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 3, 2015

Bill could block creation of future toll lanes on OC freeways


By Marc Cota-Robles, March 3, 2015

A bill that could block toll lanes on the 405 Freeway has been introduced in the state Assembly.

Freshman Assemblywoman Young Kim is taking on the authority of Caltrans, announcing that the bill could block the creation of any future toll lanes on public freeways across Orange County unless approved by voters.

Kim's debate centers around a publicly funded $1.3 billion widening project on the 405 Freeway that would add a lane in both directions between the 73 toll road and the 605 -- paid for by voter-approved Measure M funds.

Caltrans wants to add an additional lane to the project for $400 million, ultimately creating two express lanes -- a combination of carpool and toll lanes.

"Freeways should be kept free," Kim said.

A Caltrans spokesperson said their portion of the plan would not be touching Measure M funds.

"Transit Revolution": Will Los Angeles Become Gentrification Ground Zero?


By Laura Raymond, February 26, 2015

 Studies from around the country show that as public transit improves, housing costs in the surrounding area rise, and low-income residents, often in communities of color, are priced out. (Photo: Oran Viriyincy)

 Studies from around the country show that as public transit improves, housing costs in the surrounding area rise, and low-income residents, often in communities of color, are priced out.

In diverse, working-class neighborhoods across Los Angeles, an unprecedented $40 billion mass transit expansion is being met with mixed emotions. On the one hand, low-income residents are by far public transit's biggest users, and expanded transit routes promise greater mobility and better access to job opportunities. But the very real prospect of displacement and gentrification looms.

Studies from around the country show that as public transit improves, housing costs in the surrounding area rise, and low-income residents, often in communities of color, are priced out.
Already, large new developments of market rate and luxury housing are coming to areas in LA near new rail stations under the idea of "Transit Oriented Development," or what is commonly referred to as TOD. TOD seeks to build more housing near transit hubs and is a major strategy in combating LA's infamous traffic issues and greenhouse gas emissions.

However, a new white paper just released by the Alliance for Community Transit -LA (ACT LA), warns that without significant, ahead of the curve, affordable housing policies, low income residents who ride transit will be replaced by higher-income, multiple car owning households who are less frequent transit users. This would be devastating for LA's communities, posing serious economic and health risks to people who must leave their neighborhood support systems, as well as self-defeating to the entire point of expanding the transit system and focusing on TOD: increasing transit use.

But if it adopts a forward-thinking strategy, Los Angeles can address housing needs, link quality jobs to the transit build out, and protect existing small businesses from rising rents and competition from chain stores. These will be key factors in ensuring longtime residents are able to afford to stay living near transit and are not pushed out to the margins of the city without access to the transit system that their tax dollars funded.

Various community organizations have done extraordinary work in their neighborhoods to address the prospect of rising land values and gentrification around new transit stations. One example is the youth organizing done by the Southeast Asian Community Alliance in Chinatown, where high school students worked with policy and urban planning experts to come up with innovative new development standards. The resulting plan prioritizes low income housing for new development in a huge area that borders Chinatown's Metro station. The students, over a three-year campaign, were able to build enough momentum for a victory at City Hall and their plan - called the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan (CASP) - was recently touted by the Los Angeles Times as "a model for LA planning." Other community organizing around TOD projects, for example in Little Tokyo or in South LA near the Blue and Expo Lines, have resulted in strong community benefit agreements. But given the intensive resources that go into working on the project-by-project level and the sheer scale of the current transit expansion, it is clear that a citywide approach is necessary.

This is especially true when some of the current land use policies moving forward at the city level are taking LA in the wrong direction. The Master Planned Development (MPD) ordinance, for example, which would fast track massive developments while requiring very little in the way of housing and employment policies and other community benefits that serve existing communities, was recently passed by the City Planning Commission and is moving toward the City Council for adoption.

Given the scale of the climate change crisis and the urgent need for cities to move away from car dependency, LA's leadership in ensuring core transit riders are able to live near transit will have implications for cities across the country that are facing similar issues.
One thing is absolutely clear: LA is at a major crossroads. City residents
of all income levels must be involved in making decisions about what the city will look like in ten years. Only then will LA be able to establish the transit system it needs - a system that is accessible to its thriving communities of transit riders.

Read the white paper here.

The One Chart That Explains All Your Traffic Woes

When we build more roads, we invite more cars.


By Eric Jaffe, March 2, 2015

 Image Steven Vance / Flickr

If you've ever found yourself stuck in traffic in your metro area, you might want to print out the chart below, tape it to your wall, and use it for dart practice. It comes via a guest post at the Transportationist by Wes Marshall, and it explains so very much of your earthly woe.

The red line represents vehicle flow along a given road. Traffic steadily rises until someone decides the road needs to be widened. Then the original trend line (dotted red) gets replaced with an even greater travel forecast (dotted orange), as we'd expect by creating more road capacity. But the actual new level of travel developed by this widening (solid red) is even greater than the forecast predicted.
In other words, widening a road invites more cars onto it. That principle, known as "induced demand," is captured by the grey arrows showing the gap between a travel forecast and an actual travel outcome. Here's Marshall on the "triple convergence" of induced demand:
First, existing road users might change the time of day when they travel; instead of leaving at 5 AM to beat traffic, the newly widened road entices them to leave for work with everyone else. Second, those traveling a different route might switch and drive along the newly widened option. Third, those previously using other modes such as transit, walking, bicycling, or even carpooling may now decide to drive or drive alone instead.
The roots of this principle trace back to the fine work of Anthony Downs, who decades ago discovered a fundamental law of rush-hour expressway congestion. (Recent scholarship has expanded that law to include a "broad class of major urban roads" rather than just highways or expressways.) In 2004, Downs wrote there are four ways to address the problem, but that three of them—peak-hour tolls, greatly expand road capacity, and greatly expand transit capacity—are "politically infeasible or physically or financially impossible in the US."

That leaves the fourth: live with it. He writes:
Congestion is an essential mechanism for coping with excess demand for road space. We need it! Peak-hour congestion is the balancing mechanism that makes it possible for Americans to pursue goals they value, such as working while others do, living in low-density settlements, and having many choices of places to live and work.
That's not to say cities should just throw up their hands. By creating strong transit corridors, building dense housing near these areas, and charging a cost of driving that takes congestion into account, the situation can and will improve. New roads can help, too, but only for a while. Before you know it, traffic will be bad again, and local government will need new tax revenues to maintain the extra highway capacity that's started to crumble. Hey—watch where you're aiming that dart.