Yes LA's convoluted permitting process is party to blame, wrote Eddie Kim in the Downtown News in August 2014—a long time ago, yes, but good to know now that all these buildings are coming out of the ground!—in which he quotes SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss saying DTLA's aesthetics is damaged by this homogenous look. “It trivializes architecture and planning and makes the art of creating buildings all about superficial decoration,” Moss said. “It’s pathetic, considering the amount of stuff being built.” The problem is these new buildings are Type V wood-frame construction; anything taller than 7 stories requires a steel frame, raising costs considerably (and meaning projects less than 20 stories didn't pencil out in the aftermath of the Great Recession—when many of them were financed). The upside: They won't last long and will get torn down as the value of land climbs, making taller buildings more financially feasible. Until then, recommends Gensler's Rob Jernigan, the priority should be buildings that engage the public and create a neighborhood. “Green space, bicycling, open air, green roofs, more operable windows—we don’t deliver on this stuff enough,” Jernigan said. “We really need to push the street experience, too. This is a city where you can eat and play outdoors 12 months a year. That’s the character we need to promote." Read the story here.Read more
AB 2222, our student transit pass bill, passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote largely because of all the support from educational organizations, colleges and universities, and students, as well as others. UCLA Professor Donald Shoup, who has published reports about the success of these programs, wrote about UCLA’s student pass program in his letter of support, pointing out that offering fare-free public transit to reduce parking demand was far cheaper than spending $47 million to add 1,500 new parking spaces!Read more
My name is Romel Lopez I am the student body president of East Los Angeles College,
which services 38,000 students who, for the most part, commute to the school. Discounted transit fares will not only benefit the students who are already enrolled but will also increase the rate of retention by lifting the financial burden of getting to and from school, and also encourage more people from the community to attend college because there's affordable transportation.
The discounted transit fare must be available to part-time students—Metro's current student pass is only available to full-time students—because part-time students are the "nontraditional" students who cannot go to school full-time because they may have to take care of their parents, or because they are single parents—which means they may have to work a full-time job and don't have the privilege of attending school full-time.
As a single father of 3 children I know the financial strain that comes with seeking a higher education. But I believe that by going to school I'm not only securing my own future but also the future of my children, which not only benefits my family but also benefits my community.
Attending East Los Angeles Community College for the past couple of years has made me realize that education is a great equalizer, and that affordable transportation is big step toward improving life in all of LA County.
We scored a remarkable victory Monday when our student transit pass bill passed out of the Assembly Transportation Committee with a unanimous vote. The bill, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), would provide $50/year out of the GHG Reduction Fund (GGRF) for discounted transit passes for students K-12 and at all public colleges and universities statewide.
The vote was remarkable because not all lawmakers approve of the Cap & Trade program that funds the GGRF, and many conservatives believe the money should be spent repairing roads. Committee Chair Jim Frazier (D-Oakley) joked that he envied Holden’s popularity when more than 40 speakers lined up at the microphone to give their support to the bill.
AB 2222 will be heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee April 11! Please send a letter of support and/or make plans to attend!
Assemblymember Chris Holden’s bill would provide $50 million/year for discounted transit passes for all K-12, public college and university students. This is the first hearing and the bill is single-referred, which means it has only one hearing in the Assembly before it goes to Appropriations. Fax support letters to the Assembly Transportation Committee at 916-319-2193 and email a copy to Nicholas Liedtke in Holden’s office (Nicholas.Liedtke@asm.ca.gov). Please send someone to speak in support of the bill if you can! State Capitol, Room 4202! (As of 3/28 the bill had been "tentatively referred" so call 916-319-2093 to make sure!)
- Here's a draft letter of support
- Here are talking points about the bill
- Here is the bill language
- Here are the members of the Assembly Transportation Committee
And in related news . . .
LA Metro is committed to debuting a pilot student pass program in August 2016:
Metro is keen on having a new, improved program in place before the next school year starts, and has convened a working group of interested college, university and transit agency staff. Metro is trying to figure out how to institute the broadest and most successful program possible and—this is always the problem—how to fund it!
Community College Association for Student Advocacy (CCASA) makes student passes a priority:
A group of LA County community college students created this new nonprofit in part because of the interest in and momentum for student transit passes but also to tackle other issues locally and statewide. In operation for about 2 months, the group includes student leaders from Valley, Harbor, Mission, East LA and Santa Monica community colleges. CCASA is circulating a petition among students to urge Metro to initiate an ambitious universal student pass program as soon as possible. Contact them (emails are on their website) if you want to circulate the petition at your school!
LA Metro hopes to kick off a new reduced fare transit pass program for all college and university students in LA County by August of this year! It’s a revise of their current program, which offers a 57% discount but hasn’t succeeded in significantly boosting student ridership. (A study of 35 “universal” student transit pass programs across the U.S. conducted by UCLA researcher Donald Shoup in 2001 found ridership increases of 75% to 200%.) Metro has begun convening a working group involving staff from colleges and universities and local transit providers to study best practices and figure out the best way forward. The project is being supervised by Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins and Deputy Executive Officer Glen Becerra (also a Simi Valley Citycouncilmember), indicating that Metro regards the creation of a successful program to be a high priority.Read more
Events hosted by Mary Leslie and her LA Business Council are always gala and star-studded affairs and this year's 10th annual Sustainability Summit (April 29, at the Getty)—and a special VIP reception and tribute to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer this Thursday at the Emerald Room in the Biltmore Hotel—won't disappoint in this regard. The cast of characters who have been invited to celebrate this Thursday night include everyone from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti to California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon to LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas — among many others! Read more about the Sustainability Summit on April 29 by clicking below.Read more
While genuine democratic governance seems to have a fragile hold in our nation and our world today, LA County residents are on the verge of demonstrating the power of true democracy as we build a consensus coalition for $120 B in investments in what will bring about a transportation transformation in LA County.
LA Metro will make the decision in June about whether to put a half-cent sales tax measure on the ballot to make this transformative investment in a bigger and better public transportation system. Voters like you will make the final decision in November, and winning will require a 2/3 majority vote.
Metro board members are blessed to be leading this game-changing process for LA County. We want to remind them that "fortune favors the bold," and that they should be bold and improve their impressive draft program by:
- Making additional investments in first-and-last-mile infrastructure to make it easier to walk and bike to transit stations;
- Enhancing transit and paratransit services for seniors, people with disabilities, and students;
- Investing in expanded service and connectivity for Metrolink, our regional commuter rail system;
- Making a strategic commitment to end air pollution from diesel buses and trucks by investing in clean technologies;
- Making communities whole by providing funding to mitigate the disruption of businesses and the displacement of residents.
But we do need your help to wage this campaign. Please consider making a donation to help us build consensus around the best use of our tax dollars between now and November.
(Photo of Del Mar Station in Pasadena, Moule & Polyzoides Architects and Urbanists.)
LA Metro’s just-released draft of the sales tax measure (read the plan here) is a mostly excellent first cut on an expenditure plan. We applaud what is a major commitment to building a world-class transit system, and to making improvements in all parts of the county. We believe this measure would be an economic engine, and that the transit expansion together with the increased connectivity to jobs, neighborhoods and other destinations will result in dramatic improvements in both service and ridership. Here is our first take on some changes we believe are critical to maximizing the benefits:
- Metro needs to demonstrate a stronger commitment to funding first-and-last-mile connections to and from stations, one of the best ways to reduce traffic;
- Older adults and people with disabilities need more funding for Access and other paratransit services—the number of older adults is expected to more than double to 36% of the population by 2050;
- The commitment to clean air should be significantly increased and include greater investments in zero- and near-zero technologies for both buses and trucks—diesel emissions remain our biggest air quality challenge;
- Metro needs to take more seriously the burdens created by rail construction in neighborhoods and address the displacement of residents and the disruption of businesses;
- Metro should augment services on the Metrolink commuter rail system to provide important regional connections, especially to airports.
Between now and June, when Metro will decide whether to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot, there will be many conversations about modifications like these. Stay tuned!
Move LA convened a luncheon and discussion on Friday of last week to talk about LA Metro’s proposed sales tax measure — little did we know when we planned the event that the plan for the ballot measure would be released that same morning. Here’s a link to the Metro plan and a link to coverage in the LA Times, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the Daily News. And here's what got said at our luncheon, including these comments from 2 board members:
LA City Councilmember and Metro Boardmember Mike Bonin:
The plan does a good job of providing something for every subregion — including something big. As a city councilmember I can tell you that there are things that are not in the plan that I would have liked to see. But because we have to get a 2/3 majority vote in order to win the plan has to be ambitious in scope, and this means that no one is going to get everything they asked for.
Duarte City Councilmember and Metro Boardmember John Fasana, who becomes chair of the Metro board in June:
There’s a lot to like in this plan but our needs in LA County exceed our grasp, and in order to get the buy-in we need from all of the subregions and all the constituencies represented by Move LA we can’t create carve-outs for everyone. There will be opportunity for adjustments, but funding projects not currently in the plan will require taking funding away from projects that are in the plan — which will cause reverberations. For this reason my inclination is to make minimal changes. It’s important to remember a key lesson from the Measure R sales tax is that creating a new funding stream like this allows us to leverage significant investments from other sources including the state’s Cap & Trade Program, which could provide additional investments for active transportation, as well as funding from both the state and federal government for goods movement, for example. The transit and highway investments in this plan are critical, however, because without these we’ll never win a 2/3 vote across the county.