How We Roll, Cinco de Mayo: pothole woes, development woes, L train woes

Reminder: The telephone town halls on Metro’s potential ballot measure continue tonight at 6:15 p.m. (Westside and South Bay) and 7:30 p.m. (Southeast L.A. County) Click here for info on how to participate.

Things to read whilst transiting: Another mea culpa from a journalist who specializes in using statistics to predict national politics (among other things). I’m not including this fine article to stick in the thumb in the eye(s) of any particular reporter, but rather to point out that even with computers, predicting who will vote for whom is not so easy.

Things to read 2: The Captain America sequel sounds mildly awful and about 20 minutes longer than need be. The next good summer blockbuster probably won’t drop until next year’s “War of the Planet of the Apes.”

Hey, if the Apes ever need a blogger, every man has his price.

Art of Transit: 

Bus + liquor store + public library on Western Avenue in South Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon.

Bus + liquor store + public library on Western Avenue in South Los Angeles. Photo by Steve Hymon.

$120 billion in new transportation taxes and we’ll still have potholes? (LAT)

In this op-ed, Los Angeles City Council Member Joe Buscaino says that 25 percent of revenues from Metro’s potential ballot measure should be returned to cities on a per capita basis. Why? The city of Los Angeles has a tremendously long backlog of streets that need pothole repair or complete reconstruction.

Under the draft spending plan for the ballot measure, Metro staff have proposed returning 16 percent of sales tax revenues to cities. The Metro Board of Directors will consider the spending plan and whether to put the measure before voters at their June meeting. The city of Los Angeles has four of the 13 Board votes via L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and his three appointees (Council Member Mike Bonin, Council Member Paul Krekorian and appointee Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker).

One thing not mentioned in the op-ed but extremely relevant: cities and unincorporated areas in Los Angeles County already receive a big chunk of revenue from the three prior sales taxes approved by voters for transit and highway projects and programs. The money returned to cities includes 25 percent of Prop A (approved in 1980), 2o percent of Prop C (1990) and 15 percent of Measure R (2008).

According to the city of Los Angeles’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, those three taxes are expected to bring in about $264 million in FY 2016-17 for the city’s transportation needs. The City Council and Mayor, of course, have some say over how the money is spent via the city’s budget process.

L.A. votes to resurrect partially built Target in Hollywood (LAT)

But more legal challenges may come to the store, which is only half-built. A judge ordered work to stop two years ago. Putting aside this particular issue, the real issue is this, according to the LAT:

Target’s partly finished shopping center has served as a glaring reminder of the city’s struggle to ensure that its development decisions can withstand court challenges.

To put it another way, many of the city’s zoning codes for different communities haven’t been updated in years and attempts to update them have often stalled. As a result, developers ask politicians for exemptions from the codes and residents accuse politicians of rolling over for developers.

It’s tough. This is the nation’s second-largest city and parts of it are changing due to urban renewal and new rail lines coming in. Having good plans in place will lead to better and more predictable developments — and likely better neighborhoods.

The Target store, btw, is located at Sunset and Western, a three-block walk from the Red Line’s Hollywood/Western Station.

How driver-less cars may harm the environment (WSJ)

By making it so much easier and cheaper to drive, thereby increasing traffic, so says the Wall Street Journal.

L Train could be shut down for 18 months or partially for three years (NBC New York) 

The tunnel for the cross-Manhattan subway line that also connects to Brooklyn is in desperate need of repair (thanks in part to Hurricane Sandy, as several readers have pointed out). Thus, the potential dramatic step of a shut-down and using buses, ferries and other subway lines to somehow substitute for the 400,000 daily boardings the L gets.

This is the reason why transit agency chiefs like to talk about the importance of State of Good Repair, people.

5 replies

  1. While I certainly understand the seductive (and might I add ridiculous) utopia outlined by its supporters, driver-less cars would make worsening traffic more tolerable for those who could afford it, and at the same time require such massive infrastructure investment that it would amount to a major boondoggle. Of course Goldman Sachs supports it. When, if ever, have they not been willing and eager to bury their face in the public trough!

  2. The L needs urgent repairs due to Hurricane Sandy. While it is true that transit agencies struggle to obtain the funding necessary to maintain a state of good repair, the reason for the shutdown is not a failure to maintain.

  3. I used to work for the City of L.A. and almost nothing gets done without union approval. I worked under General Services and saw, first hand, all the waste that the city has. People promoted to supervisory positions who have no idea of how things are done in the private sector. Many suppliers either never get paid, are paid to do poor quality work, or if they’re ever paid, it’s maybe 10 or 15 years late and only then because they were taken to court and forced to do it. This is the very same thing that happens in EVERY department within the city. Too many chiefs and too few Indians to do the actual work.
    If you don’t believe it, look at how many people are actually working and how many people you see standing around the next time you see either Street Services, or DWP working. Mostly either people on breaks or standing around “supervising”.

  4. LA still has potholes because the City is totally mismanaged. The unions run the City and it is not in their interests that the streets are paved so they aren’t (same with homeless efforts and you know the story there too). We already have 3 separate transportation taxes in LA County and they all have local return and yet barely any streets have been paved until Garcetti took office a few years ago.