Streetsblog Transition Team: The First 100 Days

Garcetti layed out his own transportation agenda in our interview series during the primaries.

It’s been a busy week for Livable Streets Advocates. Last week saw the redesign of the Spring Street Green Buffered Bike Lane approved by the City Council. Then was CicLAvia outraged the residents, businesses and road users of Downtown Los Angeles. Later today, the Metro Board of Directors will go to war with itself over various budget issues, both present and future, that could impact the Crenshaw Line, the Wilshire BRT, the Gold Line Extension, the LAX Connector project, Expo Phase II, highway improvements in the South Bay and the I-405 widening.

Quite a swan song for Mayor Antonion Villaraigosa after eight years serving on the Board.

But the good news for incoming Mayor Eric Garcetti is that a lot of major decisions will be made before he takes office, somewhat absolving him of any fallout from what may come. Since it’s traditional for media to judge elected executives on their “First 100 Days” Streetsblog wants to help the incoming team by setting out five simple things that can be done in the first 100 days of Garcetti’s first four year term to continue the momentum towards livability set out by Villaraigosa.

1) Make good appointments for Deputy Mayor and LADOT General Manager

It’s no secret that Streetsblog and Livable Streets advocates have a far better relationship with  LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega than with his predecessors  Borja Leon has quietly impacted policy even though he’s hardly a household name.

De la Vega and Leon have been good, but many mayors wamt to bring in their own people. Any new appointments to these positions will be heavily scrutinized for signs of what is to come from the next four years. Putting the right people in the right jobs, or leaving the right people in the right jobs, is perhaps the most important thing a mayor can do in his first days in office.

2) Throw Cyclists a Bone after Spring Street Debacle

The “good news” from last week’s dissapointing setback on Spring Street is that the design approved by the City Council is quite a bit less expensive than the current design. Instead of a solid green bike lane, LADOT will stripe the borders of the lane green with the conflict zones filled in. If this design is really 25% as expensive as the old design, than the city should move quickly to paint four more bike lanes with the new design. If they want, we can make some suggestions.

3) Attend a Pedestrian Advisory Committee

For years, the city’s official advisory body for pedestrian issues has been chaired by Deborah Murphy. At times, Murphy was the only persona actually appointed by a Council Member anywhere. It was kind of depressing of the city, but Murphy toiled away anyway. Murphy was appointed by the Council Members from CD 13, including Eric Garcetti.

While Garcetti and Murphy may have kept the committee alive during leaner years, it now includes a handful of appointees besides Murphy; now is the time the new Mayor can really make an impression on how important making L.A.’s streets safer and more accommodating to pedestrians by showing up to one of the meetings himself.

4) Continue Occasionally Commuting by Bike and Transit

In 2008, City Hall added some basic amenities for bicycle commuters, after being pushed by Garcetti. The Council Member required all staffers to commute via foot, bike or transit at least once a week. This simple act informed the Council Member and his staff on transportation issues and led to some of the most progressive transportation policy offices in the Council.

Just because he’s been promoted by voters doesn’t mean he should do away with this tradition.

5) Present a Vision for Accelerating Measure R Projects

Outgoing mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a national brand for himself as the transit mayor with his 30/10 and America Fast Forward campaigns that would have led to more federal funding and loans for L.A.’s transit expansion plans. Just because Villaraigosa had only moderate success doesn’t mean he didn’t lay the groundwork for more success in the future.

Villaraigosa has, perhaps inadvertently  positioned Garcetti as a national spokesperson on transit issues at the federal level just by being Mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti should use this positioning to advance our own transit projects. But to take that mantle, Garcetti needs to present his own transit vision beyond Measure R and what Villaraigosa has already laid out. The sooner he can do that, the better.

Do you have any transportation decisions or policies you think Mayor Garcetti needs to address on day 1? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

  • Rico

    Yes, I agree with your comment re: Spring Street bike lanes. We should get three additional lanes of the same configuration painted in Downtown LA as part of the “compromise” since Spring Street is less safe and less expensive now.

  • One thing I have come to appreciate from years of watching L.A. Mayors and Metro CEOs come and go is that everyone has their own management style. Leadership is a tricky thing and Garcetti will have a full plate making nice with Herb Wesson (who ego is the size of a planet but via being President of the City Council with many allies is in a position to wreck havoc with the new Mayor’s agenda so Garcetti early in his tenure must signal he knows his former colleagues have a key role as partners in governing the city) and the labor unions (whose cooperation will be needed to fulfill campaign promises of fiscal restraint).

    In the first 100 days he’ll probably be very busy just with these tricky but
    very necessary priorities being addressed ASAP — I have to suspect
    transportation may not get too much attention. It is telling there has been no
    buzz as to potential transportation Deputy Mayor and LADOT GM appointees, much less who Garcetti has in mind for the three Metro Board seats the Mayor controls. That said, #2 may be a great way to quickly get a solid win that will early on impart a new urbanist vibe to his tenure. #3-4 would make great opportunities for press coverage highlighting ped and cyclist issues. Invite the press to join in a bike commute — Laura Nelson of the Times would be up for it given she actually commuted to work one day during bike to work week. How about Rick Orlov, Jill Stewart, Mark Lacter, Brian Watt etc.? Wouldn’t that be fun? #5 may be a bit longer to be ready to happen since it may involve getting the Council and various stakeholders and city departments on board.

    One notion I recently shared with Damien is maybe Garcetti plans to have Marcel Porras (his staffer on transportation issues) be Deputy Mayor. The fact Garcetti has decided to have Council office chief of staff play the same role in the Mayor’s office makes Porras a credible guess. But that is just based on the principle of bringing your own people that Damien quite correctly notes is a touchstone of most politicos.

  • ubrayj02

    One of the first things I would do if elected mayor is hire a team of anthropologists and sociologists to use whatever budget exists for the Mayor’s Budget Survey to develop valid piece of social science that measures the livability in Los Angeles.

    Next, I would crack eggs and scramble whatever departments I have to get a geo-coded map and database of the city’s return-on-investment per acre of city infrastructure and services as well as a total cost of ownership projected out to 2030 or 2050 in four year chunks. The City Administrative Officer is always making sure we look good to Wall Street – but our leaders in city hall are flying blind when it comes to the costs their city/districts impose and our ability to collect taxes and fees to cover those costs.

    I would begin and effort to train a volunteer corps of master conservationists – to begin the process of de-paving and de-servicing the sprawling bedroom communities that are eating our municipal budget up. You want to live in a “rural” setting within the city limits? Fine. We are training you to grow your own food, collect your own rain water, generate your own electricity, and your roads are now compacted sand, gravel, or dirt. De-paving is the long term solution to “fix my potholed block!”.

    Finally, I would put traffic crashes, and their costs, front and center in numerous press events and public meetings. This city spends an untold amount of police time and EMT services money on traffic crashes and injuries. LA’s got to get a handle on the destruction of wealth that is happening on our streets and highways daily.

    Oh, and any project that has a cost-benefit analysis that includes “time saved by users” as a net revenue benefit to the City will have all the staff working on that project flogged by the fountains at Grand Park (county property, but we can work a deal).

  • Anonymous

    I think document where the city is now on some things. Create some data points that show the status on a variety of things and access. Not just an inventory of miles of bikeways, for example. But do some measure of access, how many people are within a mile of a bikeway? How many people are within walking distance of a park? Then use this baseline to refer back to in order to track progress over time.

  • Anonymous

    I would suggest immediately getting rid of peak hour “no parking” restrictions in a multitude of locations around the city, particularly where there’s likely to be local business and community support and/or metered parking. It’s as simple and immediate as just taking down all of the signs declaring peak hour parking restrictions and leaving the underlying non-peak parking rules in place. The immediate effects would be traffic calming across the city, and an increase in parking revenue and sales taxes. Then fund local efforts to convert those curbside parking spaces into parklets, bike corrals, tree wells, bulbouts, etc., or even bus-only or bike lanes, depending on the needs and desires in each particular neighborhood (all of which is currently impossible in any area with peak hour no parking).

  • ubrayj02

    This would be done by an Anti-Tiger Team – as the “Tiger Team” Villaraigosa set up at the LADOT is responsible for speeding up cars on surface streets. Need a squad of 30 year old, recently graduated, snotty engineers who dislike old style of street planning to be in charge of this.

  • LARider

    Given all of Bike Nation’s hoopla in the LA Times today, I really would like Garcetti to issue a proper RFP for a bonafide bike share system. Los Angeles is a world class city and it deserves a world class bike share system. This deal was clearly rushed through in a vain attempt to have a “bike share” notch in Villaraigosa’s belt and now that they’ve run into this advertising road block maybe now is the time to do it right. Get a modest grant and fund the operations through sponsorship and user fees. Get a real bike share provider who has real experience on a Metropolitan scale, not a 3-station pilot program in Anaheim that barely functions.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. Garcetti would do well to establish something exactly like that.

  • The City Administrative Officer is always making sure we look good to
    Wall Street – but our leaders in city hall are flying blind when it
    comes to the costs their city/districts impose and our ability to
    collect taxes and fees to cover those costs.


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