How We Roll, Feb. 19: the bullet train ping pongs back north and car sales rise

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.”

Things to read whilst transiting: Harper Lee passed away today at the age of 89. She wrote one of the most popular books to be taught in American schools and played a key role as a researcher for Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.” Here’s the obit in the NYT. A fascinating life. 

Credit: Netflix.

Credit: Netflix.

From the Dept. of Transit Cameos: Netflix today released the new Judd Apatow series called “Love.” The Red/Purple Line will be making an appearance playing itself. There’s a glimpse in the trailer on the Netflix page; the LAT gave the series a thumbs up. As for the trailer, I liked the third season of “Homeland” as implausible and messy as it was at times.

From the Dept. of Put It on Your Calendar: The New Urbanism Film Festival is in Santa Monica on Wednesday, Feb. 24. with the screening of nine award-winning films. Among them is “Artista” by Diego Cardoso, who is also Metro’s Executive Officer – Transit Corridors, Active Transportation & Sustainability. More about the film festival here. New Urbanism note: the Expo Line to SaMo opens this spring.

California bullet train headed first to San Jose — a big Bay Area win (Mercury News)

I’m a couple days behind the news on this one. Instead of first trying to build the bullet train from Fresno to Burbank, the plan now is try to complete a segment between Bakersfield and San Jose. The change is due to the high costs of tunnels under the Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains that would be needed to get the train to So Cal. Others quoted say the change is also due to local opposition in northern L.A. County and the San Fernando Valley.

In other news, the cost of the bullet train is now estimated at $64 billion — down from $68 billion. The state bond measure approved by voters in 2008 authorizes $9.95 billion in bonds to pay for the project. The vast majority of funding needed still hasn’t been secured, meaning that high-speed rail isn’t arriving in San Jose or Burbank or most other places until the dollars are found.

Another article in the Contra Costa Times explains:

To finance the estimated $20 billion cost of the Silicon Valley-to-Central Valley segment of the rail line, the authority has proposed using a mix of voter-approved bond money, federal funding and as much as $500 million annually from the cap-and-trade fees. Those fees would fund up to half the cost of the segment.

The cap-and-trade money would depend on (among other things) the Legislature extending that program past 2020, says the Times.

New car sales in California rose 11 percent in 2015 (LAT)

The 2.05 million cars and light trucks sold is the biggest number since 2005. We’ve also been seeing stories lately along the lines of motorist deaths are up and vehicle miles are up — all suggesting that the “people are driving less” stories in the wake of the Great Recession may have been a temporary thing.

Ballot proposal would require developers to include affordable housing (LAT)

We wrote yesterday about a potential ballot measure in the city of Los Angeles that would halt or slow big developments, including ones near transit. On Wednesday, housing advocates and labor officials introduced a different ballot measure that would require that affordable housing units be part of any development that gets an exemption from city zoning codes.

Given that many (if not most) developments in L.A. get or seek exemptions, that’s a big deal. Proponents of the anti-density ballot measure criticized the new one. Other officials said the new measure could detract from the fight against the anti-density measure. How much of either measure is understood by voters remains to be seen.

And, of course, Metro is looking at a potential ballot measure to increase sales taxes by a half-cent to help fund projects in an updated long-range plan. That’s a very different thing from the two measures in the city of L.A. but it still means that measures involving density, housing and transportation could land before voters in November. Stay tuned.

Want to fight climate change? Here are seven critical changes you can make (Grist) 

Many of the seven involve automobiles. Specifically, researchers suggest buying a very fuel-efficient one, driving it as little as possible, accelerating it gently and keeping it until it literally won’t run any longer. No mention of transit even though studies have found that generally speaking taking transit instead of driving alone results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Also on the list: eating less. Which begs a good question: do we have a better chance of getting Americans to drive less or eat less?

Updated DTLA gigapixel panorama (Urbanize LA)

The giant photo allows you to zoom in and out and better appreciate the many development projects underway.


3 replies

  1. Frankly, I think any new development should include affordable housing. Most if not all the new buildings in the Downtown LA area and South Park have been over priced housing that many people can not afford. Even though there are people that love density; I do not want Los Angeles to be like Manhattan were only the wealthy can afford to live.

    • Indeed. And if gentrification were coupled with an affordable housing mandate, it would be a boon for all, rather than a boon for a few and a scourge for the many.

      Then again, when I visit New York City, I stay at a very nice hotel in Queens, that’s within easy walking distance of three subway stations and moderate walking distance of a fourth. That’s the thing about New York City: you can get anywhere by subway and shoeleather.