Transportation headlines, Monday, June 1

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ART OF TRANSIT: Cyclists exiting Del Mar Station in Pasadena for the CicLAvia event Saturday. Click on the pic to see more from our photo gallery. Photo: Metro.

ART OF TRANSIT: Cyclists exiting Del Mar Station in Pasadena for the CicLAvia event Saturday. Click on the pic to see more from our photo gallery. Photo: Metro.

Vroom vroom: Zipcars now for rent at Metro Lines in LA (NBC4)

The video neatly sums up the new partnership between Zipcar and Metro that will place two Zipcars at 10 busy Metro Rail and Orange Line stations. The gist of it: you can use Metro to complete part of your trip and then rent a Zipcar for the rest of your journey. It may not be the kind of thing riders do all the time, but it’s very useful for those who don’t drive, don’t have a car or may not have a vehicle always at their disposal.

40,000 tour CicLAvia in Pasadena (San Gabriel Valley Tribune) 

I’m no good at estimating crowds — but it was certainly a big one at the CicLAvia in Pasadena on Saturday. The slideshow looks like it has a broken chain, so to speak. Only five images?

I think we’re at the point where it’s safe to say that people in our region aren’t as married to their cars as some would like to believe. Each of the open streets events has been a big draw and I’m positive there will be another big crowd in Uptown Long Beach this Saturday for the Beach Streets on Atlantic Avenue.

The big question that remains is how much will some of the appetite for biking on display at these events translate into action in the different communities? I think it’s safe to say that a lot of progress has been made in Long Beach and the city of Los Angeles. Pasadena has a draft bike plan. Will it be approved by the Council? Funded? Implemented? Stay tuned.

Map of age of city buildings (Built LA)

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 11.56.49 AM

I’ve probably seen this map in the past — just forgot about it until a friend sent me a link the other day. The interactive map is through 2008 and shows the age of buildings in Los Angeles County. Although things have obviously changed in some places, the map still gives you a good idea how much of our area was built in the early decades of the 20th Century and that new development is the exception, not the rule in most areas.

On the one, a lot of older buildings are great and have character and perhaps offer affordable housing, etc. On the other hand, a lot of older buildings don’t and I’m not sure what it says that there hasn’t been more new development here. If you know what it says, leave a comment — although I’m guessing our regular commenters hardly need an invitation to pounce.

San Fernando leaders confront state officials over bullet train route (L.A. Times) 

A community meeting about the project last week was rough going. The issue remains choosing a route for the bullet train between Burbank and Palmdale. Some residents oppose a surface route. Others oppose a route that would involve building 20 miles of tunnels.

Somewhat similar issues on the San Francisco Peninsula were solved by committing to slow down high-speed rail and using the existing rail corridor. Obviously the tunneling would be expensive. That’s a challenge for a project that still lacks the vast majority of the funding it would need to go from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Eyes on the street: law enforcement takes the lane (Streetsblog LA) 

LAPD vehicles have parked in the bike lanes on Los Angeles Street more than once, finds Streetsblog’s Sahra Sulaiman. She’s not amused and her response — along the lines of ‘broken windows’ start at home — is hard to argue against.

I write letters to the people that I love (Zocalo Public Square) 

SamDormson-820x546

The latest Metro rider profile from Zocalo Public Square. Click above to check out their ongoing series.


Things to read on transit….

Not sure if we have any Deadhead riders — we must, right? If so, a short and fun piece on Bob Weir as what’s left of the band gears up for what it says will be its final tour. They’re playing June 27 and 28 at the 49ers rail-adjacent stadium in Santa Clara. Hope they have some good air fresheners for those rail cars post concert.

Grist has a funny read on a candidate for California’s seat in the U.S. Senate who will only work to fight climate change. By his own admission: “I will be the first to admit that I’m not a perfect candidate. I’m barely qualified, and a survey of my personal history will undoubtedly expose me as an embarrassment to myself in almost every regard that does not include this singular act of rationality.” As you might know, such disclaimers in politics are unusual 🙂

You may have read an obituary for photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who passed away last month. Check out some of her great street photography work in New York. She worked with wide-angle lenses far more than many street photographers, meaning she had to get close to her subjects and had to carefully frame them in the right context.

Feel free to follow my mostly non-transportationy thoughts and photos on Twitter and Instagram

 

21 replies

  1. “LAPD vehicles have parked in the bike lanes on Los Angeles Street more than once…”

    Hah! “More than once” – I ride these bike lanes (and drive in the car) by here often and have literally NEVER seen the bike lane without vehicles parked in it. Doesn’t matter the time of day or night. Not once have I seen it completely open.

  2. Hmm. “Slowing down high speed rail” to use an existing alignment between Burbank and Palmdale. Well, it could be worse. Somebody could actually be proposing to slow down high speed rail to use an existing alignment between Palmdale and Bakersfield. That would be bad: passenger trains trying to get through the Tehachapi Loop (which would be a slow route because of the grade, even if it weren’t for all the drag freight traffic). Wasn’t that the reason Amtrak cut off the San Joaquins at Bakersfield?

  3. The Bullet Train. Bypass Palmdale and come directly down the 5 Freeway. Problem solved. Why seen the Bullet Train via Palmdale when they can’t even support a airport that was built and sits empty?

  4. “On the other hand, a lot of older buildings don’t and I’m not sure what it says that there hasn’t been more new development here.”

    NIMBYs
    http://my.telegraph.co.uk/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/user/jessthedog/20070723221141.jpg

    They’re so against any changes that they’ll throw any excuse to prevent new development from happening. We’ve all seen this before, we already know what they’re going to say. “Oh it’ll lead to more traffic” or “it doesn’t fit in with the surroundings” and stuff like “quality of life” and “it’s a public safety issue” that no one really cares about?

  5. Re: San Fernando leaders confront state officials over bullet train route (L.A. Times)

    I feel it’s important to point out here that over the past several years, Ralph Vartabedian (the author of said hit piece) has consistently displayed a critical slant in all his reporting on the project, which is unfortunate given the national audience served by the L.A. Times. His intentionally biased reporting is being used to prop up arguments that CA HSR is a failed, done deal, and only provides more ammo for opponents of the project.

    In this particular article, he goes out of his way to portray opposition to the project as universal (it’s actually mostly limited to the concentrated NIMBYs of LA and the Bay Area!), repeats unfounded claims that CHSRA is trying to shut opponents out despite a 1.5 minute per-person comment window (because, evidently, NIMBYs should be allowed unlimited filibustering powers at these community meetings!) and then attempts to paint the tunneling technology as untested and risky, despite longer, deeper rail tunnels having been built or currently under construction in Japan (with bigger seismic risks!) and Europe.

    I would strongly suggest that readers who support high speed rail should contact the paper to point out such instances of bias.

    • “because, evidently, NIMBYs should be allowed unlimited filibustering powers at these community meetings!”

      You cannot shut people up just because they disagree with you.

      http://i.imgur.com/VZ9dH7o.jpg

      What if Hitler said, “give me a good reason to not to exterminate the Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled; you have one-and-a-half minutes!”

      What if Stalin said, “give me a good reason to not to send 7 million ‘enemies of the state’ to gulags; you have one-and-a-half minutes!”

      Whether you agree with them or not, NIMBYs are taxpayers too, this country operates under a democracy, and we have this thing in the Bill of Rights called freedom of speech. Limiting speeches to certain length of time is a restriction placed on freedom of speech, despite many levels of government practicing .

      Yes, yes, yes, you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, blah-blah-blah, it’s such a recurrent excuse for an argument you don’t even have to open your mouth to foretell what you have to say because the liberal playbook is so easy to decipher. And the argument is irrelevant as it’s a restriction of a length of time to talk placed in a public space, not something regarding “safety issues” because it can cause trampling of people to death or whatever the underlying intent it was.

      Besides, what’s stopping government to so generous to its subjects that they allow a generous one-and-a-half minutes of talk time? Why not one minute? Why not 30 seconds? Why not ten seconds? Why not one second?

      Big brother: Ok, Mr. crayz9000, you’re next!
      crayz9000: (clears throat, takes a deep breath)

      BUZZER SOUNDS

      Big brother: TIME’S UP! NEXT!

      Big brother: Looks like no one has an issue. We gave everyone a generous one second at the mic. It is agreed then that we shall bulldoze all the homes and businesses in the path of the HSR, provide no pay or reparations to them, and if they raise protest, we send them and their families to concentration camps. Workers will be paid nothing for the construction cost and they will work 20 hours per day. Taxpayers will be taxed at 100% of their paycheck for the next two years to build this project as quickly as possible. Now that’s over with, we need to attend a lavish party reserved solely for the party elites.

      • It appears that my previous comment didn’t pass moderation, which was probably due to my irritation at the obvious bait tactic of using a Nazi analogy. My apologies to Steve and the other Metro staffers for that.

        Why not one minute? Why not 30 seconds? Why not ten seconds? Why not one second?

        This is a textbook case of the slippery slope fallacy. Do you want to know why they wouldn’t set a one second limit on comments? Because it would be obviously unreasonable. The whole purpose of setting a time limit on comments is to give everyone a chance to speak within the allotted time for the meeting. Counter to your hilariously poor gulag analogy, it’s a measure to ensure that everyone attending gets a fair shot at having their voices heard – not just so that the loudest and most annoying voices can scream obscenities until they’re blue in the face.

      • “The whole purpose of setting a time limit on comments is to give everyone a chance to speak within the allotted time for the meeting. Counter to your hilariously poor gulag analogy, it’s a measure to ensure that everyone attending gets a fair shot at having their voices heard – not just so that the loudest and most annoying voices can scream obscenities until they’re blue in the face.”

        I have to disagree. The opinion regarding time limits when viewed from a public speaker is that the measure is rarely given for the public’s benefit or so they can get to hear everyone. Those are “what they say,” but “what they mean” is a different picture.

        It’s a tactic used as a measure reduce the amount of time politicians and bureaucrat’s needs to hear the whines and complaints of the “little people.” And lower time limits are the norm in more populous cities like Los Angeles compared to less populous places in other parts of the nation.

        If the measure is to ensure that “everyone attending gets a fair shot at having their voices heard,” if hundreds of people show up to protest (i.e. the last Metro fare hike had over 200 public speakers) and everyone was a given a minute to address their concerns, that would still take over 3 hours just to hear the public’s complaints. Politicians and bureaucrats don’t care, they’ve already have made up their minds so they really could care less what the public thinks, they just want to “speed things up a little” because there’s “so many people to get through” so they can get on with their lives pushing their political agenda.

      • @Libertarian Metro Rider

        “Politicians and bureaucrats don’t care, they’ve already have made up their minds so they really could care less what the public thinks, they just want to “speed things up a little” because there’s “so many people to get through” so they can get on with their lives pushing their political agenda.”

        No, that’s not true either. The public backlash against the fare hikes did draw the attention of some of the major politicians – so much, in fact, that Metro delayed the second set of planned fare hikes almost indefinitely. I have no doubt they will have to raise fares again — inflation is a thing, after all — but it was still a small victory for those speaking out.

    • I dunno man, “inflation” seems to be used more and more again as an excuse just to raise fares as a way to make people think that price hikes are justifiable when in fact, it could be other issues.

      I don’t see cell phone minutes rising due to “inflation” or food prices at my supermarket. In fact, according to this chart, we’re actually facing negative inflation.
      http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/inflation/current-inflation-rates/

      Besides, I’m beginning to agree with the idea that Metro can’t keep raising fares forever so that people going to the supermarket pays the same price as someone going from Long Beach to Pasadena.

      Ultimately, Metro does need to start looking at a different fare structure like distance based fares. It is the only equitable way to charge people, just like you as a single apartment dweller don’t pay the same electric bill as Google who runs thousands of power consuming servers, regardless of how much electricity you or Google consumes. That would be stupid, right, you get an electric bill for $3,000, while Google also gets a bill for $3,000, regardless of electricity consumption.

  6. RE: HSR

    Note the contrast of how Japan embraces their openings of the Kyushu Shinkansen (March 2011) opposed to the sentiment faced here:

    https://youtu.be/E5BUaEJqjf8

    The opening of the Kyushu Shinkansen coincided with the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. A nation devasted by one of the largest earthquakes recorded in history (far larger than any earthquake recorded in CA), a massive tsunami, and a nuclear power plant disaster, this commercial uplifted their spirits that Japan is a nation of builders who continues to face challenges.

    And then, look at the NIMBYs against HSR in California, it looks a lot like this:
    https://youtu.be/mutZsyI1Pp8

  7. “On the one, a lot of older buildings are great and have character and perhaps offer affordable housing, ”

    If your price range of “affordable housing” means home prices ranging between $350,000~$500,000 for crappy rundown homes/multi-family dwellings built with lead paint and non-seismically retrofitted homes in the 1910-1920s, then you’re not deciphering the data on the same page as others who cannot escape the reality of “forever renters” syndrome.

    I picked a random area that’s easily identifiable from the map above, the blocks next to Exposition Park and LA Coliseum and compared that with Trulia’s estimate map for homes in that area. This is what I got:

    http://i.imgur.com/1y34v5u.jpg

    The homes themselves are worth nothing, it’s the land they are built upon that is more valuable. But no one wants to buy a dilapidated home for over $350,000~$500,000.

    “I’m not sure what it says that there hasn’t been more new development here.”

    People still live there and they’re not willing to sell no matter what the price. Perhaps it has been their home for generations and have grown attached to them. Or, they may be long time tenants there and they have no where else to go.

    LA paid the price of not thinking far ahead into the future and decided not to build our city with high density in mind. LA County’s population when these old homes were built were 500,000 (1910) and 930,000 (1920).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_County,_California#Demographics

    LA must’ve been full of empty land back then with home prices dirt cheap back then, affordable for anyone. Perhaps looking into the archives, someone might be able to grab an old aerial photo of Los Angeles during the 1910s-1920s and compare that to the satellite view of LA today on Google Maps. The differences would be startling.

    Now, LA County topped 10 million, over 20 times the population compared to the time those homes were built. No one expected LA to be so popular that everyone from all over the world wanted to live here. Now, you have a housing shortage, a severe one at that, that the lucky few who were home owners squat on land, refuse to move out, increasing rents, all the while the rest of the people suffer with a choice of increasing rent or sucking up buying a rundown home for way more than they’re worth.

    And without a solution in sight, the problem will continue to get worse. Population growth for LA is likely to be expected, and more denser, more populous than today. But with no housing to accommodate the growth.

  8. Noted above, the residential areas in LA are all low-density housings taking up valuable space that can be better utilized otherwise. In contrast, look at the city design of Tokyo (who was smart enough to think ahead):

    http://i.imgur.com/YuZxKCQ.jpg

    High density development, both commercial (blue) and residential (red), centers of economic activity centered upon train stations or train stations themselves being commercial properties, residential buildings with walkable train station access, mixed uses of residential/commercial areas in certain sectors. No cars needed, no first mile/last mile problems, the train and foot is the way to get around.

    LA today is greatly different from LA of 1910-1920s, or the LA of 1950s. Revising zoning laws is the first step to fix that and I hope recodeLA will start changing things in the way how we develop this city and hopefully other cities in this county follows suit.

    http://recode.la/about

    But first, LA needs to accept the reality of being anti-high density. People can’t keep saying no to something and be xenophobic of others when population keeps growing and there’s no more land left to develop.

  9. Re: San Fernando leaders confront state officials over bullet train route (L.A. Times)

    All California High Speed Rail routes out of the San Fernando Valley use large amounts of tunneling. The route following SR14 has a long curving tunnel from Sylmar to Sand Canyon Road in Santa Clarita and three additional tunnels en route to Palmdale. The SR 14 route is much longer so the amount of tunneling is comparable to the shorter route under the Los Angeles National Forest.

  10. “On the one, a lot of older buildings are great and have character and perhaps offer affordable housing, etc. On the other hand, a lot of older buildings don’t”

    If you see character in place like these, you need to get your eyes examined, because these are what the majority of the places in LA look like: urban blight.

    http://la.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/05/48th-and-Broadway.jpg
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Los_Angeles_Skid_Row.jpg
    http://www.trbimg.com/img-53965c4d/turbine/la-021-jpg-20140609/500/500×281
    http://u.s.kqed.net/2014/06/26/11072transform.jpg
    http://media.trb.com/media/photo/2011-05/61374597.jpg

    • I’m pretty sure they’re not talking about decrepit single-family residences, blighted boarded-up motels, or parking lot sprawl. We can all agree those are bad things.

      Rather, if you want an example of buildings that would be nice to preserve, just take a trip down Broadway and look at all the historic theatre marquees. Some of LA’s most iconic early buildings are on that street. Those are the ones we should be preserving – to keep a certain amount of character in the city. Not raze everything and start anew; that leads to places like Century City.

      • crayz9000,

        I believe LA Reality is pointing to the word “a lot” which then would make sense.

        The buildings you mentioned “worth preserving” aren’t really “a lot.” They are “few” and most of them only concentrated in a small localized area like DTLA.

        LA however, is lot bigger than that. If you look at the map written on the article at the top, the vast majority of LA are these single family homes built in the 1910s-1920s era. Urban blight is a serious problem in LA that creates this downward spiral of poverty (no construction, no workers, high unemployment) and the broken glass theory of urban decay. Many of these homes could be torn down and replaced with high condos like Tokyo.

        Problem is however, that people still do live in these homes, tenants may have no where to go, and landowners may refuse to sell for whatever reason (grown attached to it, in their family for generations, or waiting on it to see how high land prices go).

      • @zoninglaws,

        That’s strange, I don’t see a lot of single family homes from the 1920s in koreatown or Westlake, which are both bigger than “the small localized area of downtown LA.” A lot to f areas need to be upzoned, but don’t dismiss the city as the suburban sprawl scape you think it is.

      • mittim80,

        The City of Los Angeles does not comprise just Koreatown, DTLA, or Westlake and even them still is a small part of the City of LA.

        If you need a geography lesson, this is the map of the City of Los Angeles:
        http://www.graphatlas.com/los_angeles_map_city_communities.png

        The vast majority of the City of LA is filled with single story homes. You can overlay that map with an aerial satellite view from Google Maps to see how “small” your examples are compared to the big picture of the City of LA.

        And City of LA itself is only one of 88 cities in LA County, with many parts unincorporated.