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  • WHO WE ARE-Earlier this month, I arrived in San Diego following five days of driving across the country from Wisconsin. I pulled into my friend’s driveway, brought my things inside, and went back to my car to park it on the street. Almost immediately, a cop’s siren and flashing lights went off. I’d left my license in my friend’s apartment, so I…
  • The Hunting Ground: Human Truths of Campus Rape

    Susan Rose
    CALIFORNIA MOVES AGAINST RAPE-On May 13, California moved aggressively against rape on campuses, issuing a directive to all state colleges to “notify authorities when a sexual assault is reported.” Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.C. president Janet Napolitano jointly issued a set of guidelines to encourage collaboration between campuses and…
  • Santa Barbara Spill Underscores Why We Can’t Allow Arctic Oil Drilling

    Ryan Schleeter
    PLANET WATCH-Last week, a major oil spill in Santa Barbara County made headlines after a ruptured pipeline dumped as much as 105,000 gallons of crude oil on the California coastline. The spill stretches across roughly nine miles of state beach with tens of thousands of gallons entering marine protected areas in the Pacific Ocean. The spill took…
  • How Will David Ryu Honor His Campaign Pledges?

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In a race that focused on local issues, outsider David Ryu (photo) outpolled City Hall insider Carolyn Ramsay by almost 10 points (54.8% to 45.2%), representing a margin of over 2,300 votes. Yet, since less than 16% of Council District 4’s 153,000 registered voters bothered to vote, Ryu was supported by less than 9% of those eligible…
  • $15 an Hour: If This Ain't Socialism, Then What SHOULD We Call It?

    Ken Alpern
    CONSIDER THIS-Funny how when you accuse, or even suggest, to a liberal (or is it "progressive"? or is it "reformist"?) that he/she is socialist, they get all bent out of shape. One reason that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont is so respected is that he says it like it is--he's a sincere socialist who means what he says and says what he means. One…
  • California Dreaming: Booms to Busts, the Optimists are Still Searching for the Gold

    James Preston Allen
    AT LENGTH-At a meeting I attended recently with the management of the Port of Los Angeles, a civic leader voiced his enduring optimism for a bright and successful future. I gave the unsolicited reply, “an ounce of skepticism is worth a pound of optimism.” Others at the meeting said aghast, “Oh, no. How would anything ever get accomplished?”…
  • LA’s Homeless: Not a lost Cause

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-I was both surprised and rather pleased about the reaction to my recent article. Apparently, many people in Los Angeles are realizing that the Homelessness isn’t just City Hall’s challenge but affects all of our neighborhoods. Even more important, it doesn’t just affect us economically but impacts our sense of humanity and fair play. Yes,…
  • Senate Race: Choosing Kamala or Loretta Comes Down to North vs. South … California

    Joe Mathews
    CONNECTING CALIFORNIA-Are you a Kamala or a Loretta? Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez—the two leading candidates for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat next year—confront Californians with a choice. But it’s not a choice about competing policies or political visions. Californians don’t have political arguments about…
  • From Tragedy, Healing

    Mike Newhouse
    GUEST WORDS-In the days after Brendon Glenn was killed, in the heart of Venice, I was starkly reminded of one of our community's biggest challenges. But, my perspective may surprise you. What first came to mind was not how we police. It was not about racism or homelessness. It was not about mental illness, or the insidious nature of drug or…

 

  • Can Marijuana Really Kill Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    Marijuana enthusiasts have been speculating for years that pot can actually combat certain types of cancer, but it wasn’t until recently that…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…




Alert! World’s 10 most dangerous animals

Smashing good job. World’s leaders beating each other up

Trevor Noah warming up for takeover of the Daily Show

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

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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