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 firstname.lastname@example.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.)