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

Friday, April 11, 2014

San Rafael School Closure Public Hearing




S R N A 
News Bulletin:

PUSD's 7-11 Committee Asks for
Neighborhood Voices on Future Use of
the San Rafael School Site

(1090 Nithsdale Road)

Thanks to all who made their interest known about the future of San Rafael Elementary School (SRES) and potential alternative uses for the site.  Forty-nine surveys were completed by attendees (out of over 120 in attendance) giving the Committee some information about community preferences.  

In order to get more complete information from a larger number of community members, the second Public Hearing will be held Thursday, April 17 at 7:00 pm in the SRES auditorium.  

At this hearing there will be additional information about the earthquake studies and another opportunity for everyone to rank their preferences for alternative uses of the property.  I urge you to attend and make your opinions count.  

The results of the rankings will be presented at the following meeting of the Committee, Monday, April 28, 7:00 pm in the PUSD Board Room.  

Please plan to attend this Public Hearing, and bring your neighbors.

Don Watson, Chairperson
San Rafael Elementary School 7-11 Committee

Adaptive reuse of the site potentially will introduce new impacts to the neighborhood and affect property values, good or bad. SRNA supports a cautious approach to this transition and a full understanding of zoning allowances.

The San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA) mission is to enhance and maintain the character and quality of all San Rafael neighborhoods through advocacy and an activated community.

The San Rafael Neighborhoods Association is registered with the City of Pasadena Neighborhood Connections.

EPW Big Four Announce Plan to Maintain Status Quo for the Next Transpo Bill


By Tanya Snyder, April 10, 2014

 Sen. Barbara Boxer, together with Sens. Carper, Vitter and Barrasso, announced their agreement to maintain the status quo with the next bill. Screenshot from press conference.

 Sen. Barbara Boxer, together with Sens. Carper, Vitter and Barrasso, announced their agreement to maintain the status quo with the next bill. 

Last year, while the House flailed in partisan misery, the Senate passed a transportation bill 74 to 22. When the bill was signed into law, it was considered one of the few real achievements of a deeply divided Congress. Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer got tremendous credit for enacting legislation three years in the making. And yet, it left a lot of good provisions on the cutting-room floor. While MAP-21 included some modest reforms, lawmakers missed an opportunity to prioritize transit, biking, and walking – modes that are gaining popularity and help achieve national goals like congestion mitigation and air quality improvement.

History appears to be repeating itself. This morning, Sen. Boxer (D-CA) joined with the rest of the “Big Four” of the EPW Committee — Ranking Republican David Vitter (R-LA), Transportation Subcommittee Chair Tom Carper (D-DE) and Subcommittee Ranking Republican John Barrasso (R-WY) — to announce that they had reached agreement on a set of principles to guide the next bill.

While it’s good news to hear the senators are working together and making progress, they’re not proposing any solutions to the nation’s dysfunctional transportation policy, which funnels billions of dollars to wasteful road expansions ever year. Below is a look at the guiding principles (verbatim, in bold) and what they mean:
  • Passing a long-term bill, as opposed to a short-term patch. You won’t find anyone who says they want a short-term bill. There is unanimous agreement that a two-year bill was inadequate and that the next bill must last five or six or even 10 years. The challenge has always been to find enough funding to pay for such a long bill. MAP-21 pulled coins out of the proverbial cushions to piece together a somewhat illusory pay-for to get MAP-21 passed. Even President Obama’s proposal for the next bill is just four years.
  • Maintaining the formulas for existing core programs. Ouch. A primary goal of transportation reformers is to tie more money to performance and merit instead of giving states no-strings-attached funding that tends to get wasted on highway expansion. Reforming the existing formulas could force states to prove that they’re spending money well, using a benefit-cost analysis in their decision making, and thinking smart about the future.

  • Promoting fiscal responsibility by keeping current levels of funding, plus inflation. This will disappoint the many people looking for an increase in spending levels, who believe that MAP-21′s $109 billion over two years wasn’t enough to really address the country’s needs. While far too big a percentage of federal funding goes toward highway expansion, the failure to grow the pie will ensure that transit and rail — especially high-speed rail — can’t grow. The Chamber of Commerce, the unions, and most of the transportation and construction sectors want to see a gas tax increase. President Obama and Republican House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp both want to increase infrastructure spending via corporate tax reform. Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to maintain fiscal discipline by eviscerating core programs is destined for the dustbin. No one wants to go back to that tired conversation.
  • Focusing on policies that expand opportunities for rural areas. Many federal spending programs, from TIGER to New Starts, maintain a set-aside for rural areas. And while no one says rural areas don’t deserve good transportation infrastructure, their special treatment has a lot to do with the way the Senate is set up to over-represent rural constituencies. Where’s the minimum for metro areas, which are responsible for almost all the country’s news jobs, economic growth, and population gain?
  • Continuing our efforts to leverage local resources to accelerate the construction of transportation projects, create jobs, and spur economic growth. This is probably a reference to the TIFIA program, which provides long-term, low-interest loans but relies in the end on local money to pay them back.
  • Requiring better information sharing regarding federal grants. Perhaps they could start by requiring far clearer reporting on State Transportation Improvement Program plans.
What’s missing? Any commitment to organizing the federal transportation program more deliberately around national goals like emissions reduction and safety. Any agreement to strengthen performance measures, which had a baby-step debut with MAP-21.  And while we wouldn’t necessarily expect to hear it in a statement of principles like this, reformers would always be keen to hear some reassurance that transit, biking and walking will get a fair shake and that road maintenance will be prioritized over expansion.

If this is what the Democrat-controlled Senate has come up with, what will the House say?

Meanwhile, as Sen. Vitter acknowledged, “Compared to the Finance Committee, which has to lead all of us in figuring out how to pay for this, hopefully, six-year bill, we have the easier role.” Without the political will to do the hard work of raising revenues, even maintaining current levels will be a stretch.

Garcetti shares 'back to basics' agenda in State of the City address

In his first such address, L.A.'s mayor focuses on public safety, economic prosperity, quality of life and a well-run city government. He did not always provide timetables.

By David Zahniser, Emily Alpert Reyes, and Soumya Karlamangla, April 10, 2014

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti presented a long and eclectic list of initiatives in his first State of the City address Thursday, promising to reinvigorate the city's major boulevards, cut taxes for businesses, put building records online and keep a lid on rates at the Department of Water and Power.

Speaking at the California Science Center in South Los Angeles, Garcetti spelled out in detail his "back to basics" agenda, which focuses on public safety, economic prosperity, quality of life and a well-run city government. He did not always provide timetables to help the public measure his progress, opting for overarching themes.

Echoing a theme since he won election last May, Garcetti used the 32-minute speech to highlight his emphasis on problem solving, not publicity. He promised to install tracking devices in fire department vehicles to enhance 911 responses, improve service at the DWP and streamline city permitting.

 "We're about getting results, not about getting headlines," he said.

Garcetti heralded the city's accomplishments, including a drop in crime, new construction projects and television shoots in Los Angeles. He made no mention of homelessness or a tax hike proposed for street repairs. And he did not bring up proposals from the LA 2020 Commission, a citizen panel that has offered a far darker outlook on the city's economy and its government.

On the eve of Garcetti's speech, the panel offered a critique of City Hall and an array of recommendations, ranging from switching the date of the city's election to boost voter turnout to merging the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, a move billed as a way to increase economic competitiveness.

Austin Beutner, the commission's co-chairman and a former mayoral candidate himself, said he did not watch the speech and had no comment. Garcetti, in what some on social media took as a jab at the panel, said in his speech the city needs "fundamental work" but not "a new diagnosis."

Garcetti staged the ceremony in a location that allowed him to recall some of the city's biggest accomplishments, such as the staging of the 1984 Summer Olympics at the adjacent Coliseum and the engineering of the space shuttles, one of which, the Endeavour, is on display in the complex. Los Angeles is still doing big things, he said, including rebuilding downtown's Wilshire Grand Hotel and upgrading terminals at Los Angeles International Airport.

On the whole, the speech focused more on improving city operations than on sweeping, costly initiatives of the type laid out by his predecessors. In 2002, former Mayor James Hahn's first State of the City speech focused heavily on two major goals: keeping the San Fernando Valley from becoming its own city and finding a way to hire 1,000 new police officers.

Hahn prevailed on the first but fell far short on the second. Four years later, Antonio Villaraigosa used his first citywide address to announce his own plan for hiring 1,000 officers and taking over the Los Angles Unified School District. Although he managed to add around 800 officers, the school takeover was thrown out by a judge.

Garcetti's push for smaller-scale improvements in service didn't trouble Sherman Oaks resident Frankie Contreras, who attended Thursday's speech. "In order for you to build a better city, you better pay attention to the little things," he said.

Carol Schatz, chief executive of the downtown-based Central City Assn., agreed. "He was very clear about making City Hall work. And when you do that, you encourage investment," she said.

To highlight his interest in greater city efficiency and innovation, Garcetti singled out Paul Jewett, an employee at the Department of Recreation and Parks who found new ways to reduce energy use at city gyms when not in use. After the speech, Jewett said cutting back on air conditioning made his job easier by reducing the need for maintenance on cooling units.

Garcetti stressed the need to upgrade technology to improve services — a point unintentionally highlighted when links to online streaming of the speech, promoted by his office, didn't work. Aides said they didn't know what went wrong.

Garcetti must erase a $242-million projected deficit in the budget he will present to the City Council next week. And the city's top budget official has warned that a new tax hike is "the only way" Los Angeles can raise the money to repair thousands of miles of badly damaged streets.

With little money for new programs, Garcetti offered fresh details on a Great Streets initiative, which directs existing funds to 15 boulevards. Among streets announced Thursday were Reseda Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley, Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles and Gaffey Street in San Pedro.

Garcetti also assured ratepayers that the DWP, which has struggled with a billing system that charged customers inaccurately, would not seek higher rates for the remainder of the year. "We can't ask you to pay more for your water and power when the DWP screws up your bill," he said.

He said construction of a new carpool lane on the 405 Freeway, which has exasperated drivers on the Westside, would be finished in May, not October.

The mayor announced he would launch a major effort to rate the earthquake safety of buildings and begin the phaseout of the city's business tax, reducing the top rate over a three-year period. Garcetti did not specify how much that would cost the city's budget or how it would work. The mayor also promised to send light rail to LAX, but he did not say when.

Garcetti said he was committed to a new era of collaboration with other L.A. elected officials and the county's other 87 cities. "We've thrown out the old City Hall playbook of rivalry and back stabbing," he said.

Cynthia Porter, who works for the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, said she was pleased to hear Garcetti hold the line on DWP rate increases this year. She said she was optimistic that Garcetti would succeed at improving government operations.

"Let's see what he can do," she said. "The city's broken. It's not going to happen overnight."

A merger with Port of L.A.? No way, Long Beach officials say

The L.A. 2020 Commission's recommendation that the twin ports should work together gets a cool reception from Long Beach officials.


By Ricardo Lopez, April 11, 2014
 Port of Long Beach balks at proposal of merging with L.A.
 The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have a long history of less-than-friendly rivalry. Above, a container ship is docked at the Port of L.A. on Terminal Island.

 The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are like the Coke and Pepsi of U.S. maritime transportation.

They seem similar, they dominate the competition but they have a long history of less-than-friendly rivalry. Now, an independent commission's proposal to merge the neighboring harbors is being met with skepticism.

The L.A. 2020 Commission, made up of prominent business, labor and civic leaders, on Wednesday unveiled a series of recommendations that included merging the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

But the proposal appears to have landed with a thud among Long Beach officials.

"Simply put, this is a bad idea," said Doug Drummond, president of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. "The Port of Long Beach is not interested in a merger with our neighbor.... I can assure you that the Port of Long Beach is better run by the citizens of Long Beach."

In its 18-page report, the 2020 Commission said that a merger makes sense because of a drop in market share at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, the busiest seaports in the U.S.

In the last 10 years, the ports' combined market share fell more than 5 percentage points, the report said. The ports operate as landlords to the shipping lines, which move millions of cargo containers full of products in and out each year.

"That drop in market share alone is the size of the fifth-biggest port in the country, Seattle-Tacoma, which accounts for more than 60,000 jobs and has in excess of $100 million in revenue," the commission said. "We should fight to bring those jobs and tax revenues back to Los Angeles."

The neighboring ports, which have operated separately for decades and have been known to poach each other's tenants, currently handle about 40% of U.S. imports. The two account directly for about 595,000 jobs in the region.

But the ports face the looming threat of a $5.2-billion expansion of the Panama Canal, which would enable larger ships to pass through the canal. That upgrade might disrupt existing routes and shift business to ports on the East and Gulf coasts, which have been expanding in anticipation of the work's completion.

To fend off that threat, the L.A. 2020 Commission said, the ports should work together as one. It pointed to examples of regional cooperation at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, as well as by New York and New Jersey officials.

"We should be competing with ports in other regions, not with each other," the report said.
Outgoing Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster bristled at the recommendation and said that no one from the 2020 Commission had sought input from his city.

Foster questioned the idea of a port merger, saying that in the past, the city of Los Angeles had approved harbor projects that disproportionately affected neighborhoods in his city.

Long Beach, for instance, sued Los Angeles last year over a $500-million rail yard planned by BNSF Railway Co. The rail yard was approved by Los Angeles city officials, but Long Beach objected, arguing that the rail yard would be directly adjacent to Long Beach neighborhoods and diminish the air quality.

Los Angeles officials have said the rail yard would be "greener" and would reduce air pollution in the area.
Long B
each was treated "very poorly by the port and the city of Los Angeles," Foster said.

Across San Pedro Bay, the Port of Los Angeles appears to be more amenable to discussing a merger. The port said it welcomes "the opportunity to discuss additional collaborative efforts that would both retain and expand the existing cargo and jobs at the San Pedro Bay port complex," said Phillip Sanfield, a port spokesman.

"The two ports have a strong track record of working together on a wide range of initiatives related to the environment, security and efficiency improvements," Sanfield said.

The commission said it relied on data and interviews with people who do business at the ports.
"Of course, the people of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles aren't going to endorse the idea of a merger," said Austin Beutner, co-chair of the commission. "They're going to fight for their turf."

The international shipping lines and major retail chains that send cargo through the ports are maintaining a diplomatic silence on the matter, declining to comment for publication.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn., which represents tenants and customers at the twin ports, said the group hasn't taken a position on the proposed merger.

But one longtime port observer, Manny Aschemeyer, a consultant on port issues who began his career at the ports in the 1970s, said clients and other users of the harbors may oppose a merger.

"There is a benefit to having two separate controlling agencies," said Aschemeyer, former director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, which tracks ship movements at the ports. "It keeps them balanced in terms of charges and fees and services. And frankly, even though they're living right next door to each other, they're fiercely competitive."

A port conglomerate, he said, could mean higher rates and fees. The two ports have typically been reluctant to raise fees for fear of losing a client to the competing port.

Economist John Husing, who keeps a close eye on the Inland Empire's port-dependent warehouse industry, said the concept of one mega-port is unlikely to gain traction.

"The public benefits from competition between them," Husing said.

Jock O'Connell, an international trade economist who follows the ports, said a merger is worth considering.

Entering an agreement to work together, O'Connell said, could combine marketing efforts, potentially saving money and presenting a stronger united front. It could also make it easier for a consolidated port authority to fend off competition from other ports.

But O'Connell warned that it would be a "politically difficult task" to get the two ports to agree to a merger. That route, he said, is "fraught with political uncertainties."