Skip to content

Posts from the "Eric Garcetti" Category

20 Comments

Mayor Garcetti’s State of the City: Six Great Streets Announced

Mayor Garcetti announced six Great Streets, including Figueroa pictured here, that will become more accessible to wheelchairs, pedestrians, strollers and bicycles. photo Flying Pigeon L.A.

Mayor Garcetti announced six Great Streets, including Figueroa pictured here, that will become more accessible to wheelchairs, pedestrians, strollers and bicycles. photo Flying Pigeon L.A.

Mayor Garcetti gave his first State of the City speech yesterday. The mayor touched on a number of transportation issues. He pledged to “bring rail to LAX” and to open the 405 Freeway’s new billion-dollar carpool lane “next month,” a bit earlier than its October 2014 projected completion date. The most detailed transportation news was a peek into some of the specifics of Garcetti’s Great Streets initiative.

Garcetti named six of what will be 15 selected streets: Crenshaw Boulevard, Figueroa Street, Gaffey Street, Reseda Boulevard, Van Nuys Boulevard, and Westwood Boulevard. Apparently the focus for now is entirely north-south streets.

Here’s the mayor’s description of “Great Streets” from yesterday’s address:

Here’s how it works. We’ll saturate your street with services. We’ll make your street accessible to pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles–not just cars.

We’ll create an environment where new neighborhood businesses can flourish. We’ll pave the streets and make them green streets — clean and lush with plant life, local art, and people-focused plazas.

I know this works because I did it in my old council district — in Atwater Village, Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Hollywood.

Focused improvements attract new cafes, help local businesses expand, and give people a great place to gather without getting in their car.

I’m pleased to announce today that the first 15 Great Streets will begin to roll out this spring.

Read more…

6 Comments

Vision Zero or Zero Vision? L.A. Needs to Change the Way It Thinks About Safety

##http://walksf.org/2014/01/no-loss-of-life-is-acceptable-san-franciscans-call-for-vision-zero/##Walk SF## shows that with a Vision Zero philosophy, increase traffic volume can lead to fewer road fatalities.

Walk SF shows that with a Vision Zero philosophy, increase traffic volume can lead to fewer road fatalities.

Cyclist John Philips was cycling in heavy traffic in the San Fernando Valley when he was hit from behind by an impatient driver. While the driver did try to run, heavy traffic allowed witnesses to photograph both him and his vehicle. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) WAS summoned and a report was quickly taken.

As Ted Rogers writes at Biking in L.A., "Apparently tire tracks aren't significant enough evidence that one has been run over."

As Ted Rogers writes at Biking in L.A., “Apparently tire tracks aren’t significant enough evidence that one has been run over.”

Last September, a cyclist was riding on Chatsworth Boulevard. After standing up for his rights after being verbally accosted by a dangerous driver, the driver intentionally ran him over, got out of his car, and berated him as he lay in the street. The cyclist used his cell phone to take pictures and turned the pics, as well as a witness list over to the police. Tire tracks were still visible on his legs when photographed later.

In December Dan Davis (name changed) crossed the street safely on foot in Downtown Los Angeles.

In all three of these stories, the LAPD was present . In only one of these cases did they find someone to be at fault. Philips and the other anonymous cyclist were shocked to discover that the city would not pursue a case against their attackers. In both cases “insufficient evidence” was cited, despite several eyewitnesses, pictures and immediate LAPD notification. Davis received a $259 ticket because the walk signal was already a flashing orange when he began his trip across the street, even though exactly zero people were injured or placed in danger by his actions.

With the LAPD’s enforcement of traffic laws so clearly out-of-step with the city’s safety needs, it’s time for someone to lead the way towards creating a safer Los Angeles. It’s time for the city to adopt Vision Zero.

“Vision Zero” began in Sweden. In the 1970′s, Sweden decided that the amount of traffic deaths was too great, so it began to base every transportation design, construction and enforcement decision around a basic premise: “will it help reduce Sweden’s total traffic deaths to zero?”.

The term “Vision Zero” wasn’t coined until it was written into the country’s transportation laws in 1997, but the statistics are clear. With only three of every 100,000 Swedes die in crashes each year. This compares with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, and 11.4 in America. Sweden’s roads are the safest in the world. America has over three times as many per capita fatalities. Read more…

13 Comments

Feds Announce Regional Connector Funding, Hint at Purple Line Funding

Mayor Garcetti expresses his enthusiasm for the Regional Connector subway

Mayor Garcetti expresses his enthusiasm for the Regional Connector subway

This morning, local elected officials and federal administrators joined together to announce that Metro’s Regional Connector is now fully funded. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is granting $670 million in New Starts funding to the Regional Connector, and also extending a low-interest TIFIA (Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) loan of $160 million.

A document showing how the Connector is funded can be found at the bottom of this article.

While the Regional Connector announcement had been tipped in this morning’s Los Angeles Times, the surprise announcement is that the FTA hinted that it would also fund the pending request  for $1.2 billion for the Purple Line subway.

Streetsblog frequent readers may be very well aware of the Regional Connector. What follows is a three paragraph summary of the project and its timeline. If you’re already familiar with the project, skip ahead for today’s news, right after the page jump.

The Regional Connector is a $1.4 billion 1.9-mile light rail subway. It will extend from the Little Tokyo Gold Line Station west under 2nd Street to Bunker Hill, then south under Flower Street to the 7th Street Station. What best explains the Regional Connector’s importance is that it’s light rail. Yes – underground light rail. From downtown, Metro has light rail running north (Pasadena Gold Line), south (Blue Line), east (Gold Line Eastside Extension) and west (Expo Line), but there’s no connection in the middle. Today, to get from one of these lines to another, one has to take the heavy rail Red/Purple Line subway.

Regional Connector map - courtesy of Metro

Regional Connector map – courtesy of Metro

The Regional Connector closes downtown’s light rail gap, hence makes a lot of connections a lot easier. When the Connector is complete, today’s 3-4 rail lines consolidate down to just two. There will the combined Gold-Expo line extending from East L.A. to Santa Monica, and the combined Blue-Gold line extending from Long Beach to Azusa.

The Regional Connector was funded under Measure R, with additional monies from State propositions 1A and 1B. Metro proposed a route alignment in 2010Metro released its environmental review documentation in early 2012. Though some downtown and Little Tokyo interests opposed the project due to construction headaches, Metro approved environmental documentation in April 2012. Read more…

No Comments

Connecting the Dots: VerdeXchange/FutureBuild Conference Looks at the Sustainable Los Angeles of Tomorrow

Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke during a lunchtime plenary at the VerdeXchange/FutureBuild, a conference on sustainability, business and public policy, on Tuesday at the L.A. Hotel Downtown on Figueroa. He urged all departments in the city to look at everything through a lens of environmentalism.

Photo: John Dlugolecki

Photo: John Dlugolecki

“Los Angeles had a sustainable past, going all the way back to the original adobe structures that started the city,” he said to the 375 people in the audience. “We paved that over. We need to get back to our roots by, for example, turning our faces towards the river instead of turning our backs on it.” The mayor was just one of roughly 80 speakers at the two-day conference, which started Monday morning.

“Plant kale and they will eat kale,” said Ron Finley, Co-Founder of LA Green Grounds, during a morning breakout session called: “Space Changers: Guerrilla Planning and Urban Acupuncture.” It dealt with grass-roots advocacy.

Finley spoke about health and gardening in urban areas. Daveed Kapoor, director of Utopiad, said the city needs more fully separated bike lanes such as those planned for the My Figueroa project. And until then, “People aren’t going to drive safely around bikes until the police start giving drivers citations,” he said. “That’s how people learn.”

Other speakers talked about alternative fuel sources, high speed rail and construction. “The most sustainable building is the one you don’t have to build,” said Reuben Lombardo, a project manager with Spectra, a Pomona-based firm that restores old buildings. Read more…

31 Comments

There’s Still Plenty of Questions About the “Eric Garcetti Crash”

From the Times's security cameras you can see the quickly arriving squad car, the Mayor's SUV but barely the crash victim.

From the Times’s security cameras you can see the quickly arriving squad car, the Mayor’s SUV but barely the crash victim.

The LAPD, Mayor’s Office and to some extent the media are downplaying the significance of yesterday’s afternoon car crash in Downtown Los Angeles involving the Mayor’s SUV. Driven by an LAPD officer, the vehicle was driven into a pedestrian inside of a crosswalk causing her hospitalization. The the officer and his passengers were traveling east on 2nd Street towards City Hall when the crash occurred at Spring Street.

A video of the crash was taken by L.A. Times security cameras, but the resolution is so grainy and the actual collision occurs off-screen.

The LAPD dismisses the crash as “minor.” And with reports already streaming in that the woman was “crossing against the signal” it is possible that the city will use this crash as justification for its widely panned pedestrian stings.

But a look at the facts of the case show that instead of this being a lesson about safely crossing the street, it could turn into a lesson for the LAPD on how it desperately needs to improve the way the department investigates crashes. Here’s a rundown of some problems with the investigation as reported:

Problem 1: The LAPD Blamed the Victim Before Completing the Investigation

From the Los Angeles Times:

Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the woman appeared to be crossing 2nd against the light when the accident occurred, but further investigation was needed.

The LAPD biasses its own investigation by stating the “probable” cause of the crash without all of the needed information. We don’t know if the officer had a chance to speak with the victim in the crash or what further investigation was needed. We do know that the officer assigned blame to the largest media outlet in the city before the investigation was completed.

We also know…

The Times video showed only part of the scene because of the camera’s angle. It appears to show the pedestrian was struck as Garcetti’s SUV was passing a pickup truck stopped in the crosswalk. Read more…

6 Comments

Garcetti a Passenger in LAPD SUV That Struck and Injured Pedestrian

An LAPD squad car carrying Mayor Eric Garcetti struck and injured a pedestrian at 12:20 pm today near Second and Spring Streets. The woman was taken to the hospital by Fire Department. Neither LAFD nor the Mayor’s Office would comment further on her condition.

“I’m very concerned about her and wish her a speedy recovery. I look forward to speaking with her soon,” Garcetti said in a statement.

The LAPD confirmed to KNBC that the Mayor was interviewed by LAPD investigators investigating the crash. The statement from the Mayor’s Office stated that Garcetti was on the phone at the time of the crash and did not actually witness the collision.

No further details have been released as to the cause of the crash.

Streetsblog will update this story throughout the evening if more news becomes available.

UPDATE, 6:30 pm – We have confirmed that the crash happened on Second Street near Spring Street, not the other way around.

8 Comments

The Clock Approaches Midnight for the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge

Plans for the Figueroa Landbridge are on life support as the City Council and Mayor allow a flawed estimate from the Bureau of Engineering to scare them away from not demolishing the current Figueroa-Riverside Bridge.

Plans for the Figueroa Landbridge are on life support as the City Council and Mayor allow a flawed estimate from the Bureau of Engineering to scare them away from not demolishing the current Riverside-Figueroa Bridge.

It was just over two years ago that I first heard that the Riverside-Figueroa Bridge over the L.A. River was doomed for demolition to make way for a newer version that would be built right next door. Despite its historic designation, it is the only mixed concrete and steel truss bridge crossing the L.A. River, I was resigned to seeing it go and just quietly said goodbye. The bridge was built in the 1920′s and rebuilt in the 1930′s, and it seemed it was just time for the bridge to go.

The demolition is planned to occur sometime in the Spring of 2014.

This summer, at the 11th hour, a plan to save and better the bridge emerged. Architects at RAC Design Build showed a preliminary design where a public park and bicycle and pedestrian path would be built around one section of the steel span built by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers in 1939 after a landslide badly damaged the bridge. The full report prepared for free by RAC Design Build can be found here.

Enthusiasm for the plan, which was named the Figueroa Landbridge, grew until a report by the city’s Bureau of Engineering said the design would cost nearly $5 million more than the $43 million set aside in federal funds for the new bridge project.

The City Council refused to set aside $64,000 for a real feasibility study, even after it was revealed that the estimate was inflated for several reasons, not the least of which was the claim that cranes wouldn’t be able to access the river channel even though cranes were doing just that for the construction of the new bridge.

In an article in this week’s Architect News, RAC Design Build architect Kevin Mulachy and principal Rick Cortez are pushing the plan again as time is running out for the City Council to make a move to save the bridge. A petition at Change.org has attracted 367 signers at the time of publication. But so far the petition has made enough noise to attract support from city leaders. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, which has made saving and restoring the river a cornerstone of their plans for the city, passed when offered a chance to comment on the bridge plans. Council Member Mitch O’Farrell told Streetsblog they would get back to us yesterday afternoon. Read more…

10 Comments

Hyperion Hearing: It’s Not About Bikes, It’s About Communities and People

Including the ones from LACBC and the one below from Tomas O'Grady (below), we now have three community proposals for the Hyperion Bridge retrofit besides the official one by the city's Bureau of Engineering. This one is by RAC Design Build

If you were keeping score at home, something which would be impossible because of our failed attempt at Live Streaming, it was a blowout. Nearly fifty speakers took to the podium. Four of them spoke in favor of the current design. The rest made the case for a more Livable design, lower speeds, and better access for bicyclists and pedestrians.

After nine years of comment and design, the Hyperion Glendale Seismic Retrofit plan had its first official public hearing last night. The main purpose of the project is to retrofit the bridge so it can withstand a major earthquake. However, during the retrofit, other work will be done to increase safety on the bridge. The current plan calls for tiny sidewalks, a gutter bike lane, four mixed-use 11-foot travel lanes and a 2-foot divider with two more feet of buffer in the middle of the road. The bridge is in the city’s 2010 Bike Plan, and advocates were surprised and incensed to find the bridge wouldn’t have bike lanes.

The alarm spread well outside of the bicycle community. River advocates, pedestrian safety advocates, neighborhood councils, Assembly Member Mike Gatto, and Glendale Council Member Laura Friedman all got involved, asking for a safer bridge for all road users.

Those that spoke up last night for the current project did so because they believe a seismic retrofit is needed as quickly as possible and that a center divider is needed for safety to keep cars from colliding with each other. All were Atwater residents who have worked on the project for nearly a decade. None are what you would call NIMBY or anti-bicycle. They just want the project completed.

But last night wasn’t about keeping score. It wasn’t just about bicycles. Last night was about communities, people and safety.

The Livable Streets stars were out. Eric Bruins with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition crunched the crash data to show slower speeds would reduce crashes. Occidental College Professor Mark Vallianatos drew the link between wider lanes and faster vehicle traffic. Don “Roadblock” Ward argued that an LADOT engineer’s claims that the average speed on the bridge is thirty-seven miles an hour was not what the public had been told at previous meetings. L.A. Walks founder Deborah Murphy delivered such powerful testimony that Urban Homestead co-author Erik Knutzen followed her basically said ‘Murphy is right’ and left the podium.

The night even featured an appearance by Bobby Gadda, the original Chair of the Steering Committee for CicLAvia, who had biked down from San Francisco.

“I just biked 500 miles from San Francisco…but the scariest part happened about an hour ago coming across the Hyperion Bridge downward spiral death zone,” Gadda testified. “I heartily encourage anyone who designs this bridge to ride across it on a bike. Put on a safety vest. You probably won’t die.”

Each speech was followed by applause.

But the night wasn’t about the star testimony or applause. Last night was about communities, people, and safety. Everyday residents testified that they wanted a way to walk between Atwater and Silver Lake. They didn’t want the bridge to be a barrier only able to be safely traversed surrounded by metal. They wanted change. Read more…

3 Comments

Garcetti to Mobility 21: We’re Planning for the Next Measure R Campaign


Video provided by the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti

This morning, Eric Garcetti delivered a video message to the 1,000 attendees of Mobility 21′s 12 Annual Transportation Conference. The Mayor, in Washington D.C. to try and raise more funds for local and regional transit projects, stressed some familiar themes: America Fast Forward, Great Streets, Measure R…

But what grabbed my attention was about 20 seconds of text that may serve as the unofficial public kickoff for the next transit expansion ballot initiative campaign. Until there’s a more formal name, let’s call it Measure R++

This is why my first action as mayor was to call together a meeting of regional mayors from across the county to discuss the issues of future development. One common theme that emerged from that gathering back in August was that we desperately need more transportation investments. Currently, all the cities across L.A. County are submitting their ideas for investments as part of another transportation investment ballot initiative. These efforts will ultimately expand our transit system while at the same time increasing planning efforts to deliver vibrant neighborhoods across our transit network.

Read more…

10 Comments

Op/Ed – Before Garcetti Can Be the Hero, He Needs to Slay the Zombies

To be fair, this does look like an excellent place to be during a zombie attack. Rendering by Rios Clementi Hale Studios via the Daily News

Yesterday’s announcement that a planned pedestrian bridge for most of the corners of Lankershim Boulevard and Universal Hollywood Drive would cost $27 million, instead of the originally announced $19 million, was more bad news for those striving to make Los Angeles’ streets a better place. When Streetsblog last reported on this project, the cost was only $19 million, which seemed an expensive alternative to improving the intersection to facilitate pedestrian traffic.

The project is a bad idea for many reasons: the cost, the reality that too often people choose to ignore pedestrian bridges and the intersections will no longer be timed for pedestrians to cross at street level, the high volume of pedestrians in the area thanks the the Red Line station and bus terminal on two of the corners…the list goes on.

Perhaps a tacit admission that the project is a bad idea, the bridge only connects three of the four corners of the intersection. The fourth corner houses a bus terminal, with thousands of daily passengers. Metro bus passengers going east-west across the Valley need to cross both Campo de Cahuenga and Lankershim to transfer to Line 155 (Burbank/Toluca Lake) from the buses that come from the west on Ventura Boulevard.

Let’s also remember that a pedestrian tunnel, an idea thrown out for being “too expensive” was originally priced at $23 million. I’m not a math expert, but if $23 million was too expensive, how is $27 million a good use of funds? Even if you consider that NBC Universal is pledging to chip in$3.9 million, the project is currently as expensive as the “too expensive” alternative of yesteryear. This is particularly frustrating considering that transit service itself on Lankershim Boulevard is a shade of its former self.

The proposed bridge design serves all three corners of the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Campo de Cahuenga. Of course, the intersection has four corners.

Read more…