This is the first in a blog series on “What people Were Saying” at Move LA’s 7th Annual Transportation Conversation last April 22 at Union Station. There were no less than 50 speakers on really big panels – “the biggest at any gathering in America,” Mayor Garcetti said – all making compelling cases for what another sales tax for transportation could/should fund.
LA Community College District Trustees Mike Eng and LaMont Jackson discussed the benefits of universal student transit passes, like the “Any Line Any Time” partnership between Santa Monica Community College and the Big Blue Bus – students pay a fixed amount of about $6-$7 a month as part of their registration fees (or they can opt out), and can use their student cards on any line at any time! Mike Eng made this impassioned case for the need to provide transit passes to community college students in particular:
Call Or Email Budget Conference Committee If You Want Student Transit Passes & $$$ For Active Transportation
This week the state Legislature's Budget Conference Committee is considering including student transit passes in the 2015-2016 budget, to be funded with $25 million from the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, with another $25 million for the state's Active Transportation Program. A decision could be made as early as today. Conference committee phone numbers are listed below.Read more
Move LA, the California Bicycle Coalition, and the statewide Sustainable Communities for All coalition have convinced the state Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Transportation to set aside $25 million for student transit passes and $25 million for active transportation in the Assembly’s expenditure plan for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. A conference committee will convene next week to reconcile differences between the Assembly’s version of the budget, which includes the GGRF expenditure plan, and the Senate’s. The Senate has recommended that the GGRF money be used for “local climate planning” activities.Read more
Grand Boulevards: This is the 2nd in a series on San Gabriel Valley transit corridor projects under discussion as contenders for funding from a transportation sales tax measure that could be put on the ballot in November 2016.
Move LA’s Measure R2 “straw man proposal” calls for spending $4.5 billion on a “Grand Boulevards” program to retrofit about 150 miles of major arterials in LA County with improvements that could include better transit service (such as upgrades to bus rapid transit), bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks and sidewalk repairs, street furniture, cool pavement, shade trees and landscaping. The goal would be to create livable, prosperous, mixed-use boulevards lined by neighborhoods where transit users could live. Potential candidates in the San Gabriel Valley include the Arrow Highway, Atlantic, Soto Street, Rosemead Boulevard, Colorado Boulevard, Huntington Drive and Whittier Boulevard.Read more
Sorry to be late posting news about yesterday’s awesome and deeply moving 12th Annual Giants of Justice breakfast — the biggest event yet with nearly 600 people in the room — put on by Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE). CLUE was celebrating: California Labor Commissioner Julie Su for her aggressive civil rights litigation; Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels from Beth Shir Shalom in Santa Monica for his strong personal commitment to dealing with interracial and interfaith relations and homelessness issues; justice “power couple” Laureen Lazarovici and Victor Narro (I am proud to have worked at the LA Weekly with Laureen in the days when the Weekly was also a crusader for justice!), extraordinary leaders in the progressive labor movement; and the “Crenshaw 3” — Patricia Allan, LeDaya Epps and Vanessa White. Let me tell you more:Read more
Across the country discounted transit pass programs have been proven to reduce driving, car ownership and GHG emissions, and to increase transit ridership and access to economic and educational opportunities -- especially when targeted to key demographic groups including students, low-income households, seniors and people with disabilities. This is why Move LA is interested in creating dedicated transit pass funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and facilitating transit passes as part of the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Program, which means they could be provided to renters in affordable housing developments.Read more
Spotlight on the San Gabriel Valley: The Extension of the Foothill Gold Line to the San Bernardino County Line
We are moving on from our 3-part "Spotlight" series on possible transit corridor projects in the San Fernando Valley and focusing on the San Gabriel Valley, where a number of projects are also being proposed for a new sales tax measure, including a Foothill Gold Line extension to Claremont, upgrades to two Metrolink lines, and to arterials that could become Grand Boulevards:
The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments supports the idea of extending the Foothill Gold Line from Azusa (the extension to Azusa opens next year) to Claremont. We agree that a rail line that traverses the San Gabriel Valley with a connection into Union Station in downtown LA increases the draw of all the stations along the line because it improves access to destinations all along the line, providing ever more compelling reasons to locate development there.Read more
Why is affordable housing near transit important? Why not just build lots of housing and let the market decide? Move LA's Beth Steckler and Enterprise Community Partner's Jeff Schaffer answer these and other questions in an interview on Streetsblog about a relatively new collaboration among nonprofit organizations and funders called LA THRIVES, of which Move LA is a Steering Committee member. BTW the answer is: "It’s important to have affordable rents near stations because most transit riders are low income – three quarters with incomes below $25K. If we ignore this reality we risk two things: huge social disruption in 'hot markets' as people lose their homes and, pushing our riders away from the very transit they are using. . . Read the rest of the answer and the entire interview on Streetsblog. Visit the LA THRIVES "All in LA" blog for more on these issues.
At Move LA’s 7th Annual Transportation Conversation 3 weeks ago LA Mayor Eric Garcetti talked at some length about LA’s transformation into an example of what a new American city looks like — that we are building the “first truly modern city in the world” — and that the build-out of LA’s transit system has been a powerful lever for making people think differently about LA. New Metro CEO Phillip Washington, who assumed his post today, says the same thing about Denver, the metro region he hails from, which like Los Angeles passed a sales tax measure that is paying for the build-out of the transit system.Read more
Our take: This is really encouraging news! But the polling that's really going to drive a decision to go forward will be done next spring.
"The poll asked respondents whether they would approve a proposed ballot measure that would go before voters in 2016," writes Laura Nelson. "The measure would seek to raise the overall sales tax rate to 9.5%, and it would extend Measure R, a half-cent tax approved by voters in 2008, beyond its current 2039 expiration date."
The so-called augment and extend taxation structure would have the potential to reshape transportation in Los Angeles County.Read more