Monterey Park City Council Candidates Debate Mobility
On July 25, Streets for All hosted a Mobility Debate among Monterey Park City Council candidates. With attempts from the city of Monterey Park to use Metro funds to expand lanes on local roads (in March 2021 and February 2022), public transportation safety has become a hot topic among residents. Business owners, teachers, and parents have expressed concerns about how lane expansions on Garvey Ave would negatively impact them. The Mobility Debate helped to shed light on the views of new potential lawmakers on transportation issues in the city. As the upcoming November 8 election determines the outcome for three out of five council seats, the newly elected officials can play a large role in what transit looks like in Monterey Park. Monterey Park voters should be receiving their ballot to vote on their preferred candidate between October 6 to October 10.
Streets for All hosted the debate with four Monterey Park City Council candidates:
- Thomas Wong, candidate for District 1
- Jose Sanchez, candidate for District 3
- Delario Robinson, candidate for District 5
- Vinh Ngo, candidate for District 5
In the debate, the candidates were asked about:
- How they would change things in terms of transportation such as the Spirit Bus
- How they plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars
- How they will implement bike lane installation
- How they will promote traffic safety for vulnerable populations
- How they would make walking more accessible, expand bus shelters, and increase tree canopy
- If they will retract approval of previous lane expansions and explore alternative multi-modal solutions to traffic
- How would they improve the business district along Garvey
- If they would commit to taking a non-car form of transportation at least once a week
Since lane expansions have been a large issue in Monterey Park, the candidates’ responses to the question on lane expansion are posted below. The question asked was the following: “Will you commit to retracting approval of previous lane expansion proposals? Will you commit to halting considerations of these projects and instead explore alternative and multi-modal solutions to traffic?”
Wong started by mentioning that he expressed concerns and objections around the existing lane expansion plans when the plan was put up for a vote in City Council. He said that he was publicly against the lane expansion idea, particularly along Garvey Avenue. He viewed that it would not be practical to have lane expansions if neighboring cities don’t expand the same roads. He also added that the lane expansions don’t “solve anything.”
Thomas Wong also “gave props” to the current Monterey Park Mayor, Henry Lo. He acknowledged that Mayor Lo pushed staff to have further conversations with Metro on how the funds could be utilized for other multimodal and alternative transportation options. Thomas supports efforts from Lo and mentioned that he would push for more active transportation options implemented. He saw that the funding would “go a long way in building some of those options out and providing alternative transportation options than cars in our city and for our community.”
Sanchez said that he would “absolutely retract the proposal for lane expansions.” He expressed that alternatives should be considered. He suggested that Garvey Ave, where the lane expansions were planned, should be more pedestrian-friendly. For him, this was in the form of adding a protected bike lane along Garvey Ave.
Jose Sanchez also suggested repurposing parking spots on the street for outdoor dining, similar to Pasadena. He brought up the idea of a bus lane as a potential alternative as well. The candidate stressed that the “monies dedicated from Metro should not be to continue the status quo of adding more parking garages and more lanes because statistics only show that doesn’t […] improve transportation or traffic at all.”
In response to this question, Robinson stressed the point of “the practical side of accepting any money and doing anything with monies.” He insisted that “it has to be somewhat of a necessity.” Here, Robinson is pointing out the fact that he believes Metro funds originally considered for Monterey Park’s lane expansions and parking garages should be implemented. This is because that is the “practical side of accepting any money.”
Delario Robinson acknowledged that there is a desire to move toward multimodal transportation. However, he saw that there isn’t demand for projects like bike lanes and that there is more of a demand for car infrastructure. The candidate said that “until transportation and bus systems and mobility systems are easily accessible… and walk through, I think we’re going to continue down the path of who’s got the nicest car.”
Ngo started by mentioning that he was with Wong and Sanchez for the community walk held by Safe Streets for SGV. He emphasized the need to get that money since “100 million is not a drop in the bucket… Once you get the money, you can start negotiations and tell them what you want to do for the city.” Ngo mentioned that he was against expanding lanes and he believed that Garvey doesn’t need more lanes. He saw that Garvey needed to change to make it safer for pedestrians, bikes, and motor vehicles. The candidate acknowledged that the sidewalks on Garvey need to be redone to make it safer for everyone.
He brought up the idea to showcase part of Monterey Park downtown. Where you can have “pedestrians, bikes, and motor vehicles all living together.” Ngo brought up that alternative ideas should be explored with the City Commissions to propose better solutions.
Andy Fung grew up in Monterey Park and would like to see more public transit and active transportation options in his community.
Je-Show is a long time resident of the West San Gabriel Valley who advocates for safer streets in the SGV.
Streetsblog’s San Gabriel Valley coverage is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit Foothill Transit. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”
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