Skip to content

Posts from the "Jose Huizar" Category

23 Comments

Utility Relocation Costs Not a Death Sentence for Downtown LA Circulator

A funny thing happened on the way to a downtown Los Angeles streetcar. According to the Los Angeles Times, the initial cost estimate of $125M excluded the costs of utility relocation, which could total $166M in additional costs, and $295M in operating costs over 30 years. That’s quite a bit compared to the $62.5M voters authorized when approving a community facilities district last November.

Few transit experts have met a streetcar they’ve liked. This doesn’t mean the projects aren’t justified – they can be superb economic development catalysts when complemented with smart land use strategies and targeted incentives. However, streetcars are rarely the most effective option for mobility, and any accessibility benefits are generally brought about by smart land use strategies rather than the streetcar itself. Downtown’s streetcar proposal was a significant cornerstone of the Bringing Back Broadway Initiative, a larger strategy to overhaul the downtown boulevard.

Most mobility benefits can be accomplished more cost-effectively with a bus than a streetcar.  Having researched how users, planners, and policymakers perceive transit, I’m quite aware that many people prefer rail to buses, even when buses provide an identical service.  I’m also aware that bus service avoids the environmental impacts of rail construction, which can be a significant portion of the project’s total impact, and that electric-propulsion (even using LADWP power) is far cleaner than natural gas or diesel.  As such, I’ve gained an admiration for the trolleybus as a transit mode.

A modern trolleybus in France, from Wikimedia Commons.

Read more…

21 Comments

Showdown or Compromise? All’s Quiet in Advance of Tomorrow’s Hearing on the Spring Street Green Bike Lane

Tom LaBonge (white shirt) leads a ride down the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane as part of Tour LaBonge.

(An earlier version of this story featured a picture we believed showed an image from a film shot in New York that had a green bike lane removed. The location did not include a bike lane, we fell for a twitter joke. Sorry. – DN)

For awhile, it seemed as though everyone had something to say about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane. The pilot project became a hotly debated item around town after the Film and Television Industry’s lobbying group decried the lane’s impact on local filming.

But tomorrow, the City Council will decide the fate of the green painted lane. The Council will hear, and vote on, a motion by Council Member Jose Huizar, who represents the area that the lane runs through. And after a year of non-stop chatter, Los Angeles Times editorials calling for compromise, and an ongoing debate that happened in public and private; all of a sudden nobody is talking.

Huizar’s office has delayed commenting. Council Member and Mayor-Elect Garcetti, who is partially responsible for the lane not being repainted, has refused to comment. Streetsblog didn’t reach out to Council Member Tom LaBonge, who also opposes the lanes, because he is the only person who is commenting…and commenting to anyone who will listen. He still thinks the lane should lose all its color. In fact, he’s starting to question this whole bike-lane thing in a more fundamental way.

Even advocacy and community groups are being shy. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition pointed me to their letter to the City Council. Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council President Patti Berman pointed me to an April resolution by the Neighborhood Council stating succinctly,

“NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) re-iterates is support for retaining the Green Bike Lane on Spring Street, and urges the City work with DLANC, FilmLA, and the cycling community to find a solution to any complaints whilst retaining the integrity of the Green Lane program.”

One reason for the public silence is that nobody is completely sure where Film L.A. stands anymore. Industry representatives reportedly “walked away” from the most recent “compromise” the same day the Los Angeles Times patted itself on the back for supporting it.

So, with perhaps the final showdown occurring tomorrow morning, here is a primer of what you need to know about the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane controversy.

1) The Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane was a pilot project, and ultimately a very successful one. Spring and Main were chosen for a buffered bike lane pilot program because they are streets bustling with multi-modal and pedestrian activity, and perfect candidates for more than just green highlights at designated conflict zones. Ridership alone indicates this was a successful application of this traffic control device. Collision data over time should also prove similar results.

The green bike lane has become part of the cultural fabric of Downtown Los Angeles.

Read more…

27 Comments

Huizar: Bike Lanes on Colorado Will Go Forward. Fox 11 Is Shocked.

Los Angeles Local News, Weather, and Traffic

Good news out of Eagle Rock. Last night, a public meeting on a proposed bike lane for Colorado Boulevard drew out supporters and opposition, but in the end there were more cyclists in favor of the lanes than cranky people opposing them. Recognizing the riding tide, Councilman Jose Huizar announced that the lanes will be painted, to the boos of the bullying crowd.

The lanes will extend from the Glendale City Limit to Avenue 64 in Northeast Los Angeles. The new design will remove one lane of traffic for a buffered bike lane, matching the road design in Glendale. The road diet and new bike lanes will be joined by new, freshly painted and more visible, zebra (aka continental) crosswalks.

This was clearly bad news for the Fox 11 team, who had clearly already planned most of their story to be about a minority of bicycling advocates trying to ram their agenda past the protests of the decent god fearing residents of Eagle Rock. They actually used a reader survey on the Boulevard Sentinel, a paper that outright lies about supporters of the bicycle projects, as proof that Eagle Rock residents oppose bike lanes.

From the opening segment, where a reporter sadly laments that “It’s bikes versus cars, and in Eagle Rock it looks as though the bicycle will win” through the interview with known liar and Boulevard Sentinel publisher Tom Topping, the Fox 11 report is clearly incredulous that anyone would think adding bike lanes on a street that is underutilized by car traffic for the existing lanes (they don’t mention that part either, referring to Colorado Boulevard as “busy”) is a normal person. Read more…

1 Comment

Eastside Access Project Breaks Ground with Bailey Street/Mariachi Plaza Improvements on First Street

Bailey WEB

In November of 2009, I took a bike ride with Carlos Morales and other members of the Eastside Bike Club, not to be confused with the Eastside Riders, and Browne Molyneux of the Bus Bench to explore the bicycle and pedestrian access to the Gold Line’s about-to-be-opened Eastside Extension.

During the ride, we ran into City Council Member Jose Huizar who was not yet a member of the Metro Board of Directors. Huizar listened to the concerns of some of the riders, and engaged with us about what kind of fixes we would like to see.

Today, the first round of those are much closer to reality. Earlier today, Huizar  the Department of Public Works and Metro joined with community members Tuesday for a groundbreaking ceremony in Boyle Heights for the first part of the Eastside Access project. This project would turn Bailey Street into an extension of the Mariachi Plaza station, creating a pedestrian connection from the plaza to Pennsylvania Avenue and Bailey Street.

“Since the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension route opened in 2009, our goal all along was to enhance and transform the areas around the light-rail stations to improve pedestrian and bicycle access and traffic, as well as support business, community and art-related projects,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The Garden Street on Bailey Project is an important part of a multi-million dollar, multi-agency commitment to do just that.”

The Eastside Access project is a $12 million pedestrian improvement project in and around four stations of the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension along First Street. A graphic showing all of the remaining projects can be found at the bottom of this story.

 On Bailey Street, the city will construct a series of small improvements along the one block between Mariachi Plaza and Bailey Street. These improvements include: Read more…

5 Comments

Parklet Party in Downtown Los Angeles


There were lots of cameras, but only one outlet broadcasted the parklet opening live.

It felt like a political rally.

“Don’t Stop Thinking about Tomorrow” was blaring from the speakers. One speaker at the microphone, LADOT Pedestrian Coordinator Valerie Watson, proclaimed, “It’s the dawn of a new day!” from the podium. Roughly 100 people gathered in a circle, hooting and hollering at the applause lines (“Let’s hear it for UCLA!”) .

But, despite the presence of Jose Huizar, one of the Council Members that represents Downtown Los Angeles, it wasn’t a political rally. It’s was the opening ceremony for the second and third parklets in the City of Los Angeles. Parklets are extensions of the sidewalk, usually into what was a car parking area, that provide seating and recreational public space to encourage increased pedestrian use and community interaction.

This morning in front of LA Cafe, at 639 Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles, the Spring Street Parklets were officially open for business. These parklets join the Highland Park parklet as the only ones of their kind in city limits. On February 16th, the third Parklet will open in El Sereno. All four parklets are inside Huizar’s Council District 14.

While L.A. is not the first city to turn parking space into open space, the city has tried to do something different and unique with their parklets. In Highland Park, the parklet is not attached to an eatery, but is more of a communal open space that just happens to be located in what used to be a parking spot. On Spring Street, the theme is exercise. In addition to chairs, benches, and tables, both parklets have a pair of exercise bicycles. The one in front of LA Cafe also has a foosball table, although nobody pointed to that as an example of exercise equipment.

“More and more, Downtown Los Angeles is becoming an increasingly vibrant and dynamic place to live, work, shop and entertain,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “The Spring Street parklets will add to Downtown’s unique urban atmosphere, encouraging and supporting a pedestrian-friendly, local experience…we are creating a model that can be used throughout the city.”

In fact, the story of all four of L.A.’s parklets started at the community level. When Living Streets L.A. and Huizar’s office teamed to create community created projects in El Sereno and Highland Park, both communities selected parklets. At the same time, the Downtown Neighborhood Council, pushed by Watson and President Patti Berman were pushing a separate program to bring parklets to the Downtown.

“It all kind of worked out,” Huizar said of the timing of the two programs.

Read more…

8 Comments

A Transportation Look at a Contentious Race in CD14

Martinez placed this billboard late last year, right in the heart of Broadway. Photo:Blog Downtown

The race for the CD14 City Council seat has been a contentious one between two former friends.  The City Maven breaks down the relationship between the former friends that has led to a very personal campaign.

Huizar at the Boyle Heights Hotel Renovation Project. Photo: Jose Huizar/Flickr

We’re not going to talk about that.  Incumbent Councilman Jose Huizar has a pretty long record on transportation issues and his opponent, Rudy Martinez, is known for a grassroots campaigning style and a starring role in a real-estate reality show.

Huizar has been a reliable voice for progressive transportation, but slow to come up with any exciting plans on his own.  Huizar, as Joe Linton wrote earlier this year, may have “proclaimed his support for Los Angeles overtaking Long Beach’s leadership in becoming a truly bike-friendly city,” but I’m hard pressed to figure out what initiatives of his would make that happen.

His signature transportation issue has been support for “Bringing Broadway Back” planning, including the installation of a Streetcar.  Earlier this month, the Councilman wrote on his personal blog the results of a study on the economic impact of the streetcar proposal (emphasis his):

The study finds among other things that an initial $125 million public-private investment in returning the Streetcar Downtown will generate 9,300 new jobs, $1.1 billion in new development, $24.5 million in new annual tourism and consumer spending, and $47 million in new city revenue – all above projections for Downtown’s future without a streetcar.

Read more…

15 Comments

Mayor’s Office Rescues 10% Set-Aside for Bicycling and Pedestrian Projects in Measure R Local Return

As someone who has been pushing hard for a "bicycling and pedestrian set aside" for Measure R funds from before it was called Measure R, I have mixed feelings about yesterday's City Council Joint Hearing with the Transportation and Budget & Finance Committees.

On one hand, it was gratifying to see the funding guidelines for how the city will spend its share of Measure R local return funds, including the set-aside, move forward to the full Council.  While it's true the set-aside will be re-debated next year, provided it passes the full Council, that will account for roughly $6.2 million dollars.  If spent correctly, that's a lot of bike lanes and ADA complaint curb cuts. 

On the other hand, at one point it seemed as though the proposal was going to be turned around to limit the amount of Local Return funds that could be spent on people powered transportation.  Without some timely intervention from the Mayor's office, what was supposed to be a big day for cyclists and pedestrians could have been a disaster.

For those just joining this discussion, during the debate at the Metro Board on the project list for what would become Measure R in the summer of 2008, bicycling and pedestrian advocates petitioned for a set-aside in the "Local Return" funds for "non-motorized transportation."  While they didn't get the set-aside, they did get a promise from Mayor Villaraigosa that the City would spend a sizable portion of its local return on bicycling and pedestrian projects.  What followed was a year and a half of hearings and negotiations, led by the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition, with assists from LA Walks and Stephen Box at crucial points, that led to yesterday's hearing and a future hearing by the City Council.

So what happened?  After a parade of speakers testified in favor of the bicycle and pedestrian set-aside being included in the city's Measure R spending guidelines, Councilman and Transportation Committee Chair Bill Rosendahl voiced his support for the set-aside.  But then a funny thing happened.  Transportation Committee Member and Budget & Finance Committee Chair Bernard Parks spoke against the set-aside, voicing concern that it would hamper the city's ability to do other projects.  His logic was that if you do the set-aside before making a final plan for how the set-aside would be spent that you might end up wasting funds on less deserving projects just to meet the guidelines.

Read more...

8 Comments

Bike Corrals for the City of Los Angeles

3_29_10_corral.jpgA bike corral on York Blvd.  Rendering by Matt Schodorf

Due to Los Angeles City Council leadership and community advocacy, bike corrals may soon be coming to Los Angeles. The April 14th meeting of the city's  Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear a council motion on implementation of a pilot corral in Northeast Los Angeles. Here's the backstory on how that came to pass.

Matt Schodorf is a bicyclist and a small businesses owner. He and his wife own Cafe de Leche - a coffee shop at the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard in Highland Park. York Boulevard, a former streetcar right-of-way, features old-school Main Street type buildings - very walkable with very little car parking. Schodorf noticed that many Cafe de Leche customers (and staff) arrive by bike and by foot. He got the city (LADOT) to install three of their standard inverted-U bike parking racks. Those racks fill up, with both bikes and dog leashes, so Schodorf kept thinking about how to increase the supply of local bicycle parking.

Read more...