May 10, 2015
"The Process," in case you are not aware, is a procedure where new ideas and projects are nurtured from infancy and eventually brought into being. All of which sounds fairly benign.
However, it also has the unfortunate effect of dominating the debate on an issue as important as, say, the 710 Tunnel. Certain things can only be spoken about at certain times, and only by certain personages during The Process, and then only in properly recognized forums fronted by appropriate officials.
It is something that works quite well for bureaucrats paid to work with this stuff on a full-time basis. If this is about all you do with your work-a-day hours, you to can become a master of The Process. You need to be. It is a vital part of your ability to control events and agendas.
But what about the inevitable irate citizens who are not enamored with the idea of vast quantities of toxic truck traffic rumbling up the 710 Corridor from L.A.'s ports and into their slice of the SGV dream?
They might get together and head over to one of those coma-inducing Caltrans/Metro meetings and give them a piece of their minds. Only to be informed that, due to The Process, this would not be the appropriate time to discuss such matters. Would they please come back in 18 months?
This serves to stifle all real time debate, which is the point. The Process does have its Dickensian aspects.
According to the 710 "Bridge The Gap" Process many different options are being explored. In addition to that tunnel, Caltrans/Metro claims it is also studying a light-rail line, expanded bus service, improvements to local streets, bicycle transit and even walking.
All of which sounds nicer than merely funneling lethal and cancerous 710 truck traffic out onto an already paralyzed 210 Freeway.
But are they seriously looking at those options? I doubt it. Rather this is all "Process" designed to give an appearance that other options are being considered, but are not really.
So why have county bureaucrats lavished so much attention upon a tunnel few want, and the taxpayers can ill afford? Geopolitical and international economic politics. Leavened by all that American debt, much of it held in China.
According to a 2005 SCAG memo to its Plans Programs Technical Advisory Committee, written by regional planner Nancy Pfeffer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was "criticized by government and business leaders in Asia for allowing congestion at the San Pedro Bay Ports to impede the flow of goods from Asia to U.S. markets. On his return he tasked BT&H Sec'y Sunne Wright McPeak with developing a strategy on this issue."
When you are a foreign economic superpower holding a few trillion dollars in American debt, you will be heard in the corridors of government. Both here and Washington. And one thing upsetting to China is that huge bottleneck at L.A.'s ports. They want their products on big box retail shelves tout suite, and the "710 Gap" is an unhappy impediment to speed and efficiency.
So yes, the fix is in on the 710 Tunnel. All that other stuff was made up so that you'd feel your opinions were taken seriously.
They were not. The Process has other goals.
(Mod: This is my latest "every other Sunday" column in the Pasadena Star News.)