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!