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Notes About Streetsblog: Sahra’s Promotion, Streetsblog Summer Series, New Ads, Tomorrow’s Schedule

Every now and then, we like to update readers on a couple of internal things both because you all seem to like what’s going on and because we value transparency. So, without further adieu…

1) We’re undergoing a small staff shuffle. Kris Fortin is leaving as our Boyle Heights/East L.A. writer to pursue other interests.  You’ll still see him from time to time as he’ll be freelancing with us and continuing to work on our film series. Kris provided great coverage for us in East L.A., and we wish him well in his non-Streetsblog projects.

Instead of going through rehiring process for the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles position, we decided to promote Sahra Sulaiman to a new position of Community Editor. She’ll be writing in both East and South L.A.. Because it’s impossible to be in two places at once, there will be a team of freelancers helping her out on a regular basis. We’re excited to see how this develops, as Sahra is a unique talent…something I think you all know.

2) Speaking of videos, you might notice it’s been awhile since we posted a new video, broadcast a Live Stream, or hosted a live Google Hangout/YouTube conversation. That’s going to change as I’m working with intern Matthew Tinoco on the “Streetsblog Summer Series,” a 10-part set of Google Hangout broadcasts set to begin on Monday, June 24 at noon. We’ll be discussing the incoming administration with some of Garcetti’s campaign volunteers and people that have worked with his office over the years. We’ll have more information on our lineup early next week.

3) You might have noticed a new advertisement on the right hand column or on the top of the website for Terranea, L.A.’s Oceanfront Resort and thought, “that’s odd, when did Streetsblog start getting ads from resorts.” Read more…

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Your Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane Photo Contest Winner Is…

Photo by Glen Primm

Glen Primm, the author of Postcards from L.A. and a professional photographer in his own right, is the winner of the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane photo contest. Grimm’s piece is actually the masthead of said blog, and it earned $300 more than the next closest picture at Saturday night’s fundraiser.

I asked Glen to send some thoughts, including how he took the picture. They are available after the jump, and his Streetsblog prize bag is in the mail.

I’m a native Los Angeleno and a car nut, but I like bikes and think cyclists deserve respect and room to ride, so I was actually pretty excited when they announced the lanes for downtown. For years commuters have been using Spring and Main streets as extensions of the freeways and blasting through downtown at crazy speeds. That might have been OK ten years ago when downtown was basically empty, but we have upwards of 40,000 residents downtown now, many with children, and a heck of a lot of them use bicycles. A perfect setup for bad news, any way you look at it. The bike lanes funnel the cars, which slows them down, and as time as gone by, it seems that car commuters have learned that our downtown streets are no longer a speedway, and the volume of traffic is much less.

Read more…

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LA 2050 – Some of the Best Ideas for Los Angeles’ Future Livability

A couple of weeks ago, GOOD and the Goldhirsh Foundation announced a series of ten $100,00 grants to people, organizations and non-profits that have an idea and plan to make Los Angeles a better place. The applicants submitted their plans last week in eight different categories: arts & cultural vitalityeducationenvironmental quality,healthhousingincome & employmentpublic safety, and social connectedness.

Learn more about the projects and programs by clicking on the image.

Even though we’re part of one of the grants, objectively we have to say that there are many applications that would improve the livability of the city. Since there are 279 applications and ten grants available, many of the deserving applications aren’t going to be funded. So, Streetsblog is devoting our entire coverage for today to saluting the great applications. I’ll be reviewing the city-wide livability grants below, and Sahra Sulaiman and Kris Fortin will be covering ones in their geographic areas later today.

In the end, it will be public votes that decide the winner. Just a note, you can only vote once, even though there will be 10 winners.

Without futher adieu, let’s get to it:

What’s the BF(B)D? Connecting Neighborhoods through Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts
by Green Octopus Consulting, LACBC, Streetsblog Los Angeles
Indicator: Social Connectedness

Quote:”Bicycle-friendly business districts improve local economies by strengthening connections between residents and their local businesses, increasing small business revenues, and improving neighborhood vitality and connectedness, all the while improving public safety, environmental health, and GLH – Gross Local Happiness.”

Learn more and vote, by clicking here.

Hey, I’m Walking Here! Celebrating Pedestrians in the City of Los Angeles
by Los Angeles Walks
Indicator: Health

Quote: “But the solution is not simply to get more people walking—it also requires that streets & sidewalks be redesigned to protect pedestrians from roadway traffic, slow down cars & trucks, & keep walkers feeling safe. With these ideas in mind, LA Walks proposes to launch “Hey, I’m Walking Here!” (or in Español, “¡Ay, Estoy Caminando!”)—a campaign which will not only increase pedestrian safety, but also highlight & celebrate walking as a conscious act that’s happening all over the city.”

Learn more and vote, by clicking here.

Building Blocks LA: changing the shape of Los Angeles through imaginative urban planning Read more…

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Call for Interns! Looking for Young, Bright, Livability Advocates for Some Summer Fun

If you’re young, and smart, and motivated, and interested in promoting the idea that “Streets Are for People,” then Streetsblog Los Angeles is looking for you.  We have three different types of internships available designed for people of different skill sets…just because you’re not a writer doesn’t mean we can’t work together.  Do you want to spend your summer with Streetsblog? Let us know.

Here are the three types of Internships we offer:

1) Writing Internship – The succesful applicant will start with smaller projects, updating the calendar section, writing “Today’s Headlines” and “The Week in Livable Streets Events,” but over the course of the summer will progress to event coverage. In August the intern will have a chance to work on a larger research based project.

2) Social Media Intern – Help us update our Streetsblog LITE tumblr, tweet @streetsblogla, maintain a Facebook page, Live Stream events at Streetsblog TV and edit video for StreetsTube. Are their social media we’re missing? Let us know.

3) Fundraising/Events Intern – During the summer we’ll host at least two fundraisers and you’ll get to help us reach out to sponsors to make those events great. We’ll also be creating a new database to track donors and exploring options to expand the Streetsblog L.A. to other parts of the city.

While we don’t have the funding to offer a stipend, we will work with the winning candidates to help them earn credit with their school and understand they will require a flexible schedule. Interns get out of the program what they put in. Also, Streetsblog will reimburse any costs (travel, equipment) provided that the expense is approved ahead of time.

Interns are generally given assignments and our staff and board will work with you to make sure your projects are succesful. However, we don’t chase after volunteers who can’t, or don’t, meet deadlines or become unresponsive. Some of our interns have had great success as a direct result of their work, Carter Rubin turned a writing internship into a part-time job at The Source, and Veronica Hernandez had an opportunity to interview Mayor Villaraigosa.

Interested applicants should email a resume and work sample to damien at streetsblog dot org.

Streetsblog Chicago 31 Comments

Coming Next Week: Streetsblog Chicago

After setting up transportation news sites covering New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and national policy, next Tuesday Streetsblog will be expanding for the first time in four years with the launch of Streetsblog Chicago.

The reporters producing Streetsblog Chicago are John Greenfield and Steven Vance, who have built an impressive audience for local transportation and planning news at their current site, Grid Chicago. As writers and planners, they’re both veterans of the city’s movement for livable streets. With the additional resources Streetsblog affords them, John and Steven will be creating a wide-ranging, daily news source where Chicagoans can plug in to efforts to improve walking, biking, and transit. Initial funding for Streetsblog Chicago has been provided by The Chicago Community Trust, the Rockefeller Foundation, local advertisers, and a generous anonymous donor.

Steven Vance and John Greenfield

Streetsblog will be launching at a moment when expectations are high for progressive change to the city’s streets. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, have rapidly expanded the city’s bike network, installing 12.5 miles of protected bikeways and 14.5 miles of buffered lanes since coming into office less than two years ago. Advocates believe upcoming Bus Rapid Transit projects could set a national precedent, showing other American mayors they shouldn’t shy away from giving street space to BRT. The Chicago Transit Authority is working on a major rehab of the Red Line and looking into extending it. Klein has made it the city’s explicit goal to eliminate traffic deaths by 2022. With so much happening in Chicago right now, there’s no such thing as a slow news day.

Streetsblog will track these developments, informing Chicagoans about how to get involved in the upgrades to their streets. We’ll explain changes so it’s clear, for instance, why converting motor vehicle lanes into exclusive transit lanes will pay off, and why this makes the city more livable. There’s a long way to go to re-orient Chicago’s streets toward effective transit and safe walking and biking, and getting from here to there won’t be simple or quick. Streetsblog will help map the route. If a columnist in search of pageviews starts ranting about a “war on cars,” we’ll be there to set the record straight, and if it looks like the city’s decision makers are going off-course, we won’t hold back from saying so.

We’ll also be raising the profile of issues that have yet to pick up steam in City Hall or Springfield. The CTA just raised fares, and its precarious budget situation still looms over riders who make 1.8 million transit trips each weekday. While the regional planning agency, CMAP, has a smart long-term plan called GOTO2040 with no shortage of ideas for funding a healthy transit system, political traction for those solutions has been in short supply. Chicago remains burdened by parking minimums that impede walkability, and the region has yet to prove it can consistently leverage its transit system — which in addition to the CTA includes Metra commuter rail and the Pace regional bus network — to produce smart development that puts people first, not cars. Streetsblog Chicago will be looking into these issues in Chicago proper and its suburbs, which have major potential for transit-oriented growth and walkable, bikeable streets.

The Chicago region is blessed with a deep roster of livable streets advocates, whom we expect to feature regularly in our coverage. The Metropolitan Planning Council — whose executive vice president, Peter Skosey, has been indispensable in bringing Streetsblog to Chicago — advances a better transportation network for metro Chicago, from regionally significant infrastructure projects to neighborhood-scale placemaking initiatives. The Active Transportation Alliance is working neighborhood-by-neighborhood throughout the Chicagoland region to build safe, efficient, multi-modal streets. And the Center for Neighborhood Technology produces research with a national scope about housing, transportation, and community development. We’re looking forward to working with all of them to make the case for change.

Most of all we’re excited about connecting with readers who want to see Chicago and its suburbs become better places for walking, biking, and transit. If you’ve got a story you’d like John and Steven to cover, drop them a line. And keep in mind, to maintain Streetsblog Chicago going forward, we’re going to need support from our readers. So if you get in the habit of reading our Chicago coverage, we hope you’ll drop something in the tip jar when the pledge drives roll around.

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Damien Will Appear on Huffington Post Live Today at 2:00 p.m.

L.A. Streetsblog Editor Damien Newton will appear on Huffington Post Live today at 2:00 p.m. to discuss how local bus issues are impacting the national transit scene. You can watch at http://live.huffingtonpost.com/. Once the video is available for embedding, we’ll post it here on Streetsblog.

(Update: Looks like Huffington Post Live doesn’t believe in embedding. Here’s a link to the 34 minute discussion:  http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/503b8c312b8c2a0c4100035c)

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Streetsblog’s Fond Farewell to Veronica Hernandez

Over the years, we’ve had a handful of interns here at Streetsblog. For years, Carter Rubin has been in a class of his own for his contributions to our efforts but today we say goodbye to a young woman who’s contributions match Rubin’s.

In her three months with Streetsblog, Hernandez pioneered our new Tumblr, Streetsblog Lite, updated LITE nearly every day, joined me in our far-reaching interview with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and worked on her own story on the Downtwon L.A. bike network. That story will be published later today.

We know she’s going to do great things, and look forward to staying in touch during her senior year at Smith College and beyond.

From all of us at Streetsblog, thanks for everything…and stay in touch.

- Damien for the entire Streetsblog Team.

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From a Reader: Seven More Questions For the Transportation Conference

Last week, I published a list of seven questions I had as the Transportation Conference Committee started meeting. I was examining the politics, not the policy. Turns out some readers wanted to hear more about the policy.

I asked the Cap’n what his questions would be. The reply:

Meanwhile, reader Ryan Richter sent in his revised list of questions too. They’re a little more specific, so I’ll start with Ryan’s. With any luck, the answers to Cap’n Transit’s questions will be woven into the answers below.

Thanks to both of you for keeping me focused on what really matters in this whole political hullabaloo.

Ryan’s first question:

1. How will public transportation fare after being practically decapitated in the last round?

Public transit came out a winner when members of the House GOP mounted their full-frontal assault against it. “The uprising was so immediate and so bipartisan [the Republicans] backed off,” said Deron Lovaas of NRDC. Democrats and some urban and suburban Republicans blew up at the idea that transit would no longer be eligible for its 20 percent of Highway Trust Fund dollars, which it’s gotten since the Fund’s Mass Transit Account was created under Ronald Reagan in 1983. Surviving an attempt against it makes transit that much stronger now – its opponents know that defunding transit is a losing issue for them.

Read more…

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15 Days Left in Our Spring Pledge Drive — This Week: Win a Vaya Bag

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging for a quick pep talk. Thanks to our generous and supportive readers, Streetsblog and Streetfilms are almost halfway to our goal of raising $30,000 by June 1. We’ve got two weeks left to raise $17,000 — help us reach that target so we can keep making the case for designing cities and towns around people, not cars.

Your donations directly fund the original reporting, commentary, and videos we produce – powerful content that influences the decision makers who shape our streets and the places we inhabit.

For a bit of added incentive this week, we’re giving away a new handmade messenger bag from Vaya, makers of bags and other bike accessories using recycled materials, to one lucky reader who donates by May 24 at midnight. Here’s a look:

If you value the work we do at Streetsblog and Streetfilms to advance livable streets and green transportation, please give. Thanks as always for reading.

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Full Disclosure on the Relationship Between L.A. Streetsblog and Metro

A lot is being made of the relationship between Streetsblog and Metro (aka Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority or MTA) after our post dismantling a Beverly Hills Courier “report” published yesterday.  The Beverly Hills Courier referred to L.A. Streetsblog as a “captive blog” of Metro and is now suggesting that everything we say is direct from the mouth of the MTA.  It’s a level of confusion on the Courier’s part that you might expect from commenters at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website. Read more…