How We Roll, Dec. 1: what can you do about climate change?

J-town businesses decry road, station closures (Rafu Shimpo)

The top of the story:

Holiday decorations are out in Little Tokyo, but looming over this holiday season are closures of the Metro Gold Line Station and disruptions on First Street that business owners say will negatively impact them during the busiest time of the year.

Metro announced that First between Alameda and Vignes streets will be closed due to construction on the Metro Regional Connector for the next two months, starting on Friday, Dec. 4. The road closure was originally scheduled to begin in February.

Paul Gonzalez, a Metro senior media relations officer, explained that the closures were moved up because of the $891 million Gold Line Foothill Extension, which is set to open on March 5. Once the Foothill Extension opens, the Gold Line will run from Citrus College in Azusa to East Los Angeles.

As the article notes, Metro moved the Regional Connector work forward because the agency wanted the Gold Line to operate in its entirety when the Gold Line extension to Azusa opens on March 5. The Little Tokyo/Arts District Station closes until the end of February beginning this Friday night.

A community meeting was held last night in Little Tokyo to discuss community concerns. Please see the Regional Connector’s Twitter stream for more coverage. A few samples:

Some background worth mentioning: The Gold Line extension to East Los Angeles was completed and opened in 2009. As Metro began studying the Regional Connector project in 2008, the agency was looking into a street-level project.

Residents in Little Tokyo and elsewhere in downtown Los Angeles did not like that alternative. In Little Tokyo, for example, the original studies were looking at building the tracks at the current street level across Alameda with Alameda going under the tracks in a freeway-underpass type arrangement. That brought strong opposition for obvious reasons: Little Tokyo residents didn’t want a freeway-type interchange in the middle of their neighborhood.

As a result support continued to grow for the Regional Connector to be completely underground. That changed the project significantly and resulted in plans to move the Little Tokyo Station underground with the rail tunnel’s two portals on the east side of Alameda.

I think it’s a better project this way although there’s no denying there are big-time construction impacts.

Short answers to hard questions about climate change (NYT)

Earth and a morning aurora as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA.

Earth and a morning aurora as seen from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA.

The United Nations climate summit in Paris is underway. This great Q&A helps answer some of the basic questions about global warming, including how much the planet is heating up (1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, a figure that varies in different parts of the planet) and what are the most optimistic and pessimistic takes on the impacts (read the story!).

The article also asks: What can I do? Excerpt:

There are lots of simple ways to reduce your own carbon footprint, and most of them will save you money. You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off the lights in any room where you are not using them, drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transit, waste less food, and eat less meat.

Perhaps the biggest single thing individuals can do on their own is to take fewer airplane trips; just one or two fewer plane rides per year can save as much in emissions as all the other actions combined. If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.

Attentive readers already know much of this, but it’s worth a reminder.

Some other climate news worth reading:

America’s incoherent coal policy in the New Yorker. On the one hand, the feds killed the Keystone Pipeline, using climate change as one reason. On the other hand, the feds are heavily subsidizing coal extraction in the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming. Hmm.

A path for climate change, beyond Paris in the NYT: A good explainer on what needs to happen to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. The gist of it: a big expansion of existing renewable energy (especially wind and solar) and a huge conversion of gas-powered cars to electric cars.

I’m looking for other good climate-change stores that may interest our How We Roll audience. If you find one, email me or tweet me.

Why the New Yorker filmed its ad campaign in Los Angeles (AdWeek)

The magazine may be Gotham-based, but in its new ad it wanted to stress the wide appeal of the venerable weekly. I’m a long-time subscriber because no one does long-form journalism better, IMHO.

As for the ad, it’s always nice to see the big-and-empty old ticket room at Union Station get put to some use.

Electric vehicle firm BYD accused of violating L.A. wage rules (LAT)

A labor coalition has filed a complaint with the city of Los Angeles, alleging that BYD isn’t paying legally-required wages at its downtown L.A. facility. BYD officials say they are complying with the law and were legally exempted from the city’s living wage ordinance. A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city would investigate.

The company’s name may sound familiar: Metro has a contract with BYD to build up to 25 electric buses for the agency at BYD’s Lancaster facility. One interesting journalism side note: former LAT publisher Austin Beutner was heavily involved in recruiting to BYD to L.A in his previous job in City Hall as deputy mayor.

Watch this tank carry a beer without spilling a drop (Popular Mechanics)

In case you were wondering.

Recent HWRs: 

Nov. 30: Does too much cheap or free parking in L.A. County doom transit? And a futurist looks back at L.A.’s transpo past.

Nov. 25: How to talk about traffic with your family, transit chief resigns in Phoenix amid allegations of inflated travel expenses.

Nov. 24: California has work to do as world environmental leader, shifting money from trains to water

Nov. 23: Will the LAX people mover be up and running by 2023?

Nov. 19: the Reason Foundation’s $714-billion plan to fix traffic in Southern California.




8 replies

  1. Free parking to metro does put cars on the road, but I think psychologically, motorist feel penalized paying a fee to park, then there is enforcement and punishment for evading. They could have a ticket system where you pull a card and pay, but that would create a tail out of the structure while people fiddle with the ticket machine….

    Metro’s parking system is just like its birth, “Let them in for free, we’ll work on the cheaters and form a structure later later.”

    My major concern with free parking at metro stations is you cannot really tell who is stealing spots from actual park and riders. Example, people could park at North Hollywood Station all day, and go to a friends house.

    So while free parking is such a poor idea/method, its almost a way to train people into doing it; parking and riding.

    When I read articles like the one below, where sprawl is still something that people think is okay, I think Metro does a great job at being clean, setting an example, and inspiring people to walk a little, ride a little, and drive a little less. Where as developments like the one below, do the opposite. Once built in comes Costco, Target, Multiple gas stations, and (drum roll…….) Traffic.

    Its going to take people to stand up and say “I’m going to do my part.” and be proactive instead of reactive. People are still watering their grass even though its all over the news we are running low, so I wouldn’t expect many to pay 3-5 bucks to park and ride…

    • “They could have a ticket system where you pull a card and pay,”

      Thinking way to complicated when today’s technology can allow more simpler methods like TAP in as they enter the parking lot and TAP out when they leave and have the parking fee automatically deducted from your TAP account based on time.

      This is how many privately owned businesses or even universities do their parking in restricted access areas (i.e. employee, faculty or student only parking, tap RFID card and it let’s you into the parking lot while keeping out others) and Metro should know this already as their own employees TAP in and out as they enter the employee parking lot at Gateway Plaza.

      They can also do this with the ExpressLanes transponders where it automatically deducts the parking fee as you enter and leave, which is what they do up in the Bay Area.

    • “So while free parking is such a poor idea/method, its almost a way to train people into doing it; parking and riding.”

      LA is way past that phase as exemplified at the parking lot situation at North Hollywood station. There is already a high demand for parking that it’s so full at that station that warrants people need to “try out” park and ride. And Metro makes nothing out of giving away free parking and there’s still the cost of maintaining and providing security to those parking lots. The only way to curb that is to add more parking by which goes directly against the idea of transit oriented development or to end free parking there and go to a paid lot.

      If they don’t like paying for parking fees, they can go back to driving in the clogged streets and freeways. If they don’t want to do that, then they’ll just have to suck up paying for parking which even with the added cost on top of the Metro fare, it still will be cheaper than parking at DTLA and less stressful than dealing with traffic jams.

      Metro can’t have it both ways of saying that parking lots should be demolished to promote better transit oriented development, yet apply the same logic of building free parking lots on Metro owned properties right near their own stations thinking that it doesn’t apply to them.

      • Not all parking lots are equal. As an area develops, surface lots need to turn into parking structures and into basement or roof top parking. Also, cost to park needs to be different depending on the location and demand. In Manhattan it cost me more to park my rental car overnight than it cost to rent it. Parking gets cheaper the further one gets from an airport. So, in DTLA the cost to park should be higher, because of higher demand. But, near feeder transit lines (Metro Rail, Metrolink, SCVT, Silverstreak, etc.) the cost should be cheaper. It should be initially free or nearly so to help lure people out of single occupant cars. As demand for that parking hits a certain level, the cost should go up. This will encourage carpooling and alternate transit to the station. Once there is a cost to park, there also then needs to be a pick-up/drop-off area set aside free of charge. Corona Metrolink station may have free surface parking, but the Culver City Expo line station should have a minimal charge ($1.50 for first 2 hours, $1.50 per hour after, and a daily cap at $6). That should keep about 2-3% of the spaces open.

  2. “You can plug leaks in your home insulation to save power, install a smart thermostat…If you want to be at the cutting edge, you can look at buying an electric or hybrid car, putting solar panels on your roof, or both.”

    This is a fine example of the bureaucrats in LA who are so far out of touch with LA residents because these ideas are geared for homeowners and does not reflect the reality that the vast majority of LA residents of which 60% of our population are RENTERs or APARTMENT DWELLERS who even though they maybe supportive of it, have absolutely no say in things like installing solar panels, buying an electric vehicle (no chargeports in the garage), insulating the walls or installing a smart thermostat which is up to the landlord to do (and no they are not willing to spend extra money to do so).

    Said ideas also do not apply to condo and townhome or gated community residents either as any such measures would require review by the HOA or neighborhood council and we all know how these people get picky on stuff like “it ruins the character of the neighborhood” or other BS reasons.

    • There are state laws that restrict HOAs from blocking solar projects in the townhouse example. You raise a good point though. If you rent your GHG reduction strategies have to be different. If you live in an apartment or townhouse, your carbon footprint is probably already low due to the efficiency of HVAC in housing units with shared walls, smaller unit being more efficient to heat/light, etc. Also, dense development saves habitat, which means more plants to absorb carbon, and also supports transit/walkability/bikability better.

      Larger point: individual actions aren’t enough to solve global warming. People need to advocate for public policies to control the problem, and renters can do that as well as anyone.