Move LA honored LA City Councilmember and local transportation champion Bill Rosendahl at our 5th Annual Transportation Conversation. Below is a sum-up of the reasons we think he is such a great guy, as well as Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane's reminiscences about Councilman Rosendahl's pre-council career in public affairs TV:

Bill Rosendahl was a pioneering figure in public affairs television long before he was a Los Angeles city councilmember. He was vice president and general manager for the cable TV company that has served Santa Monica and West Los Angeles since the early 1980s, which was owned by Group W, Century Cable, Adelphia and Time Warner, in what order I now forget. Bill had long had a special interest in public affairs. He had been active in the George McGovern presidential campaign in the ‘60s, and his cable TV work provided him with an opportunity to pursue his lifelong interest in public affairs. He would broadcast individual and group interview programs on the issues of the day long before other TV networks. I remember suggesting a number of topics and programs that he readily would pursue — on alternative fueled vehicles, electric vehicles, regional aviation, affordable housing, and economic development on the Third Street Promenade. We became good friends over the course of putting together those programs. Bill had a folksy way of making these issues accessible to the broader public, and was always even-handed. Later, when he became a councilmember, the depth of his commitment to issues including neighborhood empowerment, affordable housing and clean transportation became clear.

As chair of the LA City Council’s Transportation Committee Bill Rosendahl has championed Measure R, Expo, the Westside Subway, extending the Green Line to LAX, and new bus routes. Given the extent of traffic congestion in Westside CD 11 how could he not? But realizing that LA Mayor Villaraigosa — with his four appointees to the Metro board — would be doing the heavy lifting on transit, Rosendahl chose a different tack. He became a high-profile champion of active transportation as a low-cost way to support the Measure R investment in transit with high ridership, while also making neighborhoods more neighborly, and reducing air pollution, GHG emissions and traffic congestion.

Rosendahl could always be counted on as a solid vote on bicycle and pedestrian issues, but it was after an altercation in Mandeville Canyon in 2008 — when an apparent road rage incident resulted in serious injury to two cyclists, and the LAPD’s response outraged cyclists —that Rosendahl became an activist. He convened meetings to begin a dialog between cyclists and the police, eventually producing a ground-breaking bicycling anti-harrassment ordinance that has served as a model in other cities around the country, and allowing cyclists who are victims of road rage to pursue their complaints in civil courts rather than rely on city bureaucracy to settle disputes.

In the intervening years Rosendahl also created a Measure R set-aside ensuring that 10% of “local return” money awarded to cities goes to bike and pedestrian projects. He led the effort to update the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, including a 5-year implementation strategy that commits to delivering improvements. He developed bicycle parking standards for new development, and he funded a Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan that will result in data-driven applications for this popular state and federal funding program, which should translate into better project as well as more funding. Says Rosendahl’s transportation deputy, Paul Backstrom, “Bill has been inspired by the passion of bicycle and pedestrian advocates and by their commitment. He sees them as the future of our city.”

While chairing the Transportation Committee Rosendahl also led a taxi re-enfranchisement process that set higher fuel standards — that’s why there are so many Prius taxicabs on the road. He developed a car-sharing pilot that led to an RFP that was just issued for car-sharing services across the city. He provided new Commuter Express and DASH buses, and demanded reimbursement for city expenditures on traffic control at major events including Dodger Stadium and LA Live. He cut bureaucratic red tape slowing transportation project delivery, launched an update of the city’s outdated transportation element, and brought the city’s transportation expenditures under control to avoid looming deficits.

Councilmember Rosendahl’s many other accomplishments include scuttling unpopular plans to expand LAX, creating a groundbreaking program to find permanent housing for the homeless, and securing millions of dollars in park funds to improve public pools, create new playgrounds and construct new skate parks. And he also sought to address an issue that often set him in conflict with residents of his district: The Westside jobs-housing imbalance — there are many more jobs than places to live, especially for people with lower-paid jobs — which means that commuters have to travel from all over Greater Los Angeles, clogging the streets with traffic. This made him a fierce advocate for affordable housing, and he is extremely proud of an affordable housing development for seniors he championed that will soon open in Del Rey.

Moreover, he led the city’s effort to block the eviction of some 800 tenants in 46 buildings in the massive — and affordable — Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice, which were to be redeveloped. During the several-years-long battle, many tenants left or were bought out by the developer, but Rosendahl worked hard to ensure the renovated units would come under the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, and that 50 of the renovated units would be made available to the previous residents — showing how important it is to have a councilmember who is an advocate for tenants.

Bill Rosendahl has been a champion of fairness, a nice guy, and an advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians. He will be sorely missed.

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