Monday, December 19, 2011


In order to build support for a robust federal transportation bill and expanded TIFIA loan program Move LA has mounted a national coalition-building effort that is the building industry analog to the co-endorsement of America Fast Forward by US Chamber President Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka last year.

More than 70 local and national organizations have signed our Move LA letter to the chairs and ranking members of the Congressional committees responsible for moving the federal transportation reauthorization forward. In this letter we ask Congress to adopt a bill that at minimum maintains current levels of transportation funding and that also includes the America Fast Forward concept of significantly expanded funding for the TIFIA program of innovative federal transportation financing.

Signers of this letter include both the national Building Construction Trades Department of the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, as well as national associations of diverse businesses that work on the engineering, design and construction management of transportation projects — including the national Construction Management Association of America, National Electrical Contractors Association, American Public Works Association, and the LA County Chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies. The letter also includes the logos of 70 individual companies and labor unions.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


On October 28th 2011, the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) approved the first sustainable communities strategy (SCS) under Senate Bill 375, California’s groundbreaking regional planning law. The plan was the subject of intense scrutiny by stakeholders, state agencies and others.

This new report, co-authored by Eliot Rose, Autumn Bernstein of ClimatePlan, and Stuart Cohen of TransFORM, takes a comprehensive look at the plan and analyzes why it didn’t achieve the GHG reductions that many hoped it would. The report also provides information on the important ways in which the plan represents a departure from business as usual, and where there are opportunities for improvement.

As other regions across the state are poised to also adopt their own SCSs, this report picks out some of the best practices and most important lessons learned to help Metropolitan Planning Organizations and other stakeholders outside of the San Diego region learn from SANDAG’s experience.

Reversing a decades-long trend of planning for sprawl is going to take a serious commitment to continually refining the SCS process. SANDAG’s SCS sets some important precedents, but it’s only the first step in a long journey.

Download the report (pdf) here

Thursday, December 1, 2011


The region’s first draft Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), released December 1 by the Southern California Association of Governments, shows that the region will meet its 2020 greenhouse gas reduction target and exceed the 2035 target, double the number of people who live near high-quality transit, and reduce traffic congestion — despite the fact that the population is expected to grow by 4 million by 2035.

Development of the SCS is mandated by SB 375, the state law that requires regions to plan for transportation investments and land use strategies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This has given SCAG an opportunity to promote more walkable communities, transit, bike and pedestrian projects that reduce VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and, therefore, GHG emissions. It is the first SCS developed by SCAG, and must be integrated with the regional transportation plan (RTP), which SCAG develops every four years.

“The draft RTP/SCS shows the region is on track to meet air quality and GHG reduction goals, and to provide people with more choices about where to live and how to get around,” said Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA. “It also shows cities have been doing good planning, which will put Southern California ahead of national trends in the real estate market and the energy economy.”

“Clearly somebody’s been paying attention,” added Amanda Eaken, NRDC’s deputy director of sustainable communities. “This plan reflects the market realities of the 21st Century: Most people want to live closer to their jobs and shops, and don’t want to spend hours stuck in the car or looking for parking. This plan gives us more choices to get out of our cars and the freedom to spend the time and money on more enjoyable activities.”

The draft RTP/SCS proposes that the region increase transit investments by 13 percent and triple the funding for bike and pedestrian projects. It plans for the build-out of 12 new rail lines funded by Measure R; plans new bus rapid transit projects in Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties; proposes enhancement of Metrolink service with the goal of doubling Metrolink ridership; proposes to increase bike and pedestrian project funding from $1.8 billion to $6 billion; and plans to fix 12,000 miles of sidewalks.

The draft RTP/SCS was developed with information taken from cities’ General Plans, and shows that cities throughout the region have been doing the kind of “smart growth” planning for a number of years that will help the region cope with rising gas prices and respond to the changing real estate market: The RTP/SCS shows that the percentage of new housing that will be apartments or townhomes — rather than single family homes — will increase from 39 percent in the last 25 years to 68 percent in the next 25 years. The plan also shows that the number of new homes that will be built in neighborhoods with high-quality transit will increase from 34 percent of all homes to 51 percent. The number of new jobs near transit will increase from 39 percent to 53 percent. The plan also shows that this more compact development will save 400 square miles of open space.

The plan projects other significant benefits, including:

• Providing for transportation improvements that will create 4.2 million jobs;
• Reducing VMT (vehicle miles traveled) by 10 percent;
• Increasing investment in public transit by 13 percent;
• Resulting in savings of $3,400 annually in costs for autos, fuels, water, energy;
• Saving $5 billion in infrastructure costs to local governments;
• Saving $1.5 billion in health costs.

A final plan will be adopted by SCAG’s 84-member Regional Council in April of 2012. SCAG is the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization, representing six counties, 191 cities, and more than 18 million residents. The plan is available on SCAG’s website.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 17, 8:30 am - 3 pm (Workshop is free; lunch is included.)
WHERE: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple Street, LA 90012

For decades transportation planning and policies have focused on increasing the "through-put" of traffic — with the result that the built environment has become ever more hostile to non-drivers and Americans have become ever more sedentary. On Thursday the national nonprofit Transportation for America teams up with the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice and the Coalition for a Safe Environment to talk about state and federal transportation policies, goals and investments that can:
• Reduce premature deaths, cancer and asthma through reductions in air pollution;
• Reduce the incidence of obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and other conditions through active transportation;
• Improve safety for all transportation modes with an emphasis on reducing bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities;
• Addresses impacts on disadvantaged and low-income communities and the disabled, elderly and youth through health equity and environmental justice policies and goals.

AGENDA: 1) Federal and state overview of priority transportation policies pertaining to public health. 2) American Public Health Association's lessons on communicating about the interface between transportation and public health. 3) Expert panel on transportation planning for public health. 4) Break-out sessions to ID key public health criteria, objectives, and goals, and ways to incorporate these into federal and state policies. 5) Presenters and facilitators will include the American Public Health Association, UCLA, and other experts from agencies and universities. (For more information call Ryan Wiggins at Transportation for America, 818-209-8521.)

Monday, November 14, 2011


The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously to approve the draft transportation bill (MAP-21) last week, providing an opportunity to move forward on the long-overdue transportation authorization. Key reforms in the bill include a stronger emphasis on repairing and rebuilding roads and bridges, and performance measures that ensure funds are focused on addressing the backlog of deficient bridges and roads, and also monitor safety, air quality and freight movement. For each of these states and large regions must create targets and report on the progress to meeting these targets.

Move LA applauds the committee for moving ahead, and for maintaining the historic 20 percent share for mass transit as well as the flexibility to use a significant portion of funds for transit and bike and pedestrian projects. And we support the committee’s decision to continue to provide dedicated funding for projects that help improve air quality and reduce congestion in regions with significant air pollution — such as Southern California.

We are particularly excited that funding for the TIFIA program, a key opportunity for the America Fast Forward 30-10 plan, has been expanded from $122 milliion to $1 billion, and that there would be modifications making it easier for public transportation agencies with dedicated revenue sources to apply. The committee decided to base the selection of of projects on a first-come, first-served basis, however, and we believe it would be better if the selection criteria emphasized the performance of projects, like other parts of the bill.

We are also concerned that funding for bicyclists and pedestrians has been reduced. A proposed “reserve” fund within the CMAQ program would both decrease current bike/ped funding by 30 percent and add new projects — including HOV lanes and wetlands mitigation — that could compete for this reduced funding pot.

Lastly, we urge the committee to include more comprehensive workforce development programs and local hire provisions in the bill.

Read Transportation for America’s summary and analysis of the bill (this will be a hot link, amendments made during the bill’s mark-up, and talking points.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


SCAG’s policy committees and 83-member Regional Council voted almost unanimously Nov. 3 to release the “preferred alternative” for the 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS) on Dec. 1. Move LA’s technical analysis of the plan suggests that it’s a pretty good one, with a general shift in growth toward cities that have transit and the other infrastructure needed to support it, a much better mix of jobs and housing across all counties so that commutes aren’t so long, and most transportation funding going either to preservation projects, transit, or for some road-widening but with little funding going to new roads.

In sum, the plan is very much about smart growth and transit-oriented development and sets the region on a more sustainable course. (SCAG is the Southern California Association of Governments, the metropolitan planning organization for the six-county SoCal region, which is charged with adopting a regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy every four years.)

There was a tremendous showing at the meeting of advocates, including doctors, for bike and pedestrian improvements and “active environments” that provide the opportunity for more physical activity and that produce less air pollution. SCAG has more than tripled funding for bike and pedestrian improvements over the previous plan, the 2008 RTP. But bike and pedestrian advocates argue that the 2009 National Household Travel Survey shows nearly 21 percent of all trips in the region are by bike or on foot — while only 0.46 percent of funding goes to non-motorized transportation.

SCAG is different than other metropolitan planning organizations in California in that it has no funding of its own to dedicate to projects but rather builds the RTP/SCS using the transportation project lists prepared by the six county transportation commissions (CTCs). This gives the agency limited authority over the projects and priorities of its member cities — rather, the agency has to work by building consensus among its member cities and government agencies.

For more details on the plan see the analysis on the right side of our homepage. At this point in the process Move LA is focused on getting more ambitious transit, bike and pedestrian investments into Alternative C, which like the preferred alternative will go through the EIR process. That provides us with more time to build support among elected officials and agencies for an expanded Metrolink system and other transit improvements and expanded bike and pedestrian investments, as well as some of the other programs listed in the story to the right on our homepage.

The draft RTP/SCS and the programmatic EIR will be formally released to the public on Dec. 1, followed by a 45-day comment period. SCAG will hold workshops on the draft with elected officials during the month of January. The final RTP/SCS is scheduled for adoption in April.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Last week was a big one for Move LA: SCAG’s 83-member Regional Council almost unanimously agreed on the “preferred alternative” for the RTP/SCS — which we supported. And the Move-LA-sponsored survey of voters, which showed they overwhelmingly favor investing in transit, bikes and pedestrians (you can read more about it in the previous blog post or see link to the right “Click here to read the Land Use and Transportation Survey Results”), made it onto the LA Times blog, Streetsblog, the KPCC blog, and the NRDC blog. An op-ed authored by Denny Zane and Gloria Ohland, about how the San Gabriel Valley is leading the way on smart growth and transit-oriented development, was printed in the Pasadena Star News, San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Whittier News. Links are below, including a link to a blog by NRDC’s Amanda Eaken, who wrote about the huge turn-out of advocates for active transportation and public health at the SCAG meeting.

Note: RTP/SCS stands for regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy, the 30-year plan that lays out transportation investments and land use strategies. SCAG is the Southern California Association of Governments, the metropolitan planning organization for the six-county region.

Here are links to the LA Times, Streetsblog, KPCC, NRDC, and the Pasadena Star News. Here is a link to Amanda Eaken’s blog on the bike/ped/public health turn-out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


The survey, of voters in the six-county Southern California region, shows that four of five voters support investing in transit, and they favor investing in transit over roads by a 2-to-1 margin. Move LA sponsored the poll with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Lung Association in advance of a vote at the Southern California Association of Governments on Thursday, November 3. At that time Regional Council members will vote on a “preferred alternative” for the regional transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy, which lays out transportation investments and land use strategies for the next 30 years.

The poll also shows that voters want to shift development into cities with a good mix of jobs and services, and that they believe transit, bike and pedestrian projects and infill mixed-use development is the best way to reduce traffic congestion and commute times — and that these strategies will also save them money, create jobs, and improve the economy, air quality and public health. And voters indicated they would prefer to live in smaller houses on smaller lots with shorter commutes than in bigger houses on bigger lots with longer commutes.

Here is a link to the press release, a summary of key findings and the poll results.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


SCAG (the Southern California Association of Governments) will unveil the preferred scenario for the “2012 RTP/SCS” on Thursday, October 20 — a $450 billion plan for population and job growth and transportation projects in the six-county region through 2035. The preferred alternative shows:
• a tripling of funding for bike and pedestrian projects, from $1.8 billion to $6 billion
• a big shift in the housing mix, from a majority of single family homes to a significant majority of multifamily housing units
• a vastly improved jobs-housing balance across the 6 counties
• significantly more transit and more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods near transit
• shifts in growth and density away from outlying areas and into downtowns and around transit stations
• a prioritization of transportation system preservation projects over new projects.

While the plan is good and seemingly signals that a new era is dawning in Southern California — one which could result in more housing and transportation choices for residents — the question is whether SCAG’s Regional Council will endorse it. We urge you to attend and let council members know how important it is that we plan for land use policies and transportation investments that improve public health, reduce the cost of living by reducing housing and transportation costs, make it easier and safer to walk and bike, and create jobs in places that don’t require long commutes.

SCAG, the metropolitan planning organization that governs the six-county Southern California region, develops a regional transportation plan or RTP every four years, but this is the first that also includes a sustainable communities strategy or SCS. The SCS was mandated by SB 375, the state law that requires regions to plan for transportation investments and land use strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The GHG reduction targets in Southern California have been set at 8 percent in 2020 and 13 percent in 2035.

SB 375 has given SCAG new authority to promote more focused growth, transit, pedestrian and bicycle projects with the goal of reducing driving, which will reduce GHG emissions. The plan calls for more transit-oriented development in LA County and around all 55 stations on the Metrolink system (which serves LA, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura counties) and calls for “transit-ready development” — compact, mixed use — in places that don’t have transit yet.

Normally an agency that has not had much public involvement, SCAG has seen a significant increase in the number of people — including advocates for affordable homes, public health, better air quality, and bike and pedestrian projects, as well as developers and environmentalists — weighing in on this planning process.

SCAG has developed three alternatives besides the preferred alternative. There have been two emerging issues with the RTP. The first is a funding shortfall of $125 to $155 billion due to the economy, the continuing decline in gas tax revenues as cars become more fuel efficient, and decreasing state and federal transportation funding — also because of the economy, California’s recent budget crisis, and the failure of Congress to pass a new federal transportation bill.

The second emerging issue has been concerns about the deteriorating condition of Southern California’s transportation system, and the need to spend more money on repairs. A study was released by the national nonprofit Transportation for America on October 19 that showed that the LA metro region has 91 of the most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. — and that every second 396 drivers in the region cross over them. The Transportation for America study is available at

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Move LA intern Kiran Rishi put the focus on “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, Thousands of Jobs!” when she hung Move LA’s banner at the corner of Ciclavia and Occupy LA last Sunday — that’s 210,000 jobs, to be more specific, as a result of the Measure R-funded construction of 12 new rail lines! The crowd at CicLAvia — LA’s 10-mile-long block party for pedestrians and bicyclists — drew a crowd estimated at more than 130,000. This was LA’s third CicLAvia, modeled after an event held weekly in Bogota, Colombia. The point, say CicLAvia’s organizers, is to promote public health, green transportation, open space, economic development and community building. Meantime, the number of tents at Occupy LA, currently occupying the lawn at City Hall downtown.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


House Transportation Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica (R-FL) has apparently received authorization from Republican leaders to include additional funding in his transportation bill, which had provided about 30 percent less than the Senate version. This suggests that both House and Senate bills will be funded at similar levels and moves the America Fast Forward/30-10 vision — of completing all 12 Measure R funded transit lines within the decade — several big steps closer to reality. Both House and Senate versions of the transportation bill contain provisions for low-interest loans to regions wanting to build out their transit systems.

There are also rumors that there is renewed interest in the QTIB (Qualified Transportation Improvement Bonds) program — another key component of the America Fast Forward/30-10 plan. The QTIBS would provide tax credits to investors who write down interest rates on private loans to transportation agencies.

The Streetsblog story about John Mica is here.

Friday, September 23, 2011


In the LA Times, Denny Zane tells reporter Ari Bloomekatz that new rail lines and improved public transportation will address congestion problems, but that we also need transit-supportive land use policies and other incentives to get drivers out of their cars. His comments were made in response to a new report that shows, according to the LA Times headline, that “Los Angeles Commutes Aren’t That Bad,” and that many of the cities with the worst congestion are those with robust rail systems.

"You must also have other strategies in place," Zane told the Times, adding that the benefits of public transportation cannot be measured only by commute times. He said transit pays dividends in other areas: Commutes are "more affordable … there's less air pollution, compact development is a more efficient use of land and therefore makes housing more affordable."

The mean commute time in the L.A.-Long Beach-Santa Ana area has stayed relatively flat since 2006, peaking at 28.6 minutes in 2007, according to the American Community Survey.

The story, which was in the Times on Thursday, is here:


Morgan Wyenn of NRDC thanks Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane and Diane Forte of Forte Green Strategies for their role in moving forward LA Metro’s new renewable energy policy. She also cites the agency’s new green construction policy. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


LA Metro’s Board of Directors unanimously approved a policy Thursday that makes it a matter of course for the agency to consider renewable sources of energy for the construction and operation of Metro facilities, including existing and new transit lines. Metro staff will come back to the board in 18 months with recommendations on setting a goal for how much of Metro’s energy should come from renewable sources.

California law already requires that 33 percent of all the power that electrical utilities supply be from renewable sources by 2020, which means that 33 percent of LA Metro’s energy will also be from renewable sources. Currently, 18 percent of the energy that the utilities supply to Metro comes from renewable sources, and another 2 percent comes from solar panels Metro has installed on its facilities.

“Metro uses approximately $26 million in electricity each year. It is only natural, then, for Metro to lead in developing renewable energy sources. Metro can maximize the use of its many tracks, stations and facility locations and make the most of its dollars by exploring solar, wind and even train and bus-braking energy
as new sources of electric power,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. The supervisor had introduced the motion together with Metro board member and Santa Monica City Councilwoman Pam O’Connor.

Move LA applauds the board’s decision. "We support this policy because it is a good way to reduce the long-term operating costs associated with energy consumption,” said Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. “We congratulate Metro on leading the way again."

"This is an opportunity to save green, be green and get green,” added Diane Forte of Forte Green Strategies, which has worked with Move LA and LA Metro on building support for the policy. She noted that the policy also provides opportunities for the agency to partner and pursue joint development opportunities for renewable energy-related projects both with local utilities that supply power as well as private investors and businesses.

LA Metro will need to buy more energy to construct and operate the expanded transit system funded by the Measure R sales tax. Because energy costs are expected to rise, the agency is eager to ensure it has alternative energy options.

The energy policy is supported by environmental and transportation advocates including the Coalition for Clean Air, the Sierra Club, Breathe LA, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic), Environment California, Greenpeace, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies.

Friday, September 16, 2011


The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is entering its busy season, with a draft regional transportation plan (RTP) and sustainable communities strategy (SCS) scheduled for release this December and a final RTP/SCS to be adopted in April of 2012. This is the first RTP at SCAG that will include an SCS — a key element of the state law known as SB 375, which mandates that the state reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions (by reducing driving) through transportation and land use strategies.

The SCS requires SCAG to identify land uses, densities and building intensities, and the transportation investments that will support them — and this new focus on land use has drawn the attention of many more advocates and public interest groups than ever before. These include advocates for improved public health, affordable housing and bike/pedestrian/transit investments, as well as environmentalists, developers and architects.

There is increased attention on adding performance metrics to the RTP/SCS that identify the impacts of policies and investments on public health and safety, on the affordability of housing and transportation, on environmental outcomes, and on “location efficiency” — a measure of whether locations are proximate enough that people can walk, bike and use transit to take care of daily needs and not have to drive. There’s increased interest in the bike, pedestrian and transit investments that will support compact, walkable neighborhoods — regional investments in bike and pedestrian projects are increasing by 50 percent over the 2008 RTP to $4 billion (about 1 percent of total RTP expenditures, while walk trips total 11.7 percent of all trips and bike trips total 0.9 percent).

Moreover, there are negotiations with cities in “strategic locations” near transit to take on more density, and talks with cities on the exurban fringes about downzoning. And Regional Council members and agency staff are grappling with a $45 billion shortfall in the RTP that has them talking about new revenue sources including cordon pricing in downtown Los Angeles (as in London) and transportation system user fees (such as a 2.7 cent fee for every mile driven) to help make up for the shortfall in gas tax revenues caused by more fuel-efficient cars.

The City and County of Los Angeles, with its large and growing transit system (12 new transit corridors funded by Measure R) and enough density and jobs to make it possible for people to walk and bike and ride transit — and not have to drive — is key to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the RTP/SCS. Move LA’s top five priorities in our work with SCAG are:
·      promoting walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhoods near stations and along high-frequency transit corridors;
·      working with Regional Council members, elected officials and agency staff to promote regionally significant investments in transit;
·      building support for new revenue sources for SCAG and the county transportation commissions;
·      encouraging the adoption of TOD guidelines that ensure existing affordable housing will be preserved and new affordable housing will be built so that new lines and TOD don't displace current residents;
·      supporting transit and TOD with increased investments in bike and pedestrian projects and complete streets policies to create healthy, active environments around stations.

Move LA convenes an SB 375 Southern California Working Group that meets once every 4-6 weeks to discuss emerging issues at SCAG and opportunities to weigh in. Contact Beth Steckler,, if you are interested in joining us.

For an excellent graphic depiction of some of the issues at stake, download the 2012 RTP/SCS Outreach Workshop Guide, which shows the opportunity for enormous cost savings and improvements around affordability, public health, the environment, and other issues, at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


LA Metro’s Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee unanimously approved a renewable energy policy Wednesday that would increase Metro’s commitment to using renewable sources of energy for the construction and operation of Metro facilities, including existing and new transit lines. LA Metro spends an average of $26 million annually and will need to buy more energy to construct and operate the expanded transit system funded by the Measure R sales tax. Because energy costs are expected to rise, the agency is eager to ensure it has alternative energy options.

California law already requires that 33 percent of all the power that electrical utilities supply be from renewable sources by 2020, which means that 33 percent of LA Metro’s energy will also be from renewable sources. Currently, 18 percent of the energy that the utilities supply to Metro comes from renewable sources, and another 2 percent comes from solar panels Metro has installed on its facilities. Staff will come back to the committee in 18 months and recommend a renewable energy use goal for the year 2020.

The energy policy will make it official that the agency will as a matter of course consider the use of renewable energy sources in all of its projects going forward. For example, Metro will install more solar panels on stations, in maintenance facilities and along rights of way, consider installing wind turbines in the subway tunnels, the purchase of electric vehicles, and other emerging technologies. The policy will be revisited in 5 years.

A study for the Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee stated that: “We believe that in the volatile and costly energy market, embracing sustainability, energy efficiency, conservation, and implementation of renewable energy sources is a primary pathway towards gaining control of, and reducing our energy usage and costs and gaining energy independence.”

Because renewable energy project development and deployment requires higher up-front capital investment than conventional sources, Metro will also be seeking to use creative financing mechanisms including public-private partnerships.

The energy policy is supported by environmental and transportation advocates including the Coalition for Clean Air, the Sierra Club, Breathe LA, FAST (Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic), Environment California, Greenpeace, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. The policy was developed in response to a motion by LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Santa Monica Councilmember and Ad Hoc Sustainability Committee Chair Pam O’Connor.

Monday, August 29, 2011


SACRAMENTO — Amendments to a bill have been proposed allowing metropolitan planning organizations and, in Southern California, county transportation commissions including LA Metro to put on the ballot regional anti-congestion fees that could be passed by a simple majority of voters instead of by the two-thirds “super-majority” required for all new taxes.

The amendments to Senate Bill 791 were proposed Monday by California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). The anti-congestion charge, in the form of per gallon fees on fuel paid at the pump, could be used to fund transit, bike and pedestrian projects, toll lanes, and the safety and maintenance of state highways and bridges. The charge would be levied on the sale of gasoline and diesel fuel and, for electric cars, on vehicle registration, and could be implemented for up to 30 years.

Passage of Proposition 26 in 2010 required a two-thirds vote for most new fees, levies and other charges, which under the state’s previous rules could be passed by a simple majority vote. But Proposition 26 exempted from the two-thirds requirement those fees that directly benefit the people who pay them — in this case, motorists. The projects and programs funded by the charge would be required to specifically benefit motorists by reducing congestion.

 “In 2008 voters in LA County miraculously voted to support the Measure R sales tax for transportation by a two-thirds vote in the throes of a collapsing economy.  But, it should not require a miracle to ensure the future of our transportation system and our economy,” said Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA. “This bill provides the opportunity for congestion reduction strategies that can be approved by a sensible majority vote, including expanded transit services or highway improvements.

Revenues could pay for transit capital, operations and maintenance; bicycle and pedestrian programs and projects; programs and projects that would demonstrably reduce the growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT); conversion of carpool lanes to toll lanes; and improvements “relative to the maintenance, safety and rehabilitation of state highways and bridges.”

In the Southern California region, each county has an independent transportation commission, such as LA Metro in Los Angeles County, that prepares a county-specific transportation plan. In addition, the metropolitan planning organization, which is called the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), prepares a regional transportation plan for the six-county area that includes Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. Each commission as well as SCAG would be enabled to seek voter approval for anti-congestion charges, but only with projects and programs specified and strict accountability provisions.

Court decisions in the aftermath of Proposition 13 held that voter approval of new taxes for transportation required a two-thirds vote. This very steep standard has made it very difficult for transportation agencies to keep up with badly needed transportation system maintenance and expansion projects. Proposition 26 made it doubly difficult to raise additional revenue, at the very same time that other federal, state and local sources of revenue and funding for transportation are declining in part because of the bad economy as well as to the increased fuel efficiency of new cars, which has reduced gas tax revenues.  

SB 791 enables transportation agencies around the state to seek majority voter approval for a congestion fee under circumstances allowed by both Propositions 13 and 26. It is supported by a coalition of leading business, labor and environmental organizations, including the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles Business Council, and the California League of Conservation Voters.

While traffic congestion plagues many cities, Los Angeles and other cities in Southern California are hardest hit. The Texas Transportation Institute, which tracks congestion statistics in the US, routinely ranks LA first for total congestion delays as well as per-capita delays. Considering the value of wasted time and fuel, TTI estimates the annual cost of traffic congestion in greater Los Angeles area is close to $10 billion

Monday, August 8, 2011


In an LA Times op-ed Monday entitled "More freeways won't end LA's traffic woes," NRDC Senior Attorney Joel Reynolds takes issue with the proposed extension of the 710 Freeway through Pasadena and South Pasadena and with the Foothill South toll road in Orange County. A better idea, he says, is a multimodal approach involving transit and congestion management on existing roads or — better yet — implementation of 30/10:

"Instead of wasting limited transportation dollars on projects like these that inevitably sabotage mobility by perpetuating traffic congestion," he writes, "we need to demand strategies that will actually address the problem. There is no better example anywhere in the country than the 30/10 initiative advanced by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — who last week became MTA board chairman — and the Move LA coalition of community organizations to leverage federal loans to accelerate funding for 12 key public transit projects in Los Angeles."

Reynolds argues that we can no longer afford the luxury of wasting public funding on costly projects that won't address the traffic problem and that persist more because of politics or bureaucratic momentum. Read the article here:

Monday, August 1, 2011


More than 50 organizations have signed on to Move LA’s letter (on the right) urging Senator Dianne Feinstein to help win New Starts funding for the Westside Subway Extension and the downtown LA Regional Connector in 2012. Both projects are critical pieces of LA’s transit infrastructure: The Regional Connector is an 2-mile-long underground light rail line downtown that will link up the Gold, Blue and Expo lines (Expo to Culver City opens in November with 10 stations) to provide a “one-seat ride” across the region. The 9-mile Westside Subway Extension extends the Purple Line from Vermont and Wilshire, providing a high-speed transit alternative to the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood, and UCLA.

Metro’s subway system transports 8,846 passengers per route mile — more riders than travel on either BART in the Bay Area or Chicago’s “L.” Both projects could receive funding through America Fast Forward, the national rebranding of the “30-10” plan to build all 12 Measure R fixed-guideway transit lines in 10 years. Key elements of America Fast Forward have been incorporated into both the Senate and House federal transportation reauthorization bills. America Fast Forward and New Starts funding would together ensure that both projects are built within 10 years.

Move LA’s sign-on letter notes these projects would provide green jobs to the building construction trades, noting that while unemployment in LA County stands at 12 percent, unemployment for construction workers is more than 40 percent. The letter is signed by business, labor, environmental and community groups.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

LA Metro One Step Closer to Extending Purple Line Subway to West LA

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein issued a joint press release Wednesday announcing that the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) was taking a major step toward approval of a $640.8 Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan for the Westside Subway Extension. The expansion of the TIFIA program is a centerpiece of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative, which also calls for the creation of a Qualified Transportation Improvement Bond (QTIBs) program.
"Today's announcement is a critical step towards creating an ambitious, multi-faceted transit network and putting Angelenos back to work,” Mayor and Chair of the MTA Antonio Villaraigosa said. “With this latest, generous loan commitment from the federal government, we will extend the Metro Purple Line from Koreatown to Century City all the way into Westwood, better serving the 300,000 commuters that pour into these job centers every day and putting approximately 40,000 Angelenos back to work.”
“As Mayor and Chair of the MTA, I will continue to push Congress and the Administration to provide Los Angeles and cities across the country with the innovative financing tools we need to accelerate construction of transportation projects and create nearly 1 million jobs nationwide when we need them most,”  Mayor Villaraigosa said.
TIFIA loans, when paired with the suggested bond program, hold the promise, as outlined in the America Fast Forward initiative, of dramatically accelerating the construction of Metro highway and transit projects.
On March 1, 2011, Metro had written a letter of interest to the USDOT outlining our interest in a TIFIA loan for the Westside Subway Extension and the Regional Connector. What occurred today is that the USDOT selected the Westside Subway Extension [and seven other projects] from a pool of 34 project sponsors that were seeking a total of over $14 billion in TIFIA loans to help finance some $48 billion of new capital investments. Metro must now submit a final TIFIA application with USDOT and await formal approval of our Westside Subway Extension loan over the next several months.
 The TIFIA program is designed to fill market gaps and leverage substantial private and other non-federal co-investment by providing supplemental and subordinate capital to projects. The TIFIA program offers project sponsors the following advantages:
·      Long-term loans at the comparable U.S. Treasury yield.
·      Ability to lock in the interest rate several years in advance of a drawdown, without any additional cost.
·      Right to prepay loan draw downs in whole or in part at any time, without penalty.
·      Potential willingness of USDOT to accept more flexible terms, such as back-loading debt service to reflect anticipated growth in the pledged revenue stream, and thinner debt service coverage margins than required to obtain an investment-grade rating in the capital markets.
·      Diversified source of debt capital (U.S. Treasury as lender), reducing market saturation.
·      Lower transaction costs.
Metro staff (finance and construction) will work to specifically outline the impact of this TIFIA loan on the Westside Subway Extension project. This effort will include how the TIFIA funds will be spent and the impact the loan will have, when paired with New Starts funds and a prospective low-interest federal bond program, on the timeline for building the subway to its terminus at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Westwood.

Friday, June 24, 2011


As HuffPost columnist/blogger Joel Epstein noted on his blog, Move LA’s “Transportation Conversation 3” and audience of 400 demonstrated on Tuesday the enthusiasm of this city for accelerating transit construction. He singled out panelist Jessica Meany of Safe Routes to School for her energy and insights and Infraconsult’s Mike Schneider for raising the concern that: “ . . . if we let Congress reshape the conversation to be about finding strictly public-private partnership solutions to our transportation needs, we do so at our peril.” Joel concludes: I left the conference optimistic but preoccupied with the sobering thought that if we don't win on America Fast Forward or reshuffle the Measure R project deck, we may have to wait until 2036 to see the extension of the Wilshire subway to the Westwood VA” — because if America Fast Forward isn’t enacted by Congress Metro will have to revert to the plan to build the line in three phases by 2036.

Steve Hymon Tracks Move LA’s “Transportation Conversation 3” On The Source

LA Metro blogger Steve Hymon tracked Move LA’s “Transportation Conversation 3” event in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday on “The Source,” noting the comment of lunchtime keynote speaker GB Arrington of PB Placemaking, who said building parking near rail stations is like adding fuel to the fire of traffic congestion because it only brings more traffic into neighborhoods. And he noted that morning keynote Scott Bernstein of the national nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology likened building a transit system to inventing the telephone — the first phone was useless until the second one was built. Similarly, LA’s transit system becomes ever more useful to riders as we build more lines and provide more connectivity. 

Friday, June 17, 2011


This interview with Denny Zane is from the program book for Move LA’s “Transportation Conversation 3” on June 21, and is downloadable as a pdf here.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LA Metro, the Move LA coalition and others are asking the federal government to provide low-interest loans and long-term bonds secured by Measure R’s 30-year revenue stream to raise the money up-front that is required to build all Measure R projects in 10 years, not 30. Currently there are no federal programs that provide that level of financing. America Fast Forward, the national branding of the 30-10 Plan, would expand national interest and support for programs like 30-10 by increasing funding for the TIFIA (the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act) from $110 million per year to $1 billion. In this interview Gloria Ohland asks Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane to explain why Measure R and “30-10” are game-changers, why we should begin thinking about Measure R 2, and why Move LA is promoting transit-oriented development. Click here to download.

Click to download interview.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Contact Denny Zane, executive director of Move LA, 310-570-5870, or Gloria Ohland, 323-222-5508

TIFIA to be folded into America Fast Forward, with funding increased to $1 billion a year
LOS ANGELES — Move LA applauds U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the Environment and Public Works Committee she chairs for the announcement Wednesday that the committee is drafting a federal transportation bill that would include an expanded TIFIA loan program as well as guaranteed funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

Boxer talked to reporters after she and a bipartisan coalition of committee members issued a joint statement about their progress. Issuing the statement with Boxer were Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the EPW committee, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Senator David Vitter (RLA), ranking member of the subcommittee.

Boxer said the committee is planning a $339.2 billion bill, to be called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), which would fund the federal transportation program at current levels plus inflation, and increase TIFIA funding from the current level of $110 million a year to $1 billion a year. The TIFIA program would keep its name but be folded into a larger program called America Fast Forward — based on Los Angeles’ 30-10 plan to accelerate transit projects with lowcost loans and low-interest bonds from the federal government.

TIFIA funding is expected to leverage an additional $30 billion a year in private investment, which Boxer said would increase funding for transportation infrastructure over the life of the bill to almost $500 billion.

“At Move LA are we are very pleased that a bi-partisan group of four Senators with very different political views have come together in a difficult political environment to support investment in transportation infrastructure,” said Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane. “Move LA and its business-labor-environmental coalition, working with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LA Metro, played an important role in initiating and formulating the America Fast Forward program. A big congratulations to the Mayor for his exceptional advocacy on our behalf in Washington DC.

“We are very pleased that the 30-10 plan has ‘grown up’ to become not only a good idea but a national program,” Zane added. “America Fast Forward will leverage private investment in projects that create jobs but will not exacerbate the federal deficit over the long term.”

Boxer said that she’s still considering including an infrastructure bank in the bill and that she is hoping for a six-year bill. But she acknowledged that a two-year option is still very much in the mix. Boxer also reiterated her support for indexing the gas tax to inflation in order to increase Highway Trust Fund revenues, but she acknowledged that it is a non-starter.

In their joint statement the Senators said that, “Our goal is to attain the optimum achievable authorization length depending on the resources available. It is critical that this be done in a way that does not increase the deficit and can achieve bipartisan support.” Boxer said the committee plans to start hearings on the final draft of the bill in two weeks and to mark it up before the July 4 recess.

Move LA is the nonprofit business-labor-environmental coalition that helped ensure passage of Measure R in 2008. Move LA’s mission is to build a broad constituency that will advocate for the development of a comprehensive, diverse, robust, clean, and financially

Short video of the Expo Line at La Brea

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

National Transportation and TOD Experts Scott Bernstein and GB Arrington Keynote Move LA’s 3rd Annual Transportation Roundtable June 21

Scott Bernstein helped create the national coalition responsible for the landmark 1991 intermodal transportation bill ISTEA, and the “affordability index” often cited by HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as a way to measure the true cost of commuting and impact of high gas prices on where people choose to live. Scott is founder and president of the national nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology, winner of the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. CNT’s work on TOD in older communities offers important lessons for ensuring the 30-10 plan and America Fast Forward accelerate both transit and community investment.
GB Arrington is principal practice leader for PB Placemaking, where he leads PB’s global TOD practice and has directed more than 125 TOD plans, including the Daniel Burnham Award-winning plan to transform Tysons Corner, VA, into America’s largest TOD. Before joining PB, GB charted a new direction for Portland, Oregon’s transit agency and helped make Portland an exemplar for the integration of transit investments and land use planning. He is currently advising LA Metro and the cities of LA and Beverly Hills on TOD strategies for the Westside subway extension with the goal of creating more value and less impact on communities.
The day’s discussion topics include:
  • 9 a.m. Sustaining the momentum of 30-10 and America Fast Forward
  • 10 a.m. Ensuring there’s money to operate LA’s expanded transit system
  • 11 a.m. TOD is key to a truly successful transit system, but how do we ensure it creates housing affordability?

  • National Transportation and TOD Experts Scott Bernstein and GB Arrington Keynote Move LA’s 3rd Annual Transportation Roundtable June 21

    1 p.m. How can we ensure Measure R creates jobs for community members — is it time to start thinking about Measure R 2?

Monday, May 16, 2011


Even as transit agencies are cutting back around the country due to the bad economy, LA’s rail expansion program is moving ambitiously forward — thanks to the Measure R half-cent sales tax. The LA Times reports that next year, for the first time ever in LA, there will be three rail projects under construction at the same time: Expo to Culver City, the Gold Line to Azusa, and Crenshaw/LAX. (The link to the Times story is below).

The chart above, from a presentation made to Move LA’s Leadership Board by LA Metro last month, shows there would be five lines under construction next year, and eight lines by 2013, if the 30-10 plan (to use low-interest loans and bonds from the federal government to complete all projects within the decade) goes into effect.

The LA Times noted that transit watchers across the country say this region has become the prime example of how to raise money for rail. The Times quoted Brookings Institution spokesman Adie Tomer: “You have this archetype of LA as the highway city of America. Really, in fact, voters are looking to invest in a mode outside of 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 it. [This opportunity] is going to be watched across the country.”

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Leslie Pollner, Mayor Villaraigosa's Chief Legislative Representative, Briefs Move LA Board

At Move LA’s Leadership Board meeting last week, LA Mayor Villaraigosa’s Washington DC legislative rep provided an update on LA’s chances of getting federal funding to accelerate Measure R projects. Leslie Pollner also told the board that Move LA’s national coalition building efforts are critical to the success of Measure R and America Fast Forward (the national version of 30/10) in Washington. Move LA's Executive Director Denny Zane and Outreach Director Dru Solari were instrumental in organizing an America Fast Forward support letter from more than 100 Democratic and Republican mayors that was sent to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman John Mica (R-FL), who chair the Senate and House committees that oversee reauthorization.  Of the 112 mayoral sign ons, Move LA secured about half.

Pollner told the board that a draft of the federal transportation bill is likely to be released in May, and she flagged two key issues: No one has yet figured out a way to fund the bill, she said, and both Senator Boxer and Congressman Mica are committed to not raising the gas tax. Secondly, while there is likely to be a TIFIA program in both bills, she said, the longterm bonds that have together with TIFIA always been an important component of the 30/10 proposal are proving to be a heavy lift in Congress. TIFIA, or the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, provides federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees and lines of credit to surface transportation projects of national and regional assistance.

“The problem with a bond program is that it costs money,” she said.  She did note, that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is looking for a Republican co-author for a bill that is similar to the one that created the Build America Bonds program but that would now be called “Transportation and Regional Infrastructure Projects” or TRIPs. Like the Build America bonds, TRIPs would rely on the federal government to cover some portion of interest payments.

The Build America Bonds program was created by the stimulus package to help finance infratructure projects and was considered one of the economic recovery effort’s “biggest successes.” But the program was unpopular with Republicans because of the government subsidy that it required. Pollner noted that Senator Max Baucus (R-MT), chair of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, is also interested in some kind of bonding mechanism to aid infrastructure projects, but she added that he is “very suspicious of programs that appear designed to benefit only urban areas.”

Polner summed up the situation by saying that “The good news is that clearly there will be something [to enable America Fast Forward]. But how we can move that bill through this Congress is still uncertain.” Denny Zane noted that another possible alternative would be to ask voters to extend Measure R sales tax to cover a 50 year time period instead of 30 years, which would provide a sufficient revenue stream to further reduce risk and still enable the acceleration of Measure R projects.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


LA Metro has begun testing trains on the Expo Line light rail line, which is slated to open for business between downtown and La Cienega Boulevard in November of this year. Elected officials were invited to take a look at the trains on Monday, and the public was warned that because the tracks are now active, motorists and pedestrians should be aware.

An extension of the line to Culver City is to open in 2012, and the trains will reach Santa Monica by 2015, offering travelers a 46 minute ride from downtown. Nineteen stations along the 15-mile line will serve USC, Exposition Park, Mid-City communities, the Crenshaw District, Culver City and West LA.

By 2030 an estimated 64,000 passengers are expected to ride the line daily, making it one of the most heavily used light rail lines in the U.S.
Photo by ExpoLightRail on Flickr

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Best Weather And The Best Transit System — Coming Soon

Issue 23 of GOOD’s quarterly magazine stars Los Angeles and provides a starry prognosis for transit in LA, supported by quotes from Move LA’s Denny Zane. The article begins by tackling a couple of well-known myths: That Los Angeles is low-density and suburban, and was built up around the car. As GOOD points out, LA is denser than Portland, current poster child for urbanism, and denser even than NYC. Moreover it once was transit heaven, during the Red and Yellow car days, and it will be heavenly again — with Measure R and 30-10.

However, caution some of those who talked to GOOD, there needs to be a focus on walkable streets or, as Yonah Freemark of The Transport Politic blog points out, “it wouldn’t be surprising to see car culture remain in place even after the development of a larger transit network.” Secondly, the decentralization of employment is a real problem, says Abby Thorne-Lyman of the national nonprofit Reconnecting America: LA’s got great transit “bones,” she says, but connecting people to jobs via transit will be a continuing challenge.

But the combination of a good bone structure and Measure R will make the city hard to beat, Denny Zane assures us: “In the long run, Metro will reach every part of the county and create an interconnectivity that we never had. The economic efficiency of that, as well as the environmental benefits, will be extraordinary. We always had the best weather. Now we’ll have the best transportation system and cleaner air. Who can compete with that?”

Read the issue here: