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, March 17, 2015

Beyond ‘Measure R-2’: A Coherent Strategy For Funding Transportation


By Ken Alpern, March 17, 2015

GETTING THERE FROM HERE-This article is dedicated to someone who almost everyone knew in the circles of transit advocacy--Ken Ruben, who just passed away at the age of 72.  He was a sweet and outgoing man whose passion for transit and mobility knew no bounds.  From his hometown of Culver City to the headquarters at Metro, he was a regular attendee in meetings of Southern California Transit Advocates and The Transit Coalition. 

Ken Ruben (photos) was affected by many of the ills facing LA County (as well as all major metropolitan regions):  lack of mobility, lack of affordable housing, and lack of job opportunities.  Major cities/urban areas usually like to presume that they have the majority of the enlightened residents, but urban streets are often the "mean streets" with respect to upkeep and allowing middle-class jobs--and the money for their upkeep always goes somewhere...else. 

The currently-proposed Measure "R-2" isn't just about more transit lines and freeway projects.  It's also about repairs and operations.  We can't have more transit lines if we don't have enough trains and properly maintained rail lines.  Ditto for roads and freeways--they can't be allowed to fall into disrepair, and the money that is supposed to go for their upkeep is to be spent for that purpose ONLY. 
Maybe we need to have a Measure "R-2", and maybe we don't.  I'm inclined to think we do need it, but without spending restraints it's best we not do more taxes--because otherwise the money gets diverted towards "the general budget" or a public sector union raise we just can't afford (and we're still trying to recover from the spending orgies that local governments throughout the state embarked upon between 2000-2009). 

If we do create a "Measure R-2", then the following is needed: 

1) Create a nexus between employer taxes/developer fees and the mobility needed to make businesses and developments thrive.  Keep the taxes/fees local and relevant, and there will be less resistance to their payment. 

2) Separate the flimsy and nebulous promises of "affordable housing" for megadevelopments and require specifically-defined senior affordable housing, student affordable housing, and workforce affordable housing, and make sure that "affordable" is equated with "you don't need a car to live here". 

3) Parking lots and structures matter.  Too many jobs change that require long-distance driving, and if our transit lines have no place to put parking, commuters will often not use transit they'd otherwise use.  If a development wants to weasel out of its parking requirements, then let the equivalent money be required for creation of parking in the area--this is a big-time cost that shouldn't be ignored under the guise of being "pro-transit". 

4) Bus shelters matter.  Treating bus commuters as inhuman or lower life forms won't encourage transit.  They should be located appropriately, and should be built with the understanding that convenience and dignity are basic human rights. 

5) Coordinate Metrolink and MetroRail.  For example, why are the proposed Eastside Light Rail Extension bus stops not co-located next to Metrolink stations?  Furthermore, why are the funding and operations of Metrolink so screwy?  With Art Leahy moving from leadership of Metro to Metrolink, the time is NOW to make sure that long-distance commuters have pedestrian-friendly links that make sense. 

6) Coordinate bus service and MetroRail service.  Why will light rail lines like the Expo Line start earlier and end later than local bus services such as Culver City Bus and the Santa Monica Big Blue Bus?  How are workers and other commuters supposed to access the Expo Line without bus linkage...and if there is woefully insufficient parking on the Expo Line, how are commuters supposed to get to the stations? 

7) Telecommuting and staggered work shifts are still valid ways to keep people employed and not deal with our nightmarish traffic.  Are there policies in place that reward businesses that use these policies to keep commuters off the roads during peak traffic times?

The late Ken Ruben has a nice online tributeand I'm pretty sure he would have appreciated the aforementioned ideas.  LA City and County need not be the mean streets for those who just want a job and an opportunity to live with dignity--let's make any Measure "R-2" or other efforts one that establishes transportation operations that work, and which benefit the lives of everyone.