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, October 14, 2014

Déjà Vu at Dulan's on Crenshaw: Again, Government Indifference at Taxpayer Expense


By Ken Alpern, October 14, 2014


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-Last Thursday night, at the Crenshaw/LAX Community Leadership Council (CLC) meeting, my disappointment at having to race out of an incredible restaurant (Dulan's on Crenshaw), and run home to my "daddy responsibilities," was superseded only by the self-inflicted wound by Metro and the Crenshaw/LAX contractors (Walsh-Shea) when they couldn't deliver on Leimert Park's longstanding-but-simple request: 
Come up with a parking replacement plan (PRP) to accommodate businesses during construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line. 

But tomorrow, next week and next month all give us a chance to revisit the mistakes of yesterday--I intend to go back to Dulan's on Crenshaw and avail myself of their incredible service and food, and Metro and Walsh-Shea has the chance to come up with a first-rate, numerically-appropriate parking replacement plan (PRP) to restore its credibility with the neighborhood. 

Credibility...that's a concept that's often forgotten in our media/Internet-distracting world, but despite modern technological advancements our brains and morals are still the same.  So while I'm respectful to the Metro Crenshaw/LAX team of Brett Roberts, Kinya Claiborne, and JC Lacey, it's because of that respect that I have to honestly say they blew this one.

Last Thursday night's debacle (which need not have occurred) was one that the Metro team should have seen coming, and they're smart enough so that they could have and should have been able to give a space by space accounting to accommodate the businesses and their customers, and which was what the community has been clearly and repeatedly articulating for years. 

The angry room could have, and should have, had a prepared inventory of where the spaces would be so that they had ready-made answers to the reasonable and inevitable questions that the merchants had been inquiring about for so long. 

And just as I well remember the Leimert Park residents who years ago responded favorably to the Crenshaw/LAX Line concept, and to transit-oriented development, when fellow Westside transit advocate Kent Strumpell invited me to join him in presenting these concepts, I also remember that the Crenshaw community took the bold step of favoring a light rail line over a cheaper and less invasive Rapid Bus line. 

So for anyone reading this, let's not demonize or dismiss the angry Crenshaw crowd as NIMBY's.  

Furthermore, let's not demonize or dismiss the angry and frustrated crowd of DaVita/HealthCare Partners professionals (and other commuters) who, last Saturday morning, discovered to their horror that the Downtown exits on the I-110 freeway were ALL closed down due to maintenance by Caltrans.   

There were no warning or detour signs to prevent motorists from needlessly being re-routed past Downtown to the 101 freeway, and then left to fend for themselves. 

Similarly, the Crenshaw community will have to fend for itself as it negotiates the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX light rail line unless the Metro/Walsh-Shea team realizes its full potential and works with the community to come up with a quality PRP.  

I am fairly certain that the businesses (such as supermarkets, gas stations, etc.) and nearby residents in that region can come up with a parking space-sharing plan to provide alternate parking during construction, a plan that will win the numbers game and provide that aforementioned PRP.  I'm sure that neighborhood organizations and Neighborhood Councils can help. 

Yet there is a dangerous and underlying theme in the failure to create a PRP for Leimert Park, and the failure to warn and provide Downtown detours for Saturday morning commuters, and the de-prioritizing of parking in the Westside Mobility Plan (another concern for those who truly want mobility in the City of the Angels): 

The city of Los Angeles planning, transportation and zoning have leaders who are caught up in ‘groupthink’ that disregards, if not holds in contempt, the needs of commuters who require an automobile. 

Which is why we not only have a parking shortage but we see a disdain for those who raise that concern as one for our transportation and other governmental workers and leaders to address. 

A PRP for Crenshaw?  Warning motorists (including the large medical group of DaVita/HealthCare Partners which had its annual leadership conference last Saturday morning) about the shutdown of Downtown I-110 exits?  Making darn sure that the Westside Mobility Plan, and all new Westside and other City developments, had parking as a key priority in their planning? 

No, motorists are suddenly Public Enemy #1, and both Metro and the LADOT do not recognize their needs or importance as once they did. 

Which is pretty sad, because these same motorists pay many of the taxes for our current transportation initiatives, and will be the ones we turn to in order to potentially pass yet another initiative (often called "Measure R-2") in 2016.

 And no, these motorists aren't interested in demonizing or dismissing the needs of bicyclists, transit riders or pedestrians, either...so why should motorists and businesses (who both require parking) be demonized or dismissed, in turn. 

Food for thought for the folks from Metro, LADOT, Caltrans and the leadership of the City of the Angels to consider as they pursue more transportation funding from beleaguered and befuddled taxpaying motorists. 

On a final note, I'll make the following suggestion to LA Mayor Garcetti, City Council Transportation Chair Mike Bonin, and County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas:  come up with a quality PRP for the Leimert Park ASAP, and start treating motorists like human beings with feelings...and, in return, maybe we can derive a quality long-term Metro mobility plan that will encourage us all to pass a Measure R-2 in 2016 to fund it. 

And--again--I recommend visiting and eating at Dulan's on Crenshaw--the people and food there are first-rate!

Plans for Kinkisharyo plant in Palmdale derailed by labor dispute


By Jim E. Winburn, October 14, 2014

 According to the letter, the reason for pulling out of Palmdale was due to a labor dispute with Antelope Valley Residents for Responsible Development, a labor-supported group that objected to the plant because of environmental reasons. Read the letter here.

 According to the letter, the reason for pulling out of Palmdale was due to a labor dispute with Antelope Valley Residents for Responsible Development, a labor-supported group that objected to the plant because of environmental reasons. Read the letter here.

PALMDALE – Kinkisharyo International told the city it is forfeiting its decision to construct a 400,000-square-foot rail car manufacturing plant in Palmdale.

Announced in June 2014, the proposed $60 million manufacturing and assembly facility, to be located at Avenue M near Sierra Highway, raised expectations toward creating hundreds of construction jobs, along with 150 to 200 permanent high-paying jobs once completed.

Instead, Kinkisharyo General Manager, Program Management Donald S. Boss told Palmdale’s Economic Development Manager, David Walter, in an Oct. 10 letter that the company was “formally withdrawing our Permit Application to construct a 427,507-square-foot manufacturing and assembly facility to build rail cars in the City of Palmdale.” [Read the letter here.]

According to the letter, the reason for pulling out of Palmdale was due to a labor dispute with Antelope Valley Residents for Responsible Development, a labor-supported group that objected to the plant because of environmental reasons.

Boss said that despite weeks of negotiations, the AVRRD, which includes members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 11, in Pasadena, have “refused to withdraw the various appeals they have filed, and have given no assurances that they would not file a court action to object to any final action by your city council. This has made moving forward with the construction of the facility too risky.”

The residents’ group appealed an August decision by the Palmdale Planning Commission that recommended approval of the plant’s site plan without requiring an updated environmental report. The commission based its decision on reports that were completed in 1993 and 1996 for a planned office park on the site.

In a letter to Kinkisharyo’s team of attorneys, AVRRD stated that “The goal of (our proposal) is to fill the void left by the city of Palmdale’s failure to perform any environmental review of the Project and thus failing to protect air quality, public health, biological resources and supplies of fresh water.”

In an Oct. 7 article submitted to The AV Times, the group said that its members filed comments in July once they learned that Kinkisharyo was “attempting to build a plant in the city without water rights or any sort of environmental review.”

Kathy Mac Laren, a Palmdale resident and member of AVRRD, said the group’s plan was reasonable enough. “It will protect residents from harmful emissions and provides a safe path to ensure water access in this desert region,” Laren stated in the Oct. 7 article. “As a taxpayer whose hard-earned dollars help pay for this project, I want to see more accountability from Kinkisharyo.”

However, Boss’s letter to Palmdale casts doubts on the group’s environmental concerns, claiming that AVRRD’s “CEQA-based ‘environmental’ objections were simply a pretext to gain leverage in their attempt to force us to agree to a card check agreement regarding the unionizing of our workforce.” Card check is a process that allows a workplace to unionize if 50 percent or more of the workers sign cards requesting representation for collective bargaining.

Although the company has expressed disappointment over pulling its plans for a permanent manufacturing facility in Palmdale, the decision is not expected to affect its more immediate delivery of rail cars for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

Kinkisharyo currently leases hangar space from Los Angeles World Airports in Palmdale, where it is assembling 78 light rail cars for Metro, according to Mark Madler who writes for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

Madler said that AVRRD also opposed Kinkisharyo’s alternative proposal, which was to expand its current operations in the hangar space to meet its additional obligation to Metro to assemble 97 light rail cars.

In his letter to the city, Boss said the delays caused by AVRRD’s opposition prevents Kinkisharyo from being able to meet its delivery schedule commitments to Metro, while also increasing its cost for completion by several million dollars.

Arts District Fights to Keep Metro Maintainance Yard Out


By Carren Jao, October 13, 2014


590 S. Santa Fe may become the site of a Metro maintenance yard.

The Westside Subway Extension isn't just causing trouble in tony Beverly Hills, it's also making waves in the Arts District.

The neighborhood recently found out that the Metro plans to install a maintenance facility for this track in the heart of the Arts District at 590 S. Santa Fe Avenue between Lucky Brand and the planned Sixth Street Bridge.

"This was completely from left field," said developer and resident Yuval Bar-Zimmer. "Nobody every came to the community to discuss the environmental review. Most of these meetings took place on the Westside, where they were most affected." The final environmental review for the project was released in 2012.

"We weren't included in the discussion," said Deborah Meadows, president of Los Angeles River Artists & Business Association (LARABA). "We were perturbed that even council district 14 didn't seem to inform us."

The Westside Subway Extension is a 8.9 mile project that would extend the Purple Line beyond Wilshire and Western, all the way to Westwood. It would decrease travel time from Pershing Square to UCLA by half an hour. Riders from South Los Angeles will shave off 23 minutes, while those from East Los Angeles and Pasadena will save 29 minutes. Its construction also includes property acquisitions, necessary to the project, including a maintenance yard that sits mostly between First and Sixth streets.

If put in place, the maintenance yard could be an eyesore to an area that the city is desperately trying to revive. It would hamper plans for the Sixth Street Bridge. Its most recent designs include an arts park, a performance space, and a river gateway tunnel connection under the rail yard to the Los Angeles River. It would also put a wrench in the popular in-channel bike path proposal, which uses the area as an access point.

Map of the Westside Subway Extension | Image: Metro Westside Subway Extension Final EIR
Map of acquired properties along the line | Image: Metro Westside Subway Extension Final EIR

According to Bar-Zimmer, he only found out by virtue of his sitting at the citizen design advisory committee for the Sixth Street Bridge. "I kept asking about this in the plans, but nobody could quite give me an explanation." Finally, the developer tracked down the owner of 590 S. Santa Fe Avenue and found some alarming answers.

It seems the agency is purchasing the property by eminent domain, which is the right of a government to expropriate property for public use. Though the property owner will be compensated at fair market value, residents feel that it would not mitigate the damage it would cause to the neighborhood. The property would help expand the Division 20 Maintenance and Storage Facility to accommodate heavy rail vehicles.

LARABA is currently working to oppose the plan. With the help of Supervisor Gloria Molina's office, the group successfully introduced a motion that postponed the construction efforts. It also directed Metro to begin a dialog with residents and stakeholders. The Metro board unanimously approved the motion.

"We want to open the conversation," said Deborah Meadows, president of LARABA. "We'd like to slow down the process a bit and discuss reasonable placement of the facility or at least agree on a reasonable design compatible to the neighborhood."

It has also begun a petition to solidify neighborhood support. In less than four days, the group has acquired over 140 signatures from property owners, businesses and residents in Arts District.
Despite the motion's approval, LARABA isn't letting up. It continues to canvas for signatures, sending a message that the community won't stop until their neighborhood receives the kind of infrastructure it needs to maintain its character.

You can sign the neighborhood petition here.