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.


Metro Would Lose Over $265 Million In Federal Funding Over the Next Two Years If Georgia Congressman’s Effort to Cut Federal Highway and Transit Funding Succeeds
Next week, Congressman Paul Broun (R-GA) plans to offer a motion to instruct House conferees on the surface transportation bill (H.R. 4348). His motion to instruct conferees, as currently drafted, seeks to cut federal highway and transit funding by nearly 50% for the balance of federal Fiscal Year 2012 and by nearly 25% in federal Fiscal Year 2013. Adoption of the Broun motion to instruct conferees into law would result in a cut of over $265 million for our agency over a two year period. Specifically, our estimate is that the Broun motion to instruct conferees would cut $77.4 million in federal funding for our agency for the balance of federal Fiscal Year 2012 and $190.1 million for federal Fiscal Year 2013. As drafted this week, the Broun motion to instruct would limit total "funding out of the Highway Trust Fund" in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 to the amounts 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 will be informing members of the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation of the severe negative impact the Broun motion to instruct conferees, as currently drafted, 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 next week.

U.S. House Transportation Spending Bill Slated for Consideration Next Week
The U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Appropriations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, led by Chairman Tom Latham (R-IA) will mark-up legislation next week that would make Fiscal Year 2013 appropriations for programs under its jurisdiction. The mark-up will be held on Thursday, June 7, 2012. Our Government Relations staff and Federal advocates have met with Chairman Latham and his staff and will be closely monitoring the mark-up on issues related to our Board-approved 2012 Legislative Program. 

Support for America Fast Forward Continues to Grow Among Chambers of Commerce Nationwide
The private sector’s support for the America Fast Forward initiative continues to grow nationwide. Most recently, Chambers of Commerce from the States of Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas and North Carolina joined our initiative to have Congress adopt America Fast Forward as part of our nation’s next surface transportation bill. The America Fast Forward initiative, championed by our Board Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and our entire Board of Directors, now enjoys the support of over 50 Chambers of Commerce from around the nation and also has the strong support of over 125 mayors from small, medium-size and large cities across the nation. Specifically, the following Chambers of Commerce recently joined the national America Fast Forward coalition - Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce (Rogers, Arkansas), Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce (Topeka, Kansas), Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (Asheville, North Carolina) and the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce (Boise, Idaho).

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Columnist Bill Boyarsky writes on LA Observed that "London sprawls like Los Angeles, but it has a huge rail underground rail  network that's packed during rush hours and in the evening . . . The fact that the London underground has existed and grown since the 19th century in such a sprawling city is a great argument against the complaints of the diminishing band of LA transit skeptics who maintain our city is too spread out to support a train system. . . " Read it here:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

WHEN THE 1% SAY NO: Cities need transit & affordable housing but outdated laws make it easy for the 1% to say no

William Doig posted this on Salon.com today:

Continuing the grand tradition of privileged communities opposing transit projects, the good people of 90210 are fighting a plan to run a subway below Beverly Hills High School. For years, Beverly Hills has been trying to derail the planned alignment of the West Side Subway Extension, saying it would be safer to run it beneath Santa Monica Boulevard (though their own study indicates otherwise). The threat of lawsuits and endless public hearings have delayed the project but not killed it; now opponents have released a video claiming that the subway could ignite pockets of methane gas and blow the school to bits. “Methane gas, toxic chemicals and teenagers don’t mix,” intones the grim voiceover . . .

Link to the story here:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Just in from The Hill, a congressional newspaper:

The chairwoman of the committee of lawmakers that is conferencing on a new federal surface transportation bill said Wednesday that a substantial portion of the issues that could prevent a deal between the House and Senate have already been cleared.

"I wanted to tell you were making very good progress -- I would say great progress -- on working through the various issues," Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said during a press conference at the Capitol.

"Approximately 80 percent of the (Environment and Public Works) title ... is non-controversial," she continued. "The EPW title makes up about 80 percent of the entire bill, so this is a very substantial report I'm giving you."

The lower chamber had sought to pass a five-year, $260-billion measure that was funded in part by increasing domestic oil drilling, and their short-term measures mandate approve of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline that has been rejected by President Obama.

But Boxer said Tuesday that leaders in the Republican-led House have been willing to negotiate the differences in the chambers' respective approaches to transportation funding in good faith.

"I am particularly pleased … by the willingness of Speaker Boehner to work with us to accomplish our mutual goal," Boxer said Tuesday. "I had a very good conversation with him yesterday, and he told me that he met with the leaders on his side and he told them to get the conference report done. He is working to make sure we get this done, and that is the best news that I had heard in a long time." 

Boxer vowed the lawmakers on the conference committee would complete their negotiations before the current funding for road and transit projects runs out.

"The conferees are fully engaged, we will have our conference report ready to circulate among the various colleagues by early June and we intend to have this bill on the desk of the president before June 30," she said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This is another critical stretch on the path to building out a robust and well-connected transit system in LA County: On Thursday, May 24, LA Metro's Board of Directors takes up the issue of whether to support AB 1446 – Assemblyman Michael Feuer’s bill to remove the sunset date in Measure R and authorize an extension of the sales tax on the November ballot. We hope that you can attend the board meeting and provide public comment – you are allowed one minute and we suggest that you speak on one of the "Top 10 Reasons to Extend Measure R Now!" -- which are included below! The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at Metro Headquarters. TOP 10 REASONS TO EXTEND MEASURE R NOW: • It will create 400,000 jobs over 10 years at a time when jobs are needed badly; • The entire system can be built more cheaply now than if construction occurs over a longer time frame because of inflation; • LA will benefit from immediate congestion reduction benefits; • Reduced congestion = improved economic competitiveness; • LA will benefit from improved air quality; • GHG emission reductions will be accelerated; • Voters will get 20 more years of service out of the system; • The increased connectivity of the system will greatly enhance ridership on all line; • This ensures there will continue to be adequate funding for operations (20% of Measure R is dedicated to operations); But why extend Measure R now? Because we can win now! • Polling on the extension is excellent – voters are ready! • The coalition is in place now! • The increased turnout for a presidential election will help! • We’ve got the momentum – LA has new mojo!

Monday, May 21, 2012


LA Metro's Board of Directors takes up the issue of whether to support AB 1446 on Thursday. AB 1446 is Assemblyman Michael Feurer's bill to remove the sunset date in Measure R and authorize an extension of the sales tax to be placed on the ballot. Move LA convened its business-labor-environmental coalition Monday to discuss Metro's rationale for extending Measure R. From our perspective, here are the Top 10 Reasons: • It will allow Metro to bond against a longer revenue stream and raise the money upfront to build all 12 new rail and bus rapid transit lines in the next 10 years • It will create 400,000 jobs over 10 years at a time when jobs are needed badly; • The entire system can be built more cheaply now than if construction occurs over a longer time frame because of inflation; • LA will benefit from immediate congestion reduction benefits; • Reduced congestion = improved economic competitiveness; • LA will benefit from improved air quality; • GHG emission reductions will be accelerated; • Voters will get 20 more years of service out of the system; • The increased connectivity of the system will greatly enhance ridership on all line; • This ensures there will continue to be adequate funding for operations (20% of Measure R is dedicated to operations); But why extend Measure R now? Because we can win now! • Polling on the extension is excellent – voters are ready! • The coalition is in place now! • The increased turnout for a presidential election will help! • We’ve got the momentum – LA has new mojo!

Thursday, May 10, 2012


When three subway stations opened on Hollywood Boulevard in 2000, the legendary neighborhood was on the skids, with gangsters, prostitutes, "no-tell motels" and crack houses, and bewildered tourists wandering and wondering where the glamor had gone. A dozen years later and Hollywood's star has risen again. There are fancy clubs and restaurants, pricey condos offering rooms with a view, upscale streetlife, and escalating property values -- property taxes collected in 2010 were six times what they were in 2000. Should we praise -- or blame -- the subway for gentrifying Hollywood? And what are the lessons learned for other neighborhoods as Los Angeles embarks on the biggest transit expansion initiative in the U.S.? Move LA has completed a case study and it's a great story arc -- the declaration of the redevelopment area, the clean up, the new development -- with quite a cast of characters, including the property owner "SlumBusters" group, the Martini Sisterhood of women activists, the renters coalition that organized tenants and, of course, the political leaders who made it possible, City Councilmembers Mike Woo, Eric Garcetti and, especially, Jackie Goldberg. Read it here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Readers of the Flavorpill e-guide to culture in LA, SF, NYC, Chicago, Miami and London asked readers to name the most beautiful train stations in the world and LA's Union Station made the Top Ten list. The Flavorpill editors write that the response to this survey was "overwhelming," and that they can't believe that "this enchanting mode of transport" -- train travel -- could ever have been replaced by air travel: "If you've flown anywhere lately you know that the airport experience today is a far cry from the much more civilized approach to globe-trotting represented by the drop-dead gorgeous constructions we've rounded up here. Check the Top Ten here. Readers were so interested in this topic that Flavorpill posted 10 more favorites here.

Friday, April 27, 2012


A ceremony was held Friday afternoon in Exposition Park to welcome the Expo Line, which will provide free rides from 5 am to 7 pm on the weekend and regular-fare service beginning Monday!

In other action at LA Metro on Thursday, the board certified the EIR for the initial operating segment of the Westside Subway Extension to Wilshire and La Cienega, and left a 30-day window open to certify the EIRs for Phase 2 to Century City and Phase 3 to Westwood. This gives the board more time to come to some resolution on the controversy surrounding the placement of the Century City station and the tunneling under Beverly Hills High School. The City of Beverly Hills will hold a hearing on both issues in the meantime.

The board also agreed on Thursday to continue conversations with stakeholders from the Financial District about the proposed infill station at Flower between Fourth and Fifth. Concerns have been raised about cost overruns and construction impacts; a motion by City Councilmember Jose Huizar allows the project to continue moving forward in the meantime.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Joel Epstein profiles Darrell Clarke's 22 years of tireless advocacy on the Expo Line on Metro's The Source blog. Darrell's work dates back to 1989 when Southern Pacific Railroad offered to sell a right-of-way to the LA County Transportation Commission (now LA Metro). Clarke had read about a neighborhood meeting in Rancho Park/Cheviot Hills where residents had blasted LACTC Chair Neil Peterson and the whole idea of light rail, he formed Friends 4 Expo, and the rest is history. "I didn't expect it to become a life's work," Darrell told Joel, adding that he believes Friends 4 Expo inspired others, including Bart Reed, who started the Transit Coalition, Ken Alpern, who started Friends of the Green Line, and Denny Zane who started Move LA. Read The Source here.

Monday, April 23, 2012


The Assembly Transportation Committee approved AB 1446 today on a bipartisan 10-1 vote. The bill, introduced by Assemblymember Mike Feuer, would authorize LA Metro to ask voters to extend the Measure R sales tax indefinitely, enabling Metro to bond against a longer revenue stream and accelerate the construction of Measure R-funded transportation projects.

Previously the bill was overwhelmingly approved by the Assembly Local Government Committee. It is scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations Committee next Wednesday. Both the LA County Federation of Labor and the California Chamber of Commerce were quoted as supporting the bill in the press release issued by Feuer's office.

Feuer authored the original Measure R legislation during his first term as Assemblymember. Measure R asked voters to approve a 30-year one-half-cent sales tax dedicated to construction and operation of a specific list of projects. More than 67 percent of the voters approved the ballot measure in 2008.

Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane was quoted in the LA Times last week as saying that extensions of existing sales taxes "typically do better with voters than the original measures."

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of the California Endowment, blogs about feeling like a fish out of water as he rubbed shoulders with transportation planners at the Southern California Association of Governments. Dr. Ross attended the Regional Council meeting on April 4 to testify about the importance of investing in bike lanes and in transit because transportation policy has a big impact on health and quality of life.

He writes: "As I waited for my turn to speak, the lyrics of the classic Talking Heads tune kept running through my brain: 'You may ask yourself, how did I get here?'
As a physician and health advocate, I’m used to speaking with doctors and nurses about disease prevention and illness management — but this was different . . . "

Read Dr. Ross' blog here.

Friday, April 20, 2012


LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was introduced by Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane at the State of the City speech Wednesday (link to video here) when the Mayor announced his intent to ask voters to extend Measure R. Denny had this to say about extending Measure R:

"In 2008, the business, labor and environmental communities set aside their history of rancor in Los Angeles County and agreed to work in earnest toward a common future and a shared prosperity. First, we worked together to build nearly 70 percent voter support for Measure R and to recreate our once lost but soon to be restored world class transit system. Then we continued our efforts, working to convince Congress that the America Fast Forward program could accelerate not only our prosperity but that of our nation as well.

"Unfortunately, it is clear that a similar spirit of collaboration is lacking in the federal government now. While we remain optimistic for our eventual success in Washington, we cannot passively allow our community's future to be put on hold. By giving our voters the opportunity to continue Measure R until they see fit, we can create good jobs now, relieve highway congestion now and complete all of our Measure R light rail and ubway projects in a mere decade. Why would we wait?"

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Move LA Executive Director Denny Zane told the LA Times that he is confident that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's plan to pass an extension of the Measure R sales tax will be successful. Zane noted that "Extensions do better with voters than the original measures."

Measure R passed with 68 percent of the vote, slightly more than the two-thirds vote requirement and 20 points more than the two previous sales tax measures — in 1980 and 1990 — which were approved with bare majorities.

Sales tax measures in San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange counties were also approved with bare majorities 30 years ago but were extended this past decade by more than two-thirds of the voters.

Here is the LA Times story.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


By Richard E. Cohen, CQ Staff

Conservative Republicans are once again voicing strong reservations about Speaker John A. Boehner’s plan to have the House pass another 90-day extension of surface transportation programs Wednesday.

House leaders are reaching out to the rebellious conservatives in an effort to rally them behind what would be the 10th extension of road and rail programs since the last comprehensive transportation authorization (PL 109-59) expired in September 2009.

But prospects of success are far from certain, particularly since Boehner’s signature effort to link transportation funding to increased energy exploration has suffered repeated setbacks and left state and local officials without certainty about pressing road and rail programs at the beginning of the construction season. Still, House leaders plan to press ahead and to bring the short-term measure (HR 4348) to the House floor Wednesday.

In a clear sign that Democrats are unlikely to support the bill, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget announced Tuesday that the administration “strongly opposes” the proposed extension.

“By simply extending current authority through the end of the fiscal year, this legislation would miss a critical opportunity to provide more certainty to states and localities as they undertake the long-term planning and execution of projects and programs that are essential to creating and keeping American workers in good paying jobs, improving the Nation’s surface transportation infrastructure, and ensuring roadway safety,” the White House statement said.

The administration’s statement of policy also took aim at the sweetener GOP leaders added to the bill in an effort to draw the support of conservatives, a provision intended to force the administration to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The White House said the provision “seeks to circumvent a long-standing and proven process for determining whether cross-border pipelines are in the national interest and for assessing the environmental impacts . . . despite the fact that the pipeline route has yet to be identified and there is no complete assessment of its potential impacts.”

For their part, Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about not being consulted over the latest leadership gambit that is designed to advance the short-term bill to a House-Senate conference committee where negotiators would craft a compromise. The Senate passed its $109 billion surface transportation bill (S 1813) with broad bipartisan support in March.

Conservatives are unhappy that Boehner has abandoned plans for the House to vote later this month on the Republican’s five-year, $260 billion transportation bill (HR 7).

“We were told earlier that we would be working on a more extensive bill,” said Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La. “Every time something moves around here at the speed of light, it’s normally not a good thing.” Landry said that he might vote for an extension “at the end of the day,” but that the House ought to debate the broader issues.

Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., said another short-term extension would fail to address the many changes in transportation programs that the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved in February.

“We can do better,” said Hultgren, who serves with Landry on the committee. “This has been such a moving target.”

Hultgren conceded that the longer-term bill lacks the 218 votes needed for House passage, but said that GOP leaders should “make one more try at a bigger bill.”

Many conservatives remain opposed to the cost of a five-year bill and Republican leaders want to avoid a setback on the House floor, GOP aides said.

Leaders are hopeful that moving a short-term bill to a conference committee would permit the majority to shift the focus away from the party’s own internal divisions and toward the leaders’ latest effort to expedite approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which Republicans have cited as a key part of their response to rising gasoline prices.

A leadership aide conceded that “we still need to do some education” on the extension bill and all but conceded that little progress was nade on the issue as had been promised during the recent two-week recess.

House Rules Chairman David Dreier, R-Calif., said he was aware of problems, but “the plan” was to move forward on the measure.

Other conservative Republicans said they were trying to learn details of the latest extension bill and the leadership’s underlying strategy. “How can we vote on a bill that we haven’t seen yet?” asked Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that some conservatives may be more inclined to vote for the extension because of the Keystone provision.

But Jordan, who was one of ten House Republicans to oppose last month an earlier 90-day extension bill (HR 4281), added “We need to look at the big picture . . . .We have a $16 trillion debt.”

Rep. Bill Johnson, another Ohio Republican, said the latest extension measure is “still a work in progress.” He said the House needs to move a bill to conference “that the Senate will take seriously.”

Democrats continued their call for the House to take up the Senate version and said House Republicans have not reached out to them.

“It’s clear that the Republican Party is in disarray” on the highway bill and “they have been for months,” said Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. Republicans “can’t get to 218 in their own caucus, but apparently they can’t get even to a significant number where just a few of us [Democrats] voting for it might make a difference.”

Source: CQ Today Online News
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