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L.A. City Already Looking At How To Carve Up $4B Local Return

Metro's Measure R2 draft expenditure plan pie chart. Image via Metro

16 percent of Metro’s Measure R2 draft would go to local return. The L.A. City Council is already looking at how to spend $4 billion in potential funding. Image via Metro

Metro has not yet decided whether to have a Measure R2 sales tax on the November ballot; that will come next month. The voting public has not yet passed the measure by two-thirds; that would hopefully come in November. But the L.A. City Council is already trying to decide how to spend their chunk of the future funds.

At yesterday’s council Transportation Committee, members considered a pair of motions that would carve up the city’s anticipated $4 billion in “local return” funds:

  • Councilmembers Bob Blumenfeld and Paul Koretz’ motion 16-0187 would divide up local return “by region and Council District” in order to “ensure that the San Fernando Valley and all regions receive their fair share.”
  • Councilemembers Joe Buscaino, Mitch Englander, Herb Wesson and Mike Bonin’s motion 16-0395 would set aside a “minimum allocation of two-thirds of the City’s share of potential Local Return funding for a capital improvement program for street reconstruction and rehabilitation.” To a large extent this echoes Buscaino and Englander’s 2012-2013 efforts toward a road bond.

As in the overall Metro expenditure plan, there is a delicate balance to be struck on these sorts of advance allocations. If the funding direction is too vague, or if it is too specific, voters may find reasons to not support Measure R2.

There are competing ways to divide the money, and as Transportation Committee Chair Bonin stated, “equality is not equity.” Valley interests urged equality: ensuring all regions get an equal allocation. South L.A. speakers urged equity: ensuring that investment remedies historic deficiencies for underserved communities.

Livability advocates, including Investing in Place, were critical of the Buscaino-Englander motion as currently written. If the city spends the majority of its funding to merely repave streets and restore them as is, it would be a missed opportunity to implement Mobility Plan 2035, Vision Zero, and/or green infrastructure improvements. In addition, that motion currently ignores sidewalks, whether repairing or adding new sidewalks where they are missing.

This delicate balance was not resolved yesterday. Bonin instead proposed, and the committee affirmed, a series of requests that city departments report back to the Transportation Committee for further discussion.

Bonin’s direction to staff follows after the jump.  Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: Moneyball for Transit

Laurel Paget-Seekins joins the podcast this week to talk about her days as a transit activist in Atlanta, what Santiago, Chile, taught her about transit networks, and her current work on data collection and dissemination as the director of strategic initiatives at the MBTA in Boston.

We discuss the MBTA’s data blog and dashboard, how the agency collects information, and the way it makes data available for people outside the agency to use it. Laurel is also the co-editor, along with Juan Carlos Munoz, of the recently published Restructuring Public Transport through Bus Rapid Transit. She shares her thoughts on BRT and its role in urban transportation networks.

It’s a can’t-miss episode for all you transit lovers out there.

Streetsblog.net
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No, Seattle Isn’t Waging a “War on Cars”

The most efficient way to move people in a crowded city simply isn't cars that are three-quarters empty. Graphic: Fehr & Peers via The Urbanist

The most efficient way to move people in a crowded city simply isn’t cars that are three-quarters empty. Graphic: Fehr & Peers via The Urbanist

It’s cliché at this point for newspapers to label any effort to improve walking, biking, or transit as a “war on cars.” The latest in this proud tradition is Seattle Times columnist Brier Dudley, who wrote recently that the city is waging “a shock-and-awe campaign targeting anyone who dares to drive in, through or around Seattle.” What was it exactly that set him off?

The offense Seattle committed was to shift away from measuring streets using “Level of Service,” which prioritizes the movement of vehicles. Instead the city will measure how many people are moving on streets, regardless of the mode they’ve chosen, writes Scott Bonjukian at the Urbanist:

This is indeed a novel approach to measuring the performance of local streets. The traditional Level of Service (LOS) tool ranks roadways based on how fast cars move; free flowing traffic gets an A, and gridlock gets an F. As demonstrated by over 60 years of post-WWII sprawl, the problem with this is it leads to an infinite loop of congestion, construction, and poor urban environments. Cities set a high standard for LOS, see that traffic is congested, widen roads or build new ones, see that the roads fill up with more cars due to induced demand, and repeat ad nauseam. This is also results in limited, if any, consideration for other users of the street: people walking, bicycling, and riding transit.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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7 Steps to Phase Out Carbon Emissions From American Transportation

Eliminating carbon emissions from the American transportation system can be done, according to a new report from the Frontier Group [PDF]. The tools to reduce energy use from cars and light trucks at least 90 percent are at our disposal or in advanced stages of development. The remaining 10 percent could be supplied by renewables like wind power.

The U.S. transportation sector produces about 28 percent of domestic GHG emissions and 4 percent of total global emissions. Here's how we compare to other nations right now. Graph: Frontier Group

The U.S. transportation sector produces about 28 percent of domestic GHG emissions and 4 percent of total global emissions. No other nation produces more transportation emissions per capita. Chart: Frontier Group

“We have the technical capacity to do all of these things,” Frontier’s Tony Dutzik told Streetsblog. Here’s how it would work, if we can muster the will.

The first step is to reduce driving. Frontier Group estimates that the following four strategies could cut miles driven per capita by 28 to 42 percent, which amounts to a 10 percent total decline by 2050 when accounting for population growth.

1. Walkable Development: We have to build more walkable places where people don’t have to hop in a car for every trip. People living in compact neighborhoods drive 20 to 40 percent less than people living in spread out areas. If 60 to 90 percent of new construction between now and 2050 is walkable development with good transit connections, it could reduce total GHG emissions from transportation 9 to 15 percent.

To accomplish that, Frontier says big coastal cities like New York and San Francisco need to “build up” and make room for more people. Meanwhile, sprawling places like Atlanta and Houston need to seize opportunities to redevelop existing space — parking lots or closed malls, for example — in a compact form.

2. Pricing Roads: Pricing parking alone could reduce total vehicle miles traveled by up to 3 percent. A blanket vehicle miles traveled tax, meanwhile, could reduce mileage by 10 to 12 percent. Congestion pricing, which puts a higher price on road use where and when traffic is most intense, is another avenue to cut mileage. London’s congestion pricing system, which only covers the central city, has helped reduce driving 10 percent even as the population has grown, Frontier reports.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • BUSted Interviews NELA Cycling Leader Josef Bray-Ali (YouTube)
  • Cyclist Cautioned By Sheriff In “Bikes OK” Wilshire Bus-Only Lane (YouTube)
  • Metro Bike-Share Coming To L.A. On July 7 (LAT)
  • Early Ridership On the Metro Expo Line (KPCC)
  • Southern California Commutes Animated (Curbed)
  • When Can A Bicyclist Take the Lane? (CiclaValley, KPCC)
  • CHP Officer Injured In Topanga Canyon Hit-and-Run (LAT)
  • Quarterly Cap-and-Trade Auction Revenue Falls Short (LAT)
  • Legislation Mandates Denver RTD Lose Millions On Free Park-and-Ride (SB Denver)
  • Zoning Laws Would Have Killed Off America’s Great Cities (Forbes)

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Streetsblog, Santa Monica Next, and LongBeachize Have a Dozen Finalists for L.A. Press Club Awards

The 2013 Streetsblog L.A. team celebrates our win as best blog at last night's L.A. Press Club Awards Banquet: Joe, Sahra, me, Brian and Kris. Missing from the picture are Suzy Chavez, Dana Gabbard, Gary Kavanagh and Ted Rogers.

The 2013 Streetsblog L.A. team celebrates our win as best blog at the 2014 L.A. Press Club Awards Banquet: Joe, Sahra, Damien, Brian, and Kris. Missing from the picture are Suzy Chavez, Dana Gabbard, Gary Kavanagh, and Ted Rogers.

It is awards season for journalism in Southern California, and the recent announcement of finalists for the 58th Annual Southern California Journalism Awards gives us a chance to pat ourselves on the back as we celebrate some excellent work by the Southern California Streets Initiative team.

There were over 1,000 submissions in various categories, and we are thrilled to announce that between LongBeachize, Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog CA, and Streetsblog L.A., our publications, writers and photographers have over a dozen entries listed as finalists, a new record for SCSI.

Before we go on, let this serve as a quick reminder that award-winning, independent journalism isn’t free. All of those on our team are professional writers and photographers, and we need your support to keep going. You can always donate online by clicking here.

The “Best Blog” category has only been around for two years. Under the leadership of Joe Linton, Streetsblog L.A. has won this award for both years. We hope that this year is no different, as Streetsblog is one of the finalists for the award. Also competing in the category are two blogs from the Hollywood Reporter and the excellent TruthDig.

Last year, Brian Addison was named the “best online journalist” in Southern California for his work at the Long Beach Post and LongBeachize. This year, we’re hoping that Damien Newton, who is a finalist in that category, can keep that streak going. Streetsblog L.A. communities editor Sahra Sulaiman received 2nd place in this category two years ago.

Addison, Newton, and Sulaiman have each been singled out for individual awards across the online and photography sections.

A list of all SCSI’s finalists can be found after the jump. A nearly complete list of finalists in all categories can be found at the L.A. Press Club website. LongBeachize has more coverage here. Read more…

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Metro Sets Date To Launch DTLA Bike-Share: July 7

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Publicity photo for Metro bike-share. Photo via Allison Mannos

Downtown L.A. will get a little more bike-friendly with the launch of Metro bike-share, just announced for Thursday, July 7, 2016. Metro bike-share will include 1000+ bikes at 65 docking stations. The system is expected to expand to Pasadena in 2017, and other areas in future years.

From Metro’s press release:

People who live, work and play in downtown L.A. are encouraged to sign up for a Metro bike share pass in advance of the launch at www.metro.net/bikeshare. The system will be accessible exclusively to pass holders from July 7 until August 1, 2016 to incentivize pass holder sales. The system will open to walk-up customers starting August 1. People who purchase their pass early will get a limited edition Metro Bike Share Kit. The first 1,000 people to sign up will also receive exclusive Metro bike share pins.

The installation of bike share stations throughout downtown L.A. will begin in early June, with work expected to continue until the stations open to the public on July 7.

Who’s already signed up?

Streetsblog USA
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KC Conspiracy Theorists: Walkable Development Will “Devastate” Auto Giants

Now that Kansas City has its streetcar up and running, the city is taking the logical step of updating its zoning code to allow for walkable development along the transit route. And according to some local Agenda 21 believers, anyone who works for the automotive industry should be very afraid.

Kansas City's new transit-oriented development plan calls for some common sense changes, like supporting multi-story mixed-use buildings. Image: Kansas City

First they build up to the sidewalk, then they smash the entire automotive industry. Image: Kansas City

Up for a vote this Thursday at the City Council is a transit-oriented development policy that, in very general terms, calls for compact, mixed-use growth and better walking and biking conditions. It’s not a detailed zoning plan, more like a statement of principles to encourage development that pairs well with the streetcar, instead of the low-slung buildings, surface parking, and drive-throughs that predominate now. Only areas near the stations would be affected.

You might call it a common sense step to get more out of the city’s new transit line.

Or you could call it a “dangerous” law that will destroy “our freedoms.” At least, that’s the tack that a local group calling itself “Citizens for Responsible Government” has taken. A vocal opponent of the streetcar, CRG posted a paranoid screed on its Facebook page (reprinted for preservation at TransitKC).

It begins:

This ordinance would be devastating to us all but special attention should be paid by anyone involved in the Automobile Industry in any way, this would include FORD MOTORS, GENERAL MOTORS, UAW and all Auto Workers, Auto Dealers, Mechanics, Auto Leasing Companies, Auto Transport Companies, etc., etc., etc.,

Got it. Encouraging walkable development around Kansas City’s two-mile streetcar is the straw that will break the back of General Motors.

Moving on, there’s nothing like caps-lock to hammer home the sinister concepts at work here. Someone has studied Glenn Beck’s “keyword list” well:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Inside West Hollywood’s Expensive New Automated Parking Garage (KPCC)
  • Thrillist Posts, Removes Xenophobic Anti-Expo Line Screed (L.A. Weekly, Gawker)
    …Santa Monica Near-Expo Parks New Parking Meters Criticized By “Locals” (SMDP)
    …Monday Expo 2 Ridership: 12,000 Boardings, Half Downtown SaMo (The Source)
  • Long Beach Council Candidates Square Off Over Parking (LB Press Telegram)
  • Bike-Share Downtown L.A. Launch Date To Be Announced Today (KPCC)
  • Carnage: Violent Car Crash Kills One, Injures Two Others (KTLA)
  • Campaign To Preserve Sites From “Negro Travelers” Route 66 Guide (CBC Radio)
  • Uber Kicks Off Spanish Language Service, Recruiting Drivers (LB Press Telegram)
  • Parking Requirements Mean Less Housing and Less Affordable Housing (Sightline)
    …Reforming Parking An Easier Way Toward A More Just Society (Access)
  • Car-Centric Streets Drive Away Father-Son Bicyclists (#LukeSpeaks)
  • Seattle Times Goes On Screed Against Imagined “War On Cars” (Seattle Bike Blog)

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Manuel Pastor’s Recommendations for Metro’s 2016 Ballot Measure

Professor Manuel Pastor at yesterday's Move L.A. event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Professor Manuel Pastor at yesterday’s Move L.A. event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At Move L.A.’s Transportation Conversation 8 yesterday, USC professor Manuel Pastor had a list of recommendations for Metro as the agency seeks to finalize and pass its anticipated $120 billion November sales tax measure. For many years, Pastor has been an important voice for equity and justice. Adopting his recommendations would go a long way to truly embedding equity in coming decades of Metro expenditures.

Note: Pastor ticked off this list fairly quickly. I took notes and embellished slightly, adding some background. The good ideas here are Pastor’s; any improper embellishment is mine. 

1. Keep Fares Low

Pastor stressed that keeping transit affordable means it can serve those who truly need it. Interconnected with that, low fares are a big factor in minimizing declining ridership. Pastor emphasized that even small hikes, like Metro’s 2014 25-cent increase, can make lasting dents in ridership and can really harm the quality of life of low income riders.

2. Goal of No Net Displacement

Pastor outlined that Metro’s large construction projects can adversely impact the adjacent communities, displacing both residents and businesses. Pastor welcomed Metro’s programs to jointly develop affordable housing and to assist impacted businesses, but these are somewhat limited in scope. These programs are current Metro policies and practices applied only to selected projects. Pastor urged Metro to expand programs, including extending transit-oriented affordable housing assistance beyond just Metro-owned property. He urged Metro to make a robust commitment to prevent displacement in all significant Measure R2 projects.

3. Let All Students Ride for Free

Pastor urged that all students, from elementary to middle to high school through college, should ride Metro transit for free. Free. This is an investment in the education of the next generation. Pastor joked that young people want to spend their time texting anyway, but made the point that making transit available to students will ingrain transit ridership habits during Angelenos’ formative years, paying off in greater sustained levels of ridership as many students grow into transit-riding adults.

Read more…