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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Council members seek tighter state regulation of ride-sharing firms


By Emily Alper Reyes and Marc Lifsher, June 10, 2014

 As students walk in front of them, dozens of taxi drivers rally Tuesday on the steps of L.A. City Hall to protest the use of popular ride-sharing apps.

Three members of the Los Angeles City Council called Tuesday for state lawmakers to back tighter state regulation of ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber, arguing that existing rules leave passengers using the firms' smartphone apps vulnerable and put traditional taxicabs at an unfair disadvantage.

"When it comes to public safety, there shouldn't be a double standard in Los Angeles," Councilman Paul Koretz said, calling the ride-sharing firms "well-financed bandit cabs with apps."

 Koretz and Councilman Gil Cedillo joined scores of taxi drivers at a news conference Tuesday to urge the passage of a soon-to-be amended bill, AB 612 by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks). The bill would require ride-sharing operators to carry the same 24-7 commercial insurance coverage as regular taxis. An earlier version of the bill ran into trouble in the lower house of the Legislature.

Koretz, Cedillo and Councilman Paul Krekorian also introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for passage of AB 612. The full City Council hasn't taken a position on the legislation. Cedillo argued that the legislation would hold Uber, Lyft and other such companies to the same standards as taxicabs.

"We cannot tolerate an industry that's unregulated, unsafe and unacceptable," Cedillo said, echoing the slogan printed on the red shirts of taxi drivers standing behind him the steps of Los Angeles City Hall.

 Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said that Uber drivers already have to pass a "rigorous" background check and have a "best-in-class insurance policy." She called AB 612 and another bill pending in the state Senate "thinly veiled attempts to end ride-sharing in the state."

"This legislation is not about safety or consumers; it’s about protecting entrenched Sacramento special interests from competition," Behrend said in a statement emailed to the Los Angeles Times.

Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson echoed her comments, saying Lyft has a $1-million commercial excess liability insurance policy that far exceeds that required for taxis in Los Angeles. The company also "screens out applicants for any violent crimes, sexual offenses, theft, property damage and felonies," Wilson said in an emailed statement.

As the battle over the proposed legislation continues in Sacramento, the California Public Utilities Commission, which has legal jurisdiction over ride-sharing companies, is in the process of tightening and clarifying its insurance requirements for the firms.

Current regulations call for $1 million of coverage that kicks in after a driver’s personal insurance hits its limit. Regulations also require criminal background checks and safety inspections of cars, among other things.

The L.A. City Council members' call for tighter rules comes a week after an Uber driver was accused of abducting  a drunk woman and taking her to a hotel in Van Nuys. Prosecutors did not file charges against the man, saying there was insufficient evidence. Uber disabled the driver's account after learning of his arrest.

OC toll road payment options unclear for some drivers


By Rudabeh Shahbazi, June 9, 2014




 In Orange County, the transition from human attendants to electronic-only toll roads has been a bumpy one.


IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- In Orange County, the transition from human attendants to electronic-only toll roads has been a bumpy one. Issues regarding poor signage and unexpected fines have some drivers upset.

You'll no longer see anyone in the toll booths on Orange County toll roads. They've been shut down for about a month now, moving into the electronic realm, with drivers able to pay by FasTrak transponder or a program that allows you to pay through an account registered to your license plate.

But the transition hasn't been so smooth for some drivers who need a one-time payment option.

"There were no signs. Two weeks later, I got a ticket in the mail for $240," said driver Erica Evans.

Evans eventually got her ticket reduced to $40, but only after she read dozens of Yelp.com reviews by drivers with similar complaints about the lack of a clear explanation of how to pay the toll.

"I was outraged," said Evans. "I was so mad that I called you guys, because it's unfair."

Toll-road planners say there are more than 100 signs posted, but their focus now is on outreach and educating drivers about what exactly the signs mean.

"It's a learning process and remember, we have 250,000 people a day are paying the toll, and so we know that a lot of people understand," said Lisa Telles, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Corridor Agencies, which runs the toll system. "We have hundreds and hundreds of people who are utilizing the one-time toll option online or through their mobile app."

The toll system now requires you to go online to pay within 48 hours of passing the toll area if you don't already have an account.

Telles says they are especially focused on visitors who might not know anything about the new system. And she says they welcome customer feedback to make improvements.

"We're looking at our signage program, we're looking at some adjustments to the website to make sure that the information is clear when they do get to the website if they are not familiar with the area," said Telles

"Anytime I can re-route myself to find less traffic, I'm for that, but as long as it's explained," said Erica Evans.

Caltrans seeks public input on statewide freight mobility plan


By Anna Chen, June 10, 2014

The Los Angeles meeting will take place on July 22. Here’s the press release from Caltrans:
With the economic recovery expanding, California’s highways, seaports, and railroads are again teeming with freight being transported across the state and on to the rest of the nation. Caltrans has invested billions of dollars in projects aimed at improving freight movement and reducing its environmental impacts, and this summer it will ask the public to weigh-in on the future of freight movement in California.

Caltrans will host eight public workshops between June 17 and July 24 to solicit input on the draft California Freight Mobility Plan (CFMP), which lays out a vision for all the ways freight is moved, including seaports, air cargo, railroads, and trucking. While promoting economic competitiveness, the plan will also benefit the environment and promote public health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

“To maintain and improve California’s status as the eighth-largest economy in the world, we must create a multimodal freight plan that sustains freight jobs, improves transportation, protects the environment and our communities,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will rely on the CFMP and other state freight plans as it shapes a national freight plan. Projects identified in California’s plan will be eligible to apply for a higher percentage of federal funding.

This plan is especially important because California is a national and global trade leader. Of the country’s internationally traded consumer products, about 40 percent is transported through California’s seaports. With 12 seaports, California has an unparalleled geographic trade position on the Pacific Rim.

California has set aggressive goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a sustainable environment. The freight plan’s goal is to transition the freight industry to zero or near zero emissions by 2050. California has already made progress in reducing freight’s effects through better engines, cleaner fuels, infrastructure changes, and improved operations.

To review the draft plan and comment, please attend any of these eight public workshops:

Caltrans has accomplished much to improve freight in California over the last few years. Some of the more notable freight projects include:
  • Otay Mesa East Port of Entry: This project is an innovative, tolled land port of entry designed to significantly reduce border wait times and expedite the flow of goods between California and Mexico. Caltrans broke ground on the project last year.
  • Cordelia Truck Scales: In July 2013, a new $100 million truck complex opened along eastbound Interstate 80 near Fairfield in Solano County. The state-of-the-art facility fast-tracks inspections for more than two million trucks annually that travel from the Port of Oakland on I-80 through Northern California.
  • Gerald Desmond Bridge: At 515 feet tall, the new Gerald Desmond Bridge when completed will be tall enough to allow the world’s largest ships to pass under and enter the Port of Long Beach’s inner harbor, increasing the Port’s capacity to handle more cargo. Currently, about 15 percent of the nation’s international containerized trade is moved by trucks across the existing bridge. The new bridge will have three lanes in each direction, allowing a more efficient flow of goods and people.
  • Colton Crossing: This rail project was completed last year, $109 million under budget and eight months ahead of schedule. Most trains entering or leaving Southern California used the at-grade rail-to-rail crossing, which resulted in significant congestion on commuter and freight rail lines. A new elevated overpass has removed that chokepoint. The project will deliver an estimated $241 million in travel time savings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 34,000 tons annually.
Caltrans is developing the CFMP in partnership with the California State Transportation Agency, the freight industry, public agencies, Native American tribal governments, and advocacy groups. The plan will be finalized by the end of this year. To view the draft plan, informational materials, and to receive more details on the public workshops, please visit: www.cfmp.dot.ca.gov.

Those unable to attend a meeting in person, can comment by email (cfmp@dot.ca.gov.) or send a letter or a completed comment card to:California Department of Transportation, Division of Transportation Planning, Office of System, Freight, and Rail Planning, 1120 N Street, MS 32, Sacramento, CA 95814. Comments must be submitted by July 31, 2014.

Eastside "Riff Raff" Bike Ride Heads to Rich San Marino


By Dennis Romero, June 9, 2014


Dear citizens of San Marino (median household income $139,122), be careful who you call "sketchy," a word recently applied to outsiders by a local resident.

A group called the Eastside Bicycle Club is planning on showing the upper crust of the San Gabriel Valley just how sketchy neighbors to the south are by organizing a "Riff Raff Ride Into San Marino."

The July 5 event starts six miles - and a socioeconomic world away - in working-class El Sereno:

The ride is a response to a Pasadena Star-News story about San Marino's increasing NIMBY attitude toward urban outsiders, which the newspaper says are considered to be riffraff in the wealthy community.

First, the local City Council has given the city's farmers' market a possibly limited lifespan after neighbors complained about the "sketchy" outsiders coming to town to purchase organic produce.

See also: New San Marino Farmers Market Opens

Then came complaints about the town's 2014 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which could (gasp) give lower-income bike riders easier access to San Marino.

That was enough for the Eastside Bicycle Club's Carlos Morales to organize his loyal riff raff. He told the Star-News that the ride will probably go by City Hall:

I found it discriminatory that here we're in the 21st century and people still think this way. Our bike rides ... it crosses all ethnic barriers as well as financial barriers. We have people who are maybe homeless or students, and we have people who are professionals - they are entrepreneurs."

 ... We want to expose people who have never traveled into San Marino. We want to expose them to how beautiful the city is.
At least 77 people have RSVP'd for the event via Facebook.

The Rise of Private 'Luxury' Mass Transit Buses

What will services like Bridj, Blackline, and Leap Transit mean for traditional city buses?


By Eric Jaffe, June 9, 2014


If you ride a public bus with any regularity, you know all the common complaints. It's not very clean and it's very, very crowded. It stops so often you can see pedestrians keeping pace on the sidewalk. It arrives 7 minutes late and yet is considered "on time." But if you don't own a car, or simply don't want to drive it, sometimes the bus is the only option.

That might be changing. A new wave of private buses are popping up in several big cities across the U.S. They all seem to share a common "luxury" quality — promoting WiFi and reserved seating — as well as a common mission: to offer "choice" transit riders a better choice.

Take Bridj, a private bus still in its testing phase in metro Boston. For $6, or four times an MBTA bus fare, Bridj carries riders non-stop from Brookline to downtown Boston, Kendall and Harvard squares, and Back Bay. Bridj says it uses data to identify key service corridors (though the beta routes aren't exactly counter-intuitive). An MBTA spokesman recently told the New York Times that the authority didn't see Bridj as a competitor, but the beta riders clearly do.

 Or Blackline, a new service that runs from Chicago's upscale Lakeview area to the downtown Loop. Blackline closely parallels the CTA's 135 bus, but while travel times aren't too different, amenities offer Blackline an edge. Reports put the cost for a Blackline "weekly morning membership" at $23; if evening membership is the same, then the total cost is about double CTA fares ($20 for five round trips). The service is currently limited to two morning and evening buses along one route, but the company website anticipates expansion.

There's also Leap Transit, a private alternative to San Francisco's Muni bus that emerged for testing last year and whose website now teases full service in "Summer 2014." Leap Transit looks like the other private options: leather seats, WiFi, smartphone ticketing, all at a cost above public transit (in this case, $6 compared to $2). During its test run, Leap Transit drew the ire of at least one city official, who criticized it for using Muni stops — the same criticism leveled at the much-maligned Google buses.

So we see a pretty clear pattern with luxury buses offering a higher-price option to commuters. They all tout an advantage to "overcrowded" buses, and they all appear to have one in the form of a mobile office environment and a guaranteed seat. Based on their beta locations, they appear targeting the same type of choice rider who wants public transit, but better; it's no accident that the Times quotes a "biotech worker" in its piece on Bridj.

It's far too early to say what these services will mean for the good (and bad) old city bus, but they do spark plenty of questions. Will the services disrupt traditional public routes, or will they serve as high-end carpools for workers from similar neighborhoods? Will the benefits they provide for the transportation network outweigh the harm they might cause to social equity? Will cities use them to consider charging a price for private access to the public curb?

And the biggest of all: Will transit agencies fight the services, or use them as motivation to do better themselves?


From Pasadena City Councilperson Steve Madison, June 9, 2014

As you probably know, there will be several concerts and a World Cup soccer game at the Rose Bowl this summer.  The Council and I have supported the recommendation of the Rose Bowl Operating Company and the City's staff to hold these events so as to be able to complete the renovation of the Rose Bowl and fund Central Arroyo Master Plan projects, without impacting City services paid for out of the General Fund.   In that context, the RBOC is considering a three-day music festival that could take place next year.

People have asked if this would replace or be like Coachella or (for those of us old enough to remember) Woodstock.   Absolutely not.  This event would appeal to more mature, affluent demographic, and the musical acts would reflect that.

Two public meetings are coming up at which your input on the DRAFT EIR for this potential event would be welcomed.   Please see the attached notice.  Hope you can attend; either way feel free as always to let me and Takako know any thoughts you have.  Thanks.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 29, 2014 #044-14
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT: William H. Boyer, Pasadena Public Information Officer, City Manager’s Office, (626) 744-4755, wboyer@cityofpasadena.net
PASADENA, Calif.—The public is invited to attend scoping meetings either June 12 or June 14, 2014 to provide comments regarding a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that is being prepared for the proposed Rose Bowl Music Festival.  The public is welcome to attend and present information that they believe should be addressed in the EIR.
The meetings are planned for 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 12, 2014 and 10 a.m., Saturday June 14, 2014.  The meetings will be held at the Rose Bowl Stadium, Loge Lounge, Level D, Terry Donahue Pavilion.  Parking will be on the concourse by Gate F, enter at Gate C.
The meetings are organized by the City’s Planning and Community Development Department.  It is not necessary to attend both meetings.  Staff will provide the same information at both meetings.
The Rose Bowl Operating Company is exploring the potential of hosting an annual musical festival, which could begin as early as June 2015.  The potential event is still in the conceptual phase and public comments are requested as part of the environmental review process.
If approved, the project is an amendment to the Arroyo Seco Public Lands Ordinance.  The changes proposed at the Brookside Golf Course are consistent with ongoing historical use of the golf course during displacement (large) events and would allow the Rose Bowl Operating Company to potentially host, among other events, a three-day music festival in the Arroyo Seco.  The project would provide the flexibility for the City to choose either nine new additional events, or 13 NFL events.
If you cannot attend either meeting, but would like to provide comments, please contact Ms. Betty Donavanik, Senior Planner, Planning and Community Development Department, (626) 744-6756, or by email to bdonavanik@cityofpasadena.net.
Information as available will be posted on both websites: www.rosebowlstadium.com and www.cityofpasadena.net/RoseBowlMusicFestival.
Stay connected to the City of Pasadena!  Visit us online at www.cityofpasadena.net; follow us on Twitter @PasadenaGov, www.twitter.com/pasadenagov and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofpasadena.  Or call the Citizen Service Center, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at (626) 744-7311.
# # #

William H. Boyer
Public Information Officer v City Manager’s Office v City of Pasade na
( 626) 744-4755, Office  v (626) 744-4774, FAX
www.cityofpasadena.net  v Citizen Service Center, (626) 744-7311