Transportation headlines, Thursday, August 21

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Hello, Source readers. I was away for a few days doing the active transportation thing: backpacking into the Hoover Wilderness of the Eastern Sierra. It’s one of the great bargains in California: wilderness permits are free, as are the campsites. Okay, not entirely active transportation as getting to the trailhead requires a long, CO2-emitting drive from L.A., but such are the tradeoffs in life. Interesting factoid: California has 14.9 million acres of designated wilderness (14 percent of the state’s land area) where the only way of getting around is walking or by horse. That’s mighty cool, IMO. Quick Source contest: any Source reader who correctly identifies the lake in the photo below will be hailed as the Most Geographically Adept Source Reader of All-Time in tomorrow’s headlines and on Metro’s social media.

Hint: the lake shares the name of a former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Hint: the lake shares the name of a former resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Guest editorial: dreaming big about rail lines, grand boulevards, bus rapid transit and Measure R2 (StreetsblogLA)

The activist group MoveLA’s Denny Zane and Gloria Ohland opine in favor of a new half-cent transportation sales tax increase being put to Los Angeles County voters in 2016 to fund transportation improvements. While they say that rail expansion should be the centerpiece of any such ballot measure, they also propose that five to 10 percent of the funds be used for a grand boulevards program “to invest in reviving and reinventing several-mile, multi-community-long stretches of maybe 15-20 arterials around L.A. County as transit-oriented boulevards that promote economic development as they pass through more than one community.”

Zane and Ohland also propose that some of the grand boulevards money be used as a competitive grant program for cities that want to build housing along these streets. The idea, in short, is to bump up bus service on these streets while also adding housing and potential transit riders. Obviously not as sexy as a rail line, but an intriguing idea because it’s a way to bring better transit into more corners of the county — including neighborhoods and communities that may be beyond the reach of rail.

As regular readers know, Metro staff is exploring the possibility of a 2016 ballot measure that could possibly extend the half-cent Measure R sales tax (which expires in mid-2039) or another half-cent sales tax that would help fund new projects. Metro has also asked cities in L.A. County for a wish list of projects they would want funded by such a ballot measure. As Metro CEO Art Leahy has already said publicly, the list of projects is a long one and not everything could be funded. It will be very extremely super interesting to see how this evolves.

An underwhelming sidewalk repair day at L.A. City Hall (StreetsblogLA)

Joe Linton’s take on the sidewalk summit held at City Hall can be boiled down to one word: “yawn.” The gist of it: city staff is working to figure out how to spend $27 million in this year’s budget to fix bad sidewalks around the city of Los Angeles while also exploring long-term options for sidewalk repair.

UCLA’s Donald Shoup also penned an op-ed in the L.A. Times arguing that a point-of-sale program that requires homeowners to fix sidewalks at the time they sell their properties would be a good way to get thousands of miles of L.A. sidewalks fixed. The reason: properties tend to turn over on average once every dozen years, meaning that such a program could result in quicker gains than waiting for the city to have funding available.

Road and sidewalk repair has been an ongoing issue at L.A. City Hall for years. I recall writing a very short sidewalk repair story for the Times back seven or eight years ago that got buried even deeper in the print edition than most of my articles and I still got more readers response than most other stories. So it’s a big issue — and another item that could surface in discussions about Measure R2.

The 10 commandments of transit (transitcommandments.com)

These are great. My favorite: “thy shall keep their shoes on.” There are also helpful suggestions about giving up a seat for those in need and about the appropriate place to break bread (or some drippy mess from Carls Jr.). That place, in case you haven’t guessed, is at home and not the bus or train.

Supporters of closing Santa Monica Airport lose round in court (L.A. Times)

A Superior Court judge upheld a ballot measure that would require voter approval to close the controversial airport. But is this really a loss? I suspect a vote in Santa Monica on closing the airport would be close. I suspect that anyone who lives near the airport would rather it be gone (disclosure: I lived under the flight path for seven years and really disliked the frequent jet noise), but I also could see people voting to keep the airport out of fear that closing it would result in more commercial and/or residential development taking the airport’s place. FYI: the airport is about one mile south of the future Expo Line station at Exposition Boulevard and Bundy Drive. The Expo Line extension, funded by Measure R, is scheduled to open in early 2016.

Why your LA-to-Vegas commute just got slower (vegas seven)

A Caltrans project is underway to improve the 15-215 interchange at the base of the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County. It includes widening the 15 and a truck bypass. But until the project is done, expect delays. Of course, some of you may have no interest in taking the 15 to Unlucky Town, but may have their sights set on other joys further up the 15, such as Zion National Park.

12 replies

  1. “requires homeowners to fix sidewalks at the time they sell their properties would be a good way to get thousands of miles of L.A. sidewalks fixed”

    Typical of government who have no clue of reality. Majority of broken sidewalks involve uprooting with trees. How much extra does that cost in bureaucratic red tape and fees to chop down that tree that’s the main cause of broken sidewalks without upsetting tree huggers involved?

    Answer: up to $347,000 in legal fees and fines to get rid of a tree
    http://consumerist.com/2007/11/28/homeowners-fined-347000-for-trimming-trees-without-a-permit/

    Oh yes, and who pays for the cost when sidewalks are broken in front of an apartment, which majority of residents in LA live? Wait forever for LA Bureau of Street Services to clear their 50 years of backlog? Dump the job to apartment residents? Apartment owners?

    Sure, the homeowners will do it. If government doesn’t get in the way! Rent a chainsaw from Home Depot, chop it down, use it for firewood, and fix the sidewalk. Should be that simple. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here in CA thanks to so much bureaucracy and red tape.

  2. Unless the MTA ballot measure includes Light Rail running along Santa Monica Bl. from West Los Angeles to at least Silverlake as it’s number one priority I will campaign against it. Santa Monica Bl. is one of the most congested streets in Los Angeles County and is the main artery from W.L.A. for commuters both in cars and buses.

    • There isn’t room on SM Blvd. for light rail except in the Beverly Hills area where the old tracks are. Everywhere else, there is no ROW for light rail.

    • So, everyone should hold out for their pet project? Those in the SGV should hold out for what they want. Those in the SFV should hold out for the Sepulveda Pass transit project. Those in the South Bay should hold out for the Green line extension to to Wimington. Alhambra should hold out for the 710 tunnel. Burbank should hold out for the Red line to BRB. The Av should hold out for the HSR tunnel.
      Is that really what you think needs to be done? Everyone should be soooo self centered that they can not see that it is for the common good?
      We complain about congressmen that shove their pet project into a bill. Try thinking about the whole county, not just your ‘hood.

  3. I am getting a corperate firewall block on TransitCommandments. It comes up listing it as pr0n. I hope that you didn’t just get me on a watch list.

    • Hi person,

      It’s definitely not anything risqué! But although the URL doesn’t say it, the site uses Tumblr as a platform, which may be why it’s blocked in some settings.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

    • Hi Alan;

      A fine educated guess, but unfortunately not correct. Since you were the only reader with the temerity to try to identify the lake, I hereby declare you as The Best Source Reader of All Time. Please wear this honor well.

      As for the lake, it’s the upper Hoover Lake. This is the trail that runs from Green Lake to East Lake and then up to Summit Lake, which sits on the border between the Hoover Wilderness and Yosemite. Pretty neat area — I had never been up this drainage and was looking for a relatively easy backpack after a couple years of not backpacking. We ended up hiking into East Lake and camping there (about 4.5 miles, 1500 feet up) and then dayhiking up to Summit Lake and fishing along the way. Fun trip. Nice campsite at East Lake and pretty area.

      You hike much in the Sierra or locally?

      cheers,

      Steve

  4. I want to change my vote to the Hoover Lakes. Since you are in the Hoover wilderness, and the Kennedy lake does not show the boulders around the side of the trail where you are walking as the Hoover Lakes does. Alan

    Date: Thu, 21 Aug 2014 17:19:20 +0000 To: alutz51@hotmail.com

  5. Sidewalk maintenance and repair should simply be funded by property taxes (or, if it’s easier, per-house fees). We don’t ask homeowners to maintain the roadway outside their house, do we? No we do not.

    My small town *finally* started doing this this year. The sidewalks are now getting fixed.

  6. Just a Person
    All I hear is the San Fernando Valley wants this and gets it. The 405 Freeway has been a on going update for years. The cement was hardly dry from one project when this latest debacle was started. Now they are demanding a subway or light rail to parallel it. Santa Monica Bl. is Calif. State Highway 2 and was supposed to be replaced by a freeway. If one looks at the 101 freeway at Vermont Ave that large gap between the northbound and southbound lanes was for the Highway 2 interchange. It was abruptly stopped by Jerry Brown when he was governor previously. Century City was developed with said freeway anticipated.

    We need relief and it’s time we take a firm stand. Santa Monica Bl. should be the number one priority and other projects should fallow. As I outlined the project it would connect downtown L. A. with Santa Monica. And yes some of the prior right of way has been removed or altered but could be rebuilt easily.

    The Crenshaw Light Rail line is being constructed to appease those voters in that part of Los Angeles. Crenshaw Bl. has only light to moderate passenger loads on their buses and the street has little congestion. Although it may make a physical connection with the Green Line it fails to do so with the Expo Line or the extension of the Purple Line. In short, it’s a worthless use of our money and will do little to relieve over crowding on MTA buses or relieve traffic congestion since there is none except at the ten freeway.

    Someone has to take a stand and I have decided I will take the lead.