June 29, 2015
On Thursday June 18, the office of Councilman Jose Huizar put on a forum
to inform El Sereno residents of a proposal regarding the 710 freeway
Most of you are aware of South Pasadena’s 50 year old fight to stop
the 710 freeway through their fair city. Many of you know that Northeast
L.A. was also involved lately in fighting possible alternatives that
would connect the 710 through Eagle Rock, Mt. Washington, Highland Park
and Glassell Park.
However, don’t be ashamed if you hadn’t hear about a movement underway
not only to stop the completion of the 710 (Long Beach) freeway, but to
remove the two ends of the freeway that had already been built some 50
Appropriately named, “Beyond the 710 Coalition,” it is an effort started
through a consortium of five San Gabriel Valley cities, Pasadena, La
Cañada, Glendale, Sierra Madre and South Pasadena.
You can probably include at least a 1/15 portion of the City of L.A. in
that column as well, as the ideas displayed in yesterday’s El Sereno
work shop (which was organized by the office of Jose Huizar) fit right
in with Huizar’s recent embrace of the complete streets movement (bike
lanes, pedestrian friendly, etc.).
Paul Moore, of Nelson-Nygaard, made his presentation regarding CalTrans’
recent draft environmental impact report, conceived after literally
years of outreach and planning, as they were looking for “710
Alternatives.” (I must add that the presentation was completely one
sided, there was no one there in any official capacity to counter the
claims of Nelson-Nygaard, or their claimed facts or figures.)
The five alternatives studied and brought before the affected
communities were pared down to just two, which are addressed in the
report. The first is a 710 tunnel, connecting both stubs of the 710
freeway, Pasadena at the North end and El Sereno at the South. It would
tunnel underneath El Sereno and South Pasadena to connect the two
“stubs” of the 710 freeway.
The other is to tunnel under with a light rail subway, connecting to the
Goldline, probably near the Huntington Hospital, and continuing South
all the way to the other end of the Gold Line in East L.A.
None of these options seem satisfactory to the coalition, or “No on 710″
advocates, and today, Mr. Moore pulled apart CalTrans’ plans brick by
First, he identified that the extra trips and traffic that would be
generated by the tunnel would increase greenhouse gas emissions. Then,
he argued that the connecting of that freeway would probably relieve
congestion on some streets but make it worse on others. Finally, he
argued that “If you build it, they will come!” Saying that building more
road capacity only serves to attract more traffic, and after a short
period of time, the road will be congested just the same.
He drove his points home by claiming that 6 billion, if spent this way,
would not improve traffic, and indeed, would only serve to worsen
traffic as well as the quality of life. He said that spending 6 billion
in a way that gives people an incentive for getting out of their cars,
like buying metro passes for all students, would actually improve
traffic in a measurable way (As well as training a new generation to get
around town with the use of the automobile).
At this point, I think I should mention that his company, Nelson
Nygaard, was founded by two former transportation managers from the city
of San Francisco, which, incidentally, is where Seleta Reynolds, the
recently appointed head of the Los Angeles City department of
transportation, is from. (Not a Portlandia reunion, but close enough!)
His next part of the meeting was showing a vision for Mission Road that
includes a road diet and bike lanes, and making Huntington into a “Grand
However, what came next was a real shock. We’ve heard about the “no
build” alternative that Caltrans had to consider along with the other
ideas of a tunnel, subway and bus route. But this went one step further
in the opposite direction. Brand new was the idea of “un-freewaying”
those end stubs at either end of the 710 gap (El Sereno and Pasadena).
Artist rendering of proposed park for North end of El Sereno 710 stub.
He showed artist renderings of narrowing the road and eliminating
those multi-lane end stubs altogether. Proposed was taking back all that
real estate and turning it into a narrow, meandering, street. Included
were bike paths, green space, more campus for Cal State, and possibility
of bringing back El Sereno’s Arroyo Rosa, a river that was taken when
that part of the freeway was built decades ago.
As this issue has been brewing as far back as when the freeway
construction began, it will be years before any visible changes will
start to take effect, but NOW is the time for people to be heard, no
matter which way you feel!
More at http://www.beyondthe710.org/