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, November 3, 2014

Why A Subway-Building Binge Could Transform L.A.'s Tech Culture

It's hard to tear Los Angeles residents from their cars. But a massive subway-building binge is changing the equation.


By Neal Ungerleider, October 31, 2014

Driving around Santa Monica, the epicenter of Los Angeles’ booming “Silicon Beach” tech neighborhood, you’ll encounter the most Los Angeles of events--a traffic jam. In this case, it's heavy construction equipment blocking a street where they're putting the final touches on a new subway line. LA Metro, the biggest transit agency in Southern California, is on a subway-building binge and adding five new subway extensions--several of which will be open to the public before New York’s decades-awaited Second Avenue Subway begins operations (even if much of the construction has been over budget and delayed).

In the heart of American car culture, L.A.'s urban planners are trying to convince commuters to ditch their cars and take public transit. For tech and creative workers, it will be a particular challenge. Unlike in New York or the San Francisco Bay Area, techies generally don’t take public transit to work. Even the Google bus phenomenon--the private transport system for Silicon Valley tech companies--is non-existent in Southern California.

And this has had big impacts on the nascent industry's culture.

New Commutes

Los Angeles’s high-tech companies are scattered over a wide metropolitan area with multiple hubs. Some companies congregate in Santa Monica’s “Silicon Beach” while others cluster in Downtown Los Angeles, the office parks of Playa del Rey, or in suburbs like Pasadena or El Segundo. And there’s no financial incentive to running shuttles for employees: There simply aren’t any neighborhoods full of Mission District or Noe Valley-like commuter densities.

I moved to Los Angeles from New York in March 2014 and, although I own a car, I regularly commute by subway--my home in the formerly battered by the flight of commercial tenants but currently rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles is at the hub of the region’s rail system. But many fellow white collar professionals (Los Angeles, sadly, self-segregates across economic classes more than almost any other American city) are bemused when I tell them I regularly ride the Los Angeles subway. It’s almost like you’ve announced you work as an alpaca farmer; in other words, no social stigma but unusual enough to be a point of interest at parties. The fact is that poor and working class Angelenos and middle and upper class Angelenos inhabit different worlds, and public transit doesn't cut across classes the way San Francisco’s Muni or New York’s subway system does.

According to estimates by the American Community Survey, the median earnings of Los Angeles public transit riders are only 54.7% that of the public as large. But in Cambridge, Massachusetts, public transit commuters earn 110.5% more than the public at large; in New York, MTA commuters come in at a respectable 96%. As subways prepare to weave their way underneath the office towers of Wilshire Boulevard and a mass transit terminal is built blocks from Santa Monica’s iconic amusement pier, urban planners are trying to learn how to teach Angelenos how to love mass transit.

The construction of these new subway lines is subtly changing Los Angeles commute patterns. Jerome Chang, the founder of coworking space chain Blankspaces, is one of these new public transit commuters. From his home in Redondo Beach, Chang regularly takes an existing subway line to an express bus when working at his downtown Los Angeles office. According to Chang, the 60-75 minute commute (versus a 45 minute drive) is better because it allows him to catch up on work emails and news along the way. It’s also significantly cheaper, at $7 for a round trip versus $25 once he pays for downtown parking and tolls to use high-speed lanes on the highway.

He says many of his friends and colleagues are surprised by the idea of people taking public transit to work. By email, Chang added that “they don't even think the Metro stretched to outside the city, or basically anywhere they might want to go to.” But when he commutes to Blankspaces’ other two locations, in currently subway-less Santa Monica and the mid-Wilshire neighborhood, he drives because it is much faster and cheaper. Both neighborhoods are on the list for Los Angeles subway expansion; Santa Monica is expected to see stations open in early 2016 while mid-Wilshire is set for 2023.

Another commuter, Kara Barlow of startup NationBuilder who lives in the suburb of Valley Village and works in downtown Los Angeles, takes the existing Red Line subway to work. The 40-minute trip consists of driving five minutes from her house to the parking lot at the subway terminus at North Hollywood (which costs $60 for a monthly permit), and then riding the Red Line for approximately 24 minutes. She prefers the subway to the alternative, the crowded 101 freeway, because it gives her time to read books. “There’s a perception in Los Angeles that public transit isn’t as good as it actually is,” Barlow told Fast Company. But similarly to Chang, commuting from her part of town also has logistical challenges: The Los Angeles MTA told the L.A. Times that the North Hollywood metro stop loses almost 1,500 passengers daily because there isn’t enough parking to meet demand.

LA Metro's Red Line

A Construction Binge

Los Angeles currently has a large, but limited, subway network. Key neighborhoods, cities, and institutions such as downtown Los Angeles (which is recovering from decades of flight from commercial tenants to more auto-centric neighborhoods and is currently in the midst of aggressive gentrification), Hollywood, the University of Southern California, Koreatown, Pasadena, and Culver City are linked to the city’s subway system. But many more neighborhoods that are home to high-tech and creative businesses like Santa Monica, Venice Beach, El Segundo, West Hollywood, Westwood, mid-Wilshire, and Century City aren’t.

Urban planning aficionados will understand Los Angeles’ quandary. The city lacks a single, centralized business district akin to New York or San Francisco, with businesses instead located around a series of medium-sized nodes scattered across a metropolitan area. While Los Angeles already has a robust subway and light rail system consisting of seven different lines… everything’s just too scattered.

These projects also require substantial engineering ninjitsu--even more than a conventional subway-building product would require. Earthquake-proofing subway tunnels and elevated railways aren’t the only challenges Los Angeles engineers face. Just to give one example, the expansion of the Purple Line from Koreatown to a new terminal nine miles away near UCLA required digging under the La Brea tar pits (which unearthed a treasure trove of fossils) and contending with both wealthy anti-subway activists in Beverly Hills and avoiding the still functioning oil well located on the Beverly Hills High School campus.

Changing The Tech Community

When Re/Code ran an extensive article on Los Angeles’ tech community, they noted something important: Despite being one of the nation’s largest high-tech clusters, Los Angeles lacks neighborhoods or even individual coffee shops or restaurants that serve as industry meeting places similar to Sand Hill Road in Silicon Valley or San Francisco’s 21st Amendment Brewery. The notoriously decentralized high-tech world in Los Angeles means a lack of common spaces where coders from small startups, rocket scientists from the Jet Propulsion Lab, DIY YouTube video makers, Oculus Rift-centric virtual reality geeks, imagineers from Disney, and ex-Myspace venture capitalists can intersect.

The expansion of Los Angeles’ subway system means more than just the dubious opportunity for engineers to review code while riding to work or busy advertising executives to catch up on their inbox. It also offers a chance for the region’s high tech-centric firms to attain what they’ve previously lacked: cross-fertilization between companies and across industries. By expanding the subway system, Los Angeles urban planners are facilitating the easy travel between business meetings that's commonplace in New York, London, and San Francisco.

While venues such as 41 Ocean, the West Hollywood branch of Soho House and the various branches of The Standard hotel have been buttressing up high-end industry events, and organizations like General Assembly have done much to spur cross-fertilization among tech companies, the region still lacks those common places. A startup executive working in Santa Monica would have to spend at least 45 minutes driving to a demo happy hour in an Arts District warehouse space--and that’s before looking for parking. Among other things, the Los Angeles subway expansion will connect most of the area’s major tech nodes with each other.

In the end, the challenge is teaching Angelenos to enjoy and use public transit. For Los Angeles Metro, they might have to resort to a novel solution: telling commuters that, for once in a car city, they can use their iPhones and Kindles on the way to work.

The Economic Case for a National Per-Mile Driving Fee

It could generate more revenue than we know what to do with—not a bad problem to have.


By Eric Jaffe, November 3, 2014


The Highway Trust Fund that pays for America's roads narrowly avoided bankruptcy this summer, but it's already in trouble again. In August, after the latest budget patch was approved, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the fund would run out of money again—next year. At the current rate, the highway account will be $60 billion in the hole (and the transit account another $20 billion down) by 2020. Sure, we can count on additional emergency patches here or there, but this trajectory is the definition of an unsustainable one.

With that we turn to an exhaustive new menu of funding options presented by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), which evaluates a number of long-term possibilities primarily on revenue potential. The options include existing revenue mechanisms, like the troubled gas tax, updated for necessary rate increases. It also includes a whole bunch of options should Congress move to replace the current ones.

Let's take a closer look at a few of ideas with the greatest earning potential. First and foremost is a simple increase to the current gas tax, which has been at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1993. An AASHTO scenario that raises the tax 10 cents would yield $13.21 billion in 2014 and $78.12 billion by 2020—just about covering the $80 billion deficit expected by the CBO. If you add in a new diesel gas tax of 15 extra cents a gallon, generating $41.79 billion by 2020, the current budget projections would be on solid grounds.

Of course, if fixing the Highway Trust Fund were as simple as raising the gas tax—or even just indexing it to inflation—we would have done that by now. Though the burden is minimal (less than $5 a month for most drivers) and the current rates laughable (New Jersey drivers, for instance, pay about what they did in 1927), most public officials refuse even to entertain the idea of raising the tax. Childish intransigence aside, the gas tax isn't perfect: its reliability as a long-term fix is questionable given improvements in fuel efficiency and broad declines in driving.

Some of the other strong options from a revenue standpoint include a sales tax on gasoline and a dedicated part of income taxes. A gas sales tax (which evidently differs from the existing fuel tax, an excise tax) would generate a hefty $155.66 billion by 2020. But sales taxes are also regressive, falling harder on the poor, and there's little reason to believe officials would choose this route over raising the existing gas tax. Dedicating 5 percent of personal income taxes to transportation is a progressive way to spend public money, but it would only generate $43.36 billion by 2020.

Which brings us to the top potential earner by far on the AASHTO list: A mileage-based driving fee. A penny a mile tax on typical passenger vehicles would generate $175.58 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, a four-cent-a-mile fee on trucks, which cause more damage to roads, would bring in another $70.73 over that same period. Altogether a mileage-based driving fee would produce an astonishing $246.31 billion by 2020.

Here's AASHTO's infographic comparing the various options; a per-mile fee receives by far the best rating:
Nearly $250 billion by 2020 is enough to cover the Highway Trust Fund many times over. It's also enough to make a huge dent in America's maintenance deficit, with money left over to consider a true national infrastructure program for the 21st century—be it high-speed rail or broadband Internet.

And that's only the economics. A mileage-fee has many other selling points. For example, the system could be tweaked to reduce traffic by adding a rush-hour surcharge, or to encourage electric or hybrid cars by providing a discount. The dreaded privacy issue that's often raised is not an issue at all:
Oregon has successfully tested a non-GPS option in its local pilot program (and besides, your in-car navigation system is already watching you). Sure, some drivers would pay more in the new system than they do now, but others would pay less, and household fuel costs would decline without the gas tax. At the end of the day, a mileage-based system offers the most direct connection between using roads and paying for them.

There are some drawbacks, too. With so much money on hand, lawmakers might be tempted to build more roads than necessary rather than fix existing ones, creating new maintenance costs that drag on taxpayers for years. It's not clear how accurate the long-term revenue projects would be given that America seems to have reached peak driving. Metro areas will have to provide better transit service in some highway corridors to satisfy equity concerns. But these are problems officials already face to some extent—better to face them with more money than less.

The tide already seems to have turned at the state level. California recently became the latest state to embrace a mileage-fee program, passing a law that will implement a pilot program by 2017. Oregon's own pilot program, the country's leading effort, will soon enter its next phase of development, recruiting 5,000 test drivers. It's not too soon for the federal government to set up a trial of its own, ideally in its next transportation funding bill.

The AASHTO numbers suggest several reasons (billions, in fact) to give a mileage system try. The only thing we have to lose is a system that's already broken.

Will Free Public Transit Get Americans to Voting Booths?

Barely half of American voters are turning out at the polls. Could making transit free on election day help?


By Sam Sturgis, November 3, 2014


 Can free buses, subways, and trains strengthen our democracy?

 Americans are going to the polls at depressingly low rates.

Only 57 percent of registered voters participated in the 2012 presidential election. That figure is expected to be even lower for Tuesday’s midterm election. And as states increasingly enact laws that require voters to present a photo ID at the voting booth, some argue voter turnout is being further suppressed. But officials in Minnesota are hoping turnout rates bounce back this year because of a new public transit policy.


On Tuesday, Metro Transit—the Twin Cities’ growing public transportation network—will offer bus, light rail, and commuter rail services free of charge. This is in response to a statewide law passed last year that requires Minnesota’s cities to provide free public transit on national election days. This is pretty uncommon: Only a handful of major U.S. cities—including Dallas, Houston, Tampa, and now the Twin Cities—offer complimentary transit on election day.

Janice Winfrey, the City Clerk of Detroit, has been lobbying her city to adopt similar Election Day transportation measures. “I just think it needs to be part of the discussion regarding voter turnout and ways to increase it,” Winfrey, who also serves as the city’s chief election officer, says. Few Detroit voters have publicly complained about the financial burdens of traveling to their polling place, but Winfrey believes, “any way we can increase voter turnout is something we should look into.”

 The perceived, indirect costs of voting are frequently cited by political scientists as factors for low voter turnout. Getting to the voting booth costs time and money for travel; if those costs outweigh the perceived benefits of voting, it's likely a person will simply stay home. But what if cities, as Minneapolis will do on Tuesday, eliminate the cost of public transit on election day? Does it incentivize voters to make it to the polling booth, ultimately strengthening our democracy?

Unfortunately, the answer seems to be no—or at least understudied.

According to data provided by urban transportation networks, free transit services appear to have a negligible influence on the number of voters that turn out to the polls. Houston’s METRO system has provided free public transit during general elections since 1992. Ridership during voting periods, however, generally increases by a mere one percent. In fact, ridership on election day has been so indistinguishable that exploring and “extrapolating the results were not worthwhile,” a METRO official said by email.

Similarly, Dallas’s public transportation network—DART—has provided free transit to voters for more than three decades. Officials acknowledged over email that an “increase in ridership on election day is minimal, if at all.”

Tampa voters rely on their free public transit service more than others, but the results remain modest. HART—Tampa’s public transit network—introduced a complimentary service starting in 2010, and voters have constituted about four to five percent of election day ridership from then through 2014.

Voters in Dallas, Tampa, and Houston are required to show a voter ID or registration card in order to get a free lift to the polls. This could deter some registered voters from getting a free ride (and from voting). The Twin Cities' free service, meanwhile, doesn't require riders to present any form of ID.

"It’s not going to help if you've got a free ride down to the polling place and you don’t have an ID," says Jim Gimpel, a political scientist from the University of Maryland. "That sort of neutralizes [its impact]."

Political scientists are generally pessimistic about the ability of free transit services to yield any increase in voter turnout. In the end, they say, people vote based on enthusiasm, not a free bus ride.
“If we just make public transit free on election day, maybe some would use it on the margin, but that’s not the real cost of voting,” says Adam J. Berinsky, a political scientist from MIT. “The real cost is getting people engaged enough in voting to go out and do it,” Berinsky explains.

"Most of the research shows that for low turnout, the biggest problem is a lack of motivation,” Gimpel agrees.

Still, a complimentary transit service does belong somewhere in discussions about electoral reform. If turnout is influenced heavily by enthusiasm, couldn’t free transit send a signal to city residents that voting is important? Alan S. Gerber, a political scientist at Yale University, thinks such a policy could heighten the overall significance of election day.

“Making transportation free on election day is a clear statement that society values voting,” Gerber says in an email. “This message, that voting is important…may be a significant impetus to vote over and above the turnout produced by lowered transportation costs.”

This debate is far from settled. But keep an eye on the Twin Cities this election season—or at least on how full the free buses and trains are.

Why Should You Be a Voice For Public Transit?


Fourth Study Finds Traffic Pollution May Cause Autism


By Conan Milner, November 2, 2014


The more traffic pollution a pregnant woman is exposed to—especially during her third trimester—the greater chance her child will develop autism. That’s the conclusion of yet another study, this one published online in the October 2014 edition of the journal Epidemiology.

It was only about a decade ago that scientists first began looking at whether air pollution impacted infant development. Today, four studies link traffic pollution exposure to autism, a developmental disorder characterized by social problems, communication difficulties, and repetitive behavior.
According to lead author of the latest study, environmental epidemiologist Dr. Amy Kalkbrenner, the literature has been very consistent.

“When looking at health impact in a human population, not a controlled animal experiment, getting this level of consistency is, in my assessment, notable,” she said.

from auto emissions, but animal studies suggest that the PM2.5 particles are more biologically relevant to developmental problems in the brain. However, pollution monitors during the years of Kalkbrenner’s study did not separately measure fine and course particles.

Another important study design feature was a second location. While previous research only looked at California, Kalkbrenner also examined similar data in North Carolina to see if the traffic-autism pattern held up under different air pollution mixtures and seasonal conditions.

Remaining Mysteries

When pre-conception through first birthday records of 164,500 children were compared with pollution data, both states revealed a significantly greater number of autistic cases with mothers exposed to higher pollution levels. Scientists also discovered that weeks 31 to 36 of the pregnancy was when the fetus was most susceptible to the impacts of air pollutant particles.

Other studies have noted a greater neurodevelopment impact in the third trimester, but why this happens is still not clear. Some evidence suggests that this is when the fetal brain is undergoing the delicate process of synaptic connectivity and that autism develops when connectivity goes awry.

Another remaining unknown is which traffic-related chemical (or chemicals) is actually causing the disorder. Cars release dozens of toxic air chemicals. As these chemicals mix with the sun, the air, and each other, new compounds form and the picture grows more complicated.

“It could actually be two or several chemicals acting together in synergy,” Kalkbrenner said. “In my world this is considered the problem of mixtures: that a group of chemicals together could act very differently than a single chemical in isolation.”

Until we find conclusive evidence of the problem chemical, Kalkbrenner is often asked what a woman should do to avoid potential problems with her pregnancy.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a lot that an individual person can do,” she said. “This is a classic public health problem, if you will—where it takes a village. It takes people working together to solve this problem.”

Biking, the 710, and development: Your candidates on the issues


October 28, 2014

 Top, L-R: Stephen Sham, Eric Sunada. Bottom, L-R: Judy Chu, Jack Orswell

 Top, L-R: Stephen Sham, Eric Sunada. Bottom, L-R: Judy Chu, Jack Orswell

Wondering who to vote for next week? Here is a breakdown of Alhambra's candidates for U.S. Congress, California State Assembly, and City Council. Learn more about each candidate and where they stand on local issues by clicking their names below.

U.S. Congress: Judy Chu vs Jack Orswell
Alhambra City Council: Stephen Sham vs Eric Sunada
California State Assembly: Ed Chau

Groups sue EPA over smog in air basin


By Jed Kim, November 1, 2014

 LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25:  Surface street traffic corsses above the US 101 freeway on April 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, has again been ranked the worst in the nation for ozone pollution and fourth for particulates by the American Lung Association in it's annual air quality report card. Ozone is a component of smog that forms when sunlight reacts with hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions. Particulates pollution includes substances like dust and soot.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

 LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25:  Surface street traffic corsses above the US 101 freeway on April 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, has again been ranked the worst in the nation for ozone pollution and fourth for particulates by the American Lung Association in it's annual air quality report card. Ozone is a component of smog that forms when sunlight reacts with hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions. Particulates pollution includes substances like dust and soot.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images) LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 25: Surface street traffic corsses above the US 101 freeway on April 25, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The nation's second largest city, Los Angeles, has again been ranked the worst in the nation for ozone pollution and fourth for particulates by the American Lung Association in it's annual air quality report card. Ozone is a component of smog that forms when sunlight reacts with hydrocarbon and nitrous oxide emissions. Particulates pollution includes substances like dust and soot.

The end of October marks the end of the smog season in Southern California. By some standards, this year was an improvement over the recent ones, with 2014 coming in with the second fewest ozone exceedance days in the past 20 years.

Despite that, persistent high levels of ozone in the region led four health and environmental groups to file a lawsuit on Friday against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to take stronger steps to reduce the pollution.

The plaintiffs include Communities for a Better Environment, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Health groups and environmental groups are getting increasingly frustrated with these plans and their inability to clean the air,” said Adrian Martinez, staff attorney for Earthjustice, which is representing three of the plaintiffs.

Martinez said that the EPA failed to protect local residents in September when it approved a smog reduction plan submitted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. He said that the plan doesn’t provide enough concrete steps to achieve reductions in ozone and other smog precursors.
“It just doesn’t really show us how we’re going to get to cleaner air in the region,” Martinez said.

At the heart of the lawsuit is a perceived loophole in the Clean Air Act that allows for areas considered to be in extreme non-attainment with acceptable pollution levels to credit untapped new technology with future reductions. Martinez said that consideration allows too much leeway when it comes to actual planning.

He said the plaintiffs’ goal is to make the EPA obtain a new reduction plan from the AQMD.
“If the groups are successful, it will be a major victory for clean air, because it will finally force the region to show how it’s going to bring cleaner air for everyone,” Martinez said.

AQMD officials said that 40 percent of planned reductions to ozone levels have been attributed to future technologies. However, they said many of the technologies are actually being developed or implemented.

“The technology is there. Some new technologies are on the horizon, but it’s a question of how you can actually implement as well,” said Joe Cassmassi, planning and rules manager with the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “Look and see how many hybrid vehicles are on the road right now relative to what it was four or five years ago, and then how many of those are now zero-emission electric vehicles. These are the type of technologies that we identified in our 2007 and 2012 plans – that we were looking for greater and more abundant penetration into the market.”

Cassmassi said that major steps have already been taken to reduce ozone pollution in the air basin.
“We’ve got the strictest rules for stationary sources in the world. There’s nobody that has more strict rules or regulations than we do. We have an exemplary enforcement group that goes out and monitors all of our sources,” Cassmassi said.

Great Cities Don’t Have Much Traffic, But They Do Have Congestion


By Angie Schmitt, October 31, 2014

 Image: Tomtoms 2013 via Cityclock

 Places with less traffic have more congestion. Graphic: City Clock

Here’s a great visualization of what cities get out of the billions of dollars spent on highways and road expansion: more traffic.

Justin Swan at City Clock made this chart showing the relationship between congestion levels, as measured by TomTom, and car use. (Yes, it has no X axis — here’s Swan’s explanation of how to read his chart.) The pattern that emerges is that the places with the most traffic and driving also have the least congestion.

We know from the work of Joe Cortright that the traditional definition of congestion is a poor way to measure people’s ability to get around their city – because it doesn’t reflect the actual time people spend traveling. Drivers in Dallas and Houston may stew in gridlock less than people in other cities, but they spend more time on the road.

Swan notes that the most congested places are also the places where people have good travel options that don’t involve driving. His chart suggests that car congestion itself is not the problem that needs to be solved — as long as there are other ways to get around, in a congested city few people will actually have to sit in traffic.

The Week in Livable Streets Events


By Damien Newton, November 3, 2014

Let’s keep it short. Vote!
  • Monday – Tonight, Zocalo is hosting a panel entitled, Are Trains the Future of L.A. While we’re not presenting in the forum, both myself and local editorial board chair Juan Matute were asked to write essays on the subject. Get the event details, here. Read our essays, here.
  • Tuesday – It’s election day! Vote! You can find your voting location, here. SBLA thinks voting is very important, but our non-profit status restricts us from actually endorsing. Readers who bike may find Biking in L.A.’s voter advice worthwhile.
  • Wednesday – Metro and Dancing Classrooms Los Angeles are collaborating to bring a dance presentation, Colors of the Rainbow, to Union Station. DCLA’s mission is to promote positive youth development, strengthen and engage schools, and bring diverse communities together through the practice of social dance. For more details, click here.
  • Thursday – The Sierra Club Transportation Committee meets to discuss local transportation and environmental issues. Highlighting this meeting is a presentation by a representative of LAWA on ground access to LAX. The fun starts at 7 p.m. Get more details, here.
  • Thursday through Sunday – New Urbanism Film Festival returns to the heart of the city for four days of illuminating documentary films, interactive events, tours and workshops.  Set in the thriving La Brea district the festival debuts its second year November 6-9, 2014.For the basic details, click here or visit the official website. Joe is planning a larger write-up later this week.
  • Friday – Metro will break ground on its fifth simultaneous rail construction project, the $3 billion 4-mile Purple Line extension which will take the Wilshire Subway to La Cienega. The festivities will take place at LACMA. I haven’t seen an official time, but I’ll go out on a limb and guess it will be around 9 a.m. Preview the event at Santa Monica Next.
  • Saturday - Renowned architect and urbanist Stefanos Polyzoides will lead two sequential visioning workshops Saturday, October 25 and Saturday, November 8, 9-noon at Maranatha High School.   Transportation, economic and land use experts will provide information and answer questions.  They will lay the foundation upon which citizens’ ideas can be integrated to turn this fallow land into an economically and aesthetically viable district of Pasadena. Get more details, here.
  • Saturday – The Los Angeles Arts Sustainability Tour is coming to Mid-City! LAAST is designed to be a fun, informative, neighborhood-based event featuring art, information and sustainable education. Get more details, here.