The battle for Ontario Airport heats up as Inland Empire officials balk at the price LAWA wants to sell the airport for. Los Angeles World Airports, which owns and operates the airport, claims that the airport is worth between $243 million and $605 million when taking into account recent upgrades. Inland Empire officials counter that the steep drops in both passengers and flights suggest that the airport’s value is much lower. The Federal Aviation Administration contends that proceeds from the sale can only go towards upgrading LAX and Van Nuys Airport (also operated by LAWA), not into the City of Los Angeles general fund.
Despite fears that federal sequestration would lead to problems at the airports, a flight monitoring website reports that on-time performance of flights across the nation remains the same compared to a year ago, with said performance actually improving at LAX over the same time period. However, the effects of sequestration on TSA screening times are unknown as of yet, though officials are working to keep moving passengers through as quickly as possible. Yet, passenger complaints rose anyway during the same period, according to an academic report. Also, LAX Terminal 5 is getting $229 million in upgrades. Delta will fork over $12 million of that, mostly towards a new VIP lounge.
Assemblymember Das Williams has been at the forefront of reforming transportation governance in Ventura County. This week, the State Assembly Transportation Committee took one step in that direction by passing AB 664, a bill written by Williams that would create a new entity to run public transit in the western part of the county. This would allow public transit dollars to flow towards regional services, with the hope that eastern cities would join the new transit district in the future. However, a separate bill, SB 203, would retain an exemption that allows Ventura County to spend public transit funds from the state for road maintenance.
Even as residents near the proposed Southern California International Gateway fester their consternation, both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News came out in support of the project. The two editorials cite the economic contributions the ports bring to Southern California, often in a manner that is taken for granted. However, both also note that concerns from nearby residents must be allayed before a shovel of dirt is turned for the project, even as proponents assure that the project will remove 1.5 million truck trips on the Long Beach Freeway every year. If the GRID Project was built, the SCIG would be unnecessary.
Down south in Mexico City, transit fares recently rose from 4 pesos to 5 pesos a trip, a difference of 8 US cents. Despite riders taking the news with resignation, even a small increase in fares is enough to place a dent on workers who barely earn the mandated minimum wage of $5 a day. It doesn’t help that diesel fuel prices are rising at a faster clip, crimping the earnings of microbus drivers.
A bill to frame the investment of a significant portion of cap-and-trade revenues is beginning to make its way through the Assembly. AB 1051 would create the Sustainable Communities for All program with the goal of “providing transportation and housing choices that allow lower income Californians to drive less and reduce household costs.” The program would finance affordable housing in transit-oriented development, fund transit passes and add other ways to target high-propensity transit riders, energy efficiency improvements for homes affordable to low- and moderate-income Californians, and other vital programs and projects.
This funding is particularly important now that the state’s redevelopment funding has been eliminated and public transportation funding in California has been cut by more than $4 billion over the past decade. Cap-and-trade revenues are projected to reach nearly $4 billion per year by 2015, representing a critical opportunity to address the state’s mobility crisis while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving public health, and reviving our economy. The bill will be heard on April 17 in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee and the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 29. To learn how you can support this bill contact TransForm’s Cap-and-Trade Campaign Manager, Ryan Wiggins.
Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which owns Ralph’s and Food 4 Less, announced that they will install electric vehicle charging stations at their California and Arizona stores. This follows trends set by other retailers with California stores, who have charging stations in their parking lots. California currently has about a quarter of all charging stations across the country. The $1.5 million Kroger will use to pay for the installation will be matched by funds from charging station operator Ecotality, who in turn will contribute US Energy Department grants towards the installation.
Up north in Seattle, a group of “polite” bicycle advocates performed a do-it-yourself fix for a bike lane: Adding reflective pylons onto the line separating cars from bikes. Advocates politely claim that the fix is relatively inexpensive but can immeasurably enhance safety. Sadly, the Seattle DOT took down the pylons the very next day and politely explained that the pylons themselves pose a hazard to bicyclists. However, the DOT offered to politely return the pylons to the advocates if the latter so wish.
Ever wonder what a day in the life of a parking enforcement officer looks like? LA Times columnist Gale Holland goes into the trenches to witness the parking wars that unfold on the streets every day. Between enforcement officers who are just doing their job and the citizens who fight for scarce spaces, often getting citations in the process, who wins? Why, it’s the city, of course, with the power to raise and collect parking fines, since these are a major source of municipal income.
The Los Angeles City Council approved the Hollywood Community Plan in 2012 after years of discussion and debate. However, does the Hollywood Millennium project, which was recently approved by the city Planning Commission but awaits a vote by the City Council, diverge from that hard-fought blueprint? The Millennium calls for two towers around the Capitol Records building and smaller buildings that would adhere to higher-density standards as the plan accepts. Opponents believe the project is well out of scale with what exists in Hollywood. However, at least one letter to the editor notes that such a project is necessary in order to keep Hollywood economically vibrant.