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, June 28, 2016

Metro finds 'right mix of gruesome and levity' to encourage safety (and prevent decapitations)


Monday, June 27, 2016

July 4 Parade

From Sylvia Plummer, June 27, 2016

The No 710 Freeway Fighters will be marching on July 4th at the Festival of Balloons Parade in South Pasadena.  You are invited to come and march with us. Bring your family and friends too!  We need everyone to show up.

Meet us at 10:00am at the corner of Hope Street and Meridian, in South Pasadena.
Wear your No710 t-shirts, or a red shirt or a white shirt,  We will also have No710 t-shirts available for $8.
There will be a party following the parade.  Click on the pdf below.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

State Sen. Kevin de Leon calls for hearing into schedule for Metro’s $120 billion list of projects


By Steve Scauzillo, June 17, 2016

 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Phillip Washington talks to the media about an expenditure plan for a possible November ballot measure Friday during a press conference at Metro headquarters in Los Angeles.

 Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Phillip Washington talks to the media about an expenditure plan for a possible November ballot measure Friday during a press conference at Metro headquarters in Los Angeles.

State. Sen. President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon will convene a legislative hearing in Los Angeles on June 24 to analyze Metro’s schedule of $120 billion future highway and rail and projects for “fairness and equity.”

Lawmakers at the hearing will try to determine if Metro, which wants to move forward with several Los Angeles and Westside projects that have upcoming start dates, unfairly moved projects in minority communities to the back of the line.

Some of these communities in the southeastern and eastern parts of the county will have to wait decades for the projects they prefer.

De Leon, D-Los Angeles, along with Sen. Jim Beall, D-Campbell, have set a hearing to “allow time to reflect on whether or not the expenditure plan is meeting the transportation needs of the residents throughout the county,” de Leon wrote in a letter dated June 16 to Mark Ridley-Thomas, chair of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), and CEO Phil Washington.

The two lawmakers want Metro to postpone Thursday’s board vote on the project plan and attached a ballot measure that will raise capital via a permanent, half-cent sales tax. The measure, nicknamed Measure R-2, is a follow-up to 2008’s Measure R, which will raise $40 billion and pay for the Gold Line Foothill Extension and the Expo Line Phase II to Santa Monica.

Measure R-2 would be placed before county voters in November upon approval of Metro and the county Board of Supervisors. It requires a two-thirds vote to pass.

“Our board chair, Mark Ridley-Thomas, is taking it into consideration now,” said Pauletta Tonilas, chief communication officer for Metro. “There is no change in our plan at this point.”

Local mayors and community groups have sent letters to Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, and de Leon arguing that projects closer to L.A. have been given priority over the rest of the county. Some of these projects have start dates 18 to 25 years after work is started on projects in the L.A. area.

For example, the light-rail/people mover connector to LAX and the third-phase extension of the Purple Line subway, which will run under Wilshire Boulevard to Westwood, will get their start in 2018. Improvements to the Orange Line dedicated busway in the San Fernando Valley would break ground in 2019, and the tunnel under the Sepulveda Pass for a roadway or light-rail project would start in 2024.

The next phase of the 5 Freeway widening from the 605 Freeway to the 710 Freeway would not start under the revised plan until 2036, a full 16 years after the $2 billion widening underway since 2010 from the Orange County line to Valley View Avenue is completed.

“The northern segment should be built in a reasonable time frame. It is a highway of national significance,” said Yvette Kirrin, executive director of the I-5 Consortium Cities Joint Powers Authority that includes the cities of Commerce, Downey, La Mirada, Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk.
The authority voted 4-0 Thursday to oppose the future county measure unless it is amended to reflect the importance of the 5 Freeway widening project.

Originally billed as one project, it was split in two, Kirrin said, exacerbating the delays. Having one completed segment with 10 lanes in each direction slamming against the unimproved, 6-mile portion of the old freeway will create more problems. “You will have a bottleneck that starts immediately north; all you’ve done is create a $2 billion parking lot,” she said.

She said meetings with Metro CEO Washington on the need for finishing the freeway’s widening from eight to 10 lanes — five lanes in each direction — through Commerce to the 710 Freeway juncture were fruitless.

“There’s not an understanding of the significance of this freeway, of goods movement and that it is in a hotbed of disadvantaged communities that need jobs,” she said. Kirrin implied that because Washington is from Colorado, he didn’t understand the needs of these communities.

Under the first traffic improvement plan, Metro listed the northerly segment of the 5 Freeway widening as beginning in 2041. The revised plan released last week shaves five years off the startup date, Tonilas confirmed.

“Again, everything can’t be done in the first 15 years,” she said.

The scheduling of projects is based on the progress of environmental approvals, the expense, when the money becomes available and on equity, she said.

“Some folks are more happy about this plan than they thought they’d be. When we hear there’s a little bit of grumbling, that is equity,” she said.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Council Tables Discussion of Measure A, Repeal Issue Won't Be on November Ballot

Special election is tabled for more discussion at undetermined time


By Eddie Rivera, June 1, 2016


There will be no November special election to repeal Measure A after an hour-long Pasadena City Council public discussion resulted in the matter being tabled for another time, as yet unscheduled, effectively ending the idea.

The outcome was a blow to Mayor Terry Tornek, who wrote the recommendation for the proposed special election, which would have overturned the 2001 measure that supported plans to close the 710 Freeway gap via a surface route.

According to Tornek, the city’s “hands would be tied” and Pasadena would be unable to take any action against the proposed 710 tunnel project while Measure A was still in effect.

Councilmember Steve Madison disagreed. Madison, a longtime opponent of the 710 extension plan, pointed out that the Southern California Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) does not currently have the funds to complete such a project. In addition, Madison added, the upcoming R-2 Measure, which would make permanent a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects, does not include the 710 tunnel project.

Councilmember Victor Gordo explained that even though $800 million has already been budgeted for the 710 tunnel project, the project is estimated to cost $5-6 billion.

“Metro would have to  look for money to finish this,” he said. Gordo recommended that the council schedule a special election once Metro makes a formal move forward to attempt to complete the project. He also suggested a community education campaign to inform the community about the project, instead of an election in November.

“It would be dangerous to place this on the ballot,” Gordo added. “This is all academic without a move by Metro.”

But Mayor Tornek countered, “What good is an education campaign without a campaign? I want to be out front on this.”

“At this point, will people even care?,” asked Councilmember Andy Wilson, who echoed Gordo’s feelings about the matter being ‘academic.’ “I think we should do it,” said Wilson, meaning to oppose the project, “but I want to get a win.”

Council member Margaret McAustin admitted, “This is a different electorate now, than the one who voted for this measure.” She questioned whether an education campaign is something that the city could even spend money on.

City Attorney Michele Bagneris told the council that any education campaign would have to be ‘even-handed and informational’ and that the city ‘could not take sides,’” at which point Masuda joked, “I want a campaign, but not a balanced one.”

Council member requested that the council ask Metro CEO and Pasadena resident Phil Washington to come before the council and explain Metro’s goals for the 710 project. Kennedy concluded, “I just don’t see the urgency here yet.”

Madison also explained that Metro “took the 710 project off the table with regard to R-2, because they didn’t want to face all the politics that would create.” He added, “ I learned as a young lawyer not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and I don’t want us to do that here.”

Council member Tyron Hampton, siding with the Mayor, continued to insist that “voices should be heard,” in asking for the November vote. Hampton, however, also sought reassurance from City Attorney Bagneris that the council could still oppose the 710 Tunnel project on environmental grounds at some later date.

In the end, only Hampton and Mayor Tornek voted for the special election, and the item was voted down, 6-2. The council will now embark on more discussion and the creation of a “long-term strategy.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Metro Board Committees Show Unanimity on November Sales Tax Proposal


By Joe Linton, June 16, 2016

 Metro sales tax promotional image

 Metro sales tax promotional image

Metro’s newly revised November sales tax expenditure plan flew through two board committees this week with virtually no discussion. The proposal was approved unanimously by both the Planning and Programming Committee and the Executive Management Committee. The plan now goes to the full board for approval at this month’s meeting on Thursday, June 23.

Last week, Metro announced the newest version of its spending plan. What had been a fifty-year sales tax has been modified to an indefinite “no sunset” sales tax. This allows for numerous large highway and transit projects to accelerated.

In the course of the two committee meetings, Metro directors Mike Bonin, Sheila Kuehl, James Butts, Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, Hilda Solis, Mark Ridley-Thomas, John Fasana, Mike Antonovich, Eric Garcetti, and Paul Krekorian all voted to support the plan. County Supervisor Kuehl joked that there was an informal agreement among directors not to get into conflicts trying to “take a little from them and give it to us.”

The only hint of board dissent came from Inglewood Mayor James Butts. Butts stated that he was in “complete support” but reiterated past concerns that later-year Measure R projects will not be completed in the time frame approved in that 2008 ballot measure. This issue was addressed in a strongly worded Metro staff report written in response to a request by directors Butts, Don Knabe, and Diane DuBois that all Measure R highway and transit projects be accelerated before any new projects enter the queue. Metro staff rejected the proposal, deeming it “an unsurmountable [sic] level of risk” and predicting that “[a]ttempting the aggressive borrowing to close these gaps would impact our transit operations so severely that even extensive service cuts would not close the gaps.” The staff report concludes that “[s]uch a programmatic outcome is untenable and not recommended.”

Even with barely a hint of dissent among the Metro board, there was still a great deal of public testimony pressing for changes to the expenditure plan. These included:
  • Livability, equity, walking, and bicycling advocates continue to press for more dedicated funds for walking and bicycling. A position paper [PDF] spearheaded by Investing in Place and the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition criticizes the plan for lacking commitment to complete streets, including basic sidewalk repair. The paper also criticizes the lack of an active transportation plan for the Gateway Cities, and urges a greater percentage for active transportation in later unprogrammed years.

  • Environmentalists, including the EnviroMetro Coalition, criticized sprawl-inducing highway projects in the plan, especially the High Desert Corridor – a new freeway planned for largely undeveloped portions of the Antelope Valley.
  • Some San Fernando Valley interests, including State Senator Bob Hertzberg, made a last minute push for Metro to fund a Bus Rapid Transit line for Cal State Northridge. Boardmember and San Fernando Valley Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who frequently pushes for a fair share for the San Fernando Valley, characterized the revised expenditure plan as good for the Valley. Krekorian cited accelerated Orange Line improvements and increased Metrolink and local return funding as all being positive for the Valley.
  • Additional testimony urged greater funding for seniors and students, safe routes to schools, widening the 5 Freeway, and connecting the Red/Purple line with the Arts District.
The committees’ approval included $10.9 million to fund “election-related and public information costs.” Just to put the measure on the ballot will cost $8.4 million. On top of that, Metro will spend $2.5 million to educate the public about the measure.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pasadena Unified Votes to Support Anti-710 Freeway Tunnel Resolution

Board of Education Member Torres ‘convinced’ by public speakers to change his vote

By Eddie Rivera, June 17, 2016


 Pasadena Unified Board Member Lawrence Torres listens to testimony.

 Joining the battle against the 710 Freeway tunnel extension, the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education last night voted to direct Lawrence Torres, its representative to the 5-Star Education Coalition an amalgam of local school districts — to vote in favor of a Coalition resolution formally opposing the plan to build a 4.5 mile tunnel from Alhambra to Pasadena.

In February, the Coalition, consisting of representatives from Pasadena Unified, South Pasadena Unified, Glendale Unified, Burbank Unified, and La Cañada Unified, drafted a joint resolution opposing the tunnel extension of State Route 710 North.

Former La Cañada School District Board Member Andrew Blumeneld addresses the board during the June 16, 2016 meeting.

When Pasadena Unified, blocked by the single vote of Board Member Larry Torres, failed to support the anti-tunnel resolution, the entire Coalition was thwarted and unable to formally adopt the resolution.

Pasadena Unified Board member Scott Phelps asked the Board to reconsider the issue Thursday after he noted  that “the residents in my trustee area are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea” of a tunnel extension.

Second time around, Torres changed his mind.

“As our district’s representative I had felt that the school board had stepped outside its governmental role, and I had voted for us to abstain,” said Torres, of his previous vote on the resolution back in March. “Too often, school districts are called upon to cure all of society’s ills and I don’t know that that is our role. And that was my question, as to whether that was our purview.”

“But the speakers tonight,” Torres continued, in a revealing moment, “have changed my mind on this.”

Torres reflected, “I try the best that I can to be a good leader, and be a good listener and try to take in facts as best I can, as I think most of us do. But until this meeting, I was not prepared to say that this was within our governance. I think that the speakers, especially my good friend (school board member) Jon Primuth from South Pasadena, who spoke so eloquently, made a convincing case for me, so I would also vote to confirm this resolution.”

Local residents, who represented neighborhoods, community organizations, and school districts, as well as doctors and environmentalists, all presented arguments opposing the 710 tunnel, calling it among other things, “a pollution hot spot.”

“This is a child-related issue,” said Jan Soo Hoo, of La Cañada Flintridge, who said that she has fought against the project for more than six years.

Referring to the school board’s position, that it was “unsure if the issue was us,” Soo Hoo said, “If not you, then who is responsible for helping protect Pasadena’s school children from the negative impacts of the SR 710 tunnel? Oppose this project that will increase air pollution in Pasadena and imperil the health and academic performance of Pasadena’s schoolchildren.”

Former school board president and current board member Elizabeth Pomeroy, agreed, saying, “This is an education issue. We should oppose this.”

Said Primuth, who Torres singled out for his comments, “The solution to pollution is dilution, but this is the opposite. We ask that you join South Pasadena in opposing this pollution hot spot that will be concentrated in our two cities.”

The Coalition represents 70,000 K-12 students in those five school districts.

The Coalition’s draft resolution takes issue with METRO’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the 710 tunnel extension, saying “The 5SC finds that the DEIR does not adequately address the potential health impact on our students and staff whose daily school and work environment would be impacted because of our schools’ proximity to a route proposed in the study for State Route 710.”

The 5SC also did not agree with METRO’s findings that the building of a tunnel to extend State Route 710 will not bring additional traffic to the area.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Council Hesitant to Place 710 Freeway on November Ballot

 Mayor Anxious to Free City from Restraints of Measure A as Soon as Possible


By Gus Herrera, June 14, 2016

 Despite their rejection of Tornek's recommendation, it was clear that council opposes the 710 Tunnel Project. - Photo by Terry Miller

  Despite their rejection of Tornek’s recommendation, it was clear that council opposes the 710 Tunnel Project.

At their regular meeting on Monday, June 13, the Pasadena City Council chose not to move forward with a recommendation proposed by Mayor Terry Tornek.

Item 16 on the agenda would have directed “the city attorney to prepare the necessary resolutions calling a Special Election on Nov. 8, 2016 to repeal Measure A, and any related documents in connection therewith.”

Measure A, which was passed in 2000 with 9,654 votes in favor (58 percent), formally aligned city interests with the completion of a “710 Freeway extension.”  Sixteen years later, the people of Pasadena and its mayor are clearly on the other side of the fence on the matter.

Tornek’s efforts were meant to protect the city from any future advances made by Metro to build a tunnel that would complete the 710 Freeway.

For years, the City of Pasadena has wrestled with the idea of connecting the I-10 Freeway, which ends in Alhambra, to the I-210 Freeway, which ends a block from Huntington Hospital at the intersection of St. John Avenue and West California Boulevard.

Theoretically, the idea of linking these two major arteries, which shuttle thousands of LA commuters back-and-forth every single day, seems practical. Yet, when you actually take out a map and begin drawing lines, it soon becomes clear that this connection is seemingly impossible without disrupting the essence and integrity of several Pasadena (and some Northeast Los Angeles) neighborhoods.

According to city staff’s report, this subject’s origins trace back to 1998, when “the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) approved a plan to complete the 710 Freeway between the I-10 Freeway in Alhambra and the I-210 Freeway in Pasadena.” This initial thrust failed when it was shut down by a federal judge, in response to overwhelming residential outcry.

A couple years later, the Pasadena City Council switched sides and joined the residents, when they “adopted Resolution No. 7865, reversing prior city support for the 710 Freeway extension and resolving that ‘the City of Pasadena opposes the completion of construction of the 710 Freeway through Pasadena,’” according to staff’s report.

In response to council’s stance, proponents of the 710 Freeway extension circulated a petition, which received enough signatures to make the ballot and eventually came to be known as Measure A, which the mayor is anxious to repeal.

Despite the victory at the polls, public opinion swayed and the freeway extension continued to be highly controversial. In 2003, similar to council, the FHA, too, changed sides and “suspended its support of the plan and ordered state officials to conduct a new environmental impact study of the project.”

Five years later, in November 2008, voters approved Measure R, which granted Metro a wealth of funds to support transportation projects. As a result, talks concerning the 710 Freeway Extension began to boil, yet again.

In 2012, Metro presented the city council with several new alternative ways to connect the 210 and 710 Freeways. Alternatives included an “Arterial Road along Avenue 64,” a “Highway along Huntington Drive/Fair Oaks Avenue,” and a “Freeway Tunnel.”

Council rejected these propositions, “citing ‘detrimental impacts to the City of Pasadena, its residents, historical residential neighborhoods, schools, business, families, and children,’” according to city staff’s report.

Metro chose to disregard council’s decision and, a few weeks later, they included the tunnel alternative in a project list submitted for an Environmental Impact Report.

According to staff’s report and Tornek, it is anticipated that Metro will re-double their efforts following this upcoming November’s elections, when they expect Measure R2, a long-term transportation tax, to pass: “It appears that as soon as the Measure R2 is resolved, efforts to move the 710 project ahead will be resumed with some vigor. Both the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the incoming Metro Chair are strong proponents of the project.”

In order to counter any potential future advances, the mayor added Item 16 to the night’s agenda, “My concern is that because of Measure A, Pasadena will be unable to allocate adequate resources to defeat that proposal,” he said. “We will be severely disadvantaged and if we do have to move to a ballot decision, it will be too late … This project poses such a threat to our city, that we cannot be caught with one hand behind our back, which I believe we have now.”

Tornek’s pre-emptive strike is supported by legal advice the city received in 2012 from Frederic Woocher, of the law firm Strumwasser & Woocher, an expert in California Election law. According to staff’s report, Woocher advised, “that the text of Measure A prohibits the city from taking a position against completion of any freeway proposals that would connect the I-10 and I-210 Freeways … Woocher concluded that if the city council wished to take a position or to advocate against any of the proposals for extending the 710 Freeway, such as the proposed Freeway Tunnel alternative, it should submit a ballot measure to the voters to amend or repeal Measure A.”

Not all council members were on board with Tornek’s rationale. Council Member Steve Madison was particularly vocal, “I was perplexed by this initiative … this is very risky and it’s unnecessary.”

Madison reminded everyone that the city already technically opposes a “Tunnel Alternative,” citing a council decision from April 13, 2015. He added, “There is no enthusiasm at Metro for this project … I don’t see any imminent threat that is precipitating this action now.”

Council Member Victor Gordo was also hesitant, saying that he was “not comfortable with the level or risk that a November ballot presents … it is risky to go forward in November without understanding legal implications, the electorate, or even what we are up against, in terms of a counter-campaign.”

Council Members John Kennedy and Margaret McAustin argued in favor of letting the people decide, but they too were not comfortable with moving for a November election, without more legal briefings. Council Member Tyrone Hampton and Tornek were the only two in favor of approving the item.

Ultimately, Tornek deferred action on Item 16. There will be a closed session next Monday, June 17, where council will be brought up to speed on the legal details of the case. The item will be re-agendized and a conclusion will be made during a future open session, to be determined.
Despite this result, there was a clear consensus amongst the council that the tunnel project is not right for the city. But, for council, a November election (although still not entirely out of the question) is just too close for comfort, without further deliberation.

For more details, visit: http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/councilagendas/council_agenda.asp.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

710 Tunnel Advocate Bob Huff Now Trails In His Race for the 5th District Los Angeles County Supervisor Seat


June 11, 2016


 The Pasadena Star News has an article up today that talks about what has become a very close race for the 5th District Los Angeles County Supervisor seat. With tens of thousands of ballots still to be counted, it is anybody's guess who the second candidate on November's ballot will be. Needless to say, The Tattler has an opinion about who it definitely should not be, and I am going to share that with you. Why else would I be doing this? First check out what the PSN is laying down. (link):

Horrible Huff
Second place in LA County supervisor 5th District race too close to call: The close race between a businessman and a state senator to appear on a November runoff ballot for a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors got a little closer Friday, but is still far from being decided.

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election initially showed entrepreneur Darrell Park finishing second in the race to replace Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, with Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Dimas, trailing him by about 400 votes.

But with thousands of ballots still remaining to be counted, it remained too close to determine if Park or Huff would make it to the November ballot to square off with Antonovich chief of staff Kathryn Barger, who finished first on Tuesday’s ballot.

Updated results released today showed Huff narrowing the gap in the Fifth District race, now trailing Park by just 280 votes.

More than a half-million provisional and vote-by-mail ballots from across the county still need to be counted. About one-fifth of those are believed to be from the Fifth District.

Here is how one observer puts what is at stake. "Bob Huff is a businessman and politician. At one point he was the California State Senate Minority Leader and Senate Republican Leader from January 5, 2012 until to August 27, 2015. He is now seeking to take over all of termed-out Supervisor Michael Antonovich's shady deals. This includes the 710 TunnelBob Huff is a carpetbagger candidate who moved in the spring of 2015 from Diamond Bar to San Dimas, putting him just inside the boundary for LA's 5th Supervisorial District."

The 710 Coalition, a Metro-Caltrans front organization designed to create the illusion that there is actual populist support for the 710 Tunnel, posted the following letter from Bob Huff to SCAG premier Hasan Ikhrata on its Facebook page last January (link). It is a very strange document written in support of the tunnel.

I thought I would pull a paragraph out of this troubling document because in my opinion it truly is horrifying.

"The freeway tunnel, if constructed, would also significantly improve air quality and reduce health risks for the majority of the study area. Lower income communities near the freeway are far more negatively impacted by poor air quality than those in more affluent areas to the north. The SR 710 North Study Draft Environmental Impact Report shows that cities south of the freeway have existing cancer risk levels 20% to over 60% higher than their neighbors to the north."

Did you catch that? Bob Huff is actually discussing 710 Freeway cancer concerns like it's a civil rights issue. Rather than dealing with this as the regional health crisis that it is, Huff instead appears to be advocating for a kind of cancer equality for the areas both north and south of the proposed tunnel.

Huff's apparent solution being to spread that cancer risk by funneling massive amounts of diesel truck Los Angeles port traffic north. This would be accomplished by running it through a tunnel built underneath Pasadena and out into the "more affluent" San Gabriel Valley.

In other words, this guy wants to kill us in the name of a more democratic cancer equality. A kind of "cancer class warfare" as it were.

While I'm not completely certain, it could be this guy is dangerously nuts. Pray that he loses.

Comrade Hasan Ikhrata
It really is no wonder than Horrible Huff's letter was penned to SCAG supremo Hasan Ikhrata. Here is a brief refresher course about what this fellow means in our part of the world (link).

Suddenly Cancer Class Warfare takes on a whole new perspective.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Revised spending plan for potential ballot measure would fund and accelerate more projects


By Steve Hymon, June 10, 2016

A revised spending plan [pdf] for a potential November sales tax ballot measure was released Friday by Metro and would accelerate more projects, allow more transit projects to become rail, include more overall projects and increase funding that goes to local cities and unincorporated areas for their own transportation improvements.

The potential ballot measure — now called the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan — would ask voters to consider a new half-cent sales tax in Los Angeles County and continuation of the existing Measure R half-cent sales tax in perpetuity or until voters decide to end the taxes. The idea is to create a sustained funding stream for mobility projects crucial to the region’s mobility, economy and quality of life.

The new plan is in response to the vast amount of feedback heard from the public and elected officials, cities and stakeholders on the draft spending plan for the 40-year ballot measure plan that was released in March. The most frequently heard sentiment: people wanted more from the spending plan.

The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled at its June 23 meeting to consider whether to put the ballot measure before voters. The revised plan includes a full list of programs and projects, including funding amounts and target groundbreaking and completion dates.
The revised plan would:

Accelerate nine projects, including improvements for the Orange Line, both phases of a potential light rail line between downtown Los Angeles and Artesia, the widening of the 5 freeway between the 605 and the 710, a northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, the Green Line extension to Torrance, the Green Line extension to the Norwalk Metrolink station, road improvements in the Malibu/Las Virgenes area and a potential bus rapid transit or light rail line on Lincoln Boulevard.

Increase funding to upgrade projects. Under the new plan, the Eastside Gold Line Extension could be built to both South El Monte and Whittier, the Vermont Corridor project could potentially be a subway, a Lincoln Boulevard transit project could be light rail and the North Hollywood-to-Pasadena transit project could also be light rail.

Increase money directly returned to cities and unincorporated areas from 16 percent to 17 percent from 2018 until 2040 when the amount is raised to 20 percent. Also, the amount of funding that would go to Metrolink would increase by one percent in 2040 and thereafter.

Some important background: Metro has been reaching out to communities three years now to identify critical transportation needs. What the agency has found – without exception – is that needs are vastly larger than available funding. The new sales tax increase proposal is a direct response to that. 

The revised plan reflects the reality that building, maintaining and operating roads and transit safely are needs with no end. We’ve seen the most vivid example this year in Washington D.C. where rail commuters are facing massive delays and service closures because of emergency repairs. 
Metro never wants to be put in that position. Thus, the revised spending plan includes ongoing dedicated funding for State of Good Repair projects.

As Metro CEO Phil Washington has also said, sustained funding will enable the agency to optimize opportunities to leverage other funding and remain flexible enough to embrace future technology and innovation. Washington also says that a sustained investment will enable Metro to provide higher-frequency and more convenient transit service with greater local and regional connectivity — and that will help grow ridership.

The initial spending plan released in March was followed by 12 community meetings and 14 Telephone Town Halls organized by Metro; agency staff also attended and/or spoke at 84 other meetings with cities and stakeholders. In response to the initial plan, Metro received 1,567 written comments and 91 letters from elected officials, cities and other stakeholders.

Mayor Tornek to Recommend Special Election to Repeal Pro-710 Freeway Completion Measure

Council to Consider Repeal of Measure A


June 10, 2016


Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek has placed a recommendation on Monday’s City Council agenda for the City to hold a special election to repeal Measure A, the 2001 initiative ordinance which promotes completion of the 710 Freeway.

Measure A positioned the City as being squarely in favor of completing the “missing link” gap in the 710 Freeway connecting its current terminus at Valley Boulevard in Alhambra with the 210 Foothill Freeway in Pasadena, even though in recent years the Council has gone on record as being in opposition to the 710 tunnel proposal.

At the May 17 Council meeting, Tornek said that “after the November elections the City is going to get ambushed and we will be confronted with a full court press to build [the 710 tunnel]. We have got to be prepared to prevent that from happening.”

“So,” he continued then, firing a shot across the bow of the 21 cities in favor of the project, “In order for us to be ready when this hits the fan after November… we must repeal Measure A … because Measure A restricts our ability to actively oppose the completion of the freeway. And that measure can only be repealed by a vote of the people.”

A legal opinion by Pasadena City Attorney Michele Bagneris holds that Measure A precludes the City from taking any action against the 710 tunnel project. No monies may be raised or spent in opposition to the 710 tunnel by the City unless Measure A is repealed, the opinion concluded.

Yesterday, Tornek said he is hopeful the Council will vote in favor of holding the special election.

“I don’t handicap these things,” he said Thursday when asked if he felt optimistic about passage of the recommendation. “I have not polled the Councilmembers individually, as that would be a violation of the Brown Act [Legislation which prevents legislators from discussion of official business outside of a formal scheduled meeting].”

“The Council is unanimous in its opposition to the 710 Tunnel,” added Tornek “so the only question is their reaction to actually placing this on the ballot. I don’t anticipate any resistance to it, but you never know.”

“There are tremendous forces gathering to try and push this through,” Tornek said, “and we have a five-city coalition to object to it, but Pasadena is sort of participating in that process with one hand tied behind its back because of Measure A.”

Tornek is concerned that the predicted successful passage of R-2, an extension of a previous and expiring sale tax measure, would trigger a major offensive by pro-tunnel forces. R-2 would raise over $120 billion to fund Metro’s transit projects and initial polling indicates 68% of Los Angeles County voters support the idea. With a huge warchest, Metro and other cities, such as Los Angeles, will push even harder to complete the 710 tunnel project, Tornek reasons.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) approved a plan to complete the 710 Freeway between the 1-10 Freeway in Alhambra and the 1-210 Freeway in Pasadena back in 1998.

Work stalled when a federal judge issued an injunction as residents fought to halt the project, citing negative impacts of the planned freeway route that passed through residential areas in South Pasadena and Pasadena.

The Pasadena City Council adopted Resolution No. 7865 in April 2000, reversing prior City support for the 710 Freeway extension. An initiative petition was then circulated by proponents supporting the 710 Freeway extension. Measure A was submitted to the voters in March 2001, and was overwhelmingly approved with a 58% majority.

The FHA then suspended its support of the plan in 2003, and directed state officials to conduct a new environmental impact study of the project. Five years later, voters approved Measure R, providing the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) with new funds for transportation projects, and new interest in the 710 Freeway project.

A series of plans to close the 710 gap were created in 2012, but eventually Metro settled on a five-mile tunnel from the 710’s terminus in Alhambra to the 210 Freeway near California Avenue.
The City Council voted to formally oppose the Tunnel plan in April of 2013, and offered a package of alternatives to Metro developed by a citizen committee.

Wrote Mayor Tornek in his report to the council, “In light of the magnitude of the project and impact this will have on Pasadena and quality of life issues, the City Council must reinsert the City’s voice and legal standing to express opposition. The only way to accomplish this goal is to submit a ballot measure and repeal Measure A by a vote of the people.”

“Pursuit of this effort is consistent with the City Council’s goals to increase conservation and sustainability; improve mobility and accessibility throughout the City; support. and promote the quality of life and the local economy; and ensure public safety.”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

XpressWest ends deal with China group to build Las Vegas to L.A. HSR


June 9, 2016


LAS VEGAS — XpressWest, the private U.S. firm proposing to build a high-speed rail link between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, terminated a joint venture with Chinese companies less than nine months after the deal was announced, citing delays faced by its partner, Business Insider reported.

Las Vegas-based XpressWest said the decision to end the relationship stemmed from problems with "timely performance" and challenges that the Chinese companies, grouped under a consortium called China Railway International (CRI), faced "obtaining required authority to proceed with required development activities," the report said.
The announcement is a blow to China, which has built the world's largest high-speed rail network in less than a decade. The XpressWest project was seen as a foothold into a burgeoning U.S. high-speed rail market and an opportunity to showcase China's technology, according to Business Insider. For the full story, click here.
Read the full press release below:
XPRESSWEST to Continue Development of Nevada – California Interstate High-Speed Passenger Rail System Without Assistance from China Railway International U.S.A., Co., Ltd
XpressWest has terminated its joint venture activities with CRI regarding high-speed passenger rail.

In September 2015, XpressWest and CRI commenced joint venture activities intended to advance the substantial work already completed by XpressWest. After an exhaustive process, XpressWest selected CRI to assist develop, finance, build and potentially operate the XpressWest rail project connecting Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California (the “Southwest Rail Network”), with stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, Victorville, California, and Palmdale, California, and service throughout Los Angeles.
The decision to terminate the relationship was based primarily upon difficulties associated with timely performance and CRI’s challenges in obtaining required authority to proceed with required development activities.

“The team at XpressWest is optimistic CRI and its affiliates will one-day succeed in establishing a viable presence in the United States rail market, however, our ambitions outpace CRI’s ability to move the project forward timely and efficiently. XpressWest is undeterred by this development and remains dedicated to completing its high-speed passenger rail project. XpressWest will now aggressively pursue other available development partnerships and options expected to result in a more efficient and cost-effective project implementation experience,” said Tony Marnell, CEO of XpressWest.

XpressWest is eagerly anticipating the completion of the final environmental work required for the development of the line connecting the project to Los Angeles through Victorville and Palmdale, California. The environmental approvals for the Victorville-Palmdale segment are expected no later than September 2016. Additionally, XpressWest, the High Desert Corridor Joint Power Authority, California High Speed Rail Authority, San Bernardino County and Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority are also expecting the completion of the jointly-funded Southwest Rail Network ridership study no later than August 2016. The ridership study is a prerequisite for a variety of regulatory and financing activities.

XpressWest is dedicated to completing all necessary activities to complete its high-speed passenger rail project.

“Our biggest challenge continues to be the Federal Government’s requirement that high-speed trains must be manufactured in the United States. As everyone knows, there are no high-speed trains manufactured in the United States. This inflexible requirement has been a fundamental barrier to financing high-speed rail in our County. For the past 10 years, we have patiently waited for policy makers to recognize high-speed rail in the United States is a new enterprise and that allowing trains from countries with decades of safe high-speed rail experience is needed to connect the Southwest region and start this new industry. After the environmental work connecting Palmdale to Victorville is completed, we intend to renew our request for support from the Federal Railroad Administration and are hopeful policy makers in Washington D.C. will allow the Federal Railroad Administration to adopt a more flexible and realistic approach to support highspeed rail. The bottom line is XpressWest is ready to go and we are excited to bring true high-speed rail to our Country. The real question is: do those in Washington D.C. have the courage and vision to proceed or is our leadership going to force projects throughout the United States to seek financial support for infrastructure in our Country from foreign governments?”

Friday, June 3, 2016

Metro Report Shows How Measure R Has Changed LA

Has that voter-approved sales tax hike paid off?


By Elijah Chiland, June 2, 2016

In 2008, Metro's Measure R ballot initiative got just above the two-thirds support it needed from voters to institute a half-cent sales tax increase that would pay for future projects. Many of those projects have now been completed, and, fresh off the unveiling of its new Expo Line Extension to Santa Monica, Metro will be asking voters for another sales tax bump this November.f. In advance of the election, Metro released a "quality of life" report Tuesday (via the Source) that shows how Measure R has affected the lives of Angelenos—with the help of pretty charts and data tables, of course.

Not surprisingly, the report is filled with some pretty flattering statistics (rider satisfaction is up five percent!), along with a few data points that seem hard to link solely to Metro (clean buses alone probably don't account for an 8 percent drop in LA County CO2 emissions). There's also a somewhat silly section that argues "riding Metro is quicker than driving during worst case peak period conditions." Of course, the time estimates only include the duration of the ride plus a few minutes of wait time, so that's probably only true if you live at a train station.
Metro Quality of Life graphic Graphics via The Source

Fortunately, one very significant result of Measure R is that nearly a quarter of LA County residents now live close to a rail, express bus, or Metrolink stop. The 31 new stations added since 2008 have the potential to serve just under a half million customers. The transit agency is offering new options to plenty of commuters in these areas, with 40 percent of LA jobs now accessible to Metro stations.
Metro Quality of Life graphic

Metro also acknowledges that ridership has dipped on both trains and buses over the past few years, though the agency is quick to point out that this seems to be part of a national trend. Another intriguing statistic: since 2008, riders report feeling more safe on buses and at bus stops, but less safe on trains and at train stations. It's not clear what's driving this disparity, but it's certainly something Metro will want to address as rail ridership increases and bus ridership goes down.
Metro ridership data

Metro ride time data

Metro Tap card graphic

 Metro environmental data

LA County transit plan must head off bait-and-switch


By The Editorial Board, The Daily Breeze, June 2, 2016

 A file photo shows the opening of of the Expo Line rail extension to Santa Monica last month. The Metro board is considering a proposal similar to Measure R, which helped fund the rail line.

A file photo shows the opening of of the Expo Line rail extension to Santa Monica last month. The Metro board is considering a proposal similar to Measure R, which helped fund the rail line.

In the next few weeks, the board that runs mass transportation in Los Angeles County is expected to give voters the list of proposed new transit projects to approve or reject in a November ballot measure.

If it’s not careful, the board will also give voters something else — a good reason to distrust the whole, $120 billion plan.

Persuading Southern Californians to raise sales taxes to pay for infrastructure improvements is no sure thing under any circumstances. It’s especially hard when a measure needs two-thirds approval to pass, as this initiative to extend the Measure R tax hikes would. Measure R barely cleared the 66.7 percent threshold in 2008, and the followup Measure J fell short in 2012.

Selling taxpayers would be even harder if they couldn’t be sure exactly what they’d be getting for their money.

The original Measure R included guarantees that the listed transportation projects wouldn’t be whimsically changed by the board after the initiative was approved. No money would be siphoned off by the federal or state government or for non-transit spending.

But as the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority prepares to unveil the new initiative colloquially called Measure R2, the Metro board hasn’t indicated it will include such lock-in language.

This alone raises fear of a bait-and-switch, fear that voters could OK an official list of projects in November and then see Metro make changes.

The fear is heightened by something that’s happening separately in Sacramento. Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Cerritos, unhappy that a first draft of R2 didn’t give his district a major transit project for at least another two decades, wants to overhaul the Los Angeles-centric Metro board by increasing representation for other cities.

The possibility of a measure without guarantees combined with a Metro board with shifting priorities is worrisome.

The editorial board spoke with state Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, and Richard Katz, the former assemblyman and Metro board member, who are among the politicians fighting for the San Fernando Valley to get its fair share of new transit projects. They said that even if the project list does right by their part of the county, a lack of guarantees would make them hesitant to support R2.

“I think it makes it hard to campaign for the measure if you can’t look a voter in the eye and say, ‘The list is the list,’” Katz said.

If Metro wants voters’ support, it needs to ensure they know what they’d get for their money.

Candidates Positions on the SR-710 Extension


Candidates, Elected Officials and
Community Leaders
Who Oppose
the SR-710 Extension

Eric Garcetti
Stephen Del Guercio
Mike Gatto
Jimmy Gomez
Gil Gonzalez
Bob Joe
Marina Khubesrian
Carol Liu
Steve Madison
Diana Mahmud
Ara Najarian
Laura Olhasso
Anthony Portantino
Adam Schiff
Richard Schneider
Dave Spence
Don Voss

Candidates, Elected Officials and
Community Leaders
Who Support
the SR-710 Extension

Mike Antonovich
Luis Ayala
Gil Cedillo
Edwin Chau
Judy Chu
John Fasana
Chris Holden
Barbara Messina
Gloria Molina
Stephen Sham
updated on 2/18/2015

Voting Info
for Upcoming Primary Election
June 7th, 2016

Candidates Positions on the SR-710 Extension

Candidates Who are Against
the 710 Extension/Tunnel

United States Representative

Jack Orswell - Candidate 27th Congressional District
Adam B. Schiff - Congressman Incumbent and Candidate 28th Congressional District

State Senator

Anthony J Portantino - Candidate State Senate District 25

Member of the State Assembly

Alan S Reynolds - City Commissioner, Candidate Assemblymember 41st District
Laura Friedman - Glendale City Councilmember, Candidate Assemblymember 43Rd District
Jimmy Gomez - Candidate Assemblymember 51st District

County Supervisor

Ara J Najarian - Glendale City Councilmember, Candidate Los Angeles County Supervisor 5th District

Candidates Who WANT
the SR-710 Extension/Tunnel

United States Representative

Judy Chu - Congresswoman Incumbent and Candidate 27th Congressional District
Xavier Becerra - Candidate U.S. Representative 34th District

State Senator

Michael D. Antonovich - Candidate for State Senate District 25

Member of the State Assembly

Chris Holden - Incumbent, Candidate for Assemblymember 41st District
Ed Chau - Candidate for Assemblymember 49Th District

County Supervisor

Bob Huff - Candidate Los Angeles County Supervisor 5th District


This website is designed to provide information
and documentation regarding the 710 tunnel project.
updated 5/28/2016

Pasadena Weekly Election Endorsements: Why Are They All 710 Tunnel Supporters?

June 3, 2016

Mod: I have often believed that the Pasadena Weekly can be bought. Out of all our fine local publications (a few of whom often claim to have more influence than they actually do), the PW is on the top of my list to potential pay-to-play papers. If you have any doubts about this, click here for a quick refresher on last year's Tyron Hampton/Andre' Coleman controversies. And I have to tell you, their election endorsements this week smell awfully fishy to me. I mean, how can you endorse both Bernie Sanders and Michael Antonovich in the same breath?

Not that the Sage of Burlington is a known 710 Tunnel supporter mind you (at least not to me), but everybody local they endorsed for next Tuesday's California primary just happens to be. Check out this noisome bunch (link):

It just seems like too much of a coincidence. Support for the hole from hell is the only thing all four of these shopworn political perennials have in common. So what gives?

Speaking of the 710 Tunnel ...

The real City of Pasadena is taking its opposition to the Alhambra Abattoir to next fall's ballot, and that really is a marvelous thing to see. Check out this Pasadena Star News editorial.

For the rest of this important editorial click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Metro Budget Announcement

From Sylvia Plummer, June 2, 2016

Highway projects and programs include sound walls throughout the county, added capacity for Interstate 5, Alameda Corridor East Grade Separations in the San Gabriel Valley and environmental, planning and engineering studies on the I-605 Hot Spots, the SR-710 North Study, the SR-710 South project and SR-138 capacity enhancements."

Give Pasadena voters a chance to oppose 710 tunnel

From Sylvia Plummer, June 2, 2016

 We encourage you to attend June 13 Pasadena City Council meeting
At the meeting, the city council will discuss Mayor Terry Tornek's proposal to place an initiative on the November ballot to repeal Measure A. Passed in 2001 by Pasadena voters, Measure A directed the city to support the "completion of the 710 extension." At the WPRA's annual meeting on May 18, Mayor Tornek called for the repeal of Measure A so that the city can oppose the 710 tunnel without reservation. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13, in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Ave.