I pointed out
that Metro's published plan calls for 2, 4.5-mile tunnels for a total of 9 miles,
comparable to Sepulveda Pass, he began to backpedal and things went
downhill from there. I was stunned by his responses and couldn't
really discern if he was lying or just woefully uninformed about the
details of the projects. There is video of the broadcast at: http://thesource.metro.net/201...
4. Obviously, the 405 is an important freeway and resolving some of
the congestion is a priority for Metro. The Sepulveda Pass
Corridor project is high profile for them, perhaps even more high
profile than the SR-710 project. They really, really want it done.
I believe that Failing is viewed as responsible for the controversy over the
SR-710 project and I think Metro does not want to take a chance on
similar issues and controversy arising over the Sepulveda Pass
project. They just didn't trust that he could get the job done.

Short Excellent Film by Joe Cano about Pasadena and the SR710