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Today’s Headlines

  • KPCC Airtalk Explores Those Westwood Bike Lanes “Strong Feelings”
  • Architectural Standards Could Uplift West Hollywood’s Feelings (WeHoVille)
  • Midcity’s Sixth Street Would Feel Safer With Bike Lanes (Orange 20)
  • CiclaValley Feels Bicyclists Should Attend Thursday’s Griffith Park Board Meeting
  • Metro Feels Need For Input On Active Transpo Strategic Plan, Announces Meetings (Safe Routes)
  • Gas Refineries Feeling Great About 2015 Profits (LAT)
  • Too Many Mean Comments Hurt Curbed L.A.‘s Feelings
  • Videos: Experts Feel Parking Reforms Could Help Cities Feel Like Better Places  (MTC)
  • Infographic: Strong Feelings Evident In Santa Monica Housing Trends (Santa Monica Next)

Feeling Patriotic? Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Feeling Stately? Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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Some Thoughts On Metro’s Modest New Parking Policy Proposal

Should Metro parking policies

Metro is voting on a proposed update to its parking policies this Thursday. Metro Gold Line Atlantic Station parking structure. Photo by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At this Thursday’s meeting, Metro’s Board of Directors will be voting on modest changes to the way the agency manages parking. Theoretically, these changes are expected to set the stage for increased parking revenue, which has positives for walkability and livability, but the devil may be in the details.

According to the staff presentation [PDF], Metro currently manages more than 70 parking facilities with more than 22,000 parking spaces. In 2016, with new Gold and Expo Line extension parking lots opening, this will rise to more than 25,000 spaces. 330 more spaces are added when the Crenshaw/LAX line parking lots open in 2019.

Metro Boardmember and Duarte City Councilmember John Fasana, at last week’s Executive Committee meeting, remarked that parking spaces cost Metro “$40,000 a pop.” And that’s just up-front costs, without ongoing maintenance and operations. Metro’s overall 25,000 space parking portfolio, assuming parking expert Don Shoup’s industry standard of $24,000 per space instead of Fasana’s higher number for above ground structures (some spaces cost a lot more than this, probably some cost less), cost the agency at least $600,000,000.

So, even under conservative estimates, Metro has spent more than half a billion dollars on parking spaces. Metro gives more than 93 percent those spaces away for free. Metro CEO Phil Washington and other Metro leaders increasingly frequently speak about budget shortfalls and the need for increased revenue, cost-cutting, and likely fare increases.

I’ve often written critically about Metro’s free parking as a massive unfair loss leader for the agency. What might be given more weight is analysis by transportation experts. Metro’s recent peer review by a panel of American Public Transportation Association (APTA) experts made the following recommendations that bear repeating here: (full APTA review coverage here)

  • Station parking is expensive to build and maintain, so parking costs should be [at least] partially recovered.
  • Easy parking encourages driving that first last mile; it’s better to re-direct parking resources to instead fund convenient, frequent bus service.
  • Free park-and-ride subsidizes higher income riders and decreases transit’s air quality benefits.

So… with looming deficits and expert recommendations, Metro is retooling the way it does parking.

Not quite.

The new Metro parking ordinance is unfortunately not so different from current practices. Read more…

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East Side Riders’ Dreams of a Bike Co-op Finally Materializing in Watts

John Jones III, center, stands with supporters of the East Side Riders' new co-op space in Watts. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

John Jones III, center, stands with supporters of the East Side Riders’ new co-op space in Watts. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.

It may have been a hot and sticky Sunday afternoon, but it didn’t keep the East Side Riders from firing up the grill and cooking for the community in front of their new bike co-op on Central Ave. in Watts.

Feeding the community is something they have done since launching the club several years ago. In those days, they would make sandwiches and hand them out to folks in need as they rode. As the club grew, they expanded their community service efforts to include promoting health and safe streets, encouraging black and brown unity, raising awareness around the need for justice in cases of hit-and-runs, building and fixing bikes for free for kids in the community, sponsoring families at Christmas, and, along with Los Ryderz Bike Club, serving as rolling ambassadors of positivity and change for Watts and the larger South L.A. community.

So far, they have managed to do all this out of their own pockets and without having a permanent home. In the early days, the club was run out of members’ garages. Then, the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC) gave them space to store their bikes, meet up, and launch their rides. But they still wanted something of their own — a place they could adapt to meet community needs.

They finally settled on a new site at 113th and Central, a few blocks down the street from the WLCAC. It’s also across the street from Nickerson Gardens, the largest public housing development west of the Mississippi. While that might be intimidating for some, the East Side Riders think they’re right where they need to be. Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Will Washington Governor Jay Inslee Sacrifice Safer Streets?

As we reported yesterday, it looks like Washington Governor Jay Inslee may move forward with a low-carbon fuel standard, triggering a legislative “poison pill” that would eliminate funds for transit and street safety initiatives.

Safe Routes to School funding would be cut if Washington Governor Jay Inslee swallows the poison pill. Photo: Washington Bikes

Safe Routes to School funding would be cut if Governor Jay Inslee swallows the poison pill. Photo: Washington Bikes

The Seattle Times reports that Inslee is gambling on restoring those funds at a later date, but Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog says the governor would be making a costly mistake:

By abandoning the only funds in the transportation package that would actually help residents of our state get around without a car, he’s not doing the environment any favors.

But far worse, the money he’s considering pulling is designed to prevent people from being killed or seriously injured while walking or biking. This isn’t just horse trading one environmental policy for another. These are lives we’re talking about.

Safe Routes to School would be slashed nearly to death by this decision. $56 million can build a ton of safe crosswalks, sidewalks and bike routes for kids all across the state to get to school safely. That’s the great thing about walking and biking safety projects: Your money goes a lot further. $56 million doesn’t get you very far in a highway expansion project (it’s about 1.3 percent of the 520 Bridge Replacement budget), but it could dramatically improve safety in communities across the state.

The Bicycle Alliance of Washington is calling on people to urge Inslee not to sacrifice funding for safer streets. “There doesn’t have to be a choice between safer and healthier communities and climate change,” says policy director Blake Trask. “Governor Inslee knows he has other avenues to implement his climate change agenda.”

Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobilizing the Region explains why New York has the smallest ecological footprint of all U.S. states (spoiler: it’s housing density and transit), and ATL Urbanist says a suburban bus rapid transit line should be a catalyst for a more humane public realm.

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Today’s Headlines

  • LAT Looks At Both Side’s Feelings On Westwood Bike Lanes
  • Kuehl and Bonin Motion to Speed Up Metro Westside Bike-Share Implementation (LAT Twitter)
  • Beverly Hills City Council Again Looks At Santa Monica Blvd Bike Lanes (Better Bike)
  • CA Strategic Growth Council Criticized For Lack Of So Cal Affordable Housing Funding (Move L.A.)
  • CiclaValley Tours Burbank’s Burbank Western Channel Bike-Walk Path
  • Safe Routes and Many Others Push So Cal Association of Gov’ts For Environmental Justice
  • OCTA Bus Ridership Down, Agency Weighing Options (OC Register)
  • Better Looking Buses Part Of Seattle’s Transit Solution (Crosscut)

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

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Transpo Funding Intrigue in Washington State

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the Streetsblog Network today…

Washington Governor Jay Inslee may go ahead and swallow the “poison pill” that Republican legislators insisted on including in a state transportation package, reports Frank Chachiere at Seattle Transit Blog. That would mean Inslee will go ahead with a low-carbon fuel standard for the state, which will torpedo a funding package for roads, transit, and street safety projects. With Inslee having already secured a separate $15 billion authorization for Sound Transit that will be untouched by the poison pill, however, local transit advocates don’t seem too worried about the governor’s strategy.

A developer’s rendering of a mixed-use project in the works by the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station in DC. Not depicted are the 2,000 parking spaces the plan calls for. Image via GGW

Darla Letourneau at BikeWalkLee has a mid-year progress report on street safety in Florida’s Lee County. After spikes in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in recent years, street safety is getting more attention from the press and policy makers. However, injury rates for walkers and bikers don’t show signs of improvement yet. “The bottom line is that while there are lots of efforts underway to make it safer for people walking and biking in Lee County, we need to step up our game, if we expect to lower our stubbornly high bike/ped fatality and injury numbers,” she writes.

At Greater Greater Washington, Jonathan Neeley reports on a big mixed-use housing project coming to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station. While the development would replace car-oriented retail, the plan currently calls for 2,000 parking spaces — more than the number of new apartments. Is this the best DC can do?

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This Week In Livable Streets

sblog_calendarLots going on this week – from an equity webinar, to Metro’s board meeting, to Union Station creative writing, to bicycling the Southeast County stretches of the L.A. River and much more!

  • Tuesday 7/21 – LA County Bike Coalition Executive Director Tamika Butler is among the expert national panelists for Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s free webinar titled Active Transportation and Equity: Key Challenges and Opportunities from the Field. It takes place online at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Event details hereRegister here.
  • Tuesday 7/21 – Santa Monica Next and James Rojas invite you to help plan Santa Monica 2030. Takes place at 1640 5th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. – additional details at SBLA sister site Santa Monica Next.
  • Thursday 7/23 –  Metro’s monthly Board of Directors Meeting will take place this Thursday. There are details at a new Metro website (worse than before, unless you are really into downloading PDFs) with agendas and some of the meeting materials. There’s always a lot on the agenda [PDF], but some topics of note this month are how Metro may extend the Gold Line east of East L.A., and updated Metro policies on affordable housing joint development and parking (SBLA story coming today or tomorrow.)
  • Thursday 7/23 – Boyle Heights Mariachi Plaza hosts the Special Olympics Torch Run and Ceremony – run at 11 a.m., ceremony at 12:25 p.m. – details here.
  • Thursday 7/23 – The Exide Technologies Advisory Group meets from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Resurrection Catholic Church, Parish Hall, at 3324 E. Opal Street, L.A. 90023. It’s an opportunity for community members looking to work with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to hold Exide accountable for cleanup of its site. Read recent SBLA Exide coverage here. The meeting is open to the public; translation services will be provided. For further information contact DTSC Public Participation Specialist Marina Pérez at 1-844-225-3887 or SCAQMD Senior Public Information Specialist Leeor Alpern at 909-396-3663.
  • Friday 7/24 – Explore, enjoy, and write your L.A. Union Station story – at Metro’s PUBLISH! Your Journey from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. More details at The Source and this Facebook event.
  • Saturday 7/25 – State Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis, and the Rivers and Mountains Conservancy host a free Southeast L.A. River Bike Ride and Run, where you can learn about AB 530. Starts at Maywood Riverfront Park and ends at Cudahy River Park. Registration starts at 7 a.m., ride and run starts 8 a.m. Event details and rsvp at Asm Rendon’s website.
  • Sunday 7/26 – Black Kids on Bikes (BKOB) and the Ride-On Bike Co-Op host another free bike fix-it session at Leimert Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. See earlier SBLA coverage here. Event details here.
  • Next Mon-Tue-Wed 7/27-7/29 – The L.A. City Council will continue to hear from the public on who will pay to repair and maintain sidewalks. Streetsblog previewed the latest sidewalk repair plan here. Next week’s hearings take place in West L.A., Eagle Rock and Van Nuys. Agendas are posted at L.A. City’s web calendar three days in advance; for location, time, and additional details now, see Investing in Place.

Did we miss anything? Is there something we need to know for future calendars? Email joe@streetsblog.org.

Streetsblog USA
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Senate Banking Committee Slow to Take Up Transit Portion of Transpo Bill

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has unanimously passed the highway portion of a six-year transportation bill. The Commerce Committee has done its work on the rail and safety portion. The Finance Committee has the hardest job, the one that’s flummoxed Capitol Hill for six years now, but it’s held a hearing on transportation funding and Committee Chair Orrin Hatch says he’s confident they’ll get it done. But it’s the Banking Committee, with jurisdiction over transit, that’s the least far along with its work to complete a transportation bill.

Will the Banking Committee renew a yet-unused pilot grant program for TOD planning? Photo: Willamor Media/Flickr

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants the whole transportation issue to go away quickly and not come back until after the 2016 elections. Rather than take up the five-month extension the House passed earlier this week, McConnell has set up a Tuesday vote on a measure that will clear the way for the Senate to consider the bill, finished or not.

Banking Committee members have told the bill drafters their priorities for a bill, but no language has been released yet. If timing gets tight (and who are we kidding; it’s already tight), Committee Chair Richard Shelby could forgo committee consideration and bring his section of the bill directly to the floor. With transit defender Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio occupying the top Democrat seat on the committee, one hopes he’ll be able to help shape the bill.

The transit portion of MAP-21 included a $10 million transit-oriented development planning grant pilot program but has failed to award any funds so far. A pilot doesn’t do much good if it’s never utilized, so advocates hope the Banking Committee will extend the program to provide an opportunity to evaluate it (and that U.S. DOT will disburse the MAP-21 money already).

Another opportunity for TOD comes in the Commerce Committee bill, which included a provision to better use the underutilized Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program, authorized at $35 billion. The bill would allow local communities and real estate developers to access the funds directly to finance transit-oriented development, including commercial and residential development around passenger rail stations.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Commerce Committee’s portion that we failed to mention when it came out and all we could talk about was the proposed elimination of TIGER: It includes a rail authorization. Despite the fact that rail runs on the surface, it’s historically been excluded from the surface transportation bill. With the current rail authorization expired since 2013, the Commerce Committee has the opportunity to correct that mistake, and they’re taking it. So far, it doesn’t look like the rail authorizations alters current policy very much, but we’ll keep you posted if we uncover a big change.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Active Transportation Is Good For Health Everywhere (CityLab)
  • Rains Damage Closes Metrolink’s Riverside Line (LAT)
  • Surreal Photos Of Burned Cars On I-15 (CBS Twitter)
  • KCET Looks At Funding For Planned L.A. River Revitalization
  • What Can L.A. Do Be A Success Opportunity Engine? (New Geography)
  • Downtown News Crime Report: 11 DTLA Bike Thefts, Mostly Cut Locks
  • High Gas Prices Are Due To A Scam (LA Weekly)
  • Cyclists And Motorists Break Laws At About the Same Rate (PRI)

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

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Reps Pelosi and Lieu Tout ‘Grow America’ Transportation Bill

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi speaking on federal transportation funding at this morning's event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi speaking on federal transportation funding at this morning’s event. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Elected officials, labor leaders, and Metro’s CEO assembled this morning to call on Congress to pass a long-term transportation bill. In order to highlight the ways that transportation infrastructure funding benefits communities, the press event showcased the bluff-top construction site of the city of Santa Monica’s California Incline retrofit project.

House Minority Leader Representative Nancy Pelosi, Representative Ted Lieu, L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, AFL CIO Executive Secretary Rusty Hicks, ‎Building and Construction Trades Council President Ron Miller, and Metro CEO Phil Washington all expressed support for the Grow America Act.

Many Americans think that gas taxes cover the costs of transportation infrastructure. In truth, gas taxes have not kept up with inflation. For many years, transportation-dedicated revenue has fallen way short of transportation expenditures.

This has resulted in ongoing debates over how to pay for transportation infrastructure. The Grow America Act is President Obama’s proposal, favored by Democrats. Grow America would pay for six years of federal transportation funding by closing loopholes that allow American corporations to skirt taxes on overseas profits. Republicans are less interested in trimming corporate profits, and more inclined to fund transportation by trimming pensions. Today, Pelosi characterized the plan to trim pension funding as “a non-starter” and, in response to questions, expressed her support for raising the gas tax, though that too is likely a non-starter.

Though Lieu and Pelosi are pressing for the six-year Grow America Act, this week the House of Representatives passed its stopgap five-month measure that would keep federal transportation funds solvent through December 2015. Senate committees are hammering out their likely-longer-term versions.

CEO Washington and Mayor McKeown stressed that short term funding is not enough for local cities and agencies Read more…