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Judge Backs City of Long Beach in Rail Yard Project Suit; Port of LA & BNSF Sent Back to Drawing Board

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When our former editor Brian Addison first joined the Streetsblog team (parent of Longbeachize), one of his first pieces he wrote openly criticized a rail yard project dubbed the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) that was to be built in West Long Beach by rail giant BNSF.

Not only was the 153-acre project massively detrimental to the overall health of the Westside, it was at first widely endorsed. In fact, Long Beach’s main paper of record, the Press-Telegram, endorsed the project in what Addison called “a sadly misunderstood and ill-grounded editorial”—and in turn, he became one of many leaders of the anti-SCIG as well as the first journalist to bring to question the project. He wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

“It is very hard for me intellectually to accept that you value the life of a kid on this side of the city border more than you do a kid in my city.” – Former Mayor Bob Foster

In what is nothing short of spectacularly large news, the City of Long Beach—which filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles after the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) Harbor Commissioners and the LA City Council unanimously approved the project—has had Superior Court Judge Barry P. Goode rule in favor of the stance that SCIG “failed to perform adequate environmental analysis before approving the massive SCIG rail yard project adjacent to many residents and businesses located in West Long Beach.”

The ruling requires that POLA complete a new EIR to reduce the negative impacts from the project. BNSF persistently claimed, despite direct proof in their own EIR, that the SCIG project would actually benefit West Long Beach residents. As more and more evidence came to light through the work of 20-plus nonprofit and community groups, as well as Addison’s work that showed the contrary, outrage ensued.

Then-Mayor Bob Foster was outright vitriolic in his outspokenness against the project, with one of his quotes–“It is very hard for me intellectually to accept that you value the life of a kid on this side of the city border more than you do a kid in my city”–finding itself on every major newspaper in the country, even on the pages of the New York Times. Read more…

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Long Beach Beach Streets II Open Thread

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Beach Streets on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

There were plenty of great firsts taking place last Saturday at Long Beach’s second iteration of its excellent Beach Streets open streets festival.

It was not Long Beach’s first ciclovía; that took place nearly a year ago, in June 2015.

It was the first time the city of Long Beach has held an open streets event in its downtown area – actually extending along Broadway from Downtown to Belmont Heights. The route showed off Long Beach’s new rainbow crosswalks.

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Long Beach’s fabulous new rainbow crosswalks celebrate the city’s rich LGBTQ cultures

Read more…

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Long Beach Bike-Share To Launch 100 Bikes At Beach Streets On March 19

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia demonstrates Long Beach's new bike-share system. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia demonstrates Long Beach’s new bike-share system. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At a kick-off event this morning, the city of Long Beach celebrated a soft launch of its new bike-share system, called Long Beach Bike Share. There are currently two stations in operation, with a dozen bikes. The system will fully publicly open at the Saturday March 19 Beach Streets open streets event.

The 4-mile March 19 Beach Streets will be the first open streets event in downtown Long Beach, extending eastward through Belmont Heights. The route [PDF] is primarily along Broadway, with spurs on Pine Avenue and Cherry Avenue. Beach Streets is looking for volunteers.

Long Beach Bike Share currently has two hubs installed: one at City Hall, the other on Third Street at the Promenade.  Read more…

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Long Beach’s ‘Beach Streets’ Ciclovía Set to Invade DTLB on March 19

BeachStreets2016-940x520Well, the City of Long Beach will see its second ciclovía on Saturday, March 19—and yes, it will be in Downtown Long Beach for Beach Streets Downtown.

We had lamented that Downtown didn’t score a ciclovía last year when Long Beach’s first Beach Streets was held in Bixby Knolls/North Long Beach. Many, particularly our former editor Brian Addison, felt “the imagery of Downtown paired with its density, attractions, and biking/ped infrastructure, would have better served for the city’s first time in the ciclovía spotlight and led to more ciclovías from here on out with much more ease.”

While the route has yet to be released, we are hoping that this one isn’t ignored (with just two months away and no formal promotion, we’re beginning to fret).

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Long Beach’s First Ever Beach Streets Ciclovía – Open Thread

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach.  Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach. Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

How was your Beach Streets? Long Beach, the aspirational most bike-friendly city in America and demonstrably the most bike-friendly city in L.A. County, has joined the ranks of cities hosting open streets festivals or ciclovías. Long Beach’s first ever Beach Streets was full of camaraderie, chillness, and community.

For a photo essay, see our sister site LongBeachIze. Lots more photos at The Source. For a look at the Long Beach bike-share system demo, see SerenaGrace Tumblr.

How was it for you, SBLA readers? Are open streets festivals different in cities that embrace two-wheeled transportation? Was Long Beach’s ciclovía markedly different than open streets festivals produced by the non-profit CicLAvia? Has Metro’s countywide open streets initiative spread these events to new places and exposed new people to the awesomenesses that are ciclovías? Comment below!

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

 

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10 Beach Streets Tips for Those Experiencing Open Streets for the First Time Tomorrow

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I still remember the feeling in the air right before the 10/10/10 CicLAvia: a mix of anticipation, nervous energy and curiosity. Twelve CicLAvia’s later, including CicLAvia XIII in Pasadena last week, the event brings the same excitement and wonder it ever does. But, as an experienced Open Streets participant, humor me while I share some of my views on the best ways to enjoy Beach Streets. Long Beach’s very first Beach Streets takes place tomorrow – Saturday June 6 from .

1. First off, if you’ve never been to an Open Streets event, take a couple of minutes to check out this video to get pumped up. This video is nearly a decade old, but captures the energy of the Bogota ciclovia so well that it’s still used by advocates trying to convince their own city to embrace open streets.

Want to see more, check out some of our videos from the first CicLAvias in Los Angeles.

2. Pack for twice as long as you expect to be there. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to do and how addictive it is to just be out there. So pack your suntan lotion, pack your water, bring some snacks…

3.  …AND plan to spend some money. One of the easiest stories for a reporter looking to cast shade on an Open Streets is to find some businesses that “lost a day of revenue” because “people couldn’t get to the store.” Provide your own counter-narrative by visiting some local shops and eateries and spend some cash.

4. Figure out how you’re going to get to the event ahead of time. Long Beach Transit is providing free shuttle service (look for the buses with a “Charter” sign) and there will be a temporary bike lane on Wardlow Street from the Blue Line Station to the west of the event. Last but not least, LBCycology has planned a feeder bike ride. Santa Monica Spoke too.

5. But still bring a map. Ok, I know you’re going to say that the route is basically a straight line. But you never know how knowing where the street closures are is going to impact your trip to and from and through the event. Also, Open Streets is about meeting new people, and you also never know when having a map will help you make a new friend. Print a map, here.

6. Leave your racing shoes/wheels at home. There are few things that ruin an Open Streets event more than people who see the lack of cars and decide to act like entitled drivers anyway. Beach Streets is not about setting land-speed records. Relax. You’ll appreciate it. So will everyone around you. While you’re at it, leave the lycra at home too.

7. Bring a friend…especially if you’re planning to bike the event. Bring families, kids, husbands, domestic partners, nieces, etc. Your non-cyclist friends probably think that biking in the city is too hard, show them how easy it can beTell your non-biking friends that you’re only going to ride an hour or two (don’t talk distances, just times), with plenty of stops for snacks and lunch. Your friends may be surprised at how far they can go.

8. Don’t plan ahead. At least don’t plan too much. Be spontaneous. Yes, maybe plan to do something at a specific place and time, but also leave time to run into friends, make new friends, listen to music, etc. Be spontaneous. Be open to the unexpected – and you will see something or someone you didn’t expect. Don’t try to get from one end of the route to the other quickly, or you might be stressed and disappointed. If you really want to plan your day around a specific event or have a fun place for a meetup, Beach Streets’ website has guides to both events and entertainment.

9. Stop and take pictures. While the city is planning to hold these events again, there isn’t a set timeline. You never know how long it will be before you get a chance to fill up your Livable Streets Photo Album. You also never know when your favorite website for news and views on urban design and clean transportation options might hold a photo contest.

10. Be nice. I hope this is self-explanatory.

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Now It’s Long Beach Who Could Be 1st to Get Bike-Share

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It looks like Long Beach will be the first city in LA County to have a bike-share program as the City let go of its former contract with the defunct Bike Nation, handing it over to German company Nextbike. This follows the announcement earlier this year that the City would bid for a Downtown bike-share program.

According to the contract signed by the City of Long Beach last March, Nextbike will be responsible for installing “up to two hundred fifty (250) bike stations comprising three thousand seven hundred fifty (3,750) bike docks with two thousand five hundred (2,500) bicycles[.]”

Nextbike owns the world’s largest bike sharing network (20,000 bikes) with a presence in more than 30 German cities and in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Dubai, Hungary, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The contract specifies that both docking stations will be installed over four installation periods, with an initial implementation supposed to have occurred last month with a launch of 100 bikes.

The second installation, set to be deployed in November of this year, will include a proposed 70 smart docking stations with 700 bikes.

“The launch of this deployment may be contingent upon the success of the prior deployment at Nextbike’s discretion, Nextbike receiving additional public and/or private capital funding, and/or obtaining a major program sponsor,” the contract said.

The third installation increases to 80 stations with 800 bikes with a deadline of April of 2016; once again, implementation of this depends on the success of the previous deployment.

Come April 2017, Nextbike is scheduled to deploy an additional 90 stations with 900 bikes, bringing the grand total to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes.

Both physical docking stations and “virtual docking” stations are set to be installed. Virtual docking stations are areas which the GPS tool on the bike can be read within a certain vicinity and you can simply lock your bike to a Nextbike rack or on a regular rack.

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For Goodness’ Sake, Stop Widening the 405

Albert Einstein says that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I have bad news for transportation planners at OCTA and Caltrans. You’ve gone insane. And the disease is spreading.

http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm100.htm

It’s common knowledge that freeway widenings accomplish little besides encouraging sprawl and increasing driving, yet OCTA, Caltrans and Metro want to do it.

The Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans are banding together for another 1950’s style environmental disaster, widening the 405 between the 605 and the 73. The massive expansion project would add two lanes in each direction from Costa Mesa to Long Beach, an addition of over 80 miles of highway lanes. One of the lanes in each direction would be a toll lane.  The project’s total cost is only $1.7 billion.

And this isn’t just insanity, it is also schizophrenia. After all, Caltrans’ Strategic Management Plan calls for ending road widening projects even as the branch office wants to triple down on massive 405 expansions from Orange County through the Sepulveda Pass.

KPCC reports that the City of Long Beach, frustrated with the low amount of mitigation funds being offered for a massive freeway widening planned for the 405 that will dump thousands of new cars on local roads, is planning a lawsuit.

The bad news is the reason why:

Sanchez said Long Beach would like for Orange County to slow down the expansion project to give Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority time to come up with a similar expansion of the 405 on the L.A. side.

The MTA is reviewing a feasibility study that could add one or two lanes to a five-mile stretch of the 405 in Long Beach, between the I-605 interchange north to Cherry Avenue. But that project is in the early stages, MTA officials said.

Oh, for the love of… Read more…

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Long Beach To Put Downtown LB Bike Share Program Out To Bid

Someday my docking station will come.

Someday my docking station will come.

We have been waiting for bike share—for over two years. And it seems, Long Beach, that we are finally in the more tangible stages of receiving it.

According to Nathan Baird, Mobility Coordinator for the City of Long Beach, the City will be going out to bid in the next six weeks to pursue a bike share program that will be launched in Downtown. 50 stations, 500 bikes. The cost? $2.2M through a federal grant.

But what about Bike Nation, Long Beach’s proposed bike share vendor? The company had announced in August 2012 that they would invest some $12 million into a bike share program here in Long Beach was met with astounding cheers. At the time, they had expected some 250 kiosks—yes, 250—with the first ones to be installed in downtown by early 2013. It was touted as a free—yes, free—investment.

As for that whole thing, Baird responded succinctly: “That’s about as much info as I can provide right now.”

That we are now in 2015 and still have yet to find a single kiosk is more than eyebrow-raising. LA had to ditch Bike Nation after it was discovered that the bike share company did not know the advertising parameters set by the second-largest city in the U.S. This also follows their abrupt leave of their bike share program in Anaheim, where the City of Anaheim claimed Bike Nation “chose to walk out themselves.” This all precedes the cryptic photo of a skirt guard of one of the bikes for the long-anticipated bike share program promised to Long Beach. The caption on the skirt guard—”Long Beach, your bike is waiting”—silently and automatically creates a plethora of jokes. Then yet another photo, albeit still cryptic, of an array of permits issued to Bike Nation by the City of Long Beach. The caption? “Station permits for Long Beach have been issued. Stay tuned[.]”

Let us not forget that Bike Nation was finally kicked out of OC after lacking any form of viability: it generated a measly $5K in a year but cost about $100K.

Long Beach will apparently being joining Santa Monica, also pursuing its own bike share program, and Metro, who announced that they will be creating a county-wide bike share program.

Here’s to hoping, Long Beach.

 

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The Debate Over CA’s Cap-and-Trade Funds Is Not Over

From left to right: California Mayors Robert Garcia (Long Beach), Chuck Reed (San Jose), Jean Quan (Oakland), Miguel Pulido (Santa Ana), and Ed Lee (San Francisco) at a press conference in Sacramento, yesterday. Photo: Melanie Curry

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led a group of California mayors on a trip to Sacramento to push for legislation on a number of issues that impact cities before the final, frantic weeks of August that mark the end of the legislative session. On their agenda was getting assurance that cap-and-trade funds would be available to help cities reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

While the fate of cap-and-trade funds has been decided for this budget year, the mayors said they want to be certain that the program operates as intended and that funds are allocated fairly to urban areas down the line. With hundreds of millions in cap-and-trade funds generated this year, and tens of billions in the years to come, it is hard to blame them.

Garcetti said cap-and-trade funds should support new construction as well as operations of existing mass transit and affordable housing in California’s cities, “and not just in the coastal, wealthy areas of the state.” Of the $850 million in cap-and-trade funds allocated in this year’s budget, only $50 million go towards transit, including capital improvements, intercity rail, and operations.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said 10,000 potential residents could be housed along transit corridors in Oakland, adding that investment in transit and affordable transit-oriented development could address issues of wage equality and diversity.

The current state budget allocates $130 million from cap-and-trade funds to a new program, Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC), aimed at concentrating affordable housing in transit-rich areas to encourage new residents to make more trips by transit rather than driving. Read more…