Your Streetsblog Voting Guide for Tomorrow’s Mayor’s Race

The 2013 Mayoral Election ends tomorrow. We’ve been covering the election for almost a year and a half. As Laura Nelson’s piece in the Los Angeles Times today shows, one has to look closely to find the differences between Council Member Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel on transportation and Livable Streets issues. Both support completing Bike Plan projects, but neither would commit to a specific one. Both support speeding up Measure R transit projects, but neither offer a new idea beyond 30/10 and Measure J II. Both want more CicLAvias. Neither want to double-deck the 405.

Nevertheless, we present the Streetsblog voter guide.

Best of luck voting tomorrow. I look forward to reading the results Wednesday morning in a Holiday Inn in West Virginia.

First, let’s start with the obvious. If you’re reading this piece, you probably support Eric Garcetti. When we polled readers in the primary, Garcetti earned a clear majority 50.2%, just enough that we’re not polling again this time (he won our primary straight out.) In addition, he’s won smaller polls where we asked you who gave the better anwers to questions in televised debates, even when I though Greuel gave a better  answer. And why not? After all, he does have a decent track record as a Council Member and President and even helps wounded pedestrians in his free time.

Just to round things out, he filled out our candidate survey. Greuel didn’t. Even if his answers were so generic they made my eyes roll to the back of my head, at least he answered them…

Which isn’t to say that one can’t make a compelling case for Greuel. Decorated Streetsblog contributor Dana Gabbard makes the case for Wendy Greuel and the Crenshaw Subway Coalition smells a rat in Garcetti’s support for a grade-separated Crenshaw Line. In the aforementioned L.A. Times piece, Sunyoung Yang of the Bus Riders Union implies that Greuel was more supportive of efforts on Wilshire and farebox recovery ratio as Transportation Committee Chair than Garcetti was as Council President.

The two also differ on their positions on how best to create a functioning transit line along the 405 Sepulveda Pass Corridor. Despite Metro’s efforts to make the pass completely unusable for northbound traffic the last several years, and their demonstration of how nice L.A. is when the pass is closed; people still drive on the darned thing. Metro plans to one day build a rail corridor through the pass. Both Garcetti and Greuel think a tunnel is the way to go. However, Garcetti wants a massive heavy rail tunnel. Greuel favors a smaller light rail tunnel with a Bus Rapid Transit route over the mountain.

When you compare the answers the candidates gave at the American Institute of Architects forums fifteen months ago (Garcetti, Greuel), and compare those answers with what was said in our video series (listen to the long-form version of their answers, here,) with what they say at debates…it’s clear that neither has spent a lot of time working on the transportation issue these last 15 months and is instead relying on the expertise gained over the last decade in City Hall. The good news is, both have decent records on transit, bicycling, and Livable Streets.

Whether a decade of City Hall experience is enough to keep L.A. moving in the right direction is an open question.

But what we do know is this. At least the election is over tomorrow.

  • Anonymous

    Typically outlets such as yours back a candidate so that those of us with less time but some degree of faith in your assertions can use your (and others) recommendations to help make our own choice. This reads like “eh, they’re both the same”. Did i miss your selection or are you guys just hedging your bets?

  • michael macdonald

    Streetsblog is a 501(c)(3), and thus can’t endorse candidates. They have tried to provide enough information related to transit issues to help voters to make a decision.

  • Joel Epstein and I wrote pieces on our respective choices, he on Garcetti and I on Greuel. Those should help in making a decision. Also as someone who help oversees a 501(c)(4) I should point out my experience is endorsements come at a price — news outlets may hold you at arm’s length, etc.

  • Laura Nelson reports in re Garcetti “He’s also proposed high-tech “car trains” that would control speeds of groups of vehicles and increase the capacity of the region’s freeways”. A friend once pointed out the flaw of such strategies — how do the surface streets deal with all the extra traffic spilling off the freeways onto them? And despite the boosterism of Mark Lacter at LA Observed, driverless cars are not a solution that is right around the corner — likely to be years before they progress to being anything beyond a very limited application.

  • I voted for Garcetti because Bus Rider Union and Damien Goodmon are for Greuel.

    Plus Garcetti was the only one to dismiss Beverly Hills’ lawsuits against Purple line as baseless. Greuel didn’t even have a coherent position on Beverly Hill’s NIMBY intransigence and spoke alternatively in favor of the lawsuits (without knowing the merits) or not having an opinion at several of the primary debates.

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