CD 2 Questionnaire: Paul Krekorian

9_2_09_krekorian_at.jpgAsm. Krekorian gives an interview after a press conference supporting his "Safe Streets" Legislation, A.B. 766. Photo: Dr. Alex Thompson/Flickr

Regular readers of Streetsblog are familiar with Assemblyman Paul Krekorian because of his efforts to change a state law which pressures the LADOT and LAPD to raise speed limits on local roads. While his legislation was stalled in the Assembly Transportation Committee, he has vowed to push forward with his efforts this fall starting with a public meeting on the legislation on September 15 in Burbank.

As you might expect, his questionnaire answer for the one on speed limits is pretty detailed. Other highlights include another Stephen Box reference and an aggressive stance towards improving streets for cyclists and pedestrians. His full answers are below, and you can see the other candidates’ responses here:

1) When you commute to work, how do you do it? What percentage of the trips that you take don’t involve an automobile?

While in the district, I drive a Toyota Prius. In Sacramento, I drive one of the Assembly’s hybrid Camry pool cars when necessary, but I frequently walk home from the Capitol to my apartment (depending on how late I’m working).

2) Over the past year, a number of surface streets in the valley have had their speed limits raised. Are these increases a result of the natural order, or an interest that needs to be addressed? What, if anything can be done to reverse these changes?

These increases are (in part) the result of the state "speed trap" law that prohibits local governments from using radar enforcement unless they have set speed limits based on an updated engineering traffic study. The general practice for setting speed limits is to complete a study that collects data on vehicle travel speed, and the posted limit is then set at the 85th percentile of that speed plus five mph, barring certain extenuating circumstance. The effect has been an upward creep in posted speed limits.

To address this problem, I introduced my legislation, AB 766, which gives greater control to local municipalities to set and retain speed limits. Though that legislation has been shelved in the Transportation Committee due to pressure by special interest lobbyists in Sacramento, I remain committed to pushing for legislative fixes to the problem of speeding. In the meantime, I am pressing ahead with a Town Hall to develop community-based solutions to speeding in our neighborhoods. That forum is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Burbank. More information on the event is available on my website, www.assembly.ca.gov/krekorian.

I am the only candidate in this race to aggressively tackle the issue of allowing communities to better control their speed limits for the benefit of drivers, residents, bicyclists, pedestrians and others.

But legislation is only part of the answer. Stop signs and speed humps are welcome additions in some communities, but travel speed has a lot to do with road geometry and trip generators. So, for instance, people will drive much faster if the street is straight, the lanes are wide, and the traffic signals are far apart. Other ideas to reduce speeding that have been effective in some communities include narrowing streets by constructing medians or planters – which have worked well along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. We need thoughtful solutions that will incorporate community involvement to effectively reduce the dangerous elements of speeding on our streets.


3) The city is currently studying leasing the rights to its parking meters and certain parking garages for a large cash payment up front. Do you support this kind of financing ideas, and if so what kind of conditions should be part of any agreement with a private firm?

I’m still studying this issue, but of course my support would depend entirely on the details of the arrangement, including the impacts on the affordability and availability of parking, the "payback" period of the upfront payment versus traditional revenue streams, the credibility of the financial and consumer behavior assumptions, etc.

4) What can the City Council do to reduce and prevent fatal crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users?

I have focused on traffic safety throughout my Assembly career, including my AB 766 this session, and a previous bill targeted at grossly excessive speeding (adding a second violation point to the driver’s record for speeding in excess of 25 mph over the posted limit). On the city level, I would continue to work to improve street safety for everyone who shares the road by aggressively implementing the bicycle and pedestrian master plans, ensuring that LADOT has funding to retain/restore their bicycle planning group and improving the visibility of pedestrians at pedestrian crossings.

5) The former Council Woman for CD2, Wendy Greuel, chaired the Transportation Committee. Do you want to be part of the Transportation Committee?

Regardless of what committee I might serve on, should I be fortunate enough to be elected, I plan to have an integral role in shaping transportation policy for the future of Los Angeles. That said, I would be very pleased to serve on the Transportation Committee and work on the mobility and environmental issues that are so important to our quality of life in Los Angeles.

6) One of the ways that a City Council Member can effect change for non-motorized users is by appointing informed activists to the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Are you familiar with community activists who could best serve an appointed position on these committees?

My staff and I have worked closely in the past with many bicycle/pedestrian activists. I am a strong supporter of the Bicycle Bill of Rights and counted as official supporters of my AB 766 the Bike Writer’s Collective and other groups. We have worked with others in the Bike Oven, C.I.C.L.E. and other organizations to improve street safety and my staff regularly seeks the input of transportation bloggers/experts to inform my opinions about transportation issues.

7) If you could change one thing about transportation in Los Angeles with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?

My wish would be for Los Angeles to have a comprehensive and integrated mass transit system that serves every part of the city and fully integrates all modes of transportation (including rail and bus, together with bicyclist and pedestrian utility), and is user-friendly enough to provide an easy-to-use and practical means of getting from place to place throughout every part of the city without a personal auto.

  • Gone Green

    A simple fix would require a City traffic engineer to go down the check list of extenuating circumstances and, under penalty of perjury, indicated if the condition exists or does not exist at the site. IF the extenuating circumstances exist, the speed limit would be required to be set lower automatically, not permissively as current law allows, unless a traffic study shows a safety requirement for a higher speed limit.

    There could also be a requirement of traffic calming check off in some form or another. . . but that is really the next step . . .

    For the most part, City Transportation Depts. overlook or appear to be afraid to apply the existing allowable speed reductions: A “penalty of perjury” check off gives an engineer an incentive to carefully survey conditions, and justify why any such were not used to lower speed limits.

  • Asm. Krekorian’s bill deserves to be stalled. He needs to get rid of the town hall veto on speed limits, and instead to incorporate some better technical definitions in the MUTCD that would allow an engineer to take the car speed datat and push it to the side in favor of livability, and the safety and convenience of other modes of transportation (walking, bike riding, etc.).

    He wants a list of technical definitions, tell him to gimme a call! ubrayj02@yahoo.com

  • Ted Costa

    Take your traffic ticket … and eat your vegetables
    Posted by Joseph Rose, The Oregonian August 31, 2009 07:42AM

    Over at Slate, “Traffic” author Tom Vanderbilt asks, “What do Timothy
    McVeigh, Ted Bundy, David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz, and 9/11 ring-leader
    Mohammed Atta have in common?”

    Yes, they’re all murderers. But Vanderbilt also points out that they
    were brought to police attention by “routine” traffic violations.

    The point? Traffic tickets are good for you, America, Vanderbilt
    argues very convincingly. And they’re not just effective at netting
    madmen, he writes in “In Praise of Traffic Tickets.” They’re good for
    you in more ways than you think.

    In the U.S., where the car is the dominant mode of transportation, he
    writes, “most crimes involve driving. But another factor is that
    people with off-road criminal records have been shown, in a number of
    studies, to commit more on-road violations.”

    Of course, there are also the otherwise law-abiding citizens who flout
    traffic laws. Vanderbilt laments the nation’s long-standing tendency
    to consider traffic violations “folk crimes” instead of real crimes.

    “The consequences of not issuing tickets were shown in a recent study
    of traffic violations in New York City. From 2001 to 2006, the number
    of fatalities in which speeding was implicated rose 11 percent. During
    the same period, the number of speeding summons issued by the NYPD
    dropped 11 percent. Similarly, summonses for red-light-running
    violations dropped 13 percent between 2006 and 2008, even as the
    number of crashes increased. As an alternative approach, consider
    France, where the dangerous driver is as storied a cliche as a beret
    on the head and a baguette under the arm. As the ITE Journal notes,
    since 2000, France has reduced its road fatality rate by an incredible
    43 percent. Instrumental in that reduction has been a roll-out of
    automated speed cameras and a toughening of penalties. For example,
    negligent driving resulting in a death, which often results in little
    punishment in the United States, carries a penalty of five years in
    prison and a 75,000-euro fine.”

    Traffic Court defense lawyers are increasing the “bad drivers” getting off and doing it for lower and lower fees in an effort to extort the Traffic Court by threatening trials. You should not be able to have a lawyer represent you in traffic court (infractions)just like Small Claims Court. This would stop the 85% effective results the traffic law attorneys are getting in California doing this.

  • Ted Costa

    TIRED OF BAD DRIVERS? Do Something about it.

    The low cost of defending drivers in traffic courts have increased and
    slowed down the traffic court system. This has allowed more bad drivers to
    continue to drive legally in California. Until recently when the Miami
    law firm called Ticket Clinic moved to Los Angeles to take on the
    8,000 traffic tickets per day. The amount of contestors will double
    over the years with advertising and on technicalities more bad drivers
    will get their penaly reduced and worse bad drivers will be given another
    chance. The amount of defendants contesting their traffic violations
    is double the norm for the U.S. in Miami where this law firm comes
    from. They have a McDonald principle of marketing where they charge $69.00 to $99.00 per ticket and get hundreds of people who have a need to take a change. They are 85%-90% effective in getting most people off. In Florida they are 100% effective.

    This is why we need legislation to make traffic infractions contestation not be by attorneys like in the Small Claims Court. Please review the research cited below and or email me for a copy.

    See “Minor Crimes and Massive Waste”
    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS
    April 2009

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

City Election Preview: Krekorian vs. Bisani in CD2

|
It seems as though it were just yesterday, but in fact was almost a year and a half ago, that we were first discussing which candidate would replace Wendy Greuel as the City Council Member for the 2nd Councilmanic District, located mostly in the Valley.  Streetsblog sent surveys to each of the 10 candidates in […]

Speed Limit Raises Reach Their Last Stop

|
It seems like years since the first time I wrote about the LADOT’s efforts to increase speed limits on several surface arterial streets in the San Fernando Valley.  Earlier today, one batch of those increases appeared on the City Council’s Consent Agenda, traditionally the last place legislation appears before it becomes law. Despite LADOT’s protestations […]

“Safe Streets” Community Meeting in Burbank

|
Assemblymember Paul Krekorian (D-Burbank) is set to host a free forum to address safe streets on Tuesday, Sep. 15 in Burbank. The Safe Streets Workshop will give residents an update about Krekorian’s AB 766, the Safe Streets Bill, and what lies ahead for ensuring local control over speed limits. AB 766, legislation to give local […]

Meet Your New Transportation Committee, Chaired by Mike Bonin

|
We just received confirmation from Council Member Mike Bonin’s office that Bonin will  replace his former boss Bill Rosendahl as Chair of the City Council Transportation Committee. The Westside’s Council District 11, which Bonin represents, is home to two of the largest infrastructure projects in the region, the 405 Widening through the Sepulveda Pass and […]