Thursday, December 22, 2011
Caltrans to Study Cost of Palm Springs local rail service
It has been my hope that Metrolink commuter rail would eventually get extended to Palm Springs & the Coachella Valley. Please read my previous blog post about what this would entail.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I'd like to expand this discussion to not just have a north-south light rail line between Sylmar and LAX, but an east-west light-rail line between Warner Center or CSUN and Pasadena as well. So how do we encourage Metro to not just dump lesser busways on the San Fernando Valley while the rest of the county gets Metrorail extensions?
Anyone, such as me, can post on their blog a suggested rail alignment for Metro. However, that is not as effective as collection. What needs to happen is organized action. The San Fernando Valley transit advocates who want (at least) two light-rail lines of their own need to not just lobby Metro themselves, but lobby the San Fernando Valley powers that be to lobby Metro themselves.
Let's take these one by one:
First, you want to contact Metro regarding the Sepulveda Pass transit corridor and the Van Nuys transit corridor and state your comment that you want these to be a joined together as light rail project. You may do that here:
Sepulveda Pass corridor - email@example.com (Renee Berlin, Executive Officer, TDI)
Van Nuys corridor - Vannuys@metro.net (Walter Davis, Project Manager)
You may also contact the Metro Board of Directors and let them know you want Metrorail for the San Fernando Valley.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Metro Board of Directors)
If you want not just a north-south light-rail between Sylmar and LAX, but an east-west light-rail to, the most obvious candidate is upgrading the Orange Line busway to light-rail, which I discuss in this this blog post, What about upgrading the Orange Line to light-rail?. The idea is catching on elsewhere too: Orange Line Conversion to Light Rail: It Can Happen and Orange Line Bridges: Are they strong enough for light rail?
Even if the Alternative Analysis finds there is an even better east-west alignment, we still want the OPTION of upgrading the Orange Line. For that to happen the Robbins Bill needs to be repealed. The misguided actions of a corrupt State Senator and a bunch of NIMBYs twenty years ago shouldn't stand forever. There is an election coming up next year. So ask every candidate for the State Senate and State Assembly in the Valley to pledge to seek repeal of the Robbins bill that bans light-rail on the Orange Line corridor. Also contact your state legislators currently in office, which may be found here:
California State Assembly
California State Senate
Let the currently serving legislators and candidates for election know that you consider expanding Metrorail into the San Fernando Valley is a priority.
Then get involved with your Neighborhood Council and encourage them to support a resolution calling for expanding Metrorail in the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Councils may be found here:
empowerLA Roster of Neighborhood Councils
Write your Los Angeles City Councilmember behind this as well as your Los Angeles County Supervisor, all of whom sit on Metro's Authority.
Write our U.S. Senators and Congressmembers to support Mayor Villaraigosa's 30-10 Plan. The sooner Measure R projects are underway, the sooner we can plan beyond Measure R.
Get the business community behind this idea too. Contact the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) and ask them to use their influence to support an expansion of Metrorail, which can only help their businesses with the new economic activity this expansion would bring.
Please consider joining a transit advocacy group. Southern California Transit Advocates and The Transit Coalition are groups that both support expanding light-rail into the San Fernando Valley.
Just because the San Fernando Valley is late to the game, doesn't mean it is too late for Metrorail.
NOTE: While I live in West Hollywood now, I lived in North Hollywood for six years and still care about the transit welfare of the San Fernando Valley. And, as I believe these two light-rail lines would benefit the entire region, I think it is important for ALL of us in Los Angeles County to support this effort. A rising transit tide lifts ALL boats because it increases connectivity.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Please combine the Sepulveda and Van Nuys Transit Projects into one rail project between Sylmar and LAX
Sepulveda Pass Corridor Van Nuys Boulevard Corridor
Huh? Two separate transit projects? The Rapid 761 bus currently travels through both of these corridors. The people suffering on the 405 Freeway don't see themselves as traveling through two separate corridors.
These two separate studies should be combined into one regional corridor study that looks into a light-rail project connecting Sylmar to LAX through the Valley, via the Sepulveda Pass, through the Westside. One only needs to look at the always clogged 405 Freeway to see the potential ridership of this project.
Here are some maps of what that project might look like, as suggested by the Transit Coalition:
Beyond the simple regional benefit of this project, there is another reason for transit advocates, politicians and the business community in the San Fernando Valley to enthusiastically get behind combining these two transit corridors to study a Valley-Westside rail project. The San Fernando Valley just isn't getting its fair share of Metrorail. The San Gabriel Valley will be getting at least two Gold Line light-rail extensions.
Gold Line Foothill Extension Gold Line Eastside Extension
Why this disparity? Because the San Gabriel Valley communities, its politicians, business leaders and transit advocates are enthusiastically lined up to get these extensions. Unfortunately, the San Fernando Valley political structure is not as organized or lined up the same manner.
The real danger here for the San Fernando Valley and the region is that Metro will "go cheap" and build two separate discordant bus projects, one on Van Nuys Blvd. and one through the Sepulveda Pass, leaving and countless people commuting between the Valley and Westside with no viable rail alternative.
The issue of financing a rail project always comes up, as it should. Measure R provides limited money for these two studies. However, Measure R as wonderful as it is should not be considered the end of transit expansion in Los Angeles County. We need to plan beyond Measure R too, and think it terms of financing beyond Measure R.
The east-west Orange Line busway was thwarted in the attempts to create a light-rail project initially because of the actions of a corrupt State Senator and a bunch of NIMBYs. (Note: The Orange Line bridges are safe enough for light-rail should this corridor be converted to light-rail as it should have been built in the first place.)
However, those actions from twenty years ago shouldn't condemn the San Fernando Valley and its stakeholders for having to settle for measly and inadequate bus projects while the rest of Los Angeles County gets the option of possibly expanding and hooking into Metrorail.
So if you commute in, through, to, from the Valley and/or Westside, and want to ride Metrorail somewhere between Sylmar and LAX, now is the time to get busy before you have two separate bus projects dumped on you while Metro gets busy expanding rail elsewhere.
Let Metro know that you want the Sepulved and Van Nuys corridor connected between Sylmar and LAX via RAIL.
email@example.com Renee Berlin, Executive Officer, TDI
firstname.lastname@example.org Walter Davis, Project Manager
email@example.com Metro Board of Directors
Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
For public transit modifications for tonight, click here.
Won't it be great when you will be able to take Metrorail directly to West Hollywood for the Halloween Carnival (as well as the Gay Pride Festival and New Year's Eve)? Keep thinking positively that this can and will happen sooner than we ever thought possible.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Buses come less frequently and are far more crowded. Yesterday, four #7 buses came at once. One woman stated she had waited an hour for a Local #7 bus.
This is not a criticism of the new Rapid 7 service, which seems very popular. I just wish the Rapid 7 now went all the way to the Wilshire/Vermont station so there could be a one-seat transfer to the Red Line as well.
However, as inconvenient as bus stacking is, to have FOUR buses approach Pico and Beverly around the same time last night tells me that something is off operationally. The Big Blue Bus normally runs a stellar service with clean, on-time buses, so this is not an overall criticism of them.
What is your experience on the Local 7 during the last two weeks?
Things are getting ugly on the Local 7 Big Blue Bus.
On Friday morning, I was riding the Local 7 to work, stuffed to capacity, when an angry older gentleman started saying very loudly to anyone who would hear:
- "They are treating us like animals making us stand. My rapid stop (Beverly/Pico) has been eliminated and now I am twenty minutes late for work every day. I called the Big Blue Bus and no one can tell me why. We all need to write the Mayor of Santa Monica!"
- Another woman said loudly back to him, "they've written off this corridor."
They both complained about the Rapids getting the longer buses while they were standing.
This Monday morning, the Local 7 was LATE, and stuffed to capacity. People were denied entry because the bus was so full, meaning they'd be even later having to wait for the next one. The same elder gentleman from Friday. who was pressed up against the front of the bus was shouting, "We are taxpayers! We are not animals. We don't have to be treated this way. Write a letter, make a phone call."
Now I am a big fan of the Big Blue Bus and the normally stellar service it offers, but the Big Blue Bus needs to do something. If people can no longer board a bus or get to work on time, that is their bread and butter.
Please put articulated Local 7s and/or just plain more Local 7s on Pico during rush hour. I do not believe the Rapids are to blame and they are just as crowded as the Locals.
Maybe we should think big about this corridor and consider rush hour bus-only lanes on Pico.
If you would like to contact Big Blue Bus yourself, you may click here.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Yes, this matters to you who live, work and play north of the Expo Line.
The best chance to connect West Hollywood and mid-city Los Angeles to Metrorail currently seems to me to be as part of a northern extension of the Crenshaw/LAX line which has as its initial northern terminus as the Expo Line, likely to be extended to Hollywood/Highland in the future, and quite possibly via West Hollywood (as San Vicente and Santa Monica both has rail service for decades).
Metro Study to extend Crenshaw/LAX Line
While this would not have provide a one-seat rail ride to the beach as studied for the West Hollywood transit corridor as part of the Westside Subway Extension project, it would provide a one-seat ride to/from LAX, which is more than a even trade in my opinion.
So yes, this project matters to you if you live north of Crenshaw and Exposition.
While there is the "City of London", the sprawling Greater London region is a multi-modal, mutli-centered transporation wonderland with the Tube underground, the new overground rail network, light-rail, streetcar trams, a comprehensive 24-hour bus network with transit-only lanes and ferries, and, of coruse, dozens of commuter rail lines carrying people from the suburbs into the center of London. Imagine not just one Union Station, but several Union Stations (Paddington, Victoria, Charing Cross, Liverpool Street, etc.). In the future, commuter rail is going to continue to grow in popularity, especially after the Westside subway extension, regional connector and other Measure R rail projects are constructure.
The Southern California region currently has the Metrolink commuter rail network. Metrolink Trains
Many of you are are aware that Metrolink will soon be extended to Perris Valley. Click Perris Valley Metrolink extension for more details. But there are currently no Metrolink options for Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.
What about Amtrak? From WikiTravel's Palm Springs page:
- Amtrak Station, 300 North Indian Canyon Drive (.6 mi south of Interstate 10), 1-800-USA-RAIL (872-7245), Amtrak's Sunset Limited route connects Palm Springs with Los Angeles and with Arizona and points eastward with three westbound and three eastbound trains per week (arriving Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday). Amtrak also provides Palm Springs with connections to and from the San Joaquins trains, which run up California's Central Valley to the Bay Area and Sacramento, via multiple daily Amtrak Thruway motorcoach runs to and from Bakersfield. Be aware that there are no rental car agencies that provide shuttles to the Amtrak station in Palm Springs and there is no public transportation available there. The "station" is really just an open platform without any building. Taxis from the Palm Springs Amtrak to the Palm Springs airport (where the rental cars are available) is about $30 (2008).
Amtrak currently has a Palm Springs Amtrak Thruway Bus Station (Route 19b) between Bakersfield and Indio. Here's a map of connecting Amtrak Rail Lines and Thruway Bus Routes in California.
I could also fly into the Palm Springs International Airport or take Greyhound Bus Lines. (While the Palm Springs Airport at least connects with shuttle bus service, Greyhound drops you off at the non-amenity Rail Station with no public transportation connetions.) But I prefer rail travel when possible.
How more ideally should Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley be connected by passenger rail?
From a Riverside Press-Enterprise news article in 2008 on this topic:
Officials agree Palm Springs and other desert destinations need connections to the coast. The debate is whether Palm Springs needs Amtrak or Metrolink service.
"There is very limited service in that direction, and given the distance of the Coachella Valley from western Riverside County, it fits more in the intercity category rather than as a commuter service," explained Riverside County Transportation Commission Deputy Director John Standiford.
Others, like Rail Passenger Association of California and Nevada Executive Director Richard Silver, argue Metrolink makes more sense because commuter trains are more efficient for moving people in a region like Southern California, while Amtrak works better for long distances. "I think it will be easier to get it out there," Silver said of Metrolink service to Palm Springs.
I am not the only person thinking about this. From the Riverside County Tranportation Commision webpage on Coachella Valley Rail Service:
Currently the only passenger service in the Coachella Valley is a thrice-weekly long distance train operated by Amtrak between Los Angeles and Florida. This train is known as the "Sunset Limited". The Sunset Limited train operates through this area in the very early hours of the morning in both directions and primarily serves the leisure and tourism market.
RCTC and the State of California have been evaluating the feasibility of establishing an intercity passenger rail route between the following cities: Los Angeles, Fullerton, Riverside, Palm Springs, and Indio.
The Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) continues its firm opposition to any new passenger service on its tracks through this area. Notwithstanding this opposition, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) continues to propose such service in the California State Rail Plan.
Caltrans has no unilateral powers to compel the UPRR to permit the operation of this train. Nevertheless, for intercity trains (as opposed to a commuter or Metrolink train), there are certain federal processes in place that can ultimately lead to an order compelling the railroad to operate the service.
The public agencies requesting the intercity service may be required to invest large sums in the physical infrastructure of the railroad. Some estimates place the capital investment requirement at a minimum of $500 million for a new set of tracks.
RCTC is working closely with the Coachella Valley and the Pass Areas on this issue and supports the expansion of rail service to additional areas of Riverside County.
Here is an action item for your to-do list. If you want to see more regular passenger rail service between Los Angeles and Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, and since this may involve adjusting "federal processes", why not contact both Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and the Railroad Policy and Development Team of Federal Railroad Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation to let them know you'd like them to prioritize this.
Two of my favorite transit organizations here in Los Angeles County and Southern California region are Southern California Transit Advocates and The Transit Coalition.
The Transit Coalition has certainly given this a lot of thought: Coachella Valley Trains
From the Transit Coalition's online discussion forum, I found the following comments on this topic very interesting:
One forum member stated the following:
For what it's worth, I looked it up, and the current Amtrak station location is apparently not the one that the Southern Pacific used (the one in the photo Nick posted). In fact, the current station is further east and a tad closer to P.S. than the old one. It's a bit surprising that the S.P. never built a spur or something to serve the area better. It seems to me, for Palm Springs Metrolink to be effective, you would need to show that there was a core body of Palm Springs commuters headed for either Riverside or some other area on a day-to-day weekday basis. With Amtrak, you could aim it for the Palm Springs/Palm Desert golf/art vacation folks, and use Surfliner-ish equipment. I remember in the '80s, Amtrak was aiming the San Diegan squarely at Disneyland/beach/vacation travelers, and it was something of a surprise that commuters would take the morning train into Los Angeles. The same thing could be tried with Palm Springs.
Another member of the forum stated the following:
In the past for the Coachella Music Festival, Amtrak ran special service called the Coachella Express that connected to a shuttle bus (kinda like Metrolink's Del Mar horseracing train). Outside the Sunset Limited, that would have been the only other time passenger train service rolled through the Coachella Valley in recent memory.
A third member of the forum had this interesting idea:
I think that this would be a great stop on a future high speed rail line between LA and Phoenix. LA-Phoenix is the 27th busiest air route in the world and would easily sustain frequent high speed rail service with a local stop at Palm Springs and/or Indio on the way. I think the travel times and frequencies for LA-Palm Springs on a high speed line would be much more appropriate than Metrolink. However, Metrolink has a marginal chance of actually being implemented in the next decade or two. LA-Phoenix high speed rail could be built as an extension eastward from the Riverside branch of phase 2 California high speed rail.
Of course, however we would eventually get to Palm Springs or the Coachella Valley by passenger rail, once you get there, how do you get around without a car? Well, that's for another blog post. In the meantime, you can check current bus services with the SunLine Transit Agency.
As an gay man who is no longer twenty-something, I may find myself in Palm Springs more often as I get older and will keep you posted of transit improvements both there and in Southern California.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Many of us who support single-payer health care, otherwise known as Medicare-for-All, supported a compromise during the health care reform debate called the "public option". The public health insurance option would have been opened to everyone. Unfortunately, the corporations who have a stranglehold on our nation's politics managed to scuttle even that. What we have left with the Affordable Health Care Act (called "Obamacare" or "Romneycare" by its detractors) is a mandate to buy private insurance and a tax penalty if we don't beginning in 2014, without even the choice of a public health insurance option.
There is a group seeking to change this. California and many states will have a new health insurance exchange beginning in 2014. Consumer Watchdog, the group behind legendary Proposition 103 in 1988 that called for a 20% rollback in auto insurance rates and created an elected State Insurance Commissioner, is seeking a new proposition for November 2012 to (1) roll back health insurance rates 20%; (2) allow the State Insurance Commissioner to reject unjustified health insurance rate increases; (3) create a new statewide, open-to-everyone public health insurance option on our state's exchange.
Here's a link to Consumer Watchdog's post on this: "Health-care-measure-seeks-public-option-rollbacks"
Sign me up.
By the way, the Affordable Health Care Act gives state's great latitude to pursue stronger health care systems in their states. Vermont is going for single-payer health care. "Vermont Governor Signs Single-Payer Health Care Bill into Law"
So why isn't California? The state legislature passed single-payer health care when Gov. Schwarzenegger was in office, which he vetoed. Why don't they pass it now with Gov. Jerry Brown in office? Did they only pass it because they knew it wouldnt' be signed?
Here is State Senator Mark Leno's bill to bring single-payer health care in California
SB810 Fact Sheet
Call your Democratic legislators and ask them.
Note: While I was waiting for my Local #7 Big Blue Bus, I notice that the Rapids were stuffed to capacity.
UPDATE: Maybe what is REALLY needed for Pico, as I rarely see a Rapid 7 pass a Local 7 because of the traffic through Pico-Robertson are transit-only lanes during rush hour. Since I am not running for office, I can readily suggest taking away a lane of traffic in each direction so that buses may run faster. Cars can switch to Olympic or the 10 Freeway (as Venice should have its own transit-only lanes with streetcars running in them).
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
While dining, for our music pleasure a young Thai girl of about 25 named Nong, wearing a French Beret, was playing the guitar and singing songs like The Eagles' "Hotel California" and Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" and Dolly Parton's "Jolene".
This is the America I believe in.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
I used the web browser on my smart phone to access the site. Sure enough, the next buses came exactly when the nextbus.com said it would. Has everyone else in transitland known about this site and I was just in the dark? As we know, the buses do not always run on schedule and when waiting it would be good to know when the bus will actually be arriving, especially on days when the weather in less than California sublime.
Try this site yourself and report back to see if it works consistently for you. If so, the transit riding world should know (if it doesn't already and I was the clueless one left in the dark).
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Appointed Councilmember Lindsey Horvath is leaving the City Council, but I wish her all the success in the world in her future endeavors. Ms. Horvath took an active interest in West Hollywood's public transit issues and had already been lobbying for more money in D.C. for transit in West Hollywood.
We know that re-elected Councilmembers Heilman and Land are pro-transit from their records.
Councilmember-elect John D'Amico has assured me via the phone that he supports continuing efforts to bring Metrorail to West Hollywood, which is great.
While I am sorry to see Councilmember Horvath go, I am relieved that it was not Steve Martin who replaced her, after his uninformed, anti-subway rant in the WeHo News.
However we voted, let's all come together now to improve public transit to/from and within West Hollywood and throughout Southern California.
Metro Staff recommends that Line 704 truncation at Alvarado be removed from the recommended program of service cuts.
Inside the document, scroll down to "Attachment A", and look at the Line 2/Line 704 proposal.
It says "Remove from the Program". I am hoping this means that the proposal for eastern truncation of Line 704 at Alvarado instead of Union Station has been shelved after public comment.
I recommended that Metro study rerouting Line 704 to go into the heart of downtown as the old Limited 304 bus used to do, perhaps even ending up at LA Live. When I used to work downtown in the 1990s, I would ride the old Limited 304 from downtown after work and it was always standing room only.
It's a shame that Union Station doesn't have "destination" ridership the way that Grand Central Station and Penn Station in New York, or Victoria Station, Charing Cross Station or Liverpool Street Station in New York. However, this is good news for riders on this corridor.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
(1) Do you support continuing efforts to bring Metrorail to West Hollywood, and if so, with what alignment?
I was an early and ardent advocate of the West Hollywood line for the subway to the sea and hope we get a chance to re-evaluate it when the second phase of construction comes back. I believe we can be competitive with a Santa Monica extension, but we have to make our case. West Hollywood gave the highest support of any city to Measure R--which is funding the subway--and yet we are getting little in return since the incumbents on the City Council dropped the ball on the Subway.
(2) Do you support extending the proposed Crenshaw/LAX light rail line up San Vicente and then on Santa Monica Blvd. to the Red Line in Hollywood? (Note: This could potentially be a light-rail subway and would provide West Hollywood with a one-seat ride to LAX.)
About a year ago, I discussed this idea with Barbara Yaroslavsky while waiting for a plane to San Francisco, and to both of us, it was a new idea. I’m glad to see it being discussed, as it would link our City with both the Subway to the Sea and LAX. For any sections along Santa Monica Boulevard, I’d want to see it underground (even if it is just cut-and-cover) so as to minimize the impacts on pedestrians, bicyclists and traffic.
(3) As modern streetcars are coming to downtown Los Angeles by 2015, would you support bringing modern streetcars to West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd, Sunset Blvd. and/or San Vicente Blvd?
West Hollywood has made major investments in Santa Monica and Sunset Boulevard over the last decade. Unless any project were grade-separated, I would have reservations about the impacts that would have on pedestrians, bicycles and traffic.
(4) Do you support transit-only lanes on Santa Monica Blvd.?
No. There is not enough capacity for the cars on the street as it is.
(5) What are your proposals for improving bus service in West Hollywood, including Metro, DASH and West Hollywood's City Line?
First, I’d ask the City of LA how much it would cost to bring back the DASH West Hollywood line and find a way to write them a check.
Second, I would work with Metro to improve their iPhone application to incorporate the technology of Seattle’s “One Bus Away” app so people can know when the next bus is coming, using real-time data. Not knowing whether waiting for the bus will take longer than walking is a large impediment for shorter trips.
(6) What is your platform for bicycles in West Hollywood?
As a West Hollywood Transportation Commissioner, I worked to forge a compromise that would allow bicyclists to share the sidewalks in parts of the City where bike lanes were not available, provided the operated in a safe and reasonable manner and yielded to pedestrians. I believe that Abbe Land and Lindsey Horvath’s Bicycle Task Force is a cynical political ploy. When I chaired the Transportation Commission and we had three meetings cancelled in the last year for lack of staff or agenda items. Why create a Task Force when you have a Commission but to send out a press release and make 20 political appointments right before the election? Spend the $15,000 the Task Force will cost us on real improvements to make West Hollywood safer for bicyclists instead.
(7) What is your platform for pedestrians in West Hollywood?
I’m an ardent supporter of a pedestrian lifestyle and support efforts to make West Hollywood a place where people can live, work and play. This means supporting a pedestrian orientation and human scale for new developments, and encouraging workforce housing so people can live in West Hollywood and walk to work. Tantamount to any pedestrian platform is pedestrian safety. We’ve seen too many tragic vehicle versus pedestrian accidents in West Hollywood and we need to look at crosswalk signalization not as a liability for the City but as a necessary enhancement along out major boulevards.
(8) Have you read Donald Shoup's, "The High Cost of Free Parking", and what do you think about it?
I have not read the book but am familiar with the hypothesis. Up to 28% of trips that begin and end in West Hollywood are spent looking for affordable parking. However, I have concerns about putting the cart before the horse. We need viable public transit options and strong workforce housing programs before we can move to act on the theory.
(9) How would you pursue additional funding for public transit in West Hollywood?
I would ask Congressman Waxman to add an amendment to any 30/10 enabling legislation that requires a mass transit option to serve West Hollywood. I’d also consider creative funding solutions--such as exploring a DUI abatement zone with a fee-per-cocktail to fund mass transit expansion into West Hollywood.
(10) What else is in your public transit platform that would you like the voters and everyone else who lives, works and plays in West Hollywood to know?
I believe that it is possible to live in Southern California without a car. I know it is possible because I do it.
Blogger's Note: I really appreciate this.
I believe that it is possible to live in Southern California without a car. I know it is possible because I do it.
Thank you, Scott. :)
Thursday, March 3, 2011
"In October last year, I also met with the Department of Transportation in Washington DC to discuss the unique issues facing West Hollywood and what potential support and solutions they could offer."
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
When I put sent my public transit questionnaire to all of the candidates for West Hollywood City Council, I did not know what if any response I would get.
A couple of candidates stated they would get back to me who never did. One candidate, Matt Gonzaga, who I introduced myself to live and in person told me he'd leave "public transit issues to someone else" wanting to focus solely on the needs of renters in his campaign. (If he doesn't think that "renters" in West Hollywood have needs with public transit than he really doesn't understand the issues of either, does he?) It's the lack of curiousity about this issue I found astonishing (and appalling). Any member of a City Council is going to have to focus on a whole range of issues, from land use, sanitation, libraries, budgeting, social services, not to mention transportation.
However, I certainly understand having a passion for a particular issue and politics needs advocates. I recommend instead of running for City Council, Mr. Gonzaga might better use his interests to form a West Hollywood equivalent to Santa Monica Renters Rights which has tremendous power and influence there.
Of the top candidates, Councilwoman Abbe Land answered my questionnaire with thoughtfulness and with a thorough understanding of the issues involved which you can read here.
As a contrast, in an clueless rant in WeHo News, former City Councilman Steve Martin says the following about the decision not to include the proposed Metrorail subway through West Hollywood as part of the current Westside Subway Extension project:
"Perhaps we should be grateful."
He further states,
"The city should stop hectoring our residents about automobile use..."
In other words, in his rant, Steve Martin has positioned himself as the anti-subway candidate. I guess we cannot expect his support in extending a light-rail subway through West Hollywood as is now being discussed in transit planning circles. Someone should let Mr. Martin know that 86% of West Hollywood voted yes on Measure R in no small hope to bring Metrorail to West Hollywood.
However, Mr. Martin's anti-subway rant is very shortsighted. He seems to believe that West Hollywood can plan transportation and development in a vaccum. Even if West Hollywood adpots a strict, zero-development policy, the surrounding areas of Los Angeles will not, and traffic will only continue to worsen in the years ahead no matter what West Hollywood does within its borders, reducing the ability of people to drive single-occupancy automobiles to and around West Hollywood and, without viable transit alternatives, live/work/play here.
Therefore, we cannot afford to have ANY member of the City Council who does not 100% support bringing Metrorail to West Hollywood. Mr. Martin's proposed "shuttle bus" to Wilshire or Hollywood Blvds. doesn't cut it.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Land still sees the importance of seeking to bring Metrorail to West Hollywood perhaps through another alignment. There is much discussion now of extending the Crenshaw/LAX light-rail line north to Hollywood via West Hollywood, giving WeHo a one-seat ride to/from LAX.
Read Abbe Land's answer to my questionnaire and then read Steve Martin's anti-subway rant in the WeHo News and you'll see the difference between one candidate who gets and understands the needs and opportunities for public transit in West Hollywood and one who clearly doesn't and is even disdainful to our issues.
And just compare their tone when discussing transit issues:
"If it is so important for all of us to live close to where we work or take public transportation than maybe Lindsay Horvath should move to Venice or take the bus to work." (As if it is an insult to take the bus.)
I believe we must find alternative transit options for people, not only because it is one of the best things we can do for our environment, but also that our focus on regional connectivity will enhance the quality of life for all who live, work and play in our region.
And that is why next Tuesday, I will be enthusiastically casting my vote for Abbe Land and not for Steve Martin.
I wish all the candidates good luck and don't forget to vote on March 8th!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Monday, January 31, 2011
"Due to business time constraints, I have had to re-evaluate my candidacy for city council. I have had to suspend my campaign going forward."