Tuesday, June 12, 2012


LA Metro has posted a "Call to Artists" on The Source blog for designs for seven new rail stations along the second phase of the Expo Line in West LA and Santa Monica. Artists are invited to submit their qualifications, and one artist will be selected for each station. Prior public art experience is not a requirement. Deadline is July 2. Check it out here:http://thesource.metro.net/2012/06/07/new-artist-opportunities-along-the-expo-line/?utm_source%3Drss%26utm_medium%3Drss%26utm_campaign%3Dnew-artist-opportunities-along-the-expo-line


This just in from CQ Today Online News, by Nathan Hurst and Niels Lesniewski
In a rare moment of agreement, Senate leaders from both parties expressed optimism Tuesday that a highway bill deal can be negotiated by the end of the month and dismissed the House GOP talk of an extension as premature.
“I don’t even want to talk about it now,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the possible need for another extension. “I think that we could surprise everybody and get a bill done here.”
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was also upbeat. “We have until the end of the month,” said the Kentucky Republican. “And we’re hoping that they’re going to come up with a solution here.”
House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, warned conferees last week that if they cannot reach agreement before the current short-term authorization (PL 112-102) lapses at the end of the month, he will offer a six-month extension that would kick the issue of surface transportation funding into the post-election session.
Senate negotiators were sending responses Tuesday to the latest highway bill counteroffer by House negotiators. “I feel there is movement,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, the conference chairwoman.
The current negotiations focus largely on the core transportation issues. Yet to be dealt with are demands by House Republicans to include in a conference report language forcing approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and limiting the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal ash.
John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said Republicans should not expect to win on either issue. “I think they still want both,” Rockefeller said. “They’re not going to get them. I think the pipeline is really off the charts, and coal ash I do too, for this bill.”
Conservative House Republicans have threatened to walk away from a final version of the bill (HR 4348) that omits those provisions.
But the House’s sound rejection last week of a motion by Georgia Republican Paul Broun to instruct House conferees to insist on limiting fiscal 2013 spending to the amount of money available in the Highway Trust Fund — rather than supplementing the fund with other tax revenue — may have weakened the conservative bloc’s leverage. Broun’s motion was defeated, 82-323, with 145 Republicans joining Democrats in opposition. The vote suggested there could be significant bipartisan support for a deal at a higher spending level.
But a deal is not yet in hand. Reid’s proposal to leverage two pension changes to save an estimated $17.5 billion and help offset the cost of the highway bill and measures (S 2343, HR 4628) to prevent a doubling of the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans received a tepid response Tuesday from Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl. “The only problem with it is if you use it [on the student loan bill],” the Arizona Republican said, “it’s not available on the highway bill.”
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., are looking for offsets of more than $10 billion to pay for the highway legislation.

Monday, June 11, 2012


LA's got new mojo because Measure R is providing money, mobility, more jobs, and momentum! On Wednesday night Move LA honors these ten transit champions at our annual awards ceremony because they are helping create that mojo! At Union Station's fabulous Fred Harvey room. Get tix on our website below! We are honoring:

·          •  LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina — because she got things done while the rest of LA County was standing around wondering whether LA would ever build another rail line. Determined to move the Eastside rail project forward, Molina secured federal funding for the underground portion of the line and built the rest using county sales tax dollars to meet the Eastside’s long-standing need for transit connections to jobs and regional destinations — 30 percent of residents do not own cars.

·        •  LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas — for his role in championing the use of renewable energy sources at LA Metro. A policy he co-authored with Metro Board Member Pam O’Connor was unanimously adopted last September, making it a matter of course that renewable energy sources are considered for all facilities and lines. This acknowledges the money-saving potential for Metro if the agency captures solar and wind energy along its many tracks, lines, stations, maintenance yards and facilities.

·        •  LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky — not only for being an exceedingly successful advocate for transit, but also because he was one of the principal forces behind Measure R. Recently he blogged: “Our public transportation system, a national laughingstock just a generation ago, is on a roll. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we’ve entered a golden age of public mass transit . . . made possible county voters’ overwhelming approval of Measure R.”

·        •  Duarte Mayor and Metro Board Member John Fasana — for distinguishing himself as a regional thinker who is deliberative, consultative and who genuinely cares about fairness, a critical quality as the board weighs regional priorities all the time. Fasana has, for example, advocated for the Orange Line, Expo and Crenshaw lines, and began championing light rail in the San Gabriel Valley way back in 1991, even before there was an LA Metro and the Gold Line was called the Blue Line.

·        •  Santa Monica City Councilmember Pam O’Connor, immediate Past President of the Southern California Association of Governments — for helping to bring SCAG’s 83-member Regional Council to consensus on an ambitious and remarkable 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. She was able to help guide deliberations toward a highly successful conclusion because of her thorough understanding of the issues, positive working relationships with 83 Regional Council members, and her skill at managing wide-ranging debates with many participants.

·        •  California Senator Kevin Murray (retired) — for the bill he authored when he was chairing the Senate Transportation Committee in 2003 allowing LA Metro to put on the ballot a half-cent sales tax for transportation projects for up to 6.5 years. That bill, which was signed by Governor Gray Davis but never acted upon by LA Metro, was the template for Measure R and for Assemblyman Michael Feuer’s AB 2321, which got Measure R on the ballot in 2008.

·        •  Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) — for his brilliant and adept leadership in developing the region’s first Sustainable Communities Strategy, which together with the 2012 Regional Transportation Plan was hailed in the LA Times as a “model of sustainability” and prompted national headlines such as this one on Atlantic Cities: “Is SoCal America’s Next Environmental Success Story?”

·        •  Robbie Hunter, executive-secretary of the LA/OC Counties Buildling and Construction Trades Council — who negotiated a Project Labor Agreement with LA Metro for transportation construction work over five years, an agreement expected to produce tens of thousands of jobs, beginning with construction of the Crenshaw Line.

·        •  Art Hadnett, vice president at Stantec — for always being so willing and able to mobilize ACEC, the American Council of Engineering Companies, and its 5,000 member companies and 500,000 employees around the U.S. in support of America Fast Forward, the national version of the “30-10 plan” to build 12 new rail lines in a decade.

·        •  Darrell Clarke of Friends 4 Expo — for stepping up and advocating for the Exposition Line at a time when transit’s future looked especially bleak 20 years ago. Friends 4 Expo has inspired many others including Bart Reed and the Transit Coalition, Ken Alpern and Friends of the Green Line, and Denny Zane at Move LA!

Friday, June 8, 2012


Come celebrate our great good luck at Union Station this Wednesday night by toasting ten champions of transit: In part because of their work LA has embarked on this country’s most ambitious transit expansion — a virtual doubling of the size of the county’s rail system from 12 miles and 103 stations to 236 miles and 200 stations — even as transit agencies around the U.S. are being forced to cut back on bus and rail service and raise fares due to the recession. This building boom is being funded by the 30-year Measure R sales tax adopted in 2008.

For the first time ever in Southern California there are three lines under construction at the same time: Expo to Santa Monica, the Gold Line to Azusa, the Orange Line to Chatsworth. Add the Crenshaw Line and downtown LA Regional Connector — utilities are being relocated now so construction can begin — and that’s five lines under construction. If voters approve a proposed extension of Measure R that’s likely to get put on the November ballot — the polling on the measure looks good — there could be eight lines under construction by the end of next year.

Suddenly the world is looking at LA in a different light. As Brookings Institution spokesman Andie Torner told the LA Times, “You have this archetype of LA as the highway city of America. Really, in fact, voters are looking to invest in a mode other than driving . . . All of a sudden you have this really big powerful place that’s not just changing mind-sets about who they are but has the potential to dramatically remake the way you get around. This opportunity is going to be watched across the country.”

As they say, “success has many fathers/mothers," and we are honoring ten of them at our annual awards ceremony at Union Station. Come toast our transit champions! Hors d'oeuvres by Homegirl Cafe. Live music from the '20s/'30s by Doozy. In the fabulous Fred Harvey room from 5-8 p.m. Get tix by clicking on the links to the right.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


On Streetsblog Damien Newton asks, "Will Measure R Plus Reach the Fall Ballot? At Least Two County Supervisors Need a Change of Heart . . . " and he notes that Denny Zane and Move LA are "bringing the band back together" that won support for Measure R in 2008 . . .  Read it.


U.S. House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Releases Draft Text for Fiscal Year 2013 Spending Bill
Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives' Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) released draft language that will be used as a blueprint for the subcommittee’s markup of their Fiscal Year 2013 spending bill tomorrow. In the draft language, the subcommittee provides no money for the TIGER discretionary grant program (the U.S. Senate provided $500 million for this grant program) and only appropriates $1.817 billion for New Starts projects (the Senate allocated $2.044 billion – with funding for our two New Starts projects). The Fiscal Year 2013 Budget released by President Obama in February of this year included $2.265 billion for New Starts projects and included funding for Metro's two projects, the Downtown Regional Connector ($31 million) and the Westside Subway Extension ($50 Million). The reduced funding for the New Starts program in the draft House transportation appropriations bill means that our Government Relations team and federal advocates will be working with House and Senate offices to ensure that the final transportation appropriations bill adopted by Congress and sent to the President later this year includes funding for the Downtown Regional Connector ($31 million) and the Westside Subway Extension ($50 million). For your review, please click here to access the draft language from the transportation appropriations subcommittee.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Joins Our Agency in Opposing House Action That Would Cut $191 Million in Federal Funding for Metro in Federal Fiscal Year 2013
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposing a motion to instruct by Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) that would direct House conferees on the surface transportation bill (H.R. 4348) to cut federal highway and transit funding by nearly 25% in Federal Fiscal Year 2013. In advance of a House vote on the Broun motion later this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce authored a letter to all House members sharing that, “Cuts of this magnitude would eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, would curb critical safety programs and would cause a substantial portion of transportation projects to be shelved.” The letter to House members was signed by the chamber’s chief lobbyist, R. Bruce Josten. 
Adoption of the Broun motion to instruct conferees into law would result in a cut of over $191 million for our agency during Federal Fiscal Year 2013. The Broun motion to instruct would limit total "funding out of the Highway Trust Fund" in Fiscal Year 2013 to the amount that the Congressional Budget Office currently projects will be deposited in the Trust Fund under current law tax rates (plus interest on balances). Our Government Relations staff and Federal advocates have been informing members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation of the severe negative impact the Broun motion to instruct conferees would have on our agency. We will keep all Board members apprised of this matter as the Broun motion to instruct transportation conferees is considered by the House of Representatives later this week.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Denny Zane talks to the Planning Report about how Move LA built the campaign for Measure R, and how Move LA can build the next big campaign for an extension. Read it online here.

Denny Zane Now Building Support for Assemblyman Feuer’s Measure R Extension

Move LA’s Executive Director Denny Zane discusses how his organization helped build support and pass Metro’s Measure R. The ballot measure passed in 2008 and has paved the way for transportation revitalization across LA County. Zane gives TPR a look at what the LA congressional delegation is achieving in Washington, the support behind Mike Feuer’s AB 1446, the benefits the public can expect from Measure R, and Move LA’s next moves promoting mobility in Los Angeles. 

“You build a coalition locally, and then you have them reach out to their partners or national affiliations, and you build that partnership there.” -Denny Zane
In 2008 the voters passed Measure R, a half-cent sales tax devoted to transportation improvements across Los Angeles County. Move LA played a role in that, and now that plans are largely set and implementation is underway, what have you focused on as the next movement agenda? 
After Measure R we focused on how to find financing to accelerate the projects in the Measure R transit program, and I think we drummed up a lot of support for the National Infrastructure Development Bank that was in Congress at the time, authored by Congresswoman Rosa Delauro of Connecticut. When Mayor Villaraigosa and staff went back east and determined that this particular bill wasn’t going anywhere, they crafted what became the 30/10 Initiative, which is more focused on expanding and reforming existing programs at the Department of Transportation.
We worked a lot on that—what became America Fast Forward—and it’s now in the Senate version of the Federal Transportation bill and in the conference committee with the House. I expect a favorable outcome before the election. That will be another victory, another chance to get some share of the financing needed to accelerate these Measure R projects.
We also worked on the SCAG Regional Transportation Plan adopted in April; this was the first time a regional transportation plan had to focus on reducing greenhouse gases as well as regional mobility. It turned out to be an extremely successful effort.  It yielded a Regional Transportation Plan that received a unanimous vote from the Regional Council for a very far-reaching and visionary program that really has Measure R projects at its core. So I count that, in part, as a victory for smart land use planning, but it was also a victory for the momentum of Measure R and transit investments.
We are also working on the legislative front to help fund better TOD strategies and to support Mike Feuer’s bill, AB 1446, for the indefinite extension of Measure R. I’ve spent a lot of time working on the Federal Transportation Bill, trying to find a way to get a very divided Congress to unite on this. I think that’s going to ultimately work out, but not without great storm.
Getting metropolitan Los Angeles and our congressional delegation to speak with one voice to meet the needs of mobility in LA has always been a challenge. You’ve done a great job as part of the team to do that. Talk about the conflicts that need to be resolved in our own delegation on these issues and about how you’ve made progress in helping to bring us together. 
With the congressional delegation, both geographical and regional divisions exist. That’s really about rivalries over scarce resources. But there are also issues about priorities, as between highway and transit objectives, and the partisan issues between Democrats and Republicans, so it’s a tough divide to bridge. I think in Southern California we’ve done fairly well thus far, though I would certainly love to see more express support from the Republican side of the aisle in our LA County delegation. It’s a tough environment on that side of the House of Representatives. There is a very aggressive faction there that gives everybody trouble.
Still, I think the prospects of the bill coming together are good. The reason it works, I think, is really reflective of the business, labor, and environmental coalition that we built here in LA County before Measure R. When Tom Donohue from the National Chamber of Commerce shows up at a press conference with Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO to tout the America Fast Forward loan program, it’s really because the LA  Area Chamber of Commerce and the LA County labor movement have worked together to make that happen. The national success is a function of our local coalition building success. I really have to congratulate Gary Toebben with the LA Chamber—I think the Chamber has been a marvelous partner both locally and nationally on all of these issues. We really found common ground, and they, with the labor movement and the environmental community, have really fostered a very positive working relationship. Robbie Hunter at the LA-Orange County Building and Construction Trades, and Richard Slawson before him, have been marvelous partners as has, of course, Maria Elena Durazo of the LA County Federation of Labor. The building trades have been very active; they delivered the national building trades as well as the AFL-CIO on a national level. You build a coalition locally, and then you have them reach out to their partners or national affiliations and you build that partnership there. That’s really worked in this case marvelously.
Let’s talk about Mike Feuer’s bill, AB 1446. Is there a growing consensus on the metropolitan transit commission’s Metro board to support this? Or are there holdouts along the same lines of priorities, insurances, and swapping and trading that are getting in the way? 
At this stage of the discussion it doesn’t surprise me that individual board members have their objectives for their districts, and they want to make sure that whatever emerges from the discussion about extending Measure R is going to give their district what they think is a fair shake. That’s how representative democracy is supposed to work, so that’s reasonable. I think that discussion will happen, just like it happened with Measure R originally, and we’ll have a big opportunity for regional consensus building here.
Those discussions, though, are really part of the Metro board discussion, not part of the legislation in Sacramento itself. The legislation merely authorizes Metro to go back to voters, to extend  the 30-year sunset, and to have the termination of the measure  be subject to the will of the voters in the future. We don’t want the legislation in Sacramento to be negotiating the elements of a ballot measure—that’s really for the Metro board members to do.
I think we should be very optimistic about the Measure R extension measure. We can be optimistic that the Metro board will come together on a consensus program, because the upside for our region is just so dramatic and the voter willingness to support it is quite strong. Extensions like this always do better with voters than the original taxes they are extending because they don’t increase the current taxes. But it does create big opportunity for current voters to have all of their projects built earlier. It could also provide enough money to enhance the Measure R transit program by completing some projects that need more funding. My guess is that it will get 75-77 percent support when it’s on the ballot. You only need two thirds, but I think the voters are going to be right there.
Tell us what the benefits would be if Mike Feuer’s Measure R extension were to be put on the ballot and passed by the voters. 
Well, the first benefit is that it provides our county with the tools to accelerate the Measure R transit and highway programs without relying on the federal government. Now if the federal government comes through with the expanded TIFIA loan program Mayor Villaraigosa has proposed that was approved in the Senate version of the transportation bill, then that will help a great deal. But it won’t be enough on its own. We will need this Measure R extension even if the Congressional conference committee acts favorably on the expanded loan program. All of those 12 Measure R transit projects—mostly light rail, one subway, a couple of bus rapid transit lines—all of those could be built in a decade. The highway program could be accelerated as well. Metro would not be constrained by the availability of cash to get those things done. The constraint will be planning and execution, which is just good sense. The other benefit is that there may be money for program enhancement. Exactly how much is uncertain and over what time frame is unclear. That depends on the state of the economy over the next few decades, the ultimate costs of projects, the interest rates on financing and the like. However, if the sunset on Measure R is lifted by the voters the Metro Board will at some point have new choices to make.  A couple of my favorite projects—like extending the Gold Line to the San Bernadino County line or extending the Crenshaw Line to Wilshire - could be up for discussion much sooner than we think; or, taking the Sepulveda Pass system and building it from the Orange Line in the Valley all the way to LAX. As this transit system becomes more robust with better connectivity, it just becomes more useful and more efficient for a larger number of people. Its contribution to our mobility and economic development would just get greater and greater with every new investment
I love your comment that we have a non-partisan coalition for transit in Los Angeles, but we’re still strained to find a non-partisan coalition for infrastructure and transportation at the federal level. Is that true or false? 
That’s true among the members of the House of Representatives; it’s not true in the nation. For example, Tom Donohue of the United States Chamber of Commerce and Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO are together on this issue. The Senate has passed a bipartisan bill 74-22, with 22 Republican votes. The problem is really division in the House of Representatives, where an ideological faction of the Republican party basically wants to gut the federal transportation program. They say return the money to the states without apparent regard for the severe disruption that would cause to projects all over the country and to millions of jobs.
Let’s take our focus back to the local level and the challenges of building out the opportunities that Measure R gives us, turning to the Beverly Hills battle with Metro on the extension of the Red Line. Can you talk about how these skirmishes affect the overall campaign if they do? 
There’s no question that active opposition from communities along proposed rail transit lines can be a hurdle to timely success. Having lawsuits from neighbors in Cheviot Hills certainly creates potential for delay on Exposition. There are other neighbors who had concerns with the first phase of the Exposition Line that required the PUC to review plans. They directed Metro to change some of the planning at important intersections. Opposition is certainly one of the factors affecting how you design a project and how long it takes and how much it costs to complete it.
There was 75 percent support for Measure R in Beverly Hills, so I have no doubt that the community as a whole actually supports the subway. When they say that they’re concerned about tunneling under their high school, I think that is a sincere, but misguided, concern. I think that they are wrong on the merits. The high school tunneling has been reviewed both by Metro consultants and by consultants that Beverly Hills had hired, and the conclusions have been the same: there are no risks of noise or vibration or of disrupting classes, or of anything remotely like explosions or toxic chemicals that a recent video tried to portray. That’s just people’s imaginations running away with them, frankly.
It’s a tough issue, though.  Metro has to be and wants to be respectful of the concerns of communities.  However, Metro has to treat all communities equally. Thus, when a community raises a meritorious concern, they need to respond. If the concerns being raised are not meritorious, they need to say that. I think that the Beverly Hills objections are simply not meritorious and Metro should respectfully say that and move forward with planning. Beverly Hills might sue, and that can cause delays, but ultimately it should not alter the project.
In Move LA’s strategic plan there’s mention of promoting the inclusion of zero emission public and private transportation alternatives as one of your goals. Can you elaborate on how you fit this in and what you’re hoping will happen? 
It was evident to us early on that the Measure R program was going to roll out a lot of electric light rail and subway and a significant amount of natural gas bus rapid transit projects. It was evident that there would be corridors, station area facilities, parking areas, and maintenance facilities that would be created, and that presents a real opportunity to get the energy equation right early. So we promoted an energy policy to the Metro board, thanks to Supervisor Ridley-Thomas who championed it, and it was ultimately approved. We’re looking forward to Metro’s efforts to implement a far-reaching program there.
California is leading the way in transitioning our power system to renewables and clean energy. With Metro doing its share of integrating solar and other technologies into its system planning, we’ll be that much further ahead. It will reduce operating costs for the system, which is a good way to save money.
What have been the benefits to date that the public can appreciate and understand from the passage of Measure R?
The projects that Measure R is specifically funding that are under construction include the Orange Line extension to Chatsworth in the Valley (that should be done mid summer). The first phase of the Expo Line that just opened was not funded by Measure R; it was funded earlier using  other revenues. The extension to Santa Monica, which is now under construction, is Measure R-funded and should be completed in 3 or 4 years. Getting all that underway quickly is definitely a Measure R benefit.
The Crenshaw system will be under construction soon.  Neither that project nor Phase 2 of Exposition Light Rail had any prospect of funding before Measure R. They just wouldn’t be happening because Metro had absolutely zero money for new projects. The Gold Line extension to Azusa is also under construction and planning for the Regional Connector is underway — both are Measure R funded. So several projects are under construction, and several projects are nearing the end of the environmental review and will be under construction soon. In transit development time this is happening at light speed. Having this many projects going at once, and the idea that the whole system might be completed in ten years, is a miraculous notion. Kudos to Mayor Villaraigosa and his staff for figuring out that this was a possibility, and kudos to the Metro staff for figuring out how to make it happen. This is an exciting example of public leadership that I think we all should be proud of.