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

Friday, March 13, 2015

Zocalo Public Square forum: the car is not dead


By Steve Hymon, March 12, 2014

View image on Twitter

 Go to website for the video.

As always, a fun forum last night at MOCA in DTLA from our friends and partners at Zocalo Public Square. The question assigned to the panel for discussion: is car culture dead?

The video is above. Here’s a link to the Zocalo article on the event, which also includes a podcast in the right sidebar.

See website for   tweets.

A couple of excerpts from Zocalo Public Square’s article on the event:
Don’t sell your car just yet—but be prepared to get to where you’re going in a lot of different ways. This was the conclusion of a discussion about car culture co-presented by Metro in front of a large crowd at MOCA Grand Avenue.

Automobile Magazine editor-in-chief Mike Floyd, the evening’s moderator, offered a preview of what was to come by explaining how each panelist had gotten to the downtown L.A. venue: One person walked, one took the bus, one mapped out the side streets, and another drove—and got caught in traffic. [snip]

DUB Magazine founder Myles Kovacs said that he thinks millennials are car-averse not because of the environment but because of financial issues—they’ve seen their parents struggling with car payments and gas—and because of shifts in technology and culture. They don’t need cars to drive to friends’ houses when they can talk online instead. They don’t want to be like their parents. And they’re less independent than previous generations.

But there still is enthusiasm for cars out there. Petersen Automotive Museum executive director Terry Karges said that the Forza Motorsport driving game has 43 million Xbox subscribers and 200,000 to 300,000 players at any given time of day. And people around Los Angeles continue to get together around the cars they own and love, whether they’re Porsches or Ferraris or British cars. You also still have people buying basic, functional cars, he said. But “a Camry isn’t necessarily something you would join a club to adore,” he said.
As would be expected, one of the panelists made a very good point: transit is hardly ideal if you’re a grandfather and need to drive all over So Cal each weekend to see the various grandkids play sports.

That’s correct. And that’s also besides the point. The idea behind transit is not to replace every single car trip. It’s to provide an alternative to some of them — and provide mobility to those who don’t want to drive, can’t drive or may not have the means to drive.

All this is the reason why I don’t write that you should give up your car. That’s your choice. That said, I have no problem writing that perhaps you can leave the car parked some of the time and try a different way of getting around! :)

It’s Back to the Future for Our Latest, Greatest Commercial Corridor … LAX and Century Blvd


By Ken Alpern, March 13, 2015


GETTING THERE FROM HERE-There's been an extraordinary amount of progress in creating a MetroRail/LAX connection from both LA World Airports and Metro, and to create opportunities for convenient drop-offs and pick-ups at LAX.  An excellent article by Neal Broverman summarizes the plan to streamline and offer a variety of LAX access points via a remote rail system...but there's more to this than meets the eye.  This plan doesn't just make sense ... it makes dollars and cents. 

While the valiant attempt of Mayor Garcetti and the City of L.A. to host the 2024 Olympics didn't work out, the potential of a new commercial corridor at and/or near LAX can't be forgotten...or ignored.

The City of Los Angeles has a bad, bad, BAD habit of losing golden opportunities to create environmentally-sustainable job centers, and both LAX and the adjacent Century Blvd. corridor has the potential for explosive job growth. 

The concept of a Consolidated Rent-A-Car Center (CONRAC) with a freeway connection, and both a Metro station at 96th/Aviation and an Intermodal Transportation Facility to accommodate commuters from cars, buses and trains to/from LAX, all tied together via an Automated People Mover (APM) to connect to the Central Terminal Area, is one that is the result of years of exhaustive and collaborative efforts between the City of LA, LA World Airports and Metro. 

It's certain and understandable that critics will complain about the lack of a direct connection between the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line and the Central Terminal Area, but no idea was left unevaluated--if anyone wants to blame someone or something for this lack of a direct connection, then...BLAME THE MAP!  LAX lies over a mile to the west of the rail right of way (which is north-south) to be used by Metro for its Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line.

Which is why an Automated People Mover was always in the works, and always desired by Metro. 
The Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line is an excellent north-south Expo-to-Green-Line connection (someday to be extended to the Wilshire Subway to achieve its true potential), but a second east-west line (in this case, an Automated People Mover) with greater capacity and more 24-7 service than a Metro Line was ALWAYS mandatory. 

The connections between the People Mover and the Central Terminal involve fast-moving walkways that are wide enough for both standing and walking pedestrians in each direction, and are both covered/climate-controlled and with beautiful open windows to enjoy the Southern California weather. 

And although others would argue that the current People Mover scheme is too bare-bones, it should be remembered that LA World Airports had to pony up $2 billion, and Metro had to pony up $300 million, to allow this plan to see the light of day. 

The CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee did weigh in (not always with unanimity, but mostly so) on this plan, in that first-rate moving sidewalks/walkways, wide and fast, were critical in allowing this transportation plan to work. 

Ramps that allowed options to elevators and escalators are also recommended (thanks to my CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee co-chair Matthew Hetz, who uses transit every day and is all too aware that mechanical devices break down periodically), and an artistic investment to establish LAX-iconic lighted pillars at the newly-approved People Mover/Metro station at 96th/Aviation was also urged. 

And ... oh, yes ... the committee strongly urged naming the new Metro station/People Mover connection at 96th/Aviation "LAX Transit Center" or at least something that has the term "LAX" in it, because that's where the LAX access point for tourists and commuters will be from a regional perspective. 

Yet there's another station adjacent to the 96th/Aviation station that is already in the process of being built:  the Century/Aviation station, which was to be the original access point but which now is relegated to a second, critical aspect of this Crenshaw/LAX Metro and LAX APM scheme:  jobs, jobs, JOBS! 

It's no secret that the Century Blvd. Corridor is a huge hotel/industrial jobs center, and even the airlines themselves offer a small army of workers employment within the terminals (lost in this LAX/Metro Connector discussion is that those who work at/near LAX will likely be the #1 group of commuters who use the Crenshaw/LAX line).  LAX is within the top ten job centers of Los Angeles. 

Yet nearby Inglewood is also gearing up with respect to job creation and economic revitalization.  LA World Airports made it very clear that any airport-owned property at/near the future CONRAC center at Manchester Square would absolutely NOT allow residential development, so air quality and environmental issues will be minimized from a health perspective. 

This lack of environmental obstacles means that industrial and commercial centers can be built aplenty along Century Blvd. (which, after Downtown LA and Wilshire Blvd., is a potential third "downtown" that can serve as a magnet to tourists and industry.  Hotels can grow and be rebuilt, and will likely develop their own transportation links to the APM. 

Furthermore, the notion of a large mall to serve the northern adjacent region of Century Blvd. to attract further economic and job growth is also an exciting idea which deserves exploration and investment. 

Airports throughout the nation and world perform a secondary function of sales and commerce to commuters waiting for their planes, and needing something quick to eat or purchase while on the go, and both LAX and the adjacent region are ripe for this associated job creation (and, of course, additions to the City/County coffers from sales taxes). 

Which is why the failure of the City of Los Angeles to host the 2024 Olympics will not prevent the Metro/LAX rail connection and associated APM construction--rebuilding LAX also means rebuilding and upgrading Century Blvd. hotels and businesses, and with its own rail station at Century/Aviation, the City of Los Angeles will have a new commercial center for those who want to travel, work, stay, play...and shop.

Around Town: Tunnel proposal lacks true vision


By Anita S. Brenner, March 12, 2015

Last week, Caltrans issued a voluminous environmental impact report (EIR) on the proposed 4.5-mile underground freeway connection between the 710 and 210 freeways.

It's a big report. Local resident Jan Soo Hoo noted, “The page count for this document is almost too much to comprehend. There are 1,294 pages in the report and 966 pages of appendixes for a total of 2,260. Within these is the 42-page Executive Summary. The real meat of the study is contained in the sections called ‘Technical Studies' and there are 24,635 pages of these for a grand total of 26,625 pages.”

I took a quick look at the technical studies. For example, page 95 of Appendix A to the subsection entitled, “Geologic Hazard Evaluation to Support Environmental Studies,” reveals that the proposed 710 Freeway tunnel crosses “potentially active” local faults.

 Wow. U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones has repeatedly said that a major earthquake in this region is inevitable.

Somehow, the statement that the proposed tunnel will cross potentially active faults was left out of the 42-page Executive Summary.

The Executive Summary also omits this statement from page 107 of the Geologic Hazard Evaluation: “No Caltrans seismic design criteria for tunnels are currently available. For this preliminary design phase to support the environmental documentation, it was agreed that the Caltrans seismic design criteria for an Ordinary Nonstandard facility will be used as the basis for seismic design of the Freeway Tunnel Alternative.”

What the heck does “no criteria” mean? Doesn't “no” mean “no?” If there are “no seismic design criteria” why did Caltrans apply the low “Ordinary Nonstandard facility” test to an underground freeway tunnel in a potentially active fault zone? Who “agreed” to that?

Naturally, I Googled the phrase “ordinary nonstandard facility.” Lo and behold, there is a 15-year-old Caltrans memo that says, “Bridges are categorized as either Important or Ordinary depending on the desired level of seismic performance.”

By applying a lower desired level of seismic performance, Caltrans has downplayed the seismic risk, lowered the cost of construction and skewed the EIR to favor the tunnel.

None of this appears in the 42-page Executive Study.

Due to the voluminous size of the EIR report, Caltrans has extended the review period. So far, there are only two public hearings scheduled — both are in April. One month is hardly enough time to read 26,625 pages, let alone track down elusive and ubiquitously Caltrans-esque definitions of seismic criteria.

In 2010, the La CaƱada Flintridge City Council came out against the tunnel, citing health concerns to local school children under a USC study. In 2012, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) wrote a letter asking for consideration of other alternatives.

“I urge Metro to give full and serious consideration as to how funds for a tunnel project could be better spent,” Schiff wrote. “I suspect that for less than the actual cost of a tunnel, Metro would have the funds necessary to undertake all of the remaining options under consideration — combined.

These options, transportation system management, bus rapid transit and light-rail would help move people in an environmentally friendly manner without disrupting our long-established neighborhoods.”

The real issue with the tunnel plan is the lack of vision. We don't need more freeways. Caltrans needs to fix the freeways we already have. That, and create robust public transportation.

If Caltrans wanted to embrace the future, it could pitch a different vision to us.

Imagine a Metro and light-rail system that would connect the schools — PCC, USC, UCLA, the Claremont Colleges, Cal State L.A., and high schools like Loyola — and the airports, LAX and Burbank, along with hospitals, USC Norris, Huntington Hospital, Childrens and Kaiser, along with tourists spots like Downtown L.A., Koreatown, the Arts District, the beach and Culver City.
The freeways would be empty.
It would be awesome.

03-11-2015 TAC Meeting Slides Handout

Posted on Facebook, March 13, 2015

AC Knocked down size for posting. The pages on Air Quality dispute Alhambra Barbara Messina & Steve Placido claims the regional air quality will improve. The CH2M Hill consultant pointed to those slides when answering Placido.


9 Ways Metro's New CEO Can Revolutionize Los Angeles Transit


March 12, 2015



Earlier today, the Metro board of directors voted to have Phil Washington, former general manager of Denver's Regional Transportation District, succeed Art Leahy as Metro's CEO, effective no later than May 29. Washington was confirmed in a unanimous vote, after being courted by Mayor Eric Garcetti's administration for the past year. Under his direction, the Denver RTD has built out its rail system through funds provided by the voter-approved FasTracks program, a tax increase in the vein of Metro's Measure R. Washington has a strong resume, but he's got a lot to do here in Los Angeles, so we thought we'd help him out with some suggestions. Here are nine big ideas we hope he'll pursue, because Los Angeles deserves it:

Pass Measure R2

The original Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase approved by 67.22 percent of voters in 2008, is directly responsible for the massive recent expansion of LA's rail system. Metro's got a lot more planned, but in 2012, Measure J, a 30-year extension of Measure R, came up half a point short of the two-thirds majority needed for a tax increase. The board of directors is considering whether or not to go back to voters with another tax increase in 2016. Getting Measure R2 on the ballot and passed by voters needs to be Washington's top priority; without money, nothing gets built.

Keep fares affordable


Last September, Metro raised fares by a quarter, to $1.75, in the interest of stopping or slowing a rapidly approaching budget deficit. That $1.75 covers less than 30 percent of the total cost of one ride, making LA's one of the most subsidized transit networks in the nation. The easy solution is obviously raising fares again, but with low-income folks making up 90 percent of Metro's ridership, that's neither possible nor fair. Washington needs to find a way to keep fares affordable for Metro's users while keeping the budget balanced. Measure R2 would go a long way toward helping.

North/south rail in Central Los Angeles


The Expo and Purple Lines, when completed, will make east/west travel a lot easier in South LA and the central city, and the Crenshaw Line will give the transit-dependent Crenshaw corridor an efficient way to get from the South Bay to the south edge of the central city. But moving any further north than Exposition remains a challenge, at best. Transit riders are forced to transfer from rail to buses that further clog perpetually congested streets like Vermont, Western, La Brea, and Fairfax. A north/south line from Exposition to Sunset would solve a lot of problems for a lot of folks, whether they're stuck in their cars or taking transit. An extension of the Crenshaw Line north is one possibility, and what ever happened to the Pink Line through West Hollywood??

Real rail in the Valley


The San Fernando Valley is home to almost 20 percent of the population of Los Angeles County, and yet it has just two (two!) rail stations, at the tail end of the Red Line (and the dedicated Orange Line busway, but it's still a busway). The situation is unlikely to get any better any time soon; none of the under-construction lines come close to the Valley. Governor Jerry Brown lifted the long-standing ban on surface rail in the Valley last summer, making it possible to build a cost-efficient line once again. A number of plans are in the works—the East Valley Transit Corridor along Van Nuys Boulevard, a conversion of the Orange Line to rail, an extension of the Red Line north to Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. Now, again, Metro just needs the money.

Rail through the Sepulveda Pass

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 2.45.51 PM.png
Come on.

Get under-construction lines open

At present, Metro has five rail lines under construction—the Gold Line Foothill Extension, the second phase of the Expo Line, the Crenshaw Line, Downtown's Regional Connector, and the first phase of the Purple Line extension. When all the ribbons are finally cut (expected date: 2023), LA's rail network will be close to double the size it is today. Getting these lines open as soon as possible, with a minimum of delays and cost overruns, is extremely important in introducing a wider range of Angelenos to public transportation.

Modernize and expand fleet


Metro began receiving the first of 550 brand new buses last year—they're the ones with cool white LED signs; procurement (a great deal of which is funded by Measure R) continues this year and a new round, which may include all-electric buses, begins in 2016. But LA also needs new rail cars; many of those running on the Blue and Expo Lines are close to 30 years old at this point, and there simply are not enough in the fleet to cover all the new lines. The first of 78 new cars was just delivered for testing last year.

Cell service and WiFi underground


Consistent internet access borders on a necessity in 2015; drivers have it, so why shouldn't train riders? (Not that drivers should use it!) Metro is scheduled to have the first segment of access, from Union Station to Seventh/Metro, up and running later this year (WiFi in May, cell service in August). The rest of the system should be done as quickly as possible. A Twenty-First Century transit network deserves a Twenty-First Century transit experience.

The little stuff

There's a whole lot more in the works or under consideration: a pedestrian tunnel between the Red and Orange Lines in North Hollywood; a pedestrian bridge over Lankershim in Universal City; a connection between Seventh/Metro and the under-renovation The Bloc shopping complex Downtown; $1.2-billion dollars of upgrades along the Blue Line; an expanded Pico Station that was to be a part of AEG's now-dead Downtown NFL stadium plan; the desperately-needed connection between the Crenshaw Line and LAX. Taken together, all these bits and pieces will result in an easier, more pleasant transit experience. Ian Grant

Metrolink hires Art Leahy as its next CEO


By Steve Hymon, March 13, 2015

 Metrolink Board Chairman Shawn Nelson and incoming Metrolink CEO and current Metro CEO Art Leahy. Photo: Metrolink.

 Metrolink Board Chairman Shawn Nelson and incoming Metrolink CEO and current Metro CEO Art Leahy.

Quite a couple of days at the Metro headquarters building. On Thursday, Metro officially hired its next CEO, Phil Washington, and today Metrolink’s Board of Directors approved outgoing Metro CEO Art Leahy as its next CEO.

Here is the Metrolink staff report on the hiring.

Art is set to begin his new job on April 20 while Phil’s exact start date is to be determined but will occur before May 29. Metro is one of the five county transportation agencies that funds Metrolink and is headquartered in the Metro tower adjacent to Los Angeles Union Station, which is also Metrolink’s primary hub in the region.

Below is the news release from Metrolink:
Leahy to become Metrolink CEO
Outgoing Metro and former OCTA CEO brings more than 40 years of experience to agency

LOS ANGELES – The Metrolink Board of Directors today announced Art Leahy will become the agency’s next CEO effective April 20, 2015. The motion and contract was unanimously approved.

“When the position became available at Metrolink, I was immediately intrigued,” Leahy said. “Having had the opportunity to work at both Metro and Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), I have witnessed first-hand the incredible diligence of the Metrolink staff, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to further grow and enhance Southern California’s six-county rail system.”

The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), the agency that governs Metrolink, is made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties. In addition to those counties, Metrolink provides service into northern San Diego County.

“As a board, we could not be more excited about Art deciding to take the helm of Metrolink,” said Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, chair of the Metrolink Board of Directors. “Given Art’s leadership at Metro, along with his previous stewardship of OCTA, he brings a unique perspective of leadership at the highest levels of transportation that will be of tremendous value to Metrolink.”

One of the nation’s leading transit officials, Leahy served as chief executive officer of Metro for six years. During that time, he guided implementation of one of the largest public works programs in United States history, securing billions in federal and state dollars to help finance construction of dozens of transit and highway projects.

He led the completion of numerous projects funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R. Metro has transit and highway projects valued at more than $14 billion, eclipsing that of any other transportation agency in the nation.

This includes an unprecedented five new rail projects under construction, including phase 2 of the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica and the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa, as well as the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, the Regional Connector in downtown Los Angeles, and the first phase of the Westside Purple Line subway extension to Wilshire and La Cienega.

Leahy also launched a $1.2-billion overhaul of the Metro Blue Line and guided the purchase of a new fleet of rail cars. And he helped transform the iconic Union Station into the hub of the region’s expanding bus and rail transit network and led the agency’s acquisition of the 75-year-old iconic facility.

Though Metrolink is a separate transportation agency from Metro, the two agencies work collaboratively to provide effective and efficient public transportation options for people throughout the region. For example, Metrolink and Metro worked together closely to ensure that Metrolink riders would continue to transfer seamlessly to all Metro subway, light rail and bus lines following implementation of the Metro TAP initiative.

Metrolink offers connections to nearly 30 other public transportation providers throughout Southern California at no additional cost. Other Metrolink transportation connections include the OCTA bus system, Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), Omnitrans in San Bernardino County and Ventura Intercity Service Transit Authority (VISTA). In addition, the Rail 2 Rail® program allows Metrolink Monthly Pass holders along the Orange and Ventura County corridors to travel on Amtrak Pacific Surfliner trains within the station pairs of their pass at no additional charge.

Prior to his tenure as Metro CEO, Leahy led OCTA (2001-2009) and served as the general manager of Metro Transit (1997-2001) in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

While at OCTA, Leahy led efforts to secure reauthorization of the $12 billion Measure M sales tax proposal, which gained 70 percent approval from Orange County voters in November 2006. Measure M led to the expansion of the county’s rail and bus systems, along with numerous enhancements of streets, highways, and traffic management systems.

Growing up Highland Park, both of Leahy’s parents worked in transit and he followed in their footsteps. He started as a bus operator for the Southern California Rapid Transit District (SCRTD) in Los Angeles in 1971 and rose through the ranks to become chief operations officer before taking the position in Minneapolis.

Prior to earning a Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Southern California in 1982, Leahy completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Los Angeles in political science (1974) and certificate in transportation management (1973) from UCLA.

For additional details on Metrolink, please visit www.metrolinktrains.com.


Metrolink is Southern California’s regional commuter rail service in its 23rd year of operation. The Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), a joint powers authority made up of an 11-member board representing the transportation commissions of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, governs the service. Metrolink operates over seven routes through a six-county, 512 route-mile network, which includes a portion of northern San Diego County. Metrolink is the third largest commuter rail agency in the United States based on directional route miles and the eighth largest based on annual ridership.

Top Denver transit official will lead MTA in next phase of rail-building


Rail lines are emphasized. No mention of the 710 tunnel.