Skip to content

Posts from the "Election 2013" Category

1 Comment

If A Tree Falls In A #RoadBond, Do Editorial Writers Hear?

Trees are just one amenity that this RoadBond really needs. photo: Thue via Wikimedia

Trees are just one “amenity” that L.A.’s RoadBond really needs. photo: Thue via Wikimedia

Today’s Los Angeles Times has two editorials that don’t quite go together.

In the editorial South L.A. needs trees, the Times reviews tree removal underway for Metro’s Crenshaw rail line. Almost channeling their inner Lorax, the Times lauds the city and county’s “ambitious post-construction plans” for “planting twice as many trees as they remove, and adding seating, lighting and walkways.” The Times values South L.A.’s trees for “fighting against drought, desert climate, urban blight and concrete streets.”

Indeed, trees are critical for urban livability. Especially for pedestrians and transit riders, trees provide much needed shade. Trees are often an important buffer between pedestrian space and vehicle space. They clean air and water, and lessen noise pollution.  

On the other hand, the editorial Fixing L.A.’s asphalt jungle won’t come cheap isn’t so keen on those same tree, seating, and walkway “amenities.”

(SBLA tries hard not to use that a-word to describe important infrastructure for biking, walking, or transit. When was the last time someone called a parking lot or a freeway an amenity? Who ever heard of a “car amenity”? Just googled it and they do exist – stuff like jeweled hubcaps – but amenity is nearly never used to publicly funded car infrastructure. We digress.)

Here’s what the Times editorial has to say:

Los Angeles’ streets are a potholed mess and its sidewalks are cracked and jagged. Some 35% of the streets have been given a failing grade by the Bureau of Street Services, and a city consultant estimates it will cost nearly $3.9 billion to fix the worst of them. Add to that the cost of repairing the sidewalks and the tab jumps to $4.5 billion.

In the past, City Council members have floated the idea of a bond measure, to be approved by voters and repaid by property owners, to cover the cost of repairs. [...] Community groups have since called for the proposal to also include sidewalk repairs, street trees, streetscapes, “green streets” to absorb storm water, “complete streets” that incorporate bicycle and pedestrian enhancements — all great amenities, but ones that could increase the project’s cost and complexity. City leaders must define their mission. Is it to fix crumbling asphalt? Or remake L.A.’s urban landscape? Can both be done affordably?

Should livability fans be happy that at least there’s sidewalk icing on this asphalt cake? Should those pesky “community groups” be content that bike and walk stuff are at least “great amenities”? The Times could have called them “lousy amenities.”

Read more…

No Comments

Livability Advocates Dominate #RoadBond Hearing, Press Ignores

On Wednesday, the City Council Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee ordered city staff to study funding options for a bond proposal to fix city streets.

Wait 'til this year? Photo:The Source.

You may remember Council Members Joe Buscaino, who happens to chair the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee, and Mitch Englander proposed a property tax increase to fund a bonding system that would repair all of L.A.’s decaying streets in a ten year period.

The proposal never made it to the May ballot after complaints that the process was being rushed. The two members then held six hearings throughout the city to solicit feedback from across the city. On Wednesday, Englander reported on those efforts and presented the findings of those reports.

The “big news” from the report is that a future proposal would include more funding than just a property tax bond and that a work plan would be submitted before any funding plan went to the general public.

The Council motion asked city staff to look into twenty six issues relating to the bond program. Many of those issues had to deal with diversifying funding streams, creating a citizens oversight committee, and a work plan for the billions of dollars that would be spent on street reconstruction.

However, at least six action items from the report asked staff to look into funding sidewalk repair as a part of a bond proposal and the feasibility of creating a “green street,” “complete streets,” “living streets” and “great streets” program. The request was passed unanimously, with Buscaino and Council Members Gilbert Cedillo and Curren Price all voting to move it to the full Council.

As with the City Hall hearings on the proposal last winter, environmental and Livable Streets advocates dominated the hearing offering nine of the ten public comments. As in the winter, the Daily News writer present managed only to quote the one person present who was concerned about a tax increase and one representative of the Neighborhood Councils that wasn’t even present.

Since the Daily News decided to ignore the advocates for livability, Streetsblog would like to highlight their concerns. Read more…

3 Comments

A Livable Streets Look at Tomorrow’s Council Election in CD6 (with video)

Do you live in the orange, green or yellow areas on this map? If so, you have an election tomorrow. Map:Council District 6

(Matt Tinoco’s been interning with us this summer, mostly producing and booking the Streetsblog Summer Series of broadcasts on our YouTube channel, SoCalStreets Tube. We’re also sharing him with LAist, where he’s been writing a series on “Metro Adventures.” Matt is attending USC, and has a bright future. We’re happy to have his help this summer. – DN)

Tomorrow’s runoff election in Council District 6 should be the last election in the city of Los Angeles for at least a little while. Streetsblog Los Angeles has interviewed both Cindy Montañez and Nury Martinez, the candidates contending for the San Fernando Valley (Valley) seat, about the transportation and livable streets issues  within the district’s borders. Each interview is presently archived to the SoCal StreetsTube channel on YouTube where they may be viewed any time.

Montañez previously served as both a Council Member and Mayor in the city of San Fernando, adjacent Los Angeles CD6 and a term in the California State Legislature. In Sacramento, she successfully pursued legislation that promotes healthy school environments. As Mayor of San Fernando, Montañez pushed for the development of two parks, and a new public library.

Nury Martinez is presently serving an elected term as a member representing the central and northeast Valley on the Los Angeles Unified School Board.  In addition to her work as a school-board member, Martinez has also worked to improve the Livable Streets situation in the Northeast Valley. As the director of Pacoima Beautiful, a nonprofit organization devoted to advocating for a more walkable and bikeable Pacoima, Martinez engaged the community to create a plan that develops the Pacoima Wash into public open space.

Pacoima Beautiful received L.A. County Department of Public Health’s Policies for Livable and Active Communities and Environments Grant in 2011. Streetsblog L.A. covered the Livable Streets program at Pacoima Beautiful as part of our 2011 Annenberg School of Journalism Fellowship on the PLACE Grants.

Montañez’s interview reveals that she believes in integrating the developments occurring around the city into Council District 6. Montañez wants to expand public-transit access throughout the district, as well as promoting multi-modal transit in general. While recognizing the challenges in the district, Montañez provided little commentary on the lack of sidewalks in many neighborhoods throughout the district, instead pivoting to a more general pitch about improving access to more transportation options in the district.

Martinez’s interview reveals a similar end goal as Montañez’s; promoting more public resources to help people get around the city. But Martinez’s answers to the same questions reveals a greater understanding of the issues facing the district.

When asked about the East San Fernando Valley Corridor, Montañez acknowledged the existence of different plans (BRT or LRT) and the various aspects of planning around two of them. Martinez answered similarly, but also advocates for the combination of the East San Fernando Valley and Sepulveda Pass corridors into one project so as to further understand the implications of a massive north-south transit project in Los Angeles.

Each candidate also speaks to positive past experiences with CicLAvia, and how they both want to see the event take from in the San Fernando Valley, most likely along Van Nuys or Sepulveda Boulevards. Read more…

1 Comment

Reminder, We Are Live at 2 with Nury Martinez, Candidate for CD 6 City Council

Just a reminder that we will be broadcasting an interview with CD6 City Council Candidate Nury Martinez live on our YouTube Channel, SoCal StreetsTube, today at 2 pm. The broadcast will be archived there and reposted on Streetsblog LITE.

The primary for the open seat was held the same day as the Mayoral election and other Council Districts, with Montañez and Nury Martinez emerging from the pack. Our interview with Montañez was broadcast yesterday and is archived at SoCal Streetstube and Streetsblog LITE.

As always, if you have any questions for Martinez you can leave them in the comments section or tweet with hashtag #sblasummer. We’ll be talking about transportation issues in the East San Fernando Valley including the lack of sidewalks in some area and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project.

6 Comments

Streetsblog Summer Series Continues Tomorrow. Interview with Nury Martinez at 2 pm

Nury Martinez

Tomorrow at 2 pm, the Streetsblog Summer Series continues with an exclusive interview with CD 6 City Council candidate Nury Martinez that we will broadcast live on our YouTube page, SoCal StreetsTube. After Council Member Tony Cardenas was elected to Congress, a vacancy appeared in his old Council District. The election will be held next week.

The primary for the open seat was held the same day as the Mayoral election and other Council Districts, with Montañez and Nury Martinez emerging from the pack. Our interview with Montañez was broadcast yesterday and is archived at SoCal Streetstube and Streetsblog LITE.

As always, if you have any questions for Martinez you can leave them in the comments section or tweet with hashtag #sblasummer. We’ll be talking about transportation issues in the East San Fernando Valley including the lack of sidewalks in some area and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project.

We look forward to an exciting conversation.

And for those of you living in CD 6, just a reminder to get in your absentee ballots by tomorrow night or vote on Tuesday.

1 Comment

Streetsblog Summer Series Interviews Cindy Montañez

Tomorrow at 11 am, the Streetsblog Summer Series continues with an exclusive interview with CD 6 City Council candidate Cindy Montañez that we will broadcast live on our YouTube page, SoCal StreetsTube. After Council Member Tony Cardenas was elected to Congress, a vacancy appeared in his old Council District. The election will be held next week.

The primary for the open seat was held the same day as the Mayoral election and other Council Districts, with Montañez and Nury Martinez emerging from the pack. We have reached out to both campaigns and if we hear from Martinez for an interview time, we’ll let you know.

As always, if you have any questions for Montañez you can leave them in the comments section or tweet with hashtag #sblasummer. We’ll be talking about transportation issues in the East San Fernando Valley including the lack of sidewalks in some area and the East San Fernando Valley Transit Corridor Project.

As always, the final broadcast will be archived online and posted here on Streetsblog. We look forward to an exciting conversation.

3 Comments

What does yesterday’s election mean for L.A. transportation issues?

Newly elected Mayor Eric Garcetti campaigning at the recent CicLAvia-to-the-Sea

So what does it all mean?

Former City Council President and outgoing CD13 Councilperson Eric Garcetti will be our new mayor for at least the next four years.

Unlike the city council, where carefully carved districts and big money campaign donations mean even the most unloved council person can be almost impossible to turn out, Los Angeles has a history of running unpopular mayors out of office.

Most recently, it was a young Antonio Villaraigosa who handily defeated incumbent James Hahn, after losing to him in their first match-up in 2001. Then again, Villaraigosa was also one of the few candidates to defeat a sitting council member in recent memory, beating Nick Pacheco to represent the 14th District in 2003.

Not that anyone should expect the new mayor to be unpopular.

In fact, Eric Garcetti has proven to be very personable and able to connect with a wide range of people. It helps that he has an exceptionally wide range of experiences, from his multi-ethnic background to his skill on the piano and work as an intelligence officer in the naval reserve.

Though not everyone trusts that smile or the promises that come with it; that hasn’t been my own experience with Garcetti, however. Read more…

4 Comments

If you don’t vote, you’re the problem

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Last March, only 377,881 people bothered to cast a ballot in the Los Angeles primary election. That’s less than the 400,000 people LADOT estimated in the new bike plan rides a bike every month.

Think about that.

Only 21% of eligible voters actually voted last time around. Just 25% are expected to vote in today’s election.

If every eligible bike rider were to get up and vote today — and vote their self-interests as cyclists — they would be the single most dominant and powerful voice in L.A. politics.

More than the unions, more than any political party or interest group.

A force strong enough to ensure the election of a bike friendly candidate in every race, from mayor through city council, city attorney and controller.

And that’s just bicyclists.

Add to that a few hundred thousand daily transit users. As well as pedestrians — which includes all of us at one time or another.

Suddenly, you’ve got enough strength to wrest political power from other interests groups, and ensure the governmental support we need to fix the sidewalks and potholes, build out a better, faster bike plan and a world-class transit system.

It’s not going to happen, though. Read more…

5 Comments

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. Read more…

8 Comments

Crenshaw Subway Coalition Report Card Rates Greuel Higher Than Garcetti

Eric Garcetti at the Empowerment Congress Forum on January 19

Earlier this morning, the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, the umbrella organization for South L.A. groups fighting for grade separated light rail from 48th to 59th Streets for the future Crenshaw Line, released grades for both leading candidates for Mayor of Los Angeles. Both candidates scored an “A-” for their support for adding a Leimert Park Station, but Wendy Greuel scored a “B+” for her support for grade separating the entire line while Eric Garcetti scored only a “C.”

Damien Goodmon, the executive director for the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, explains why the grades on the tunnel are more important than the grades for the station.

“…the MTA board is currently scheduled to decide the fate of the Leimert Park station at theirJune 27 meeting, which is before the next Mayor takes office, so their positions on the station may be moot. The more revealing question regarding the candidate’s willingness to put their political capital on the line for the Crenshaw community is where do they stand on the 11-block Crenshaw tunnel,” said Goodmon. . “Both appear committed to making the Leimert Park station happen if it doesn’t in June, but there are key differences in Greuel and Garcetti’s written positions on the Crenshaw Blvd tunnel.”

In May of 2011, the Metro Board of Directors voted to approve the environmental documents for the Crenshaw Line which included grade separated light rail except for the 11 blocks between 48th and 59th. The Board also watered down an amendment authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Crenshaw community, that would have required a station to be built at Leimert Park. The approved motion cleared the station environmentally, but didn’t require the construction to be part of the bids from companies.

In other words, if a contractor could build the station inside a budget designed not to build the station, it could be built. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa declared a victory. Journalists (myself included) were confused because a written copy of the amendment wasn’t available. The nearly 600 Crenshaw residents were not. They booed. Read more…