GETTING THERE FROM HERE-This is hardly a shocker, but according to a study by INRIX, Inc. the Los Angeles metro area has the worst congestion in the nation, and the second-worst congestion in the world (LINK: ).  Certainly, the "good reason" for more traffic of an improving economy (which is improving with lousy part-time jobs and not good career jobs, but improving, nevertheless) has a major role to play here, but we also have the "bad reasons" for traffic that must be addressed--and we have the ability to fix both of them.

The bad reasons are two-fold, and they are best addressed with the analogy of tying Transportation and Planning together as a form of "Mobility Budget", with Transportation funding being the equivalent of "income", and with Planning being the equivalent of "spending".

To the apologists at City Hall who defend unsustainable, environmentally-unfriendly overdevelopment for whatever political or economic reasons they can muster, this analogy is just silly, and with condescending contempt they'll want to pat us all on the head and deny the rest of us what is blatantly obvious:

WE DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MOBILITY INCOME (more transportation funding for projects and operations), AND EVEN IF WE GET A RAISE, WE SPEND MORE THAN WE CAN EVER TAKE IN.

(In other words, we overdevelop, and develop in neighborhoods that have never, and will never, accommodate such overdevelopment, faster than our transportation improvements can keep up with).

So we need to get more income, and we need to spend better: 

  • Our best bet to achieve more income is the upcoming "Measure R-2" initiative this November.  In short, it extends the previous Measure R (half-cent sales tax passed in 2008) another 20 years, and creates yet another half-cent sales tax for 40 years.

Arguably, this is the "second half" of what should have been been the original Measure R passed in 2008.  It's not hard to conclude that former LA City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl was right in suggesting Measure R should have been a whole cent sales tax that was passed in 2008.

Unless, of course, you think that it's acceptable and A-OK for the rail and freeway fixes funded by Measure R to be completed in 2036 or later. 

Is this talk of Measure R and R-2 expensive?  YES, IT IS.

But it's paid by everyone, and it's the price we pay for having blown off transportation funding for decades since the 1970's.

Furthermore, we are getting more matching federal funding in ways L.A. has almost never seen--our "self-help" efforts have caught Washington's eyes and rewarded us grants and low-interest loans in almost unheard-of levels.

And if it turns out that the November elections will be between Trump and Clinton (as it appears to be), we will have not one but both major presidential candidates being as pro-transportation/infrastructure as any we've seen in decades.

On a final note, the need for operations and maintenance of both car-based and rail/bus-based transportation are as vital as any new construction, and Measure R-2 addresses that in earnest.

Yes, Metro is listening, and while we should be continue to hold Metro's feet to the fire it does appear that they are not tone-deaf.

  • But we need to control our spending--particularly in the City of Los Angeles, where being tone-deaf has been a way of life for the last two decades.

Unlike other cities, which respect their citizenry and taxpayers, the City of LA is run and influenced (controlled, really) by very wealthy and connected developers who don't give a rip about the citizens playing by the rules, and are supported by a host of "useful idiots" that dismiss discussion of transportation/planning balances as "NIMBY-talk".

Where else but Los Angeles would we see developers allowed to fund and influence the City Council to encourage and force LA City Planning to slam through prima facie bad development, allow them to get away with underfunding parking and other mitigation measures, and call it "progressive" and "transit-friendly"?

Where else but Los Angeles would we have transit advocates and bicycling advocates proclaim that parking is bad, but look the other way when no equivalent financial requirements for developers to pay for bus stop improvements, rail improvements, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, etc. are appropriately funded?

Where else but Los Angeles would we have Planning and other City agencies ignore legally-mandated Community Plan updates to emphasize more density on major thoroughfares and preserve neighborhoods, and call it "progressive"?

Next spring, the City will have the chance to elect a better City Council, while also creating a Neighborhood Integrity Initiative, or NII, to demand that legally-required Planning efforts be taken seriously.

If the NII passes, Community Plans will be expedited, developers will be required to fund EIR's but not control who writes them and what they say, and an emphasis on legal and affordable housing will be allowed to start playing a role in the City of the Angels.

Unlike the City Hall developer/true believer types, who have all sorts of time and money to buy and influence City Councilmembers, the NII is a grassroots- and citizen-funded effort, with its primary focus on having the City of LA finally obey its civic, environmental, and legal requirements to its citizenry.

And for those wishing to donate to or be part of this historic effort, please go to 2preservela.org/ 

It shouldn't be too hard for anyone to figure out that our "Mobility Budget" needs more income and better spending habits. 

But for those happy and content to pull the wool over our eyes, and who are used to doing just that for decades, it's up to LA City and County residents to make sure that both Vision and Common Sense prevail.

Either that, or be prepared to hand these Mobility "income" and "spending" endeavors to the next generation or three.


(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee.  He is co-chair of the CD11Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at  alpern@marvista.org.   He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)


A LIFE POSTSCRIPT--Whether it's common sense, common decency, or common courtesy, there is just often too little of such "common" commoditites.  But sometimes there are individuals who stand out and show that YES, those sorts of things can be achieved ... with honesty to boot.  As my friend and colleague Gary Walker of the Argonaut reported so well, we've lost a great man who's earned a cherished and lasting memory within our hearts:  Bill Rosendahl. 

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NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--An email sent this morning to all registered candidates running for the upcoming Studio City Neighborhood Council revealed that Empower LA Elections Committee head Jay Handal had emailed registered voters’ confidential information to the existing SCNC board and council members. The email contained registered voters’ private email, passwords and sensitive documents such as driver’s license, passports, 1099’s, property and tax documents. 

The email leak was sent out Wednesday from Studio City Neighborhood Council incumbent Lisa Sarkin notifying members that there had been "a violation of privacy rights," asking them to immediately delete the documents. “We must not participate in this breach of security”. 

“It is concerning that the current reigning council would have access to all the online voters’ private information and passwords. They could have gone in at any time and changed their vote. This is why I and other concerned community stakeholders are running for this year’s council. We have witnessed and protested the corrupt actions of Lisa Sarkin and the existing SCNC committee, and want to be a transparent, fair and just voice for our community, not big developers and special interest groups.”  said Patrice Berlin running for the board position for the 2016 SCNC.  

Eric Preven, another candidate running for office says, “This is a serious breach of trust, verging on Electoral Fraud. We are demanding that the city investigate this matter and suspend the election until all of this is out in the open and rectified. Voters have a right to know that their private information and voting rights were compromised. Voters who have been notified of the breach are greatly concerned and are demanding that the City Attorney, election authorities and the Mayor’s office get involved.” 

In a second e-mail following the release of confidential voter information, Mr. Handal wrote: "The Studio City Neighborhood Council elections are documentation, they are online, and there are 7 ballots with voters able to qualify for up to 5 ballots. This scenario is unique to SCNC and the difficulties that voters are experiencing are specific to SCNC." 

Richard Welsh SCNC candidate for Homeowners seat says “After all I have seen and read on this topic, I can only conclude that the system for voter qualification as established by the SCNC is fatally flawed. 

The fact that confidential evidence is required to prove voter eligibility inherently creates a situation where an election under this system cannot be fairly and transparently administered. 

It is my strong feeling that the election should be postponed indefinitely until which time an emergency task force can be convened to reestablish the parameters of the process using a more conventional and inclusive model as should be readily available in the form of other Neighborhood Council procedures.” 

For more information on Studio City Neighborhood Empowerment go to www.ourstudiocity.org


If you have registered for on-line voting and have concerns over privacy and/or election transparency issues write to: mike.feuer@lacity.org, jlacey@da.lacounty.gov, ayochelson@da.lacounty.gov


(This report was provided by Eric Preven, Patrice Berlin and Richard Welsh, all candidates in this year’s Studio City Neighborhood Council election.)



HERE’S WHAT I KNOW-(CityWatch reported this disturbing story … an example of how money blinds, how greedy green can overwhelm green parks and wildlife … earlier this month. This is a sad follow to that story.) The Make Good Group LLC, a marketing agency that bills itself as The Social Impact Company, is behind the three-day, multi-stage AngelFest that could bring 65,000 visitors per day to the Sepulveda Basin (photo above) this October, but not without continued pushback from neighbors and conservation groups including the Audubon Society. 

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PLATKIN ON PLANNING-Sometimes it is important to step back from the weighty city planning and environmental issues confronting Los Angeles to focus on the small, personal steps we can take to make LA a more attractive and sustainable city. This is why I want to focus on drought tolerant gardens, something the minority of Angelenos who live in single-family homes can act on. 

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MY TURN-Many people have described Richard Alarcon as a great example of the “professional politician.” He prefers to think of himself as the advocate for community service, having been involved in the political arena most of his adult life. In the last three years, though, it has been mostly on the dark side. 

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EASTSIDER-In lieu of my normal straight reporting job on these events, let me just say my take-away from Tuesday evening’s DWP Reform Forum, organized by the Pat Brown Institute and CSULA, is all in the headline above -- after attending this forum, trying to put DWP Governance Reform on this year’s ballot would be a colossal mistake. 

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DEATH POLITICS--When California’s aid-in-dying law takes effect this June, terminally ill patients who decide to end their lives could be faced with a hefty bill for the lethal medication. It retails for more than $3,000. Valeant Pharmaceuticals, the company that makes the drug most commonly used in physician-assisted suicide, doubled the drug’s price last year, one month after California lawmakers proposed legalizing the practice.  

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RETIREMENT POLITICS--More than seven million people—over one-fifth of California’s population—work without a path to retirement. They have neither a 401(k) — the so-called “roller-coaster plan” tied to the stock market — nor a traditional pension that was once considered a worker’s right and which is now a rare species outside of government employment or the public education system.

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