Oh California: HWR, Nov. 13

The last week has certainly been a long one. Among some of the transpo news that I’ve been saving…

I’ll leave it to others to say/write something sensible about our country’s latest mass shooting.

Wildfire coverage in both the LAT and NYT has been excellent. The NYT has an article with a headline worth reading: “Forced Out by Deadly Fires, Then Trapped in Traffic.” The subject is the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise in Northern California, the worst part being that by most accounts Paradise was more prepared than most cities when it came to evacuations.

But it’s hard to imagine that many people having to flee so quickly at once — and the challenge in any city pulling that off.

The NYT also had a great story on why California has so many wildfires. As noted, many of these landscapes were shaped by wildfire (and other forces) but ignitions by people are up, the weather is getting hotter and drier and there is considerable development in areas that are likely to burn.

Here’s an alarming stat I gleamed just from reviewing the fire reports on the Cal Fire website: In just over the last year, 15,417 structures have been lost in six wildfires: Woolsey, Camp, Carr, Tubbs, Thomas and Mendocino Complex. Many of those structures were homes, which is heartbreaking. And this: does California — in the midst of a housing crisis — feel like a place that can afford to lose that many homes?

And let’s talk air quality for a moment. It’s rarely great and it has been downright awful over much of the last year as the rains can’t be counted on to clean things up. Here’s what it was like at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The photo was taken in Debs Park about four miles north of DTLA.

Finally, a shout out to the folks at the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, for their updates on open space and wildlife in the Santa Monicas. The LAT has a story today that 83 percent of the area has burned. I quibble with the notion that it is lost. It will remain open space. The mix of native and non-species, however, is to be determined.

Finally, this: a friend of mine was on social media lamenting the current state of California. Which I get. The state can feel too big for its own good and some of the problems insurmountable and/or intractable. And, yet, I think hope can and should survive. Nothing mentioned above can’t be fixed.

Dept. of Elections

Yeah, that happened last week. Remember?

The big transpo item on the ballot asked voters to consider repealing the gas tax and vehicle fee increases the Legislature approved last year and approved by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Click above to go to an interactive version of the map.

The ballot measure failed by a considerable margin — slightly over one million votes. But it was really the lopsided votes to keep the gas taxes/vehicles fees in just five counties that mattered, those counties being Los Angeles, Alameda, San Francisco, Santa Clara and Contra Costa.

Perhaps not a five-star shocker given the traffic congestion and transpo needs in those urban counties. Still, I don’t think the results should be interpreted as showing Californians have unfettered love of transpo spending, or this type of it.

On a related note, the Prop 6 results were certainly greeted warmly in the building where I’m typing this. Metro received $1.8 billion in state funding agreements this past spring, with money going to a healthy list of road and transit projects. If those funds were to go away, Metro would have to look elsewhere, the obvious problem being there aren’t a lot of elsewheres any more.

If I was the king — and I’m not even the chimney sweep — I’d love to see some of that gas tax money go toward the Liberty Canyon wildlife crossing that could help native species reach the habitats they need.

Dept. of Interesting But Not Surprising: 

I also thought this slide was interesting:

The point here is that there is considerable room to build near the stations shown above. I’m most familiar with Fillmore Station on the Gold Line in Pasadena (I live there) and there are three commercial/industrial streets with virtually no housing on them — Arroyo Parkway, Raymond and Fair Oaks.

Would folks who live there tolerate housing being built? Hard to say. The area already has considerable car traffic (the street-level rail crossings along the Arroyo Parkway don’t help) and there is a major hospital and health center nearby.

I’ll leave it to others to make the housing call — I don’t live in that neighborhood — but I think it’s fair to say that the area around the station is mostly low-rise. Your thoughts, Pasadenans and those who work in the area?

Credit: Google Maps.

Check out this headline and see if you can find the word that leaps off the page:

City Council Agrees to Spend More to Fight for Metro Extension

Hint: the word is “for.” Attentive Source readers know that similar headlines about transit projects are too often arrive with the word “against.”

As for the story, the city of WeHo is hoping to get the Crenshaw/LAX Line Northern Extension project accelerated. It’s a tall order but I admire their tenacity.

 

 

 

11 replies

  1. Hi Steve,
    While on the topic of the Gold Line, is the Board aware of the transients problem on the rail lines? I am an actual daily Gold Line rider at dawn hours, boarding the train in Pasadena. There are literally dozen of them occupying each train, apparently riding end-to-end and sleeping in the train, making it very unpleasant for other passengers.

    • Hi Jason;

      Thank you for this — we’ll include in our weekly rider feedback report. We have received similar reports before. Contacts for the Board are listed here: https://www.metro.net/about/board-administration/. Metro does have a Homeless Task Force and there are people on trains and at stations to help connect the homeless with social services, but they’re not everywhere. As you are obviously aware. Thanks for reaching out and thanks for reading, riding and writing,

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. Hello,

    It seems there was a lot of confusion as to why we need more taxes to pay for infrastructure projects and where all the money has gone in the past as well as what the gas taxes in place now actually do (a breakdown of purpose of gas taxes in the state). It’s really easy to say “we’ve already payed taxes for that, where did that money go” when the money may have gone to a project that is possibly unseen by most people like bridge fortification or re-pavin of roads. I thought it was pretty interesting how the Obama era “TIGGER” projects would have a sign that said “funded by TIGGER, your tax dollars at work” or something to that effect. I know it’s kind of weird and borderline propaganda but it puts a mental image on what projects are getting funding from state, federal or even local initiatives in the area. I know metro has done a good job at this with R & M but it would be nice to see that done state wide. Anyone want to put that note on Newsom desk 😆

    • Hi Manny;

      I agree and I think signage — as long as the messaging is not over the top — is good. I’d rather alert folks that a project is underway than not.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. The West Hollywood area project should really be 2 projects=

    1/ The current Crenshaw North Extension should come straight up the short way on La Brea- its a long line and needs to be straighter/shorter rather the convoluted San Vicente route.

    2/ The second part of the project should start at Hollywood/Highland at the share terminus with the Crenshaw Line. Heading south, it would then turn west on Santa Monica blvd and go straight THROUGH West Hollywood to La Cienega, then turning south on La Cienega , crossing the Purple Line at Wilshire, then continuing south to a station at La Cienega/Pico, then continuing south to a La Cienega /Venice station where the line would come up to grade and go down Venice to the Expo Line station. (this line could someday could go all the way to Venice Beach down Venice Blvd)

    My idea of segment #2 gives WeHo residents a transfer at Wilshire to go west and an east/west transfer on the Expo line as well, of course, 3 direction transfers at Highland/Hollywood (RED NORTH, RED SOUTH, CRENSHAW SOUTH). Many options !!

  4. Yes to gas tax funds going to the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Crossing and yes to high density housing along the Gold Line in Pasadena.

  5. Steve, there seems to have been a change in how audio files for board meetings are uploaded. Originally, they were uploaded pretty promptly. However, over the past couple of months the audio files don’t seem to get uploaded for multiple days after the meetings. The audio files really enhance accessibility and the ability to participate in the political system, so not having access to those files negatively impacts citizen participation. This is especially true for committee meetings, where the full board will meet the next week. If we can’t hear what happened in committee in time, then we cannot prepare comments/responses for the full board meeting.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Andrew —

      You were correct (as I expected). Staff tells me they have been having problems with the audio player and recordings needed some work in order to get posted. Staff says they have found a fix and that should eliminate delays. We’re hoping to get the recordings from this week’s committee meetings up by the end of the day.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

        • Of course — and our apologies for the inconvenience! The good thing is the Board meeting is still a ways off — Dec. 6 — but I’ll keep an eye on it. Tx again for heads up.

          Steve Hymon
          Editor, The Source