Fighting Traffic Press Conference
ROSENDAHL UNVEILS ANTI-GRIDLOCK PLAN
Councilman Proposes $11 Million to Improve Traffic, Build Mass Transit
LOS ANGELES - Saying "it is time to get Los Angeles moving again," City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl today unveiled a comprehensive plan for spending more than $11 million on Westside traffic improvement and mass transit projects.
Rosendahl, who made fighting traffic a signature issue in his campaign for office, said he would allocate money to install left-turn signals, improve signal synchronization, promote extending the Green Line into LAX, and jump-start planning for a north-south mass transit line along Lincoln Boulevard.
"We have reached the boiling point. The gridlock is past intolerable," Rosendahl said at a rush-hour press conference at the gridlocked intersection of Lincoln and Venice Boulevards. "It is time for action.It is time to get Los Angeles moving again."
Rosendahl was joined by community members, mass transit advocates and Gloria Jeff, general manager of the City's Department of Transportation. For the past several months, Jeff's and Rosendahl's staffs have been working together to develop plans to spend accumulated traffic mitigation funds that can only be spent in Rosendahl's coastal district.
"I am pleased to work with Councilmember Rosendahl on this plan to alleviate traffic on the Westside," Jeff said. "The use of coastal transportation funds will go a long way toward reducing congestion at crowded intersections and will initiate long-range planning for needed mass transit."
The expenditures, all on the Westside, include short-term and long-term projects to relieve congestion and promote mass transit.
Specifically, Rosendahl's plan includes:
Left Turn Signal Improvements
*An estimated $3 million for 32 signal improvements district-wide
Signal Timing and Synchronization improvements and enhancements
*An estimated $5 million for 165 synchronization enhancements and for 239 controller change-outs to give DOT better control & and vision of signals
Extension of Green Line to LAX
*$500,000 to fund the work of the Green Line Task Force, a multi-agency group looking at extending the Green Line to the airport
*$750,000 for planning potential Green Line station locations
Lincoln Boulevard Light Rail Plan
*$750,000 allocated for study and planning light rail along Lincoln Boulevard
*$250,000 for studying and planning a connection between the Green Line and Phase Two of the Expo Line
*$50,000 allocated for additional parking along Lincoln Boulevard
Boulevard Masterplan Studies
$550,000 for boulevard masterplan studies of Sepulveda, Olympic, Pico, Santa Monica, and Venice boulevards. Masterplans, which include mass transit, land-use planning, and streetscape studies, link transportation and planning to create livable boulevards.
Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plans
$200,000 for bicycle and pedestrian transit plans in Council District 11
Rosendahl said he was pleased to offer a combination of tangible, relatively quick improvements, such as left-turn signals, while spending money to lay the foundation for the mass transit necessary for the Westside.
"We cannot continue to band-aid the traffic problems in this City," Rosendahl said. "Our transportation infrastructure is a real problem that calls for vision, for bold thinking and long-range planning."
Rosendahl also used the occasion of the press conference to tout the considerable progress city officials have made on transportation issues in the past two years. The list of achievements, which Rosendahl supported, includes:
*Completion of the 405 HOV Lane Project
*Establishment of FlyAway service from Union Station to LAX.
*An MTA study of light rail along the Harbor Sub-Division Right-of-Way
*New "commuter incentive" programs
Rosendahl's spending proposals will need formal council approval, but given that e money can be spent only in the coastal region, little opposition is expected.
A United Front
Last night, I joined more than 200 of my LAX-area constituents at a highly-charged public hearing to voice objection to a LAWA proposal that could move northern runways 340 feet into Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods.
I was thrilled to be joined in my opposition by representatives of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Supervisor Don Knabe. We stood firmly in the camp of our constituents, who remain unconvinced that the north airfield poses safety risks.
Let me be very clear: this is common sense, not NIMBYism. If we hear a compelling case that there is a genuine risk to public safety, we will fix it - expeditiously. But absent any evidence, we can't and we won't go on blind faith. My message to the FAA is very clear: "We are listening. Make the case. Convince us."
I am very happy that Mayor Villaraigosa, through his staff, announced tonight that he was asking LAWA to hire an independent consultant to evaluate safety on the airfield. It's a smart thing to do.
It also worth repeating that even if the FAA convinces us there is a need to make changes to the north airfield, that does not automatically mean LAWA would need to move runways north. There are four north airfield options on the table; two of them fix the problem by moving a runway south, closer to the central terminal.
Last year's historic settlement agreement promised a new day for LAX and its neighbors. This is the time to make that promise real. We need to make decisions based on facts, and not on assumptions. And we need to be open to new ideas, and a bold, new vision for LAX.
Truth is a Casualty
The old adage says that truth is the first casualty of war. It often doesn't survive much longer in politics, either.
Last week, Mayor Villaraigosa signed legislation championed by Bill and his colleagues Janice Hahn and Eric Garcetti. The package of three ordinances provided a minimal safety net to the workers of the hotels along Century Boulevard, including a requirement that they be paid a "living wage." That turns out to be $9.39 with health benefits, and $10.64 without benefits.
For Bill, it is not just a matter of social justice, but also part of a broader effort to improve Century Boulevard, including public works improvements and support for a proposed new conference center to attract new business. (You can read his and Janice's Daily Breeze column on the issue here
But the ink wasn't dry on the mayor's signature before opponents launched an effort to repeal the living wage.
The tactics of at least one person collecting signatures for the repeal are interesting.
Shopping at the Ralphs' market on Lincoln Boulevard in Venice yesterday, I noticed someone collecting signatures. The store, in the heart of lefty Venice, near Lincoln Place, and a flashpoint in the 2003 grocery strike, is a popular spot for people to gather support for progressive causes and candidates. I asked the signature collector what effort he was supporting.
"This is for a living wage for hotel workers," he said.
"FOR a living wage," I asked? "I thought the city already approved that."
"Yes, but this would have the voters approve it instead of the city council."
"Aren't you really collecting signatures to try to repeal the ordinance?"
"Yeah, but it won't win, so this way the voters will approve the living wage instead of the City Council, and that is better. It's not good to have the government doing that. It is better for the voters to do it."
Translation: we're trying to repeal the living wage ordinance in order to save it.
If opponents collect enough signatures, expect to see the measure of the May municipal election ballot.
-Mike BoninChief of Staff
LAX: The Mayor Weighs In
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has weighed in on the debate over a proposal to move the north runway at LAX over purported safety threats on the north airfield.
A few days ago, the mayor sent a letter to the head of the FAA, explaining that he is opposed to moving the runway unless the FAA can clearly demonstrate a threat to public safety.
You can read his letter here
Last week, Bill issued a strong statement on the subject. You can read that here
-Mike BoninChief of Staff
Centinela Remains Open During Construction
On November 30, 2006 Councilman Rosendahl met with business owners from the Centinela/Washington Blvd. area of Del Rey. The meeting included Oscar Haro of Paco's Tacos, George Huang of New Flavors Restaurant, Teresa Cimarrosto of Cinderella Clothing, Catherine Diaz of Mattress For You, Michael Rubino of Rubino Art Gallery, and Elfie Weiss and Katrina Moore of Hotcakesbakes Bakery.
In May 2006, Excel Paving, contractors selected by the City of Los Angeles, began making improvements on Centinela between Washington Blvd. and Culver Blvd. This project was undertaken because this area has few major north-south routes for drivers, so the majority of traffic is funneled onto Centinela. Additional lanes will ease congestion through this major corridor.
The business owners were concerned that the construction was moving slowly and asked our office to intervene. Representatives from Excel Paving and the City's Contract Administration Office were present to hear the business owners' concerns and answer questions.
Some of the merchants claim that business has dropped by as much as 50% since construction switched from the eastside to the westside of Centinela in November. Construction has removed the already limited parking in front of the business and has given customers the impression that the businesses are not open. Parking is available in the alley behind most of the businesses and hours of operation will remain the same during construction.
The contractors expressed concern that they had been unable to get the Department of Water and Power (DWP) to come out and remove a light pole which is impeding their ability to repave much of the street. The Councilman immediately called Ron Deaton, General Manager of DWP to ask for assistance. First thing the next morning, DWP sent a crew out to remove the pole. This should allow construction to complete 3-4 days earlier than expected.
The sidewalks in front of the business will likely be finished by the end of this week. The street will be repaved and striped by Christmas, and all lanes should be open by January. Additional lighting and landscaping will be completed by late February-early March.
When the project is completed, there will be two south and two north-bound lanes with full-time parking on the westside and restricted parking on the eastside to open up an additional lane during peak commute hours. There will be a median, street lights, and left-turn pockets.
Although the community is experiencing temporary inconveniences from the construction, when everything is completed, Del Rey will enjoy some great improvements in traffic flow.
Mar Vista/ Del Rey Field Deputy
What's in a name?
The Board of Airport Commissioners voted yesterday to change the name of the Ontario International Airport to the LA/Ontario International Airport. They also changed the name of the Palmdale Regional Airport to the LA/Palmdale Regional Airport. While this might seem minor, it will provide a major boost to the marketing of these two airports.
The new names help travelers understand that LA/Ontario and LA/Palmdale (once service restarts there) serve Los Angeles. They are not simply destinations on their own; they are gateways to Los Angeles and to Southern California. These are not the first airports to use their names to expand their markets. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Raleigh/Durham (RDU) and Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) all do the same thing. In fact, we even have a more local inspiration - the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Clearly we can't simply rename the airports and declare that we're regionalized. However, the renaming of the airports is a small, but effective step towards enhancing their visibility and viability. Congratulations to the Board for taking this step.
IMPROVE OUR PARKS
HELP MAKE CITY PARKS IN L.A. BETTERCommunity Needs Assessment meetings in December and January
LOS ANGELES- The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will hold community meetings in December 2006 and January 2007 at which the public can express concerns and give compliments, provide improvement ideas, and participate in determining the future of their local park, recreation center, and/or other Department facilities that serve them.
All citizens are encouraged to share their thoughts about the strengths and weaknesses of existing Department services, help develop a mission, and engage their neighbors, businesses, community organizations, and other agencies in building dynamic and creative programs, events, and services through partnerships.
There will be two meetings in each of four geographic areas; the first session will be for stakeholders to provide input and the second will be when feedback is given.
The schedule is:·
METRO: December 7 and January 25 (both of which are Thursdays) at Lincoln Park, 3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles, 90031, (213) 847-1726 (contact is Cassandra Bruno).·PACIFIC: December 13 and January 31 (both of which are Wednesdays) at Exposition Park Intergenerational Community Center (EPICC), 3980 S. Menlo Ave., Los Angeles, 90037, (213) 763-0114 (contact is Kimberly Simonet).·
VALLEY: Thursday, December 14, and Tuesday, January 30 at Valley Plaza Recreation Center, 12240 Archwood St., North Hollywood, 91606, (818) 765-5885 (contact is Caroline Lammers).·WEST: Tuesday, December 12, and Thursday, February 1 at Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, 2551 Motor Ave., Los Angeles, 90064, (310) 837-5186 (contact is Kelly Werling).
All meetings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. except December 7 at Lincoln Park, which is set for 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Child care will be provided and refreshments will be served. For more information about the series of workshops, call (213) 485-1310.
A Meeting with the FAA
I just got back in the office from my trip to DC to meet with the FAA about their safety concerns over the North Airfield at LAX. I was joined by representatives from Mayor Villaraigosa's office, Congresswoman Harman's office, Congresswoman Waters' office, the City of El Segundo and ARSAC. While I don't think that the meeting with the FAA necessarily resolved the safety issue, I do think that the trip as a whole provided some important reminders of what we are trying to accomplish.
In a tribute to the spirit of regionalism, LAWA asked us all to fly from regional airports (anywhere but LAX). It's amazing how much less painful flying is when you avoid the long lines. It was also nice that the three days of parking costs less than the car I parked there.
Washington, DC is a model to emulate. Despite being a mere fraction of the size of Los Angeles at 68 square miles and 582,000 people, it is served by three major airports, all of which are connected to the city by mass transit.
I personally chose to fly through BWI. I got off my plane, took the shuttle to the train station and jumped on a train to Union Station where I was able to pick up the Metro Red Line to my hotel. I was in my room within 45 minutes of landing. Total spent: $7.35. A cab would have cost close to $100 and probably would have taken longer, given the traffic.
Those were the highlights of the trip (other than getting to visit Georgetown, my alma mater). The meeting with the FAA was somewhat disappointing. While I feel I understand the airport planning process a little better now than I did before, I’m still not sure if there is a safety problem and, if there is one, how bad it is.
The problem is that the FAA is not very communicative. The meeting was basically an elaboration of the presentation that was made during the public meetings at the Proud Bird. I now understand why the FAA feels that a centerline taxiway would improve safety at LAX, but I don’t know if the improvement would be significant. Also, because the FAA was unwilling to give any guidance, I don’t know if some of the alternatives to the center line would achieve the same results.
Councilman Rosendahl is scheduled to go back to DC in January with Congresswoman Jane Harman and LAWA Commissioner Val Velasco. They will meet directly with Marion Blakey, the head of the FAA. Hopefully, she will be more direct in discussing her concerns so that we can have a better understanding of why they want the runway moved.
Mar Vista Town Hall Meeting
On Wednesday, November 29, 2006, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl led a productive meeting with Mar Vista residents to discuss community concerns regarding Mar Vista Recreation Center (MVRC) located at 11430 Woodbine Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90066. Nearly 100 residents turned out for the event, which featured a panel including representatives from the Department of Recreation and Parks, LAPD, the Office of Public Safety, and the City Attorney's office.
In 2005, MVRC opened a new synthetic turf soccer field. The new field cost $700,000 and was funded through Proposition K, a measure passed by voters in 1996 to fund the improvement, construction, and maintenance of City parks and recreation facilities, and the acquisition of land for open space purposes. A six-foot chain-link fenced was installed to protect the new field. Many community members asked that the fence be taken down, claiming that it cut through the natural grass area and took away from picnic space. They also felt that with limited green space in this community, the fence further divided the park and limited open play. Other complaints were that the fence was not aesthetically pleasing, and constructed without community input. The fence was removed within two months of the field's opening.
Since the installation of the soccer field, residents living along the northern border of the park claim that there has been an increase in early morning and late night noise, errant soccer balls, crime, traffic, and trash, and an overall decline in the area's quality of life. They believe there is a correlation between their observed changes to their neighborhood, and the flow of users to the soccer field. They believe that reinstalling the fence would allow Recreation and Parks staff to control field use and monitor for inappropriate behavior, and therefore minimize impact on the neighborhood.
Others argue that the field is part of a larger regional recreation center and is intended to attract large numbers of users from throughout the surrounding areas. The "anti-fence" viewpoint also asserts that with better police enforcement, use of the field within park hours (5:30am-10:30pm) could be enforced.
One result of the meeting was a commitment from LAPD and OPS to make more stops by the park. Security cameras were also recommended.
Concerns separate from the soccer field and fence were expressed, including the condition of the bathrooms, poor security/lighting, access to the craft room for community meetings, under-use of the gym, and cuts to sports programs.
The Councilman appointed a group of community members to meet and discuss compromises related to easing concerns regarding the soccer field, but also general improvements to the park. Our office will look to this group and all Mar Vista residents to advise us and other City agencies on what steps to take next. There is general agreement that the City needs to commit more money to MVRC to improve the facilities, increase programming, and add staff while also remaining respectful of neighborhood interests. The challenge is to develop appropriate and cost-effective strategies for improving the Mar Vista Recreational Center.
We look forward to residents reaching a consensus and providing the City of Los Angeles with recommendations.
Mar Vista and Del Rey Field Deputy
A Lift for Workers is a Lift for L.A.
This morning, the Daily Breeze published an opinion piece that I co-wrote with my friend and colleague Janice Hahn. You can read it right here:A lift for workers is a lift for L.A.Businesses have benefitted from city reforms and should be willing to to make a difference for their employees.By Janice Hahn and Bill Rosendahl
Los Angeles has long been a destination for those searching for a better future. But for many Angelenos that promise has vanished. The decline of good manufacturing jobs in the region has left our neighborhoods increasingly poor and segregated.
Some will say that we simply need to leave businesses alone, and that prosperity will trickle down to those in need. Others will argue that education on its own will end this crisis of poverty. But with 2.1 million people lacking health insurance and 3.9 million county residents poor enough to qualify for government assistance, it's safe to say that these ideas have failed. It's time for a new vision and a bold plan.
People become poor because they do not earn enough money. The lack of adequate income forces workers to live in overcrowded housing, juggle multiple jobs and go without basic necessities -- putting considerable strain on families and on children -- and ultimately on our city.
For 3,500 workers who work in the hotels in the Century Corridor, the Los Angeles City Council had an opportunity to help to pull them out of poverty. We voted to impose a living wage ordinance on 12 hotels near Los Angeles International Airport.
We also voted to correct a long-time injustice. The tips that show up as service charges when you order room service or hold a banquet at one of these hotels have historically not gone to the hardworking men and women who serve you. In fact, they have been going back to management. Our vote made it mandatory for the people who worked for those tips to receive them (something most customers already believed was happening).
A modest raise to the current living wage ($9.39 with health benefits, $10.64 without) -- is reasonable and fair. It will keep hardworking people out of poverty. Some of them may be able to quit an extra job; others will move out of overcrowded housing. These workers, who labor every day to welcome visitors to this great city, will now have just an inkling of what most of us take for granted every day.
Opponents claim this will spell disaster for our business climate. That is not true. Nothing is more harmful to our local economy than having an underclass of the working poor -- people with no discretionary income, no purchasing power and, therefore, no ability to contribute to the local economy.
In 1996, the city of Los Angeles passed a living wage ordinance for companies that do business with the city. At that time, the Chamber of Commerce warned that the law would cause the loss of 3,000 low-wage jobs. They were wrong. Instead, wages increased in 10,000 service jobs, and employers saw less turnover.
Los Angeles is a business-friendly city. Just this week, the city and county approved $40 million in tax incentives to bring development into downtown Los Angeles. The City Council just extended business tax reform, eliminating business taxes for new, small businesses for two years. We provide incentives, and oftentimes cash, to get businesses to move into our various redevelopment zones; and we bend over backward to make it easy for filming to stay in L.A.
But, being business-friendly does not keep us from being worker-friendly.
Without these workers, our businesses would not exist.
As author David Shipler said, "The term working poor should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." The City Council had an opportunity to make a difference for the working poor in our city, and it was an opportunity that we could not afford to pass up.Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn represents the 15th District. Councilman Bill Rosendahl represents the 11th District, which includes the Century Boulevard Corridor.