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In remarks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti outlines his goals as Metro Board Chair – The Source

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in The Source on July 24, 2014.

In remarks, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti outlines his goals as Metro Board Chair – The Source

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Chair Eric Garcetti delivering his remarks on Thursday morning. Photo by Steve Hymon/Metro.

By Steve Hymon

July 24, 2014

As noted earlier, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is the Chair of the Metro Board of Directors for the next year. At the start of today’s Board meeting, Garcetti briefly outlined his goals as Board Chair. Here are some highlights from his comments.

•”When you’re talking about transportation, the top priority has to be reducing traffic.   Traffic, especially in Los Angeles, defines our lives. It keeps us from being with our loved ones and enjoying life’s daily moments. But it’s equally important that we provide good service for our customers and build for the future.

“The only way we can do that well is by working together as a region. We all know that traffic doesn’t care about borders. And none of us can serve our constituents well if we only care about what happens inside our city limits.”

•”How we do that? Innovation and technology. That’s not only the obvious things — like having cell service in our stations or creating an app where riders can load their tap cards on their phones so they don’t have to wait in line at the ticket machine.”

•”We must always be looking at where there is new demand and build projects in our most heavily traveled corridors. We must complete projects like the Exposition line all the way to Santa Monica. We must plan to build the Gold Line extension to Claremont. We must improve service between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. We must make sure the Blue Line is fixed, and our highest [ridership] rail line runs like it once did. And we must find a way to open the train to the planes by the time the Crenshaw Line starts running.”

•”I’m committed to keeping the momentum going on our construction projects — and making sure they’re done on time and on budget. We cannot repeat the cost overruns and sinkholes of the 1990s.

“When I became Mayor, I was told the new lane on the 405 project wouldn’t be open until the fall. So I called an old friend, Nick Patsaouras, and asked him to volunteer his time and talents to get it done sooner. He came through big for us. As Chair, I am calling on him to now lend his expertise and provide construction oversight of the Crenshaw Line.”

•”Over the last year, we were successful in securing over three billion dollars from the federal government. I’m confident that success will continue if we work together across the region to get our fair share from Washington and Sacramento. But we also need to think creatively about public-private partnerships and innovative financing. People are impatient, people can’t wait.”

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July 24th, 2014
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Ontario Mayor Paul Leon on Importance of Extending the Foothill Gold Line

Posted by GoldLine

The following video originally appeared on Time Warner Cable Local Edition with host Leslie Leyton.

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July 23rd, 2014
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Metro Railcar Assembly Starts in Palmdale – San Fernando Valley Business Journal

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal on July 21, 2014.

Metro Railcar Assembly Starts in Palmdale – San Fernando Valley Business Journal

By Mark Madler

July 21, 2014

The first light-rail vehicle from Japanese transit manufacturer Kinki Sharyo Co. Ltd. arrived this month and was delivered to the final assembly plant in Palmdale.

The railcar arrived at the Port of Long Beach on July 16 and then was taken to Palmdale. It is the first of 78 cars ordered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority to arrive in the U.S.

Kinkisharyo International LCC, the U.S. arm of Kinki Sharyo Co., in Osaka, will do the final assembly and testing of the car, which is scheduled to be delivered to Metro in October.

The company is leasing space from Los Angeles World Airports for the railcar assembly and testing, with plans to begin construction of a $50 million plant in Palmdale in early 2016.

The railcars will be used to support the Expo and Gold Line extensions.

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July 22nd, 2014
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Rail in Arcadia circa 1938

Posted by GoldLine

The following photo history was provided by longtime San Gabriel Valley resident and railfan Bob Davis.

One of my railfan buddies sent this photo from 1938  (yes, it’s older than me).  This was taken in Arcadia and shows the Santa Fe LA to San Bernardino local, which I remember as Train 42.   It has just crossed First Ave.  and will probably cross Huntington Dr., since this was (I think) before the overpass was built.  In the distance the Arcadia Tower is barely visible–it controlled the crossing of the PE Monrovia-Glendora Line with ATSF.  It also controlled the lightly used SP Duarte Branch, which in 1938 started in Alhambra, came through San Gabriel and Arcadia, and paralleled the PE to Duarte.  It was later tied into the PE line and the western part was abandoned; the Duarte end was cut back to Monrovia and served the Day & Night water heater plant.

Back around 1945, my parents took my brother and me into Los Angeles Union Station on the PE and we returned on #42.  We lived in Monrovia, but at Arcadia the PE and ATSF stations were less than a block apart.  #42 was usually powered by a high-wheeled 4-4-2  “Atlantic” type locomotive–couldn’t pull very many cars, but would get out of town in a hurry.  Typical train had a Railway Post Office car, an express car and an old coach for the few passengers who might want to ride.

Around 1949, steam gave way to diesel, and not long after that, the run was taken over by a self-contained motor car, sometimes called a “doodlebug” or “skunk car”.  Sometime in the mid-1950s, the train was discontinued as roads improved and trucks were more widely used to haul the mail.

Now we look forward to new trains serving my old home town, with more in an hour or two than Santa Fe ran all day.

Bob Davis

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July 22nd, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Three Engelmann Oaks (a rare and endangered oak native to the area Foothills), along with 18 other types of plants are being planted now in the transit plaza adjacent to the Arcadia station.

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July 21st, 2014
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Why Mission Street is the soul of South Pasadena – Pasadena Star-News

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on July 15, 2014.

Why Mission Street is the soul of South Pasadena – Pasadena Star-News

By Larry Wilson

July 15, 2014

When South Pasadena planners wrote the Specific Plan that guides growth on the city’s Mission Street, it was so long ago that not only was the Gold Line not built — the light rail was still being planned as the Blue Line.

Back in 1996, planners’ key worry was at the top of the document: How to “take advantage of Blue Line transit access as a catalyst for economic development while still maintaining the small-town, pedestrian-oriented character of its Historic District.”

Eighteen years on, the Gold Line solidly in place, Mission has not just retained its pedestrian orientation — it’s a way better place to be on foot. So much so that one New Urbanist blog, Walk Score, gives the Mission/Meridian Village neighborhood a stunning 97 on a 100 scale, a rare nearly perfect score that means “daily errands do not require a car.” Dry cleaner, grocery — bit of a haul west on Mission to TJ’s, but not much — wine store and restaurants up the wazoo. Plus the fabulousness that is Buster’s for coffee and ice cream, run by those Richards sisters since their dad was mayor of the town and the Union Pacific freights rattled behind rather than the light rail.

The apartment ads that pop up on the blog show rents have gone up a bit since my friend Martin had rooms above the current Gold Line stop for $350 a month in the mid-’80s. These things happen.

One of the amazing aspects of Mission is how even as it’s gone upscale it has almost entirely resisted the chain stores that bland out every other Southern California downtown except Los Angeles’s. As the city’s Planning Director David Watkins has noted, before light rail, the area around the intersection of Mission and Meridian was dominated by antique stores “run more as hobbies than as active retail concerns, and as a consequence both the street and its businesses were underutilized,” as he told consultants doing a case study on the city two years ago.

I was out of town in February and had missed Merrill Shindler’s stellar review of Crossings, the extraordinary new restaurant just east of Buster’s. The other night I met Tony George, the South Pas architect who designed the interior space — huge new black I-beams and old brick, bars upstairs and down, a charming patio out back under a big tree — for dinner there. Place was happily packed and the food was great.

Tony is also chair of the city’s Planning Commission, and I asked him what makes Mission work. “It’s pedestrian-friendly and extremely dynamic,” he said. “For such a small stretch of commercial, you have an enormous amount of variety, surrounded by multiple types of residences.”

What do people complain about? “Oh, parking, of course,” he said. “I personally have never had a problem parking. But I don’t mind walking a block or two. It’s when people only want to be able to park right in front …”

I remind him that crazy luck is called a Doris Day space — the way she zips right in to a spot. In the movies. Though few know about it, there already is a public pay structure underneath Moule & Polyzoides’ Mission Meridian Village, and there will be more public parking at the mixed-use development going up at the old school district HQ down the street.

“We have to watch that we don’t lose the essence of what makes Mission Street what it is,” Tony adds. But with the Thursday night farmers market, the historic architecture, the transit options, the schools, a Chamber of Commerce as interested in promoting art and culture as much as business, the heart of South Pasadena is an essence most Southern California cities can only dream of.

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July 21st, 2014
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Editorial: Welcome, Los Angeles, to right side of Gold Line fight – Pasadena Star-News & San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following Editorial appeared in the Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune on July 16, 2014.

Editorial: Welcome, Los Angeles, to right side of Gold Line fight – Pasadena Star-News & San Gabriel Valley Tribune

July 16, 2014

Crusades for all that is right and good in this world sometimes need a powerful enemy figure as much as they need crusaders.

Supporters are all well and good. But a nemesis can be just the kind of galvanizing force a movement needs to rally troops and ultimately achieve victory.

Some buffoon to make fun of. A tinhorn dictator to belittle. A paper tiger to set a match to.

In the grand crusade to do what the citizens of Los Angeles County voted to do when they first approved the Measure R half-cent sales tax for mass transit — that is, to extend the Gold Line light rail line from Pasadena east to Claremont, at the very least — the powerful enemy has always been the mayor of Los Angeles.

That mustache-twisting Simon Legree has sought to thwart the voters’ aims through various evil subterfuges in which funds for transportation always are funneled back to the city of Los Angeles and the city of Los Angeles only. It’s the metropolis in the region, right? It’s the place that in order to take its rightful place among the world’s grand burgs needs only a rail system to complete it, same as a New York, a London, a Paris, a Moscow. Why give away rail monies, according to this mayoral logic, to the suburbs, the hinterlands, not to mention the gateway to the far Inland Empire, which no one in your Londons, Parises and Moscows have ever heard of, anyway.

When he chaired the Metro board, and when he appointed others as its members, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa happily played the Legree role. Boo! Hiss! He did everything in his power to rob the Gold Line of the funds that had been approved for it, including simply rewriting the Measure R language when it was up for reapproval and a hike to the tax.

Those of us to the east of the big city didn’t cotton to that, and played a key role in rejecting the new, larger version of the sales tax. And since then we’ve simply continued to push for what was rightfully ours, a job made all the easier with a heartless villain leading the other side. And not just heartless — headless. The fact of that matter is that Southern Californians are all in this transit game together. Many who live in east Los Angeles County and in the western portions of San Bernardino County work in the city of Los Angeles and need and deserve commuting options the same as Angelenos do. The city and county lines often mean very little in Southern California. We’re a people who get around — or who used to, before freeway gridlock shut us down. We’ll fight for what’s right on that score. And, as anyone who has seen the 210 and 10 freeways heading west in the morning and east at night knows, those of us who live in Upland and Ontario, Claremont and San Dimas, Glendora and Chino need transit options.

So what do we do now, with the still-newish Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti becoming Metro chair and suddenly announcing he supports the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Montclair, and that he would work to find funding for the project? How to react to rationality like this: “I can’t do well for my city if I don’t have support all the way to the eastern border (of the county) and vice versa.”

How to deal with an L.A. mayor getting all rational and collaborative with us? OK, we give: With open arms we welcome the transformation of an antagonist into a friend. With the support of the mayor of Los Angeles, the region can finally work together on clearing up one of its most congested traffic corridors for the good of us all.

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July 17th, 2014
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PROJECT PRIORITIES: A regional take on transportation planning – San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Pasadena Star-News

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the print editions of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Pasadena Star-News on July 16, 2014.

PROJECT PRIORITIES: A regional take on transportation planning – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Cynthia Kurtz  |  July 16, 2014

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is updating its Short Range Transportation Plan. The draft released a few months ago didn’t include the “Gold Line Light Rail Project to Claremont” — which is how voter-approved Measure R described the project. Instead, it terminated the project at Azusa. Everyone got ready for a fight.

Sometimes you are so sure you know what someone is going to say, you don’t even bother to ask. That is often the way SGV folks — yours truly included — think about the city of Los Angeles. We assume that it wants every transportation dollar for its own projects without regard for the rest of the county.

Wisely, Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, didn’t assume he knew what the new mayor of Los Angeles would say about the short range plan. Instead, he invited Mayor Eric Garcetti, also the newly elected chair of Metro, to a forum about San Gabriel Valley transportation priorities. Garcetti accepted the invitation, and what he said surprised many of us.

Garcetti called for a new page in regionalism. “I can’t explain history,” he said, “but it is time to start from a new place. Leadership is to widen the conver­sation so it isn’t about one project against an­other or one region against another.” His message throughout the forum was that Los An­geles is the biggest city in the county but not the only city and that we are all better off if we work together.

As the chair of Metro he has a very straightforward agenda and one that immedi­ately makes sense to a busi­ness person. First, he wants better oversight of Metro’s construction program. Metro spends hundreds of millions of dollars on construction ev­ery year and the mayor wants to be sure those dollars are carefully managed.

He wants the Metro board and the public to have a bet­ter understanding about the agency’s finances and he wants to make better use of public/private partnerships. Canada and Europe have been using P-3s successfully for years but California has been reluctant to move for­ward with these partnerships.

Three SGV transportation priorities were discussed: the Gold Line Light Rail to Cla­remont and Ontario Airport, and the Gold Line Eastside Extension along Route 60.

Garcetti said that build­ing the Gold Line Light Rail to Claremont was as high a priority for him as building light rail to LAX. He pledged to work with the SGV’s repre­sentative on the Metro board, Duarte Councilman John Fasana, to make sure the short range plan reflects that priority.

While he doesn’t believe that L.A. has mismanaged Ontario Airport, he said he will support transitioning the airport to some form of local control.

Unfortunately, as Steve Scauzillo’s July 10 article in this paper noted, Garcetti seemed to lean towards the Eastside Gold Line Exten­sion along Washington Bou­levard over the Route 60 path that would serve the SGV. But he also called for government to “be braver” and not limit its thinking to just one alignment. “Why can’t we have both?” he asked.

It was a refreshing meet­ing. No one went home thinking that we don’t have to continue to be engaged in support of what is best for our region. But everyone went home thinking there is definitely a new sheriff in town!

Cynthia Kurtz is president and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. She can be reached at ck­urtz@valleyconnect.com

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July 16th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Photo of Construction Authority Vice Chairman and Claremont City Councilman Sam Pedroza, with State Assemblyman Chris Holden, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Claremont Mayor Joe Lyons at a Transportation Roundtable held earlier this week in the City of Claremont. As reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune this morning, “Garcetti also said he would favor adding the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Azusa to Montclair to the Short Range Transportation Plan, something Gold Line proponents and foothill cities have been demanding. But even if it wasn’t added by the Metro Planning and Programming Committee on Wednesday, he said he would work to find funding for the project.”

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July 11th, 2014
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L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports Gold Line Whittier route, Azusa-to-Claremont extension – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on July 10, 2014.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti supports Gold Line Whittier route, Azusa-to-Claremont extension – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaks during a transportation forum along with Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, at the Hughes Community Center in Claremont, Calif. July 9, 2014. (Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

By Steve Scauzillo

July 10, 2014

CLAREMONT >> Wearing his new hat as chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti jumped into the Gold Line Eastside extension controversy Thursday saying he favored the Washington Boulevard route because it would serve transit-dependent residents cut off from rail service.

Garcetti, who met with southeast county and San Gabriel Valley mayors a few months ago, quickly added that he would love to see the light-rail line extended on both Washington Boulevard and the north side of the 60 Freeway.

“If we can figure out a way to fund them both, why not build both?” Garcetti said. But later, he made remarks that seemed to favor the 9.5-mile Washington Boulevard route through Montebello and Pico Rivera and ending in Whittier, as opposed to the more southerly, 6.9-mile route through Montebello, Rosemead and South El Monte that parallels the freeway and would terminate near the Whittier Narrows Recreation Area.

“The ridership is stronger on the Whittier side,” he said during a transportation forum with about 20 San Bernardino County and San Gabriel Valley mayors and leaders arranged by Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden.

The MTA, known as Metro, is scheduled to release an environmental impact report on the $1.3-billion to $1.7-billion project on July 25, said Whittier City Councilman Fernando Dutra.

Though the EIR would present both routes as two separate options, the final decision on which route to build would be made by the Metro board in the coming months.

“We appreciate someone in his position sees this and appreciates the need that is out there,” said Jeff Collier, Whittier city manager, during an interview Thursday afternoon. “But I’m guarded until we see a decision has been made for this alignment.”

Dutra, a member of the Washington Boulevard Light Rail Transit Coalition for more than six years, said he wouldn’t mind if both routes were built — as long as the route entering Whittier was built first.

The Washington Boulevard route, which would carry 19,900 passengers, would be built from the terminus of the line at Atlantic Station east to Garfield, south through the city of Commerce, then east along Washington Boulevard through Montebello, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs and ending in Whittier at the PIH Health Hospital-Whittier Campus.

The 60 Freeway route would carry an average of 16,700 passengers, according to Metro, but would cost less.

Garcetti commented that the Washington Boulevard route would carry more passengers, about 3,200 more daily riders, according to Metro.

The project was originally scheduled for completion — whichever route is chosen — in 2035 but the project is listed to be accelerated in Metro’s Short Range Transportation Plan with a completion date of 2025.

“The SR-60 alignment would function more as a “park and ride” for commuters on the freeway. The Washington Boulevard Coalition feel the TOD (transit-oriented development) opportunities on the Washington Boulevard alignment “are more consistent with light rail service,” wrote Collier in an emailed response.

“I’m highly surprised at the mayor’s position,” said Joseph Gonzales, South El Monte City Councilman and chairman of the SR-60 Coalition. “He needs to do a little bit more research. Studies show the south San Gabriel Valley has transit dependent populations.”

The 60 Freeway route cities have sketched out opportunities for 1.5 million square feet of industrial development along their preferred route, he said. The Shops at Montebello is planning more retail development if the train line were to stop at the mall, Gonzales said.

Garcetti also said he would favor adding the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Azusa to Montclair to the Short Range Transportation Plan, something Gold Line proponents and foothill cities have been demanding. But even if it wasn’t added by the Metro Planning and Programming Committee on Wednesday, he said he would work to find funding for the project.

“A board report is less important than the commitment of the leaders of this board, including me as chair,” Garcetti said after the meeting. “I can’t do well for my city if I don’t have support all the way to the eastern border (of the county) and vice versa.”

Habib Balian, CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, was buoyed by the mayor’s support of both Gold Line projects.

“I have never heard a mayor of Los Angeles say those things. I think he surely understands it,” Balian said.

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July 11th, 2014
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