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, May 7, 2014

Air pollution 'too high' in most of world's cities

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-27313349

By Rebecca Morelle, May 7, 2014


 Indian commuters wait for a bus early on a polluted morning in New Delhi
 Air pollution in cities such as Delhi is exceeding safe levels, the WHO says.

The World Health Organization says air pollution in many of the world's cities is breaching its guidelines.

Its survey of 1,600 cities in 91 countries revealed that nearly 90% of people in urban centres breathe air that fails to meet levels deemed safe.

The WHO says that about half of the world's urban population is exposed to pollution at least 2.5 times higher than it recommends.

Air quality was poorest in Asia, followed by South America and Africa.

"Too many urban centres today are so enveloped in dirty air that their skylines are invisible," said Dr Flavia Bustreo, the WHO's assistant director-general for family, children and women's health.

"Not surprisingly, this air is dangerous to breathe."

Health risks

The WHO currently sets safe levels of air quality based on the concentration of polluting particles called particulate matter (PM) found in the air.

It recommends that levels of fine particles called PM2.5 should not be more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre on average over a year, and slightly larger pollutants, called PM10, should not reach more than 20 micrograms per cubic metre on average.

But the Urban Air Quality database showed that many areas were breaching these levels.

Some cities in Asia showed extremely high levels of pollution. Peshawar in Pakistan registered a PM10 level of 540 micrograms per cubic metre over a period of two months in 2010, while Delhi in India had an average PM2.5 of 153 micrograms per cubic metre in the same year.

Cities in South America, including Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, also fared badly.

But the WHO says it is still lacking data, especially from cities in Africa, where poor air quality is a growing concern.

The most recent figures suggest that seven million people around the world died as a result of air pollution in 2012. It is estimated that 3.7 million of these deaths were from outdoor air pollution.
The WHO calls its the world's single largest environmental health risk, and links poor air quality to heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer.

"We cannot buy clean air in a bottle, but cities can adopt measures that will clean the air and save the lives of their people," said Dr Carlos Dora from the WHO.

All the Details on LAX's Potential People Mover System

http://la.curbed.com/archives/2014/05/all_the_details_on_laxs_potential_people_mover_system.php

By Neal Broverman, May 6, 2014

Screen-shot-2014-05-06-at-4.40.35-PM.jpg

Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, have been working hard on the future of transportation at the airport lately—the big issue is car traffic, and it's working on a big overhaul now, plus planning a consolidated rental car facility and an intermodal transportation facility that would allow drop-offs, bag checks, parking, and a meet and greet area. Yesterday, the Board of Airport Commissioners also met to discuss the biggie: a people mover that would connect to the Metro system. As mentioned yesterday, LAWA is looking at having a PM with two or four stops at LAX; the former would require passengers walk farther, but cost about a billion less and take few years less to build (between 5 and 7 years).

That seems good, but, according to yesterday's presentation, via LA Airspace, LAWA still really wants the PM to connect to Metro via the intermodal transportation facility, which would require a spur off of the Crenshaw Line, which is already under construction. A spur to the ITF would not only require a new environmental review (a lengthy, costly process), but billions of dollars and re-routing complications with Crenshaw trains. Connecting the PM to the Crenshaw Line's Aviation/Century station would seem like the way to go, but LAWA can't seem to let the spur idea go.
· LAX plans ambitious ground transportation projects; Read the report [LA Airspace] · Here Are LAX's Two Plans For an Airport People Mover [Curbed LA]

LA Metro Customer Survey Results

http://thesource.metro.net/2014/05/06/results-for-metros-biannual-onboard-survey/

By Matthew Kridler, May 6, 2014

Click above to see larger.

What Does Southern California Need from the 710 Freeway?

From Sylvia Plummer, May 4, 2014

We hope to get as many people as possible to this event to ask important questions during the Q&A and to assure that significant issues are not misrepresented.

This event will take place this Wednesday night at MOCA, and is being presented by an organization called "Zocalo Public Square."

It is free, but you must make a reservation to attend. 
http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/event/?postId=53220

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Where

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Parking is $9 at Walt Disney Concert Hall Garage- Enter on Second St., just west of Grand Ave.
To save on driving and parking, you can take the Goldline to the Redline

Note:  You must arrive before 7:15pm or your reservation will be released

We have been attempting to verify our suspicion that it was Metro who instigated the topic for this particular forum (note their logo on the event web page) and today it was confirmed that the forum is being held in collaboration with Metro.  In a letter from Art Leahy notifying Metro personnel about it, he calls it "...the first event of a series...."  Frankly, I think the effort to get the attention of the Zocalo organization was probably a collaborative one among the various proponents of the tunnel (SCAG, Alhambra, etc.), and perhaps involved Englander, Knabe and Allen, because my experience with Metro's public outreach efforts has shown that they don't know how to do it well and aren't very smart in this arena.  My suspicion and cynicism may have gotten the better of me, but I wouldn't be surprised if the SCAG model issues are just an excuse for the delay in the release of the EIR/EIS and that what they really hope to do by delaying the release is buy more time in an attempt to promote support. 


The description of the event reads as follows:

"The 710 is one of the most important freeways in Southern California. It’s also shorter than originally planned: For nearly 50 years, legal and environmental challenges have stalled the freeway in Alhambra, 4.5 miles short of its intended destination, Pasadena. Over the decades, discussions about extending the freeway have cast its future as a local issue. But the 710 causes traffic, produces pollution, and affects commerce across Los Angeles and even beyond. How broad are these impacts, and what role might the stalled extension play in them? What would the five options now being debated for dealing with the Alhambra-to-Pasadena gap–implementing new surface traffic technology and strategies, new rapid bus transit, light rail transit, a freeway tunnel, or building nothing at all–mean for our region? UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies director Brian Taylor, Clean Tech Advocates senior advisor and former California Environment Secretary Linda S. Adams, L.A. Chamber of Commerce president Gary Toebben, and Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata visit Z√≥calo to discuss what these proposals mean for all of us."

You can learn more about the Zocalo organization and what they do as well as info on the format of their events here:
http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/mission/

FYI:  I have registered to attend and hope to see many of you there.

San Rafael Neighborhoods Association News Bulletin

Contact: 
Logo

S R N A 
News Bulletin:

Metro / Caltrans EIR Update

Forum Meeting

PUSD 7-11 Committee Update

San Rafael Elementary "Movie Night"

 SRNA General Meeting

NOTICE:
   
Metro and Caltrans will release the Draft EIR/EIS in February 2015 given the necessary reviews and approvals that are required prior to incorporating the various technical reports into the Draft EIR/EIS for public review. In response to community stakeholders' request for additional time to review documents, Metro has extended the public review period to 90 days.
  
  
========================================

Public Forum

"What Does Southern California Need From the 710 Freeway?"

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM

Museum of Contemporary Art
(MOCA) 
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

CAUTION: This event is sponsored by METRO
  
In advance of Metro's release of an environmental impact report on the 710, Brian Taylor of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, Linda Adams of Clean Tech Advocates, Gary Toebben of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, and Hasan Ikhrata of the Southern Calif. Association of Governments discuss what these proposals mean for us.

Parking is $9 at Walt Disney Concert Hall Garage

Interested in attending and/or carpooling?
Email Sylvia Plummer at UnitedAgainst710@gmail.com with your name, address & phone number.

PLEASE ATTEND IF YOU CAN AND WEAR YOUR RED NO710 SHIRT OR ANY BRIGHT RED SHIRT

If you plan to attend please register for this event at:


Note:  You must arrive before 7:15pm or your reservation will be released
 
SRNA SUPPORTS 21ST CENTURY SOLUTIONS TO TRAFFIC ISSUES.  

 ============================================    

PUSD 7-11 COMMITTEE
San Rafael Elementary School Closure

UPDATE

PUSD's 7-11 Committee met this past Monday evening, April 28th at the school auditorium for final debate prior to sending advisory recommendations for alternative use for the site to the school board.
  
A draft report is to be prepared by legal counsel, reviewed by a 7-11 subcommittee and presented to the full Committee at the next Committee meeting.

BACKGROUND

The 7-11 Committee [so-named on account of State statute requiring a minimum of seven (7) and maximum of (11) members] was established by the PUSD Board of Education to weigh community "limits of tolerance" for alternative uses of San Rafael School's 3.2-acre site, scheduled for closure by the PUSD due to earthquake fault lines through the property.

This Committee is comprised of community members, parents, school staff, and representatives of the business community. The work of the Committee is supported by school district staff, legal counsel, and a representative of the City of Pasadena.

Four  (4) geological testing surveys have been completed on the San Rafael site with a 90% seismic certainty conclusion, precluding use of the property as a public school. The Division of State's Architect (DSA) has agreed with the findings.

San Rafael staff, students, and programs are scheduled to move to the former Allendale Elementary School site, adjacent to the Blair Complex, after July 1, 2017.

The 7-11 Committee first met in January followed by meetings in February and March and public hearings in March and April.

 All meetings are open, and guests are invited to participate in public comment.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 19th at 5:30 pm in the PUSD Board Room.

EDITOR'S NOTE: 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 for all those affected by the closure. 

 ======================================

MOVIE NIGHT
SAN RAFAEL SCHOOL

Mark your calendars, neighbors near and far!

San Rafael School will host "Movie Night" Friday May 16th, from 7-9, outside on the playground.

At no charge, neighbors are invited to bring chairs and join staff, students and parents to sing along with lyrics from the young-hip movie "FROZEN."

While the movie is free, concessions will cost.

Efforts are planned to direct speakers away from the neighborhood.

=======================================
  
SRNA
 GENERAL MEETING
NOTICE

WEDNESDAY MAY 7TH
CHURCH OF THE ANGELS - HALL

7PM

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

****************************************************

Logo

The mission of the San Rafael Neighborhoods Association (SRNA) 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.


MTA may have tough time getting federal rail money past House GOP

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-transit-money-los-angeles-20140506-story.html

By Richard Simon, May 6, 2014



North Hollywood Station lines
 Tail tracks (far left and far right) and pocket (center rails) at the end of the line in the North Hollywood Station in 2003.


With House Republicans proposing spending cuts for new transit projects, Los Angeles officials will have their work cut out to secure $200 million in federal funds next year for a subway extension to Los Angeles' Westside and a downtown tunnel to link light-rail lines.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday proposed $1.7 billion nationwide for new transit projects, down from $1.9 billion provided this year. The Obama administration has proposed $2.5 billion.

The bill also provides no money for high-speed rail projects, a provision sought by congressional Republican critics of the California project.

The proposed spending cut comes after annual public transit ridership last year reached its highest level since 1956, according to the American Public Transportation Assn.

Raffi Hamparian, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority director of federal affairs, said county officials would work to increase the amount when the House committee acts on the bill in coming weeks or to win approval for a higher amount from the Senate, where Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) sits on the Appropriations Committee.

"It may be that the Senate is going to come in with a solid number that fully funds the program, and we don’t have a problem," Hamparian said. "But the bottom line is, a low number adds uncertainty, and we don’t like uncertainty."

MTA is seeking $100 million each for extending the subway from Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue to Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard and building a downtown tunnel to link the Gold Line from Pasadena and East L.A. to the Blue Line from Long Beach and the Expo Line from Culver City.
Each project is to receive $65 million in federal funds this year.

"We’re determined to get these projects built, on time and on budget," Hamparian said. "Los Angeles County voters have repeatedly stepped up to fund these projects, and we look forward to Congress meeting us halfway to get these great American infrastructure projects built."

The proposed spending bill would provide no money for high-speed rail; but Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the agency wasn’t expecting any federal funds this year.

Taxing drivers by the mile?

http://www.bizjournals.com/losangeles/news/2014/05/05/taxing-drivers-by-the-mile.html?page=all

By Scott Bridges, May 5, 2014



Wilshire Blvd.
How much will it cost you to drive from downtown to the ocean via Wilshire?

Southern Californians love to drive, but also tend to be environmentally forward-thinking. Those two propositions have caused much friction over the years, but a new bill proposed by a state senator could ignite a whole new firestorm.

The bill is SB 1077, written by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, envisions an unprecedented program that would tax drivers by the mile, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Thelegislation would grant authority to the California Transportation Agency, the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies to track vehicle miles traveled by motorists in a not-yet-determined city beginning in 2016.

A vehicle mileage tax would replace the current flat tax of 52.9 cents per gallon, according to the report.

The tax would create winners and losers, essentially punishing motorists who drive more. From an environmental standpoint, the tax would seem to reward commuters who find alternative forms of transportation, and those who eschew unnecessary trips.

A by-the-mile tax of just a nickel a mile beginning in 2025 could raise more than $110 billion annually for six counties in this part of the state: Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial, according to the Southern California Association of Governments.

The SCAG members from Riverside and San Bernardino counties understandably bristled at the idea of a mileage tax.

It was unclear if the irony of moving out to the low-cost housing of satellite communities to avoid the high costs associated with city living was lost on the suburbanites.

Anne Mayer, executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission, was quoted by the newspaper as saying the tax would be “really tough for counties like San Bernardino and Riverside with huge geography and people spread out,” pointing out that there are isolated areas where some folks travel 40 miles to see a doctor.

One school of thought would seem to suggest that if you choose to live 40 miles from a doctor, maybe you need to see a doctor. But that sentiment aside, if you’re opting to drive into and out of Los Angeles on a regular basis, congesting its roadways and polluting the air, maybe a nickel on each mile isn’t too much to ask in return.


 (Mod: Here's an update on a story we covered a while back.)

 http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com/2014/05/fight-for-your-right-to-park-on-your.html

 Taxing drivers by the mile? (LA Biz link) Southern Californians love to drive, but also tend to be environmentally forward-thinking. Those two propositions have caused much friction over the years, but a new bill proposed by a state senator could ignite a whole new firestorm.

The bill is SB 1077, written by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, envisions an unprecedented program that would tax drivers by the mile, the Los Angeles Daily News reported.

Thelegislation would grant authority to the California Transportation Agency, the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies to track vehicle miles traveled by motorists in a not-yet-determined city beginning in 2016.

A vehicle mileage tax would replace the current flat tax of 52.9 cents per gallon, according to the report.

The tax would create winners and losers, essentially punishing motorists who drive more. From an environmental standpoint, the tax would seem to reward commuters who find alternative forms of transportation, and those who eschew unnecessary trips.

A by-the-mile tax of just a nickel a mile beginning in 2025 could raise more than $110 billion annually for six counties in this part of the state: Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial, according to the Southern California Association of Governments.

(Mod: I have no doubt that the jerks at SCAG would volunteer us to serve as the crash test dummies for this bizarre experiment. I really do think I need to send a campaign contribution to whoever is running against DeSaulnier this year.)

Dori Monson: Now it's really time to bury Bertha

http://mynorthwest.com/76/2509165/Dori-Monson-Now-its-really-time-to-bury-Bertha

By Dori Monson, April 28, 2014




 Bertha980
Dori Monson was out on vacation last week when it was announced Bertha would not get running for almost another year. He had a lot to say about it. (WSDOT)

Taken from Monday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.
 
What a week to be gone? I had a lot of D-Mails from listeners who wondered if they timed the announcement of Bertha's big delay for the week I would be on vacation. But I don't think they're that smart.

I have complete, total, utter vindication as they announce the tunnel digging will not resume for a year.

My predictions on this go back five years ago. When then Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond went to the Seattle Rotary and said this about the project:

"The project may cost $2.8 billion. We believe we can bring it in for under, although we're not going to talk too much about that until we get further in our design. Some people say we've got it priced too high. Legislators and talk show hosts say we've priced it too low. And I think the new big game is, I heard Dori Monson will quit his job on the radio if we bring it in under budget. That is enough incentive for us to bring it in under budget."

Then, back in January, I was telling my listeners it's going to be a year. I had Lynn Peterson, the new secretary of transportation in the studio, and asked her about the tip I'd gotten that said Bertha's halt in December would mark a one-year delay.

From previous interview with Lynn Peterson:
Dori Monson: I had somebody who turned out to be pretty accurate, I don't know if they're an insider, but I had somebody who tipped me off about a week ago as to what to expect whenever it was revealed what was blocking things and they have followed up and told me that they've heard it could be a one-year delay. Honestly, that person has given me information that has proved to be accurate [...] could it be a long delay up to a year?

Lynn Peterson: Highly doubt that, but again, it's very early to speculate on exactly how long it will take but we do know what the next step in the process is, and that is to put this pipe down, five foot diameter pipe and be able to pull that steel out.
Now we've found out how much more extensive it's going to be, but again that was on January 6 when my listeners knew it was going to be at least a year delay. We've been basically lied to for more than three months.

My tipster was accurate. I knew that he was. That's why I was willing to ask that question of Lynn Peterson live on the air, because I was putting my credibility on the line if they had restarted in less than a year.

Again, I don't have an engineering background. I'm a dumb guy from Ballard and because I had good information, I've been able to provide my listeners with a far more accurate picture of what's been going on than all of the government officials combined.

So I will repeat today what I called for three months ago. It is time to pull the plug on the Seattle tunnel. It is time to bury Bertha.

This is going to be tough to do because all of those downtown property owners who bought off all of the politicians involved in selling this boondoggle to the public, they expect a return on investment.
They bought off politicians and they used those paid-for-politicians to sell this insane project to the people of the region and they don't care how much it costs. They just care that they got theirs.

Everybody involved has gotten theirs and who is going to be stuck with all of this?

I'm telling you it is going to be more than $1 billion in overruns. Everybody laughed at me when I said that, and they said I'm engaging in hyperbole.

What are we up to now, just based on last week when I was gone? $190 million. That is the overruns they're asking for right now. And they're still stuck. They haven't even started. How many employees have been getting paid for seven months since this thing got stuck and will continue to get paid for the next year as this thing is sitting around. You're telling me that's not going to be $1 billion?

Spokespeople from both WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners came out to give a press conference when it was announced Bertha wouldn't be running until March. This is proof of how screwed over the taxpayers are going to be by this project.

"Remember this is a fixed-price contract and Seattle Tunnel Partners has the obligation to complete this tunnel and the project for the price that they bid and that is still the plan," said Todd Trepanier with the WSDOT. "Right now, it would be the same cost as the taxpayers were expecting at the beginning of the project."

"Who is ultimately responsible and liable for that time and that cost is going to be determined by a review of the contract and negotiating those things within the terms and conditions of the contract," said Chris Dixon with Seattle Tunnel Partners.

So in other words they're just going to string out the litigation.

Then there's this great Seattle Times piece today by Mike Baker about the CEO of Seattle Tunnel Partners, Ron Tutor. They say he has a history of only signing deals where there is some ambiguity in who pays for cost overruns and that he will litigate, litigate, litigate so they don't have to pay.

This is such a political game being manipulated by politicians and downtown property owners to screw over the people of this region. If you think for one second that this is about getting cars from one end of downtown to the other, you are so sadly mistaken.

I'm passionate about this because I've been telling you this for over five years and everything I've said has been 100 percent accurate. This is a gigantic scheme by big property owners, developers and politicians.

Survey: Freedom From Car Dependence Appeals Across Generations

http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/04/30/survey-freedom-from-car-dependence-appeals-across-generations/

By Angie Schmitt, April 30, 2014

When it comes to what Millennials and Baby Boomers look for in a community, the generation gap may be overstated.

Source: APA
Source: APA

According to a recent survey from the American Planning Association, young adults and their parents both want better transportation options. APA surveyed 1,040 adults ages 21 to 65 with at least two years of college. Of the respondents, 416 were between 21 and 34 years old (Millennials), and 416 were between 50 and 65 (Boomers).

Here are some of the key findings:

Both groups are pessimistic about the national economy and stressed about their personal finances.

Three in four Millennials and 65 percent of Boomers reported believing the national economy was “fundamentally flawed.” Furthermore, neither group displayed much optimism that it would improve in the next five years. Both groups, however, were more optimistic about their local economies and personal prospects.

Both groups think community investment is more important than “traditional business recruitment strategies.”

Instead of luring employers with tax breaks, 65 percent of respondents told APA they would prefer public investment in schools, transportation amenities, and other quality-of-life improvements. This was particularly true of Millennials — three-quarters of whom responded this way.


Of all of those surveyed, a strong majority preferred community investments like better schools and more transportation options to traditional business recruitment strategies. Image: APA
A strong majority of survey respondents preferred public investments like better schools and more transportation options to tax breaks for companies. Image: APA

APA calls this “the new economics of place” and suggests that responding to these preferences is an important and necessary shift in economic development strategy for local governments.

People want more transportation options besides driving, whether they live in the city or the suburbs.

A very small share — 8 percent of Millennials and 7 percent of Boomers — said they wanted to live in car-dependent sprawl in the future, even though 41 percent of Millennials and 39 percent of Boomers said they live in that type of community today. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like living in the suburbs. APA said there was a demand for a range of living spaces — from rural, urban, suburban and even small towns — but that respondents indicated a desire for more transportation options, especially greater walkability.

Nearly 60 percent of both Millennials and Boomers said there weren’t enough transportation options where they live. And about 80 percent of both demographic groups said convenient alternatives to driving were at least somewhat important to their residential choices.

How L.A.'s Freeways, Biggest Streets and Busy Intersections Make People Sick

http://m.laweekly.com/informer/2014/04/30/how-la-freeways-busy-streets-and-big-intersections-make-people-sick

By Jill Stewart, April 30, 2014




Screen_shot_2014-04-30_at_12.38.16_PM.jpg

More bad news showing that people living next to a freeway or a big, congested road face super-bad health results: the MacArthur Foundation says in "How Housing Matters," that premature birth plunged among moms living near a pollution-belching toll plaza - after the plaza switched to E-Z pass, ending its stop-and-go traffic.

We reported in "Black Lung Lofts" the findings by UCLA and USC that children living within two blocks of a freeway or congested road like Hollywood Boulevard face permanent lung damage. The culprit is an invisible ribbon of particulates and exhaust. Scientists warned L.A. planners to stop zoning for family housing in these thickly polluted ribbons of land, but the L.A. City Council responded by repeatedly approving "black lung lofts":


L.A. officials helped finance this family complex, filled with kids, erected nearly atop the 5 freeway. - TED SOQUI
 
 L.A. officials helped finance this family complex, filled with kids, erected nearly atop the 5 freeway.

Even the national media can't quite accept UCLA's and USC's extensive longitudinal studies, which show that nobody under 18 - when their young lungs are still developing - should live within 500 feet of a busy, congested roadway.

In today's news about the MacArthur study, Slate reported:
MacArthur Foundation's "How Housing Matters" initiative, looked at the effects of an E-ZPass tolling program installed on roads in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Such technology results in less pollution because cars drive right through toll plazas rather than stopping and starting. In one location within the study area, nitrogen oxide fell by 11 percent after the implementation of E-ZPass.

Another thing that went down markedly? Premature births. After analyzing birth records, researchers estimated that among the 30,000 births to mothers living within two kilometers of a toll plaza, 255 premature births and 275 low-birth-weight births were avoided. In dollar terms, the researchers - writing in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics - estimate the savings was between $9.8 and $13 million.
But Slate's writer misses the point, suggesting that the MacArthur analysis "raises the question of why we continue to encourage driving, with free on-street parking, toll-free bridges, disinvestment in public transportation, and sprawl development."

The most immediate problem,  in Los Angeles and elsewhere, is that city planners are jamming family housing and schools up against busy urban roadways, where land is cheap.

We didn't know better in the 1950s.

But we do today: That land isn't truly cheap, once you factor in the $444 million per year that MacArthur's research says would be saved if 1 million fetuses were not exposed to, and hurt by, "air pollution from congested roads" near their mom's homes.

This tiny one turned out fine. - JOSHUA SMITH

 This tiny one turned out fine.

Another report today, the 15th annual State of the Air 2014 by the American Lung Association, shows dramatic improvements in Southern California's overall number of "unhealthy days."

American Lung Association officials in California tell L.A. Weekly there's been a big drop in dangerous soot particles over the years, despite population growth in the Los Angeles metro area.

All very good.

In Los Angeles, family housing along congested roadways near transit stops is termed "transit-oriented development" - another positive thing.

But as the Weekly reported, four years ago:
In 2004, USC's landmark Children's Health Study made waves nationally, confirming that thousands of Southern California children living in near high-traffic roadways were contracting higher levels of crippling asthma and children living in smoggy areas were suffering impaired lung development.

The study proved long-held beliefs that fine particles such as those caused by tire rubber and brake metal - so tiny that scientists say the dust seeps through the smallest cracks and holes and thus is not blocked by air filtration systems or triple-paned windows - were burrowing into people's lungs.



 Former City Councilman and planning commissioner Mike Woo. - TED SOQUI
 Former City Councilman and planning commissioner Mike Woo.

Some city officials, like former councilman Mike Woo, tried to get Los Angeles planners to take seriously an even more detailed 2007 followup study by USC, but he didn't get far.

As the Weekly reported:

The new study showed that alarming numbers of children ages 10 to 18 who live within about a block - 528 feet - of a Southern California freeway suffer reduced lung development, a deficit likely to persist through adulthood, and which may increase the risk of respiratory disease and premature death. (Three weeks ago, a group of USC and European scientists delivered more bad news: Hardening of the arteries is twice as common among Angelenos living within a block of an L.A. freeway.)
Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director for policy and advocacy at  the American Lung Association in California, says her group is acutely aware of the problem.

But the bad health outcomes in children raised in the new housing being erected next to bustling roadways is being weighed against the popular statewide push for "sustainable communities."

Sustainable communities is an idea that embraces multi-unit family housing that's purposely located along congested roadways in dense urban areas - to encourage the childrens' parents to use mass transit.

Holmes-Gen says:
"Number one, we need to bring down the pollution from all the sources as we move to zero emission vehicles" and other methods, Holmes-Gen says. "And we are working to promote a regional plan ... a community strategy that plans for more transit-oriented housing."
Somehow, she says, the compact growth movement has to be pursued "in a way that protects health, clearly. ... But there is still a lot of work to be done to better assess the impacts of current community planning and make changes to the planning process" so that asthma and other lifelong illnesses are not increased in kids.

Holmes-Gen says people who are worried about the 2004 Children's Health Study findings "have their finger on a big issue. I agree it is a huge concern - any community built within 500 [feet] of a freeway is a big concern, according to the studies."

Is anyone in Los Angeles City Hall paying attention?

The adjoining map shows the 2010 project, "The L.A. River Corridor" development, which city officials, and even the federal government, planned to subsidize. It included a village of family housing on 2,000-plus acres crisscrossed by major freeways.

glendalenarrrows.jpg

The L.A. River Corridor housing development faded away when the state disbanded all of California's redevelopment agencies, including the LA/CRA.