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 'A PROMISE IS A PROMISE'

Special to CityWatch: Can Jorge Ramos Save The American Immigrant Dream?

Tony Castro
TONY CASTRO’S LA- President Barack Obama’s disappointing failure to champion immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency on Latino issues. It is also a tell-tale sign of the potential trouble the Democratic Party could find itself in…

Museum Row’s Billion Dollar Block Party

Tim Deegan
EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--City planners, developers, community members and other stakeholders are having a block party in the Miracle Mile: no champagne but plenty of stress served to order, depending on who you're aligned with. Issues with development: take a seat. Raising hundreds of millions of dollars for development, take several seats. Here…

What Is It About The Homeless That Makes Us So Angry?

Bob Gelfand
GELFAND’S WORLD--It was a long public hearing at my neighborhood council the other night. Outraged, obviously frightened homeowners were pitted against advocates for the homeless. At least that's how it started, but it's not how it ended. It's curious, but in this contentious culture of ours, it turned out to be possible to have a meeting of the…

Kill the Transit Tax, Kill the Olympics

Ken Alpern
ALPERN AT LARGE-You know, it's indeed possible that there will be enough voters who won't remember (or care about) the current shenanigans and budget games in the City of LA--enough to allow a 2/3 vote to pass a new sales tax measure in November 2016. Then again, maybe enough voters will remember, and the initiative will (like its predecessor…

Headlines Don’t Lie – LA Needs Leadership

Dennis Zine
JUST THE FACTS-I’m talking to you as a man who policed Los Angeles streets for over 30 years and established policy for another 14 years -- two years as an elected Charter Reform Commissioner and 12 years as an elected Los Angeles City Councilman. Take a look at the latest Los Angeles News and Breaking Headlines. They tell a frightening story…

Airbnb Just Floats by the PLUM Committee

Tony Butka
THE CITY-I was going to do my usual flip and cynical kind of a piece on the Airbnb hearing, but the issue is too important, and just maybe, all is not lost. The Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee hearing was scheduled in the Public Works Hearing Room, but so many people attended that they had to move it to City Council Chambers…

Bikeshare Comes to Los Angeles … Sort Of

Richard Risemberg
WAITING ON LA--Here’s photographic confirmation that bikeshare has arrived in LA: Not the City of Los Angeles, though; not quite yet. That’s a live bikeshare station in Santa Monica, on Main Street, next to one of the two bike corrals that grace the block south of Ashland. (There’s another and very busy bike corral two blocks north.) This is a…

The Summer of My Discontent ... LA Version

Denyse Selesnick
MY TURN--I think there is such a thing as the "Dog Days of Summer" since my usual sunny disposition ... glass half full demeanor ... seems to be out of sorts of late. There is a litany of things that are annoying me, aside from the heat. I am disappointed in our local government ... not all of them, but a majority. Like many of you I studied the…

Marilyn Who? Ask Councilman Krekorian or Mayor Garcetti

Richard Lee Abrams
PRESERVATION POLITICS-Who doesn’t like Marilyn Monroe? Councilmember Krekorian, that’s who! Why else would Councilmember Paul Krekorian support the demolition of one of the most significant homes of Marilyn Monroe? With the blessings of Mayor Garcetti, who believes in eradicating as much of Hollywood’s history as possible, and with the support of…





Record Breaking! Josh Groban sings Trump


LADWP Rates Overview

 

 

  

 

 

 

LADOT: Driven to Distraction

RETHINKING LA - The City of LA’s Department of Transportation has been busy at work in our communities, removing crosswalks, increasing speed limits, dodging critical audits, and fixing tickets through the City Hall Gold Card program.
So busy, in fact, that they continue to miss the well intended and even better funded advice offered by the State of California on how they can bring Safe Routes to School money to the streets of LA, grants that would result in streets that are safer for children who walk and bicycle to school.

The federal (SRTS) and state (SR2S) Safe Routes to School programs have a simple mandate, to empower local communities as they work to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity. The funded projects include roadway and sidewalk improvements as well as education and encouragement programs.

The City of Los Angeles has a notoriously poor track record with Safe Routes to School programs and has repeatedly drawn the ire of the City Council for simply failing to perform. Four years ago Councilman Grieg Smith exclaimed "Our Department of Transportation is one of the slowest, most bureaucratic departments in the city, I am constantly banging my head against the wall to get them to do what I want them to do."

This outburst came in city council chambers when it was revealed that funding was in place to improve nearly three dozen of LA’s most dangerous street crossings for schoolchildren but the work had not been done. LADOT’s Assistant General Manager John Fisher defended the department by explaining that the department was busy with regular and routine projects. “Safe Routes to School programs are ‘special’ projects.”

David Anderson, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, said "Nothing is more important than the safety of children, which is why Caltrans and the Federal Highway Administration are reviewing the projects administered by local agencies to determine actions for improvement."

Two and half years ago, the LADOT received a review from Caltrans that categorized LA’s proposals as “Boilerplate, cookie cutter applications with identical wording.”

The City of Los Angeles was taken to task for sloppy work such as attaching the same generic letters of support to each application in lieu of conducting actual community outreach and generating project applications with the participation of the impacted neighborhoods. “SR2S and SRTS applications must be prepared from the grass-roots ground-up, not from the top-down, as it appears the City of L.A. applications were.”

LA was also called out for disguising vehicular flow improvement projects as pedestrian and cyclist safety enhancements. “The City of Los Angeles consistently stuck to the same limited number of tools that generally favor traffic operation over safety.”

One of the reviewers wrote “As a resident of the City of Los Angeles it pained me to give low scores to my own city, but I did not feel poor applications could be given passing scores. Doing so would ensure no improvement in the future.”

That sentiment is rare in City Hall where the “Fair Share!” mantra reigns supreme and the commitment to quality proposals and efficiently implemented programs falls by the wayside.

The City of LA entered this most recent Safe Routes to School funding cycle on the “Red Flag” list, ineligible for funding because of a failure to implement prior funded projects. In short, LA qualifies for funding but fails to put that money to work on improvements and education that would make our streets safer for children as they walk and bicycle to school.

After exerting more energy beating the system than it would take to simply excel at the Safe Route to School program, the LADOT is now off the “Red Flag” list and in the process of delivering the current roster of Safe Routes to School projects, all of which work together to demonstrate a complete failure to improve since the last round of funding.

The LADOT is the lead department for LA’s Safe Routes to School funding. Theoretically, the projects can come from the community but, in practice, the process takes place within a committee made up of City Council and City Department representatives, resulting in projects that were recently approved by LA’s Transportation Committee with only cursory oversight.

The deadline for the current SRTS funding cycle is July 15, 2011 which leaves no time for active participation from the community on the prioritization of projects or input on the specifics of individual projects. LA will be submitting 10 infrastructure and 2 non-infrastructure proposals, apparently excluding parochial and private schools from the process as if those children don’t have the right to safe streets that accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.

When staff from Caltrans, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the LA Unified School District (LAUSD) and Ventura County collectively take the City of LA to task for consistently failing to perform in the Safe Routes to School funding program, it’s worth taking a look at LA’s program.

When the City Council takes the LADOT to task for waiting until the last minute to involve the council offices in the process, it’s worth taking a look at LA’s process.

When the City of LA repeatedly conducts the business of the people in a manner that excludes the public while applying for grants that require the participation of the community in developing the applications, it’s worth taking a look at LA’s Department of Transportation.

Most importantly, when the LADOT is busy defending itself against charges of inappropriate use of Measure R funding, double-dipping on federal funds, and other roadside distractions that consume management energy and focus, it’s worth taking a look at our streets and asking Mayor Villaraigosa “Who’s in charge of making our streets safer for our children?”

(Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at:           Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net .) –cw

Tags: LADOT, Department of Transportation, Mayor Villaraigosa, City of Los Angeles, Measure R, streets, children, Safe Routes, LAUSD, Southern California Association of Governments  





CityWatch
Vol 9 Issue 53
Pub: July 5, 2011

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