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

Sunday, October 2, 2016

WATCH THE FORUM: "The Pasadena Way...or Their Highway"

 From Steve Madison, City of Pasadena Councilperson, September 21, 2016

We had a great turnout for the 710 Tunnel Forum (even though thre were several other events the same evening).  The focus was information-sharing about alternatives to the 710 Tunnel project which would be catastrophic for Pasadena and the Region.
Our esteemed presenters—Paul Moore, renowned transportation and traffic expert,  public policy and transportation guru David Grannis and highly respected architect and urbanist Stefanos Polyzoides—were terrific.
If you were unable to attend the forum, please know that the program in its entirety has been uploaded to the District 6 website http://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/district6 (Scroll down to Featured Stories and click on the image.)  
Please feel free to share any thoughts you may have after viewing the Forum.  I look forward to hearing from you.
Finally, please forward this information to others.  The 710 Tunnel project is an important regional issue that is of great concern to us all.

Is Alhambra ready to elect councilmembers who oppose the 710 Freeway tunnel?


By Christopher Yee, September 23, 2016

 Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall who is against the 710 Freeway tunnel option pointing to the traffic and potential area for the underground 710 freeway tunnel on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra. Is Alhambra ready to elect city councilmembers who don’t support the completion of the 710? With the surface freeway option off the table, the only other option to complete the freeway is an underground tunnel, but two Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, oppose the tunnel, bucking tradition in Alhambra.

Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall who is against the 710 Freeway tunnel option pointing to the traffic and potential area for the underground 710 freeway tunnel on Fremont Avenue in Alhambra. Is Alhambra ready to elect city councilmembers who don’t support the completion of the 710? With the surface freeway option off the table, the only other option to complete the freeway is an underground tunnel, but two Alhambra council candidates, Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, oppose the tunnel, bucking tradition in Alhambra.

ALHAMBRA >> For more than half a century, the battle over whether to complete the 710 Freeway from its terminus in Alhambra north to Pasadena has been divisive for San Gabriel Valley residents.

Many people often boil down the battle to Alhambra versus South Pasadena, with the former in favor of completing the freeway and the latter opposed. All five members of Alhambra’s current City Council support Metro and Caltrans’ tunnel proposal and make that opinion known by hanging banners over Fremont Avenue that read “Close the gap” and even closing Fremont once a year on July 10 to host a street festival centered around completing the 710.

After 51 years, are Alhambra residents ready to shed the pro-710-extension mantle as they prepare to elect two new City Council members, with Vice Mayor Steven Placido and Councilman Gary Yamauchi terming out?

Both seats are being contested by candidates who oppose the 710 tunnel, but it remains unclear whether Alhambra voters are ready to move in that direction.

Council candidates Mark Nisall and Ken Toh, running for the seats in districts 3 and 4 respectively, both said they started out supporting the tunnel but changed their opinions after learning more about the project’s cost, which has been estimated at $5 billion-$10 billion, and a 10- to 15-year construction estimate.

Nisall and Toh both said the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Nisall said he supports increased light-rail options, adding rapid bus lines, improving traffic signal synchronization and the construction of an above-ground north-south boulevard that lines up with the 710 terminus. Toh said he supports increased light-rail and rapid bus lines.

Nisall also is concerned with the potential environmental impacts that boring a tunnel below people’s homes may have.

“I couldn’t support it after looking at the cost, the time it would take to construct and the environmental dangers ahead,” he said.

Nisall said his position isn’t making him any friends, but he’s hoping voters will take time to consider the alternatives to the tunnel and, ultimately, not just make their council decisions based on the 710.

“I hope people won’t decide to vote for or against me or any other candidate only on this one issue,” Nisall said. “I hope they look at our positions on other issues as well.”


For several years, a group calling itself Alhambrans Against the 710 has been trying to rally locals to fight efforts to complete the freeway, including the tunnel.

The group protests at Alhambra’s 710 Day and marches alongside the “No on 710” coalition in the South Pasadena Fourth of July parade.

The group has grown from 40 members to 90 in the past two years, which may sound low but illustrates a shift in philosophy among residents, said member and 10-year resident Melissa Michelson.

“It’s time for nonestablishment candidates to come up,” Michelson said. “People are sick of the old guard. To me, it’s historic that we finally have candidates willing to speak against the 710.”

Michelson said November’s ballot results will tell just how ready the city is for that change.


Nisall and Toh are being opposed by Jeff Maloney and David Mejia, respectively. While neither said they are specifically supporting the tunnel, both said they would support whatever option Metro and Caltrans deems most effective.

Mejia lives just off of Fremont near Valley Boulevard and said he has to deal with the traffic every day.

“The other candidates don’t see what I see every day,” said Mejia, an investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department. “We have families trying to walk around here with cars zooming through. (Traffic navigation mobile app) Waze loves my block, unfortunately.”

Maloney said he is ready to support Metro’s best solution to reducing traffic, gridlock, air pollution and damage to the streets created by the 710 emptying into Alhambra.

“It looks like they will end up recommending a tunnel,” Maloney said. “If that’s the case, I would support it.”

But Maloney also said that, ultimately, Alhambra won’t be the one deciding to dig a tunnel; Metro and Caltrans will decide the 710’s future.


Metro and Caltrans may be leading the conversation right now with the 710 alternatives under environmental review, but the positions cities take on the matter still bear weight, said Sam Pedroza, mayor of Claremont and vice chair of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments’ transportation committee.

“The environmental review process is out of the cities’ hands,” Pedroza said, “But the advocacy for or against the project is still largely in the cities’ hands.”

In 2018, Alhambra Mayor Barbara Messina and City Councilmen Luis Ayala and Stephen Sham will term out of their council seats, which leaves open the possibility of a new majority opinion on the council.

Viola Rippon, president of the Alhambra Democratic Club, said she isn’t sure residents care anymore.
The club held a candidates forum in August and endorsed Nisall and Toh, but not because of their views on the 710. In fact, Rippon said she wasn’t aware until recently that Toh opposed the tunnel.

Instead, Rippon said residents are more concerned with overdevelopment and accompanying traffic buildup in Alhambra.

“Right now, the 710 is an antiquated issue,” Rippon said. “It could come up again once Metro makes a final decision, but I think after 50 years most people around here have moved on.”

In Measure M, L.A. County transit plan goes the distance this time: Guest commentary


By Michael Antonovich, October 2, 2016

Measure M would extend the route for the Metro Gold Line train, shown here in 2013 at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena. (File photo)
 Measure M would extend the route for the Metro Gold Line train, shown here in 2013 at the Del Mar Station in Pasadena.

It is vital that any ballot measure addressing our county’s transportation needs provides a comprehensive, regional solution to reduce congestion and improve air quality. Previous transportation measures were created from the top down and failed to guarantee a fair share for, or consider the needs of, Los Angeles County’s 88 cities and 134 unincorporated communities. Those measures also failed to develop a truly regional, interconnected transportation system.

Measure M, the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan” corrects these failures.

In 2013, as chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, following the defeat of Measure J, I sent letters to each of the county’s 88 cities and their regional Councils of Government asking them to identify their local and regional transportation priorities. This set into motion a first-of-its-kind, bottoms-up approach to assess the transportation needs of our county, which was supported by subsequent Metro chairs, Diane DuBois, Eric Garcetti, Mark Ridley-Thomas and John Fasana. Hundreds of public meetings were held with the cities, community organizations, business groups, experts and advocates.

In contrast to previous measures, Measure M creates a regional transportation system which is fair to our county’s local communities because it was developed from the bottom up. It is subject to tough accountability measures with an oversight committee and annual audits posted online. Further, all funds generated are for local use only on transit projects in Los Angeles County — and cannot be siphoned away by the state.

Funding from Measure M will be used in each of our county’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities to repair and build new transportation infrastructure — from filling potholes to paving roads to synchronizing signals to improving intersections. Measure M will fix bottlenecks on freeways including the 5, 14, 405 and 605. Relieving traffic congestion, it will improve freight and goods movement by supporting the development of the High Desert Multi-purpose Corridor, upgrading Metrolink, enhancing passenger and freight rail corridors, and constructing critical grade separation projects.

Enhancing regional transit, it will extend the Gold Line through the San Gabriel Valley to Claremont, connecting with existing stations in Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. Dubbed the “Brain Train,” the Gold Line is connecting educational institutions including the Pasadena Arts Center, Cal Tech, Pasadena City College, Azusa Pacific University, La Verne University and the Claremont Colleges.

Measure M will also provide a vital connection between the Gold Line and the Red Line, from Pasadena to North Hollywood via Glendale and Burbank, on a dedicated bus line, which I proposed to further connect the county’s transportation system. It connects the San Fernando Valley to the Westside and will bring multiple lines to LAX. In addition, it will fund improvements to the Orange Line, ultimately transitioning to light rail, and build a 20-mile rail line from Downtown L.A. to Artesia.

Under the leadership of CEO Phil Washington, Metro will continue to be proactive and inclusive of the needs of our communities through the region and Measure M will provide the resources to meet those needs into the future. It will keep student, senior and disabled fares affordable while funding critical earthquake retrofits of our bridges and overpasses. It will also create over 465,000 jobs and has bipartisan support from labor, business, chambers of commerce and public officials.

On Nov. 8, Los Angeles County voters will have an opportunity to develop a comprehensive and interconnected transportation system which will relieve congestion and gridlock, improve air quality and quality of life for the residents of our County’s 88 cities and unincorporated communities.
Measure M will modernize our aging transportation system and provide a 21st century transportation network which accelerates transit lines and ties them together into a comprehensive system with improved freeway and local road networks. Vote yes on Measure M.

Michael Antonovich is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, representing the 5th District.